When I lived in Philadelphia, I held wine tastings on a regular basis. They would take various forms from several wines chosen around a theme following one of the Spinning classes that I taught, to more formal tastings and dinners when a winemaker friend would come to town.
The goals of the various tastings were rarely the same, but there was always one over-arching aim: to get some friends together, taste some good wine, and have a few laughs.
Since moving to Texas nearly two years ago (holy cow, has it been that long?), other than some ad hoc tastings on what amounts to our stoop out our front door, any organized tastings have been scant.
As in zero.
That will all change in a few short weeks, however, as a couple of wine producer friends are coming to the Bayou City (that is Houston for the uninitiated) at the end of next month and we are organizing a little soirée.
I am billing it as a “wine buying party” since the producers in question have tiny productions and even tinier marketing budgets.*
As such, I have an open invitation to folks in our little neighborhood here (I feel a bit Russian in using Facebook to organize this) with the hopes of selling 10-20 cases at our little get-together.
The wine producers in question sent along their wines ahead of time so that I could publish these reviews before the event. The wines, not surprisingly, were fantastic, and it is shaping up to be a fabulous night.
Let me know if you will be in the Houston area on March 24th and might be interested in attending. Right now it looks like a sell-out, but I can always try to fit in a few without telling my wife (as long as you promise to not throw me under the bus).
2016 The Larsen Projekt Grenache Rosé, North Coast California: Retail $18. True Rosé. A nice salmon color in the glass with aromas of strawberry, peach, and wet rock. Quite fruity and tart with strawberry, minerality, and impressive depth. Sure, I consider Robert Larsen a friend, and I have a penchant for True Rosés, but this is an impressive wine, perhaps even extraordinary. Rich fruit, lip-smacking acidity, and a lengthy finish that continues to re-introduce the best elements over the course of several minutes. Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
2016 The Larsen Project Grenache North Coast: Retail $30. 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah. Another offering from a newcomer to the production side of Sonoma wine. The distinction is noteworthy since Robert Larsen has been a fixture in the Sonoma County wine trade for more years than likely he prefer I mention. Until recently, he had strictly been on the Public Relations side of the business, and while he still works in that arena to pay the bills, he has now delved into the unpredictable production side. He opted to jump in with Grenache, a beautiful variety, but one that is less than a “go-to” wine in the U.S. Fruity and full with blackberry, cassis, and vanilla on the nose and palate, this seems initially to be all about the fruit. But there is some depth there behind all that fruit, with acidity and a tannic structure that will support this wine for at least a couple of years. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Camlow Cellars Pinot Noir Green Valley of Russian River Valley: Retail $38. This wine is made by Craig Strehlow, the winegrower and winemaker at Keefer Ranch, a legendary site in Sonoma for Pinot Noir. with strawberry-rhubarb pie à la mode (and that ice cream has a touch of baking spice) on the nose. The palate is a bit more dark fruit: rich cassis and black cherry fruit and ample acidity through the mid palate. The finish is as lengthy as the Magna Porcum, but a bit rounder with less evidence of tannin. This is scrumptious now, but may improve slightly over the next year or two. Outstanding. 91-93 Points.
2014 Camlow Cellars Magna Porcum Pinot Noir Estate Green Valley of Russian River Valley: Retail $45. Another gem from the team of Craig Strehlow and Alan Campbell, this one from the “Big Pig Vineyard” (hence Magnum Porcum). The vineyard was established in 2007 in one of the premier appellations in California (Green Valley), and is planted to four classic clones: Pommard, Swan, Calera, and DRC. Slightly on the dark side for Pinot, but not by much, and dominated by aromas of pomegranate, Bing cherry, and white pepper. Simply put, this is one of the best Sonoma Pinots I have tried so far this year: rich cherry fruit, earthy depth, and a lengthy finish with hints of tannin, suggesting several years of aging (5-7 easy). Whoa. Outstanding. 92-94 Points.
*Note: I am not making any money on this venture—just trying to help out a friend.