I was busy with hosting duties and didn't really take notes on the wines but will offer a brief general report of the evening. We had a small crowd at two tables and so could converse with each other easily. This was held on Saturday, Feb. 22, George Washington's Birthday and the week of the observance of Presidents' Day so we had a patriotic theme. Decorations were in red, white, and blue and six of the ten wines were from the USA.
I made a crab dip with chopped onion and celery, cream cheese and seasonings to go with the four Chardonnay wines. We also had Chevre, Brie, Gouda and Cheddar cheeses to try with the white wines.
Wine One: 2010 BENJAMIN LEROUX PULIGNY-MONTRACHET, Burgundy, France. I purchased this through Scott Paul Wines. It was my favorite of four Chardonnays but not the crowd favorite. IMO it tasted fresh and pure and went really well with the crab dip. I initially rated it A or A- and decided on A after comparing with the other Chards.
Wine Two: 2011 PAUL CLUVER ESTATE CHARDONNAY, Elgin, South Africa. I arranged the order according to alcohol by volume as listed on the labels, this was 13.5%. In retrospect, this probably should have been placed after the California Chardonnays. Screwcap or Stelvin closure. This was a fuller, more tropical representation of Chardonnay and did not pair well with the crab dip. I awarded it a B though a B- might have been more accurate. (Our Episcoplain priest referred to the first two wines as "Benjamin" and "Paul" and pointed out that Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin. I jokingly said I planned it that way.)
Wine Three: 2012 TALBOTT KALI HART ESTATE GROWN CHARDONNAY, Monterey County, CA. 14.3% abv. This overtook the South African Chardonnay as the crowd favorite of the four Chards. It is aged primarily in stainless steel with just a touch of French oak. At $20 a bottle from the winery, it is the least expensive of six different Talbott Chardonnays. Others use more new oak barrels and present a "toastier" or spicier profile. I gave this one a B+ and liked it with the crab dip. It tasted light and bright after the Paul Cluver and IMO came closest to the Burgundian wine of the three new world Chards.
Wine Four: 2010 FERRARI-CARANO EMELIA'S CUVEE CHARDONNAY, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA. 14.3% abv. Fermented in French oak barrels and then eventually transferred to neutral French oak barrels for further aging. I had preferred the Emelia Cuvee to another Chardonnay at the winery because it was a bit lighter on the oak. I found it a bit tangy and spicy and awarded it A-.
We then transitioned to a rose' wine with ham and and also revisited the Gouda and Cheddar cheeses with the rose' wine and two Pinots.
Wine Five: 2012 SCHERRER WINERY DRY ROSE' , Sonoma County, CA. 13% abv. 60% Syrah grapes, 40% Grenache grapes. I thought this tasted okay with the Gouda and Cheddar and gave it A-.
Wine Six: 2010 RAPTOR RIDGE RESERVE PINOT NOIR, Willamette Valley, OR. 13% abv. The participants at a previous church winetasting liked the 2009 Raptor Ridge Pinot so I purchased this one but did not like it quite as much as the 2009 vintage. It was a very pretty color I thought. I gave it a B to B- grade. Some did like it better than the next Pinot Noir.
Wine Seven: 2011 BELLLE GLOS DAIRYMAN VINEYARD PINOT NOIR, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CA. 14.6% abv. This was a darker color than the Raptor Ridge and fruitier in nose and flavor. I liked it with the Gouda, not so much with the Cheddar. This has been a popular wine at tastings at Westgate Wine in Raleigh and was quite well received at the church tasting. I gave it an A.
I served a stir fry with sirloin tips, bell pepper strips, and onion slices in a smoky barbeque sauce to go with the Cabernet Sauvignons. I suggested attendees try the bleu cheese with the Cabernets.
Wine Eight: 2007 ALBERTINA CABERNET SAUVIGNON GRAND RESERVE ZMARZLY FAMILY VINEYARDS ESTATE GROWN, Mendocino County, CA. 14.5% abv. Aged in small French, Hungarian, and American oak barrels for 26 months. This was spicy on the finish. I liked it better tasted at the store than when opened for this tasting. I have one or two more bottles and will try it again at some point to form a clearer opinion of it. On this occasion I gave it a C+ grade. Again, some at the church tasting preferred it to the other Cabernet.
Wine Nine: 2011 CASARENA CABERNET SAUVIGNON RESERVA, Mendoza, Argentina. 14,9% abv. From 82-year-old vines. This is another wine that has been wildly popular at Westgate Wine in Raleigh. It also had spicy notes but I liked the flavor better than the previous wine and gave it a B+ grade.
Dessert was a purchased fruit torte with peaches, kiwi fruit, berries, pineapple?, etc. I also suggested trying the Brie cheese with the Moscato.
Wine Ten: 2012 CAVIT MOSCATO, Lombardy, Pavia, Italy. 7.5% abv. A Saracco Moscato d'Asti was popular at a previous church tasting so I included this as our dessert wine. I liked it better than the Saracco which I found too sweet. I haven't compared them side-by-side though so am relying on memory. I thought this might be a still Moscato but it was slightly frizzante with peach flavors. Again, the Moscato was popular and I gave it an A-. The peach note in the wine paired well with the fruit torte.