23 November, 2008

Judgement of Albany - France vs. California Taste Off

U.S.C? University of Solano Cellars! This week Xandria and I had the good fortune to attend not one, but TWO educational, informative, tasty and --bonus--fun! events at Solano Cellars on Solano Avenue in Albany. We raced from Twitter Taste Live! Drink local and made it to Solano Cellars right at 7:45 on the dot, when the second seating of this fun event began. At first, I was disoriented by the preponderance of bad fashion choices, then I realized, you got a discount for wearing either a beret, cowboy hat or boots. Whew! It made the attire seem festive (and the probability that a Berkeleyite would go all "Coyote Ugly" seem much less probable). Since we are less familiar with the French offerings, we started there:

2005 Virginie de Valandraud ($93) Grand cru from prestigious small producer, this wine had a commanding aroma of leather, smoke, eucalyptus. It displayed stunning balance with tannins that seemed grippy and smooth at the same time and a smooth lingering finish that coats the tongue with a glaze of fruit. Vive la France! Nice!

2005 Chateau Belgrave ($50) The top note of aroma is vegetal. A quick puff of breath to uncover more fully the secondary aromas brought out a lush blast of blackberry with notes of green [Thanks, Sommelier John, Norwegian Jade for the cool trick!]. The delicious tannic-acid-fruit balance made it hard to pin down discrete flavors, but the whole was a luscious complexity.

2005 Chateau Puy Norman Vielles Vignes ($25) 100% Merlot. Wine had a nice ruby color. Aromas of cherry anise and smoked meat. Medium body. Tannins coated my whole mouth. An interesting delicious wine that showed quality at a very affordable price point.

2005 Petit Bocq ($34) 85% Merlot-43% Cab - 2% Cab Franc. This wine had a delightfully woodsy character to its aromas--slightly cedarish. Not as tannic.

2005 Chateau D'Armailhac ($59) Aromas of brown spice. Dry, fruity flavors with a lot of red fruit. Slightly grippy, it had a long, leathery finish.

2005 Chateau Ormes De Pez ($42) Wow! Aromas of strawberry brioche. Complex fruit deliciousness. I, who have had such trouble identifying "Blueberries" in wine, got a blast of luscious blueberry flavor. Nice tannin. Lovely acidity. I bought this! Yum!

2005 La Louviere ($52) Not sure if it was palate fatigue or just eager to move on the the California wines, but this did not display good QPR. My notes was , "Meh."

Then, on to California!

2005 Pedemont Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon ($53) Green, smoky aromas. Lovely blackberry flavors. The winemaker's passion for his product really shines through.

2005 Cenay Bluetooth Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon ($35) The first wine we tried from CA--Mama, I'm home!. It had a sharp, acidic brambly fruit. No oak at all. With a lingering tobacco finish. Earned a little smiley face on my tasting notes!

2005 Longmeadow Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon ($42) Round. Fruity. Anise flavor.

1999 Truchard Cabernet Sauvignon ($NK) Plummy flavors and aromas with notes of roasted tomatoes. Luxuriant finish with hints of licorice.

2004 Truchard Cabernet Sauvignon ($38) Butterscotchy mocha-vanilla-cherry aromas. Somewhat sweet and acidic. Peculiar dry halting finish.

There were three other wines there that had been sucked down by the cowboy booted mob ahead of us. Later we found out the Faux Frogs and Booted Broncos had gotten double pours! Damn our commitment to this blog!! How we suffer for our art!!!!
Still, this was a great way for me to get some learnin' on how the Cali Cabs stand up to Bordeaux. Many thanks to Jason for bringing such a fun and informative event to our neck of the woods!

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