Archive for June, 2009

Father’s Day Tasting Recap

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The rosé tasting that we did in May happened to fall on Mother’s Day, so of course I needed to a Father’s Day tasting to not discriminate against the dads, and what better theme than Great Wines for Grilling?!? (plus, we’re always looking for excuses to open up some fun bottles.) All red of course, this being a manly kind of a tasting.

First wine was 2005 Domaine des Rouet Chinon, a lovely lighter Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. I picked this wine because not everything on the grill is a big hunk of red meat, and the Chinon is light enough to work well with pork, chicken or grilled veggies. Plus it’s low in alcohol (12.5%) and great with a bit of a chill on it, so perfect for a hot summer day. The wine showed well, with classic graphite / violet / raspberry flavors and nice acidity. A good way to start.

Next was Laurel Glen’s 2006 “Reds”, a Zin / Carignane / Petite Sirah blend from Lodi California. Full-bodied and chewy, with a lot of structure and dark brambly fruit. A lot of wine for under $10.

Jip Jip Rocks Shiraz / Cabernet from Australia’s Limestone Coast region (a bit south of Barossa Valley in South Australia; slightly cooler due to its proximity to the coast) was up third. I picked this wine because it tastes like it’s got a touch of residual sugar in it – that slight sweetness gives it a really lush mouthfeel and I think would pick up well on the sweetness found in most barbecue sauces. Very tasty wine, with lots of dark berry fruit, a hint of chocolate, nice tannins from the Cabernet, and a long smooth finish.

Going in a totally different direction, the Novy Cellars 2006 Sonoma County Syrah was smoky, spicy, and meaty, very much like a Northern Rhone but with more fruit. Loads of black pepper, and the smokiness makes it an ideal match for the grill. Joan, a customer and friend who was at the tasting, bought a burger from Rupena’s to have with the different wines, and this Syrah was the perfect pairing for her.

Saving the best for last, I opened up the 2005 Mas d’en Compte Priorat. We’ve had this wine at tastings before but I absolutely love it and thought it’d be a nice father’s day treat. Still a very young wine, so I ran it through the Vinturi aerator and decanted it for a couple of hours before the tasting. A blend of 50% old-vine Grenache, 40% old-vine Carignane, and 10% Cabernet, this wine is stunning – layers and layers of flavors, with incredible complexity and depth. Smooth yet structured, with an incredible finish. Everyone loved it; a great way to end.

Beaux Freres tasting recap

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Last night’s tasting was of Beaux Freres’ 2007 Pinot Noirs, plus another moderately priced ‘07 Willamette Valley Pinot as a control. Though young, the wines showed their different personalities well and were quite expressive; the tasting went really well as a result. Overall, lots of fun. I poured all four wines at the same time, and everyone really enjoyed being able to go back and forth between the wines

I decanted all wines through a Vinturi aerator at 3:30 and put them back into bottle (again through the Vinturi) at 5:30 for pouring; I wanted to open up the wines as much as possible, since Beaux Freres is known for being exceptionally tight in youth (due to their reductive winemaking techniques, which also makes them quite ageworthy).

The first wine was Klee’s ‘07 Pinot – it’s a nice Willamette Pinot for under $20, and I threw it into the tsating because a)you can’t have a tasting with just three wines; and b) it’s a great point of reference to have a less-expensive wine when you’re tasting a bunch of expensive wines; it helps to have a point of comparison for just what makes the expensive wines worth it (or not, as the case may be). Bright sour cherry fruit, good acidity, nice balance, a really pretty wine.  It served its purpose well in highlighting the quality of the BF wines as well – going back to it after tasting the three other wines showcased a world of difference; the BFs are at an exponentially higher level, and the Klee seemed downright simple by comparison.

Beaux Freres 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot – sourced from their Upper Terrace and Beaux Freres VIneyards, along with a significant portion of fruit from the highly regarded Shea Vineyard and three other vineyards, the Willamette Valley is the most feminine and elegant of the three, yet still with great depth and structure. This wine had an appealing slight floral component, along with sweet strawberry, some brown spice, and high acidity. All three wines had pronounced acidity, actually – this will settle down and integrate in time; in a few years they will all be absolutely stunning. Long, smooth finish; great balance.

Beaux Freres 2007 Beaux Freres Vineyard Pinot – my favorite of the three for drinking right now. It had a really lush middle palate, with some notes of chocolate and brown sugar that were unique to this wine. Still noticeably tight and young, yet quite smooth. My allocation on this wine was a whopping six bottles; I sold three and we poured one, so I’ve only got two left. I think one might be headed for our personal cellar (along with a few of the Willamette; I was able to get better supply on that).

Beaux Freres 2007 Upper Terrace Vineyard Pinot – the Beaux Freres Vineyard was more of a Cotes de Beaune with its softness, while the Upper Terrace is more Cotes de Nuits. Brooding dark fruit and the most earthiness of the three, along with the acidity and structure common to all three. Over time this will ultimately be the best wine; even with decanting now it was very tightly wound. I’d love to taste this again in 6-8 years. Alas, my allocation was only two bottles – we opened one and I sold the other. I’ll see if I can get more.

In sum, Beaux Freres makes damn good Pinot; it was great to be able to experience them.

Thief to be featured in Saveur!

Monday, June 15th, 2009

A few weeks ago we received a phone call out of the blue from a local freelance writer, saying that Saveur magazine had selected us as one of the top 10 wine shops in the entire country and she was assigned to profile us! We were stunned and thrilled, of course – Saveur is a phenomenal epicurean magazine with more than 1.6 million readers.

We just found out that the piece will run in the August / September issue, so be sure to check it out!