Live Wine Blogging from Charlottesville, Virginia – now, the reds

Yesterday was the Live Wine Blogging session for white wines at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Today, after a great keynote speech by Eric Asimov, who insisted on tasting wine in context, we’re stepping right into this speed dating format. Ironic but fun.

CalNaturale 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

I was not terribly impressed by the white TetraPak wine from this winery, yesterday, though the intentions (organic and environmentally-friendly) are laudable. I like the cabernet sauvignon better. Not great depth, but a rather pleasant sort of warm ripe fruit, with some structure. Not too heavy, not too sweet. The grapes are from Paso Robles. Okay for 13$.

The Climber NV Cabernet Sauvignon, Cliff Family Winery

It’s like we’re doing yesterday’s tasting in reverse, with the alternate packaging starting instead of ending the live wine blogging at our table, today. I like the bag format, very practical and seemingly able to help with the freshness of the product. Again, the bag shows up fresher than the Tetra Pak, at a lower price (17 bucks for two bottle equivalent). Nice fruit, no great depth, but fine picnic wine.

Banfi 2008 Centine, Toscana IGT

Sangiovese (60%), cabernet sauvignon (20%) and merlot (20%) blend from Tuscany, sold for 10-12$. Pretty good for the price, with very decent fruit, acid and tannins. Smooth but not overly soft. Sangiovese character does come through fairly well. Good value.

Willakenzie Estate 2008 Pierre Léon Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

Oregon pinot noir with bright cherry and soft spice, pretty decent tannins, but a slightly drying finish. Willakenzie Estate has 100 acres of vines on a 400 acre estate. This is a selection from different parts of the estate, where elevations and exposures vary. Accessible, nothing to say against it, but I’m still more attached to more Burgundian, higher acid styles.

Mountfair Vineyards, 2009 Engagement, Monticello, Virginia

Merlot blend from just around here, with 10% each of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and petit merlot. A little over 100 cases and a retail price of 25$. Slightly dusty nose, with red fruit compote notes and a little spice. Fine tannins on the finish. Middle is a little soft, but it’s drinkable.

Tarara Winery  2008 Casanova, Virginia Red Wine

Niagara College graduate Jordan Harris is here again to present a red wine from his vineyards near the Potomac. Kind of a black forest cake feeling with tannins. Slightly funky notes on the nose – herbal, maybe. Mouth is fairly big, you can feel the extraction mentioned by the winemaker. Pretty coherent, though a little chewy for me. 60% merlot, 30% cabernet sauvignon and 10% cabernet franc.

Barboursville Vineyards 2006 Octagon

Another bordeaux blend from Virginia, from one of the founding wineries in the state – and from what I’ve tasted, one of the best. Very classic nose, open and pretty seductive. Mouth is very pleasant with very good length and a very pleasant, open and sexy finish. Coherent, balanced, without any excessive oak. I’ve liked every one I’ve tasted from Barboursville, since yesterday, from the crisp vermentino to the beautiful and expressive nebbiolo. I’ll need to visit that place.

Château Mukhrani 2007 Saperavi, Georgia

Estate goes back to a Georgian prince who built the estate in the 19th Century, with an interruption during the soviet era. The estate was replanted in 2003 with traditional varieties like this saperavi. Distinctive and tasty, with lovely tobacco notes on the nose, and on the finish as well. Slightly drying finish, but the spicy, tobacco notes on the end strangely make it all come together. Distinctive and delicious. 19$ retail price is great.

Boxwood Estate 2009 Boxwood, Virginia

Blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and petit verdot from the estate vineyards on the Boxwood farm, a historical estate owned by the former owners of the Washington Redskins. Retails for about 25$. Nose is funkier than what I remember from yesterday’s pre-conference tasting. Fairly consistent, with significant roasted notes – a little obtrusive. I like Topiary better, overall, but this is all right too.

Old World Winery 2009 Abourious, Russian River Valley

The winery chose the Wine Bloggers Conference to unveil this unusual wine made from a teinturier variety called Abouriou, originally from France. This is a wine I’d like to have more time to assess. Lots of fruit with spicy notes and a rich character. Very big, very original. Worth checking out, if only for curiosity’s grape.

Sivas-Sonoma 2009 Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel

Big, juicy zinfandel from a winery run by Donny Sebastiani, fourth generation of that well-known name in California wine. The nose is typical zinfandel, with plums and tobacco and such. Vineyards (45 years old) are located in the Russian River Valley. The zinfandel character is well-defined on the mouth, too. However, there’s too much residual sugar for my taste, which sort of swallows up the varietal character.

Decibel 2009 Malbec, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand

Very different from malbecs from Argentina. Fairly floral character, tasty, good fruit, but the acid is a little low, which makes the finish rather muddled. Interesting character, but I think there is a bit of work to do to make it really pleasant and, more importantly, balanced. Still, I’d rather have that than sauvignon blanc!

And that’s it for this year. More distinctive selection than with the whites, thanks to Georgia and the Abouriou, notably. And the Barboursville was fine, too.

Now, I’m tired. Maybe beer before dinner…

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