Speedy Wine Tasting at the WBC09: 4 and 3.5 Cork Wines

As I mentioned in Speedy Wine Tasting at the WBC09, the Wine Bloggers’ Conference attendees had a chance to taste 11 different wines, each within a 5 minute timeframe—a speeding date with wine, if you will. Thank you to all of the wineries that participated. We may not have had a chance to spend a lot of time with your wine, but we all certainly enjoyed the time we had.

Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of every bottle; however, these wines are ones that I would definitely like to spend more time getting to know.

4 Corks

For some reason, I felt particularly rushed when tasting both of these wines. I wish I had a few more minutes to really play with them, but my first impressions left me wanting more.

2006 Clif Bar Gary’s Improv Syrah (winery)
It had nice, strong black fruit flavors, good spiciness, and strong tannins.

2007 Cline Ancient Vines Mourvèdre (winery)
This wine was dominated by spice flavors, mostly cloves, that mixed with black cherries and plums. There were good tannins, and the wine had a nice finish.

3.5 Corks

2005 Rodney Strong Vineyards’ Rockaway Pinot Noir (vineyard)
The 2005 is the first vintage of this wine, and although it wasn’t quite there for me at this stage, it has potential. There were nice raspberry and cherry flavors, but the wine was a little too “hot” and a little too young to be worth $75. If you see it at a lower price point, though, don’t hesitate to grab it.

2005 Snows Lake Two (vineyard)
The Snows Lake Two is 72% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and 28% Cabernet Franc grapes. The wine was a deep purple, with big legs, and it tasted of dark berries and cedar, with a touch of plums. The tannins were soft and balanced well with the acidity and the body. Honestly, it felt more Cab Franc dominated than it actually was. Overall, this wine would be a good choice, particularly paired with food.

2007 Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (vineyard)
The wine rep explained that this Cab was trying to be approachable but complex, and I definitely thought it put forward a good effort. The wine was very purple with a nice, creamy berry flavor and a touch of smoke. The body was surprisingly light, and at $13, it seemed like a good wine for a glass after work.

2007 Foggy Bridge Chardonnay (winery)
$18 suggested retail
According to the wine rep, this Chardonnay tries to bridge the gap between oaked and unoaked Chards. 50% of the grapes are barrel fermented, while the rest are put in stainless steel. Additionally, while they don’t have the certification yet, the vineyard hopes to be organically certified by next year. The wine itself had butter, grapefruit, lime, and mineral notes. The woman sitting next to me also mentioned the taste of toasted marshmallow, which I noticed once she pointed it out. Overall, I expected the wine to have stronger flavor characteristics because it underwent malolactic fermentation, but it actually was surprisingly light and crisp. At $18, this is an enjoyable wine that is definitely worth a glass (or two).

Speedy Wine Tasting at the WBC09

Someone at WBC09 described the Live Blogging Wine Tasting event as “speed dating” with wine. For each wine, we had 5 minutes to talk with the representative (usually the winemaker), ask questions, taste the wine, and take notes before the next representative was at our table to start the process all over again. I tasted 11 wines total during the speed tasting. The comparison to speed dating was perfect because 5 minutes was enough time for a quick introduction, a little flirting, and a decision as to whether or not there was enough interest for a follow-up, but definitely not enough time to learn everything there was to offer or to really get a detailed impression. For me, though, there were a couple of differences, mainly that I tried to take pictures and to tweet during the event. I would never do (or at least openly do) either of those things during speed dating. That said, although I took a number of pictures, most of them didn’t turn out, and anyone who follows me on Twitter (@Alleigh) knows that I quickly abandoned my attempt to Tweet in order to spend a little more quality time with the wine.

With that in mind, here is a quick overview of how I rated each wine in this post. In an effort to keep this organized and make my notes more searchable in the future, I’m going to put my tasting notes in separate posts that are organized by rating level.

5 Corks
2005 Cornerstone Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (

4.5 Corks
2007 Benovia Winery Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir (vineyard)—$55

4 Corks
2006 Clif Bar Gary’s Improv Syrah (winery)—$35
2007 Cline Ancient Vines Mouvedre (

3.5 Corks
2005 Rodney Strong Vineyards’ Rockaway Pinot Noir (vineyard)—$75
2005 Snows Lake Two (
2007 Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (
2007 Foggy Bridge Chardonnay (

3 Corks
2007 Lion’s Pride Pinot Noir (website)—$35
2007 Tandem Chardonnay (

2.5 Corks
2007 Line 39 Petite Sirah (website)—$10
NV Pinot Evil Pinot Noir (

The Search for Silver

Back in April, while I was studying for my WSET Intermediate Certificate, I would reward myself on Sunday evenings for spending the weekend studying with a trip to my local wine bar. While I was there, I had my first experience with the 2006 Silver unoaked Chardonnay. As I often emailed and twittered (@Alleigh) during these tastings, I sent a message to several of my girlfriends telling them that I had just tasted one of the best Chardonnays I’d ever had, although, at that point in my wine education, I don’t know that I fully appreciated its artistry.

