Jerry's Wine Blog, First Entry
Many people have asked me how I got started in wine appreciation and how I acquired my palate. My short answer is “we start where our feet touch the ground” and we go from there. You start from whatever experience level you are at and then add to it. For those wishing to acquire a “professional” palate, you need to be ready to do tastings in an organized way. For the amateur (and there is NOTHING wrong with those who choose that path), you can still employ a systemic approach to the varietals, appellations or wine types you prefer and then, once you are confident with your grasp of those wines, look for other wines from other regions which may appeal to you.
Having confidence in your ability to discern what you like and dislike in wines is a must. This said, I will begin this blog with an explanation of my methodology for presentation. My goal is to (as much as I am able) share my tasting experiences with you. While it is true that I cannot share the taste or aroma of a wine with you physically, I can share my observations with you and, if you choose you can then try those wines for yourself. Remember, we, each of us, have our own palate and what I may describe in my words you might describe in your own different words…
The first step to building what I call a “professional” palate is to taste, taste, taste. I am blessed to be in the industry and therefore have an opportunity to try wines from a number of different distributors and from wineries from all over the world at little or no cost to me. Since this is not available to most people, I have chosen to share my perceptions, opinions and observations on these wines so that YOU can choose if you think a wine will appeal to you or not. Going forward, I will share my tasting notes from each tasting with each wine rep. For each wine I will adhere to the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s wine tasting matrix. I will describe each wine’s color, clarity, aroma, taste profile, finish, alcohol level, body, tannin level, etc.
For my first blog entry, I have chosen some of the most recent wines which I’ve purchased for our wine shop and the restaurant. I hope you will find these descriptions useful!
Roger Neveu 2015 “Le Colomobier” Sancerre Rouge. Pinot Noir from east side of the Loire Valley. Pinot Noir is grown extensively in Burgundy. It is seldom grown in the Loire Valley as that is mostly Cabernet Franc terroir, however, this varietal from this appellation represents strong value due to more affordable pricing than red Burgundies. The soil of the Loire Valley produces wines with deeper fruit than is usually the case in most parts of Burgundy, though the same fruit profiles (notably black and red cherry) still predominates.
Color: Medium Ruby. Clarity: clear. Body: Light. Alcohol Level: 12.5%ABV. Aromas of red berry fruit and mushrooms. On the palate, black and red cherries, tart with a somewhat earthy finish. Medium to light tannin. Retail sales price at Somm: $27. In my opinion, this is a good French pinot noir perhaps not with the finesse or quality of a Grand or Premier Cru Cote de Nuits St George or Gevrey-Chambertin, but certainly very good and about 1/3 the price of Grand Cru Burgundy pinot noir!
Three Wine Company 2015 Contra Costa County Petite Sirah. 100% Petite Sirah from just north of San Francisco, CA. Color: Deep, dark red. Clarity: Opaque. Aromas: Bramble and black fruit. Palate: Black cherry fruit, mid-palate. Finish: Earthy and chocolaty with a very attenuated, long finish. Alcohol: 15.4%. Tannin: Chewy and palpable but controlled. When Petite Sirah is “on point,” it delivers solidly in all respects. This is one of those wines. The overall impression is of bittersweet chocolate covered black cherry fruit. Tannins caress the palate as well as the gums. Most petite sirahs are notoriously short on the finish which is why they are so often blended with other varietals that have longer finishes. This is 100% petite sirah and it needs no support on the finish. Overall an excellent petite sirah and with a price of $18 a bottle at Somm, this wine represents incredible value! Matt Cline is the winemaker.
Bouza 2016 Reserva Tannat (Uruguay). Tannat originated in the area south of Bordeaux in the area of Madiran. Small amounts of Tannat wine are still made in the region though they are not widely available elsewhere. At its’ best Tannat is a chewy, purple beast of a wine, with velvety tannin and tons of dark fruit. Most Tannat available in today’s wine market is made in Uruguay, as Uruguay considers this their primary wine grape.
Color: Dark saturated ruby. Clarity: Dark to opaque. Aromas of black and purple fruit and petrol. Palate: Bramble fruit, cassis and a smoky quality. Alcohol 14.5%. Tannins velvet and textural. Aged in new American and French Oak. Dark and broody, with chewy tannic structure and black berry fruit, this wine begs to be paired with grilled meat or steak. For those who like right bank Bordeaux or other big Merlot wines, this is definitely a varietal to explore. Petrol notes undoubtedly arise due to the mineral content (limestone) of the soil from the vineyards and are accentuated in French Oak. At $23 a bottle, the wine is available at Somm.
Prior Scala Dei 2016 Priorat Garnaxta.
Grenache/Garnaxta/Garnacha/Cannonau originated as far as we can tell in the northern Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, near the Pyrenees Mountains. Though juicy and soft in most terroir, in the area of Priorat, just south of Barcelona, the grape takes on more interesting aspects. The area is dry and arid, resulting in wines with greater concentration and extraction, though yields are usually reduced. Compounding this is the fact that Priorat is very steeply sloped so what little rainfall actually lands quickly runs off, stressing the grape vines even more. It is this harsh climate and concentration of flavor that makes Priorat Garnaxta so interesting.
Escala Dei is a former Carthusian Monastery site, in active use until the early 19th century, when the church was abandoned. Today, there are two vineyards in the heart of Priorat, Scala Dei.
Color: Bright ruby red. Clarity: Dark/opaque. Aromas: Smoky, Red Berry with notes of animal fats. Palate: big red raspberry and red plum fruit, petrol from the slate soils in which the grapes were grown. Alcohol: 14.5%. Tannin: Dark and supple tannin is well integrated. Body is medium+. The wine gives an overall impression of a much heavier grape (perhaps more syrah-like?) and definitely different than the juicy and light Grenache of the Rhone Valley variety. $31 per bottle at Somm.
Next week I will be tasting Txakoki and Albarino from Spain as well as several Napa reds and I will be posting my notes from that tasting soon! If you have any questions regarding any of the wines I have reviewed here, feel free to reach out to me at Jerry@sommbyepicure.com !