Friday, March 30, 2012

Arcadian 2005 Syrah Westerly Vineyard

I haven't written much about individual wines lately. I have been recording my likes and dislikes and recommendations in CellarTracker, an application which allows me to manage my wine and do research. But, I have found a wine which is one of those very special wines that plays well above its weight.

The wine is Arcadian 2005 Syrah Westerly Vineyard form the Santa Ynez Valley in California.

I was introduced to this wine through an email offering form a respected wine agency and bought two bottles, sight unseen or tasted. I read the description an believed that if the wine was half as good as the write up it would be worth the price.

Turns out, it is far better than that. It is a great wine that one person I served it to remarked that it was equal to $100 bottle wines he had been served. Now I don't know who can afford $100 per bottle wines, but it is nice to know that I have one that is in good company with them.

One reviewer wrote: "Darn nice wine made even more impressive by the price. Rich but lively so it's not heavy at all with smoke, blackberry, earth and black pepper. There seems to be just a hint of brett (I could be wrong but myself and winemaker friend thought there was a bit) which added to the complexity without overwhelming. Good acidity and a nice medium length finish. Wish I bought more of this."

Another reviewer wrote: "Bright medium red. Red and dark berries, smoked meat and Christmas spices on the nose. Midweight raspberry and bitter cherry flavors are complicated by beef jerky and floral pastille qualities. This strikes me as a blend of pinot noir and syrah, with the former variety's finesse and sweetness and the latter's game and earth character. Finishes crisp and long, leaving a peppery note behind."

Recommendation: This is a great wine and I highly recommend it. At $26 per bottle it is a bit more expensive than many of wines I buy--but worth the extra cost.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Friday, March 16, 2012

Consensus Blending -- 2012

It was hard to believe that over a year had passed since Chris and I had the great experience of being part of the team that blended the award winning 2009 Consensus wine for Keswick Vineyards in Virginia.

But it had been. We were part of that team during early December 2010 and last weekend we headed back to the winery to defend our title, so to speak.

Truly, defending was a long shot. We were unable to attend on the same weekend as the rest of our team mates from last year, and history says that the winners of the previous year usually come in last. In fact, we had heard that the other members of last year's team had done just that on the day they attended.

The day though is not about winning, although I will tell you that winning is nice, but it is about time at the winery with the winemaker, Stephen, and the owners, and other members of the wine club devoted to blending a good wine.

This year was no different.

We worked through the morning trying to blend the 2011 Consensus. There was no 2010 release. The wines all had very different character. The wines this year were Norton, Merlot, Touriga, and Syrah. By noon we had gone through 12 different blends before settling on our final blend.

After lunch and a break we reconvened to judge the ten blends of the day. The judging was tense and we felt really good when we found out that our wine made the top four blends f the day--and then the top four. But, alas, our wine was judged only fourth best of the day. We of course felt that it was better--but the wine that won was a good wine too, in fact we had judged it better than ours. That winner is competing against the other three "day" winners to be crowned the 2011 Consensus wine. That decision should be announced soon.

So what is the day about at the winery?

Getting together with newly made friends to enjoy wine and learn more about what it takes to make wine. That, in the end increases our enjoyment of the final product that we select from the shelves of the stores and wineries where we buy them.

Thanks again to the great people at Keswick for allowing us to disrupt the flow life at the winery and spend some quality time with them.

-- Bob Doan, Denver, CO

Monday, March 12, 2012

Veritas Vineyards and Winery -- A Review

Located in the western portion of the Monticello Wine Trail, Veritas seems to have developed a cult following. We visited on a beautiful, sunny, early-March afternoon to find the winery full of visitors. We actually had to stand in line for 15 minutes before we were able to be accommodated for a tasting. But that was not a problem. The room is visually stimulating and worth the extra time to enjoy.

Veritas presents itself beautifully. The large tasting room has a very different feel than traditional tasting rooms.The sofas and tables around the room provide for a personalized wine tasting experience. The picture is of the larger than life sculpture on the bar.

At $5 for tasting seven wines, the cost seems average and we did get to keep our glasses at the end of the tasting.

The grounds are very nicely maintained and the large building housing the tasting room provides a larger than life introduction to the wines.

Once we finally made our way to the bar for the tasting, unfortunately we didn't manage to get into one of the sofa groupings, we began to experience the wines. I was disappointed by the wines--they are very young and need time to develop. The wines lacked depth and complexity. Although the tasting notes provide an introduction to the wines, for the most part the wines failed to live up to the excitement generated by the notes.

The best wine of the day was the 2011 Viognier. The most disappointing was the Merlot. The Merlot was more akin to a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Franc.

The winery shows a lot of promise and as the vines mature, the depth and quality of the wines should improve.

Recommendation: Visit and enjoy the beauty of the winery, but don't expect too much from the wines. Travel note--my GPS did not plot the position of the winery correctly, so be sure to follow the signs over following GPS directions.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD