Monday, August 6, 2007

Tasting Panel: July 31-Aug. 1 Cool Climate Grapes in Hot Zones

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Cool climate grapes such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot are now planted in some of the warmest winegrowing regions in the world. So how good do they turn out? Here are three new releases from of cool climate grape varietals from producers in warm climate areas.

1. Mendocino Chardonnay "Francine's Selection", Toad Hollow 2006 ($15.00 suggested)

Vinified in stainless steel, no wood. Full malolactic fermentation and aged on its lees for 8 months. 13.9% Alcohol.


2. Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, 337 Wine Cellars 2005 ($16.00 suggested)

Made from the 337 clone, a type of Cabernet Sauvignon that ripens early and does not develop herbal flavors. This grower has been a pioneer of this clone and has supplied fruit to many wineries. The grapes were cold-soaked for 24-36 hours before fermentation. The wine was aged in a mix of French and American oak. 14.5% Alcohol.


3. Barossa Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot "Clancy's", Peter Lehmann 2004 ($21.00 suggested)

A blend of 43% Shiraz, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Merlot. 14.5% Alcohol.


Judgment/Comments:

Mendocino Chardonnay "Francine's Selection", Toad Hollow 2006
Thumbs Up: 80%
Thumbs Down: 20%
Pros: Fresh and smooth, citrusy, good acid
Cons: Too fruity

Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, 337 Wine Cellars 2005
Thumbs Up: 60%
Thumbs Down: 40%
Pros: Good midweek wine, starts impressive but flattens out, smooth
Cons: Too fruity and extracted, too vegetal

Barossa Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot "Clancy's", Peter Lehmann 2004
Thumbs Up: 80%
Thumbs Down: 20%
Pros: Classy, complex, smooth
Cons: none

Conclusions:
1. Cool climate grape varietals planted in warm climate areas result in fruity wines that have wide appeal among today's drinkers.

2. In addition, even more drinkers prefer those fruity wines that show interesting layers of flavors.

3. Peter Lehmann's Clancy was the overall winner in this series. The wine's blend of different grape varietals resulted in an interesting and complex flavor profile that appealed to most drinkers.

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