Vino Rouge Special Vertical Tasting of Penfolds Grange Flight Four

This week’s Penfolds Grange Flight Four tasting brought new meaning to the word “culmination”.

cul·mi·na·tion
kəlməˈnāSH(ə)n/
noun: culmination;
the highest or climactic point of something, especially as attained after a long time.
“the product was the culmination of 13 years of research”
synonyms: climax, pinnacle, peak, high point, highest point, height, high-water mark, top, summit, crest, apex, zenith, crowning moment, apotheosis, apogee

This fourth flight was pretty exciting, showing all of the nuances and variations found in Grange at 15 to 38 years of age. There simply were no slackers in this group. Certainly the fabulous 1976 vintage demonstrated the qualities of a WA 100 rating! This has certainly also created long term taste memories for all who were able to participate.

Penfolds Grange tasting

What an experience this has been to taste 27 consecutive vintages of Penfolds flagship Grange Hermitage wine from 1976 to 2002. Max Schubert certainly did craft a truly age-worthy Shiraz. It was also very enjoyable to hold this event at the Aurora Civic Association with wonderful food and service in a terrific space.

Not to be outdone, we also shared a wonderful bottle of Penfolds’ Great Grandfather Rare Tawny that was at least 30 years old… a special treat to us all… and hopefully one that we can look forward to enjoying again sometime in the future.

The following paragraphs contain Parker descriptions and club notes for the seven wines in this absolutely fabulous tasting!

Penfolds Grange tasting

1976 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating: 100 (February 2002); Drinkability range 2000-2020

Consistently one of the most awesome wines ever made at Grange, this blend of 89% Shiraz and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon (13.9% alcohol) was the first Australian wine to cost $20 upon release. The color is an opaque purple, the wine massive, full bodies, the quintessential Grange. Notes of blackberry liqueur intermixed with cassis, charcoal, new saddle leather, and underbrush resonate from the glass. Huge, thick, unctously textured, with extraordinary concentration but perfect harmony among all of its elements, this is a prodigious Grange that is still not fully mature. A legend for sure! The club was waiting for this one and it did not disappoint! The most fine, soft, sweet, suptle, fruity unbelievable wine. We all saw clearly was this one was rated 100! Just incredible. Deepest darkest color. Not brawny like most others, as it has thinner ankles. This one is truly perfection!

1980 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating: 94 (June 2009); Drinkability range 2009-2029

The least impressive but still a very great wine, is the dark garnet-hued 1980. Still a young wine at age 29, it exhibits massive earthy, meaty, bacon fat notes intermixed with notions of scorched earth, blackberries, currants, pepper, and spice. Full and rich with slightly rustic tannins, it has good 20 years a life ahead of it. We encountered a floral nose with hints of olives. In the mouth, earthy minerals with some spice, road tar and grilled meats coat the palate. Nice tannins and finish.

1984 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating: 94 (February 2002); Drinkability range 2002-2020

The best showing ever for this wine from my perspective, this blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon is considered a relatively forward, accessible style of Grange. The color is still a dark plum/purple, and the wine shows plenty of wet cassis, with notes of chocolate and toasty oak. The wine is opulent and luscious, with great intensity, full body and fabulous extract. The acidity seems relatively low and integrated, and the tannins quite ripe. The club thought this wine was really approachable soft layered wine with awesome balance and an amazing finish. Hints of plumb, cherry, toast and red meat flavors. Another awesome example of the prestigious Grange.

1988 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating: 91 (February 2002); Drinkability range 2003-2016

A blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, this was considered to be “an uncharacteristically soft, fruity Grange”. This wine shows a syrupy creme de cassis, earthy note, some pepper and caramel. It is somewhat soft and accessible for such a relatively young Grange, but there is plenty of structure and tannin in the finish. It is certainly perfumed and more evolved than some of its siblings that are actually older, chronologically speaking. This wine has sweet, full bodies plum, cherry and cassis flavors, with some distinct truffle and asphalt notes. This one had a cherry cola nose that leads to a nice mouth coating wine with hints of cocoa, dark chocolate, ripe cherry, with some spice on the finish.

