As a transplanted Californian, I am a French wine neophyte, so I was looking forward to this opportunity to directly compare between wines from different regions of France. Represented were Burgundy, Loire Valley, Northern and Southern Rhône, Cahors & Madiran, Bordeaux, Alsace, and Langeudoc.
First off, I want to mention that Kris and I escaped with only a $265 dent into our bank account - I was very impressed with our restraint, given that we tasted some absolutely fabulous wines! Since I doubt anyone is interested in reading tasting notes from 24 wines in a row, I think I'll mention my general impressions of the event, and will post about the wines as we drink them :)
This was the first tasting I've ever done where I've consciously spit. I admit, I did swallow on some of the truly spectacular offerrings, but I probably only drank the equivalent of one full glass even though I tasted 24 different wines. It wasn't easy - with so many people crammed into a realtively small store, the spit buckets were few and far between. We ended up carrying an extra glass with us as a "spit glass", which we periodically dumped into a bucket as we came across one.
With so many great-sounding wines, I really wanted to be able to fully appreciate them, so spitting was key. The wines were arranged by winemaker, obviously, since the winemakers themselves were present. Although predominantly a "red guy", I'm struggling to appreciate whites and really wanted to give them their fair share of attention. Thus we ended up making two loops - first to taste the whites, then to taste the reds (with one final stop for a yummy late harvest + botrytis dessert wine). This made for a rather long tasting, as we had to wait in line not once but twice for each winemaker, but overall I'm glad we did it because it allowed for a more direct comparison of more similar wines.
My overall impression of the event was that it was a bit overwhelming - between the hordes of people and the often thick accents of the winemakers, it was very difficult to glean much information about the wines I was tasting beyond the descriptions I had printed out from FineWine.com's website. I think the fact that it was a free wine tasting, combined with decent advertising and the most beautiful weather we've had since last fall all came together and created a "perfect storm" of wine consumers descending upon the store. I'm very glad I attended - I left with some great wines! - I just wish I would have had more time to talk with the winemakers and expand my (incredibly limited) knowledge of French wines.
Here's a quick list of the wines we ended up purchasing - as I mentioned, I'll put up tasting notes from when we actually crack open the bottle, not the ones I took during this tasting event:
Whites (see, I'm giving whites a fair chance!)
- 2005 Dom Jean-Luc Mader Gewurztraminer (Alsace) - $17
- 2005 Dom Jean-Luc Mader Pinot Gris (Alsace) - $17
- 2005 Dom Berthet-Rayne Côtes du Rhône Blanc (Côtes du Rhône) - $13
- 2006 Ch Les Arromans Entre-deux-Mers (Bordeaux) - $10
- 2005 Dom Berthet-Rayne Chateauneuf du Pape Rouge (CdP) - $27
**My favorite wine of the day! I just love strong, smooth CdPs...
- 2001 Ch Mondesir-Gazin Blaye (Bordeaux) - $23
**Very tasty - a "close second" in the running, but hard to beat a CdP for me.
- 2005 Dom Renée Bouvier Le Chapitre Bourgogne Rouge (Burgundy) - $20
- 2004 Dom Le Pas de l'Escalette Les Clapas Rouge (Languedoc) - $20
**Perfect timing! A Coteaux du Languedoc just in time for this month's WBW!
- 2005 Dom Le Pas de l'Escalette le 1er Pas Rouge (Languedoc) - $15
- 2004 Ch Les Arromans Rouge Cuvée Prestige (Bordeaux) - $14
**We bought two - seems like it could have excellent aging potential.
- 2005 Dom Berthet-Rayne Côtes du Rhône Rouge (Côtes du Rhône) - $13
**We also bought two of these - excellent Quality-Price Ratio.
- 2005 Ch Les Cedres Heritage Cahors (Cahors) - $12
**Again, we bought two - excellent QPR!