I received an invite to the annual Southern Wine & Spirits Pennsylvania portfolio tasting at 5:20 Monday evening. That was the good news, the bad was it started at 6:00 and would take me an hour to get there in rush hour traffic.
I arrived late, around 7:00 but went to the tables with the precision of a skilled surgeon. There were in the vicinity of 300 wines to choose from, so the spittoons really received a workout from me! Below are the wines that made the cut.
B.R. Cohn, Sonoma winery producing wines from a wide array of varietals. Chardonnay 2006, $21, straw color, bright fruit flavors of apple and citrus, with a nice background of vanilla balanced by mouthwatering acidity and a long finish.
Stuhlmuller Vineyards is located at the crossroads of the Alexander, Dry Creek, and Russian River valleys. I am familiar with Chardonnay grapes coming out of their property and being made by Mazzocco vineyards, one of my favorite Cailifornia producers. Chardonnay, Estate 2006, $25, a lovely wine, nice fruit on the nose with nice balanced oak matching the evolving citrus flavors.
Far Niente, big name in Napa, they also own Nickel & Nickel, and Dolce. Chardonnay Napa 2006, $54, nice mineral notes with good but unusual big grapefruit flavors that are balanced by the oak, and a nice refreshing finish.
Louis Latour, established in 1797, they are a grower, negociant, and Barrique maker with most of their wines coming from Burgundy. Vire Clesse 2006, $18, beautiful citrus, vanilla, nose, a nice ready to drink white burgundy. Corton Charlemagne 2004, $120, earthy nose, mineral notes out the wahzoo, nice citrus and stone fruit flavors, surrounded by vanilla. Whoa baby!
Sovereign Brands is a New York based producer of wine and spirits. they are marketing a new ultra-high end Champagne to compete with Crystal. Interesting back story if you’re curious. Armand de Brignac Brut MV, $365, Little bit of earth on the nose, more earthy flavors on the palate, clean finish. A lighter less complex version of Krug Grand Cuvee.
Terlato Wines International has a pretty impressive list of small and large wineries it represents. Cuvasion Pinot Noir Carneros 2006, $36, bright cherry nose, spice and cherry flavors, light to medium bodied, enjoyed the wine. Check out the winery if you are ever in Napa.
Frederick Wildman & Sons, venerable U.S. importer since 1934,they have made quite a respected name for themselves bringing in wines of the highest quality. Of equal repute is the Burgundy Negociant, Nicolas Potel , I’m sure glad I spotted this wine, which is named in honor of his dad. Bourgogne Rouge “Cuvee Gerard Potel” 2006, $24, Very light, almost dark pink, nice earth, underling cherry, bright acidity, easy tannins. Flat out loved this wine.
Jackson Family Wines, an encompassing portfolio of wineries owned by Jess Jackson, has Yangarra Estates under its umbrella. This McLaren Vale winery takes a non-interventionalist approach with indigenous yeasts, open fermentation, and minimal new oak. Yangarra Estates “Cadenzia” 2006, $32, 68% Grenache/27% Shiraz/5% Mourvedre, bubblegum on the nose, nice bright fruit, balanced acidity, actually my favorite wine of the evening.
A.V.Brands, a division of Codorniu, the Spanish Cava producer. Legaris Reserva 2001, $34, 100% tempranillo, big fruit nice acidity, huge tannins, needs some time to soften.
Dry Creek Vineyard, an established Sonoma county winery, known for their Fume Blanc, they had a Zinfandel that made me take notice. Heritage Zinfandel 2006, $21, big jammy fruit, big tannins, needs a little time to soften, a nice Zin.
Ridge Vineyards, the best known Zinfandel producer in the country, with approximately 20 different Zins, most of which are single vineyard. Lytton Springs Zinfandel 2005, $33 nice jammy fruit, with a little pepper, compliment the balanced acidity and the tannins provide the ability to age this noteworthy Zinfandel.
Ste. Michelle Estates, in addition to producing some very fine Washington State wines they market a wide array of both domestic and imported products.
Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Reserva 2003, $33, dark color for a Reserva, leather, dried cherries, all the markers you want in a quality Chianti. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars “Artremis” 2005, $55, 94% cabernet, 6% Merlot, nice pencil shavings, green pepper, deep cherry, vanilla, a wine I should drink more often.
Vine One, a mostly value focused company, has Ravenswood as one of its premium brands. Pickberry 2004, $53 a Bordeaux blend of 73% Cabernet and 27% merlot, this wine exhibits classic graphite, bell pepper, deep rich fruit flavors, underlying oak and supple tannins.
Vineyard Brands represents some sixty producers around the world, with the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape producer Chateau Beaucastel at the head of its stable.The Perrin family, along with Vineyard brands owner Robert Haas are majority partners in the Rhone style wines of California based Tablas Creek. Chateau de Beaucastel 2004, $105, all good, light red, with huge earth, barnyard aromas leading into subtle blueberry, anise flavors, seemed a little closed, definitely needed decanting. Wish I could come back to the glass in an hour.
Dolce, unusual for a winery to produce only one wine, even more for it to be in the late harvest style. Dolce 2004, 99% Semillon 1% Sauvignon blanc, $89, huge notes of citrus, viscous, great acidity balances the sweetness, pretty awesome.
Pernod Ricard is one of the leading wine & spirits companies in the world, with a monster portfolio. Sandeman 20 year tawny Port, $50, huge, hazelnuts, nutmeg, viscous, long finish, could drink this all night.