February 21, 2008

Long Winded! Lots of Tasting Stuff!

I hope that this entry isn’t too long, but I have a lot to report. These items aren’t in chronological order, but here ya go:

For those of you who receive the Vegas Wineaux newsletter, you noticed that I did a little blurb on a car repair facility that I felt was absolutely miraculous (honest *and* reasonably priced). The newsletter said it was "$ & M Auto Service Systems.” Oops. Money on the mind, I guess. Well, it’s supposed to be “R & M Auto Service Systems.” Sheesh. Keyboard issues.

Wednesday night found me at Onda, the Wine Bar at the Mirage. I knew that they would be pouring wines from a new winery, but I had no idea. I ended up taking notes on an old envelope and scraps of paper, so you have to bear with me.

Daou Vineyards is owned by brothers Georges and Daniel Daou. Their vineyard is located on the West side of Paso Robles (yay). They have several lines of wines, and their La Capilla line was poured at Onda. They also have Lodi fruit as well.

At this time, they are making reds only, with a Viognier being planned for limited release later this year. Daniel spent some time at our table, talking about wine as a passion and how one day he decided that making wine was his life’s destiny.

Six wines were poured and I’m offering my tasting notes. YMMV.

2005 La Capilla Saveur (Lodi) – medium bodied Petit Sirah that offers smoke, berries, plums, chocolate and dust on the nose, with the same on the palate. It has an interesting fleshy component, soft, well-integrated tannins, nicely viscous without being “thick,” and a long, minerally finish. Not like the fruit bombs I’m used to, but has subtlety and class.

2005 La Capilla Melange (Paso Robles) – This is a Cabernet/Syrah blend (61%/39%) with plum, cassis, earth, espresso and a touch of cedar on the nose. On the palate, the taste reflects the nose, along with integrated tannins and a bit of pepper on the medium finish.

2006 La Capilla Old Vines Zinfandel (Lodi) – Jammy nose, lots of dark fruit, spice (can’t tell which), and a very clean, crisp palate. Surprisingly austere for Central Coast wines, it has lots of earthy Zin flavor.

2006 La Capilla Old Vines Zinfandel Reserve (Lodi) – Very similar to the previous Zin, but earthier, with a rich dark fruit component, which adds to its complexity. Smoky for a Zin, and with an interesting herbal component (this is a good thing), and a long finish.

2006 La Capilla Syrah (Paso Robles) – Okay, this one was my favorite, hands down. Rich dark fruit, berries, ash, smoke, spice, and a rich, glass-coating viscosity. Varied berry flavors on the tongue, with a long, minerally finish. Rich tooth-stainer! Yum!

2006 La Capilla Cabernet Sauvignon (Paso Robles) – Bright fruit, cigar box, cocoa, cassis, plums, with firm, balanced tannins, good acid, and a long, fruity finish.

Daou Vineyards has a great web presence, and I encourage you to go take a look at their site.

By the way, Daniel indicated that they plan to return to Onda on March 12.

I hosted the Fritz & Tex's Wine Club Thing at my home last Saturday night, and had a wonderful time doing so. The theme (which I picked) was all about single varietal wines. The wines were Zinfandel, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Garnacha, and an Argentinean Tempranillo. All fabulous, all tasty.

When putting together the tasting notes, I realized that there were several wines that had apparently never been submitted to any of the Mega-Winemags for evaluation. In case you didn't know, the tasters for these magazines don't go running out to find the wines … the winemakers submit their wines for tasting analysis. Such a gamble can make or break a winemaker. If the wine is universally loved, the prices can skyrocket and the wine may achieve "cult" status. If the wine is universally panned, you may see it on the clearance shelf of the local Walgreen's Pharmacy along with the bargain bottles of white zin.

Of course, those of us who love particular wines experience a special evil glee when a famed wine taster dislikes a wine. More for us!!! Especially since so many people slavishly follow the tasters' recommendations and often do their shopping based on scores alone.

Another thing that people tend to forget is that just like the rest of us, tasters have their preferences. I would go so far to say that there is no absolutely neutral taster out there.

One of the most well-known and high profile wine tasters is Robert Parker. He has the ability to make or break winemakers based on his evaluations of wines. And people will take his word as gospel.

I've found that my palate does not usually agree with Mr. Parker's. If he raves over a wine, you can be pretty sure that I will find it overdone, high-alcohol, and a little too much over the top. If he *likes* a wine and gives it a score in the mid to upper 80s, it's almost a guarantee that I will love it. Mr. Parker's palate apparently tends to prefer the more fruit-forward, very New World types, while I prefer true varietal character. To be sure, I like many of the wines that he likes, but I also know that we have our preferences and differences.

Last year Mr. Parker panned Kosta Browne's releases. Woo hoo!! That meant that the prices didn't skyrocket, and I was able to acquire more bottles. I'm a happy woman! I can only hope that Kosta Browne continues in its quest for true varietal character and doesn't stoop to making wine for the critics instead of good, solid wine for the rest of us.

But I digress.

I ranted about all of that just to say that I found several tasters online who do a wonderful job of evaluating and critiquing wines, often in language that everyday folks like us can relate to. Just because they aren't hired by a mega-wine magazine or are wine celebrities, doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with their assessments.

So I found a couple of wonderful, real-world wine reviews that I used in the notes for the blind tasting. One of these is the Ambassador of Wine which is run by a Seattle-area steakhouse waiter. His insight and envy-provoking descriptions are fun to read.

The other is Nick On Wine, who, besides being one of my Friends on MySpace, also has a fabulous Blog. Not quite a “regular” person, Nick Anthony is Akronewsnow's resident wine educator and columnist. Nevertheless, his reviews are unpretentious and easy to understand.

So there you have it. Get out there and drink some wine!

If you receive two notices of the Blog update, it's only because I 'm transitioning from one mail service to another. Thanks for your patience.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciate the shout out, funny how I wonder if people are even reading things I had to write down or would forget, and benefit from remembering. It's nice to read other people's opinion of Parker, sure there's a time and a place for over-extracted high alcohol wines, like a blind date with an un-interesting person, but I prefer integration and multi-layered efforts. Also, jealous you got some Kosta-Browne, I got zero.