Taste Camp East 2012 – To each their own!

This year I attended the 4th annual Taste Camp, which was hosted in Virginia for the first time (Northern Virginia wine country to be specific). This year what really stood out as unique were the marked differences in grape growing and vineyard management techniques between the winemakers with whom we had the pleasure of taking vineyard walks.

Each winemaker is so passionate about his/her reasoning for using a particular trellis system, vine spacing, row spacing, etc. that one could easily be convinced that this must be THE WAY to do it in this part of Virginia. That is until a conversation with the next winemaker, who easily debunks the previous method and convinces you of a new ONE.

It seems that a lot of the winemakers in the region tend to use the Smart-Dyson (SD) type of trellis system or a variant of SD called Ballerina trellising versus Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP). I have known about SD for years as we implemented it on several rows at my families’ vineyards about 5 years ago. It seems that over time it has become increasing popular in the Commonwealth, although I know it has been used here for quite some time.

I didn’t think about it at the time we were viewing these vineyards, but one winemaker who doesn’t use SD mentioned that he feels the reason these systems were used was to help thwart problems with vigor and that it was more of a band-aid fix, versus a real solution to the problem. Funny enough, that was the reason we decided to do it at our vineyard, because we had such vigor issues that we couldn’t seem to keep under control, so SD was our attempt at a fix.

Either way you slice it, the winemakers, vineyard managers, etc. are doing what they feel is proper for their site. I think the best thing to do is to continually evaluate your techniques, although it can be time-consuming and costly to rip up vines and replant or re-trellis. We saw a great example of this at Linden Vineyards with Jim Law. After 20 years of doing what he felt was right with some of his Chardonnay vines, a few years ago he decided to rethink things. He planted them based on what he knew then (trellis style, orientation, slope, etc.) and now with his extensive hands-on knowledge about soil type, he is moving things around to give what he feels is a better expression of the grape and the terroir. Pretty amazing – but it seems logical. I mean nobody can get anything exactly right on the first try!

It’s a risky proposition though and an expensive and time consuming one, that I’m sure is hard to swallow no matter how right you think you might be.

The dialogue about vineyard techniques discussed above is one of the great things about Taste Camp. In addition to the immersion in wine, it offers the chance to connect with the people involved, to learn how and why use particular techniques, and to TASTE the results of those techniques. I’m glad there are a variety of styles being used, because that’s what lends variety to the experience and to the wines (for better or worse).

I would like to thank everyone who gave us their time and shared their stories and passion over the weekend. More posts to follow on some of the wines and individual people who are, or WILL be, putting Virginia Wine on the map.

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TasteCamp East Coming to Northern Virginia

After attending the first two years, last year I wasn’t able to attend TasteCamp in the Niagara region of both Canada and New York. I guess life got in the way or something, where are my priorities right? Well this year TasteCamp is coming to my neck of the woods, to explore the Northern Virginia wine region of the Commonwealth and I’ll be there.

Below are the details….


TasteCamp 2012 heads to Northern Virginia

Fourth edition of wine bloggers and wine writers’ meeting heads to Loudoun County, May 4-6.

The organizers of TasteCamp are proud to announce that after exploring the regions of Long Island, the Finger Lakes and Niagara (US and Canada), the event will hold its fourth edition in Northern Virginia wine country on May 4-6, 2012. Several important partners and sponsors have confirmed their participation and are working together to create an exceptional opportunity to discover the very best that Virginia wine has to offer.

The 2012 program will feature the combination of vineyard visits, grand tastings, conversations with winemakers and camaraderie that has made the event so successful over the last three years. Participants will also take part in what has become a TasteCamp tradition, a BYO dinner where wine lovers share special bottles in a freestyle evening of discovery and one-upmanship.

TasteCamp founder and New York Cork Report executive editor Lenn Thompson said that there was much reason for the event to head for the vineyards of Virginia: “The 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference was a great opportunity for both Virginia and bloggers, but I wanted to bring TasteCamp to Northern Virginia to offer a truly immersive experience. We want attendees to eat, drink, sleep and breathe Virginia wine for three days. It’s of course impossible to fully explore a region in just a weekend, but that doesn’t stop us from trying.”

