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Wine Talk

Snooth User: kylewolf

Putting together a tasting

Posted by kylewolf, Jan 21, 2010.

hey everyone,

I am looking to put together a tasting, and I was going to bring together wine from around the world. I am also trying to keep the price between 25-50 a bottle.

I am hoping for suggestions. If not a specific wine, at least a recommendation of regions...so far I have...

France-Chateauneuf de Pape...if they have it, Mordoree Chateauneuf du Pape Cuvee de la Reine des Bois 2005....but very open to suggestions.

Italy...dont know much, perhaps something from Piedmont or Tuscany

Australia- Oh the options, I wanted to go mainstream a bit, was thinking something from Penfolds, Torbreck, or D' arenberg, but VERY open to suggestions.

This leaves South America and Cali/Washington/Oregon.

Anyone wish to chime in with suggestions...it is tough sorting through everyone by myself.

Thank you in advance.

Kyle

Replies

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Reply by Degrandcru, Jan 21, 2010.

Kyle, if you are planning a tasting of wines from around the world I would suggest to stick to one kind of grape in order to have a point of reference.

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Reply by kylewolf, Jan 21, 2010.

I did have that thought. One of the reasons I wanted to do it this way, is because a lot of the people who are here are pretty centralized into their specific enjoyment, and I thought this would work well to break people away a bit.

But you do carry a good point...it is definitely something to consider. Thanks Degrandcru, hows the cellar coming?

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Reply by chadrich, Jan 21, 2010.

I agree with Degrandcru; think you need to focus on one grape or some other manner of establishing one common thread that connects all the wines. With your list, you could likely accomplish that with Shiraz/Syrah and blends that include them, with the possible challenge of Italy.

A lot does depend on your group. We've done tasting of this type before and (assuming you're tasting blind) have had a lot of fun trying to determine which country each Syrah is from and explaining why we reached that conclusion..

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Reply by Degrandcru, Jan 21, 2010.

Kyle, who is the tasting for? If it is among friends a good way of breaking habits and keeping the cost down for everybody is to invite to a specific country / region tasting where everybody brings 1 or 2 bottles. Lets say one night you concentrate on Rioja and everybody brings his favourite (or just any) Rioja. Doing this on a regular basis is a lot of fun and your friends automatically open up for wines from different countries.

about the cellar... almost done, will post some pics next week.

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Reply by kylewolf, Jan 21, 2010.

it is among friends, and most of them are not quite into wine like me. Normally our tastings are blind by varietal. (all shiraz for example). I only felt mixing it up would allow people to be shocked by what they tasted...but also, I understand I would run the risk of some wines being completely overpowered. I will definitely take your suggestions into consideration, more than likely, I would choose a syrah/shiraz since most enjoy it and it is widely grown.. I will post the wines we decided on and how it turned out. Thanks :)

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Reply by gregt, Jan 21, 2010.

Kyle - syrah is a choice but even more people friendly might be garnacha, especially if you're going to include Chateauneuf du Pape. There's a lot of garnacha there, but not so much syrah, and you can find great values all along the south of France.

Also garnacha can be very good in Australia. Killermans, Turkey Flat, Tim Adams the Fergus, and many others are fairly available and friendly. In Spain there is quite a bit down in the south, and if you want to spend some money, look at Priorat. In Italy you can find cannonau, and in the US you have producers like Drew, who puts out a pretty good one. I've done many garnacha tastings for people who don't know wine so much and they're fun because you can have a huge variety of prices that may or may not correlate to quality.

And to make it complete, you can have a garnacha blanca from Spain and a fortified garnacha from Australia. Most of their ports are or were garnacha I believe.

Just my 2cts.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 21, 2010.

If you want to venture beyond Garncha/Grenache but still retain some sort of loose theme how about great blends of the world?

Italy...a nice, less expensive Amarone for example, I just tried a killer example and it was just about $30. Working on getting the retailer to lower his price for a special deal.

Australia- So many GSM blends that would be perfect compliments to the Chateuneuf. Try d'Arenbergs Ironstone pressings for example.

