Some would view this tasting as a “leap of faith”. Why come to a tasting where I don’t even know what’s being poured? Just so you know, I have given the wine selections a lot of thought in an effort to shed some different light. AND, I am hoping most tasters will NOT be intimidated by the words—Blind Tasting. Just to be clear, participants will NOT be asked to identify the grape variety, the soil, the place of origin or the vintage. That is NOT the intention of this tasting. What we instead had in mind, was to choose four RED wines, those in the old days we would refer to as “bankers”—typical, well made and serve them blind. That way, we minimize any preconceived opinions. Then, the taster, can more objectively assess the quality in their eyes, estimate how much the wine is worth AND what kinds of foods they would consider having each wine with. To me, it is another really interesting, enlightening way to learn.
Tonight, we featured red wines from 4 TOP producers, just so one can sample something unique, interesting, authentic AND compelling. These tasting also gives these small, family run & owned wine projects a “voice”, amidst the growing sea of wine labels from larger, marketing driven wines.
2014 Carol Shelton Zinfandel “Wild Thing” (California)–We took this opportunity to showcase a really good California Zinfandel AND at the same time feature one produced by a small, true artisan winemaker. Although there are many Zin labels & wineries available today, Carol Shelton produces ones that are very personal, provocative, well textured AND well balanced. Nothing showy or flamboyant, just plain good & ones that really deliver quality for the dollar. This is probably why, over the years, she is touted as one of the most highly decorated wine producers out of California, & mainly for her old vine Zinfandels. The grapes for her “Wild Thing” bottling come from an organically farmed Mendocino vineyard planted in 1956, wild yeast fermented & bottled unfiltered & unfined. This is benchmark Zin for me.
2014 Charles Joguet Chinon “Cuvee Terroir” (France) —The Loire Valley is where Joan of Arc did her crusades. Yes, a long history of culture, eating, wines & vines. It is true, this iconic wine growing region is undoubtedly more famous for their white wines, such as Vouvray, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume & Muscadet just to name a few. But as time went on & the growing frequency of warmer, more sundrenched vintages, more & more RED (as opposed to rosé colored) wines became more readily available. The most notable were produced from the Cabernet Franc grape variety, which manifested itself in a VERY different profile then one would find from other parts of the world. To show tasters what this meant, we tasted a classic Cabernet Franc based red wine, produced from one of the region’s most iconic producers, There is none like this from anywhere else in the world, although others have tried.
2015 Faury St Joseph (France) –It really is a travesty to watch the popularity of the Syrah grape variety take a back seat over the past 2 or 3 decades. Why or how are topics we can discuss at a later date. The more important task at hand, is how can we all help to resurrect the high standing & appreciation of what this grape variety can really deliver. In support of that, from my point of view, this is Syrah in all its glory, the way, it was & should be! Grown on steep hillsides in France’s northern Rhone Valley, we offer this taste, so one can better understand where we came from.
2005 Lopez Heredia Rioja Reserva “Bosconia” (Spain)—I must admit, Rioja has over the years fallen off my radar screen. This was that opportunity AND the wine, however, which could show tasters what is possible from these grape varieties, this region AND this family. Yes, this family has been doing this for 140 years! And, this is a 2005, in all its glory. This will profoundly show tasters what Spanish Rioja can be….and that one doesn’t have to be powerful, opulent or decadently oaky.