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Posts Tagged ‘Wine Tasting’

Wine Express is a local wine tasting/retailing company.  They host regular tastings at Silo Point in Baltimore.  For a reasonable cost in an awesome setting, you can taste a number of wines and discuss both with the host (Rita Blackwell) and the other participants.

It’s a great concept, and they execute it well.

A couple of comments on that execution, then I’ll run down the wines.  The setting is outstanding.  Silo Point is a spectacular building, and the tastings are hosted in a warm space on the 19th floor.  The view is spectacular, and the space is large enough for the group, with plenty of seating options.

The folks running the tasting do a very nice job keeping things moving… I never waited more than a minute or so to get a pour of the next wine, and the wines were served at appropriate temperatures in appropriate glassware.  Everyone had some knowledge of the wines, and had clearly tasted them.  From a service perspective, the tasting is very well done.

Rita Blackwell, as the host, engages every guest.  She’s got an uncanny ability to recall people, she remembers small details that matter.  Clearly, she’s about service first.  That said, she provides background and educates in a manner that everyone can appreciate, from novice to the experienced oenophile.

Most striking is the diversity of the group.  I was really happy to see a varied group; instead of the wine tasting of your old perception (a bunch of wealthy white people over 40 with their pinkies in the air), this was a racially diverse group ranging from 20′s to 70′s.  Everyone was friendly, and we had a great time talking wine with each other.

Wine is fun, and this tasting made fun the focus.  I’m looking forward to attending more.

Now for the wines.  The tasting was “California Dreamin’”, and while the theme was one of summer, the wines really reminded me of Thanksgiving, a great variety of food friendly and crowd pleasers.  All of these wines would pair with the rich/diverse foods on your Thanksgiving table, and would make everyone happy.

Kali’s Heart Chardonnay (Monterey County)

A bit sweetish, unoaked, but retained the California fruit/richness.  Good drinking, would be a crowd pleaser.  Grew on me.

$23.  3/5

Qupe Marsanne (Santa Ynez Valley)

Great wine!  Food friendly, crisp minerality and acid.  Very old world, would have guessed it was from the Northern Rhone.  Extremely food friendly, made my mouth water.  My favorite of the tasting.

$24.  4/5

Paraiso Riesling (Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey)

Probably my least favorite, but still pretty darn good wine.  There’s a hint of risidual sugar, but nice fruit, and some crispness on the finish.  Another very food friendly wine, and a good turkey wine.

$18.  3/5

Fappiano Pinot Noir (Russian River, Sonoma)

Another easy drinker, and another crowd pleaser.  Funk and fruit, enough complexity to pique my interest, and plenty of fruit to keep the family happy.  Yet another match for roasted poultry.

$26.  3/5

Ancient Peaks Zinfandel  (Paso Robles)

A peppery nose belies the huge fruit on the palate.  Offsetting that fruit was a ton of acidity, another one to make your mouth water between bites of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry; but flexible enough to stand up to some meat off the grill.

$24.  3/5

Paradiso Syrah (Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey)

Another big fruit wine.  I think they were trying for a Northern Rhone style, but ended up closer to an Aussie Shiraz.  Along with the fruit, there is some beef jerky and spice; another wine you could put on your Thanksgiving table.  Probably my least favorite of the tasting, but still pretty good stuff.

$26.  3/5

You can find Wine Express on the web here.

They’re also on Facebook.

 

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2006 Marqués de Riscal Riscal 1860

Appellation: Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon

Tasting Notes: 100% Tempranillo.  13.5% ABV.  This wine is from select vineyards in Castilla y Leon, and aged in new American oak for 6 months.  Pretty light violet in the glass, I can see my fingers through it.  Nose is cherry with some earth and cedar, a little candy.  Not as much fruit on the attack as I expected, some cherry, a little disjointed, smooth. A little thin.  Some tea and earth comes through.  Some pepper as well.  Long finish with a lot of tannin.  Nice.   Solid Wednesday night with dinner wine, and would be a crowd pleaser at a party.

Rating: 3/5, 14/20, 86/100

Price: $12.99 at Bin 604

A note on ratings:  I use the 100 point rating for Cellartracker, even though my palate is still developing.  As a statistics geek, I know that the variability in scores works itself out as the number of scores increases.  However, my score may not be yours, or Robert Parker’s.  I much prefer to use a 5 point (or star, or whatever you want to call it) scale, as it more represents my reaction to wine, which is more simple than a 100 point scale represents.  I like the 20 point scale as the more detailed score.   On this site, I will provide all three, although the most meaningful are the 5 and 20 point ratings.

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2006 Bodega Melipal

Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina

Tasting Notes: 100% Malbec  14% AVB.  Very dark purple, looks rich.  Nose is red fruit, some plum, some berry, a little jammy, and some smoke.  Taste is a lot of plum, some red fruit, and some pepper/spiciness, smooth at first, then the mid palate gets a little weak, and the back end is all tannins.  At first they are sweet, but quickly get a little too bitter. Finish is dominated by tannins, but there is some strawberry and cherry in there, kinda nice once the bitterness subsides.  Once the wine opens up a bit, the bitterness subsides, so I would highly suggest a decant.  A bit disjointed. Some heat on the back end, too.  Probably won’t go running out to buy this, but I’m certainly going to drink it.  Might actually be a nice match with a strongly spiced beef.

