I popped down to the Saturday afternoon tasting to meet up with my buddy Carl, and ran into several more friends and acquaintances while I was there. The tasting flight included some higher-end reserve wines, notably the Bordeaux-style reds. I’d had the two whites before, but the reds were new to me. I was especially interested in the Ink Blot Tannat. Here’s a review of what Jennifer was pouring.
Dr. L Riesling (2012) Mosel, Germany – $12
Good quality for an inexpensive, off-dry Riesling. Enough acidity to offset the residual sugar. Crisp and clean, mostly with notes of Granny Smith apple, lime, lime zest, and minerality.
I’ve mostly had the reds from Gundlach Bundschu before. This is a well-made Chardonnay – it’s not overoaked, and it has a solid, medium-bodied feel. Nothing overwhelming about it, though, and I don’t think it’s worth the hefty price tag. There are plenty of nice French and South African Chards for less.
Buena Vista Legendary Badge Red (2012) Sonoma County, California – $30
The first of three red Bordeaux blends. This has good black and red fruit, and a velvety mouthfeel throughout. A little more fruit-forward than I prefer, but very nice. One of the two real winners at the tasting today.
Inkblot Tannat (2010) Lodi, California – $40
This comes from Michael + David Phillips (who also make Seven Deadly Zins, Petite Petit, and a host of other wines). It’s in one of their premium tiers – they also use the Inkblot label for a Cabernet Franc which I’ve had and enjoyed. I’ll be making some blog posts and e-book or two about Tannat, Malbec, and Carmenere – the “lost” Bordeaux varieties – look for them.
Back to the wine at hand – I like this a lot. Big, but not too tannic, with a nice feel all around and interesting flavor notes. I get dark blackberry and cassis fruit, some good earthiness, and a touch of black olive on the finish. It’s very dark in color and makes you think it’s going to be stiff and tannic, but it opens up right away in the glass, with no rough edges – a very pleasant surprise for a Tannat. This is the other winner in the tasting – not something I’d drink every day, but a fun bottle to have with steaks on the grill during the fall. Especially if you can light the fire pit and eat outside!
Jack Nicklaus Red (2008) Napa Valley, California – $60
I am always wary of ‘vanity’ wine labels – especially golfers and rock stars. Ernie Els does it right – he hired the best winemaker in South Africa, Jean Engelbrecht, and gave him top-billing on the label. I don’t know which one of Jack’s VPs handled this deal, but I’m afraid it’s a loser. There’s nothing in this that you couldn’t get for half the price. Just an ordinary California Cab-Merlot blend, with an embarrassingly short finish. Don’t buy it.