Harvest Wine Tasting

28 09 2008

Last Saturday (September 20th) we hosted a wine tasting focusing on wines perfect for fall foods like roasted root vegetables, pork loin with fig and apple chutney, and pear and gorgonzola tarts. The wines were full-bodied whites and light reds. We started with Pascual Toso 2007 Torrontes from Argentina, a lighter, acidic white that is best with end of summer foods like tomato salads, and spreads like pesto with its rich parmeggiano base. Plus, at only $7.99 it was an excellent deal.

From the lighter Torrontes, we moved to two different Viogniers, one from Washington State and one from Australia. The Washington State Viognier was from Kestrel–a little expensive, coming in at $22.99–and I did not feel it was worth the price. A little creamy and full-bodied, but it was definitely past its maturity. The Rolf Binder HOVAH from the Barossa Valley was a better value, although here the wine was a typical Australian, a little sweet on the palate with all fruit and no complexity. At only $12.99 however, I would certainly rank it the better value of the two.

At this tasting, the reds were the real stars. All three reds were excellent and matched very well with the foods they were paired with. The most delicate and lightest of the three was a Jaboulet-Vercherre negociant-produced wine from the Gevrey-Chambertin Cru of Burgundy in the Cote d’Or. Coming in at $31.99/bottle, this was the most expensive wine of the evening, but certainly well worth it, as its nuance and complexity were enjoyed by the glass sniffer camp, and the fruit forward folks could still appreciate the accessibility of aromas and flavors presented.

The next red was the 2005 Domaine du Grand Bouqueteau Chinon from the Chinon appellation in the Loire Valley, France. Cabernet Franc, one of the two parents of Cabernet Sauvignon, is the only varietal used in this wine. It is soft, delicate, and very aromatic, with lots of luscious violets, soft tannins, and a very pleasing overall mouth-feel. Plus, at the price point of $14.99, this is the wine I am most likely to want to revisit out of everything tasted that evening.

The final red wine was a slightly bigger red: Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva vintage 2004. This wine was a little dirty, which I think is great. It was far more robust than anything else that evening, but matched very well with the rustic roasted roots vegetables I had prepared. It also went smoothly with the pork and the simmered mushrooms. The Sangiovese so prevalent in this blend gave it a great earthiness, and as a classico it certainly captured more of the true Tuscan style and profile. A slightly more expensive wine selling for $21.99, this would still be a great choice for a nice dinner at home, or as a bottle to take to your favorite Italian BYOB place. It would probably go well with even heavier dishes, such as game, but would work nicely with any kind of roasted fowl, or any food that accents the rusticity of the wine.

We finished our evening with some full-bodied Pinot Gris from Eola-Hills in Oregon ($13.49- and certainly a good value). We also had a comparative tasting with a Gewurztraminer–Banyan from the Central

California Coast ($11.99)–and Trimbach, from Alsace ($19.99). The Alsatian wine had many more of the traditional characteristics of classical Gewurztraminer, with petroleum, roses, and spicy aromatics heavy in the glass, thick body, and a lot of minerality. The California version was much lighter in body but had a pleasing combination of citrus rinds blended with some floral touches that came perhaps just shy of smelling like roses that the tasting group as a whole found very pleasant.

All in all a wonderful night of wine, and we look forward to the next one.

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