Over its three first years, TasteCamp has generated significant attention for the wine regions where it has taken place, generating dozens of stories and articles every year. It also offers emerging wine regions an exceptional opportunity to have their wines tasted by a passionate outside audience that brings a different light to local wine production and creates new conversations with local winemakers.

Essential Virginia partners

Three of the region’s top wineries will be hosting TasteCamp participants for lunches, dinners and grand tastings of Virginia wines, where many other wineries will provide a portrait of what this increasingly important wine producing state can offer. The three confirmed host wineries are:

  • Breaux Vineyards, in Purcellville overlooking the valley between the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains, is one of Virginia’s most popular estates, with over 100 acres under vines.

  • Boxwood Winery, founded by former Washington Redskins’ owner John Kent Cooke, is located in the historic village of Middleburg, and produces Bordeaux blends from 100% estate-grown fruit, in collaboration with renowned consulting winemaker Stéphane Derenoncourt.

  • Tarara Winery is located in the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains on 475 acres along the Potomac River in Leesburg. One of Loudoun County’s oldest wineries, Tarara focuses on single-vineyard wines.

TasteCamp 2012 organizers are also excited to be counting on partnerships with two key Virginia organizations. The Virginia Wine Board Marketing Office (Virginia Wine) and the Loudoun Convention & Visitors Association (Visit Loudoun) will both be partners of the event, offering logistical, financial and/or transportation support.


Rooms have been set aside at the National Conference Center, in Leesburg, Virginia, only 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and a short drive from most of the vineyards visited over the weekend. A special room rate is offered to TasteCamp guests at this large-scale facility located on a quiet 110-acre campus.

TasteCamp 2012 organizers will have more announcements as the wine weekend approaches.

About TasteCamp

The concept for TasteCamp, created in 2009 by Lenn Thompson, executive editor of the New York Cork Report, is a simple one: getting enthusiastic journalists and bloggers together in a region that is new to them, to taste as much wine as possible and speak to as many winemakers as possible over the course of a weekend.

Most smaller, lesser-known wine regions in the world would love to get their wines in front of new audiences, but it can be a challenge. With TasteCamp, the new audience comes to them.

This is not a junket — attendees pay their own travel expenses, including their hotel rooms and meals. Through generous sponsors, some meals may be deeply discounted.

Follow the Latest updates on TasteCamp 2011:

• On Twitter: #TasteCamp

To participate as an attendee, contact Lenn Thompson at lenn (at) newyorkcorkreport.com

To participate as a sponsor, contact Frank Morgan at frank.j.morgan (at) gmail.com.

For more information, contact co-organizers Remy Charest (remycharest (at) mac.com) and John Witherspoon (vcuspoon1 (at) comcast.net)

Media and interview requests:

Lenn Thompson at lenn (at) newyorkcorkreport.com or

Frank Morgan at frank.j.morgan (at) gmail.com.



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Wednesday random wine reviews…

As I was going through some tasting notes to write up for work, I came to the conclusion that I should start posting some of these once a week. Mostly because it is such a random mix of wines, and thought it might be fun…. and I have to type them up anyway! 🙂


2006 Château de Pibarnon Bandol les Restanques de Pibarnon

Region: Bandol (Provence, France)

Grapes: Mourvedre

Price: $27

Notes…Aromas of black currant, bit of oak, boysenberry, leather and a hint of chocolate followed by flavors of black and red currant, cherry, eucalyptus and black pepper.  Full bodied with huge chewy tannins, great value for a Bandol wine.

2007 Dender Patton “Wisdom” Old Vine Zinfandel

Region: Mendocino County, California

Grapes: 90% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Barbera

Price: $30

Notes…Aromas of raisin, plum, fig and dried currants followed by flavors of blackberry, plum, raisin, tobacco and cocoa powder. Full-bodied, bit of spiciness at the back of the palate with velvety lush tannins.

