Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wine Tasting!

The wine tasting was, as I predicted, extremely win! We got there around 9:30, mildly hungover from the night before. Getting there early was definitely a good idea, as the place filled up rapidly. The Iron Bridge is a fabulous little restaurant/wine company along Route 108 in Howard County, and if you live in that area and have not eaten there, you must go. They serve foie gras.

On to the tasting notes! This is going to be a long-ass post, so keep your britches on.

We started off with Ricossa Moscato d'Asti, 2009, Italy. This was an EXTREMELY sweet sparkling wine, it tasted rather like honey drizzled over ripe-ripe pears. I found it excessively sweet. Hootie McBoob described it as "Woo Girl" wine, and I have to agree. If you like candy more than wine, this is for you.

Next was Pannier Brut Champagne, NV, France.  I'm the type of wine snob who kvetches about people calling all sparkling wines Champagnes, because it's not Champagne if it doesn't come from the Champagne region of France. Everything else may be Champagne method sparkling wines, but they are NOT Champagne. Now that I've typed that word so many times it no longer looks like a word.

ANYWAY. This was a really bizarre wine. It was super yeasty, and had an aftertaste like sharp cheese. Being the product of my generation, I really do prefer slightly fruity flavors in my wine, or at least something vegetable. This was all yeast. It was cheese on toast. I was not digging it.

Argiolas "Costamolino" Vermentino, 2008, Sardinia, Italy began the "Crisp, Fresh, I'm Thirsty Whites" category. It was an extremely delicate wine, a little earthy, a little floral. It was pleasant, and would be quite lovely on a hot July day. As it was, during a bitterly cold February, most of us found is rather unspectacular.

The only note I have about the Satori "Ferdi" Garaganega, 2007, Verona, Italy says "grapefruity." This was probably about the time where they started wheeling in the food and I got distracted by amazing cheese. My attention span is like that.

The Chateau de Lionne Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, 2007, Bordeaux, France was quite nice. MetalChef even got himself a bottle of this one. It was tart, citrusy, and felt more like it stood up on its own. At 13 dollars, it would be my choice of a house white if I were in the market for that sort of things.

The Rich, Savory, Toasty, & Luscious Whites category (those are the exact labels on my sheet. It's that sort of restaurant) began with a Claiborne & Churchill Pinot Gris, 2007, Central Coast, California. It had a fresh, lightly alcoholic nose and a sort of "meh" taste. I checked with MetalChef and some of the others, in an attempt to determine whether this was just palate fatigue on my part, but most everyone agreed with me.

My first taste of Pravis Vigneti Delle Dolomiti Chardonnay, 2008, Lasino, Italy was really bizarre. It tasted like buttered and sauteed mushrooms. It was very earthy, very umami, very delicious. According to the wine girls, that flavor is stonefruit. Sure it is. To me it was Portabello mushrooms. I bought a bottle of this one. It was too weird and tasty to pass up.

Benziger Family Winery's "Sangiacomo Vinyard" Chardonnay, 2007, Carneros, California smelled like carnival food. You know, that sort of greasy, fried, suspiciously sweet smell combined with a bit of barnyard and rot? Oh yeah. It was VERY unpleasant. And yet, the strange combination of smells melted into something surprisingly tasty. The sweet butteryness of Chardonnay mellowed out the barnyard flavors, which kept the wine from falling into the one-note oak+butter category.


I probably developed some severe palate fatigue at this point, or maybe I just wasn't into it, but the first group of reds I found... unsatisfying. This was the "Because I'm Easy (to drink) Reds" group, and it started with Bogle Vinyards Pinot Noir, 2008, California. My notes say that it is light, dry, a pale garnetty red, and absolutely unmemorable.

The Paraiso Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, 2008, Monteray California was also unremarkable. In fact, the only note I have on it says "MEH." in big letters. Clearly I should write for the Food Network with my detailed and pithy notes. Hells.

