WINEormous wine tastingGetting together with friends to taste wine and have a bite to eat is becoming a frequent occurrence. I like to joke that the pay for what I do isn’t great, but the perks are fabulous. Last week it seemed as if everyone and their brother decided to join the party. In all I think there were 18 of us at Jake and Maureen’s home, squeezed in cozy tight around the table. I brought eight wines for the gang to try. Jake had two bottles open to get the ball rolling. There were several other bottles opened later.

For starters we tasted Cavit‘s 2012 Pinot Grigio. Late summer has been hot here and this wine certainly hit the spot. Ken loved the apple nose, excellent balance and its acidity and minerality. Tony loved it, too, and thought it was an excellent value at $9. I agree and found it food friendly, too.

Our second wine was one of the group’s favorites of the evening, Dry Creek Vineyard‘s 2012 Dry Chenin Blanc. I don’t know why we don’t see more of this varietal. It’s a wonderful grape. I found the nose very expressive and loved the tropical fruit characteristics. Tony called it the best he has ever had. Ken commented on the complex notes of citrus and lychee. This wine is an outstanding value at $12.

Our final white was a Burgundy; Joseph Drouhin 2012 Bourgogne Chardonnay. Tony thought it was great and enjoyed the buttery flavor. It was definitely an old world wine with some earthy notes, but I liked it, too. Ken said it had a subdued nose and was bone dry on entry. He also picked up Granny Smith apple and hints of pineapple. You’ll find this wine for about $18.

WINEormous wine tastingOn to the reds we went, with the first coming from Chile, a 2011 Terra Andina “Scandalous” Carmenere. This wine got the group’s attention in a hurry. There’s nothing subtle about the nose. It’s earthy and full of fruit. Ken noted vanilla and subdued berries. This wine continued to unfold as it got air. It pairs wonderfully with food and we were all floored by the $10 price tag. Run, do not walk, to find this wine!

WINEormous with Alicia Ysais and Tory McPhail

Handcraft Artisan Collection Winemaker Alicia Ysais with Commander’s Palace Executive Chef Tory McPhail

Our next wine was the 2011 Handcraft Artisan Collection Cabernet Sauvignon. This is Cheryl Indelicato’s project and she has Alicia Ysais making her wines. Tony gave it four and a half out of five stars and found it very easy drinking. Al loved it, commenting on its fabulous nose and added it’s “not a traditional Cab.” This wasn’t everyone’s favorite wine, but it’s an exceptional value at around $12.99.

We tasted another Cab, another offering from Dry Creek Vineyards, the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Ken liked the way the acid and tannins complemented each other. Jan liked the nose and thought it was a good value. Jean thought it was a great wine for people who don’t like big tannins. It’s priced at $22.

Next we tasted Four Vines 2010 “Truant” Old Vine Zinfandel. This one got mixed reactions. Jan found it a little “hot.” Ken called it a lighter style Zin with soft tannins and low acid. Tony said it was “just not my style.” For $12, I think it’s a decent buy.

Karl Wente’s 2011 The Nth Degree Pinot Noir was the last of the wines I brought. Ken B. said I saved the best for last. Ken M. picked up nutmeg on the nose and loved the great varietal flavor. Everyone loved this wine, but felt it was overpriced at $80.

WINEormous with Linda and Hoot Smith

Linda and Hoot Smith

Jan opened two bottles of Kastania Pinot Noir that I picked up for her at the winery in Petaluma. Hoot Smith is making exceptional wines. Their Proprietor’s Reserve is a steal at $45. We gather again soon. I promise to fill you in on what we taste and think.