California Dreaming

June 4, 2014

Reported by Dawn Harvie

Guild President Bill Ellis lead a group of interested tasters through this tasting of Californian wines.

The first flight of whites included a bready, but crisp sparking wine from Chandon. This simple wine with its green apple notes was the least favourite of the flight. The Deep Sea Chardonnay was described as having nice oak and great minerality. It was also evidently high in alcohol. Only a few tasters liked it and the last wine—the Conundrum, which had floral notes, sweet honeysuckle and a creamy mouthfeel. There was a little bitterness on the finish. The Fess Parker Viognier, the third wine, was the most popular. It was described as being “just right” with its notes of vanilla oak, peach, floral notes and a hint of sweetness.

The next flight included two Pinot Noirs, one of which was in that fruit-forward style that is often found in California Pinots. The Meomi Pinot had great fruit, some floral notes, spicy licorice that followed through on the palate. It had good balance. The Decoy Pinot Noir was more austere with sour cherry on the nose and the palate and was nicely balanced. We next tasted the Handcraft Petit Sirah. This wine had some fruit, earthy notes and mushroom, pepper, cassis and smoked meat. Each of these wines received a few votes for favourite wine of the flight, but the last wine was the favourite of most of the tasters. The Beaurouge was described as having “all the bases covered” and “representative of a Bordeau blend”. It had lovely fruit— plums and dark cherry—with nice spice. It was a blend of more than a half dozen different grapes.

The last flight featured some heavy hitters. The first two wines were both from Steltzner—a 2005 and a 1980. The 2005 was described as having tawny notes, cedar, chocolate and spice. It was a big wine with big tannins. The 1980 had lost its freshness with some medicinal notes and blue cheese. It was interesting to try an almost 35-year-old California Cabernet Sauvignon. The Othello was full of fruit—blackberry and dusty plum. These three wines were each voted as favourite by a few tasters, but the Napanook was favourite by a long shot. It was full of big black and red fruit and tannins.

Flight 1

  • Domain Chandon Brut, #218032, $28.45
  • Deep Sea Chardonnay, 2009, #361956, $24.95
  • Fess Parker Viognier, 2011, #297523, $25.95
  • Conundrum Napa Valley, #694653, $24.95
  • 3

Flight 2

  • Meomi Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, #310138, $26.95
  • Decoy Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, #191833
  • Handcraft Petite Sirah, 2011, #361907, $17.95
  • Beaulieu Beaurouge, 2010, #363531, $24.95

Flight 3

  • Stelzner Cabernet Sauvignon, 2005
  • Stelzner Cabernet Sauvignon, 1980
  • Othello (by Dominus), Napa Valley, 2009, #156539, $42.95
  • Napanook (Dominus Estates),
  • 2010, #212357, $77.95