Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

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Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Ian Sutton » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:01 pm

An unusual Open Mike and one that we're unusually giving a month's notice for (we'll kick it off proper on 1st November but feel free to post if you open a suitable wine in the meantime). The extra time allows people to pick up a bottle or two in preparation should they wish - the wine may have dropped off your buying radar. SCRATCH THE DELAY - It seems folks are already prepared and raring to do, so post away! :D

Theme: The wines that first got you interested in wine tasting/ drinking - do you still love them, has the 'love' faded, or is the interest rekindled?

The idea being that you taste wines that were instrumental in starting your voyage of discovery in wine, be that 1, 10 or 50 years ago. Everyone is welcome to post and we're interested in how you see the wine now, in comparison to your original interest in the wine.

regards
Ian
p.s. Clearly we won't get many instances where the original vintage is still available, the idea here being to taste any vintage of that wine (or even that style of wine).
Last edited by Ian Sutton on Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Tim York » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:47 pm

I may be unusual in not needing a month's notice to get into this subject. When I first took an interest in wine, there were only the following which wine loving people took seriously in the UK -

Red Bordeaux (mostly left bank)
Sauternes
Burgundy (both colours)
Champagne
Hock and Moselle (sic) meaning Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Rheinpfalz (hock) and Mosel-Saar-Ruwer (Moselle)
Sherry
Port
Madeira

It was permissible to enjoy French wines from other regions and Italian & Spanish wines on holiday as a bit of local colour. As for the rest of the world, Australia was a laugh with its "Burgundies", California was never seen, South Africa was mainly a source of down-market sherry but with Constantia having a sort of mythical reputation, as did Tokay, which had been virtually buried by the Communist regime.

I really cut my teeth on red Bordeaux and red and white Burgundy with a sprinkling of fine hock and Moselle and still love and revere these wines with a proviso about the pox in White Burgundy. Furthermore my cellar is full of the reds from both and with "Moselle" but is getting a bit thin on white Burg because of the pox and is thin on "hock" (which largely ignored Nahe of which I have a nice few - Dönnhoff).

What has changed has been the opening of my eyes to other French and European regions and to a less extent the New World. I guess that at least 75% of my consumption comes from outside the regions which people took seriously in the 50s and early 60s, with special love for the Loire, Rhône, Piedmont and Tuscany.

I look forward to the wine experiences of other people.
Last edited by Tim York on Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:00 pm

I too could probably get going right now! Thanks for intro-ing this OM Ian, should be an interesting thread. We have some great palates here and folks with a ton of experience!
Will be fun to see what turned on forumites like David B, Bill Spohn, Bruce Hayes, Rahsaan, Jenise and Salil.

My memories go back to mother and her love for Rioja, especially Faustino. When at hotel school, I was into Volnay and Nuits St George but then discovered the (cheaper) Loire Valley whites and German rieslings. Burgundy no longer on my buying list but the other areas still up there. I still have my tasting books on hand so will be fun to go through them. Think I experienced a Lynch-Moussas at a junior Guild of Sommeliers tasting?
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Ian Sutton » Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:42 pm

Hi Bob
Might join you in a Faustino as their GR is only about £16 in a local supermarket.
regards
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Mark Lipton » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:49 pm

I'll jump in on this, too. Growing up in Northern California, I was naturally drawn in to trying the local wines first. My first big "Wow!" wine came in the form of a Sauvignon Blanc from Concannon in the Livermore Valley, probably from the '73 vintage. My next big "Wow" moment came from a Zinfandel made by Tom Dehlinger, probably the '76. From there, my obsession took root rather rapidly. In '81, I started working in industry and found a local wine shop that ran periodic tastings, so soon I was tasting current release Cabernets and ZInfandels with some regularity. From those, I discovered Caymus and Mondavi Reserve and Ridge's Geyserville and Lytton Springs Zinfandels (as they were then labeled). Of all those wines, I now only own the two Ridge wines, having drunk up the last of my Caymus and Mondavi Reserve in the last few years.

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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Sun Sep 30, 2012 10:55 pm

Mark, Sauvignon Blanc from Concannon was my first experience of Calif SB! So I can relate to that one...think they are still a fair producer eh.
Looking over my old cellar-book, my first Zin was from Pedroncelli. They are still available here in town.

http://www.pedroncelli.com/about/
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Loire

Postby Rahsaan » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:41 pm

Are we supposed to be posting TNs in this thread?

Not sure about that, but on the narrative front, I came into this hobby through the Loire. Literally.

At first it was from drinking Loire wines (mostly Sancerre) during high school, college and the post-college years when dining with my high school French teacher from Orleans. (Wine was never a part of family meals at home). Then during my first summer in grad school I studied French in Tours and had the great pleasure of diving into the broader Loire wines and that was also when my hobby/obsession began to take off, so the timing was fortuitous.

