Had a lovely group of friends over on Saturday for a WineShop at Home tasting. JD and I straightened up the house, and tried to figure out how to seat 10 guests in our tiny living room. We set out smoked Gouda, Dubliner Cheddar, double-cream Brie, and a wonderful Stilton, along with Carr's water crackers, red table grapes and a selection of dark chocolates. Guest Dana Amromin, a genius pastry chef, brought her homemade truffles... sigh... perfection.
The wines were as follows, and I'd like to point out that this is the order in which I served them, not the order that WineShop at Home listed on the menus:
Lumiere de Vie 2008 Sauvignon Blanc - Grapefruit, green apple, orange and tropical aromas are balanced with a gentle grassiness common to Sauvignon Blanc. I liked the 2007 a lot, and am happy to see how well the 2008 turned out. $16
Albion 2007 Viognier - When we first opened this wine, I really wasn't sure about it. And after tasting it (prior to the guests arriving) I decided to serve it after the Sauvignon Blanc, as the sweetness of the wine would have been detrimental to the crisp and acidic SB. Strong citrus and almond with fresh mint in the nose. The flavors are fruity and sweet with a medium weight mouth-feel. Coming after the SB allowed the fruit forward Viognier to show better, but it's not for everyone. $16.75
Sun Fish 2008 Chardonnay - Fresh ripe aromas of apple and peach with hints of citrus. No malolactic fermentation was done, and the wine was aged in stainless steel tanks for 12 months. Medium acidity, fruity flavors and nice round mouth-feel make it one of my faves of the evening. $17.50
Albion 2007 Cuveé Rouge - Blend of 50% Merlot, 25% Petite Sirah and 25% Zinfandel. The nose was full of apples and black cherries, with hints of sweet oak. The mouth-feel is on the lighter side for a red, but the tannin and acidity are balanced with the fruit flavors to create a long dry finish. $20
Talmage T 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon - Cherry, cassis and vanilla with a small amount of tobacco and earth in the nose. Small amounts of Merlot (9%) and Malbec (2%) soften the tannins. This wine was aged 3 years in large oak tanks and a small amount of new oak. Dana found this wine sweet to her taste, which precipitated a discussion about the difference between sweetness and fruitiness in wines. The mouth-feel is rich. I like this wine a lot. $20.75 - Bought 2 bottles.
Mariana Vineyards 2007 Zinfandel - This wine was a big hit, especially because I changed the order in which it was poured. The WSAH menu sheet that came with this sampler put the Zinfandel as the first red, which would have been completely inappropriate. Zin belongs at the end of a tasting. The nose is full of plum, blackberry and sandalwood with hints of earth and spice. This is a big mouthwatering wine with firm tannins. And there was NONE left by the time the guests went home! $22.50 - I bought 2 bottles for myself!
As I mentioned earlier, I changed the service order. I have been occasionally surprised at the suggested wine ordering coming down from WSAH. I've mentioned this a few times to my upline. It's odd to find sweet wines, such as rosés or Viogniers being served before a sharper/crisper, more acidic wine like a Sauvignon Blanc. Last year, some of the samplers offered a very sweet Rosato proffered before an austere Chardonnay. Well, the Chard tasted terrible after the sweet wine. When I changed the service order, suddenly everyone liked both wines much better.
Likewise, the order of the red wines in this sampler made no sense to me at all. Putting a big, jammy, high alcohol Zinfandel before the Bordeaux-styles simply overwhelms the palate, and reduces the enjoyment of all the wines. This isn't the first time WSAH has put the Zinfandel first, and I will continue to question their judgment on this.
In any case, we had fun. Lots of opinions were offered, lots of laughs were had, lots of wine was drunk!
Tonight, JD and I venture up to the Valencia Wine Company for the monthly Grape of the Night tasting group. We'll test our palates on Syrahs and Shirazes from around the globe.