There’s always a keen “sense of the moment” when I arrive at a Men’s Wine Council (MWC) meeting. Why? Because I just never know what’s going to happen when we gather six diverse palates and six even more various and sundry opinions in one room, over six or more bottles of wine, over a time period of 90 minutes or so. The November 29, 2012 MWC will forever be known as the MWC Smack Down session. I know, I know. You thought wine tasting was a snobbish affair with refined conversation and the gentle rhythm of swirl, sniff, sip? Well…not so much for this…wait for it…3.5 hour Council session.
It started out normal enough. Seven wines provided by different wineries. A mixture of reds and whites in the $16 – $65 category. Lots of thoughtful food pairings, some oohs and ahhh’s, some eye rolling and a good mix of conversation and engagement. We brought in a new member for a try-out. All was going well. The new guy can cook and really wowed us with his pairing.
There seemed to be a clear white wine winner – the 2010 Jordan Chardonnay ($29). In the red category we seemed to linger a bit longer. Clearly the 2008 Dry Creek Vineyards Meritage ($28) with its toasty oak nuances and big blackberry notes was a group hit. But then again, the 2008 Dry Creek “Endeavors” Cabernet ($65) was a standout for its ability to stand alone – better without food than with food. That quality we do not often find in our wine tastings, so it immediately grabbed the group’s attention.
As usual, the final assignment of the night was to simply record which white wine was #1 for the night, which red wine was #1 for the night. Each Council Member is expected to vote. Member’s may lobby a bit for their choice, but not overly so. Looks like this group forgot that rule. The question was presented. Vote for your number one white wine. No problem, we had a clear winner: The 2010 Jordan Chardonnay ($29).
Now on to the reds and the first Council Smack Down ever. The group simply did not want to declare a winner, they questioned the question. What did I mean by “favorite” wine? Favorite with food or favorite without food; or favorite for price; or favorite as compared to other similar wines? I think there were more questions, but my eyes glazed over and my head began to spin. How could two so diverse wines – the 2008 Meritage and the 2008 Endeavor Cab elicit such passion and ownership? So ensued a 90 minute hearty engagement of terms, wines, opinions, hand waving, time-outs and the appointment of a Sargent-At-Arms. Smack down conversation at its very very best.
My wine glass is raised to this group for its passion and focus on getting the answer right. By the end of the 90 minutes I pretty much forgot the question, and Tom brought out some samples of Moon Shine to divert further discussion. Yup, you just never know what’s going to happen at the Men’s Wine Council. I am one lucky Wine Diva to be surrounded by such wine-centric men.
And now for the results:
1. 2011 Abadia de San Campio Albariño (Rias Baixas) –A Spanish wine/ $16:White gold in color, aromatic nose (if not served too cold) suggesting pineapple, and a yummy back note of grapefruit peel. Expect nicely balanced acids and a fresh zestiness sustained by flavors of mandarin and key lime pie. Perfect with Todd’s original recipe Spanish Frittata.
2. 2010 De Martino “Legado” Chardonnay –Chile / $16: An interesting mix of notes of grapefruit and banana. Pleasant mineral aromas are present as well. This wine got two thumbs up for our consumer member for price and taste. In other words, Scott would buy this wine. Amazing with Scott’s grilled chicken salad with mint dressing.
3. 2010 Jordan Chardonnay – $29: A lovely wine made for the ABC drinker (anything but Chardonnay). Filled with subtle fruit and faint oak nuances this wine is amazingly food friendly, smooth and elegant. Drink now through 2016. Exquisite with Tom’s great contribution of Trader Joe’s a Bavarian Red Triple Cream with a washed rind. Also good with smoked salmon. Top wine pick of the night. Best food and wine pairing of the night.
4. 2008 Dry Creek Vineyards Meritage- $28: A blend of the five noble Bordeaux varietals is rich and concentrated in sight and on the palate. Initial aromas of blackberry, plum and a baby hint of black pepper. Cassis and plum mingle nicely with toasty oak nuances and vanilla characteristics. This is a sophisticated wine with the tannin structure playing a pivotal role in the wine’s balance and finesse. Gorgeous with roast beef, prime rib, and tri-tip. Scott chose this as his red wine consumer pick. The group FINALLY and begrudgingly chose this as the top red wine for the night.
5. 2008 Dry Creek Vineyards “Endeavors” Cabernet – $65: Ruby/purple in hue. Scents of violets, cherry liqueur, cardamom and chocolate co-mingle in a sensuous presentation. Velvety smooth on the palate. Surprisingly this wine was best with no food at all. It does not play well with others. This is a sit in front of the fire and contemplate life Cab. A clear second, and is some members mind, a first red wine choice.
6. 2006 Pedregal Vineyard Cabernet – $30: Predominantly a Cabernet Sauvignon blend with Merlot. Ray Franscioni Wines is a winery in Salinas, California. The winery first began producing wine in 2006. The winery is operated by Ray Franscioni. Joel Burnstein is the winemaker at Ray Franscioni Wines. This is not bad for the $20-$30 range (depending on where you source it from). I think it would have shined a lot brighter had we not had two other exceptional reds at this tasting. . Excellent with chocolate caramel bites, fresh sweet blackberries, chocolate cranberry bark, and chocolate covered gingerbread cookies.
7. 2008 Jordan Cabernet – $52: The words Cherry-Berry” came to mind with the first sip. Elegant aromas of cherries open to a soft, silky mouth feel boasting showcasing a continuum of red and black fruit flavors with a hint of spicy oak. Enjoy now or cellar through 2020. Excellent with any rich beef dish and Blueberry Stilton, chocolate turtles, fresh sweet blackberries, chocolate cranberry bark, and chocolate covered gingerbread cookies.