NV Roncier Bourgougne Rouge

Region: Burgundy (mostly all declassified Mercurey fruit)

Grape: Pinot Noir

Price: $10

Notes…Aromas of cherry, plum, cola and a bit of red clay followed by flavors of plum, spicy clove, smoked mushrooms and black cherry. Medium to full body (for a Burgundy Pinot), long finish. Awesome value!!

Stay tuned for some more random wine reviews…



Categories: $10-$20, $20-$30, wine review | Leave a comment

2009 Macari Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

This time last year I was in Long Island Wine Country with Megan, enjoying some great wine and food, visiting with friends and making new ones. Since we aren’t in Long Island this year I decided to open some wine from the region to help relive the memories from last year. We have lots of red wine in the cellar from that trip, but we were making Indian food last night and I needed a white. I perused around and found the ’09 Macari Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($23). (Check out my post “From Poop to Juice” on our visit to Macari Vineyards last year)

My Tasting Notes…

Nose: pear, citrus, grapefruit, fresh cut grass, slate

Taste: sweet pea, lemon zest, minerality, green apple, grapefruit

Mouthfeel: smooth and crisp with racy acidity on the back of the palate

Finish: medium in length with lingering notes of citrus and sweet pea

Final Thoughts….

This is a very nice and complex Sauvignon Blanc that reminds me of a combination of ones from New Zealand and Touraine. You have great fruit forward nature of New Zealand and the racy acidity and minerality of Touraine. In addition it was a great pairing for the Indian food which was Channa Masala and Palak Aloo.



Categories: $20-$30, New York Wines, sauvignon blanc, wine review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting some Kluge Wines

Being an owner at a wine shop has many advantages, one if which is tasting A LOT of wine. Most of what I taste is from all over the world with a small percentage of it being from here in Virginia. ( I should write a post about that!) Recently a new “rep” for Kluge winery presented myself and my staff with their current lineup. Having not had it in quite a while I was eager to give them a taste.  Over the years I have enjoyed Kluge wines but have had certain concerns in the past. One was their pricing when they got started about 5 years ago – they were crazy! That was quickly and thankfully corrected and I think their prices are excellent for the quality the wines deliver.  The second is the sort of sterile turn the tasting room took with the presentation of their wines. When they first started the wines were tasted with an associate in nice stems. Now they are handed to you with a tasting sheet and served in tulip shaped test tubes, seriously. So needless to say, it is hard to really “evaluate” the wines. Last I checked that this was still the case.

That being said I was glad to taste them in my “home” environment in decent glasses with a person who was well versed in their juice. My two standouts were the 2005 Kluge Estate New World Red ($25) and the Kluge Estate SP Blanc de Blancs ($28). The New World Red is a traditional Bordeaux blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a splash of Malbec. It has some good age on it, and the tannins show it as they have integrated very nicely. A fruit forward style, especially for Virginia, with a nice balance of leather and dried herb notes, graced by a hint of mocha.  The Blanc de Blancs is a traditional Methode Champenoise made from 100% Chardonnay.  Lots of straw and sourdough notes mostly on the nose with rich pear, apple and persimmon notes on the palate. Balanced structure and beautiful tight bubbles.

Needless to say these are two wines I’ll most likely be adding to the Virginia Wine wall at the shop.


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Interview with Jake Busching of Pollak Vineyards

Coming off a great showing at the Monticello Cup Wine Competition here in Virginia, Jake Busching, GM and winemaker of Pollak Vineyards granted me an interview talking about his wines that won at “The Cup”

1. AW: Congratulations on the win at the Monticello Cup! You had four wines place in the competition with the 08 Petite Verdot winning overall, Meritage 07 receiving gold, and the 08 Merlot and 09 Viognier winning Silver. With these representing three different vintages, how much did vintage variation play in the distinction of these wines.

