Vino Rouge Wine Tasting on November 4, 2015

wine tasting

We were back at Alpine country club in a big private room with an even bigger table than last month. The extra elbow room was appreciated. For the second month in a row, the members were delighted with the menu for the evening, which was captured here in this photo…

wine tasting

Brother Don presented six wines from six different parts of the world. After the tasting Don remarked how poorly we all did when we attempted to identify the wines. Wine made from different grapes in different parts of the world may have distinctive characteristics if that is the goal of the winemaker.

The first five wines were made in the modern fruit forward style. The influence of Robert Parker was evident in these wines which he has often called hedonistic fruit bombs. We all enjoy this style of winemaking but we cannot escape the reality that the potential terroir driven character of a wine will be compromised when this approach is used. So Don perhaps the heavyweight punch of ultra ripeness, high levels of extraction and lots of new oak may have dulled our senses.

wine tasting

Glass number one was a young big wallop Shiraz from newcomer Nugan. A novelty for this wine was the use of raisinated grapes. The wine was our number three favorite with 14 points. The Nugan had a lot of body, a lush mouth feel and a ripe fruit personality. Glass number two, another young newcomer made from Cabernet Franc grapes, with four points was not appreciated because it was not as expressive as the competition.

Dead last with two points, despite the highest professional rating, the 2007 Senechaux was enjoyed less by our club than a corked bottle of Rafanelli Cabernet. 2007 Châteauneuf Du Pape wines made by modernists like Senechaux are still massive fruit bombs. The ultra ripe Grenache in this blend produced a mouth coating texture that I thought was the result of raisinated grapes. Sadly the 2009 Rafanelli was impaired but this club favorite managed to attract five votes.

In second place with 17 votes was the big money 2010 Paul Hobbs Argentinian Marchioli Malbec. This well-made brawny wine was a winner in the heavyweight class. The club favorite with 18 votes was the delicate 2006 Amarone of Tomassi. How about that. My experience is that this cuvée by Tomassi is made for enjoyment in the first 12 years after the vintage. The style for this wine is reminiscent of a mellow Châteauneuf Du Pape made by a traditionalist. We appreciated the subtlety, the balance and the mellow complexity of the oldest wine presented.

Here’s a more detailed description of what we experienced…

Coming soon!

You can’t forget the wonderful close to the evening, with Don serving up a Graham’s 40 year old tawny port, with it’s golden brown caramel color and absolutely spectacular mouth feel!

wine tasting

Vine Rouge Wine Tasting on October 7, 2015

wine tasting

Alpine Country Club is a new venue for our club which satisfies all of our needs. The served us well, the food was good and the seating was spacious, private and intimate. Here’s a peak at our first menu selection at the Alpine…

wine tasting

Host Rick presented some new wines to the club at this tasting. Wine makers from the Loire Valley in France have used Cabernet Franc for centuries and have developed many different terroir driven expressions for this grape. Cab Franc wines from the Loire, such as the Chinon in this tasting, represent a small niche in the world of wine but they are certainly here to stay.

wine tasting

The Chinon never had a chance at this tasting. Perhaps this bottle was flawed or past its peak. There may be many reasons why this 13 year old, delicate, sophisticated wine from the Loire was not appreciated in the midst of five newcomers which were from the popular modern school of big fruit forward wines. The Oaky-Doke school of wine making was on display for sure. Most wine drinkers love the smell and taste of wines aged in new French oak. Wine makers know that they can produce wines that the wine drinking public will like if they over-oak their wines.

The ten year old Arger Martucci was the runaway favorite wine. It displayed a mellow, pleasing, ripe style with a soft mouth feel. The second place Peju and third place Pride Mountain wines were tightly grouped with 14 and 13 points respectively. Each were quite accessible and presented overall pleasing personalities. The Dedicato A Walter Italian wine, with 8 points, was my favorite. This wine I thought had a bit more complexity than the others. With 2 points the Dare by Viader I believe was not well received due to its youth. Rick did a good job of finding 5 recent Cab Franc creations by adventurous wine making pioneers. These 5 wines conformed to the subject matter of the informative Wine Spectator article, “Cabernet Franc’s Time” passed along by Rick. Here’s some more details of the wine we had…

Ager Martucci Cabernet Franc 2005 – Here’s an elegant, full-bodied Cabernet Franc packed with power and grace. It feels lush and classy in the mouth, a dry, softly tannic wine with rich flavors of blackberries, black currants and cedar.

Pride Mountain Cabernet Franc 2009 – Bright dark red. Blueberry, cassis and smoky oak aromas are lifted by a floral nose. Spicy flavors of blueberry and tart red cherry lead to substantial dusty, oak-edged tannins that turned a bit dry as the wine opened in the glass. However, a rich, full, comforting mouthfeel of pure silky pleasure.

