Monthly Archives: March 2008

Virtual Visit to Priorat

In our effort to keep trying new wines, we picked up this Priorat a couple of weeks ago at the Wine Cellar.  The 2001 Rotllan Torra Priorat Reserva comes for the Priorat DOQ in Southern Spain in the province of Catalonia. Wines from Priorat can include the Garnacha, Carinena (Carignan), Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Pedro Ximinez grapes as well as others but primarily focus on the 1st two mentioned here.  The soils of Priorat consist of black slate and mica that come from the volcanic activity that was once part of the area. This type of soil reflects the sunlight and stores heat forcing the roots of the vines to dive deep for their nutrients and moisture.

The 2001 Rotllan Torra Reserva is made from 50% Garnacha, 25% Carignan, and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine which came from 30 – 40 year old vines, was aged for 24 months in oak barrels before being put in the bottle.

My Tasting Notes –

Color – Dark Purple

Nose – Grape must, raw mushroom, cassis

Taste – Raisin, blackberry, mint, prune

Mouthfeel – polished up front with great leathery tannins towards the finish

Finish – Long length with a lot of fruit flavor hanging around

As odd as it may sound, this wine reminded me of Zinfandels that I have had from the Dry Creek Valley area. I am not sure if this is typical of wines from Priorat, but regardless it was quite a nice wine. At $19, I would definitely buy it again and would recommend it to others. One surprising thing was the color, I was amazed to see the dark purple color of a 2001 wine that spent 2 years in oak.  My interest for Priorat wines is definitely peaked and I can’t wait to try some more.


Categories: Priorat, wine review | 1 Comment

Jefferson Would Be Proud

Although Thomas Jefferson had trouble growing grapes in the Commonwealth in the 18th century, the same is not true for Jefferson Vineyards in the 21st century. Located just outside of Charlottesville Virginia, the current Jefferson Vineyards has 20 acres of vines that include Chardonnay, Viognier, Petite Verdot, Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well as other vinifera grape varietals.  Committed to producing excellent wines in Virginia, Andy Reagan came on board as Jefferson’s winemaker and vineyard manager in 2005 (I am pretty sure), and brought with him quite a few years of winemaking experience from other well known wineries in Virginia.

So on to the tasting notes, which are for the 2006 Jefferson Vineyards Petite Verdot made from 100% of the small berried varietal.

Color – Magenta

Nose – Cherry, fried chicken, boysenberry (not jammy), brussel sprouts and swiss cheese

Taste – Blueberry, raw green peppers, raspberry, brussel sprouts again and oregano

Mouthfeel – Medium body, polished, tannins were evident and pulled the reigns toward the finish

Finish – Medium time course, linger flavors of brussel sprout and bright red fruit

 We picked this wine up while tasting at Jefferson about this time last year. My original notes weren’t as detailed since I only had an ounce or so to work with, but in looking at them, the fruit profile was similar but I had noted more earthy, tobacco notes versus the nice green veggie notes that I got this time.  I would have thought with the natural progression of the wine it would’ve been the other way around.  But that is the great thing about wine, it is always changing and it can always throw a great curve ball. In my notes was also a reference to the high level of tannins that were still in the wine a year ago, and although they are still present now, they have smoothed out nicely.

If you are in the Charlottesville area I suggest making a trip to Jefferson Vineyards, they have a beautiful landscape and some great wines.


Categories: jefferson vineyards, virginia wine, wine review | Leave a comment

Rosé on the rise

Too bad Rosé isn’t traded on the stock exchange, because sales are on the rise!

An article today in Wines and Vines tells us that Rosé may be shedding its oh so wrong image of a sweet wine for beginners. The bad public opinion of the beautifully pink drink stems from images of drinking White Zinfandel and other sickly (in my opinion) sweet pink wines that arose in the late 70’s through the early 80’s (I think my dates are right).

