Posts Tagged ‘Tasting Room’

What’s the Score? – A Blogger Tasting at Ridge Vineyards

September 23, 2012

When I first started this blog in the Summer of 2011, I wrestled quite a bit with the idea of whether or not I would post scores in my wine reviews.

I mean… On the real…

The whole idea of quantifying something as subjective as one’s perception of a wine’s quality is straight up whack, son.

And yet…

I do score my wines.

It’s an easy way for me to remember how I felt about the wines I have tasted.

It’s also fun to compare my scores with those of other folks who have tasted the same wines.

Now…

I’m not the only blogger who’s struggled with the idea of scoring wines.

In fact…

This past Sunday, I got together with a bunch of bloggers at Ridge Vineyards’ Monte Bello Tasting Room to tackle the very topic of wine scores.

This is how it all went down at the most recent installment of the Ridge Vineyards Wine Blogger Tasting:

As I approached my seat in the back of the barn, this was the view of the table set before me…

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Five red wines and a spit cup.

You should know that there is always a theme to these tastings… Always.

You should also know that Blogger/Host extraordinaire, Christopher Watkins, always keeps the theme a secret… Always.

That being said, based on my quick observations, it was easy to infer that we were gonna be going blind today.  If you’ve seen any of my blind tasting videos, you know that I was gonna have to work hard on this fine Sunday afternoon.

But first…

I had to fill my plate.

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Olive and Fig Spread

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Olive Tapenade

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Dope Cheeses

While snacking on some of the tasty bites, my eyes went back to the wines on my table.

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The Wine

Christopher proceeded to break down the theme to this Blogger Tasting… “Scores”.

The five wines presented to us had all been recently scored by well-known and respected wine critics.  The difference between the top-scoring and lowest scoring wines is ten points on the 100-point scale.  Our task was to taste each of the five wines, and rank them from our most favorite to least favorite.  Christopher would then compile our scores, and crunch the numbers to get some (hopefully) meaningful data.

His hypothesis: While the scoring rubric (on a 100-point scale) may vary from one critic to the next (due to the subjectivity of taste), there must be similar valuations of wine beyond the subjectivity of a point score.  So, if several bloggers are charged with ranking wines from best to worst, they should end up ranking them in the same order.

So…

From left to right, here are my tasting notes…

Wine A:

Color: Dark ruby-red.

Nose: Good fruit of raspberry and cranberry.  It’s got a candy-type nose of rainbow sherbert.  There’s also a hint of walnuts.

Taste: Bright red fruit with some funky Earth and orange zest.

Wine B:

Color: Darker than wine A.  Ruby red to purple.

Nose: Subtle dark plum and tires with a hint of cinnamon spice.

Taste: Plums and red fruit.  There’s a lively acidity to this.  It’s complimented by cranberries, clove spice, and a touch of orange.

Wine C:

Color: Dark ruby-red with some pink shimmers in it.

Nose: Chalky blueberry and plum with hints of cocoa powder.

Taste: This wine has a BIG palate of ripe red fruit, pepper, and spice.

Wine D:

Color: One of the lighter wines of the bunch.  You can see your fingers through the burgundy red color.

Nose: Very subtle.  Good chalky notes, but that’s about it.

Taste: Again, a very subtle wine.  Cranberries and raspberries compliment the good acidity to this one.

Wine E:

Color: Similar to that of D.  Light burgundy.

Nose: Lots of bloggers at the table were talking about the nose on this while I was still working on wine A.  The nose is that of pine trees, raspberry, and something that was so familiar it drove me crazy that I couldn’t recall what it was.  I’m looking forward to reading the notes from the other bloggers about this one.  Super different and interesting.

Taste: Off the bat, this wine tastes like a high alcohol Zinfandel.  It’s got candied fruit roll-up, leather, cranberries, and grapefruit.  Totally funky.  Totally fun.

Now…

As far as the wines go, they were all outstanding… And I’ve got the empty glasses to prove it…

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See!

My point spread was not anywhere close to as large as that of the critics in question.  My favorite wine of the day came in at a 92+, and my least favorite was a 90+.

Here’s how I ranked them in order from favorite to least favorite (along with my guess as to what wines they were)…

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B – A – D – E – C (Quick… Grab your guitar and see what that sounds like!)

After sharing our rankings, Christopher gave us each a taste of the 1995 Monte Bello while he crunched the numbers.  It was a fantastic wine with a good cloudy red color.  The funky good nose gave way to delicious blueberry and plum fruit and spice.  A tasty 92+ in my book.

Next, was the reveal…

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The Lineup

As it turns out, all of the wines were recently reviewed by Antonio Galloni.  I have them listed them in the order in which I liked them.  Galloni’s scores will be found in parentheses.

Wine B: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Klein Cabernet Sauvignon (94)

Wine A: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Estate Merlot (90)

Wine D: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Perrone Cabernet Franc (92)

Wine E: Ridge Vineyards 2010 Geyserville (88)

Wine C: Ridge Vineyards 2009 Monte Bello (98)

Now… Here’s what’s crazy…

Galloni gave the Monte Bello a 98.  I liked it, but ranked it dead last… and I wasn’t the only one.  I’m looking forward to seeing Christopher publish his data, but I recall him saying that 7 of us ranked wine C our least favorite.  He also revealed that 7 of us ranked wine B as our favorite.

