2007 Briar Rose CabWe put our informal wine tastings on hiatus for a while, paying close heed to social distancing. When we all felt confident we could gather safely, Scott and Wanda hosted, and as usual, the assortment of food was mind-boggling and delicious. With full plates, we made our way to the patio on a breezy evening with temperatures ensconced in the 70s. As a prelude, I opened a bottle of 2007 Briar Rose Cabernet Sauvignon from Temecula, hoping it had held up. It has aged beautifully.

We kicked things off with a Chilean wine, the 2019 EQ Sauvignon Blanc. As a rule, I ask my tasters to put their names on their tasting sheets. This time around, several failed to do so, so when you see a name in quotation marks, I have assigned them a pseudonym. “Joy” gave it four stars and described it as very nice, with a nice nose and full of fruit. Kat said it would be the perfect wine to enjoy in the hot tub with the one you love. Chris picked up peach and apricot on the nose and found it lively on the palate. It sells for $16 and scored four out of a possible five stars.

WINEormous tasting wine

We tasted Lucas and Lewellen’s 2018 Rosé from the Santa Ynez Valley next. Made from Pinot Noir grapes, Ken loved its light copper color and the aromatic nose of strawberries and peaches. I enjoyed the cherry nose and stone fruit in the mouth and thought it was very food-friendly. “Fritz,” thought it was “heavenly, and a perfect beach wine.” It sells for $22 and scored between three and a half and four stars.

We moved on to Lucas and Lewellen’s 2017 Pinot Noir. Ken, like many others, spent a lot of time simply smelling this wine. He called the nose “super” and thought it was quite dark for a Pinot. “Joey” said it was luscious, and Kat found it very seductive. I thought it was a solid wine and a great value at $24. It scored just under four stars.

From Lake County, we tasted Two Angels 2017 Petite Sirah. Deep and dark, I loved its intoxicating nose and brambly notes. “Fritz” loved the “awesome” nose and picked up blackberry and cranberry. Chris noted the deep ruby color, and found dark bing cherry on the nose, with blueberry and hints of dark chocolate on the palate. It also retails for $24 and came up with a score of four stars.

We ended our tasting with two wines from across the pond. From Italy, we tried the 2018  Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera. From Piemonte, this wine begins fermentation in stainless steel before being racked into concrete tanks, finally aging in oak barrels. “Fritz” loved the beautiful ruby color, and its blackberry and dark cherry notes. Kat thought it would pair beautifully with sharp cheese. Randy found it smooth and light. At $21, our tasters called it a good value and awarded it with a solid four stars.

Our final wine hailed from France, Château Greysac’s 2015 Médoc Cru Bourgeois. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot, Chris thought the $25 price point was excellent, noting its drinking well now, but will be enjoyable for many years to come. Scott gave it five stars and called it the “winner.” “Joy,” said it had a great nose, full body and was bold and earthy. It scored just over four stars.