But Rosé is a wonderful wine that Megan and I really got into last year and if you read the W&V article, we aren’t the only ones. Rosés that are made in the traditional dry or slightly off-dry style are the best of both the red and white wine world. You get more body and the nice light red fruit notes from the red side of the family, and the crisp refreshing aspects from the white side of the family. Rosés go very well with many traditional food dishes included fresh cut fruit, which is a perfect pairing for a hot afternoon on the deck or at the beach. My favorite food pairings for a good dry Rosé are Indian and Thai dishes, where I would normally choose a Gewürztraminer or a Riesling. For summer time deck parties I usually have a bottle or two in the ice chest next to the beer and it is always a big hit. More evidence of Rose’s resurgence is its appearance on more and more winery tasting sheets. And the winery tasting room staff are usually quick to say something like “this is done in the dry or French style, so don’t worry.” I always get a kick out of that!

For Virginia readers of this blog wanting to buy local and think you cannot get a good dry Rosé here in the Commonwealth, think again. Some Virginia wineries are putting out some very nice Rosés that can go toe to toe with their domestic and foreign counterparts. Just a few of the wineries I have sampled from are Barboursville, Kluge, DelFosse, and Woodland Vineyard.


Categories: Rosé, wine industry issues | 4 Comments

If You Could Imagine Doing Anything Else, What Would It Be?

This was the question that Brian Roeder asked his wife Sharon while on a business trip in Key West. After thinking for a minute, Sharon responded that she didn’t know, but that she kept having a recurring dream of waking up in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee and going out to check the grapes. After giving this answer to the same question two years in a row, Brian deciding to do something about it, and started the process of building a top notch family winery and vineyard in the rolling hills of Northern Virginia (Delaplane).

Picture of the winery taken from the main house

This past Saturday Megan and I got the opportunity to meet Brian and Sharon at their home. We were able to sip some of the wines from their first vintage and were given a guided tour of their winery, which is currently under construction but will be ready for their grand opening of Barrel Oak Winery on Memorial Day weekend.

The Roeders jumped in feet first, garnering information and expertise from some of the big names in the Virginia wine industry such as Chris Pearmund, Jim Law, Chris Hill and Tom Payette to name a few. Brian is focusing on the business side of things, while Sharon has focused her attention on learning vineyard management and winemaking skills – working with the school of thought that the winemaker needs to be as connected to the grapes as possible.

The winery, designed by the Roeders with the help of acclaimed winery architect Kristofer Sperry, is truly amazing. The expansive 4000 sq ft tasting room will feature a stone fireplace, spectacular views and an upstairs loft for special wine dinners and educational tasting sessions. The goal of the tasting room and its well-trained staff will be to provide a unique and memorable experience focused on wine, fun and learning. Below the tasting room is a 9000 sq ft underground processing and storage facility, which will include tank rooms, barrel caves and case storage with a total of 5 different temperature zones. In addition, the winery will house an underground wine library and a supplemental tasting area for large groups. The entire facility was designed for optimal flow from grape to bottle, and every detail has been meticulously planned in order to maximize wine quality while minimizing energy usage. The Roeders designed the winery and tasting room using high efficiency building materials and geothermal heating and cooling systems. In addition, clerestory windows bathe the tasting room in natural light and can be opened or closed to control air flow and to maintain a comfortable temperature.

The Winery – patio in the forefront with the entrance to the production area to the right

The first vintage of Barrel Oak wines will not be estate wines. Rather, the Roeders purchased wines from several other highly regarded vineyards from the Northern Virginia area and blended and manipulated them in order to create finished wines in their own signature style. Barrel Oak Winery will have a 3-tier wine program consisting of the BowHaus series, the Bow Wow series, and the Barrel Oak Winery Reserve Series. The BowHaus series will be the house bottling and will feature artist-designed labels, while the Bow Wow labels will feature small paw prints of different colors to help sippers remember their favorite wines by color association. The varieties to first grace the tasting sheet will be Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Norton, Petite Verdot, Viognier, Seyval Blanc Late Harvest Viognier and a Chocolate Lab dessert wine (made with real chocolate!). Look to 2009 for the first estate bottlings of Traminette, Petite Manseng, Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin.

Brian and Sharon shared three of their upcoming wines with us as we sat around and chatted about the wine industry and the exciting things that Barrel Oak Winery has in store for it. We tasted the 2005 BowHaus Red, the 2005 Norton and the 2005 Cabernet Franc – here are my notes.