JB: “Vintage is always key to the portrait perceived by the consumer. Especially with our red wines, time plays an integral part in both softening and sensorial profile. Each year being distinct, brings varietal diversity to our program as well. In 2008, for instance the tannins were soft and the fruit very juicy and bright whereas 2007 was all about heat induced ripeness and rugged mouthfeel. Vintage is one of the great things about winegrowing in Virginia; It gives us something to marvel at in a vertical of 3-5 years. Those wines will all be very different and unique.”

2. AW: This was a competition of your “direct peers”. How do you feel these wines would hold up on the national/international scale?

JB: “We enter our reds in International competitions and do quite well. We recently received a gold medal in California with our Merlot, meaning, we beat out a lot of CA and other worldly competition to place. Virginia wine is on its way to the international stage; Viognier, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, and Merlot are all excellent wines in our region.”

Jake on the right

3. AW: I would assume that you go into a competition expecting to win, but were these the results you expected?

JB: “Truthfully, I assume nothing. Every competition is different and the palates of the judges are as varied as our vintages can be. We attempt to craft high quality wines. Pollak Vineyards is the most vital vineyard I have ever worked with. The land is very expressive in the fruit and the intensity carries over into the wine. I love to win acclaim for the wine. My heart and soul goes into winegrowing and a little nod from discerning palates is always nice.”

4. AW: As a continuation of question #3, of the wines you submitted, did you expect to win overall with the 2008 Petite Verdot?

JB: “Not at all. The PV 08 is an infant of a wine. Having just gone into bottle in February, it is still very tight and to my thinking, a bit numb. It is expressive now but in 6-10 months this wine is going to start unveiling itself. PV is a curious wine to make and even more bizarre to pair with food. Which makes it all the more fun. Having this medal hanging on it is going to make it disappear from our tasting room very quickly. I hope people give it time to become the wine it is meant to be.”

5. AW: Some winemakers have said that PV will take the reigns as VA’s red grape and surpass the quality that Cab Franc has shown. Do you think this to be the case?

JB: “PV is too unique to become our flagship wine. I think of it more as a cult following wine. People either love it or hate it. Petit Verdot is more of a little brother to Cab Franc or an unruly cousin maybe. It has a long way to go to get to the refined place Cab Franc can find here in parts of VA.”

6. AW: With the up and down start to the 2010 growing season, how is the vintage shaping up?

JB: “My standard answer to this question is “Ask me in December”. Beyond that, the vineyard is off to a great start and a touch ahead of where we were this time last year. I am ever hopeful, of course…”.

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Two years goes by fast

When I first visited Barrel Oak Winery in Delaplane, Virginia it looked like this…

…now they are about to celebrate their 2 year anniversary this Memorial Day weekend.  Being a bit of a distance away I don’t get up to see the winery as often as possible but when I do, I always have a great time.  Sharon and Rick (the winemakers) invite me up from time to time to taste what they have going on the cellar.  It’s always fun, because they love hearing the good and the bad about their creations.  This weekend as you would imagine they are having a HUGE celebration, and I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to make it. If you are in the area, stop by for the fun, it is sure to be a great time. Check out the list of activities for the weekend below…

1.  Releasing their most popular wines this weekend:  BOWHaus White and BOWHaus Red as well as the highly anticipated Rose.

2.  Opening the new art show by Ben Roeder: “Traces of Memory, an Abstract Introspective”.

3.  Featuring great live music Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights!

4.  They are giving a Golden Ticket to every purchaser of a case of Barrel Oak wine.  These Golden Tickets contain the gift of a free tasting for two, a combo platter, a bottle of wine, or a membership in the BOWClub.  These gifts range in value from $18 to $175.

5.  Raffling off TWO Aged Barrels with memberships in our Barrel Club.  Each membership has a value of over $1300.  Everyone tasting wines over the weekend will receive a raffle ticket.

Additionally, on Saturday and Sunday they will have awesome food service from Local 647, serving the best locally sourced farm-fresh organic foods and runners up winners of ABC Weekend’s 2009 Best Food Cart in America Competition.

