This year for my 33rd birthday we celebrated with a wine themed dinner party. Each guest provided a secret bottle of Pinot Noir that was tasted blindly in random order.
Below is an overview of the results:
Total points* 2006 Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Pays d'oc, France 11.03 pts 2004 Morning Bay, Okanagan - Pender Island, BC 9.72 pts 2005 Elk Cove, Roosevelt, Willamette Valley, Oregon 9.67 pts 2006 Smoking Loon, Napa, CA 9.11 pts 2006 Waipara Hills, New Zealand 8.38 pts 2006 Smoking Loon, Napa, CA 8.36 pts 2006 Oliver Twist, Black Sage Bench, Oliver, Okanagan 8.33 pts 2006 Spy Valley, Marlborough, NZ 8.25 pts 2005 Roar, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA 7.08 pts
* Total points out of a max of 12 based on appearance, aroma, and taste.
Congratulations to Erin Monahan who brought the winning bottle! We've
finally found a Pinot Noir that is available locally and costs under $20.
Each course was complimented by small plates designed to help stimulate the palate -
aged cheddar + brie + blue cheese accompanied by dried fruit and roasted nuts
cauliflower, tomato and parmesan soup topped with crème fraiche and freshly cut chive
prosciutto and fig bundles topped with vanilla infused kumquat + goat cheese, grape and pistachio truffle
roast turkey breast with onion pomegranate marmalade
prawn skewer with parsley and lemon pesto
cucumber cups with lemon rice salad
+ couscous, feta and mint in a pastry bundle
rye toast topped with smoked salmon served w/cream cheese + capers
Sonoma chicken salad in endive boats
avacado + pink grapefruit + dungeness crab
shortbread topped with camembert, local honey and champagne rose petal jelly
"This wine has been a frequent entry in my Best Buy reports. Their 1987 is a plump, chunky wine with loads of fruit, and heady alcohol in the finish. It exhibits fine purity, a fragrant, spicy berry-scented nose, and attractive length." -Robert Parker Jr
Looking forward to drinkin' this one ... Vintage: 1987 Country: Spain Producer: Bodegas Piqueras Region: La Mancha Varietal: Blend (Cencibel, Monastrell, and Garnacha) Appellation: Almansa Vineyard: Castillo de Almansa
as founded in 1915 . Our first bottled wine was released in 1961. Under the protective cover of the recently created Denominación de Origin Almansa (regulatory body controlling wine production in the area - set up in 1975) , we were the first winery in the area to invest in oak barrels - buying a hundred, 300 litre oak casks.
A new era for our cellar began in 1987 when we started exporting our wines, and has led to enormous changes in the winery. In a relatively short time , we have established our brands in several world markets. Today our wines can be found in 17 countries and exports represent 70 % of our bottled wine production. Our production is exported to 15 countries. That means an 80% of the total production.
"Today, this is the greatest estate in Burgundy, producing uncompromising wines of irrefutable longevity and intensity.
It is almost criminal to try to describe wines that may be the greatest Burgundies I will ever taste in my life.“
-Robert PARKER on Domaine Leroy in “The World’s Greatest Wine Estates”
Domaine Leroy, Meursault, Perrières, 1969 The Perrières premier cru covers 33 acres broken into five parcels on the upper slope of Meursault, between Blagny and Les Charmes. Perrières is considered universally to be the finest of the premiers crus of Meursault, with a finesse and complexity unequalled in the appellation.
The Winemaker: Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy is the superstar of Burgundy. Now in her 60’s, she began working in the business of father, Henri Leroy, when she was in her early 20s, in 1955. She currently owns 23 hectares of vines, most of which is in prime vineyards. Leroy is a celebrated practitioner of biodynamie. This means the wines are free of all chemical treatments, weed killers, pesticides, fungicides, insecticides and artificial fertilizers. Instead, they use cosmic rhythms to ensure correct soil tilling and recuperation as well as effective vine care through all phases of the year's cycle. The yields are miniscule because of low yielding old vines and because of a deliberate choice to restrict yields heroically.Her wines are famous, expensive, and among Burgundy’s most sought after.
The Grape: White Burgundy is the greatest and most long-lived expression of the Chardonnay grape, combining complex smoky, toasty, buttery, nutty and mineralic elements with firm acidity that holds everything together.
"The palate is lovely: a little toffee and coconut mixed with almonds. The palate has coconut, limestone and crème brulee. Still quite fresh and actually became more youthful and graceful in the glass. A magnificent wine ."
(Tasting notes from Wine-Journal.com)
"Leroy wines are the best of the best" Robert FINIGAN in “Private Guide to Wine”
"Tasting Leroy wines is a memorable occasion" Michael BROADBENT
"Deep purple color with a very full, robust mouth-feel of black fruits and oak. A rich wine for rich foods."
