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Melanie's Wine Reviews,Variety,Wine,Wine Writer

Melanie’s Wednesday Wines ~ May 7, 2008 | The 18th Annual Wine Literary Award Honoring Charles L. Sullivan

Melanie Hoffman

My favorite kind of wine tasting is when I have a sample, a chair and a little bit of quiet. I do enjoy a fun tasting room, but for technical notes, not having a winery representative hovering is choice.

On April 25, 2008, the Wine Literary Award Foundation hosted its 18th Annual event honoring Charles L. Sullivan in San Francisco. I had the honor of an invitation to something I had never quite experienced. An ocean of wine to taste with nothing more than my own thoughts. I didn’t know where to start. Of course my palate leads me to the lighter fare, but with close to a thousand wines to choose from I had to pace myself.

I do love Sauvignon Blanc, I think it might just be my favorite white wine with a close second being Dry Riesling; something about the oily petrol nature has always turned me on, but I digress. In this ocean of wine my eyes are drawn first to Black Sheep, 2007 California Sauvignon Blanc. Now I might be giving myself away a little here, but it takes one to know one is what I have always been told.

In all I tasted five Sauv Blancs, I had a mind to keep going with 29 to choose from, but that would have been self-indulgent. The five I chose did not disappoint.

Black Sheep, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, California ~ Ripe melon and lychee nut aromas open the bouquet of this easily approachable quaffer. Citrus and mineral develop upon a second sniff that lead way to fragrant orange blossoms. Complex palate offers ample freshly cut grass flavors with added notes of kiwi. Nice acid to fruit balance. Trailing flavors of figs and Myer lemon finish this clean, fruity and delicious wine.

Hall Wines, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley ~ Bouquet of nectarine and peaches that lead way to tropical notes of pineapple and papaya with hints of lemongrass at the close of the nose. Slightly sharp palate that softens as it lingers. Peach and nectarine flavors follow the bouquet with added tangerine that lasts.

Langtry, 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County ~ Soft bouquet of mineral and sweet spice. Added notes of mango and gooseberry in the nose with the essence of fresh strawberry. Palate is equally soft, an easy summer sipper. Palate follow nose with added juicy flavors of Spring Rainer Cherries.

Manzanita Creek, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County | Oak Ranch ~ Sporting the Zork! cork. Subtle creaminess with hints of cinnamon on the nose. Flowery aromas continue with the addition of passion fruit. Balanced wine has good acid and nice fruit flavors. Palate shows more passion fruit flavors that are up front and last all the way through. Subtle mineral flavors exhibit themselves mid-palate with soft Genoa fig flavors that add to the tropical flavors in the finish.

McNabb Ridge, 2007 Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino County ~ Bright nose pops! with a soft creaminess at the close. Apricots, honeysuckle and fresh grass upfront with an easy vanilla appeal at the end of the bouquet. Palate offers super delicious flavors; I had an “oooooh!” moment. Lots of fruit, more apricots and an essence of clover honey. This wine finishes with nectarine flavors and trailing vanilla bean that lingers.

I then turned to some different whites; pinot gris, trousseau gris, verdelho, gewurztraminer, dry riesling. An eclectic mix that made my mind swirl and my senses dance with the excitement of a child on Christmas morning.

Swanson, 2006 Pinot Gris, Napa Valley ~ Very floral bouquet offers bright notes of apricots, lemongrass and Cattelaya orchids with subtle smoke in the close of the nose. Palate has a dominant blood orange appeal. Nice acid and fruit. Myer lemon and gooseberry flavors with a lasting apricot finish.

Carta d’Imbarco, 2006 Pinot Grigio ~ Floral and fruit aromas, a certain 50/50 bar, orange and cream nature. Starfruit fragrance and marmalade finish the bouquet. Bright palate follows nose with more orange and cream and starfruit with added peachy notes in the finish.

Fanucchi Vineyards, 2005 Trousseau Gris, Russian River Valley ~ Lemon cream nose with added notes of pear and nutmeg. Mineral elements add to the complex nature of the wine. Trailing wisps of white smoke finish the bouquet. Delightful palate offers ginger and more pear flavors. Tropical notes of pineapple linger on the palate.

Barreto Cellars, 2006 Verdelho, Lodi ~ Aromas of tangelo, melon and an earthy nature in the bouquet. Added notes of vanilla and cranberry orange close the bouquet. Very citrusy palate has notes of lemon curd upfront and in the finish. Clean wine finishes light and fruity.