There will be great music Friday from 6-9 with Demetrios and Curtis and dancing to the sunsets on Saturday 6-9pm to local favorites eNVee and Sunday 6-9pm to the Fabulous Exaggerations!  And Sunday they will have old-timey music during the day with Poor Ellen Smith.


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TasteCamp 2010, an evening at Red Newt Cellars

The first evening of TasteCamp finished up with a tasting and dinner at Red Newt Cellars on Seneca Lake. The sun setting over the lake provided a beautiful backdrop to the evening as well as providing a delicate amber hue to the tasting room.  Laid out in front of us were 3 stations of Riesling from 3 different vintages. At each table were the 3 wineries that go into the Tierce Wine Riesling, as well as the specific vintage of Tierce.

About Tierce…

“Tierce Dry Riesling represents a unique collaborative effort of Anthony Road Wine Company, Fox Run Vineyards and Red Newt Wine Cellars..This wine pulls together not only the unique vineyard expressions of Seneca Lake, but also the individual philosophies of the participating winemakers.”

I started at the ’06 table, not sure why…in hind sight I should have started with the ’04 table. I went to ’04 after ’06 and felt that the ’04 was slightly dead and I think some of this perception may have been precipitated by the outstanding quality of the ’06.  Regardless of order, I feel that the ’04 Reislings were a bit tired, quality not withstanding, just past their peak.

Peter Bell, winemaker at Fox Run talking about the '06 wines

Back to the ’06….wow, awesome stuff! I started with the Anthony Road Dry Riesling which had great, but not crazy acidity, and was tropical in nature, with dried apricot, pear and slight fusel notes. Next up was the Fox Run, not as powerful a nose as the Anthony Road, but still quite nice. Hints of refreshing raspberry on the nose with a bit of mustard seed, orange zest and citrus notes on the palate and plenty of zippy acidity. Red Newt was third and showed the most minerality so far of the three. Slightly “richer” than the previous two, and showed lots of citrus, pear and peach notes. Excellent balance between the body and acidity providing a great, “complex” mouthfeel. Last but not least was the Tierce, a blend from the 3 wineries, but not necessarily equal parts of each. This was definitely a case of where the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The 06 Tierce had rocking acidity, and exquisite minerality that was flinty in nature. It was dominated by tropical notes like the Anthony Road with plenty of lemon-lime and pear notes with interesting hints of banana peel. The ’06 Tierce had it all, an outstanding Riesling.

The ’05 table was highlighted by Red Newt Riesling. It had great minerality, again providing a flinty quality. Loads of lemon-lime flavors reminding me of a Vinho Verde but more complex with back end flavors of pear, peach and juicy Asian pear. The other ’05’s didn’t do much for me. I felt the ’05 Anthony Road was a bit flat and the ’05 Fox Run was too soapy in nature.

Red Newt dinner aftermath

Dinner at Red Newt was provided by Red Newt Bistro which as you would imagine is attached to the winery. I had a special vegetarian dinner prepared by Debra Whiting, executive chef and wife of winemaker David Whiting. Instead of the main course of bacon wrapped beef tenderloin that everyone else had I had a portabello mushroom stuffed with an interestingly delicious concoction.  The flavor and texture was amazing and complimented the family style asparagus and mashed potatoes that were passed around.

Red Newt is very social media savvy and it was evident at the winery. A large screen TV  was streaming our #tastecamp tweets as well as the event was being recorded on Ustream for the world to see. Definitely a first for both of these at a winery, at least for me. It impressed me immensely to see how “tapped in” Red Newt was.

Cheers and thanks to all the winemakers, assistant winemakers and staff from all the wineries who help put this on.

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Vineyard Visuals: White Hall Vineyards

These shots are from White Hall Vineyards in White Hall, Virginia. They were taken a little over a week ago.

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Back to the beginning…

This is a guest post from friend John McClung, Real Estate Agent by day, wine lover by night. You can follow him on Twitter @johndmcclung.

