I like my wine to be Dirty, yet Sexy: San Diego Twitter Taste Live

The first-ever San Diego Wine Mafia Twitter Taste Live, has come and gone, it was fantastic. This was the first time I actually met some of the folks behind their respective twitter icons and all were as genuine, knowledgeable and gracious as their "tweets" indicated, despite the understandable misgivings of meeting folks you've only known online. Just real everyday folks with a genuine passion for sharing their love of great vino. It was a great event and we are already planning the next one and in the words of Beau's Barrel Room it's going to be "epic." We opened a little over 15 bottles, ranging from Sauvignon Blanc to Grenache and beyond. It was quite the eclectic collection.

There were 6 different wine blogs represented in this group, with widely different approaches to reviewing wine and the vino lifestyle. Here's line-up of bloggers who participated: Wine Harlots, Beau's Barrel Room, Brain Wines, Wine for Blondes, and myself and a big shout out to La Jolla Mom who knows her way around a wine bottle.

Thanks to the folks at Santasti who provided their fizzy palate cleansing beverage for us to sample and as they are fond of reminding us, "we at Santasti know that a clean palate is vital to a full sensory experience" and to that point I say mission accomplished and well done to team Santasti. This was my second time using their product and used it in cleansing my palate and my glass. Please check out the link above to find where you can get this product for yourselves.

Rioja: We had a lovely line-up of wines to sip and sample, many of which I had never tried before, my contribution was the lovely Marqués de Riscal 2004 Reserva  and we did indeed decant it, but didn't really open it till near the end of the tasting, so it was one of the last wines we examined. Which means for it to show this well after all our palates were exposed to, is quite impressive. I found it to have a fading medium-cerise core. vague cherry-vanilla, earthy tobacco and dried raspberry aromas on the nose, with subtle baking spices, a nice cedar box and herbs adding to its overall complexity, there was also an underpinning of suave red fruit, playing a fleeting vanilla from its contact with oak.

I think it was Keith of Brain Wines who dubbed it, "a dirty sexy wine with an En-Fuego type brashness" and Beau of Beau's Barrel Room concurred and was surprised at the brimming quality of each quaff, slurp and sip. I was as well quite amazed considering how little it cost and have found it at Trader Joe's for only $14.99 which is a great price and makes this bottle a QPR champ.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Keith from Brain Wines provided two exciting samples, which were both a pleasure to sip and swirl and slurp [okay that was just me slurp'g]. This wine comes from the Stags Leap area of Napa Valley and if you are familiar with the AVA you have some idea already just how wonderful these wines were to experience first hand.

These 100% Cabernet Sauvignons are produced by Malk Family Vineyards, we sampled their 2006 and the 2007 and both are currently available as of the moment, selling for $65 each. Both were well built, good structure, layered and multi-faceted wines worthy of your undivided attention and just screamed Napa Valley Cab, [does anyone do it better?] They both exhibited sleek, rich layers of mocha-scented oak, currant and coffee notes bouncing around the long and complex finish, drinking great now but both exhibited aging potential for years to come. If had to choose, I would give the 07 the nod over the 06, and this was the conclusion of a number of us, but clearly not all. Some of the others didn't want to dub one better than the other. Both wines were deftly balanced, but I thought the 06 was just a bit chunkier, the 07 was money!

Pinot Noir: The Wine Harlot brought two Pinot Noirs, which were really great examples of California Pinot. One from Sierra Madre Vineyards on the western edge of the Santa Maria Valley, in northern Santa Barbara County and selling from $39 to $44 depending on where you shop.

Light in body and appearance, a burst of crushed berries and earth note aromas, melding nicely with the soft and silky mouthfeel and nice underpinning of freshly crushed berries and dried herbs, I would hold onto this another year before opening, to give it a chance to come into its own. The other Pinot Noir we sampled was the Foppiano "Estate" Russian River Pinot Noir 2008 wonderful aromas of raspberry jam with an added suggestion of sweet spices; nutmeg and clove and a mouthfeel which evoked a sense of cherry cobbler, a touch of leather and wrapping itself around some mellow toasty oak in the long and fruity finish with trailing remnants of white pepper. This wine sells for an amazing price $23 most places and represents what I think is a screaming deal in Pinot Noir from the RRV, an uncommon luxury at near a paupers price, well done. Folks if I were you I would buy a case of the Foppiano, considering it myself.

