An afternoon of wine tasting (or, more accurately, drinking)

by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)

jeff-smWent over to some friends’ house for a small get together yesterday afternoon. The excuse for the event was the Regatta on the Bay, which we were able to see upfront, close and personal. The sailboats on the bright and sunny day were beautiful, but the wine, at least to my mind, was even more interesting. In a world dominated by Cabernet and Chardonnay, the selections on offer yesterday were, if not exactly highly unusual, at least not the same old same old.

First in the lineup was a Vouvray. I’ve always loved these wines, which are based on the Chenin grape. This variety gets no respect in this country, for reasons that make no sense at all. True, it was totally lacking in butter, softness, and oak. I can hardly think of a better recommendation for white wine. The fruit was upfront and delicious. The acidity was more than adequate to make this a very well-balanced wine.

From there I moved onto a Bandol rose. I have to admit that I’ve tasted Bandols on only a few occasions in my lifetime, and it’s never been my cup of tea. Ditto for yesterday. There was a slight harshness to it, perhaps even a bit of tannin. At any rate, it just wasn’t anything I found very pleasant.  The label didn’t say anything about which grapes were used, but Mourvedre is required to be at least 50% of the blend.

I have to admit that I find my rose best when it has just a bit of sweetness. This rose was dry, so, I missed out there as well.  It just wasn’t up my alley.

But Bandol is considered the crème de la crème of rose, so I have to think that there are lots of people who like the style. The fact that I’m not one of them means nothing more than, well, I’m not one of them.

At any rate, if you are not enjoying what you are drinking, down the drain. So that was this glass’s ignominious end, at least as far as I was concerned.

Even though it was a warm spring afternoon, exactly what you would expect for a white wine gathering, as is my usual, I quickly moved onto the reds.

By coincidence, I guess, both were from Gigondas and both 2009’s. The first was absolutely knock your socks off delicious. Lots of lush fruit, strawberries and cherries.

The second, however, seemed to have none of the positives of the first, being a bit lean and even a little harsh.  I can’t say as it was totally lacking in fruit, but it wasn’t exactly well endowed either.

So I spent an entire afternoon enjoying a variety of wines and nary a drop of Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay passed my lips.  I don’t intend to diss those grapes, as they are both capable of making outstanding wines.  But it’s nice to have a little variety in life, and the wines I enjoyed yesterday were every bit as good as your typical Cab or Chard.  I would love to have more wine days like that.

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