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- joeyz6 - 09-15-2003 11:39 PM

Big tasting today in Chicago. This is one of the coolest parts about working in a restaurant, I can get into these wine tastings now. Anyway, there were tons of wines being poured, from seemingly everywhere around the world (Cali, Italy, France, Australia, South America, Austria, Germany, Japan ...), and hundreds of industry people there. Here are some abbreviated notes on the various & varied wines I tasted:

2001 Gérard Bertrand La Viala Corbières, was the first and maybe the best wine I tasted. I think the blend is 20% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and the rest Mourvèdre and Carignan. Just beautifully balanced with plenty of everything and an appeallingly aspirin-like finish. Showed some sediment.

Had a nice talk with the winemaker at Au Bon Climat (Jim something), told him I was in Santa Barbara last week and he told me to come out to the vineyard next time I'm there. I first tasted his two Cold Heaven Viogniers. The 2001 regular label Viognier: Round bright citrus fruit, long finish, a little oak but not unpleasant. 2001 Viognier Vogelzang Vineyard (Santa Ynez Valley) was a little bigger and hotter, more malolactic but plenty of fruit as well -- grapefruit, maybe some tropical fruit like papaya as well. Next I had the 2000 Au Bon Climat Knox Alexander P. Noir (Santa Maria Valley). Big, brash, tannic, I think this will open up with a few years of cellaring.

Next was Robert Sinskey. I tasted their three reserve wines. The '98 Four Vineyards P. Noir showed dark fruit, notably blueberry, with some soft oak and acid on the finish ... drinking quite well right now. '98 Vineyard Reserve: A Bordeaux blend with strong roasted pepper notes on the nose, somewhat light-bodied and not hot at all. 1988 Claret: A bit more than 50% Merlot plus Cabs Sauvignon and Franc ... Softened, dark fruit, mouth-coating velvet tannin, roasted pepper notes along with leather & metal.

Paul Hobbs was next. His brother Matt was there pouring the wine. I tasted their P. Noir from the Hyde Vineyard, 2001. This was fruit-forward, with some acid and tannin to back it up. Nicely balanced and a subtle wine overall compared to some of the other Cali Pinot I tried. I then tried the 1999 Beckstoffer Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, which was very big but smooth and approachable. Some velvety tannin. This needs decanting and could use a couple years of cellaring but is drinkable now.

Next up was Patz & Hall. Their 2001 Russian River Valley Pinot was driven by jammy fruit and didn't have much to back it up. A short finish. Their 2001 Pisoni Vineyard Pinot was more balanced, still with a ton of fruit however. Basically the balance comes from what I perceive as wood behind the fruit. After the wood flavor leaves the tongue, the fruit comes back again (it's that strongly flavored).

On to Italy ... I tried a Cavalotta Barolo, 1998, which was big and bitter with mouth-coating tannin and a medium-length finish. It left the front of my tongue tingling.

Next, a wine called Noà, made by Cusumano (we use their wine Cubìa, made from the grape Insolia, at Trio to pair with an egg course). 2001. Interesting, strong aroma of graham cracker and caramel. Very bitter again but soft as well on the tongue. A blend of Nero d'Avola, Cab and Merlot. Then the 2002 Nero d'Avola, which had vegetal aromas and a light, fruity, juicy taste.

My notes end here, but I went on to taste some fascinating Japanese Sakes and also had Grappa for the first time.


- Innkeeper - 09-16-2003 06:13 AM

The "Jim" is Jim Clendenen. He also crafted as a second label the wonderful barbera that Roberto was able to pass on to us for around four bucks, so that Jim could release his next vintage. Viva la wine glut!