Olga Chinon Les Picasses 2002- France, Loire Valley, Touraine, Chinon – It starts out on the nose with beautiful black and red cherry fruit, and then it’s as if you strolled into a spice market: clove and nutmeg, and a mix of fresh and dry kitchen herbs. It’s the kind of aromas that makes your stomach growl, and it should – this is a true food wine! In your mouth, its great acidity keeps the fruit in balance, while a sticky kind of brambly quality stretched out to the edges of your tongue, and lingers on into a pretty finishing combination of linear lead and juicy blackberry.

Dare 2013 – Viader Cabernet Franc – Explosive aromatics showing dark red fruits and layers of tobacco, graphite and baking spices. Lush, sweet juicy red fruits, chocolate and caramel coat the palate. Full-bodies and impressive, the silky mouthfeel leaves you with mouthwatering acidity and a touch of fresh sage on the finish. Extremely approachable.

Peju Cabernet Franc 2012 – This classic Cabernet France offers aromas of raspberry, green peppercorn and violets. Layers of savory dried herbs, clove, plum and blackberry immerse the mid-palate, finishing with hints of cedar and rosemary. This suptle, elegant wine is brilliant now and will continue to mature nicely for years to come.

Dedicato a Walter Toscana IGT 2009 – Deep ruby red in color, this one shows complex aromas of ripe blackberries, balsamic spices, tobacco, and a hint of eucalyptus. On the palate, it is exotic, spicy, full-bodies and harmonious, with ripe and well developed tannins that lead into a persistent and pleasing finish.

wine tasting
The 1994 Graham’s Vintage Port certainly was a fine dessert. This fully mature Port was soft and lush in the subtle Graham’s house style. With such a fine liquid dessert presented by brother Rick I had no need for vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting May 6, 2015

Perhaps it is no surprise that Tom has Syrah on his mind since we are in the midst of our historic Grange-A-Thon. This month’s tasting featured four California Syrahs and two Aussie Shiraz wines. The Victor Hugo and River Star Syrahs were newcomers to the club. The Victor Hugo was a light bodied wine which tasted quite like a California Pinot Noir. The Hugo and River Star Syrahs gathered the fewest amounts of votes.

Stolpman has been making strong Syrahs from the South Central coast of California for some time now. Whenever I think of Stolpman a canine image comes to mind because each time I have visited their tasting room in Los Olivos, there has been a large motionless dog lying on the floor in the room. If you ever visit, make sure you take your sunglasses off before entering the room and look down in order to avoid tripping over the mascot of the winery. I don’t recall having tasted the attractive Originals Cuvee which impressed me as being less full bodied than their other Cuvees. The most lush and hedonistic of the California wines was an old favorite from Dehlinger. Goldridge was the most appreciated of the California wines.

wine tasting

Club members favored the two Australian Shiraz wines and perhaps since the Mollydooker was the bigger of the two big wallops it was the number one favorite wine of the tasting. Both Australian Shirazes were bigger and thicker than the California Syrahs. The answer to the question posed by Tom Clarkin, “Syrah or Shiraz?” is that one ought to bet on a big Shiraz to score high in a Vin Rouge Club meeting favorite wine poll.

wine tasting

Tom presented a quality 10 year old Tawny Port from Quinta Infantado, a port producer which I experienced for the first time at the tasting. Guest Kevin Thibeault offered a lovely 2010 ice wine from Joseph Phelps. The ice wine had that unmistakable thick, lush body with exotic apricot, pineapple and pear flavors and an amazing ethereal bouquet.

wine tasting

It appears that the Valley burgers were a hit.

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting February 4, 2015

As expected, Steve Carlino had a great show of wines! An Italian theme of excellent red wines the I can still taste as I write this!!!

red wine reviews

Straight to the preference poll…

Our first place wine was a 2005 Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Bolgheri Superior Ornellaia. A fantastic Red Bordeaux Blend, displaying beautiful aromas of ripe fruit, with currant, plum and blackberry. This complex and full-bodied Tuscan red has soft, polished tannins and a long, long finish. Wine Spectator gave it 95 points.

Second place wine was a 2009 Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classic Riserva. Another excellent Sangiovese Blend wine. A big dark chewy red wine bursting with dark cherries, licorice, tobacco, smoke and dried flowers. This hearty, full-bodied Riserva is long on personality and sheer character. Wine Advocate gave it 90 points

Third place wine was a 2005 Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornettia, a Red Bordeaux Blend. This 2005 Le Serre Nuove is the second wine of Ornellaia. In top vintages it is the hidden gem in this line up from a price to quality perspective. The 2005 reveals gorgeous aromatics along with sweet black cherries, black berries, spices, smoke and toasted oak. It is a delicate and feminine wine to enjoy over the next decade or so. Wine advocate gave it 90 Points.

Although not placing in the top three, the remaining three wines were just as good and included…

1997 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino Montosoli, a nice Sangiovesi. A deep garnet color accompanies huge, sweet aromas of roasted herbs, red and black currants, cherries, earth, incense and tobacco. A chewy and full bodied wine that can go another 7 years. Wine Advocate gave it a 93.

