April in the D(etroit, with apologies to Fox Sports Detroit for “borrowing” their current tag line) brought something a little different to our Brown Bag Irregulars monthly get-together. Since Spring had sprung, it seemed appropriate to try more whites than we had in our previous three meetings. Instead of the usual two pale selections, we upped that number to five. The proceedings were held at the usual shady location better left unnamed and both new and old characters were in attendance. Here’s a rundown on what we tasted; please note that prices listed are approximate retail markups on full wholesale prices. The wines that are now available in the Detroit market are often offered at discount or “post-off” pricing, which makes them even more attractive to the buyer.
Wine #1: Pale in color, with white tree fruit aromatics that take coaxing to get out of the glass; very dry, with chalky minerality that dominates the flavors. Full bodied, with excellent acids, and if some might be turned off by the chalky, stony character, I like it just fine. I’m thinking southern France at the time of the tasting, but it turns out to be a newer version of one that we got to know quite well a while back.
2008 Tertre de Launay Entre-Deux-Mers, approximately $13.99 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #2: Clean, medium color, with an expressive peach, pear and mineral nose, following through on the palate with lots more minerality, setting the tone for the wine. Medium-full bodied, with excellent acids and a long finish. I wondered if it might not be from the southern Rhone or perhaps even Spain, but obviously, such is not the case.
2007 Gilbert Picq Chablis Vielles Vignes, approximately $29.49 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #3: Clean, medium color, with white tree fruit and mineral on the nose and an almost Riesling quality on the palate. Bone dry and medium bodied, with excellent acidity, this is nice, reminding me of Albarino or perhaps Verdejo, but there’s a reason that it has that “ almost Riesling quality…”
2008 Dr. Burklin Wolf Estate Riesling, Pfalz, approximately $21.00 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #4: Pale-to-medium straw color, with a reticent nose that only hints at the nice white tree fruit and mineral flavors to follow; Medium-to-medium-full bodied, with excellent acids and good length. Nice, if not quite as expressive as the first three wines.
2008 Alexana Pinot Gris “Revana Vyd.,” Dundee Hills, approximately $23.49 retail, not yet available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #5: Clean, medium color; seems to show some nice French oak over pear on the perfumed, expressive nose; rich and round in the mouth, with a good dose of mineral and zippy acids. Could be Marsanne, Roussanne or Chardonnay, but whatever it is, it’s nice, even with the oak.
2008 Oakville Ranch Chardonnay, Napa Valley, approximately $45.49 retail, not yet available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #6: Smoky ruby garnet color, with smoky toasty coffee on the nose; on the palate, smoky plum and black cherry, shaded with subtle toast and coffee. Medium bodied, with good acids and decent length; obviously Pinot Noir, with perhaps a bit more oak than I care for, but still, not a bad wine at all.
2007 Alexana Pinot Noir “Revana Vyd.,” Dundee Hills, approximately $42.00 retail, not yet available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #7: Clean, dark color, with a pretty perfume dark cherry and berry graced with a kiss of sweet oak; drier in flavor than the nose implies, with nice black currant and black cherry, braced with earth and mineral undertones. Full bodied, sleek and well structured; could be Bordeaux (BINGO!), could be Rioja, or could be Left Coast Meritage, because it’s definitely in the “International” style. My favorite of the reds as initially poured on this occasion. (More on that as we continue…)
2007 La Gravette de Certan Pomerol, approximately $52.49 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #8: Clean, dark color, with a pretty toasty oak and black fruit perfume; more of the same in the mouth, where the toasty oak takes a more prominent place in the wine’s personality. Sleek and full bodied, with excellent structure and a nice core of fruit, but a little more oak than I care for. Tastes Californian, and when I see the price afterwards, I just shake my head..
2006 Revana Cabernet Sauvignon, St. Helena, Napa, approximately $136.49 retail, not yet available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #9: Clean, dark color, with a pretty perfume and flavors and aromas of toasty oak, black currant and blackberry, underscored with a note of earth; full bodied, with good structure and length, but the toasty oak is ultimately a bit much for me. I figured this to be Cabernet from California or Washington.
2005 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, approximately $63.00 retail, not yet available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #10: Clean, dark color, with toasty sweet oak dominating the otherwise nice core of somewhat earthy blackberry and black currant character; full bodied and sleek, with good structure and length, but bordering on too much oak for my tastes. I figured this for some kind of Left Coast Bordeaux variety or blend.
2005 Oakville Ranch Cabernet Franc “Robert’s Blend,” Napa, approximately $91.00 retail, not yet available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #11: Clean, dark color, with some funky brett on the nose, followed by big black plum and berry flavors shaded with some toasty oak; full bodied, almost chewy, and well structured, with good length and a nice core of fruit, if a bit more oak than I care for. I thought it could be Syrah at first, then maybe some kind of Bordeaux blend, and it turns out to be a blend all right, a Zinfandel “field blend” from the same vineyard that produced all those great Ravenswood Old Hill Zins. I found this more to my liking tasting it a second time knowing what it was, and all things considered, it offers excellent value, considering what’s in the bottle.
2007 Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Zinfandel “Bambino,” Sonoma Valley, approximately $26.99 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #12: This deeply, darkly colored thing is a funky mo-fo, with brett-y, tarry black plum and berry in large proportion, being full bodied and well structured for many years of cellaring, and it needs it. Seems obviously Rhone-ish, but I wasn’t necessarily sure it was from that region. As it turns out, we’ve had this before, about a year and a half ago, and this one is rather different than it was at that time.
2006 Domaine Lucien Barrot Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, approximately $43.49 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Wine #13: If the last wine was wild and wooly, this one is even more so; almost inky, it’s so dark in the glass, and throwing huge earthy, tarry funky aromatics that follow through on the palate, almost obscuring a very solid and substantial core of black fruit; one taster added impressions of “anise and animal.” Big and chewy, and hugely structured for many years in the cellar, and, like the previous number, it needs it. Turns out to be a newer version of one we loved around the holidays, so I have no doubt that this will come around with time and/or air.
2007 Château Gigognan Châteauneuf-du-Pâpe, approximately $42.00 retail, available in the Detroit market. Find this wine
Interestingly, the 2008 Dr. Burklin Wolf Estate Riesling got the most votes as the favorite wine, with the last two Châteauneuf-du-Pâpes tied for second. My three favorites were the first three whites poured, in that order. I have no doubt I would have given the Châteauneufs more consideration had they been given some air before tasting, but that’s not how these things work. All in all, it was yet another fun and informative tasting with those wacky Brown Bag Irregulars!
Reporting from Day-twah,