Plenty of Rhone Rangers to include as well. So many chioces it's touch to even begin to start but I"ll suggest looking at Four Vines, Lava Cap or Edmunds St. John for some good examples. I might even be tempted to include a Ridge Zin here, the one's not called Zin of course. Or maybe a field blend like Girard's for example.

That leaves South America, and to be honest I can't think of an iconic blend from either Chile or Argentina. South Africa, with a Pinotage heavy Cape Blend might be a great option to round out the selection.

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Reply by VegasOenophile, Jan 21, 2010.

I don't agree that you MUST focus on one grape across the borders. It depends what your goal is and it sounds like you just want to expose some "sheltered" oenophiles to other worldly wines. That being the case, you should perhaps focus on what YOu enjoy or some of the better wines with solid reputations from around the world. Perhaps a Brunello from Italy, a shiraz from Australia, etc. Broaden their palates. THEN you can focus on studying the same varietal from the different areas in the world that produce it to discuss the differences.

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Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Jan 21, 2010.

I like this idea by GDP of "blends," in general in France, most wines are some sort of blend, although it is something like 90% of one type, supplemented with one or two other types to provide some balance and interest in the flavor and structure.

If you are going with Ch N d P anyway, it is the wine of France which is using the most authorized grapes, 13-15 depending on how you count, so you are already in the blend zone. BTW, Ch N d P is almost always my first choice when I want to serve a wine that is bound to please, esp. novices.

How about trying 5 Reds from Cline Vineyards in California, they are making interesting experiences in blends and should be recognized for that. It is also unexpensive and I am willing to bet your friends will like it.

I will leave it up to the other snoothers to recommend blends from around the world if this is the way to go. I am not at all familiar with the wines of Australia, S. America, or e.g. South Africa.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 22, 2010.

Don't know if i'm much help, since I have based my parties mostly in CA, but here are the wine parties I have had (all blind, limit to 3-4 different types):

1. CA Cabernet sauv tasting- based on pricepoint. Purpose: to kinda gauge where the palate lies, and to give others a chance to taste phenomenal Napa Cabs that they have not experienced. I blind tasted a decent <$10 Napa Cab; a well ranked ~$25 Napa Cab, and an Estate Library ~$100 Napa Cab (well ranked and I love it!). You'd think this would be straightforward, but it wasn't. I had a few who loved the inexpensive over the expensive. Food pairings followed tastings.

2. I did a California Appellation Chardonnay tasting for my dear chard lovers: A Napa malolactic butter bomb, a russian river minerally, apple, pear chard, and a central coastal all stainless steel ferm, citrus, pineapple, mango, crisp. I painstakinly paired each one with appropriate appetizer. We tasted first without food (a MUST IMO), then paired with appropriate foods.

3. Pinot Noir of USA- had a Willamette Oregon pinot (Sokol blosser vineyards), a central inland ca coast (Joyce Vineyard, Chateau christina), and a napa pinot (sorry, don't remember which one, typical "barnyard" nose). Since Pinot Noir tends to be a food wine, I found the choices for pairing to be important. I paired all three with Pancetta stuffed mushrooms and puff pastry stuffed with ham and gouda. This was a really enjoyable tasting! Pinot noirs love pigs! Pork, bacon, ham.. also turkey, mushroom. A real "food" wine vs. sipping wine.

On my wishlist of tasting parties are barberas and sangioveses. I love the Amador county (shenandoah valley) barberas and sangios, as well as the Livermore Valley. However, I LOVE Brunello (Italy), which I understand is Sangio grape. Would love to do cross-continental tasting of two of my fav varietals.

Also love to taste CA cab francs (LOVE) vs French Chinon francs....

Advice? Limit tasting to only 3-4 diff wines. Keep more of the same on hand if people want to drink more. RESEARCH food pairings! Makes a big differences. Do tastings first without food, then pair. If you want some ideas on food pairings, email me, as I have done so much darn research!!!

But MOST important... have fun!!!!!!! whooo hoooo!!!

