Recently did a blind tasting with a local wine group and here are my notes:
2003 Beaux Frères Belles Soeurs Willamette Valley- At first in my glass it was tannic and closed off, but I could tell it had complexity and richness hiding underneath. With some more air it started developing some serious complexity and fruit but I don’t feel like I can really review it without a couple hours of air. Intrigued to try it again.
2001 Peterson Flood Gate Vineyard Anderson Valley – Mushroomy, earthy nose with a bit of brett or some other barnyard source. This was a medium weight wine with a casual amount of red strawberry.
2005 Deloach Green Valley Sonoma County – Fragrant bright red cherry and candy strawberry noise with a hint of earth. Rich candy-like and cherry pie filling flavors. One of the wines I brought. $35 with club member discount.
2004 Martenelli Blue Slide Ridge Sonoma Coast – Smokey subtle nose with earth and seductive berry aromas. Silky and round flavors of sweet ripe red and blue fruit. Slight drying tannins on the finish at first but with some air even that rounded out. Another wine I brought. $100 retail.
2005 Fess Parker “Pommard Clone” Santa Maria Valley – The first mystery Fess Parker Pinot. Closed off at first but with some air it awakened to a rich and elegant wine. Concentrated but lithe. Had a core of freshness and concentration of fruit but not jammy or over extracted at all.
Third wine of the second flight (name???, my notes got confused on this) – Grape jelly, green olive and anise nose. Strange but intriguing. At first the flavor profile was tangy tart and slightly bitter my a hint of more green olive. With a bit of air it started to develop some rich red berry fruit but still had a streak of herbal.
2005 Fess Parker Ashley Vineyard Ste Rita Hills– Just bottled but had an explosive nose of spicy red and black fruits. Flavors were rich, concentrated and utterly delicious. Gorgeous fruit but not over extracted. Probably my wine of the night. Well done!
2004 Mietz Cellars Sonoma Coast – Another great wine and one I’d never heard of. The nose was smoky and zesty fruit. Very rich concentrated and multi-dimensional fruit flavors.
2004 Domaine Arloud Vin de Bourgogne Pinot Noir – Dark Toast and Chocolate nose. Dry fruit flavors. Other people liked this more than I did but it would be a great food wine.
2004 Rhys-Alesia Kanzler Vineyard, Sonoma Coast – Earthy and mushroomy nose. Elegant and subtle earth and fruit flavors. Couldn’t be more different than the Kosta Brown Kanzler from the same vintage.
2004 Walter Hansel Cahill Lane Pinot Noir – Light red fruit nose. Rich, smooth and elegant red and black fruit flavors. Nice Zesty quality. 3rd Pinot that I brought. $30 retail.
2005 Fess Parker Bien Nacido Vinyard Santa Barbra County – Fresh and sweet powdered candy fruit nose. Very smooth and elegant black cherry and some red fruit flavors. Silky and inviting.
2004 Radio Coteau Savoy Vineyard – Earthy Nose. Rich, concentrated fruit flavors hiding behind a brooding tannic core. Reminded me of some village level Red Burgundy wines I’ve had. I’d be curious to try this in day two, but at this point the tannins dominate for me.
I didn’t take notes on the Syrahs because I didn’t spit as much as I should have during the Pinot flights so I was a bit tipsy and my palate was tired but there we some good ones going around. I can state categorically though that I much preferred the Pinots in general.
All in all I would say the surprise of the night were the Fess Parker Pinots. They all had an amazing rich and elegant silkiness. Probably some of the rare Pinots that could satisfy both the ripe fruit and the “Burundian” camps of Pinot drinkers. Larry (from Fess Parker) said these were from a new wine maker there so I would guess that Fess Parker is going to start getting some good score and word of mouth of these wines.
The Martanelli I brought was the best of the cherry hard-candy class of Pinots, but didn’t have a great QPR compared to the other wines. I was curious to see how the Walter Hansel did in the comparisons. Compared to the other wines it only had a modest nose but stood up admirably in the flavor department. Showed itself as a great QPR wine it is noted to be.