Husch, 2006 Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ~ Enticing nose of cantaloupe and star jasmine. Subtle aromas of petrol and mineral. Fairly dry wine (.6% R.S.) offers flavors of rose hips and spicy apple pie with a warm honey finish.

Wollersheim Winery, Dry Riesling | NV ~ Stelvin Closure, very nice. Classic riesling aromas; petrol upfront with hints of sweet nutmeg and ginger spice and a flowery hibiscus aroma. Palate is juicy and delicious. Gentle peachy flavors give way to an elegant honeycomb finish.

At this point I realized, I still had many more wines to taste and I decided to jump to my favorite red wine, Pinot Noir. A truly great Pinot Noir is classy and elegant, yet sturdy and plump. I found some worth mentioning.

J Lohr, 2006 Pinot Noir, Arroyo Seco | Fog’s Reach Vineyard ~ Huge nose, big cherry pie aromas, toasty vanilla oak and lots of plums in the bouquet. Palate follows nose with more juicy plums and a basket full of cherries. Added notes of worn leather and cocoa powder round out the finish of this wine.

Moshin Vineyards, 2006 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley | Lot 4 Selection ~ Ripe nose, very fruit forward. Subtle vanilla oak with the addition of plums, leather and cherry blossoms. Rich palate features a mouthful of cherries and vanilla. Soft finish of cassis and hibiscus tea.

Porter-Bass, 2006 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley ~ Bright nose of plums and cherries, additional aromas of sweet pepper jam adds to the gentle nature of this wine. Soft leather and vanilla close the nose. Palate opens with big cherries and more leather. Soft tannins make this wine an easy drinker for tonight, a wine for a reason. Cherry flavors continue to the long, lingering finish.

Turner Vineyards, 2005 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, ~ Cherry blossom aromas with added caramel and cedar notes. Bouquet continues with red currants and a sexy white chocolate nature. Palate has more red currant flavors with an added cherry pie quality with a brown sugar finish. Nice tannin structure.

I now turn to Cabernet Franc, a wine that is less appreciated than it should be. When everyone turned to Merlot, I turned to Cab Franc. I tend to stay away from Merlots, they have become watered down versions of their characteristic jammy and fruity variety. They just don’t have enough fruit and structure for my tastes. Cab Franc on the other hand, in my opinion, tends to have lots of fruit and awesome structure. Cab Franc is not just a blending grape. And this little Bordeaux variety is a best kept secret that I wouldn’t mind letting the cat out of the bag about.

Casa Nuestra, 2005 Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley ~ Huge bouquet exhibits blackberry pie and trailing vanilla aromas. Very fragrant. Delicious mouthfeel, medium to full body. More blackberry flavors on the palate, a basket full of them. Added easy oak, vanilla and coffee bean flavors but the blackberry lingers forever. Gosh that is a good wine!

Eaton Hill Winery, 2005 Cabernet Franc, Yakima Valley – WA ~ Complex nose, a little horse saddle funky upfront that leads way to plentiful jammy aromas of mulberries and loganberries, with a vanilla finish to the bouquet. Velvety palate features more mulberry and vanilla bean flavors. Lingering blueberry jam finish.

Thumbprint, 2005 Cabernet Franc, Alexander Valley ~ Lots of new leather and mulberry jam aromas. This CF has a slightly meaty quality, almost an apple wood bacon nature. Bouquet closes with cassis aromas. Very jammy palate displays more mulberry jam, cassis and smoky meat. Very balanced, nice tannins and good acid.

At this point I realized I needed to take a break and have a bite to eat. The event supplied a sumptuous feast provided by the chefs of the California Culinary Academy, a special tour-through-the-kitchen luncheon provided by the Culinary Academy students. Copious amounts of cheeses, smoky meats, poki salad, seared ahi, marinated beef, green salads, and the list continued. The dessert display was a towering confectioner’s delight. The lunch was as much fun as the tasting of wines. The folks at the Wine Literary Award Foundation know how to host an event. I can only hope the dinner and award announcements in the evening were as much of a success as the writers’ tasting during the day.

One Response to “Melanie’s Wednesday Wines ~ May 7, 2008 | The 18th Annual Wine Literary Award Honoring Charles L. Sullivan”

  1. Melanie says:

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