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Reply by amour, Jan 22, 2010.

If you have not included South Africa, you may be
missing out.
Golden Kaan offers amazing wines and they are available
in the USA, at very affordable prices.

I have had several.....all met my expectations.

Thank you.
Cheers.

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Reply by kylewolf, Jan 22, 2010.

Unfortunately, amour, South Africa didn't make it this time. But it will have its day in the limelight.

It took a couple of hours to sift through all the wines, along with the two wine guys at the place (not sure if they have sommelier status) wading through the choices. The main problem were the Chateauneuf du Papes, many appear to be pretty young and could stand to wait another half a decade, at least. Also, among the 4 people there, my friend, the two workers, and myself, finally decided to go with a showing of each mega-region's specialty.

I dont have the specific labels with me at the moment, but I can say that we ended up with,

California Zinfandel (there was a lot of argument over cab vs zin)

Australia Shiraz, McLaren Vale

Argentinian Malbec

French Gigondas (the de papes were a little too young I think and would be better for future tastings)

Italian Rippaso (wanted to hit up an amarone, but got talked into this, I think it will end well.)

Also, depending on how I am feeling, I may also break open a 1996 Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva (or, maybe not...I may not want to share lol).

While these did not come out optimally, I think it will be a very enjoyable evening. I put up all the details tonite/tomorrow.

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Reply by amour, Jan 22, 2010.

Yes!! Argentine Malbec...so happy you got that in...
Please keep us posted on your verdict on that Argentine..
Thanks,
Enjoy!

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Reply by hhotdog, Jan 22, 2010.

malbec has become so popular and so international that it would make a great wine for a tasting...

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Reply by kylewolf, Jan 23, 2010.

Ok, well the tasting went very well. Here were the wines chosen for the tasting.

E Guigal Chateau D'Ampus Gigondas 2005 (standard GSM) (France) $27

Zenato Ripassa D.O.C. Valpolicella Superior 2007 (Corvina) (Italy) $28

Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva 1995 Rioja (Tempranillo) (Spain) ~$30 after shipping

Catena Zapata Malbec 2007 (Malbec) (Argentina) $24

Barossa Vale Gibson Shiraz 2004 (Shiraz) (Australia) $35

Earthquake Zinfandel 2007 (Zinfandel) (Lodi, California) ~23

And here are my tasting notes and voted winners.

E Guigal Chateau D'Ampus Gigondas 2005- Color- crystal ruby. Nose- light, with grape laying overtop an oaky blanket bringing out subtle spices and pepper, along with hints of dried flowers and decomposing forest floor. Oddly, the spices remind me of steak seasoning (not steak/bbq aroma though). Unsurpassed smoothness with a pleasant mouth feel. Drying with Oak and spice yet maintains that humid presence. Not necessarily the best wine for a tasting, but would have been better with a meal to compliment. Very long and satisfying finish, but leaves a slight bitter tannin on the back palate. Still young and could stand to age. Note* after about an hour and a half of hair, the wine evolved to an odd mixture of mint sauce, cinnamon and woody (not necessarily oak) spices/notes.

Score: 88 My Rank: 6th Parties Rank: 6th

Zenato Ripassa Valpolicella Superior 2007- Color- blackened amethyst. Nose-a nose of juicy raisin soft cheese, sandalwood, and slightly humid. Taste- Good strong yet balanced oak creates a slightly salty impression, but mixes well with a presence of blackberries and raisins. Powerful long finish with heavy and sustaining mouth feel. The finish brings in woody spices and hints of pepper among a vegetative undertone.

My Score: 93 My Rank: 1st Parties Rank: 1st

Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva Rioja 1995- Note* this bottle was aired significantly longer than the other bottles, letting set most likely 2 hrs before tasting. Color- subtle ruby, but cleared to burnt orange and tinges of brown. Nose- Pineapple, and brief notes of coconut, reminding the party of pina coladas, but balanced with well preserved oak. Taste- Very spicy and well structure oak with sustains the spice well into the considerable finish. Sweet raisin emerges after time in the glass yet maintains a dry feel. On the finish, the humidity maintains and drenches you in a satisfying sweet oak. Note* this wine most likely should have been double decanted as there was significant sediment, which most likely altered the flavor.

