Sunday, November 6, 2011

Freinds of the Grape - Nov2011

Last night the Madison Friends of the Grape gathered for our fourth meeting for the purpose of expanding our wine palate, enjoying great food, and generally reveling in the camaraderie of new friends joined in mutual admiration of fermented grapes.

Our group was slow to get started, what with the first gathering held in October of 2010. The next in September 2011. Then October. And now November, aka last night. We’re on a roll now! The Friends: (last names omitted to protect reputations and careers) Nancy, Jerry, Kevin, Rick, Bob, Christine, Jenny, Scott, Jon, Beth. And yours truly DakotaDiner and her husband, The Farmer-Architect.

Last night we met at Jon and Beth’s barn. It’s a barn, but only in the very loosest sense of the word. There is planned space for horses, but the remaining space is made over into a warm and cozy gathering place complete with overstuffed couches, flat screen TVs, and a well-appointed kitchen primed for gourmet cooking. Well – lacking a stove and oven – but that’s a minor detail. The decorating theme reflects an life in the great outdoors spelled out in warm earth tones, hunting prints, and touches of equine memorabilia.

The weather paired perfectly with the wine: Cabernet Sauvignon. A big robust and lusty wine in keeping with the gusty, windy South Dakota night. Armed with an outdoor grill, two crock pots, and a roaster, Beth turned out an exquisite dinner to complement wine and weather featuring South Dakota pheasant, seasonally acquired by Jon (OK – I won’t dance around reality – the pheasants were hunted, shot, and dressed by Jon on the opening day of pheasant season three weeks ago.)

The Menu
Pheasant Poppers
Green Salad with Feta, Toasted Pine Nuts, and Dried Cranberries
Pheasant Rustica
Wild Rice
Butternut Squash
Chocolate-Raspberry Torte

Up first in the blind tasting of ten bottles, Bottle #1 everyone agreed was a nice wine, although a little lightweight for a cab. Great cab nose and flavors of cherry and plum, well-balanced, not too tannic.
2008 Ghost Pines Winemaker’s Blend, 68% Napa, 32% Sonoma
Notable quote: “After tasting all ten, it’s still my favorite,” (me)

#2: More body than #1, nice legs, young, some heat in the finish
2008 Chateau St. Michelle – Columbia Valley
Notable quotes: “I enjoy it,” Jenny; “It grows on you,” (Christine)

#3: Big nose, nice color, too cold (OK – who forgot to take the bottles out of the car earlier?), bit peppery, more a traditional cab type
2007 Big Vine Napa
Notable quotes: Beth liked. “I’d push that guy off the bridge,” (Kevin – in reference to the movie It’s A Wonder Life. Can’t remember exactly how this came into the conversation, but it seemed notable at the time)

And then –just in time - the Pheasant Poppers were served…..

#4: Totally different than the first three, smooth, fruity but with more body than #1, an excellent pairing with the Poppers that consisted of pheasant, a slice of water chestnut, a slice of jalapeno, wrapped in bacon and finished on the grill
2009 Two Vines – Columbia Crest
Notable observation: Jenny likes this the best so far

#5: Cold – again; different from all the previous bottles; thin mouth (me); A mouth as full as we’ve had (Farmer-Architect); do we observe a lack of consensus on this bottle?
2009 Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills
Notable quotes: “Bizarre,” (Christine); “Jenny – you’re behind!” (From the group on observing Jenny still savoring #4)

#6: Leggy, no tannin, well-balanced, best cab nose so-far, a classic cabernet
2008 Pedroncelli Dry Creek Valley
Notable quotes: “You want to drink this out of a fish bowl with a long stem,” (Kevin); “This is the wine you take home to your mother,” (Bob); “It’s excellent,” (Scott); “Yes you are eating too many poppers – OMG, here’s the evidence.” (Jenny to Scott as she holds up a handful of toothpicks)

#7: Little nose, but great body and good flavor, vanilla, a little clove, a little smoky, lays nice on the tongue
2009 14 Hands Washington State
Notable quotes: “I’m feeling vanilla all over the place,” (Scott)

#8: So – now Jon brings out the aerator, with just two bottles yet to go. Aerating didn’t help this one, odd, kind of harsh; Scott says benign, Gary says lightweight, Bob says immature
2009 Fat Basterd Thierry & Guy France
Notable quotes: “It tastes better with the pepper jack cheese,” (me); “But I love the name,” (Kevin)

#9: Really deep, dark color, prominent nose, makes you sit up and take notice, the taste meets the expectation of the nose, some think not as good as #5,6,7; little flat and sour in the finish
2007 Bogle
Notable quotes: “A spontaneous purchase – on sale for 8$ at Lewis Drug,” (Jon); “Reminds me of Dirty Diaper Salad,” (Jenny) (Note - A possible pairing? I’ll try to get the recipe.)

#10: Cold again, medium cab nose, fruity, yet odd; something medicinal, sweet and yet a metallic taste
2006 Clois du Bois- North Shore
Notable quotes: “Something in the middle of the taste I just don’t like,” (me); “Tastes like polio vaccine,” (Kevin) But how would he ??? --- don’t even ask!

It was a perfect evening – the barn, the food, the wine, the friends. We have the date set for next month’s tasting and planned a brunch gathering in a couple weeks, to feature a scone bake-off.
I’m not sure how I ended up as official scribe to this group. But it’s an honor I intend to live up to. In doing so, I must give recognition to the first Wine Group I belonged to in Morgantown, West Virginia. I dedicate this blog post to the great memories they created and what they taught me about great wines. Sante, Rena, John, Jeff, Ted, Chris, Jay, Chris and Adam.

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