Last week, in this space, I wrote about Le Grand Verre, a company that has embraced the tiny bottle concept and created a retail outlet for the 187 ml bottles. This week, In Good Taste, another tiny bottle specialist, is featured here this week.
I did not come across In Good Taste in the typical way, however. Usually, I am contacted by the producer and they ask if I would like to try their product. Pretty straightforward. This go-around I received an email not from the folks at In Good Taste, but rather from Hannah Corman, a former blogger who now has a bigger raison d’être.
Hannah’s son, Austin, was born with a rare congenital form of muscular dystrophy, L-CMD and shortly thereafter, Hannah set up a foundation to raise funds to support research to find a cure for the disease. Much more information about Hannah, her son Austin, and what she is trying to do can be found at the L-CMD Research Foundation website.
What does that have to do with me, wine, and In Good Taste tiny bottles? Well, as a fundraiser for her foundation, Hannah and In Good Taste put together a Zoom wine tasting for people around the country and Hannah asked me if I would participate. I eagerly agreed.
In Good Taste has several different kits available, and the “Cascade Collection” kit, a set of six wines from Washington state, had been selected for Hannah’s Zoom tasting. The kit cost $45 for the six 187 ml bottles (plus shipping), the equivalent of one and a half of the standard-sized bottle.
To be honest? While I was happy to help out (although I am not sure how much “help” I provided), I was not looking forward to trying the wine. When I called the fine folks at In Good Taste to purchase my kit for the tasting, I decided to chat up my interlocutor. It turns out that the company, basically, purchases wine on the bulk market which they might blend (or not) and then bottle. And they only use 187 ml bottles. Apparently, the wines used to be available in larger bottles (i.e., the traditional 750 ml bottles), but no longer–they found that there simply was not much interest in those bigger bottles.
All this added up to wines that did not really sound all that compelling, which was confirmed with the first wine, a Pinot Gris from Columbia Valley. As I mentioned, the kit was $45, or $7.50 for each of the bottles, which were quite lovely bottle, by the way, closed with a cork stopper (the bottles, in fact, are worth saving after empty to store any number of products).
2019 In Good Taste Cascade Wines Pinot Gris, Columbia Valley, WA: It started off as a bit too cold, but even as it warmed, it honestly did not show all that well. Sure, there is some (emphasis on “some”) bright and rich fruit, a bit of minerality, and decent acidity, but there really is no “wow” here. It’s fine. But just fine. Very Good. 87 Points.
After passing through the Pinot Gris, though, the quality of the wines steadily improved, with several falling into the “Excellent” category.
2020 In Good Taste Cascade Wines Riesling Columbia Valley, WA: Apparently contains some Gewurztraminer, which, the company representative asserted, was the reason that the wine came off as sweet. The expert provided by In Good Taste avowed that the wine was completely dry however, with no residual sugar. Hmm. I am not so sure. Plenty of fruit flavors, but no petrol, and while tart, not as acid driven as I expect from a Riesling. Still, Very Good. 89 Points.
2020 In Good Taste Cascade Wines Rosé, Columbia Valley, WA: Apparently, this is a blend of most of the Bordeaux varieties along with a touch of Syrah as well (although the exact percentages were not provided or available). I asked, but there is no indication of whether this is a saignée or not. It certainly seems to me, given the stated varietal composition and the white tart nature of the blend, that it might just be a True Rosé. Intense flavors, even more striking acidity, and a lasting finish. Nice. Excellent. 92 Points.
2018 In Good Taste Cascade Wines Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla Valley, WA & OR: I was surprised that this wine was pretty close to varietally correct with subtle red and blue fruit notes on the nose, with some spice, and green olive and pepper. Many US producers try to get that pyrazine notes out of the wine. Not here. While it is subtle, it still helps to define the wine. The palate is equally surprising as it is certainly on the subtle side of Cab Franc. The claim was that they were trying to achieve more of the Chinon style, and I would have to say they succeeded. Excellent. 91 Points.
2018 In Good Taste Cascade Wines Merlot, Walla Walla, WA & OR: The discussion of the wine started off, as it often does with Merlot, with a discussion of Sideways. Seeing that the majority of folks on the Zoom had never seen the movie (or even heard of it), the discussion, while fun for me, fell rather flat. The wine, though, did not. One of the bigger Merlots I can remember tasting, this has bold a even boisterous fruit on both the nose and the palate with plenty of black and blue fruit (plum, blackberry) along with dashes of black pepper, freshly tilled earth, and clove. Rich and expressive, this is not the Merlot that Miles chastised in the film. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 In Good Taste Cascade Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley: A typical, lovely Cab nose of dark berry fruit (blackberry, cassis), plum, along with leather and spice. The palate is rich and fruit forward, but in a manageable way, with a zingy tartness and just the right amount of earthy undertones. I was surprised by just about all of the wines, but this might have been the most paradigm shifting. Outstanding. 93 Points.