Nov 19 2009

Reporting our second “Make your own barrel” meeting

By Maggie Smith

Our monthly make your own barrel meeting was last week. I hate calling them meetings since at your typical work meetings you don’t drink wine, dine at Province, and chat with amazing food and wine loving people. However there was some “work” to be done. We combined our Cabernet tasting with our Pinot tasting this time so everyone gets to taste and discuss a wide range of wines. Everyone brought a bottle of wine to taste from their respective assigned regions. For the Pinots we tasted 2 different vintages of the Alma Rosa “La Encantada” vineyard (La Encantada is the vineyard that we are making our barrel of Pinot Noir from.) We also tasted Sonoma Coast, Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara. These are all regions in California known for making world-class Pinot Noir.
The wines we brought that night ranged from $45 – $75 each (some higher then that even.) We brown-bagged all of our wines so we can blind taste and judge them without seeing the labels, regions, or be biased by the wine each of us picked out. We all tasted, took notes, and rated each wine our favorite to least.  The favorite wine of the evening (and I swear this wasn’t rigged) was the 2006 Alma Rosa “La Encantada” Pinot Noir. It received the most votes and definately stood out from the pack. It showed ripe red berry characteristics with a hint of cola and baking spice on the nose. On the palate it was smooth, voluptuous and intriguing. We were thrilled since this is where our fruit is being grown, we all agreed, our barrel will be of great quality and expression. Second was the Williams Selyem “Bucher” Vineyard. This wine was from the Russian River Valley and was definately a unique and delicious wine. It had more of an animalistic, gamey quality that I particularly enjoyed. This wine is from a premier producer and of limited quantity (I highly suggest picking up a bottle soon if you like the more earthy style of Pinot.) The last Pinots ranked were the W.H. Smith from Sonoma Coast then the Seasmoke “Ten” from Santa Barbara. Seasmoke being in last place made the buyer of this wine glum for a couple of reasons. First, it was the most expensive bottle in our line up, and in extremely limited supply. Second, this wine should not be opened for years so it can properly evolutionize in the bottle before drinking. Had we drank this wine in 5 years, most likely this wine would have been ranked number one in our line up.
We then went on to the Cabernet group. Here we tasted wines from California and Washington State. I love this comparison in Cabernet because not too many people think of Washington when they think of Cabernet. Again, we brown-bagged, tasted blind and went on with the evaluating. The 2005 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet received the most amount of votes. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has had this wine before. It has amazing violet notes with roasted espresso bean hints. On the palate it’s every bit as intriguing; crushed black berries, hints of pencil lead and leather. The finish goes on and on and is no wonder this wine received 95 points by Robert Parker. Wine number 2 was the TOR Mast-Cimarossa Vineyards Cab. This wine is a powerhouse, a true block-buster. TOR’s winemaking philosophy is to grow world class grapes and stay out of the way of the wine. He has a very old world mentality which is the grapes and the land are what matter most, the winemaker is just helping them get into the bottle for us to enjoy. The third most loved wine was the Sineann Cab from Columbia Valley Washington. This wine is definately the light-weight of these heavy hitting Cabs. It’s soft, silky, inviting and lush. It’s ready to drink now for dinner tonight and at a more affordable price point. The fourth wine in the line up was the Outpost Howell Mountain Cabernet. This is an amazing drinking experience. It’s a very elegant yet powerful wine. It has the power of what mountain fruit brings you, yet has a grace and elegance like a Chateau Haut-Brion. This concludes our tasting wrap up. For more information, join our barrel group!

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