California Barrel Tasting (2002 vintage) - Printable Version

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- wondersofwine - 03-29-2004

Just back from DC and this event at the Watergate Hotel sponsored by Macarthur's Beverages (Bassin's) to raise money for cancer research. I asked the woman at the Diamond Creek Vineyards table if she was an owner. She was. I asked if she knew Vern from Phoenix and she asked me to pass on her greetings to you WW.

I find it impossible to take detailed notes at an event like this (mostly standing and moving from table to table, lots of people milling around, etc.)

My scattered impressions--2002 vintage less tannic, more food friendly at an early age than the 2001 vintage. May not age as well although the owners/winemakers seem to think highly of the grapes.

Bargain wine--comparatively speaking--Liparita Cabernet Sauvignon at $35.00 a nice Cal Cab. Didn't have a clear favorite this year. Maybe the Vine Cliff where I liked both the Oakville Estate C.S. ($60) and the Private Stock or Private Select ($100). I commented on the softer tannins and the representative said they are working on tannin management with colder fermentation and shorter maceration period.

The Neal Family C.S. ($45.00) was from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and had nose and flavors of dark fruits--currants and plums.

One of my favorite blends was the Cain Five where the percentage of Cabernet is usually 49% to 60%. The Cabernet Franc was apparent in the nose and made for a distinctive aroma. The grapes are grown higher on the mountainside than some vineyards making for a cooler climate, and the wine came across a bit more cherry-like than some Cal blends. At $68 a bottle as futures this is beyond my usual limit of $50 for a domestic wine, but I may go ahead and order one or two bottles.

The Joseph Phelps Insignia (78% C.S., 14% Merlot; $100) and the Barnett Rattlesnake C.S.; $75.00) were getting darker in color than some of the previously mentioned wines. I have to say that they did not charm me, nor did the Philip Togni C.S.

The Long C.S., like the Neal Family, was 100% from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. It was very viscous and perhaps well priced at $60. It had a nice finish and seemed to have the structure for 8-10 years at least.

Goldschmidt was represented by the Napa C.S. ($55) and the Alexander Valley C.S. ($55). In this case I prefered the Napa wine.

The Dunn Howell Mountain was not as tannic as last year but still is not my style of C.S. The Laurel Glen also failed to impress me.

I tried all three of the Diamond Creek Vineyard wines--Red Rock Terraces, Gravely Meadows and Volcanic Hill--all quite nice but all way beyond my budget at $145 a bottle.

Somehow I missed the Paul Hobbs Beckstoffer ($150)--maybe they poured it at the afternoon tasting and not the evening or maybe I was too intent on getting all the way around the room and didn't check the program carefully enough. Other vineyards represented--Von Strasser, Frazier, ZD, Simi, Spottiswoode, Thunder Mountain (I think I recall likeing Doc's Cabernet Sauvignon from Thunder Mountain--$45), Quintessa, Ravenswood, Frogs Leap, Girard, La Jota, Miner, etc. (I will be going to a wine dinner with Miner wines in April in Charlotte--Dave Miner will be there).

I did see a couple from Maryland that I met at the Pinot Noir tasting in February. We had compared notes then and realized we would be going to the California Barrel Tasting at the same time.

Food provided was ample and tasty but I arrived at the tasting a bit late and really didn't take time for the food until I had been around the room. Desserts were in a separate room.

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 03-29-2004).]

[This message has been edited by wondersofwine (edited 03-29-2004).]

- winoweenie - 03-29-2004

Sounds like a killer tasting WOW. Boots Braunstein is one of the sweetest ladies in the wine biz. I'll call her next week-end. Al is still hanging in there. WW