09 Sep 2010
I don’t usually make a habit of travelling 3000 miles to taste wine, but this occasion deserved the trip. I packed my bags and headed east to the city they call the “big apple” to taste wine from Clare Valley, Australia. I mean really, how often does one get to taste Australian Shiraz?
Actually, I lie; we were in New York City (specifically Manhattan) for our annual family vacation. We gave our son the choice of NYC or Washington DC. He chose NYC, which means next year we’ll be headed to DC. Timing couldn’t be better as we can coordinate the trip with the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference and visit my family just a few hours south in Roanoke, VA.
Before I get back to the wine, let me just say that Manhattan is a-ma-zing! The energy, the vibe, the fashion, the hustle, the passion, the art! Walking the streets felt as if we were walking in the center of what makes the United States (and even the world) run. The eye wall of Times Square rotates out spinning its massive energy force touching the corners of our globe. Would I want to live there? Nope. I couldn’t afford to, but it sure is a fun place to visit.
While on our travels, through the wonders of Twitter, I learned that Cork’d was hosting a wine tasting at the Roger Smith Hotel. In a previous business trip to Manhattan, I had the opportunity to tip a glass with Jon Troutman of Cork’d and Kristen Murphy of Wine Library. Any opportunity to reconnect with these ambassadors of wine immediately shot to the top of my priority list. A quick tangent here – my social media experience has been amazing. Because of the relationships I’ve established on Twitter and Facebook, every city I travel to results in cheers and toasts with “old friends.”
On To The Wine:
When I say Australia, you say?
Okay, when I say Australian wine, you say?
Well, yes, that’s quite true. Most people have narrow thoughts when it comes to Australian wine and it is usually the little kangaroo of Yellow Tail, Jacob’s Creek or Penfolds. The wine tasting at Cork’d hoped to shed some additional light on a region that exports over 1 billion bottles of wine per year (fourth largest in the world).
After a long day of meandering through the Metropolitan Arts Museum, the family was very accommodating and semi-enthusiastically agreed to accompany me to the Roger Smith Hotel (just off Park Avenue and 47th). The eclectic, warm and urban vibe of the hotel made me re-think my lodging choice at a national chain.
At the tasting I was excited to finally meet Lindsay Ronga, CEO of Corkd.com. We’ve spoken via phone and twitter, but in person, Lindsay is infinitely more adorable. She’s also smart as a whip! Lindsay and Jonathan introduced us to their guest, Tom Barry, a third generation wine maker for Jim Barry wines and explained the tasting “rules of engagement.” Immediately the ladies, and some of the men, were smitten with Tom’s thick accent. Most of the crowd was armed with laptops, but I committed to my family to leave mine at home, so I attempted to document the journey with a smart phone whose battery was about to go the way of some of the art exhibits we had just discovered.
Due to the nature of the tasting, these are my initial thoughts and observations of Jim Barry wines. This is not the full attention that I typically try to give to one of my reviews, but should give you a general framework of my thoughts.
Jim Barry Wine Tasting
2007 Jim Barry Lodge Hill Riesling
The dry Riesling (under 2% residual sugar) had surprising aromas of toasted nuts, white pepper and that standard petrol aroma of a well aged Riesling. The wine was clean fermented with no malolactic and zero oak. With 13%ABV the wine is slightly off balance with only mild acidity. Great flavors of apple, lemon zest, lime and a tart finish. Quite a surprising wine and at $17-$20, could be a good selling price point in the US. 3+/5 (Recommend)
2008 Jim Barry The Cover Drive Cabernet Sauvignon
This 100% Cabernet is a blend from various Coonawarra fruit. The name, and labeling design is inspired from the 30 acres of Cabernet that grow on former Cricket playing fields. The wine receives 12 months in American oak. In the glass there is a good thick color to the edge of the glass. Aromas of bright cherry, are offset by vegetal components, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. In the mouth the wine is slightly thin on fruit with heavy tobacco mid palate and a sweet zing at the end. A bold chalky tannin begs to be decanted, paired with food, or cellared for 5-7 years. $20. 3/5
2008 Jim Barry The Lodge Shiraz
We ended the evening by looking at two Shiraz; one, a new release, and the other from 2004 that should give an indication of age ability. In the glass, the 08 is thick and leaves a crimson residue on the edges of the glass. The 14.5%ABV is low comparatively speaking for some Aussie Shiraz. Fragrance of blackberry and clove present themselves to me. I love the way the wine feels in the mouth. A lush velvet coats the tongue. The black pepper is perfectly balanced with the sweet fruit. The wine is big without being jammy. $20 and a great buy. 3+/5 (Recommend)
2004 Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz
The final wine of the night is dark and inky in the glass; a brooding color similar to moonless foggy night. The nose offers up green berry twigs, sour black cherry and some hints of what I would guess coffee syrup would smell like. In the mouth the wine is big on fruit, but it is slightly sour. The finish offered moderate tannins with well integrated acidity. Many of the tasters were very impressed with the wine but this one left me feeling a little empty; a perfect example of taste variance and subjectivity. At $45 this was the highest priced wine of the night. 3/5
Tom Barry of Jim Barry Wines. Follow them on Twitter @JimBarryWines
24 May 2010
Believe it or not, sometimes I drink wine when the video camera is not on. For the first time, three of these wines end up in a review without the video camera. While I’m not the awesome text reviewer that my friend Steve Paulo is at NotesFromTheCellar.com, I thought I’d put the camera down and tell you about three wines that were truly special that we pulled from the cellar.