Reviews: Now I'm not going to cover all the wines we drank or sampled that day, just some of the highlights as I saw it and I'm sure if you look on each one of our respective sites you will get a few different viewpoints of views and takeaways, these notes I've shared here are just from my perspective, recalled from my Vincellar notebook. I won't be reviewing the Torres Celeste Crianza in this post, but instead, review it on its own. I think it deserves a whole page.

Grenache: Okay last but certainly not least, we reviewed two different Grenaches which Katie the La Jolla Mom was nice enough to bring along with the wonderful home-made Chocolate Chip cookies [thanks they were so good]. Katie brought Herman Story, sadly I must confess [and I'm embarrassed to say] to never having heard of him or his wines before, gulp. But thanks to Katie's intervention, I now have the pleasure of knowing the story.
I am a huge fan of Grenache and love, love Paso Robles with their incredible wine scene going on there. Now speaking of Herman Story Wines and the beautiful expression of their Grenache, although it needs a solid decanting in advance to release its full potential. In the glass expresses an inky dark core, on the nose of decadent plummy fruit and a hint of well-worn saddle leather. It can come off very tight if poured directly from the bottle [please decant first]. Once decanted I'm sure this monster of finesse will reveal, what I only suspect could be its true character, what's that you ask? A New World style Grenache showing off ripe cherry, blackberry, tar and smoke with subtle floral framed around the mocha notes, it would do well if it had a place in your cellar and not be open for another year or two. Oh btw in case you need extra persuasion some guy named Robert Parker really liked it, gave it 93 points and the wine sells for $36, great price for a big wine.

The other Grenache was from Core Winery, a family run winery located in Santa Maria Ca. Their primary vineyard is the Alta Mesa vineyard, located in Eastern Santa Barbara County and they are selling this wine for about $20 through the wineries website, most likely it will sell between $14.99 to $16.99 in retail shops, btw just found it at the San Diego Wine Company for $14.95, if they still have it in stock [geez can I pick prices or can I pick prices]. The whole group was curious about this wine, while some thought it to be very un-Grenache like, with the appearance and flavor profile of an over extracted Pinot Noir. But while looking up later at home, what a Grenache is supposed to be, I found that this style of Grenache is not A-typical at all, instead, this style is the most common [according to the Wine Lovers Companion]. It was a bit hot and the RS [residual sugar] seemed to be a little high side, but again consulting my copy of the Wine Lovers Companion [3rd edition] high RS and ABV are part of the equation when it comes to Grenache, wines which tend to be sweet, fruity and low in tannins. Even though my palate was fatigued near the end of the tasting, this wine really shone through and I look forward to grabbing a few for myself to re-sample and enjoy.

Someone who goes by the handle UltraMarathoner rated this wine 92 points and had this to say about this wonderful wine, "A fantastic Grenache and could be my QPR of the year so far. Pop and pour. After an hour the wine became something completely different. The texture added weight and has a smooth, round feel. Nose has crushed rocks and floral\lavender tones. Deep red raspberry flavors with an orange-liqueur and red/dark fruit. Mouth-watering acidity and firm, but ripe tannins that shorten a what could be a longer finish. Well balanced. Complexity well beyond the price point. I'm getting more of these." I couldn't agree more with the majority of these tasting notes or the score, my palate was nearly blown by the time we reached this very last bottle, that said I still highly recommend it to you. If this wine still had this much to say after I had tasted so many different wines, that's is quite impressive.

For our next event, it will be something far more focused and we will follow some general guidelines to make this a more authentic event. I've been talking it over with Beau and I think we have the makings of a new bigger and better event, which will pit Red Mountain Syrah vs Paso Robles Syrah in a face to face [blind tasting] smack-down of epic proportions. It should be fantastic and of course, stay tuned here for the blow by blow results. Until next time stay thirsty my friends and cheers!


La Jolla Mom said…
Great recap! I was wondering what you all were going to think of the Core. We like it. I actually served a ton of it at a party recently and it was a crowd pleaser. Which isn't what I was expecting from a Grenache. Yes, Herman Story is much better decanted, I lost track of time. I blame it on the other 8 or so bottles of wine sampled prior. :)

I agree that at targeted tasting is in order. I'm happy to host something in the fall after we finish some minor renovations around here. I also have quite a bit of Herman Story Syrah I haven't tried yet! Thanks so much for including me.

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