December 9 2008
I consider myself a writer, yes. Wine blogging and being a “writer” aren’t mutually exclusive. As a writer who can’t call inspiration on command, I keep a running list of post ideas, usually anywhere from 20 - 50 items that can be fleshed out for a post.
Oddly, nowhere on that list, at any given time, is a specific wine to review, though I drink a glass of wine most nights. Sometimes, frankly, I forget or don’t even think about writing about a wine as a review. Perhaps it’s my folly or just my interests—I enjoy tasting wines moreso than I consider myself a hardcore reviewer of wine or an epicurean that pairs food and wine together and, likewise, I get more excited to write about, well, what I normally write about.
That said, I’m going to review some wines. All were received as samples from the respective wineries. I never take it for granted that I receive samples, so thank you to the winery and their PR representatives for engaging in the wine blogosphere.
Cameron Hughes 2006 Lot 81 Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon
I have to say I am an unabashed fan of Cameron Hughes. I like what they are doing and I like how they do it. The whole notion of a $50 wine for $15 just really plays well with me. I tend to fetishize a few things that I love in and around wine and Cameron Hughes falls into that classification.
In acquiring this wine, Tim Elliott and I were loitering after our Wine Blogger Conference panel discussion (where we just got done talking about wineries influencing bloggers) and up comes a couple of guys from Cameron Hughes (Paul Jenson and Ben Jenkins) ready to talk a little shop and ply us with samples. The timing was dubious, but when two bottles are stuck in my hand from a wine company that I’m really fond of, who am I to argue? Thanks, guys.
Given that background, the Lot 81, frankly, isn’t up to normal Cameron Hughes quality. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid wine, but it doesn’t hold up the value proposition as well as other wines I’ve had from Cameron Hughes. This quality of wine can definitely be had in the $20 price range, and down into the $12 - 15 category.
Not a clunker, an enjoyable quaff, just not in line with the CH value prop.
2005 Wolffer Estate “Caya” Cabernet Franc
My experience with New York wine is growing, though not yet quite expansive. I’ve been to Vintage New York in NYC, I’ve hauled a half dozen bottles home with me and I’ve tasted a bunch of bottles that Lenn from Lenndevours brought out to the Wine Blogger Conference. And, generally speaking, I’m a booster for the New York (and Michigan) wine industry to grow, grow, grow.
Save for a couple of thin Pinots, all of the whites and the multiple Merlots and Cab Francs I’ve tasted have all been good, showing NY as having a real, legitimate place on the national stage, just a pace behind Washington. And, I think I now understand Lenn’s exhortations for quality because the potential is present in New York even if the execution doesn’t always fire on all cylinders, allowing some clunkers to slip through every now and again.
One thing I really like about Lenn is he calls them like he sees them and he is a quality champion for New York wines. And, while I can’t specifically attribute Wolffer sending samples out to wine bloggers to Lenn’s influence, I know Lenn has spoken well of Wolffer in the past and surely a sample showing up at my door step is a sign of the impact he has in that region.
Perhaps the greatest compliment I can give to this Wolffer Estate Cab Franc is this isn’t a wine with potential, it doesn’t need to round into form in a couple of vintages. It’s a good wine now. It’s a 20th anniversary wine for the winery, as well, even if I don’t know if the 20th anniversary is tied to ‘05 - the vintage year, or ‘08 the year of release. Take a look at their wine line-up here.
2006 Bouchaine Carneros Pinot Noir
I first pulled the cork on this wine at the same time that friends and I were drinking a slew of other California Pinot’s—Patz & Hall, William Selyem, Road 31, a micro-Pinot from Crushpad and some inexpensive bottles. It didn’t show well.
With the graciousness of the winery, who sent me two bottles, I tried again, to give it a fair shake. The reason, in hindsight, it didn’t show well is very obvious now. Stylistically, it is definitely not a California-style Pinot. This is classic Burgundy via Carneros—which is probably a reason for many Pinot lovers to rejoice with many CA Pinot’s pushing the limits on fruit (and alcohol). Given that I think Kosta Browne invented the color black, I might not be the best person to ask, however.
Setting aside my own personal bias and looking at it objectively, this wine has an incredibly complex nose and a mid-palate that invited introspection. With more flavor components then I can recall from a wine in recent memory, it is well-crafted, balanced, with restrained fruit and a lot of earth components. And, it is a sure delight with dinner.