The next wine, Villa da Filicaja Chianti Superiore, 2006, Tuscany, Italy  struck me as rather spicy, but that might have been the egg roll I was eating at the time, because MetalChef and The Ho Formerly Known As Crazy both described this wine as "toothless." A second taste after a drink of water confirmed this. So I guess this is a great wine to have with egg rolls.

I found the Domaine Pelaquie "Laudun" Cote du Rhone, 2007, Rhone Valley, France to be a rather nice house red. It was kind of buttery, kind of fruity, light enough to drink easily for people who don't do reds and bold enough to stand up to some food. I'd call it a chicken and gravy red, but I love chicken and gravy so I'll pretty much pair anything with that.

I really liked the Finca Antigua Crianza Tempranillo, 2005, La Manca, Spain. It had a dried fruits flavor that took me back to my childhood when mom and dad would buy me the "organic" fruit roll ups that were supposedly better for me, but naturally less awesome than regular fruit roll ups, because you know they actually tasted like fruit, and who wants that when they're seven? Well when one is in ones twenties it's a much nicer taste. I bought a bottle of this one.

And then onto the "Big Red Wines That Should Knock Your Socks Off" category, beginning with Suzanna Balbo "Crios" Malbec, 2008, Mendoza, Argentina, which was a little spicy, a little gamey, but nowhere near as delicious as that Terazzas de los Andes Argentine Malbec that the Boyfriend likes so much.

The Qupe Syrah, 2007, Central Coast, California was apparently "V. nice" but not nice enough to stand more note taking.

I really liked the Brophy Clark "Fess Parker Vineyard Syrah, 2006, Santa Ynez Valley, California. It was fruity, spicy, with a long clean finish. Lovely.

At this point my note-taking completely disappeared. For the Turkey Flat Vineyards "The Turk" Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz Blend, 2006, Barossa, Australia I simply say "Nur." and GrogLass told me to not even bother with the Turk Beckstoffer's Victory Vineyards "Parcel Thirty One" Zinfandel. I also have no notes for the Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007, Napa Valley, California. This is probably due to my extreme bias against Cabernets.

However, the Whitehall Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006, Napa Valley, California was everything I like in a big red without the things I hate about Cabernets. There was none of that harsh, overly bitchy alcohol flavor that the other Cabs had. Of course, it was also the most expensive bottle on the list, and so I avoided purchasing it. Grad students don't pay more than 20 dollars for a bottle of wine. It isn't allowed.

That ended the wine tasting. Later that evening, for my sister's birthday, we opened up a 21 year old bottle of Vouvray that mom got from the Loire Valley. One of the people she was with said "that bottle, open it on your daughters 21st birthday with a good Roquefort, it will be perfect." And so I went out and procured a package of good, real Roquefort (look for the French Appellation d'Origine Controlee marking) and we all prayed that the wine was not corked.

It was not, and was in fact a delicious, golden raisins and honey Vouvray. The sharp, salty cheese was a perfect counterpoint. Hats off to you, nameless Frenchman. You had a good idea.


  1. I'm partial to a nice Pinot Noir myself. Usually French but I have tried Californian, and they're not bad. I was at a French restaurant in Hampshire, England, yesterday and to accompany our meal my fiancee and I selected a lovely spanish Rioja whose name escapes me, but it was perfect with the beef wellington.



  2. I think the best red ended up being the Brophy Clark, but the Turk Cabernet Sauvingon/Shiraz was pretty darn tasty as well. I want more of that Brophy Clark Syrah, but damn if wines don't make beers look reasonably priced

  3. Wine prices are starting to go down. If Maryland wasn't a retarded state and would let us get wine mailed to us, we could be getting wicked keen direct-from-winery discounts on our wines.

    ...freakin' Catholics, ruining our fun.

  4. I didn't drink any of the reds. Someone has stolen my identity and has been labelling wines toothless with it! Someone has stolen my identity and the teeth of wine!!!


    On a contradictory note, I did try the Zinfandel with my Aunt and Uncle after you all had left. I liked it. It tasted like berries! But then, I don't like reds, so that may have been why I liked it so much.


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