BowHaus Red – (the kitchen sink blend of Cab Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Malbec, Touriga, Norton) – Nice cherry and cranberry aromas, darker fruit flavors with a hint of blueberry and a spicy finish.

Norton – blackberry and cocoa powder on the nose with the typical “grape” flavor profile of the Norton grape and a little green bean thrown in towards the finish. I am not usually a fan of Norton but this one did peak my interest.

Cabernet Franc (80% Cab Franc, 20% Chambourcin) – Cherry, anise and chocolate on the nose with a wonderful green pepper and raspberry flavor on the palate. Very Nice!

In addition to her passion for wine, Sharon has a passion for cycling and in particular the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Even though she wears her yellow wristband proudly on her ankle, she is taking her passion one big step further. The winery will offer a Tour Ga Franc (play on Tour de France), which will be a blend of Touriga and Cabernet Franc. The bottles will feature the signature yellow of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and $2 of every bottle sold will be donated to Lance’s foundation. How cool is that!!

You may have noticed the doggie theme that runs through the Barrel Oak Winery, thanks to the Roeders’ love for the canine species. We got a chance to meet Barley, the family’s winery dog, who was a bundle of energy and, as you can see, very photogenic. Also keep your eye out for a new addition to the doggie family on opening day!

Opening Day will be Friday May 23rd for Memorial Day weekend, so mark you calendars to check out Brian and Sharon’s awesome new winery. With a great line-up of delicious wines to taste, the fantastic views of the mountains, the neighboring John Marshall Oak Hill estate and the grazing horses at the farm next door, you are sure to have an excellent time in Virginia Wine Country.


Categories: barrel oak winery, virginia wine, wine review, winery review | 5 Comments

Wine Blogging Wednesday #44 Announced

Wine Blogging Wednesday #44 is hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk at Wine Library TV and the theme is French Cabernet Franc. French Cabernet Franc comes primarily from the Loire Valley but some Bordeaux varietals feature 100% (or almost 100%) so there are quite a few options out there for you. 

Blog entries are due on April 2nd and post your entry to Gary’s comments for this episode of Wine Library TV and he’ll figure out some way to summarize this event.

Over at Domaine547, they have a great option for all of us WBW procrastinators.  They have put together a 3 pack that gives you great wines for the next three WBW’s, how cool.  Even though it awesome to see all the different wines that people choose for WBW, it will be great to see all the different and/or same tasting notes on the 3 wines in the Domaine547 blogger pack.


Categories: domaine547, Wine Blogging Wednesday, wine library tv | Leave a comment

Tasting and Toasting at the VMFA

Last Wednesday Megan and I treated ourselves to a fun wine and cultural event at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.  The event, which included a tasting of 10 wines and some fabulous hors d’ oeuvres, was to promote the book The Art of Drinking by Philippa Glanville. The evening started with a one hour lecture by Philippa that was extremely fascinating and educational as well as quite amusing. Philippa had a great ability to mix in her British humor with the loads of information on how the act of drinking alcohol has changed throughout time.  The majority of her focus was on the 16th and 17th centuries and then briefly touched on the eras closer to the current day.  In the 16th and 17th century drinking alcohol was a key part of people’s lives as water was sometimes unfit to drink. Alcohol, mostly in the form of ale or wine, was a part of your pay stipend as well as present at every meal except for breakfast, and was an important nutritional source, particularly for the lower classes.  In addition to the social aspect of drinking, her lecture and her book focus on the vessels that surrounded the culture of drinking. Whether it be the very ornamental drinking glasses (although glass was rarely used before the 19th century because it was more expense to manufacture versus pewter and silver) or the vessels that people used to store and transport wine since it was not served in single servings.

Here is a brief synopsis from her book –

Alcohol is a mood changer, a pleasure of the flesh, and a metaphor for indulgence. It has enhanced life; stimulated a flood of art, advertising, and interior design; generated new objects from the corkscrew to the cocktail shaker; and fueled vivid celebrations of rites of passage, victories; and state occasions over the past 500 years. The Art of Drinking is a celebration and exploration of the extraordinary range of visual material created to exploit, celebrate, sell, and simply enjoy alcoholic beverages. 


