Monday, October 15, 2007

Writing notes at wine tastings. Can it be done?

I love wine tasting events. I think they are flat out fun and a great way to taste wines that I would normally never have thought to try before. For people just learning about their wine preferences, it’s a good way to taste your way through all different kinds of grapes and come away with something like “I think I like Riesling.” For someone on a wine budget, some tasting pour super premium bottles which, for a taste, might be worth the price of admission alone.

What’s not to like!

However…. Every time I go to one of these, which is twice a year at best, I struggle with how I’m going to write about it during and after. While at an event, I always take a small notepad and a pen, thinking I’m going to write some kind of detailed tasting note for most everything I taste. I’m lucky if I write even one down. Even after the event is over, I think I’m going to blog about the wines I’ve tasted, which ones I like, etc. But there are literally hundreds of wines to taste and with my memory, I’m lucky to remember anything beyond the top handful that really truly stood out. Because of that, I usually end up keeping my thoughts to myself.

Now, I think I’ve come up with a way to do it. Just write or mark down the wines I taste and very simply put a + sign(s) next to the ones I liked. In theory I could even do this after the event if I had a half-decent memory.

I got to try this out last week when I went to Wine Library’s Super Tasting as a guest of my friend Julanne, a regular at their shop in Springfield, NJ. The event is HUGE as they offer over 700 different wines to sample, all spread out over three huge rooms at The Manor in West Orange, NJ. The tasting can seem somewhat overwhelming with so many wines, no real way to find out what’s being poured until you get there, and the fact that they’re organized by distributor rather than region or type.

On the upside there are over 700 wines to taste. That’s a pretty big upside if you ask me and I found a lot I liked. My two favorites were dessert wines, the 2001 Filhot from Sauternes which at $14 a half bottle is an amazing bargain. My second favorite wine was slightly more expensive at $140 a bottle. That was the 2002 Gunderlock Nackenheim Rothenberg Berrenauslese from Germany. Taking the prize for “taste of wine that was worth price of admission” based purely on cost per bottle was the 2004 Haut Brion ($400 a bottle). Prize for “wines I was really excited to taste because I had never had them before” were both from Australia, Shiraz’s from Two Hands and Fetish.

Below is the list of the wines I tasted, keeping in mind that this list is literally less than 10% of what I could have tasted!

The Bordeaux Table
Chateau Beau Sejour Becot - 1988 (++)
Chateau Beychevelle - 2005
Chateau Beychevelle - 2006
Chateau Clarendelle Blanc
Chateau Clarendelle Rouge
Chateau d'Issan - 2001
Chateau Filhot - 2001 (+++ - the best wine I tasted that evening - $14 a half-bottle)
Chateau Grand Mayne - 1999 (+)
Chateau Haut Brion - 2004 (++)
Chateau La Mission Haut Brion (++)
Chateau Lanessan – 1996 (+)
Chateau Lascombes - 2001
Chateau Le Gay - 2004 (+)
Chateau Monbousquet Rouge - 2002

The Rest
Abadia Retuerta Selection Especial - 2003
Adelsheim Pinot Noir - 2006
Angel's Cuvee Ripasso de Tannat Amarone - 2005
Au Bon Climat Chardonnay - 2006
Banfi Brunello di Montalcino - 2001 (+)
Bethel Heights Pinot Noir "Eola-Amity Cuvee" - 2005 (I like this a lot)
Bravante Merlot - 2004
Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva - 2003
Caymus Conundrum - 2005 (+)
Caymus Napa Cabernet Sauvignon - 2005 (+)
Cesari "Il Bosco" Amarone - 2001
Cesari Amarone - 2004
Chapelle St-Arnoux Vacqyeras Reserve Vielles Vignes -2003 (+)
Chateau Franc Maillet "Cuvee Jean Baptiste" Pomerol - 2001 (+)
Chateau Fuisse - Pouilly Fuisse Vielles Vignes - 2004
Chateau Rontets Pouilly Fuisse "Les Birbettes" - 2005 (++)
Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon - 2004
Duckhorn Napa Merlot - 2005
Falesco Marciliano - 2003 (+)
Fattoria La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - 2001 (+)
Fetish - Playmates Shiraz/Grenache/Mataro - 2005
Fetish - The Watcher Shiraz - 2004 (++ - really good and I thought better than the 2005)
Fetish - The Watcher Shiraz - 2005 (+)
Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Kabinett Riesling - 2006 (+)
Gaja Magari - 2005 (++)
Groth Cabernet Sauvignon - 2004 (+)
Gunderlock Dry Estate Riesling - 2005 (+)
Gunderlock Nackenheim Rothenberg Berrenauslese - 2002 (+++ - 2nd best wine of the evening and it should be at $140 a bottle!)
Hitching Post Pinot Noir Highliner - 2005
L'Aventure Optimus Cabernet/Syrah - 2004 (++)
Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino - 2001 (++ - best Brunello of the evening)
Le Volte Tuscany - 2005
Moulin du Duhart Pauillac - 2002
Nickel & Nickel Sullenger Cabernet Sauvignon - 2004 (++)
Parusso Barolo - 2003 (+)
Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon - 2003 (++)
Prunotto Barolo - 2003 (+)
Sanford Pinot Noir - 2005 (+)
Santi Amarone della Valpollicella - 2003
Schafer Frohlich Bockenauer Felseneck Spatlese Riesling - 2006
Sebastiani Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon - 2005
Stag's Leap Artemis - 2004 (+)
Two Hands Angel's Share Shiraz - 2006 (++)
Two Hands Bella's Garden Shiraz - 2005 (+)
Two Hands Lily's Garden Shiraz - 2005 (+)
Von Buhl Armand Kabinett Riesling - 2005
Von Hovel Qba Riesling - 2004
Wegeler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling - 1994 (++)

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Congrats on sampling some great wines! A technique I use when at wine festivals is to decide on a certain 'theme' for the day - all Pinot noir or all dessert wines. I limit myself, but I also get to compare different wines, which keeps everything fresher in my head.
Albany, NY