Saturday, March 27, 2010

First Grand Tasting Features Artisan Wines

07_red_cote_bottle_master From Paris to Aspen and New York to Napa, all the top wine events have Grand Tastings. This event typically is the highlight of the gathering and spotlights reserve wines, library wines, the rare and unusual. Toledo Wines and Vines has been in existence for more than six months now, so I figured it was high time we had our own Grand Tasting.
We don’t have the resources of the Wine Spectator or a location nestled amongst California wineries, but we put together an interesting and entertaining line-up as follows:
  • Ferrante Signature Series 2008 Pinot Grigio (Grand River Valley)
  • Red Cote 2008 Rose’
  • Seven Artisans 2007 Syrah (Suisun Valley)
  • Sly Dog Cellars 2007 Meritage (Suisun Valley)
  • Seven Artisans 2007 Petite Sirah (Suisun Valley)
  • Ravines Wine Cellars 2007 Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes)
The Ferrante Pinot Grigio is an award winning white from the Ferrante Winery in the Geneva, Ohio, area. It’s light and crisp with delightful apple and floral flavors. Just the right wine to get the evening rolling.

Rose’ can bring varied reactions from wine lovers. Let’s face it. There is some ghastly rose’ out there. So, I had to chase some of the guests around the rooms for a while before filling their glass with the Red Cote Rose’.

The pursuit ended well. The Red Cote was a pleasant surprise. The wine has a touch of sweetness, with 1% residual sugar, and enough acidity to keep it balanced. The group commented that this is a nice hot tub wine and a good choice for patio sipping in the summer.

Continuing to explore the Artisan Family of Wines, we next sampled the Seven Artisans Syrah. This wine hit me with a spicy blast with my first sip and the deep rich red wine began opening up. It is a hearty wine with strong pepper and rich blackberry. As with the Meritage and the Petite Sirah, this wine comes from the Clayton Road Ranches, a vineyard that is a stone’s throw from Napa. This wine continued to grow on me with each sip and earned the mark of evening favorite from two of our tasters.

Our liquid tour of Suisun Valley continued with the 2007 Sly Dog Cellars Meritage. Meritage is the American byword for itssly_dog_logo_gold Bordeaux style blends. This wine has a smooth approach that was a hit with our tasters who prefer the mellower reds. The wine had a medium body and displayed some nice legs on the glass. This tasted of cherries and lighter fruit in contrast with the more assertive Syrah and Petite Sirah. This is an elegant and enjoyable sipper.

The heavyweight of the evening was the Seven Artisans Petite Sirah and it came out punching. The mouthfeel is smooth, but then the palate gets a pop. The finish is dry. Our tasters described the flavor as punchy and bold. This wine is the expression of the dark side of the fruit, mysterious, dark and almost inky.

The power of this wine appealed to Mark, one of our tasters, and certainly made an impression on everyone. Interestingly, it was suggested that this would be a good pairing with a Jiggs Dinner. (This is a traditional sauerkraut and corned beef dinner served on St. Patricks Day.) This is a great selection for those who like a dramatic and delicious wine.

Rounding out the evening we uncorked a Ravines Wine Cellars 2007 Cabernet Franc (Finger Lakes). The color is cranberry. One wit commented that “this is not Napa” and went on to say the Cab Franc was woodsy. Perhaps, but in the most delightful way. It is peppery with a dash of tobacco that contrasts with the warm red fruit. It’s an accessible wine that will certainly please the connoisseur as well.

As the tasting wound down, we discussed the Artisan wines. The verdict? We found consistent high quality across the bottles. The Syrah and Petite Sirah each had their fans. The Meritage was nice, but I preferred the Seven Artisans Meritage I had tasted previously, which seemed to have another level of complexity.

We also are fans of the “letting the grapes speak for themselves” and that’s a winemaking philosophy ably demonstrated in Artisan wines. It’s a small wine operation with some really big wines.

Full Disclosure: We received the Artisan wines as a marketing sample.

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