On to the tasting –

The number represents the order in which I tasted 


Aresti A Chardonnay 2006 – (6) – from Chile – very oaky, alcohol taste, slight funky smell – thumbs down

Dragon’s Hollow Chardonnay 2005 – (5) – from China – starfruit, stone, asian pear, simple and crisp – thumbs up

Sauvignon Blanc

Aresti A Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – (3) – flat, very off balance with slight pear – thumbs down

Warwick Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007 – (4) – from Stellenbosch – ton of grapefruit, green pepper and jalapeno, very crisp – thumbs up


Spy Valley Riesling 2005 – (1) – petroleum, super ripe pear, mineral – thumbs up

Louis Guntrum Dry Riesling 2006 – (2) – apple and floral nose, mineral and honey flavor – thumbs up


Aresti A Merlot 2005 – (9) – black cherry, boysenberry, blueberry, spicy finish – 1 thumb up

Weinert Merlot 2002 – (10) – from Mendoza – earthy nose, green olive, raspberry, meat flavor, very smooth and polished – thumbs up – very old world style from a new world location

Pinot Noir

Aresti Estate Pinot Noir 2006 – (8) – from Chile – cranberry sauce, blueberry, nutmeg, oddly enough construction paper – 1 thumb up

Louis Guntrum Pinot Noir 2005 – (7) – light herbs, strawberry flavor, very soft on the mid palate with an acidic finish – thumbs down 

On the whole the wines were okay but nothing special. The 3 standouts were the Weinert Merlot 2002, the Warwick Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2007 and just out of the sheer cool factor the Chinese Dragon’s Hollow Chardonnay. Megan and I had a great time, learned a lot and tasted some new wines, what a fabulous way to spend an evening. 


Categories: vmfa, wine review, wine tasting | 1 Comment

Germany meets India

Germany met India on my palate with the 2005 Bert Simon Serrig Herrenberg Riesling Kabinett.

This wine comes from the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer region of Germany.  Deciphering the label a bit more, it comes from the Saar valley in the village of Serrig and the vineyard Herrenberg.  An interesting side note for all you fans of the 3 word name for this famous region. From now on it is going to be called Mosel, which the German government thinks will be easier for wine consumers to understand. Now I just feel bad for Saar and Ruwer getting dropped off the end like that, their river valleys are just as nice. haha

On to the wine – 

Color – Golden

Nose – Floral, pear, apricot

Taste – Honey, Petroleum, citrus, lime, hint of sweetness

Mouthfeel – Nice & round, medium to full body with soft acidity

Finish – pure clean mineral notes that persisted for quite a while

We had this wine with one of our Indian dishes, Dopiaza. Although we put more veggies in it than you would find in the traditional dish, the sauce still tastes the same.  The wine was an excellent pairing for the slight heat of the food, with the floral nose and the hint of citrus and honey on the palate to really accentuate the south Indian flavors in the food.  The clean mineral finish really left the mouth ready for the next bite of naan and tofu, drenched in Dopiaza sauce.  This is an excellent buy at $18, although I understand that the 2005 is the last vintage that Bert Simon will be making wine.  If anyone can verify this for me, please let me know.


Categories: Mosel Saar Ruwer, riesling, wine review | 2 Comments

Pinot Noir Tasting at The Wine Cellar

This Friday at the Wine Cellar Jeff will be focusing on Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir by many accounts is the most difficult grape to care for in the vineyard and to manage in the cellar. The grapes tender skin is highly sensitive to climate variations, and is best suited to cooler climates, where in hotter climates as Jancis Robinson puts it, Pinots sensual “essence can easily turn to jam.” Just as important as the weather, the soil adds another factor in the complexity of growing Pinot Noir, thriving best in soils that are composed primarily of limestone. Thus, Pinot Noir is a direct product of its environment and a great example of terroir expression.

To showcase how different environments showcase the many faces of Pinot Noir Jeff will have us taste Pinots from New Zealand, Oregon, California and of course France.