Back in February, Darrin and I tried our hands
and winemaking. I am not sure we can quit our day jobs, but what a blast! We started with a simple wine kit from Bader Winery in Vancouver, WA.
Our grapes came from Italy
in a vacuum sealed bag. We added some filtered water into a pre-sanitized
fermenter, as well as the yeast and another required fining agent. The wine shop monitored the
fermentation in a temperature controlled fermentation room and racked
(transfered) it from the first fermenter to the second. They also
filtered it to assure a clear and stable final product.
Three months later ... we were
ready to bottle. We used a semi-automatic
bottling line, similar to what a small winery would use.
First we sanitized our bottles and then fill them with a four-head bottle
filler. The fun part was corking the bottles with a semi-automatic bottle corker. The machine actually squeezed each cork before dropping it into the neck of the bottle where it instantly expanded to create an airtight seal. They let us pick the foil color and
design for the top of the bottles. In the final step we quickly heated each top under some electic coils to shrink wrap the foil.
Our wine needs to be kept upright
for approximately one week to allow the compressed air to escape. We will then lay our bottles on their side to
keep the cork wet and the bottle sealed from outside air. They recommend
approximately 4 to 6 months for most red wines. Our plan is to open one bottle every month to taste and compare. We are currently accepting applications for
anyone wishing to be a guinea pig taster as we work on creating our label's design. Stay tuned!
“Deep color, very long legs…an impressive, but approachable red.”
-Comments from Cameron while tasting a 2003 Cabernet by Eola Hills.
On Saturday, July 23, 2005, a collection of twelve friends gathered in our front room for a Mystery Wine Tasting. The group included an insurance agent/Packer’s fan; an Apple computer geek who recently relocated from Chicago; a Wi-Fi freak from Florida whom I love dearly; a web developer from Aloha; a second year internal medicine resident doctor at OHSU; a marketing diva who prefers Chardonnay; a social worker who prefers vodka; an expert on mobile phone technology; a nurse from Okalahoma; a legal assistant that raises Arabian horses in Estacada; and of course, myself, the event planner. We also had a former sommelier that has since transitioned into the role of a physical therapist and moved to wine country. Combined, our palates have experienced more delicious wine under twenty bucks than Robert Parker can shake a vine at.
At any rate, the rule was simple: Bring a disguised bottle of red wine from Oregon.
Each bottle was opened and anonymously placed inside a black sock for the blind tasting. Score sheets rated the wine’s appearance, aroma, taste/body, and finish. Each category had the potential to score 5 points, with an overall 20 possible points per bottle, or 240 combined points from the group. The selections featured wines that cost between $10 and $37. The final ranking was as follows:
(Total Points out of 240), % to perfection, Average Overall Score
1- 2002 "Coup d' Etat Blend" Andrew Rich (213), 88.75%, 17.75
*Sometimes, life throws you curve balls. Coincidently, we tasted Erath’s 2002 Pinot Noir twice. Not only did we taste the same bottle twice, we tasted them next to each other. It is quite fascinating that this happened in the first place, not to mention that there was a fair difference in the score.
Overall, I learned the following:
No two bottles of wine are ever exactly a like.
Food greatly influences the taste of wine.
Pinots have a tough sell against thicker, more beefy wines.
High prices don’t always mean better wine.
Everything is relative.
I hope you’ll enjoy the following short summary of each wine in the order it was tasted. Keep in mind that we had no idea what we were drinking.
p.s. June’s Wine Spectator has an article entitled “Oregon Pinots Push the Envelope,” on page 78. At the end of the article Harvey Steiman highlights some favorite local wines from Oregon.I was delighted to find that four of our selected wines fell within his words.
Wine #1 Brought by: Michael Varietal: Pinot
Noir Vintage: 2003 Winemaker: Chateau
Benoit Coast: $10 Rank: #7 Average Score: 14.00
First Thoughts: Cherry Blueberry Oak-y, deep, intense mmmmm… Cranberry, leather Much like a trick from Silverado, it has a sparkling start
yet lacks luster and has almost an Wine-y smell Leaves a nice feeling in your belly.
Wine #2 and #3 Brought by: Analeigh & Blythe Varietal: Pinot Noir Vintage: 2004 Winemaker: Erath Coast: $14 Rank: #5 and #8 Average Score Round One: 13.75 Average Score Round Two: 14.25
First round of First Thoughts: Blackberries and roses Spicy Floral, light, oak Spice Islands Very purple, sharp smell Thin, nice color but not flavor I like this
one, a bit more floral than the last. Despite its selective nose, and ruby color, it lacks in
distinction in the end. Sharp, acidy, but somehow smooth
Second round of First Thoughts: Peach Peachy Earthy, oak-y Yum, more wine… Lightness and Jesus Red! Stinky-
acid/wine-y smell Light color, refreshing Light, but lacks complexity Love this one! Tannins, sweet Nice fruity flavor