Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Visit to some old Blues

After a touch commute home, I decided to pop open a couple of old blueberry wines that have been in my library cellar.  First up: 2006 Shelly's Blues.  So named in honor of my good friend Shelly who gave me most of the blueberries for this batch as well as a collection of old blue riesling bottles that I used to bottle the wine, this was actually the very second batch of wine that I had ever made.

2006 Shelly's Blues
Color is pretty light--kind of an orange-ish rose color.  But the nose is unmistakeable--acidified.  Big whiff of acetic acid due to oxidation.  Darn those artificial corks I used in the beginning because they were easier to sanitize prior to bottling!  I've since switched to using premium natural cork because the artificial corks just don't age well and allow to much oxygen into the wine.  Too bad--that was my last bottle.

2009 Wild Maine Dry Blueberry
Dark red color.  Excellent, complex nose of blueberry (duh), vanilla, & leather.  Fruit forward on the palatte with good tannins and smooth vanilla oak finish.  The only drawback is the body is fairly light.  Very good, decent wine that went great with the left-over Freschetta pizza I warmed up for dinner.

All in all, a good experiment.  I was pretty confident that the Shelly's Blues was going to be acidified based on prior experience with those artificial corks.  Fortunately, the 2009 saved the day (and I still have 3 bottles of that).  It's a shame that my dry blueberry recipe is not well received at competitions because I like it!  I've got a few tweaks in mind to pump up the body in future batches.  Perhaps I'll start one soon...



Saturday, October 15, 2011

AWS Hudson Chapter October Tasting "Rioja"

Ole!  The Hudson (MA) Chapter of the AWS met on October 13 in the home of chapter president, Mike Blake.  After a welcome period of socializing and general merriment while enjoying Cortijo 2010, a viura based wine from Rioja ($15), the 16 members in attendance sampled a selection of wines from the Rioja region of Spain organized by Dick Phillips.  A special selection of Spanish tapas, including Manchego cheese, Jamon Serrano ham, Spanish potato omelet, & empanadas, were supplied by the members.

Cortijo 2010 DOC 100% Viura ($15, greeting wine)
Flight#1 explored the Rioga classification system based on length of barrel age
Campo Viejo Crianza 2007 ($12) aged at least 24 months/6 in oak               (13.8 pts)
Campo Viejo Reserva 2006 ($15) aged at least 36 months/12 in oak            (14.9 pts)
Campo Viejo Gran Reserva 2002 ($21) aged at least 60 months/18 in oak   (15.7 pts)

This was a very interesting flight as the wines darkened considerably and grew more complex with the longer barrel aging.  My favorite was the Gran Reserva.

Flight#2 showcased 2 100% tempranillio wines
LAN Reserva 2006 ($18)                                                                               (16.5 pts)
Finca Valpiedra Reserva 2001 ($40)                                                              (15.1 pts)

Flight#3 explored 2 blended wines
Conde de Valdemar Reserva 2004 ($21) 85% Tempranillo/15% Mazuelo    (15.1 pts)
Palacios Remondo La Montesa Reserva 2007 ($26) 60% Tempranillo/40% Garnacha (16.2 pts)

Another interesting comparison as the Mazuelo (Carignane for us Americans) added a lot of tannin and acidity to the tempranillo while the garnacha (grenache) blend was much smoother.  I could have drunk the La Montesa all night long! Dark color, chocolate, plum, blackberries in a soft pleasant nose.  Smooth & mellow on tongue with moderate aftertaste

Flight #4 explored 2 wines by a modern producer who foregoes the DO/DOC rules
Artadi Vinos de Gain 2005 ($32)  bottle unfortunately corked
Artadi Pagos Viegos 2005 ($79)                                                                    (17.4 pts)
A spectacular 100% temperanillo with an earthy, complex nose with dark fruit predominating.  Full-bodied.  Very nice.
Following this wonderful line-up and tasting experience, the chapter celebrated their 4th anniversary with a recap of memories and highlights over the past 4 years and cake!