So, here is where the idea of scoring gets a little crazy…

Galloni did not taste these wines blind.  When it came to the Monte Bello, he knew that he was tasting a wine that was tasting a $150 from a legendary estate.  He knew that he was tasting a wine that was meant to be laid down for 20+ years.

Is it a 98 today?  No way.

Could it become one?  Check back with me in 20 years.

When it came to the Geyserville, Galloni knew the history of that vineyard.  He has tasted several vintages of the wine.

Is the 2010 as good as other recent Geyservilles?  Probably not.

Is it better than most wines that I would rank an 88?  Definitely.

The reality is that scores will always be subjective.

Scores will always rely on the context in which the wine is served.

There will always be external variables that play a role in our perception of wine.

But…

At the end of the day, scores are what people want to see.

Scores are what people want to compare.

Scores are what people want to debate.

It is because of this that I will continue to provide scores in my reviews.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

PS – Since this tasting was done on a Sunday afternoon, I missed the end of the 49er game.  Could somebody tell me the score?

I’ve seen the View, and I like what I see.

June 18, 2012

Creekview Vineyards is a family owned and operated winery in San Martin, California.  I’ve been aware of their wines for a while.  They usually participate in local wine events, and I’ve even been to their tasting room in Downtown San Jose.

However…

I’ve never been to their actual winery.

They, like many Santa Clara Valley wineries that are located in residential neighborhoods, are only open for tasting on the third weekend of each month.

This past Saturday, Kara and I realized that they were open (thanks to our friend Barrel Bill), so we headed on over to the winery…

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Creekview Vineyards Winery / House

The winery is also the home of the owners, Greg and Teri Peterson.

After parking on the street, we followed the signs to the back of their house.

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This way…

As we walked up, we were greeted immediately by Teri and Greg, and were poured a taste of sparkling white wine…

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What a way to start the day.

After our first glass, the hits just kept on coming…

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Creekview 2010 Chardonnay

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Creekview 2010 VCR Merlot

While enjoying the Merlot, I took a peek around their backyard, which they have set up perfectly for wine club events…

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Creekview’s Kitchen, complete with a pizza oven.

When you’re there, it’s almost impossible to recognize any evidence that their house is a fully functioning winemaking facility…

Until you take a look beyond their outdoor kitchen…

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Yup… They make wine here.

Back to the wine…

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Creekview 2009 Melodious is their Bordeaux Blend.

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Creekview 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Creekview 2009 Old Vine Mourvedre

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Creekview 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel

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Creekview 2009 Syrah

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Creekview 2008 Zinfandel

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Creekview 2007 Late Harvest Zinfandel

I’ve gotta say that all these wines were really good.

Kara and I picked up a bottle of the 2008 Zinfandel.  It’s probably the best Santa Clara Valley Zin I’ve ever tasted.  Where many tend to be overly ripe and hot on the palate, this one is very reserved.

Do yourself a favor the next time you find yourself free on the third weekend of the month…

Head on down to the Santa Clara Valley and hit up some of the smaller tasting rooms.

You’ll be glad you did.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Bundled up in Gilrory. Music by Naked in Vegas.

June 18, 2011

Sarah's Vineyard is in Gilroy... but not really.

On Friday, Kara and I decided to head over to Sarah’s Vineyard in Gilroy.  Sarah’s is a small winery, tucked into the Santa Cruz Mountains.  The breezy climate makes it perfect for Burgundian and Rhone varietals.  I am a big fan of their light style of wine making.

The reason for the trip was to attend their Summer Music Series.  They have a neat patio and lawn area where different local bands will come to play.  The tasting room stays open late to sell their wines by the bottle to enjoy with the music.  You can bring your own picnic, or buy something to eat from whichever catering company is there (it changes from week to week).

Kara and I brought homemade Brie Paninis with Mango Chutney, Turkey (for me), and Spinach.  We also bought a bottle of the Sarah’s Vineyard 2006 Central Coast Pinot Noir for $15.

Sarah's Vineyard 2006 Central Coast Pinot Noir and Kara's foot 2011.

Color:  This Pinot had a cloudy dull red color.  You could recreate that color by mashing a bunch of over-ripe roma tomatoes into a paste and adding water and a pinch of dirt.  I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing, but I must say it looked fantastic.  See…

Tomatoes and Dirt and Awesome!

Nose:  There was a nice whiff of smoke, butter, and pepper.  As I took a bit more in, I noticed a rubbery cola aroma.  Nice!

Taste:  This Pinot Noir had a very meaty and buttery taste on the palate, rounded out with a touch of cherry cola.  On the finish, a touch of cranberry and walnuts became present.

I really liked this wine.  I also appreciate that Sarah’s did not jack up their prices for the event.  I give it a solid 87.

As the sun began to set, the wind really started to pick up. It got hella cold, hella quick.  The cover band, Naked in Vegas, was alright.  They were not, however, good enough to keep our cold asses at the vineyard after we had finished our bottle of Pinot Noir.

Naked in Vegas? More like bundled up in Gilroy!

Don’t worry, Sarah’s Vineyard, we will be back.

Stay Rad,

Jeff


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