1992 Penfolds Grange – Rating: 92 (February 2002); Drinkability range 2002-2017

This is a very aromatic Grange that seems to be the product of a vintage where the wines are showing extremely well young. It is dense purple, with a sweet blackberry/cherry nose and some subtle cedar and licorice in the background, unctouusly textured, thick, full, without as many nuances of some of the greatest vintages of Grange, but very concentrated and dense. We had a strong cherry nose that leads to a thick, full bodied wine, with hints of blackberry and saddle leather. A well balanced crowd pleaser.

1996 Penfolds Grange – Rating:93 (February 2002); Drinkability range 2006-2025

This dark purple-colored wine exhibits notes of sweet plum, blackberry and cassis intermixed with some licorice, chocolate and espresso. It is a blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon that tips the scales at 14+% alcohol. The wine is layered, unctuously textured, full bodied with tremendous intensity, moderately high tannin, and a 40-second finish. This Grange should ultimately merit a higher score when it is closer to its plateau of drinkability. We thought this one had a very quiet nose, but a nice coffee flavor up front with a bit of heat on the mid and back palate. Soft tannins are present with hints of road tar, blueberries, blackberry, chocolate and tart cherry. The acid is bright in this full bodies wine.

2000 Penfolds Grange – Rating 93 (October 2005); Drinkability range 2005-2021

Penfolds’ renowned 2000 Grange is only the fifth vintage to be made from 100% Shiraz (the others being the 1951, 19552, 1963 and 1999). It is also, atypically, 100% Barossa fruit. When it is not considered to be one of the top wines I tasted from this vintage (which has had to take a back seat to subsequent years), its dense ruby/purple color is followed by a big, sweet nose of blackberries, cherries, chocolate and earth. With decent acidity, ripe, silky tannin, superb intensity, wonderful equilibrium, and a more open-knit, softer, accessible style than usual, it can be drunk now or cellared for 15-16 years. While this is no wimpy wine, it is an ideal example for readers who are unwilling to invest the patience required for the big, blockbuster Granges. The club experienced aromas of cherry, chocolate and olives. We found the wine to be nicely balanced with a soft thick, velvety mouth feel, coating the entire pallet into a nice lingering finish. Some cherry, prunes with hints of chocolate and blackberry. The right amount of a lot of things! Touch of alcohol heat, soft tannins and low acid.

Well, after ending the first three flights off with some terrific Penfolds dessert wines like the Club, the Father and the Grandfather, everything was all topped off with the following…

Penfolds Grange tasting

NV Penfolds Great Granfather Rare Tawny – Rating 96 (October 2014); Drinkability range 2014-2024

A Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet, Mourvedre Sweet Red Table wine from South Australia. The 30 year old Penfolds Great Grandfather rare Tawny is pale tawny in color and has a more profound nose than the Grandfather or Father labels of this style. The nose presents some earthy notes that wrap a complex spiciness around a core of Christmas cake, dried fruits, milk chocolate and incense. It’s a huge wine in the mouth – very serous stuff – with tons of layers and racy acid to carry the flavor through the very long finish that also has a pleasant minerality.

Vino Rouge Special Vertical Tasting of Penfolds Grange Flight One

Setting the bar higher than we ever have before, the Vino Rouge club will be enjoying four unbelievable flights of the infamous Penfolds Grange, covering 27 consecutive vintages from 1976 through 2002!

Penfolds Grange tasting

The first flight was held at Basta in Pawtuxet Village on March 25, 2015, and really was a terrific start to a truly amazing vertical.

