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Tasting Notes From the Underground

Article and
Tasting Notes by
George Heritier

Hanginmg With The Gang

Of all the activities we report on here in the Gang of Pour pages, our favorites are often those times when we can get together with our fellow “Gangsters” and share good wine and food together. Don't get me wrong, we love covering the trade tastings, visiting the wineries and interviewing the winemakers, but nothing quite beats hanging out with our compadres, who've become like family to us.

A perfect case in point is a visit we received not long ago from our Canadian Correspondent Alan Kerr aka Canadian Zinfan. Mr. Kerr was accompanied by his “mum,” Sylvia, who was over from England for a month on holiday. Kim and I have gotten to know and love Sylvia over the past several years and always take great delight in seeing her again. The plan this time out was for a mixed grill of veggies and rib eyes, accompanied, of course, by a few fine wines, starting with some bubbly from Niagara.

2006 Cave Springs Niagara Escarpment Chenin Blanc Extra Dry2006 Cave Springs Niagara Escarpment Chenin Blanc Extra Dry, 11% alc.:
Pale to medium straw in color, with moderately active bead and decent mousse; rich, yet bone dry grapefruit and mineral flavors and aromas, being somewhat chalky in a good way. There's some subtle yeast in the background and some flint as well, with more than enough acidity to keep moving things along nicely. A good, solid bubbly. Find this wine

2002 Camus Pere et Fils Gevrey Chambertin, 12.5% alc.: Smoky ruby garnet color, with a smoky black cherry and plum perfume that follows through on the palate, where it takes on some added earth and forest floor. Kim adds an impression of “meaty,” and Alan describes it as “classic Cotes de Nuits; the oak is so well integrated, with perfect acidity.” Very smooth and harmonious, but still on the way up, with several years of development left in it. A lovely specimen of Pinot Noir in the dark fruit spectrum. Find this wine

Imported by The Country Vintner, Inc., Oilville, VA
1989 Chateau Lafon Rochet Saint-Estephe1989 Chateau Lafon Rochet Saint-Estephe, 12.5% alc.: Clean dark garnet, with no rust as of yet; lots of lead pencil on the nose, with that and deep dark black currant and cassis on the palate, shaded with old wood and what Kim describes as “major anise and fennel.” Smooth, but still well structured for further development, this elicited the following observation from Mr. Kerr: “Classic Bordeaux nose; perfect integration of terroir and fruit.” Alas, this was our last bottle, but we saved it for just the right occasion. Find this wine

Imported by The Stacole Co., Boca Raton, FL

2002 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel Dusi ATP2002 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel Dusi ATP, 14.9% alc.: Clean dark garnet color, with bright Draper perfume, black raspberry and blueberry on the nose; plenty more of the same on the palate, with a solid earthy base that anchors the wine nicely, and the Kerr dog mentions some sweet Moroccan spice. Great balance of the fruit, spice and earth, deceptively well structured for further development and yet already drinking so well right now. A complete wine from start to finish. Find this wine




Our buddy Mark Smith decided that it was time for grilled pizza and some red wines in black bags to taste blind, so we gathered at his back forty with the likes of Madame Mystery, Mark's neighbors Tom and Sally and his co-workers Michelle and Robert to do the do. We got things off to a rollicking good start with hors d'ouvres and some French whites and bubbles.

2005 Domaine Weinbach Pinot Blanc Reserve Alsace, 13.5% alc.:
Pale gold color, with flavors and aromas reminiscent of under-ripe apple and beeswax, shaded with some subtle mineral and a note of pine underneath. Medium bodied, slightly oily and not quite austere, this turns richer and riper with some air, showing nice balance and good acids. One of the better Pinot Blancs we've had the pleasure of knowing. Find this wine

Imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL

2003 Vincent Girardin Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru2003 Vincent Girardin Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 14% alc.:
Pale gold color, with almost smoky toasty oak, floral and hazelnut nose that fleshes out on the palate with apple and pear accented with some herbaceousness, flint and slate. Not the greatest vintage, considering the intense heat, but a very nice wine nevertheless and a real pleasure to drink.  Find this wine

 Imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL

Champagne Jean Laurent BrutChampagne Jean Laurent Brut NV, 1.5 L., Disgorged 9/04, 12% alc.:
Medium straw color, with a slightly oxidized, yeasty nose (in a good way); gains a bunch of nutty praline on the palate, where it's zippy and frothy in the mouth. This one is about as far along on the aging curve as I can tolerate and still enjoy, and enjoy it I do, 3 pours worth! Find this wine

Imported by Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, VA

Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc2008 Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc, 12% alc.:
Pale to medium straw color, with earthy boxwood and grapefruit flavors and aromas which elicit the following comment from Madam Mystery, “What a concept, restrained Sauvignon Blanc!” (She mostly drinks the Kiwis...) Pungent, smooth and well balanced. Find this wine

2005 Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes, 13% alc.:
$25.99: Always a treat and very much as we remember it from previous encounters; very well received by all who taste it. Gamay done the way Gamay oughta be. Find this wine

2002 Matrot Blagny La Piece Sous le Bois2002 Matrot Blagny La Piece Sous le Bois, 13% alc.: Smoky ruby garnet in color, and actually lighter in body and weight than the Breton Morgon, with pretty smoky black cherry flavors and aromas, good cut and presence, all on a medium bodied frame.
Find this wine

Imported by Vineyard Brands, Inc., Birmingham, AL





It's been a while since we've done any blind tasting, so when Mark brought out five black bag robed bottles, the potential for fun and excitement was too good to resist.

2001 Oreno ToscanaBlack Bag #5:
Deep dark garnet color, with old oak on the nose, following through on the palate over a solid core of deep, dark black currant and cassis; good tannic and acidic backbone, and slightly astringent on the finish. I thought it could be Italian or Australian, but called out California. I was wrong.

2001 Oreno Toscana, 14% alc.  Find this wine

2003 JC Cellars Sonoma Zinfandel Iron HillBlack Bag #4:
Deep, dark color. Smells and tastes like Aussie Shiraz, all bright oak and balsa. Not quite as disgusting to me as to the following tasters.

“Very jammy, very very intensely berry, not to my liking.” - Kim
“Acid adjusted and hot.” - Madame Mystery

2003 JC Cellars Sonoma Zinfandel Iron Hill, 16% alc.
 Find this wine

2004 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di MontepulcianoBlack Bag #3:
Deep dark color, with a big earthy funky nose; Madame Mystery suggests that it saw a lot of oak, but the funk seems to soak most of it up. Lower in acid than one would expect from Sangiovese, which I think it is, but it's obviously Italian.

2004 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 13% alc.; a blend of Prugnolo Gentile, Canaiolo Nero, Mammolino Find this wine

whiteBlack Bag #2:
Corked, bummer. 2000 Ridge York Creek Late Picked Zinfandel.

2000 Elderton Barossa Shiraz CommandBlack Bag #1: I'm pretty sure this deep dark colored wine is another Ridge from earlier in the decade, with American oak in restrained proportion to claret-like black raspberry, blackberry and blueberry fruit, but I'm dead wrong. Smooth and deceptively well structured.

2000 Elderton Barossa Shiraz Command, 14.5% alc.
 Find this wine

Imported by USA Wine West, San Rafael, CA

1999 Faury St. JosephBlack Bag #2 Replacement:
Deep dark color, with toast, coffee, flint and funky horsey brett on the nose; very northern Rhone-like Syrah in the mouth, which makes me think it's either St. Joseph or Crozes Hermitage. Smooth, but still young and well structured; a bit astringent on the finish.

1999 Faury St. Joseph, 13% alc. Find this wine

Imported by Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, CA

2000 Pavillon Rouge de Chateau MargauxBlack Bag # ?!:
Coffee and toast on the nose suggests a South American wine, but the flavors scream Bordeaux; totally dry black currant and cassis in a classy, elegant package.

2000 Pavillon Rouge de Chateau Margaux, 11-14% alc.
  Find this wine

There you go, yet two more great get-togethers to add to the long list from over the years.  Never let it be said that Gang of Pour doesn't know how to have fun with wine!

Reporting from Day-twah,

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© George Heritier August, 2009