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updated: Jul 31, 2010, 8:45 AM
By Marc Liberts
Every so often when we accumulate enough wines, we declare a winEmergency! This was our 3rd winEmergency this year, and my report on our findings follows. We taste all the wines blindly, so as to maintain the highest level of objectivity possible. In this tasting, we tasted 27 wines: 7 white and 20 red in 4 separate rounds. The tasting was held in Solvang on Tuesday July 27, 2010.
1. MOSBY 2009 Santa Barbara County Pinot Grigio: I found it to have a very light nose, light bodied, and a too heavily oaked on the palate. I scored it 82 points.
2. VERDAD Albarino 2007, Ibarra-Young Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley - to me, it smelled like Vans sneakers - very rubbery. The flavor profile was very tropical, and I liked the mouth-feel of this one. I scored it 86 points.
3. KOEHLER 2008 Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc: This one had a nose that was rife with green plants, but not unpleasant. It had a nice smooth mouth-feel and I tasted persistent limes on the finish. I scored it 88 points.
4. PUDDING RIVER WINE CELLARS Willamette Valley Chardonnay 2008: This had a light chardonnay nose with a pleasant, plush mouth-feel. It had some tropical flavors and a light cucumber taste as well. Stainless steel fermented. I scored it 89 points.
5. MARGERUM Pinot Gris, Margerum Ranch Vineyard, Columbia Valley - Washington 2007: This was the first white we tasted that had a substantial nose - very tropical and nice. Flavors of peach and papaya were evident. This wine also had some residual sugar - which I liked. I scored it 91 points.
6. TRE ANELLI Pinot Grigio, Santa Barbara County 2006: unfortunately, this wine had oxidized and was ruined. It smelled and tasted like burnt fireworks. No Score.
7. BERGEVIN LANE VINEYARDS - Calico White Wine, Columbia Valley 2008 - This was an interesting cuvee of viognier, chardonnay and other white varietals. It has a pleasant, clean, fruity taste, and nice acidity to balance the fruit. I scored it 87 points.
The consensus winner of Round One was the KOEHLER 2008 Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
LESSON LEARNED: Excellent Sauvignon Blancs which are affordable and people pleasers come from our own back yard in the Santa Ynez Valley!
A. TERRY HOAGE VINEYARDS Grenache 2006 'Skins' - This wine had a nose that smelled like prunes. It had a nice mouthfeel, but was very jammy and pruny, and was high in alcohol as well. I scored it 87 points.
B. BECKMEN VINEYARDS 2006 Purisima Mountain Vineyard Grenache, Whole Cluster - Starting with a pretty perfume nose, this wine tasted of sour cherries and dark stone fruits. The fruit and the acid were a bit out of balance, and I scored it 89 points.
C. BRANDER 2003 Santa Ynez Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve - This wine started out with an old-world musty nose. The wine is nicely oaked, and has a good balance of acid and fruit and has an interesting black licorice finish. I liked it and scored it 91 points.
D. PERRIN & FILS Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2007 - this was a ringer I picked up a few days ago at Costco for about $9.00. This wine was excellent! It has a seductive vanilla nose and a very balanced palate tasting of crushed stones, with a deep peppery finish. I loved it, and scored it 93 points.
E. TERRY HOAGE VINEYARDS cuvee 2006 'The Pick' - this Rhone blend was pruny on the nose like the Hoage grenache reviewed above. However, the wine had nice strength and balance on the palate and featured a pleasant peppery finish. I liked it, and scored it 92 points.
The consensus winner of Round Two was PERRIN & FILS Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2007. This was an interesting result, as a $9.00 ringer picked up at Costco that morning beat out 2 highly regarded Paso Robles wines and 2 highly regarded Santa Barbara County wines, all of which were at least $40.00!
LESSON LEARNED: don't ignore well-regarded, inexpensive, French Rhone wines from Costco!
F. DRAGONETTE CELLARS 2005 Syrah Santa Ynez Valley - This had a pretty barnyardy nose with black fruits notes on the palate and a strong peppery finish. I scored it 88 points.
G. MORGAN Tondre Grapefield 2006 Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands - This wine has a sublime nose with big cherry vanilla cola on the palate and an earthy herbal finish. Wine Spectator scored this wine 90 points, and I scored it 91 points. A really nice pinot!
H. HEDGES CELLARS 2000 Three Vineyards Appellation Red Mountain Red Wine - A really interesting wine with a Bordeaux nose, mocha, cement, and crushed rocks on the palate. I liked it and scored it 89 points.