I had a great bottle of wine the other night. Almost tweeted about it, but it was too special. Let me explain:

My first taste of a wine that was not pink, Portuguese, and known more for the shape of the bottle than the wine, was a shipper label, Bordeaux made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. For me, this wine was different, plenty of fruit, and was dry and complex enough to show that a wine can be more than just grape juice or tannins with alcohol.

I quickly went back to the liquor store, but they were out and wouldn’t be getting any more. I searched other liquor stores and no one had it. I guess that was to be expected, after all, wine was not on the minds of America in 1978, and particularly not in Lexington, Ky a college town devoted to Bourbon and beer at the time.

This lead to what turned out to be a 2 and a half year quest to find a wine with  similar flavor and complexity. In the meantime I discovered that wines produced in California, could be labeled Cabernet Sauvignon and have up to 25% other grape varieties, and though I detected some that were similar to what I was looking for the quest lived on. I tried other types of wines and I tried as many Bordeaux as I could afford including Chateau Cantenac-Brown, which became a favorite for special occasions.

Eventually I found a wine that was similar in flavor, bigger and complex. It had the cherry, and plum, tobacco, earth and a touch of brown spice complimented by vanilla from the oak. Unlike most serious California wines of 1981, it was not called by the grape name, but rather had it’s own proprietary name of Marlstone. Finally an affordable, (at that time compared to Bordeaux) wine worth drinking.

So, it was not a shock, when I opened a 1995 bottle that had great red color and no brown edges and excellent depth of flavor including the cherry, plum and a hint of tobacco. The body might have been a little thin, but otherwise this 15 year old wine was tremendous. I look forward to the other bottle sitting there waiting for what now should be a special occasion, you know, like wine time.

Be great!

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Hermann J. Wiemer 2008 “Magdalena Vineyard” Riesling; better with food

Don’t let the title fool you, this wine rocked on it’s own, but the Wiemer 2008 “Magdalena Vineyard” Riesling ($36) is definitely a food wine. I tasted the wine originally at TasteCamp, where I bought a couple of bottles to bring home with me. I’m glad I bought two, wish I had bought more, but I couldn’t resist popping one open the other night. I hope I can hold on to the other one for a few years because I would love to see how this ages. Megan had made a mushroom, broccolini, carmelized onion and Piave cheese Quiche, that I thought the Magdalena would sing with, so I popped it open. I was right, the richness of the quiche was a perfect pairing for the acidity and complexity of the Riesling.  The flavor profile matched my notes from TasteCamp, but I didn’t note the acidity to be quite as high. (for the reason in the previous sentence, plus it was compounded with the acidity of the previous 5 wines)

The specifications for the 08 Magdalena aren’t up on on the Wiemer website, as the wine wasn’t exactly released yet. I do know it’s 100% Riesling that is all estate grown.

The wine provides lots of tropical undertones, with the addition of kiwi notes and a splash of fresh squeezed limeade. Great acidity, perfect for rich dishes, great slate/stone minerality and a bit of a chalky note on the back of the palate with a touch of green banana at the finish.

If you are a Riesling fan, definitely seek this wine out.


Categories: $30-$40, riesling, wine review | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Vineyard Visuals – Jefferson Vineyards

These pictures were taken at Jefferson Vineyards which is in the Monticello AVA, about a week ago.

If you would like to have your vineyard visuals on the blog, just shoot me an email.


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An afternoon at Ravines Wine Cellars

Ravines was the second stop on our first day of TasteCamp 2010. We meandered around Keuka Lake from Heron Hill to the Eastern side where Ravines has a beautiful view of the Lake.  Morten and Lisa Hallgren had a great list of wines for us to taste, setup in a paired fashion for a little “tete a tete” action. Morten came to the Finger Lakes from his childhood in Provence by way of Texas and Ashville, NC where he was winemaker for The Biltmore Estate. Before 2000, when they purchased the 17 acre property where Ravines Cellars sits, Morten was chief winemaker at Dr. Konstantin Franks for six years. Besides his vast wine making experience, Morten has an advanced degree in both Enology and Viticulture at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Agronomie in Montpellier. On paper he knows what he’s doing and his knowledge and passion definitely translate to the glass.

