Thanks to the dozens of friends, neighbors and blog readers who came by the garage yesterday for our second garage wine tasting. I think the foul weather kept even more people from coming by, which might have been just as well since the garage isn't that big. At two different times I found myself struggling to hear people over the noise of so many conversations. I suppose that's one measure of success. I only had about 30 wine galsses and, while I had to wash a bunch of them to keep up with the crowd, it's probably good I didn't have to do even more washing.
So how were the wines? First, they showed well for what they are. My 2007 pinot noir is earthy and light, and not a crowd favorite. Some people loved it, or said as much. Others politely thanked me but you could tell it wasn't their favorite. The 2008, from a late harvest with absolutely perfect fall weather, was a huge hit. It's more ripe with good acidity and an emerging perfume that makes for a rich but delicate impression. There's also some tannin that should age out nicely. 2008 in the northern Willamette Valley is a stellar vintage, and even my humble homebrew shows that.
I learn so much by pouring my wine at events like this. People are polite, but it's great experience to see people phyically ingest wines I've made and see how they respond. You can't take the highs without the lows, and it's clear the 2006 (very ripe wine) and 2008 (more balanced and intriguing to my palate) are hits. 2007...that's a different story. That wine is good. Someone brought another local pinot, a non-vintage blend, that's mostly from 2007 and it seemed rife with volatile acidity. It's $20 at your local store, but I'm happier with my wine. Someone else brought his own 2007 wine, and it's way above what I made in quality. I'm happy for that producer and hope to follow his emerging success.
Meanwhile, we opened a variety of other wines to keep glasses full and things interesting. I opened a NV Henriot Rose Champagne that was a big hit. Lovely red fruit and chalk flavors. I wish I'd bought a case when this was dumped at a local retailer. Another very generous attendee brought a NV Vouette et Sorbee Extra Brut Champagne Blanc d'Argile. What a stunning, dry, chalky and minerally Champagne. I see why this producer is a wine geek darling. Wow.
For whites, I opened a sentimental wine, the 2008 Evesham Wood Gruner Veltliner. This is the famed local pinot noir producer's first varietal "gruve," from vines on the estate Les Puit Sec vineyard in the Eola Hills. It's sentimental because my first day working the 2005 harvest at this producer saw the first fruit off then three-year-old vines. I remember distinctly holding a cluster fresh off the vine that smelled like the signature white pepper so typical to this grape, a star in Austria where I studied in college. Only in 2008 was there enough fruit for Evesham Wood to bottle separately. This is terrific gruner, with a nice crisp aroma and clean flavor. There's a whiff of white pepper and green character that the grape's name suggests. What a lovely, unique local wine.
Other white wines included a 2007 Gunther Steinmetz Riesling Devon Brauneberger Juffer Spatlese that's higher in alcohol than most Moself riesling at 11.5%. There's a green/yellow color, peach and then strongly mineral flavors and lovely balance between the residual sugar and crisp malic acidity. And the 2007 Ch. des Lascaux Coteaux du Languedoc Blanc, a Rhone grape blend from southern France. This is a little glue scented but otherwise nice, round and fairly rich wine from a reliable producer.
Then the red wines. First, a 2004 Tardy Nuits St. Georges Les Boudots that I opened that went pretty quick. One taster tried it, didn't like it, then tried my 2007 pinot again and said something like, "wow, I like this better now." Too funny. The Tardy is perfumed but tannic in the mouth. Not sure where this one is going. I really enjoyed the 2000 Chateau La Roque Cupa Numismae Pic St. Loup, a syrah and mourvedre blend from another reliable southern France producer. This is in a great place, mature and bottle sweet, with funky mourvedre and a lovely, resolved texture. Finally, I was very impressed with the 2004 HdV Syrah Carneros, the California collaboration between Larry Hyde's venerable vineyard and his brother in law Aubert de Villaine of DRC in Burgundy. This was meaty and rich without any candy fruit or other fluff. I'm glad I have another bottle to enjoy over a leisurely dinner sometime.
All in all, I had a great time and it looked like others did too. I hope to do another tasting like this next spring once the 2008 is bottled. By then, I'll be transitioned out of home winemaking and focusing on my commercial project. A swansong to homebrewing seems fitting. I can't wait.