April 26th, 2005

Atacama

le wine blog™ - tasting tranche 1 + America's best dry Riesling

Last Sunday, inmfs, grrrscribbler, sinnabor, and danlmarmot joined me at Salmonberg for what was originally intended as an introduction to wine [in general], but which wound up being a whites-only [not in the South African sense, mind you] tasting; I figured we'd leave the reds for a wider audience in June or July [britbear is currently teetotal, and subwoofr and bikerbearmark were both out of town, sadly].

Here's what we tasted:

2004 Fetzer Valley Oaks Gewürztraminer

- Brian's favorite, this was way to sweet for my taste. After it warmed up a bit, it started to smell like rose petals; when it was colder, it smelled more like orange blossoms. In past years, this has been 20% muscat, which would explain a lot.

$5.59, Costco.

2004 Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay

- Richard's favorite, this is as good as ever. Ultimately it's still chardonnay, so I'm not a huge fan, but it's hard to find a better wine for the money.

$5.40, Safeway.

2003 Erath Pinot Blanc

- No one liked this wine. It didn't taste like much of anything while it was cold; after it warmed up a little bit, I thought it smelled like Band-Aids. Yuck.

$13, Erath winery.

2003 Neil Ellis Sincerely [sauvignon blanc, Sancerre-style]

- This was everyone else's favorite, I think. It had a really intriguing kind of peppery note on the finish; it was the only one of these wines that had a few distinct flavors. In musical terms, everything else was a straight up loop, but this one had a few distinct sections. Yum.

$10, snooty wine stores near you.

2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling

- No one objected to this, but Brian said it smelled a lot like concrete. I think he's right; there was a distinct minerally smell here, which most of us kind of liked. Probably the second best wine of the tasting, although still too sweet for my tastes.

$5.40, Safeway.

NV Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

- It's a sparkling wine, so yeah, kind of hard to compare. Really strange Spanish grapes + high acids == not really any fun in this context. Still, nice to open it. Dan seemed to enjoy it more than the rest of us.

$6.99, Trader Joe's.

Most of this stuff ultimately got poured into the spit bucket, which was A-OK by me.

Then, we sat down and watched Sideways while enjoying delicious Costco sandwiches, lots of agua fria, and fresh baguettes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

For extra geek bonus points, at one point during the movie, Virginia Madsen's character decides to open a bottle of the 2001 Andrew Murray 'Roasted Slope' syrah - which I also [concidentally] had in my cellar, so we of course ran in there, found the bottle, and opened it. There's a picture somewhere of me holding the bottle up to the screen.. I'll post that later if I can find it. Amusingly, Virginia Madsen's character remarks that it has too much alcohol - and she's right. It's a hot wine, nothing special, totally not worth the $25 it cost. You win some, you lose some.

We also killed a bottle of Kalinda pinot noir from K&L that was yummy, and opened [but didn't drink much of] a nearly dead 1980 Borges port [which came from Trader Joe's the first time I met mamoosh years ago.

I'll be doing the reds next month - ping me if you're interested. The more folks show up, the more we can try at the same time...


In other news, Chehalem have just announced the availability of their 2004 dry riesling. This is without question the finest riesling produced in the USA. $227 will get you one case delivered for free anywhere that's legal to ship in the USA; they only produce 450 cases a year, and they usually sell out in four months or so - so if dry riesling is your kind of thing, might as well get it while the shipping is still free [until May 15, 2005].

Oh, and they went with screwcaps this year. Not only is it the best American riesling, it's also the only high end riesling with 0% chance of cork taint.

Heh. I said 'taint.'