Monday, July 30, 2007

Tasting Panel: July 24-25 New California Reds

CalReds.jpg

Unlike other wine growing regions, California does not focus on any particularly grape varietal, but instead produces every major grape varietal on the planet. Here are threewines, each one from a different grape varietal and grown in different winegrowing regions in California.

1. Russian River Pinot Noir "Amber Ridge Vineyard", Connor Brennan Cellars 2005 ($26.00 suggested)

Small-lot production from a single vineyard that is highly regarded source of Pinot Noir in Russian River and is planted with the 777 clone. 14.5% Alcohol.

2. Dry Creek Valley Syrah, VJB Vineyards 2003 ($34.00 suggested)
Barrel-aged for 18 months in neutral American oak. 14.5% Alcohol.

3. El Dorado Zinfandel, VJB Vineyards 2003 ($34.00 suggested)
Aged for 18 months in 100% American oak. 15.5% Alcohol.

Judgment/Comments:
Russian River Pinot Noir "Amber Ridge Vineyard", Connor Brennan Cellars 2005
Thumbs Up: 67%
Thumbs Down: 33%
Pros: Nice fruit, smooth finish, yummy, big, brawny, good value, big for a Russian River Pinot, a bit sweet
Cons: Very light, acidic, somewhat one-dimensional

Dry Creek Valley Syrah, VJB Vineyards 2003 ($34.00 suggested)
Thumbs Up: 40%
Thumbs Down: 60%
Pros: Good body, forward, decadent, smooth tannins, good balance
Cons: Not much going on, harsh, overpriced

El Dorado Zinfandel, VJB Vineyards 2003 ($34.00 suggested)
Thumbs Up: 40%
Thumbs Down: 60%
Pros: Big, nice flavors, highly extracted
Cons: Hot, vegetal, no nose, overpriced

Conclusion:
1. Both the Syrah and Zinfandel from VJB Vineyards were deemed pricey by most drinkers for the quality they offer.

2. Despite the thumbs down votes, many still found the big, extracted, high alcohol, style of the Syrah and Zinfandel attractive. Had the price been significantly less, say close to half, it is likely that many would find these a good purchase.

3. The Pinot Noir from Russian River was well-liked by most drinkers mainly for its forward fruit and fuller style.

4. However, a good number of drinkers dissented on the taste of the Pinot Noir, finding its taste too light, which is surprising considering its big, full-bodied style. One suspects that, popular as Pinot Noir is today, many palates still prefer the big bruisers, like Syrahs and Zinfandels.

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