As a part of the festivities I decided to grab some wines I had been preparing to review and invited my guests to partake in a group tasting. The forecast called for 95 degrees and I knew we’d need lots of refreshing beverage options throughout the day. Pulled pork sandwiches were going to be the main entrée, but when it is 95 degrees out, the weather trumps all other options we may have had in mind for pairing with the pork. An array of white wines was exactly what the doctor ordered.
I decided to try to make the tasting fun. I made small note cards for each guest and asked him or her to write their general notes of each wine on the cards. Nothing technical or complicated, I just wanted to know a few simple things: 1. Did they like the wine? Why or why not? 2. Would they pay $X amount (retail value) for the wine? And 3. To describe the wine as best as they could.
To me this was a fun way to go through some samples I’d been meaning to taste. By sharing them with my friends (aka my tasting panel), I was able to get honest feedback from people who would be in the market for these wines.
All of these wines should be widely available throughout the country and available in most grocery stores, or if you’re in a state like I am now (CT) where you cannot buy wine in a grocery store (seriously, this is going to take some getting used to), you should be able to find them in large wine shops.
The lineup, in order of favorites of the evening.
The favorite of the evening!
2008 Napa Cellars Chardonnay
I found the wine to have a nice balance of fruit and integrated oak. Apple, lemon, butterscotch, vanilla, and caramel on the nose with that and more in the mouth. Smoked oak followed by a slightly buttery feel (not overpowering) with lingering caramel apple flavors. The wine is an oaked style but not overpowering at all. My guests agreed for the most part with notes like “great Chardonnay flavors with light floral notes on the nose”, “Yum!”, “crisp and fresh, well balanced”, and one of my favorites, “I don’t generally favor oak or Chardonnay but I liked this one”. I do love converting Chardonnay haters to the good ones, and this was a crowd pleasing Chardonnay for both those who like and dislike the varietal for a decent price.
Grapes: 100% Chardonnay
Appellation: Napa Valley (sourced from vineyards primarily in South Napa, Yountville, and Oak Knoll)
Oak: ½ cold fermented in stainless steel tanks, while the remaining was placed into small French oak barrels. 100% French oak (34% new), aged for 7 months.
2009 Cupcake Vineyards Pinot Grigio
Very tropical on the nose with lots of brightness and acidity followed by bright green apple, pear, lemon, lime, and pineapple on the palate. Overall, dry, crisp and fruity. Some guests were mixed on their reviews of this wine but generally favored it over the other wines. For the price point many thought “sure I’d pay up to $10 for this”, and “good for the price”, “crisp, refreshing, notes of citrus, I like it”. One guest who didn’t love it by itself thought, “it may be nice, however, paired with shrimp but doesn’t stand well alone”. Overall most guests liked it for the $10 or under price point.
Grapes: 100% Pinot Grigio
Appellation: D.O.G. Trentino, in Northern Italy
2009 Cupcake Vineyards Riesling
I found the wine to have a rather mild nose dominated by mostly citrus, lemon, lime, lemon peel and tart lemon pie. The mouth was semi-sweet, highly acidic, fruity, and came across refreshing on this hot day. If you can find it on sale for closer to $7 it would be good for a summer picnic or pool day. Guest were mixed on their feelings but generally liked it for the price point. “Pretty good”, “fruity, sweet and a little tangy” and “I thought it was good and I would pay $10 or less for it”.
Grapes: 100% Riesling
Appellation: Mosel, Germany
2009 Big House White, California White Wine
For this particular crowd, this wine didn’t find many fans.
I thought the wine was all over the place on the nose with apricot, pears, lychee, overripe melon, and canned tropical fruit cocktail. The mouth was tangy, dry and crisp, with an almost unpleasant amount of acidity. My guests were less than complimentary thinking it tasted “watered down”, “pungent”, and “not my favorite at all”. One guest, however, would buy it if “it was $5 or less”. Perhaps poured along side of the three other wines, this one just stuck out in a bad way. I suppose when you’re tasting four very different wines side by side, you always find one that stands out as a favorite and a least favorite. This was the least favorite for the majority of those who tasted it. To me it seems like a no brainer pool wine. Just chill till very cold and sip without putting much thought into it, much like a Coors Light or Miller Light of wine.
Grapes: 56% Malvasia Bianca, 22% Muscat Canelli, 18% Viognier, 4% Rousanne
There you have it. Have YOU tasted any of these wines this summer? What was your impression? I’d love to know.
***Stay tuned for my next post. My very first Vindulge prize giveaway! This is going to be a good one. You won't want to miss it.