Morten Hallgren

My favorites of what we tasted…

2006 Dry Riesling – lime and slate with a hint of fennel and a bit of ginger at the finish. Steely minerality and ripping acidity.

2008 Dry Riesling – hint of apricot, sliced with an arrowhead found in a riverbed, loads of lemon/lime and vibrant but manageable acidity.

2008 Dry Riesling Argetsinger Vineyard – pear juice, apple core, and floral notes. Subtle layers of tangerine rounded out the palate. The theme of minerality and vibrant acidity again played out here. The second time we enjoyed this was the next morning in the vineyard from where this wine is produced. What a treat!

2007 Cabernet Franc – lots of supple fruit, black and red fruit intermingling with highlights of blackberry and red currant. Dotted with notes of white pepper and Italian herbs, adding some depth to the fruit fowardness of the wine. Full body and smooth with velvety tannins.

As you can see, it was a great tasting, and this was only half of what we tasted. Thanks to Lisa and Morten for showing us a great time.


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Pinot from Patagonia

Yes, a Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Argentina. Yesterday I had the opportunity to taste this wine. It wasn’t knock your socks off good, but at $11.50 I was quite impressed. The wine region of Patagonia is growing as more winemakers are seeing the promise of producing cooler climate wines, such as Pinot Noir.  The southern Patagonia region includes the fruit producing regions of Río Negro and Neuquén (which is where this wine comes from) which has a considerably cooler climate than the major regions to the north which provides for a long, drawn out growing season in the predominately chalky soils.

Some specs…

Region: Neuquén, Argentina

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 14% (high I think for cool climate and the balance this showed)

Total Acidity: 4.65 g/L

Oak: 6 months 50/50 – French/American

Bottled: February 2008

Price: $11.50

What I thought…

The nose was a bit tight, floral and black fruit notes that were indistinguishable snuck out of the glass ever so slightly. Very smooth with lots of plum, black cherry, hints of floral & cedar notes with edges of red currant and cranberry. Medium bodied and smooth all the way to the finish with lush velvety tannins.


Categories: $10-$20, wine tasting | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

TasteCamp 2010 – Experiment gone awry!

I love wineries who get inventive with their tastings. Whether it’s cool flights, vintage comparisons or in this case comparisons between oak aging, it always brings out the geek in me. Unfortunately this was an experiment gone awry! Instead of one over oaked Chardonnay, this winery had three, well really four.  The cool experiment was three identical Chardonnays, the only difference being the oak they were aged in, French, American and Hungarian.  Sounds cool right?  I think the winemaker achieved his goal, we were evaluating wood, not wine.  We would have been better off sticking chunks of barrel in our mouth and topping it with an eyedropper of Chardonnay.  Honestly the oak was so overpowering, that was all I tasted.  Sounds harsh I know, but this could have been a really cool exercise.  But instead of evaluating the flavor of the wine, I was evaluating the flavor of the oak. To me it seemed that the oak was the focus, not the wine, and that’s where I think it went awry. I have been to plenty of tastings that mirror this type of experiment and it can be a really great learning especially when done blind.

Oak or no oak it’s a personal choice, just give me a little fruit to go along with it.  I didn’t see a whole lot of oak mis-treatment over the weekend in the Finger Lakes, but Chardonnay and Merlot seemed to stand out as two varieties that can’t handle new wood.  Not sure why that is!  It would be great to see Chablis style Chardonnays out of the Finger Lakes.  With the acidity and minerality that the Rieslings show, teasing/expressing those in a Chardonnay would make a great wine.  Obviously this is my opinion, and plenty of people like OAK BOMBS, but I prefer a little more subtlety.


Categories: Taste Camp | Tags: , , | 2 Comments