Penfolds Grange tasting

The wines tasted spanned 20 years and included the 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995 and the 1999. Prior to the tasting, the wines were prepared using a decant procedure that included filtering the wine through cheese cloth twice and completing a double rinse of the bottles using Peligrino water, after which the wine was repoured in the rinsed bottles and vacuum sealed.

Penfolds Grange tasting

While it was extremely difficult to pick a favorite, the club managed to do so and it was the 1987, followed by the 1983 and then the 1999. Collective tasting notes from the club for these and the other remaining wines in this first of four verticals are woven into the following wine descriptions.

1979 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating 90 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2000-2015

A blend of 87% Shiraz and 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, Max Schubert commented in 1983 that this vintage was “not quite up to the mark”. For technicians, this was the last vintage to use white capsules on the bottle, with Penfolds moving to the crimson red foils in 1980. The wine is deep ruby garnet with an unusual nose of root vegetables mixed with cola, caramel, black currant and tar. The club thought the wine had a quiet nose with a touch of cola and mint chocolate. Really nice mouth feel with cherry cola, vanilla with great balance and the best finish of the bunch, with a lingering buzz on the back pallet. Still a lot of fruit and still seems young, in the opinion of most (i.e. look, feel, glycerin)

1983 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating 92 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2006-2020

The earliest harvest on record at Penfolds, the 1983 vintage was characterized by devastating bush fires, followed by enormous flooding in March. A blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, the wine has a surprisingly low pH (3.41) for a Grange, with an amazing 7.1 grams of acid per liter. We experienced an earthy milkshed nose and found the wine more refined, with some acidity and dark fruit, although starting to separate out. Not a bold attack, but with consistent monolithic fruit, with a silky feel. Seems to be at a peak and should be consumed as opposed to cellared much longer.

1987 Penfolds Grange Hermitage – Rating 90 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2003-2016

A light, elegant style of Grange made with a blend of 90% Shiraz and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine has a deep ruby/purple color and a spicy, peppery nose with some new oak, black cherry and blackberry flavors. The club noted a really robust nose of earth and cranberry and all expressed delight in the unbelievable coating of sweet vanilla, caramel and luscious fruit with hints of mocha coffee and butterscotch. Absolutely perfectly balanced with a syrupy heavenly mouth feel that just coats the palate. Super lush bomb!

1991 Penfolds Grange – Rating 93 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2002-2017

This wine is generous, open, and sweet in its personality Dense purple, this blend of 95% Shiraz and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon shows great fruit, a very lush, open-knit style with full body, high glycerin, low acidity and superb purity. My notes show a sweet creamy milk sugar nose. Awesome mouth feel with an explosion of cherry, jammy fruit, roasted meat and licorice on a nice pleasant finish.

1995 Penfolds Grange – Rating 92 (Feb 2002) Suggested drinking range 2004-2018

An impressive Grange that may ultimately prove to be underrated, like many wines from this vintage, the 1995, a blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon, exhibits a saturated plum/purple color and a sweet blackberry liqueur nose intermixed with cassis, licorice and new oak. The wine is textured, jammy, fill-bodied, with impressive levels of extract, glycerin and black fruit flavors. We found the nose to be subtle, with touches of raspberry and blackberry. This full bodied wine coats the pallet with chewy and sexy fruit with a long ripe finish with unobtrusive acidity and tannin.

1999 Penfolds Grange – Rating 92 (Oct 2004) Suggested drinking range 2006-2019

The 1999 Grange is a dense ruby/purple to the edge, with a bouquet of blackberries, mulberries, and floral-like aromas. Medium to full body, the 1999 has an acid punch, but also tremendous layers of fruit and extract. Not massive, but elegant and nicely layered. We discovered lead pencil on the nose with hints of cranberry too. Layored balance gives a great mouth feel with tart cranberry on a long lasting finish. Has a strong acid backbone with soft round pronounced tannins. More of an elegant profile, although still a little tight.