New Design Template

While I'm making some changes, I noticed that Blogger is encouraging me to try their new design templates.  So I thought I'd try a few more changes in the background, etc.  Let me know if you like it!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Still Alive, A 15 Year Anniversary, & New Course Addition

Hello again world. It's been too long since I last posted an entry. Somehow, finding the time to write more than 50-75 words about my winemaking activities has been challenging so I've been doing most of my updates on Facebook. Find and follow Aaronap Cellars on Facebook for all of the last minute details on the fun that goes on in the cellar, especially as I start filling out paperwork for the commercial licenses in the coming couple of months.

But I'm celebrating a little anniversary this month. It's been 15 years since some good friends introduced me to wine in grad school (I'm looking at you Bruce, Randy, & Sonja). Hard to believe that just a short while ago, I was a wet-behind-the-ears country bumpkin that hated the only glass of wine I had ever tried. I still remember that very first chardonnay tasting at Bruce's apartment where I showed up with a beer mug when told to bring a glass! Boy, times, tastes, & glass collections have changed!

While thinking back over the past 15 years, I've been amazed at the sheer variety of wines that I've tasted along this adventure. French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Greecian, South African, Chilean, Argentinean, Australian, New Zealand, and the myriad of US wine regions--whew! Makes my taste buds purr with pleasure just thinking about it. In recognition of the adventure that I've been on, I thought I would chronicle my tasting adventures over the next year and document all of the different wines that I taste (or at least as many as I can). I'll still keep writing updates on my winemaking, but will somehow figure out how to keep a rolling record of all the wines.

To start, on Wednesday 10/12, I had the privilege to attend "The Brilliance of Burgundy Tasting" at Brix on Broad in Boston's Financial District. I was a little underdressed for my tasting peers, but we enjoyed a number of showcase wines from France's Burgundy region.

Whites (Chardonnay):
2009 Vocoret Chablis ($27): OK, this ain't from Burgundy, but was a great greeting wine to get people into the spirit. Crisp, fruity, & full bodied. Very nice Chablis.
2009 Domaine Andre Auvigue Pouilly-Fuisse ($33): Apricots, aged flowers, & almonds. Rich, round mouthfeel. No oak. AWS scores: 3/4/4/2/2 = 15 (out of 20)
2009 Domaine Matrot Meursault ($52): Dark straw yellow. Earthy nose, not as fruity. Round mouthfeel, some light vanilla, and actually some tannins provide structure with a crisp finish. AWS score: 3/3/4/2/2 = 14
2008 Bruno Colin Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru "Maltroie" ($72): Light straw yellow, fruit forward with some earthy notes for complexity, caramel & butter, huge mouthfeel. AWS score: 3/5/5/2/2 = 17

Reds (pinot noir):
2008 Domaine Tollot-Beaut Chorey-Cote-de-Beaune ($40): Light garnet, bright cherry aromas. Perhaps a little pencil lead. Tart, tight finish. A simple pinot noir. AWS score: 3/3/3/2/1 = 12
2008 Domaine Jean Grivot Vosne Romanee ($67): Light garnet with some bricking. Black cherry, smooth nose, a little earthiness. Smoother finish but a little more tannin. Short aftertaste with raspberries predominating. AWS score: 3/4/4/2/1 = 13
2008 Domaine Pierre Gelin Gevrey-Chambertin ($50): Dark cherries with a complex earthy nose. Good breadth of flavors with a rich mouthfeel and a lingering finish. AWS score: 3/4/5/3/2 = 17
2008 Domaine de Courcel Pommard Premier Cru "Epenots" ($102): Sharp menthol aroma, low fruitness. Cinnamon, pine, and green pepper on tongue. Very rough tannic & tart finish. AWS score: 3/3/3/2/1 = 12

And to top off the evening, they poured the best wine I've ever had to date. Completely blew my mind and set the bar for all future white Burgundies (and chardonnays everywhere).

2006 Philippe Colin Chevalier-Montrachet ($265): Smooth fruity nose with mellow caramel notes that just slides over the tongue. Silky smooth with a slightly "sweet"-tasting finish. Lingers long after the sip is gone. AWS score: 3/6/6/3/2 = 20.