After the various vinous verticals during The Great Wine Seminar in FL last weekend, this week was no let down. I am getting in shape for the upcoming Fortification Tour which will present 200+ Port, Madeira and Douro wines. So this week provided explorations of Chateauneuf du Pape, Portugal/Napa and last night's inquisition of So. America.
We tend to drink lots of Chateauneuf du Pape here in the Pacific Northwest. Why? I am not quite sure, but it does go with many of the hearty dishes found in restaurants in the area, especially during the colder winter months.
Monday night we tackled about ten bottles between 8 of us, which is pretty typical. Without boring you with detailed tasting notes, just a few words about some of the better selections of CndP.
* 2006 Francois Mercier, Val de la Pierre, CndP - spicy easy to approach at this young age
* 2004 Courtif Tribaut, Clos des Brusquieres CndP - juicy, fine balance with zippy acidity and ripe tannins
* 2001 Roger Sabon "Prestige" CndP - a crowd pleaser and probably best left in the cellar another 3-5 years
* 2000 Domaine du Pegau Cuvee Reserve - slight Brett, but long and luscious with meaty underpinnings
* 2000 Domaine du Vieux Telegraphe "La Crau" - I prefer the 1995 & 1998 to this but it is still enjoyable
* 1998 Chapoutier "Barbe Rac" CndP - some 2ndary fermentation taking place. In a weird place today.
* 1990 Jaboulet "Les Cedres" CndP - who let the horse out of the barn? Stinky, tart and short. Pass!
* 1989 Beaucastel CndP - a classic! A very good stink of Brett here. Killer juice. Like waking up next to Angelina Jolie. Would you ever get tired of this?
Mystery wine - although all of our tastings are done blind, the host can add a wine to mix things up. He chose a 1998 Hat Trick - which was a beauty from Australia that fooled none of us into thinking it was CndP, however, it was really tasty, easily approachable and something that given its very reasonable price is a wine to seek out for quaffing with a burger or ribs during the week.
The very next night, the developer of CellarTracker who is in my Thurs. tasting group and a good friend (Eric LeVine) came to dinner at our home. We started with a 2005 J.J. Christoffel Urziger Wurzgarten Kabinett with some cheese and crackers which led into our salad course. Then with grilled lamb brochettes over Port sauteed onions and portobello mushrooms, I poured well decanted bottles of 2002 Niepoort Charme which was delicious but had a very faint hint of corkiness which revealed itself more prominently about half way through the bottle. But that was just the beginning as our reason to get together was for Eric to finally try the 2002 Merus Cabernet from Napa. A few years ago, this was the best red wine I tasted all year! It is still stunning but even with five hours of well-needed decanting, this was still a bit austere. Drink 2010-2020. I love this wine and it was the perfect foil for the lamb. Dessert was a bottle of the Fernandes 40 year old Verdelho Madeira. My wife for some strange reason does not like Madeira, which is anathema to me. But more for Eric and me to enjoy. After a couple of hours of sobering up, I bid him adieu knowing I'd see him two days later for our group tasting.
Last night: another group of 8 including Paul David and his lovely wife Susan who were visiting from CO. We were drinking some wines from Chile/Uruguay but mostly Argentina. A fun night of guessing wrong countries, from the Tannat grape, whites from Chile from Gewurztraminer and other off the beaten path grapes, plenty of old vine Malbecs and also Cabernet Sauvignon blends.
A couple of reasonably priced standouts:
* 2000 Cavas de Weinert - Yummy blend of 40% each Malbec & Cab Sauv. and 20% Merlot - in an "international style" which was actually a good thing here, although rustic, the flavor profile was very solid and with a meat dish, this would rock!
* 2003 Cavas de Weinert Malbec - 100% Malbec at that. Chewy and although some in the group were not wowed by this, it certainly offers excellent QPR and was one of my favorite Malbecs of the evening.
* 2003 BenMarco "Expresivo" from Mendoza - Delicious juice and one of the better wines we tasted along with the 2000 Catena Malbec.
Dessert for some odd reason was an Italian wine (what was the host thinking?) a 1998 Fontodi Vin Santo. Normally I enjoy the Vin Santo from this producer very much. Especially the great ones like 1993, 1995 and 1997. Not only was the '98 a bit deficient in acidity, but it also did not fit in with the theme. I would much have preferred to bring dessert and I would have brought the 2005 Pisano Et Xe Oneko, which is a late harvest 100% Tannat from Uruguay that I like to spring on friends blind!