Penfolds Grange tasting

Dessert

NV Penfolds Club Austalian Tawny – A proprietary blend dry red fortified Mataro, Shiraz, Grenache wine from South Australia

Pale tawny-amber colored, the NV Club Australian Tawny expresses a lovely nose of raisins, sultana, toffee and dates with hints of dried figs and caramel. Full-bodies, it is nicely poised in the mouth with rich, sweet and concentrated flavors that finish long.

Welcome to VinoRouge.club, a Private Wine Club

Hello and welcome to VinoRouge.club.  While we are a private red wine club, we have collectively decided to share the information we collect in hopes of benefiting others who enjoy red wine!  We will be updating this wine club website often with new monthly tasting reviews, as well as tasting reviews from the last 20+ years that this red wine club has been doing these tastings.  We love your feedback, so feel free to get in touch with us through our Contact Us page.

Below you can find our most recent and historical red wine reviews from our monthly tastings.

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting March 4, 2015

Another great tasting to report and a new venue outside of Rhode Island to boot. This month, we held our tasting at Porto Bello Cafe, located in downtown North Attleboro. Quarters were a little tight for our table of 12, but that only sparks more conversation! Wow, did they aim to please our motley crew, with a multitude of appetizers, great meals and dessert sweets to close things out.

red wine reviews

Norm did an excellent job providing the wines for the evening and fooled almost everybody by having our second blind Italian wine tasting in a row, entitle “Super Tuscans”. Some of us would be happy to taste Italian wines every month, as the wines were all tantalizing and appeared to get better and better with each glass! Only one of the six wines failed to obtain a preference poll vote, but that was only because they were all so good. The following paragraphs discuss each of the wines we shared, with the first three representing the top three wines as determined through our monthly preference poll.

Tenuta Arceno il Fauno di Arcanum Toscana IGT 2009 – Deep, brilliant black cherry color and elegant aromas of peppery spice and minerality. On the palate, the oak is discreet with a strong presence of spice and salted nutmeg. This a balanced wine with beautiful length and bright acidity that comes together for a smooth finish of soft tannins and black pepper noted. 61% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc, 2% Sangiovese and 1% Petit Verdot

Luce della Vite Luce Toscana IGT 2008 – Luce is a very dense, concentrated purple-red. The nose exhibits remarkable finesse, releasing notes of wild blackberry and sour cherry, backgrounded by peppery eucalyptus and minerally impressions of pencil lead. Capping the aromatic array are appealing notes of baker’s chocolate and tobacco leaf. This wine shows a superb attack, with the densest of tannic suites. The palate expands impressively, with a tasty vein of acidity that beautifully knits together all of its constituents. A near-endless finish adds the final harmonious touch. Sangiovese 45%, Merlot 55%

Brancaia Ilatraia Rosso Maremma Toscana IGT 2011 – A fine wine with intense aromas and flavors of liquorice and blueberry, with leather and sweet spice accents. This is firm wine, revealing finesse and a rich texture with air. Dense tannins show on the finish. Consists of a mix of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Petit Verdot and 20% Cabernet Franc.

red wine reviews

Felsina Fontalloro Toscana IGT 2010 – Ruby red appearance with rich, intense tonality. Complex, multi-layered nose, with generous notes of tobacco leaf and moist earth (dry earth as well), black currant, wild bramble and black liquorice. The palate exhibits a generous mass of tannins, fairly supple, perfect for lengthy ageing. Good weight and structure, and elegant breed on the finish. 100% Sangiovese

Monte Antico Supremus Toscana Rosso IGT 2007 – Deep ruby red in color, with purple reflections. Its intense, persistent bouquet of violets, cherries and red berry fruit shows subtle, elegant notes of vanilla and toasted wood, minerally nuances and hints of leather, chocolate, black pepper, and cinnamon…an exquisite palate of aromas confirmed on the full, lush, flavorful palate characterize by sweet mellow tannins and velvet texture. Long, lingering finish. 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