Score: 91 My Rank: 4th Parties Rank: 2nd

Catena Zapata Malbec 2007- Color-shadowed Ruby Nose- Raw spiced sausage, dried flowers and vegetation with surprisingly little oak. Has this whisper of black olives.
Taste- Good measured oak, sausage remains for the time but fades through the glass. Good spices that compliment but do not overpower. No harsh tannins. Heavy thick blackberry and ripe plum (but not jammy or sweet) brings this wine to a head. Just very well balanced with a finish that lasts and lasts but doesn't change when compared to the initial mouth feel.

Score: 91 My Rank: 2nd Parties Rank: 4th

Barossa Vale Gibson Shiraz 2004- Color- purpled ruby. Nose- Heat and alcohol, hardly any fruit or oak present...just a dry heat, like hot sand. Taste- Good mouth feel, with a powerful presence, and thickened like glycerin with dark heady fruits. This is balanced well with a satly spiciness and oak that leads to the finish complimented by healthy does of blackberry and hints of black cherry, has exceptional jammy qualities. There for a while was an identifiable taste, it was disconcerting, until finally someone mustered up the creativity to bring words to the flavor...new plastic. this wine carried this subtle but very distinct new plastic feel, like the smell you get when you open the package on a new shower curtain or new legos. This wine is still very young and could stand to sit for another 5 years.

Score: 89 My Rank: 5th Parties Rank: 5th

Earthquake Zinfandel, Lodi- 2007- Color- black amethyst. Nose- Vanilla, jam dominates the nose and is peppered by, well, pepper. Maintains a slight heat, but this is to be expected of a 16% ABV wine. Taste- Vanilla and sweet California raisins decorate your mouth with an overwhelmingly heavy mouth feel. Very dark and sweet. Reminds everyone of a port...Oak adds structure to the heavy wine but is not noticeable in the actual taste, Its like not seeing the I-beams in a building, you don't see it, but you know its there. The only presence the oak may have is letting on a leather note witch keeps the wine from losing its form and keeps the flavors focused. This wine I imagine is almost too big to go with any meal, but is an amazing specimen of what zinfandel is capable of.

Score: 93 My Rank: 3rd Parties Rank: 3rd


Overall, the ranking do not the middle wines justice. The conde de valdemar Rioja, the Earthquake Zinfandel, and the Catena Mablec, were all so amazing, that is was virtually impossible for me to pick a 2nd, 3rd and 4th. In the end it was the sediment in the Gran Reserva that forced my hand. and the zin took 3rd because of its "too port like feel" I loved it, but it was representative of most of zins.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments of your own :) it was a GOOD night.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 23, 2010.

Thanks for the update! Sounds like a fun party. When I was first reading your post of what wines you had picked, I had picked the Valpolicella as my fav! Looks like your group agreed.

A note on the Lodi Zin- Being a 3rd generation Californian (and never planning on leaving!) I have drunk a LOT of California wine. There are lots of people out here that LOVE Lodi Zins. I am not one of them. The tend to go overboard, almost to a "late harvest" stage. I find that my friends who love the big, jammy zins with high alcohol are the ones with sweet tooths. When I drink a zin (which isn't too often- I'm a Cab kinda girl), I prefer a lower alcohol, well balanced zin. My friends who love Lodi zins all pick Van Ruiten as their all time favorite-
http://www.vrwinery.com/?page=about
I like some of the Amador County (Shenandoah valley) Zins... I find that for me, the % alcohol is somewhat of a guide to if I will like a zin or not. The higher that alcohol, the more port-like and huge that zin will be. And WAY too sweet for me.

Sounds like a successful and fun party, and thanks for the tasting notes!

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Reply by kylewolf, Jan 24, 2010.

Also, I should mention the food (snacks) served included, aged Gouda, smoked Gouda, and Goat cheese;


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