2006 Round Barn Cabernet
This wine was provided by Round Barn winery as a part of a Tweet and Taste event hosted by Michigan wine blogger MichiganByTheBottle.com. Shannon and Courtney Casey are promoting the mitten state one sip at a time. As a side note, they were robbed for not being included in the 2010 Wine Blog Awards for Best Single Focused wine blog. Their quality promotion of the wine regions in Michigan is top notch.
Round Barn produces wine, distilled spirits (vodka, brandy) and beer! It would seem that owner Rick Moersch and his two sons are never at a loss of beverage. Round Barn Winery is located in western Michigan on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan, north of the Indiana border.
- The Stuff: % not listed on web site; 22 months in French/Hungarian oak (80/20); 13%abv
- The Swirl: Light bright purple color that is moderately translucent. Color moves out to clear toward the edges.
- The Sniff: Medium cherries with hints of graham cracker and cocoa. A mild whiff of smoky bacon begins to erupt from the glass when taking a deep sniff.
- The Sip: Medium body with thin under-ripe blackberry fruit and twigs. The smoky tobacco flavor continues on the palate. A good firm tannin structure on the back end. The acidity is slightly off balanced from the flavor presentation
- The Score: At $22 retail, I can score this a 3+ (out of 5) and really enjoyed this presentation of Cabernet from the Lake Michigan Shores AVA. I continue to be impressed with the improving quality out of the Michigan area.
Tweet from TTMI by @winegenie Palate = Red fruits on entry, tart cherries that turn to ripe black ones mid-palate. Silky.Powdery tannins.Drinkable & med. long.
Cellar Tracker Scores of 88.5 (with 2 reviews)
2007 Trio Vintners RIOT
Reason #1 for loving Twitter: GREAT PEOPLE. The folks at @triovintners (or @deniseslattery) are great folks. I love chatting with them and hearing about their wine making journey. I received this bottle in a shipment of three that included their Carménère and Tempranillo (reviewed here). Trio Vintners has been part of the incubator wineries in Walla Walla, Washington and is currently showcasing their third vintage of reds (along with some whites and roses). The RIOT is an uncommon blend of grapes that presents amazing character and personality. This is not your typical boring “red table wine” blend.
- The Stuff: 52% Sangiovese, 36% Syrah, 12% Mourvedre; aged 21 months in blend of new Hungarian, second and third year American, and neutral French oak; 14.1%abv; 237 cases produced
- The Swirl: Rich and thick in color. Dark plum jam
- The Sniff: A fun blend of earth, plum, cedar, and spices. Can definitely pick out the Syrah and Mourvedre components of the nose.
- The Sip: I love what the Syrah does with the Sangiovese. This is a big bold wine that has strong oak component. After about an hour the oak subsided. Nice dark berry fruit on the front of the tongue with big strong tannins. Grab a steak, sit back and enjoy! Mild cherry fruits on the mid-palate and the pepper spice was a perfect compliment without being overbearing.
- The Score: At $18 this is a wine that shines well above its price point. Don’t be fooled by the Sangio base, this is a strong wine. It comes across as slightly over-oaked but is deserving of a score of 4 (out of 5) because of the value and complexity.
2003 XSV Cabernet Sauvignon
Buried among the heart of the Woodinville Warehouse district are several gems. Within the rough exterior buildings and minimalistic tasting rooms are wine makers that are honing their skills crafting top notch grapes. With limited production many of these wineries never get national recognition or media attention. In the fall of 2009 my wife and I spent two days sipping our way through Woodinville. While several wineries stood out (Alexandria Nicole Cellars and Mark Ryan), it is the wine purchased at our last stop that now takes top honors from that trip. The XSV 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon has been haunting me ever since we drank the bottle a few weeks back. Sadly their web site is lacking in information but below is the review of an incredibly memorable wine.
- The Stuff: No info on label or web site. Assumed Cab from the LeMieux Family Vineyard 15%abv. After investigating their other wines spend about 20 months in New American Oak.
- The Swirl: Elegant dark purple and tawny port color. Nicely aged tone. The wine shows at about 80% opaque with good color to the edges
- The Sniff: Slight heat on the nose with a beautiful dried plum, cherry and raisin aroma. Subtle spices of pepper and cinnamon make an appearance as well.
- The Sip: If a wine were scored on velvet elegance, this would receive top honors. Amazing flavors of chocolate covered plums and cherries with a beautiful long smooth finish. Tight tannin without being chalky or chewy. This wine will be in its prime in 2 years but is incredibly amazing to drink now.
- The Score: At $38 (if I remember right), I can easily score this wine a 4 out of 5. If I’m ever in Woodinville again, I will certainly make a special trip to XSV again.
Scored a 3 (out of 5) on Wine Peeps in 2009