2007 Castello di Monsanto, a Chianti Classico Reserva. A ripe juicy red with lots of black cherry and blackberry fruit. Tannins are well coated by fleshy fruit and it lingers with a long spicy aftertaste, drinking through 2022. Wine Spectator gave it a 92.

The last wine was a 2004 Casanuova delle Cerbaie Brunello di Montalcino, another Sangiovese. This is an earthy full bodies wine with aromas of roses and other flowers, leather and grilled herbs. On the pallet flows decadent berry and mushroom flavors, with a firm structure. Wine Advocate gave it a 93.

red wine reviews

You can see here that was also had a nice dessert wine. Specifically, thanks to Steve, we also enjoyed a 2004 Badia a Coltibuono Vin Santo del Chianti Classico Occhio di Pernice.

The tasting was held at the Aurora Club, which was outstanding!!! The club feasted on fried clams and cheese tray appetizers, followed by some soup and salad, an entree of choice and only to be capped off with a platter of biscotti for dessert with Espresso.

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting August 4, 2014

This month featured a very interesting tasting by Tom Guerra, who surprised the club with a theme that was a big hit with all of the members. Why was it so much of a hit you may ask…because the theme was Past Number One Preferences, where Tommy revisited previous preference poll winners over the last several years. Here’s the picture of what we tasted followed by a description of each of these fine wines, with the first three in order of the preference poll.

red wine tasting

2006 Zenato Amarone – A proprietary belnd dry red table wine from Veneto, Italy, last presented by Tom Guerra in December 2013. Wonderful aromas of black licorice and blueberry lead to a full body, with juicy, round tannins. Luscious, decadent, massive towering wine bursting with black cherries, dried flowers, herbs and leather.

BenMarco Expresivo 2009 – A proprietary blend dry red table wine from Mendoza, Argentina, las presented by Jay Chelo in February 2013. 50% Melbec, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Syrah, with the balance Tannat and Petit Verdot.

Peter Lehmann Shiraz Barossa Eight Songs 2008, Australia, last presented by Norm in February 2014. Ark and brooding, delivering a dense mouthful of dark berry, plum , peppery spice and licorice notes that come together on the medium-weight finish, which lingers with intensity.

Mount Eden Vineyars, Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains 2009, California, last presented by Tom Clark in April 2014. Young and Bordeaux-like in structure, with firm, gripping tannins, a mix of dried berry, game meat, tobacco and cedar and a tight, structured finish. A wine with an excellent record of aging.

2000 Les Ormes de Pez – a Bordeaux belnd dry red table wine from St. Estephe, Bordeaux, France, last presented by Vincent Jacques in March 2014. Fully mature, this nice chunky, fleshy wine displays plum and Christmas cake on the nose and notes of jus de viande, roasted herbs, plum sauce, black currants, and sweet cherries in a medium-bodies, savory, fruit forward style.

2006 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Vineyard Pinot Noir from Martinborough, Wairarapa, New Zealand, last presented by Tom Clark in February 2012. Refined, with excellent intensity to spice, berry, black cherry and rose petal accents. Fresh herb undertones, minerals and nicely integrated oak underscore the intense finish.

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting July 2, 2014

A very impressive vertical tasting put on by John Benevedes at the Valley Country Club, “Romeo Vineyards Sempere Vive “Eugenia” Napa blend – Calistoga”, 2002-2007 I must say, this was my first experience with these wines and I know the entire club were all very impressed after trying them out. These wines consist of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot and will knock your socks off.

red wine tasting

According to the vineyard, their 43 year old vines lie south of nine acres of reservoir, sandwiched between two forested knolls, leading to the geographical conditions that create hot days and cool nights and an extremely long hang time in their Calistoga vineyard. This allows their grapes to develop full flavors, deep color and intense complexity. Their thick gnarled old vines are said to produce from their hearts!

After rolling through the entire vertical, the preference poll of the club was held and in our opinion, the best was the 2005, followed by the 2004 and third was the 2007. After the preference poll, we got to snack on Spinach Bruscetta over Garlic Crosini with Melted Mozzarella; Choice of Soup or Salad; Choice of three Entrees of Grilled Duck Breast with Blueberry Vodka Sauce, Haddock Francaise, Veal Marsala with Mushrooms, closing with Coffee or Espresso.

red wine tasting

Ours noses were pleased with dark and bold with aromas that leap from the glass, led by blackberry, braised plum, blueberry and black cherry. These are closely followed by sweet tobacco, dried fall leaves, sweet spice and a hint of black pepper.

Upon initial tasting, each of these wines were bold and hearty on opening,softening as they breathed. Flavors include rich mixed berry, black cherry, grilled fig, tobacco, spice, and dusty bramble. Really big, bold, long and chewy flavors that go on forever.

red wine tasting

For dessert, we had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a pre-1973 HEITZ “CELLAR TREASURE” PORT. That will be something the club will never forget, with chewy caramel, almonds, espresso and other gorgeous flavors coating the palate like a honey nectar.

red wine tasting