The Second Floor Wine Tasting Group

January 9, 2005

We gathered at Greg's place; Christine brought the Zinfandels and Greg brought the Syrahs (and Subway Cheese Steaks!). Jeff, Helen, Peter, Sunny, and Rosanna all brought delectable foods to accompany the groupings of rowdy reds: smoked meats and fishes, fancy cheeses, homemade mushroom soup, sundried tomato tapenade, and even a freshly-baked pear cake.

The Wines

  1. 2002 Syrah (California) by Lawson Ranch - $6.50
  2. 1998 (Cote-Rotie, Champin-le-Sergneur, France) by Jean-Michel Gerin - $50
  3. 2003 Shiraz (Southeastern Australia) by Marquis Phillips - $18
  4. 2001 Zinfanel (Dry Creek, Sonoma, California) by Racho Zabaco - $14
  5. 2002 Old Vine (~120 yrs) Zinfanel (Sonoma, California) by Seghesio - $32
  6. 2003 New Vine Zinfanel (Sonoma, California) by Seghesio - $18

The People

Greg, Helen, Peter, Jeff, Sunny, Rosanna, and Christine

Impressions (by Sunny as Jason works on his thesis)

I just found my wine notebook, almost 6 weeks after the tasting, so I can barely recall the food elements of the night, but here are the notes on the wines:

  1. Called rich in berry elements by some (Helen and Jeff), but unimpressive by others (Peter and Christine), this Lawson Ranch syrah split the like/dislike vote pretty evenly. Greg thought that it was a "good, simple wine" with basic fruit and spice, but Christine found it to be cheap and young, "the kind of wine you take to a party when you don't know who's hosting". Sunny thought it went great with the cheese steak sandwiches and was a good "starter" wine.
  2. The Jean-Michel Germain French wine (like a syrah but with a hefty $50 price tag) was a big hit with its smoky and complex flavors. Greg and Peter both loved the long finish and fine flavors of berries, leather, and jasmine/lavender hidden in the red/purple hue. Rosanna said that it tasted excellent with the smoked ham and Christine loved that it was very full-bodied but not too heavy. Helen, Sunny, and Jeff all noticed the mildly offensive "bit of barnyard" aromas, but agreed that it was a very good, food-friendly wine.
  3. The most complexly flavored syrah was the Marquis Phillips shiraz. People found hints at everything but the kitchen sink in this one: licorice, kiwi, blackberry, coffee (even Turkish coffee!), clove, tobacco, pineapple and the scent of rotting leaves! Most found it pleasant, especially after breathing for a good 15-20 minutes, and Peter in particular loved the intensity of this wine. He called it "provocative!" Others found it a tad too sweet and relatively high in alcohol. Sunny thought it would go nicely with fatty meats and Jeff figured that Middle Eastern food would be a good match for its complexity.

    After all of the hubbub over the syrah/shiraz mix, the zinfandels had a tough act to follow...

  4. This Rancho Zabaco zinfandel was well-liked by Rosanna, Peter, and Sunny (it was their favorite of the #4-6 lot). Christine and Helen thought that it paired well with food, but especially strong, grilled foods. Jeff loved the "big fruit and spice" classic boldness of this zin and enjoyed it with smoked fish and bleu cheese.
  5. The old vine Seghesio was not very well-received. Greg noticed more brown spices like nutmeg and an oily "soapiness" quality to it. Other called it harsh (Sunny), bitter (Greg) and déclassé (Peter). Still others could barely tell the difference between it and it's younger cousin (#6).
  6. The new vine Seghesio has a slightly more complex flavor with hints of licorice, sour cherries, and black olives. It was Greg's favorite among the zinfandels, but many others found it too strong and too oak-stained. At this point, most people taste buds seemed to be simply worn out.

Christine explained after the unveiling of the zinfandels that they are commonly high in acid, high in alcohol (14%-16%) and full of oak flavors because of how they are produced. She also said that the old vine vs. new vine distinction is common. It was certainly evident that the age of the vine probably made a big difference in the flavors and qualities found in the two Seghesio zinfandels.

A long discussion at the end of the night about which wines to taste next time brought up the idea of a champagne tasting. We agreed that it would be a nice post-Valentine's Day event if we could have 3 chapagnes and 2 sparking Italian wines at Rosanna's house on 2/27/04. Greg and Peter agreed to buy and knowing the higher prices of sparking wines and champagnes, we all agreed that it would be OK to spend $5 extra per bottle.

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Last modified: Thu Jun 9 17:05:36 2005