San Felice Pugnitello Rosso Toscana IGT 2008 – A very deep purple-red greets the eye, then the wine develops a multi-layered bouquet that foregrounds tanned leather and animal skin over ripe drid plum and a subtle herbaceousness. The wine is massive in the mouth, and exhibits velvety tannins and a warm alcohol complemented by a tasty vein of acidity. 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon

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 Members

STEVE CARLINO
Founding Member

TOM GUERRA
Founding Member

RAY HARRISON
Founding Member

VINCENT JACQUES
Founding Member

NORM THIBAUDEAU
Founding Member

red wine club

DONALD OLDMIXON
Elected Member Sept 2008

THOMAS P CLARKIN
Elected Member Sept 2008

JOHN BENEVIDES
Elected Member May 2009

JAY CHELO
Elected Member Feb 2011

RICHARD MACERA
Elected Member Oct 2012

About Vino Rouge

This website is devoted to our late mentor and sponsor, Harold S. Russo, who was instrumental in bringing this Wine Club into being back in 1993.  The Wine Club was originally chartered under the name Vino Rosso, but reorganized and changed it’s name to Vino Rouge in 2008.  As you can tell from our club’s name(s), the most important rule in the club is “red wine only”.

red wine club

Our Wine Club consists of twelve members, six of which are founding members, who meet on the first Wednesday of every month.  While during the first several years of existence, each club meeting was held at the former Little Inn in Johnston, Rhode Island, the red wine club now meets at various “bring your own” restaurants and clubs around the State.

On a rotating schedule, each member has a chance to host a monthly meeting, where they will bring six red wines for the group to share, typically with an associated theme.  Themes have varied from being all from one country (i.e. Italy, Australia, France, etc.), being one particular varietal (Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, etc.), being of a particular age or any combination of these.

Red wines are always brought masked in paper bags, so that members are tasting the wine ‘blind’. Each month, a preference poll for first and second place wines takes place, after initial tasting but before unveiling, so that there is no bias in the votes.  After the votes are tallied and a club favorite and second favorite is chosen, the wine is always had with great food, where the wine is enjoyed even further.

The Wine Club also has several special events each year, which are highlighted an annual vertical tasting of a prestigious vineyard and a Christmas Party that involves a “show-off” wine contest.

Glad you could visit our

red wine club

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting October 1, 2014

I have to say that the tasting lineups we are sharing seem to be getting bette and better! This week’s meeting was held at “Tavola da Siena” in Smithfield and is one of Don’s favorite Restaurants. It was nice to have the private Wine Room to ourselves, and I heard many positive comments about the food and the service.

I think Don’s theme was apropos as he wanted to share wines that were in the ready to drink range and represented his cellar collection. All were excellent save for the 2001 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape that seemed to have aged before its time. We may never know what happened to this wine that was projected to continue drinking until 2025?

red wine tasting

The preference poll winner was the 2002 Torbreck RunRig, which is 97% Shiraz with 3% Viognier co-fermented, presenting a rich, concentrated, impressive wine. Blind comments were that it had a Paso Robles / ripe fruit warm climate character. I guess Barossa Valley is also a warm climate region. The runner up preference choice (by only one point) was the Luca Beso de Dante Malbec and Cabernet blend from Argentina and bringing up third was the Bacio Divino “super Tuscan” style blend fashioned in Napa Valley. So it was an International victory.

Don also surprised and spoiled us with a bottle of 40 year old Tawny from Taylor Fladgate that was especially yummy. Thanks for sharing the good stuff Don!

red wine tasting

At Don’s suggestion, we introduced a variation on the tasting notes sheet, with provisions for scoring the different sensory categories and coming up with a point score for each wine. I think it allows you to better compare which characteristics of a wine you liked better. This technique needs practice to let you calibrate point scores with the pros.

It was also great to have Norm Thibaudeau back in the group after a 6 month LOA. Salute!

