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WTN Ten summer whites

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Jenise

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WTN Ten summer whites

by Jenise » Sat May 20, 2006 3:16 pm

The theme of last night's neighborhood tasting had the boring title: Summer Whites, with the caveat that all wines would be in the $15-20 price range. As usual, we had two cheap wines to snack on while things were getting set up and 6 serious wines, and this time I threw in a mystery wine and a dessert wine that fit the theme just for the heck of it. 38 neighbors attended.

For a game, instead of serving six wines blind and giving participants a list of the wines along with descriptions from critics, winemakers or whatever we can find as we usually do, we gave everyone a list of about 12 grape variety descriptions and asked them to try to associate each with the wines on the table. Bad idea: even I only got four right, and I bought the wines!

Pre-tasting wines:

2004 Pazo Serantellos Albarino, Rias Baixas $8
Mineral nose with bright lemon and green notes that could almost have caused one to mistake it for a gruner veltliner. Really tasty.

2004 Vall Major Garnacha Blanca, Terra Alta $6Soft white peach and melon with a hint of maple in the low-acid finish.
Interesting for it's unusual grape variety but no contest against the albarino.

The mystery wine: 2005 Charles Shaw Chardonnay
Instantly dubbed "Cold Duct" for the wrap I used to hide the label, forward, extremely ripe chardonnay and oak flavors without enough acidity to carry the fruit. I've tasted CS chard a couple times over the years and this was positively the worst yet. It was depressing how many people preferred this to the albarino. Unfortunately, I think it just tastes closer to what they're used to.

The tasting wines:

2002 Treanna White, Central Coast $18
61% viognier and 39% marsanne with pineapple, honeysuckle, and orange notes. Dark yellow, extracted color and very ripe with a 14.9% alcohol that basically shoved it's boobs in your face, so the majority of the room pegged this as the chardonnay. I recognized the old-lady perfume of the viognier, the canned peach flavors of the marsanne, and the alcoholic heat of the hot climate.

2003 Mount Eden Vineyards "Wolff" Chardonnay, Edna Valley, CA $17I know this winery more from reputation than experience, and I knew that the Wolff vineyard meant 30 year old vines. So I expected a completely Californicated tropical style that most of my Californicated neighbors would be gaga over, and it was there but not in the way I expected. Light straw color. No pineapple or banana flavors; but softer and more subdued in the apple range. Still rather over-accessorized for my personal taste with buttered popcorn flavors from lightly toasted oak and full malolactic fermentation, but objectively speaking I have to admit that for that style of wine and geographical area it was not at all over the top; actually, quite fetching.

2004 Eagle Haven Winery Madeline Angevine/Siegerrebe blend, Puget Sound, Washington $16Here's one I got wrong: I was certain it was the Oregon Pinot Gris. And I was equally certain that the Oregon Pinot Gris was the Siegerrebe wine--I questioned some of my other picks but these two I was confident of. OOOPS. I love to feature local product when I can, and this is pretty darned local. Located in Skagit County off of highway 20, the most northern road you can take over the Cascades but only in summer--in winter it's closed--just beyond the town of Sedro Woolley (I love this name) and just before the town of Concrete (named for the product that put it on the map), is a little winery called Eagle Haven. Winemaker Chuck Jackson labors in telecommunications for Boeing during the week and makes wine here on weekends. Many of the wines are fruit wines--they have 40 acres of apple orchard--but four of the acres grow grapes and this wine is made from estate grapes. AND IT'S GOOD. Excellent, even. It was, in fact, my second place wine. I wrote: "light straw color, very light oak on the nose, precise acidity, herbs, musky perfume, pear, white pepper, clean and crisp." Which is why I thought it was the pinot gris.

2003 Cullen Ephraim Clarke white blend, Margaret River $23 54% Semillon and 46% Sauvignon Blanc, and a wine Steve Tanzer gave 90 pts to. Pale straw color and initial nose of biscuits and lemon. With a little time the semillon stepped forward and the wine gave off a lot of floral perfume, citrus, and some flint. At the biscuit stage, before the semillon took over, I was convinced it was the chardonnay. Very good, but it needs time. Should age ten years, according to the label.

2005 Solena Pinot Gris, McMinneville, Oregon, $20
The French winemaker who used to make WillaKenzie wines and a few others, Laurent M-something, and his wife (maiden name Andrus, which makes me wonder if she's of the Pine Ridge Andruses) have started their own winery called Solena. The 80 acres they've planted aren't ready yet so they're making wine from purchased grapes for now, and this be one. Almost transparent color. Floral nose, spicy, light acidity and too much RS marred an otherwise clean, crisp wine. Sad, especially at $20. My last place wine.

2004 Yellow Hawk Cellar "Champoux Vineyard" Dry Muscat Canelli, Columbia Valley, Washington $12.49
Another one of my favorites for the night. Unlike the boring and usually more off-dry 'dry' muscats I've had in the past, this exciting little light yellow number smells sweeter than it finishes, with kaffir lime, lemongrass, loquat and white grapefruit rind with a little shake of nutmeg. Excellent.

And finally:

2005 Colli Euganei Fior d'Arancio (Orange Muscat), Marlunghe Italy, $15
From the Veneto region, lightly sweet with orange, clove and citrus rind, and really fine, pin-prick little bubbles. Refreshing and delightful.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Bruce Hayes

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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Bruce Hayes » Sat May 20, 2006 3:20 pm

Tsk, task. Summer whites and nobody brought the best summer wine of all: a Riesling????!!!
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Jenise

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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Jenise » Sat May 20, 2006 3:41 pm

Bruce, I can defend that. #1: I was mandated to shop locally. #2) I was mandated to spend in the $15-$20 range. And #3), l needed 4 bottles of every wine, and local merchants stock a maximum of four bottles (they don't buy in case lots, the wines are restocked weekly by distributors) which means that a lot of wines that would have been candidates got nixed due to insufficient quantity.
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Rahsaan » Mon May 22, 2006 9:25 am

2005 Charles Shaw Chardonnay...It was depressing how many people preferred this to the albarino. Unfortunately, I think it just tastes closer to what they're used to.