My girlfriends were intrigued by my description of the wine, particularly the few that said they didn’t like Chardonnay. I was convinced that they would feel differently about this wine, and I knew the perfect time to share the Chardonnay with them. This group of 7 ladies, who all live in different parts of the USA, were planning a small get-together around this time, and while I couldn’t join them, I decided to try and ship a bottle for them to try. Admittedly, I waited until the last minute and my efforts were thwarted because, at the time, I couldn’t ship the wine to Indiana because of state restrictions. I started to panic. Finally, an email frenzy began on the day the girls were all leaving, and several started calling their local wine stores to see if the store carried the 2006 Silver Chardonnay. After numerous calls (it was difficult to find), the Michigan ladies came to the rescue. They were able to find a bottle at Papa Joe’s Gourmet Market & Catering, so on the way to Indiana, the two women (and a baby) made a quick detour to purchase a bottle. With all the anticipation, I’m sure it was hard for the Chardonnay to live up to their expectations, but the group proceeded to email me while they enjoyed the bottle. Even though I missed drinking it with them, I was definitely there in spirit.

With a history like this, I couldn’t help but turn to the 2006 Silver Chardonnay this past Monday evening. Lately, I’ve felt like everything is average. Work has been average—I‘ve accomplished what I need to accomplish and there hasn’t been anything negative happening, but, at the same time, there hasn’t been anything truly exciting either. Even more disappointing, the wine I’ve opened has been average—not bad, all drinkable, but not speaking to me either. I needed something thrilling, so I opened the bottle of Silver to see if it was everything I remembered. And it was…

The 2006 Silver Chardonnay (winery, snooth) is an unoaked Chardonnay from the Mer Soleil Winery and is only the second vintage of this particular wine. It’s a medium lemon color, with some green flecks that speak to its relative youth. On the nose, there was a delicious and unusual combination of aromas. Citrus (lemon and lime) and green fruit aromas (apple and pear) dominated, but they were met with a hint of tropical fruit scents (pineapple). There was also a nice minerality mixed in with the fruits. In the mouth, there were strong lime flavors that were moderated by mango and pineapple flavors. There was also a hint of wet stone. The wine had a nice acidity and alcohol, with a fairly long finish.

Is this worth a glass after work? It’s worth more than one! What are you waiting for? At $43, some may consider this a little expensive for an everyday wine. However, wine is the winemaker’s form of artwork, and the 2006 Silver Chardonnay is a true masterpiece. It combines the crisp acidity and citrus flavors of a Chablis, which is a cool climate Chardonnay, with the tropical fruit lusciousness of a hot climate Chardonnay. The result is an unusual tasting wine with a medium body and a bit of tingle/fizz on the mouth, but enough acidity to be light and refreshing. The 2006 Silver Chardonnay would pair well with food, particularly white fish, shrimp, or summery fettuccine alfredo, but is also very enjoyable on its own.

Overall: 5 Corks

Jordan 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon

Monday was one of those days…not a bad day, but just one of those days where I wish I had just played hooky.  A big snowstorm was predicted for Sunday night/Monday morning, and while I tried not to psych myself up for a snow day, I couldn’t help myself.  So, when I woke up and discovered that I still had to go to work, albeit several hours late, I was crushed.  Hubby decided that he was calling out, but I just couldn’t justify it, especially since it stopped snowing by the time I had to leave.

By the time I got home from work, you can imagine that I just wanted to make dinner, relax…and of course, open a new bottle of wine.  I decided that I was in the mood for a warm, red wine to help counteract the cold, snowy weather, so I grabbed a bottle of that was given to me as a present—a 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon

Let me start by saying that it was wonderful!  Since the wine was a little older, I specifically looked for the orange hue around the top rim of the wine that I was reading about in my wine class textbook and was very excited when I saw it.  I made Hubby come over to look as I put my new tasting skills to the test, and he was surprised that he, too, saw the tint that gave this wine its deep ruby/almost-garnet color.

The wine had a nice, medium nose that centered around raisins, vanilla, and anise (my new found herb!).  The anise, in particular, really stood out, and when I whiffed from my bottle of anise seed, cleared my nose, and then compared it to the smell of the wine, I was amazed at the similarity. 

In terms of taste, the Jordan Cab had a nice, smoky flavor with medium acidity and high tannins.  The raisin smell seemed to turn into an overall dark fruit flavor and the anise turned into a sweet spice taste, which were transitions I found very pleasing.  The hint of vanilla that I smelled came through in the taste, but it was definitely just a hint. 

After thoroughly enjoying the glass, I decided to compare my tasting notes with those done by other people (I figured this is the best way to learn, right?).  I was surprised that I didn’t find too much information out there, since I really like the wine. That’s when I discovered that it ranges from about $50-$70!  I was in shock—shocked that my friend gave me a bottle that was that expensive for no apparent reason, shocked that I cavalierly opened a $50-$70 bottle of wine on a random Monday night (and drank it with hot dogs and tater tots!), and shocked that I’d just opened the most expensive bottle of wine that I’ve ever owned.  Needless to say, I’ve spent the rest of the week savoring it. 

Overall, I would say the 2003 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon was definitely a wine worth drinking, even at the higher price-point, although it’s not a wine that I would purposefully open on a regular weekday night.