As more or less a self-proclaimed “wine guy” people ask me questions about wine pretty much every day. It can happen through a variety of media: email, Facebook, text, a desperate phone call from the aisle of the liquor store on the way to a dinner party.
Or, of course, in person, which happened a few weeks ago when I was approached by one of the regular attendees of the spin class that I teach teach three times a week here at a local YMCA.
It seems she is part of a local wine tasting group and it was her month to host the event. She explained that the previous iterations of the get-togethers all had a cohesive (more or less) theme and she was struggling to come up with an theme that had not already been explored.
So she asked for suggestions.
She estimated that there would be approximately 20 people in attendance, and they typically had 4-6 different wines to taste.
So I threw a bunch of ideas at her: a specific region, a particular grape, new world vs. old world, a particular producer, differences in quality. With each suggestion, she seemed to be growing less and less enthusiastic—it seems as though all of my suggestions had already occurred at previous tastings with the group.
Then I said: “What about age?”
She seemed intrigued, so I continued: “I have always said that age on a wine is the most difficult aspect to explore since it requires someone taking the time and money to age the wine for you somehow—it is very difficult to find older wines in the market place, but most wines definitely change over time.”
She immediately jumped on the idea: “Oh yeah! Let’s do that.”
No sooner had she uttered those words did I realize that I had just volunteered to help her obtain the wines—there was little chance she would be able to do it on her own without knowing where to look. And since time was of the essence (we had about two weeks), I needed to get cracking.
So I contacted a few friends I have made at established, and a bit larger wineries to see if I could get my hands on a current release and the same wine from 5-10 vintages earlier.
The first winery I contacted said it would be no problem, but for whatever reason, they could not get me the wine until the day of the tasting.
After I hung up the phone, though, I panicked. What if the wine did not show up in time? What if it arrived damaged in some way? There was no way I would be able to get anything close to the equivalent from the local wine shop (despite the fact that it is ginormous).
So I sent out a few emails to a few others, just so I would have a Plan B (and C), just in case. I was not really expecting for everyone to say yes, but they all did. And the wine from that first winery also showed up, as promised, on the day of the tasting.
Although I was quite busy during the event, I was able to take a few tasting notes (but I realized that the photos were, well, lacking).
2012 Pedroncelli Chardonnay Signature Selection, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $15. Subtle lemon and a bit of chalk, rich and opulent on the palate, the acidity has calmed down and this is a lovely wine: great mouthfeel, subtle tropical flavors, and lengthy finish. At least for this wine right now? This is why you age a well-made Chardonnay. Oh, and as I have told my good friends at Pedroncelli: you do not charge enough for your wines! Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2017 Pedroncelli Chardonnay Signature Selection, Dry Creek Valley, CA: Retail $15. Much more vibrant on the nose with tropical notes (mango, guava) jumping out of the glass. More evident acidity, but still nicely coats the mouth. The fruit is also more prevalent, but this could use a little down time to mellow out a shade. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2012 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $25. The color certainly reveals some age as there is bricking in reddish-brown wine. A slightly oxidative nature to the cherry aromas along with spice (clove and cinnamon), the good flavors persist on the palate, albeit a bit muted. As with most wines from this house, it far outplays its weight. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Rodney Strong Pinot Noir Russian River Valley: Retail $25. Brilliantly translucent in the glass with dark cherry with some vanilla and a touch of white pepper. Rich and lovely on the palate with fantastic fruit, balanced acidity, and a lengthy finish. Another winery that does not charge enough for their wines. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2005 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley: Retail $100. 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Whoa. Raspberry, blackberry, cassis, tobacco, and touches of bell pepper, black pepper, and vanilla. Reserved and integrated on the palate rich yet subtle fruit, incredible acidity, and balance. Jordan is Jordan for a reason. Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2015 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley: Retail $80. 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 6% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec. Another Whoa on the nose: elegant black cherry, vanilla, pomegranate, and pencil shavings (?). The palate is surprisingly subtle initially, but then the fruit comes through, not with a bang, but a steady drum beat. Incredible balance and depth with healthy tannins on the backend. This is the first Jordan aged in 100% French Oak. Whoa. Outstanding to Outstanding Plus. 93-95 Points.
Thanks so much to the good friends who came to the rescue to help me out! I will be conducting similar tastings with the remaining wines over the next few months. Stay tuned….