That is a shame, because I don't think the wine tastes like anything. Barely recognizable for the grapes in my opinion. Although they clearly have their role for cheap wine to serve to the masses, and as such you see them often in certain CA circles.
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Mark Lipton » Mon May 22, 2006 10:29 am

Rahsaan wrote:
2005 Charles Shaw Chardonnay...It was depressing how many people preferred this to the albarino. Unfortunately, I think it just tastes closer to what they're used to.


That is a shame, because I don't think the wine tastes like anything. Barely recognizable for the grapes in my opinion. Although they clearly have their role for cheap wine to serve to the masses, and as such you see them often in certain CA circles.


Rahsaan,
Keep in mind that, because it is essentially a clearinghouse for surplus juice, 2BC is highly variable in style and quality. Given the quantities produced, I suspect that even bottles purchased at the same time at different TJs could be quite different wine. It brings a whole new meaning to the term "bottle variation." :wink:

Mark Lipton
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Rahsaan

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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Rahsaan » Mon May 22, 2006 10:34 am

2BC is highly variable in style


Your point about the clearing house for surplus wine is well taken, but I've never tasted any 2BC that had any style..
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by MtBakerDave » Mon May 22, 2006 2:09 pm

Jenise wrote:2004 Yellow Hawk Cellar "Champoux Vineyard" Dry Muscat Canelli, Columbia Valley, Washington $12.49
Another one of my favorites for the night. Unlike the boring and usually more off-dry 'dry' muscats I've had in the past, this exciting little light yellow number smells sweeter than it finishes, with kaffir lime, lemongrass, loquat and white grapefruit rind with a little shake of nutmeg. Excellent.


Oooh! One of my favorites too. I love surprising people with that one.

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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Suzie Q » Mon May 22, 2006 2:18 pm

What, no Picpoul?
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Jenise » Mon May 22, 2006 4:20 pm

Suzie,

Picpoul's a QPR favorite on this forum and at my house, but alas, didn't see any last week when I was shopping or I'd have been tempted to serve it as one of the pre-tasting wines.
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by rumpole » Tue May 23, 2006 6:31 pm

Jenise,

The Yellow Hawk Dry Muscat Canelli is one of my favorite white's. The muscat is from 20+ year old vines from the well-known Champoux Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. Tim Sampson, the winemaker, does a great job with all his wines and is a great host for visits to his humble winery in Walla Walla. On a recent visit, I came away with a mixed case of the 2005 Dry Muscat, the Orange Muscat dessert wine, his Rosato (lemberger,sangiovese,barbera), the 2004 Barbera, his walla walla Sangiovese (!), and his Kick-Ass Red (premium cab, sangiovese, syrah blend). One of my top 3 Walla Walla wineries.

Me thinks you would like all his wines - especially the Walla Walla Sangiovese if you like this varietal.

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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Jenise » Tue May 23, 2006 6:49 pm

Rumpole,

We seem to agree on a lot of wines, that's nice! I haven't tried any other Yellow Hawks, but after trying this one and hearing your endorsement, I'll be sure to make a point of it. From what I read when I did some background research on the wine, Tim hits a home run with this varietal year after year, and concentrates on mostly or all Italian varietals (can't recall if I saw an exception or not).

Have you had any Eagle Haven wines?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by MtBakerDave » Tue May 23, 2006 9:08 pm

Jenise wrote:Tim hits a home run with this varietal year after year, and concentrates on mostly or all Italian varietals (can't recall if I saw an exception or not).


Tim does all Italian varietals. Really really nice guy too, although I'd try to be nice to him next time and not bother him at his tasting room (it's also his dining room.) I'd suggest trying the Walla Walla Sangiovese next. That's my pick of his reds. I've tried everything of his except the dessert wine. Actually I didn't even know he'd made a dessert wine this year until I saw some bottles on the shop shelf this afternoon. It's very reasonably priced at $12.

Dave
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by ClarkDGigHbr » Sun May 28, 2006 7:01 pm

Jenise,

I like reading about your Summer Whites tasting for the neighborhood. With that large a crowd, I hope it turned out well. My reason for replying concerns the Charles Shaw "mystery wine."

At an informal Syrah tasting party for 30+ at our home in February '05, we served a nice mix of wines from WA, CA and Australia. For grins, we carefully wrapped bottles of Charles Shaw Shiraz, our mystery wine for the evening. It was so bad, I could not bear to swallow the sip I tasted. Apparently, many others felt the same way, because the nearby dump bucket filled up rather quickly and had to be emptied once during the evening.

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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Jenise » Sun May 28, 2006 7:29 pm

Clark,

The tasting turned out very well. It was such an interesting variety of white wines, and wines that most people wouldn't run into on their own. With the wretched exception of the Charles Shaw, which brand turns up with disgusting regularity even thought the nearest TJ's is 100 miles away.

Now I realize that there's no generalizing, really, about Charles Shaw wines since they're surplus juice from here and there, but I would say that the Syrah is routinely the one I dread running into most. Every bottle I've tasted has been the worst of warm climate wine--heavy and sweet. It must have been heartwarming to see all those people running to the dumpbucket.

Jenise
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Re: WTN Ten summer whites

by Randy Buckner » Sun May 28, 2006 9:44 pm

Tim Sampson, the winemaker, does a great job with all his wines


I agree wholeheartedly, and he is a great guy to boot. I like his Rose quite a bit.

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