We love to attend wine tastings, as they let us sample a range of wines in the space of an hour or two, without having to commit to buying and consuming a bottle of something that turns out to be not to our liking. The Vine & Spirits hosted one the other night, with a slightly unusual approach. While normally such tastings showcase the range of wines from one or several vineyards, this tasting night contrasted the offerings of different brands in four varietals: Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel. With three wines in each category, the taster could compare and contrast the different characters of each wine. This wonderfully practical approach is often superseded by the necessity of meeting the needs of a sponsor, but in this case it was an enjoyable change from the ordinary.
These included a Yalumba “Y” Series Riesling from Murray River, Australia, a Kiona White Riesling form Washington, and a Black Star Farms Late Harvest Riesling from Michigan. We didn’t keep notes on these, but the Kiona White was easily the sweetest, almost a dessert wine in character.
These were Cantina Torlano Pino Grigio from Alto Adige, Italy; Torre Di Luna Pinot Grigio from Trentino, Italy, and Cantina Lavis Pinot Grigio IGT (Trentino, Italy). The Torre Di Luna wine seemed a bit more acidic, but not in a bad way.
The Castle Rock Pinot Noir from Mendocino, California had a mild plummy flavor with a little spice. The first wine from Tasmania that I can recall tasting was Tamar Ridge Pinot Noir Devil’s Corner; this wine was rather thin, with quite a bit of pepper and acidity, but more mineral than fruit. My favorite of the group was the Babich Pinot Noir from New Zealand; it had quite a bit of body with a good mix of cherry/berry notes and pepper.
The most unusually named wine of the night was Gravity Hills Tumbling Tractor Zinfandel (Paso Robles), supposedly named for an incident in which a tractor slid down the steep hillside of the vineyard. This zin had a plummy start, and a dry, peppery finish. The Graziano Zinfandel from Mendocino, California had a big, bold flavor; it was fruity, almost slightly sweet as it hit the palate, but complexity and spice increased quickly, leading into a woody finish. My favorite from the group was Schuetz Oles So Zin, a California wine that was full bodied and showed a nice balance of cherry and spice from start to finish.
At the end of the evening, I ended up taking home some of the Babich Pinot Noir and the Schuetz Oles So Zin, my two favorites of the night. Kudos to The Vine and Spirits for hosting an interesting tasting event organized by varietal rather than the more typical brand arrangement.