FREE as always this Friday from 5:00 to 8:00.


Categories: Pinot Noir, wine cellar, wine tasting | 1 Comment

Papa Loves Mambo

I think if Perry Como were still alive he would love Mambo once again, Hey Mambo that is. Hey Mambo Sultry Red is a luscious blend from the Other Guys, a Don Sebastiani & Sons brand.  The 2006 Sultry Red is a typical field blend of Barbera, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignane and Alicante Bouchet grapes, although these did not all come from the same field.  

My Tasting Notes

Color – Dark red with a hint of purple

Nose – Blueberry, tobacco, eucalyptus, hint of “good” barnyard, meaty, blackberry jam

Taste – Cranberry, green veggies, toast, blueberry, leather

Mouthfeel – Medium body with soft tannins towards a dusty tannin finish

Finish – fairly long leaving hints of leather, cranberry and green pepper

 Megan and I asked Hunter at the Wine Cellar a couple of weeks ago to recommend a new inexpensive red wine.  He pulled out this bottle and told us not to judge the book by its cover, as he did and was then amazed by how it tasted.  So we gave it a shot and were amazed too.  I was expecting a full bodied fruit bomb and got a layered complex delight.  I don’t know if this is how all the vintages are, but for $12 this is a great buy for an everyday drinker.

Another interesting note is that this wine is closed by a Zork. This is my first bottle that I have purchased that has used this type of closure. Check out the Zork website for more details on this cool capper.


Categories: don sebastiani and sons, wine review | 6 Comments

Review of Saturday Tasting at The Wine Cellar and WBC #2

Saturday’s tasting and food event featured some good wines and some fabulous foods. Unfortunately since all of the food was meat or seafood related I can’t comment on it, but it did smell quite good.

 We had 5 wines for tasting, 1 white and 4 reds. The white was a Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc that was very aromatic and crisp, great citrus notes and a mineral finish. The first red up for tasting was the Black and White 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon from Topanga Vineyards. Sourced from Napa Valley this wine contains 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 2% Petite Verdot. It was very dark in color, lots of dark fruit flavors with a full and soft mouthfeel. Next up was 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon from X Winery which I have had the 2003 vintage of.  This 2004 was full of cherry and plum, with a medium body and a dry finish.  Third on the red list was the 2003 Arbios Cabernet Sauvignon which I have also had before. Arbios did not disappoint and was quite good once again.  This bottle showed a lot of cassis, leather and toasted pine nuts with a very long fruit laden finish.  Last but not least was the Dry Creek Vineyard 2003 Meritage which was a mix of primarily Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot rounding out the blend. This was my favorite of the day and the one that I took home with me.  Great black cherry, chocolate powder and black currant lead to a great full bodied wine that finished long and smooth.

WBC #2 has been announced by Tim at Winecast and is the book Noble Rot: A Bordeaux Wine Revolution by William Echikson.  This is the second in the line of Wine Book Club meetings that is the brain child of Dr Debs at Good Wine Under 20 Dollars.  The meeting date for WBC #2 is April 29th.


Categories: Wine Book Club, wine cellar, wine tasting | Leave a comment

Special Saturday Tasting at The Wine Cellar

Today at the Wine Cellar Jeff is having a special wine tasting and food show from 1:00 – 4:00.  He will sample some high end reds from California and one white.  In addition to the wine he will serving prime rib, duck breast, pork rib chops and lamb rack along with sushi tuna, scallops and swordfish.  And since I don’t eat any of the above, that means more for the rest of you.

I attend almost all of the tastings at the Wine Cellar and post about what they will have there, but very rarely do I post after the fact.  Taster B from the blog Smells Like Grape made me realize this the other day when she commented on the post I did announcing the Merlot tasting at the Wine Cellar. She said she looked forward to hearing about the tasting, but unfortunately I didn’t have any plans to write about my experience while I was there.  So I thought from now on I will try to write about the wines that I sample at the usual Friday night tastings as well as special ones like the one today.


