The Goddess of Wine started a new program at the Morro Bay Wine Seller! Going forward, the last Wednesday of the month will be #WineWednesday #TastingBlind!
For our first blind tasting session on January 30th, we had an enthusiastic group of tasters. As in prior blind tasting classes, I provided aroma and tasting guidelines and grids. And as always, discoveries were made, 'aha' moments occurred, and many laughs were had.
2016 J Vineyards Pinot Gris, California – Aromas of honeysuckle, tangerine and Kaffir lime leaf. This fruit-forward wine has notes of ripe green apple, Meyer lemon, and tart pineapple that blend with hints of florals and crisp minerality. This was the first 'aha' moment; several tasters were surprised to discover how much they liked this Pinot Gris - and they all said they never would have chosen to drink it before.
From the winemaker: Following hand-harvesting, we pressed whole clusters using gentle cycles to minimize extraction of harsh components from the skins and seeds. Wine from each appellation was divided into lots and fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel tanks. To preserve the freshness of the fruit and floral aromas, the wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation. Following primary fermentation, we aged vineyard lots separately until blending, allowing for the development of a range of distinctive aroma and flavor components that were ultimately blended to create a bright, layered wine.
2014 Licia Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain – Straw yellow with greenish hues, this wine has strong varietal characteristics with hints of grapefruit, candied fruit, quince, fresh herbs, green apples, and minerals. It is surprisingly full bodied and well balanced, with strong aromas of citrus and green apple, with a long finish. Another great example of Albariño from Spain. I like it with paella!
From the website: Lícia is a shortening of Galicia, the autonomía in northwest Spain known for its Celtic influence and overall greenness due to the maritime climate. This refreshing, flavorful white is made from 100% Albariño, sourced from the subzones of Condado de Tea and O Rosal in DO Rías Baixas. Situated along the border with Portugal, vineyards in these subzones benefit from the drier climate and warmer growing season.
2014 Vinum Cellars Chenin Blanc, Clarksburg, California – I've borrowed this review from Dwight Furrow/EdibleArts, as he really got this wine. It was even better the next day: Vinum has a long track record producing wine from this grape that deserves far more attention than it receives in the U.S. 2014 is their 17h vintage from these grapes grown in the Sacramento River Delta. It’s hot there but cool, nighttime breezes from San Francisco Bay keep fresh acidity in the grapes. The aromas of crushed rock, pear, lemon and lavender are pretty but this wine’s charm is really in the caressing mouth feel that manages to be both light, crisp and viscous, exuding minerality but with slight honeyed notes that lend a touch of sweetness. Orange zest blooms on the midpalate but the emphasis is on the floral and mineral spectrum. It finishes long and cool, with a spine like pure spring water.
2016 Kenneth Volk Vineyards Jaybird Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, California – I've been pouring unoaked Chards for various classes recently, so that folks can get a sense of the diversity of Chardonnay. Chards from Santa Maria share distinctive traits from the cool ocean-influenced climate. Delish!
From the winemaker: Jaybird is the KVV proprietary name for our unoaked, stainless steel fermented Chardonnay, featuring fruit from the Sierra Madre and Garey Ranch Vineyards of Santa Maria Valley. This wine has lovely aromas of pineapple, pear and guava which are followed by flavors of apple, pineapple and fennel. Clean and crisp, this lovely wine showcases Chardonnay without the influence of oak.
2014 Cusumano Insolia, Terre Siciliane IGT, Sicily, Italy – Made with the Insolia grape, native to Sicily and mostly used to make Marsala until recently. Sadly, this bottle was bad. It appeared that the wine had started to re-ferment, and while it was drinkable, it was off. What should have been a soft, fruitful wine, somewhere in between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, was just flabby and almost sour. Disappointing that it didn't hold up at all, as I'm a big fan of Insolia.
From the website: An unusual white grape, even for Sicily, almost tannic, but also softer than Chardonnay and crisper than Viognier. This grape is grown in the cool, but sunny, Ficuzza vineyards that are more than 2,600 feet above sea level. The light straw color and soft aromas of freshly-picked flowers and herbs round off this balanced white wine. Melon, white pepper, and an herbal aroma in the nose. This wine was made by cold pressing and fermentation; the period on the lees in stainless steel containers was at least 4 months.
So, an interesting evening, lots of discussion, plus tasty breads from #JDBakes.
Hope to see you all at the next session on Wednesday, February 27th! Who knows what delightful discoveries may be made!