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting September 3, 2014

Well Rick really fooled the club with a fabulous tasting of Washington State Wines! The meeting was held at the Valley Country Club and what a great night it was. Washington State wines are very interesting and were consistently well liked by the entire club. After tasting the wines blind and taking the monthly preference poll, we all enjoyed a nice dinner which consisted of Soup or Salad; Family style Appetizers: Fried Calamari, Stuffed Mushrooms; Choice of Entrée: Chicken Caruso; Haddock Panko; or Valley Baby Back Ribs. Served with Green Bean Aglio Olio w/ Cheese Risotto; Coffee or Espresso.

The following graphic shows the wine growing regions in Washington.

red wine tasting

Here was the line-up in order of preference.

red wine tasting
Quilceda Creek Galitzine Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Even more concentrated, structured and dense than the Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Galitzine Vineyard (99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Merlot all from the Red Mountain AVA) delivers an incredible array of black currant, dark chocolate, cedar, tobacco and assorted spring flower-like nuances that give way to a massively concentrated, tannic and structured 2010 that has brilliant mid-palate depth, integrated acidity and a pure, detailed and energetic texture that carries through the finish. As with the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, this is more fun to taste than to drink presently and needs 5-6 years or more of bottle age to round into form. It too will have two to three decades or more of ultimate longevity. Drink 2018-2035. 97 by Robert Parker

red wine tasting
Col Solare Columbia Valley 2007 – 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc

The 2007 Col Solare exhibits aromas of black cherry, currant, and ripe black berries, together with subtle notes of espresso and vanilla in the nose. On the palate, this full bodied wine is rich with flavors of dark chocolate, black fruits, and a coconut spice which leads to a lingering, silky finish.

red wine tasting
2011 K Syrah “The Beautiful” — Walla Walla Valley – 95% Syrah, 5% Viognier – Cofermented

“This got a big “Wow!” in my notes. Floral, perfumed and elegant, with copious raspberry, white pepper and spice nuances, it flows onto the palate with a seamless, ethereal texture, silky tannin and no hard edges. Already approachable and a total thrill to drink, it should continue to impress for over a decade.

red wine tasting
Cayuse Syrah En Chamberlin Vineyard 2010

A 100% Syrah and always the most exotic and wild of the lineup, the 2010 Syrah En Chamberlin Vineyard has the Cayuse peat moss, iodine, underbrush, olive brine and gamey qualities on full display. Blossoming in the glass and showing a core of sweet fruit, it has a rich, substantial feel on the palate with a concentrated, full-bodied mouth feel, brilliant mid-palate depth and a focused, detailed finish that carries ample finely polished tannin. Very gamey and bloody on the palate, this singular beauty will be better in another year or three and thrill for 15 years or more.

red wine tasting
L’ecole No 41 Perigee Estate Seven Hill Vineyard 2010 – 82% Merlot/8% Cabernet Sauvignon/7% Cabernet Franc/3% Malbec

Layered with enticing aromas of plum and notes of violet, this full bodied Merlot shows a robust core of black cherry, blackberry, and cola on a seamless finish of fine-grained yet firm tannin. Lovely floral and clover notes arise, with bright berry and cassis fruit just behind. Sleek, detailed and long, this is a terrific value as well

red wine tasting
Betz Family Winery – Pere de Famille Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley 2010 – 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot

Leads with classic aromatic expressions of its star player: cedar box, juniper berry, arbor vitae, cassis, blackberry, and dark tobacco, all of which reprise on a luscious, savory palate underlain by ultra-fine tannin and possessed of vibratory energy. The sheer abundance of primary juiciness here – like the energetic ping to its enervating, reverberative finish – strikes me as especially typical of the best marriages of cepage and terroir, which happens to be precisely what Betz is wistfully referring to as “something that happens with Cabernet in Washington.” Something indeed! I would go easy on this for a few years and look forward to at least a decade of high performance.

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.