Thursday 21 March 2013

California Tasting - Part I

Yesterday I hade the opportunity to taste a waste range of California wines, thanks to Charlotta at the Wine Institute of California.
On my way home I counted the wines in the exhibition catalog and came up with the impressive number of 547 wines that was on display. I tasted 54.....and by then I thought that my tasting buds were a little jaded. Anyway, I had the possibility to taste through a number of interesting wines. The notes below is a little shorter than usual  - tasting standing with a notebook, glas, spittoon and pen in hand while chatting with the wine maker/sales representative doesn´t give room for novel writing.... And I give a approximate score, since I only spent a minute or two with each wine.

I started att Divine´s table where the charming Magda - a friend of mine! - poured the wines. The 2010 Ojai McGinley Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh, charming SB for those upcoming summer evenings with some grilled fish (~86p). More substansial in weigth is the 2010 Brewer Clifton Chardonnay but it still keeps cool with a fine acidity (~89p). An even better Chardonnay is poured when the 2010 Lynmar Chardonnay lands in the glass, big and juicy but with a clean, refreshing taste (~91p).

The two Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon - the California (~83p) and the Napa Valley (~86p) are both cleanly made but without real nerve. The 2010 Andrew Murray Tours Les Jours Syrah is a nice evereyday wine with blueberry and spicy notes (~86p). As I asked in the notes from the Gaja tasting - why blend grapes that don´t (in my opion...) go together? The NV Ojai Red is 50/50 Syrah and Pinot and the blend is just bland and anonymous (~72p). Big and burned, that´s one way to describe the 2010 Melville Vernas Syrah, although it has some additional blackberry and flowery notes that makes it a good wine, but it could have been really good without that burned note (~82p)

The Pinot part started with the 2009 Saintbury Pinot Noir that showed a cool Carneros fruit with some lingonberries and fresh herbs (~86p). Lynmars 2010 Pinot Noir is more upfront and juicy with a touch of warmth in the end (~86p), but even better is the 2010 Melville Pinot Noir which balances the sweet, warm Pinot fruit with a fine structure (~90p). The gold medal in the Pinot line up at Divine´s table goes to the 2010 Sea Smoke Southing Pinot Noir for its spicy hedonism and elegant body (~93p).

The last wines poured was from the Bogle Winery - the 2009 Phantom is a blend of 52% Zinfandel, 46% Petite Shiraz and 2% Mourvèdre and shows a big, upfront plum fruit paired with a fine note of bay leaves - very good (~89p). The 2008 Petite Sirah Port does a fine job impersonating the real stuff with its nutty, chocolaty aromas and a long, sweet finish (~88p).

Next up was a real walk down the memory lane - Grgich Hills! Seen below is a note from my first tasting book, second entry, on the 14th of September 1991 - the 1988 Grgich Hills Chardonnay - and as you can see it got a 91p score from me! :-)
First up from this importer is the 2010 Grgich Hills Fumé Blanc that oozes grass, goosseberries and cat pee with a fine herbal taste (~86p). I was anxious to try the next wine, the 2010 Grgich Hills Chardonnay, the 22 year older sibling to the wine I tasted in 1991. The nose is elegant, a little restrained but fine with lemon cream, cold butter and wet rocks. Very Burgundy like, which also is the case with the taste that is full of minerals, lemons and yellow apples. Very good (~89p). The 2009 Grgich Hills Zinfandel has a spicy, plummy nose but the taste has a swetness that is a tad to intense (~81p). With a classic cassis and pencil nose, the 2010 Grgich Hills Cabernet Sauvignon is a polished, low keyed version with lovely polished tannins and a fine length. Really good (~90p).

The next table presented a lineup from Clos du Val, imported by Primewine. The 2008 Clos du Val Chardonnay is cool and nice with a fine buttery fruit and a light lemon spiced taste (~84p). The 2008 Clos du Val Pinot Noir is a tad warm on the nose with some burned aromas but the taste is leaner and better (~85p). For being a Zinfandel, the 2010 Clos du Val Zinfandel is rather light but with a fine plummy fruit and the taste is long and with a fine structure (~86p). Last, two Cabernet were poured - first up is the 2009 Clos du Val Cabernet Sauvignon which has a fine black currant nose with some leather and coffee and the taste is young, tight and fresh (~87p). The second Cabernet is the 2006 Clos du Val Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and this is a more serious creature with its deep penterating nose of ripe black currants, a touch of chocolate, grapthite and a hint of warm grass. The taste is young, intense and with nicely polished tannins. A fine wine indeed (~92p).

To finish this first part on a sadder note - I noticed on one table that they had two wines from Havens. The 1997 Havens Bourriquet performed stunningly at our 1997 Super Tuscans tasting in November of last year, so I thought that these wines would be fun to taste. They wern´t. The 2009 Havens Chardonnay is big and clumpsy with a note of mango cooked in butter and some soapy aromas. The taste is big, foursquared and with lots of alcohol and to little acidity. No, no, no (~66p). The 2009 Havens Meritage (I didn´t get the cepage, I was in shock over the poor quality) is a tad better with its sweet blackberryfruit, but this is also foursquared and with a bit too much alcohol on the nose. The taste is on the one hand sweet but on the other hand have a green, underripe streak in it. No, this isn´t good (~70p).

But things were to get better, much better...Part II to follow.

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