Categories: wine cellar, wine tasting | 2 Comments

Open That Bottle Night – Belated

We actually did open this bottle of wine on the OTBN date 2 weekends ago, I just had not gotten around to writing about it yet. I thought maybe since it was so far after the fact I shouldn’t, but then I figured what the heck.

I had originally thought that I could convince Megan to open one of our Caymus Cabernet’s which is what I stated I would probably open on Farleys blog, Behind The Vines. When the time came though, it was not the Cabernet that we opened but another special wine from Caymus, the 2003 Zinfandel. Yes Caymus makes a Zinfandel, and a damn good one at that. They only sell it from the tasting room so on 2 of our visits to Napa we scored bottles from both the 2003 and 2004 vintage.

Unfortunately I can’t write much background on the wine because Caymus does not list this wine on their website. But I am sure you are saying “John, don’t you have it in your notes?” Well that is the second unfortunate thing, I cannot seem to find my tasting notebook from that year.

So here are my notes on the wine –

Nose – Fig, black currant jam, caramel, coffee, vanilla bean

Taste – Pine, raisins, cherry and clove

Mouthfeel – soft and full bodied, white pepper spiciness towards the finish

Finish – dry and long

This Zin rocked! Caymus’ excellence in making wine was definitely evident with this bottle, which is why we bought it. The aromatics were extremely powerful, leaping out of the glass with both hands and pulling my nose right down into the wine. Very well balanced with the tannins playing a little tug-o-war in my mouth which was nice, as it provided some good structure to the wine. I think we paid around $30 for it which I wouldn’t mind paying again. It definitely rivals the other California Zin’s that are top performers at this price point.


Categories: behind the vines, caymus, OTBN, wine review | 1 Comment

Legal Age 21 or 20 or 18

Recently, Vermont was in the news for their efforts to roll back the drinking age allowing young adults age 18 – 20 to purchase alcoholic beverages under certain circumstances. In reading this article I came across the non –profit group Choose Responsibility, which “was founded to stimulate informed and dispassionate public discussion about the presence of alcohol in American culture and to consider policies that will effectively empower young adults age 18 to 20 to make mature decisions about the place of alcohol in their own lives.” The site explains where the 21 year old drinking age limit came from in 1984, myths around how well the law works or doesn’t at keeping underage kids from drinking, and provides both arguments for and against “Legal Age 21”. Their proposal to “fix” the under age drinking problem is to do it through education similar to driver education moving away from the current “Just Say No” method to one that empowers young adults to make proper decisions when it comes to alcohol and deal with it as a part of American culture.

Some interesting facts from the site –

Myth – Legal Age 21 keeps people under 21 from actually consuming alcohol

Facts – From the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth: 96% of the alcohol drunk by 15-20 year-olds is consumed when the drinker is having five or more drinks at a time; between 1993 and 2001, 18-20 year-olds showed the largest increase in binge drinking episodes

I know there have been posts by wine bloggers before about how you would deal with alcohol in your own household if you had or have younger children, but I am posing that question to you now anyways. Virginia is one of the 30 states in the US that allow parents to serve alcohol to their children in their own home, so when I become a parent in the future I have a choice of what I want to do. Megan and I plan to teach our kids at a fairly young age that wine is to be enjoyed responsibly, bring friends and family together and to enhance the food that we eat. To what extent we teach them is the hard part of the decision, do we give them a 2oz. glass of wine at dinner when they are 13, I really don’t know. I think it’s important to teach children that wine isn’t a big deal while also showing them it is a big deal- wine should be consumed responsibly as a source of enjoyment and camaraderie, not guzzled secretly in a dark corner. Fortunately for us we have time to ponder this question – we have quite a few years before we have to deal with this since we don’t even have a bun in the oven.


Categories: choose responsibility, wine industry issues | 2 Comments

2008 Washington DC International Wine Festival Review

*Sorry for the long post*

My first event as a member of the press went rather swimmingly. After obtaining my press credentials I got a chance to walk the floor and scout things out while I was waiting for Sonadora to arrive. It was nice to see everything in a rather calm state before the storm of people arrived, as we would witness later. Megan was a great ship in the storm though, as she is not shy when it comes to commanding her position at the tasting area. It was great to taste with her as well, share notes and stories and pass the time as we waited in line, at what sometimes seemed like forever.