I. TWO HANDS 'Yesterday's Hero' 2007 Grenache, Barossa Valley, Australia - I picked this one up at Costco also, to compare and contrast with the Santa Barbara and Paso Robles grenaches also in this tasting. It has a nice vanilla nose and strong red fruit and cherry cola on the palate with a strong, clean finish. It was slightly less jammy than its California counterparts in this tasting. If you like pinot from Santa Rita Hills, I think you'd like this wine. It was less than $25.00 at Costco yesterday. I liked it quite a bit, and scored it 91 points.
J. LINNE CALODO 'Sticks and Stones' 2006, Paso Robles - I got this wine at the Linne Calodo Winery in Paso Robles on my birthday 2 years ago and have aged it properly for the past 2 years. Wine Spectator scored this GSM blend 91 points. I didn't love the manure nose, but it has fresh clean fruit and nice spice on the mid palate with a balanced mouth-feel and strong finish. I scored this wine 92 points. For $65.00, I think it is over-priced.
K. PERRIN & FILS Cairanne Cotes Du Rhone Villages Peyre Blanche 2007 - Another ringer I picked up at Costco yesterday for under $20.00 to compare and contrast against the California Rhone blends. The nose makes you realize immediately that this is an old world wine. With hints of vanilla on the nose, and nice red fruits and earthy spice on the palate, combined with the minerally taste of crushed rocks, this wine is a winner. Two of the wine experts at the tasting commented strongly at the difference of a wine like this, where the grapes are harvested from under-ripe to ripe, compared to its California counterparts, which are harvested ripe to over-ripe and end up pruny and jammy. This wine was elegant, distinguished and beautiful! I scored it 91 points, as did Wine Spectator.
L. TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD 2006 Grenache, Paso Robles - Another big, over-ripe Paso Robles Rhone varietal, this wine had nice cola and cherry notes on the palate with a strong fruity finish. I scored it 88 points.
The consensus winner of Round Three was LINNE CALODO 'Sticks and Stones' 2006, Paso Robles. However, I was disappointed to find that it was only marginally more enjoyable than the $20.00 PERRIN & FILS Cotes Du Rhone.
LESSON RE-LEARNED: Don't ignore well-regarded, inexpensive French Rhone wines from Costco!
M. WINDMILL RIDGE WINERY 2006 Petite Sirah, Livermore Valley - A nice, balanced peppery finish characterized this wine. I thought it was a local wine initially. A nice effort; which I scored 87 points.
N. STOLPMAN Sangiovese 2005 Estate Grown, Santa Ynez Valley - I found this wine to be slightly bitter and medicinal. It had decent fruit, but I couldn't get past its flaws. It is possible that this wasn't cellared properly. I scored this wine 83 points.
O. ELK COVE VINEYARDS Reserve Pinor Noir, Willamette Valley 2006 - An oaky and herbal pinot, this wine has a nice, dense mouth-feel and pleasant notes of plum and apricot. I really liked this Pinot, and scored it 91 points. Wine Spectator scored it 93 points. Overall, I didn't feel it was worth the $100 retail price.
P. RUSACK Santa Barbara County Syrah 2005, Ballard Canyon Estate - This wine has an old, stanky nose, but has nice black fruit on the palate with an aggressive peppery finish. I also liked the balance of the fruit and the acid. I scored it 87 points. A good wine for about $20.00.
Q. STOLPMAN La Cuadrilla 2006 Estate Grown, Santa Ynez Valley - A blend of Syrah, Merlot and minor amounts of other varietals. The syrah overpowers the other varietals, and dark fruit and pepper are the hi-lights of this wine. I scored it 87 points.
R. CURRAN 2005 Syrah - Reeves Ranch Reserve - I liked this wine a great deal. I found it to be balanced, with a minerally and cement dust character. I thought it was an old-world Rhone blend. I scored it 89 points.
S. AXIS MUNDI Syrah, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2008 - An interesting Syrah with heavy oak, licorice and a very pleasant balance. I scored this wine 92 points.
T. WINDMILL RIDGE WINERY 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, California - a pleasant Cabernet with big dark fruit and loads of acid. It isn't too oaky, and the alcohol is moderate. I scored it 88 points.
The consensus winner of Round 4 was AXIS MUNDI Syrah, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2008.
LESSON LEARNED: Don't let an atypical wine label scare you away. Some good wines have strange labels!
WINNER OF THE ENTIRE TASTING: PERRIN & FILS Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2007. (Not bad for a $9.00 ringer from Costco!)
Overall, I was most impressed and surprised by the 2 ringers I had purchased at Costco in the morning, one under $20.00, and one under $10.00! I find that I'm growing tired of the over-ripe, pruny, jammy California wines, and that I'm developing a palate for wines that are more balanced, less oaky, and more demure.
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