Rating: 2/5, 12/20, 81/100

Price: ~$18 according to Snooth

A note on ratings:  I use the 100 point rating for Cellartracker, even though my palate is still developing.  As a statistics geek, I know that the variability in scores works itself out as the number of scores increases.  However, my score may not be yours, or Robert Parker’s.  I much prefer to use a 5 point (or star, or whatever you want to call it) scale, as it more represents my reaction to wine, which is more simple than a 100 point scale represents.  I like the 20 point scale as the more detailed score.   On this site, I will provide all three, although the most meaningful are the 5 and 20 point ratings.

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Hosting a wine tasting is a fantastic theme for a party.  You can make it as formal or casual as you like.  It gives you an opportunity to share your passion for wine with friends and family (possibly inspiring a new oenophile),  an opportunity to collect the opinions of a variety of people, and an excuse to get people together to drink. 

We’ve thrown a couple of wine inspired parties at Chez Stagg, these are two ideas we’ve used. (more…)

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2008 Caleo Nero d’ Avola

Appelation: Sicilia IGT

Tasting Notes: Light violet color.  Very jammy nose ,with a little earth.  Lighter body than expected, a little thin.  Given that, there’s a lot of fruit, with some structure and tannins.  Back end is all red fruit.  Short finish.  Not great, but not awful, and for the price it will work out just fine with Wednesday night pizza.  Even at this price though, I’m not running out to get any more.  It is young, and I do have another bottle (I served this at a party with lasagna, and it was fairly well received, but I don’t have this many bottles of any of the other wines I served left…)  I’ll try the other bottle in a few years, perhaps with a little age it will improve.

Rating: 2/5, 11/20, 79/100

Price: $7.99 at Beltway Fine Wine

A note on ratings:  I use the 100 point rating for Cellartracker, even though my palate is still developing.  As a statistics geek, I know that the variability in scores works itself out as the number of scores increases.  However, my score may not be yours, or Robert Parker’s.  I much prefer to use a 5 point (or star, or whatever you want to call it) scale, as it more represents my reaction to wine, which is more simple than a 100 point scale represents.  I like the 20 point scale as the more detailed score.   On this site, I will provide all three, although the most meaningful are the 5 and 20 point ratings.

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2009 Rustenberg Brampton Unoaked Chardonnay

Appellation: Stellenbosch (South Africa)

Tasting Notes: 100% Chardonnay  14.5% ABV.  Light gold in the glass, pretty color.  Nose is dominated by citrus, lemon and grapefruit, with a little floral component and minerals.  Citrus and minerals on the palate, maybe a little pineapple.  Smooth mouthfeel.  Very nice acidity, and a nice finish.  Crisp.  Really nice.  Will match well with sole stuffed with crab, or a Caesar salad – might be a bit light if you put grilled chicken on it, but give it a go.  Would be a great crowd pleaser, and a nice aperitif as well.
Rating: 4/5;  17/20;  88/100
Price: $12.99 at Beltway Fine Wine

A note on ratings:  I use the 100 point rating for Cellartracker, even though my palate is still developing.  As a statistics geek, I know that the variability in scores works itself out as the number of scores increases.  However, my score may not be yours, or Robert Parker’s.  I much prefer to use a 5 point (or star, or whatever you want to call it) scale, as it more represents my reaction to wine, which is more simple than a 100 point scale represents.  I like the 20 point scale as the more detailed score.   On this site, I will provide all three, although the most meaningful are the 5 and 20 point ratings.



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2006 Saxon Brown “Owl Box” Syrah

Appellation: Sonoma Valley

Tasting Notes: 100% Syrah 14.5% ABV. I had this wine about 6 months ago at a wine dinner with the winemaker, Jeff Gaffner. We bought several bottles of Saxon Brown (and Xtant!) because of what we tasted that night, and it’s a shame there are only 220 cases of this produced, because it is fantastic wine and a great value. Everything we’ve had from this producer has been top notch, and you’ll see more tasting notes on their wines from me in the future.

Anyway, this wine is a very pretty violet color in the glass, with a nose of cassis, black fruit, and earth, compelling me to stop smelling it and start drinking it. So I did. WOW. Fantastic black and red fruit on a backdrop of earthiness, with a lingering dry finish. This is one of my favorite wines; just awesome. Pair this with duck, flavorful cheese (smoked gouda), or even a steak. I could rave about this wine for days, and only have one bottle left, so I need to hunt down some more.
Rating: 5/5; 19/20; 93/100
Price: $29.99 (I bought this at a discount at a wine dinner, I think the normal price would be $35 or so)

A note on ratings: I use the 100 point rating for Cellartracker, even though my palate is still developing. As a statistics geek, I know that the variability in scores works itself out as the number of scores increases. However, my score may not be yours, or Robert Parker’s. I much prefer to use a 5 point (or star, or whatever you want to call it) scale, as it more represents my reaction to wine, which is more simple than a 100 point scale represents. I like the 20 point scale as the more detailed score. On this site, I will provide all three, although the most meaningful are the 5 and 20 point ratings.

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