Before and After


The one hour of trade only time at the beginning of the show was definitely the best of the afternoon. No waiting at the wineries and distributors tasting counters and no shoving required. Even though the rest of the day was quite crowded overall it was still a fun event and the time flew by, there were still more booths that I did not get to visit before I had to hit the road. That being said, I tasted 81 wines for the day or at least that was how many I wrote a small blurb about in my tasting book.

Instead of writing about every wine that I tasted yesterday I thought I would write about every tasting booth I visited and only about 1 or 2 of my favorite wines from each of them. Some of the wines I was able to obtain info sheets on so I have more particulars on how the wine was made. So here goes –

Chateau Julien Wine Estates (3 wines tasted)

2005 Private Reserve Merlot [100% Merlot, 30 months new French Oak, South Monterey County San Antonio Valley AVA] – hint of floral on the nose, very soft and round on the palate but remaining full bodied, black cherry and clove

Peltier Station (4 wines tasted)

2006 Viognier [100% Viognier from Schatz vineyard, all Stainless Steel, 14 day fermentation] – huge nose, apricot, peach, and lilac; pear, honey and overwhelming honeysuckle on the spicy white pepper finish

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon [Just Released we were the first to taste it, 100% Cabernet from Lodi, 14.8% ABV] – surprisingly soft and “available” for a 2006 Cali Cab, chocolate, black currant, green beans and another spicy finish.

Cotes Du Rhone Booth (4 wines tasted)

Cotes du Rhone Perrin Reserve [60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre; 25% of wine aged in casks for 12 months, $10] – ton of bright red fruit on the nose, cranberry and red raspberry with light to medium body and dry firm tannins

Vallformsa Wines & Cavas (4 wines tasted)

2003 Primvm Vitae Reserva [ 100% Tempranillo, Rioja region, 3 years aging total, 1 year in oak cask] – red currant, slight smell of food garbage (not in a bad way though), blueberry, earth, leather, pretty tannic, nice wine

2004 Gala Gran Reserva Brut Cava [ 25% Macabeo, 30% Xarel-lo, 20% Parellada, 25% Chardonnay; DO Penedes, made in the traditional method, minimum 30 months in the bottle, beautiful custom bottle] – apples, yeast, hair salon (perm), rich and very full tasting; not your usual $6 cava!

Rued Winery (4 wines tasted)

2006 Russian River Chardonnay [935 cases made, neutral French oak] – apple, pear, mineral and butterscotch

2003 Zinfandel [Heritage vines Mazzoni clone with 15.9% alcohol] – raisin, plum, thyme, green pepper; very nice lighter bodied well balanced Zin

Montesquieu (4 wines tasted) – distributor of small boutique wines from around the world

2005 Dahl Cabernet Sauvignon [100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 months French Oak, $52] – fruity and vegetal at the same time, raw green bean, blueberry and black currant

Spring Mountain (5 wines tasted)

2003 Elivette [88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc; 22 months French Oak, 1910 cases made; $90] – slight funkiness on the nose (the good kind), black currant, plum, coffee, leather, very nice tannins excellent Mouthfeel

2002 Elivette Reserve [ 81% Cabernet, 12% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc; 80% New French Oak, 1870 cases] – cocoa, dark black fruit, dusty tannins, green bean, pepperoni, this was a fabulous wine not sure about the QPR since it retails for around $125 but it still rocked

Ed Sellers (6 wines tasted) – very small family winery from Paso Robles

2005 Rousanne [100% Rousanne, 200cases] – very floral, apple, and asian pear on the nose with a very citrus flavor and honeydew melon

2005 Vertigo [70% Grenache, 17% Mourvedre & 13% Syrah; aged in 100% French oak with 39% of it new, 15.9% alcohol, 598 cases] – clove, black olive, blackberries with a very nice dry finish

