The Wine Drinker

This is the Dead Letter Office of my wine writing. These stories ended up not fitting on our company's Facebook page (Piedmont Wine Imports) or website,, for reasons that I think are clear once you scroll through a few posts. Less professional musings, impressions that ultimately never got past the rough prototype stage. Um... enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I've generally felt that I taste wines so you'll never have to. I often sift through a hundred or more wine samples a week to find a couple of new items for the store, filling up piles of spiral bound notebooks with frowny faces, question marks and a smattering of obscenities. I worry that reading these notebooks could be about as interesting as watching hour upon hour of scenes from the cutting room floor. On the other hand, you make buying decisions in the big world outside of our store, a world in which many of these products surface, live and breathe in spite of my indifference or antipathy to them. So from now on, I'm posting my tasting notes. Recently I've realized that my position as a buyer for a pretty large wine retailer allows access to a wide swath of wine that's out there, and sharing this information about those wines might be handy to fellow wine drinkers. Maybe one percent of these wines will appear in our store, hopefully with nifty tasting notes attached. But you can read about them all here, and maybe that's useful in some larger way as a buying guide. Even though I'm in a very for-profit position in the wine industry, I never lie to my notebook. I earnestly feel that my notes are as unbiased as is humanly possible. I will indicate in every post under what circumstances the wines were tasted. I'll also continue to share prose about the people and places (and meals) to which wine leads me, because a narrative is almost always more entertaining than a terse flavor summary. So read on, if you're interesting in the inner monologue of a (theoretically) professional wine taster.

This first set of wines were tasted under almost completely blind conditions at my living room table on a rainy Sunday afternoon. I knew that most of them were from the new world, and that's basically it. Megan did an excellent job of keeping all other aspects of their personas secret till after the spitting was done.

Highlights from my (mostly) New World Whites Blind Tasting:

And The Winners Are:

2005 Neil Ellis Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch: I also tasted this last month at the estate, but I didn't recognize it. I'm not that sort of Rainman wine-supertaster. Today it had pleasantly creamy aromas. Not a ton of personality, but definitely a fun to drink, snappy, envigorating white. My guess would be mostly stainless with only a little malo here. My notes from March's South African excursion may prove me wrong: I'll post them soon. Well worth the $16-17 retail. Some wines cost more because they taste better.

2006 Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc Chile: Man I hate that name. But that's why it's a blind tasting. The wine was pleasantly grassy, with some persistence of flavor. Pithy. I guessed it was kiwi S.B., although the style was in some ways reminiscent of Pouilly Fume. I thought it would be $12-15 retail, it actually sells for under $10. The wine finished with a hint of green apple. I liked it.

Wines to avoid:
2004 Vin Sanity Central Coast Chardonnay: Seriously, that's the name. The label has a butterfly on it. And I swear I knew nothing of these affronts to good taste before I wrote my notes. This was the worst wine that I'm certain wasn't corked. The two other real stinkers may have compromised samples. The wine tastes a little like vanilla jelly beans, and is unpleasantly warm on the finish. Where's the refreshment? Better to move on quickly. $9-12 retail

2004 Paringa Chardonnay/Semillion/Sauvignon Blanc: Boo! Hiss! Either too old/losing fruit, or maybe faintly corked. To be kind we'll assume the latter, and maybe taste another bottle some day. Maybe not. Stinky mushroom and wet wood aromas. $10-11 retail.

2005 Bodegas Aragonesas Coto de Hayas Rosado: I knew what this was in advance (the color is a dead giveaway in an otherwise all-white lineup.) This is either losing fruit due to age/improper storage, or is maybe ever so slightly corked. Either way, there is a notable absence of juiciness. I've tasted fine versions of this wine in the past. $9-10 retail.

Most wines are neither good nor bad. They are tediously average. And they are listed below.

Riondo Prosecco $12. Fine. Not a lot of character and ultimately not cheap enough.

2006 MAN Vintners Chardonnay: Creamy, slightly malodorous. Aromatically slightly soft. I thought it was either Chenin Blanc, or Chardonnay. I was correct. Kudos to me for being able to spot one of the most widely planted grapes in the world in a blind tasting. Apple/pear aromas. Brighter on the palate than aromas suggest, actually a quite pleasant mouthfeel. Some lemon notes. Turns out this is a pretty good value at $9 retail.

2005 Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon Blanc: Some gooseberry, some grass. Also a hint of flint, and maybe sulfur. A solid and enjoyable if not outstanding version of this style of wine. I'm guessing no oak. I should know, I've been there. Pretty winery. This is a thrist-quencher, and probably would retail for $12-13.

2006 Two Oceans Sauvignon Blanc South Africa: Smells of grass. I guessed either NZ or SA Sav. Blanc. Lemony. Maybe a touch too much acid on the finish. Fine, if slightly diffuse/watery. Pleasant, maybe worth the very reasonable retail. $10-11.

2005 Shale Ridge Chardonnay Monterrey: Not entirely unpleasant apple/jolly rancher apple flavors. Some refreshing acid. Some more golden apple pie spice character. Mid-weight, only a small amount of detectable oak. Smells pleasantly of Chablis, but ever so slightly disjointed on the palate. The finish isn't entirely harmonious, either. Hair-splitting given the low price. $9-10 retail


Post a Comment

<< Home