Fulcrum (1 wine tasted) – brand new wine and winery

2006 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley [3 different vineyard sources of Akins Vineyard 50%, Hein Family Vineyard 25% and Wentzel Vineyard 25%; aged 10 months in French Oak 41% New, unfiltered and unfined, 1197 bottles] – very nice fresh fruit, green veggies (V8’ish), cloves, cherry, smooth round mouthfeel

Anne Amie (4 wines tasted)

Cuvee A Pinot Noir [6 months in French oak 18% New, unfiltered, aged an additional 8 months in bottle prior to release, all processing was done via gravity flow, $20] – slight barny earthy aromas, cranberry, strawberry with a nice firm light to medium bodied mouthfeel, a definite buy at $20

2007 Pinot Gris [hand bottled for the event not yet released, how cool is that!] – very crisp and refreshing, aromas of apple and lemon with a almond extract flavor towards the finish that was quite intriguing

New Zealand Wine Growers (8 wines)

2007 Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc – tight acidity, gooseberry and pink grapefruit aromas that carried through to the palate with slight herbal notes remaining

2006 Bird Pinot Noir – very smooth, an abundance of unidentifiable fruit on the nose with black pepper finish

2006 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir – spicy, red raspberry, strawberry, medium bodied

Confluence Wine Importers (9 wines tasted)

2006 Leopards Leap Chenin Blanc [100% Chenin, Pederberg Region of the Western Cape of South Africa] – very perfumey on the nose, mineral and honey flavors

2007 Juno Rose [100% Pinotage] – total watermelon jolly ranchers, strawberry flavors and just hint of band aid

2002 La Riche Cabernet Sauvignon [100% Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch, 24 months in French Oak 70% new] – black currant, Andes mints (chocolate and mint combined), raspberry

Rodney Strong (4 wines tasted)

2006 Estate Charlottes Home Sauvignon Blanc [100% Sauvignon Blanc, 88% Stainless Steel and 12% in French Oak with MLF, $14] – California body with New Zealand flavor, lot of citrus, pink grapefruit, provided nice acidity but felt soft across the mid palate

2005 Knotty Vine Zinfandel [98% Zin and 2% Syrah, 17 months in oak 85% French 15% American, $20] – blackberry jam, prune and spices, peppery finish

Tricana Imports (25 wines tasted)

Illuminati Costalupo Controguerra (didn’t catch the vintage) [70% Trebbiano, 15% Passerina, 15% Riesling] – floral nose with violets and lilac, mineral and corn flavors, very intereting

2006 NIFO Falanghina Sannio [100% Falanghina, 2 months in tanks and 2 months in bottle before release] – similar to Viognier in texture and Mouthfeel, honey, persimmon and tropical fruit

2005 La Lumia Cadetto Nero d’ Avola [ 100% Nero d Avola, 6 months stainless steel and up to 6 months in bottle before release] – “sweet”, plum, dark fruit, medium body

2003 Bricco Rosso Barolo [100% Nebbiolo, 3 years in oak, 6 months in bottle] – Ton of earth, barnyard aromas, black cherry and date

I understand that this year they capped the event at a certain level of tickets, but that also it was in a slightly smaller venue. I did not attend last year but heard it was pretty packed and this year seemed to be pretty crowded as well. The hall with the cooking seemed to be the most crowded, I think as a result of too much stuff in one place. The cooking venue took up a lot of room, as well as permeated the air with aromas that at times made it difficult to smell what was going on with my w ine. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking demos, maybe just try and separate it a bit more from the wine if at all possible.

Overall I think the event was a good one, I got to try some new wines, quite a few of them actually. Although a few of the wineries/importers that I had on my list did not show up such as Four Vines, Graystone Importers and Cellarium Importers, there was a wide variety to fit every palate.

In addition to wine, I also sampled some fabulous cheese from both I-Gourmet and Cabot. Cheese and wine, MMMMM is my only tasting note. Also, Megan let me in on a little secret, in that she uses the Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar for her Mac n Cheese and that it is simply awesome.

Don’t forget to check out what Megan over at WannabeWino has to say about the event as well, I am sure it will be a great read.


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Categories: wannabewino, washington dc wine expo, wine review, wine tasting | 2 Comments