Plus it didn't hurt that the region was and still is in sync with my tastes.

Not sure of any particularly important wines though. Perhaps two that were most memorable from that summer in grad school are Breton Bourgueil and all of Puzelat. But I don't really buy much from either producer these days, mostly drinking chenin from the Loire at the moment.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Salil » Sun Sep 30, 2012 11:59 pm

Nice coincidence that this comes up now.

Just a few hours ago Jay Miller poured (blind) a 1994 Henschke Cyril Henschke Cabernet Sauvignon at a blind tasting. My glass was empty within minutes.

Not one of the specific wines that got me into wine, but I became a wine geek while touring through Australia's vineyards and experiencing some wonderful, well crafted and often very distinctive wines there (that are a far cry from some of the goop imported into the US.)

I still drink some of the old school Aussie classics like Brokenwood (one of the first wineries I visited) Semillon, Henschke (when the wines are more affordable/on close out), Mt. Langi Ghiran and Wendouree when I can. But it was nice to return to what was one of my very favourite producers once (before the prices shot through the roof in recent years and made the wines a senseless buying proposition), taste an older bottle and really, really enjoy it.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby David Cohen » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:31 am

Simple, some Cal Cabs but most specifically a gift of a half dozen Cakebread Cabs. I put them in the cellar and saw them change over a few years. Irony is that I have never bought Cakebread since and now find it in our Ontario stores at stupid prices for a regular wine.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Jim Grow » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:10 am

My introduction into wine came thru a full bottle of 1982 Special Select Late Harvest Riesling from Ch. St. Jean as a gift from my sister in 1983. The botrytis and clean cut of the wine fasinated me. I then bought many 1983 German Riesling, mostly Auslese, and delved into Scheurbe, Rieslander, Huxelrebe, etc. and more Cal. desert wines. My red wine epiphany came with a 1976 Ch, Montelena Zinfandel that was too cheap to resist in 1990 at $10. It was so smooth and complex it tasted like none of the other red wines I had dabbeled in. My main interest these days is Cal. Cabs. . Alsatian whites ,big Chardonnays and a smattering of Cal. Pinot Noirs, Bordeaux, Sauternes, Wash state Cabs/blends and German Spatlese and Kabinetts. Probably 85% of my cellar is made up of Ca. Cabernets.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby David M. Bueker » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:38 am

Two wines created the wine geek monster:

1992 Arrowood Merlot - "oh, so this is good wine!" Pretty funny that a mostly-Europhile like me got going with American Merlot.

1995 Selbach-Oster Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese - "wow, German wine is delicious!"

There are some other epiphany moments (e.g. a dinner at Maureen's where she opened a Bachelet AND a Truchot, the first bottles of Muller-Catoir and Donnhoff, etc.), and my crazy wine geek enthusiasm has cooled somewhat (I used to be even more into it than Salil is now). Overall my enthusiasm is at a sustainable level, rather than being something that nearly overshadows my life.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Jon Peterson » Mon Oct 01, 2012 10:39 am

A brief history of the highlights of wine and me:
1) My Dad's job was reason for he and Mom to entertain a lot and wine was often a part of those dinners while I was growing up. In other words, wine around the house was common when I was a kid.
2) Dad ordered a bottle of wine from the local wine shop in the early 1970s. The wine shop called when he was not home letting us know the wine had arrived so Mom went to pick it up. I remember Mom talking about how expensive the wine was and whether or not the shop got the order right but she bought it anyway: It was a Chateau d'Yquem from either 1966 or 1969. We all had a sip that weekend and it was a big deal as I recall. The wine was amazing.
3) When Liz and I were dating, I'd always buy a dry French Rosé and we'd have it with cheese and bread - sometimes that was dinner. (Except the time in 1975 I bought a 1964 Beaujolais because I thought older was better.)
4) In 1985, I tasted my first "serious" Cabernet from California. It was the 1984 Estancia (<$4/bottle). The shop owner, Jon Genderson of Schneider's of Capitol Hill, pulled it off the shelf and took me into a tasting room and opened the bottle. That, for me, started this affair with wine and it has been nothing but fun, adventurous, wonderful and fulfilling, not to mention leading me to a second career after my first retirement.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby alex metags » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:03 pm

Lived in California for a long time but never got into wine. Then moved to Japan and a friend visiting from California brought over a Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant as a gift. Really enjoyed it and reading the back label piqued my interest in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Rhône wines. I remember tasting through the Guigal lineup (CdP, Côtes du Rhône, Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie Brune et Blonde, Gigondas, Tavel) since they were widely available in Tokyo, but also many others from the region. The other epiphany wine, not that long after, was a Ridge Geyserville. Kind of funny that I had lived in Cupertino for quite a while, close to the Ridge Monte Bello winery, but had to move to Japan to be wowed by their wine.

Nowadays, I still enjoy Ridge Geyserville and Lytton Springs. Don't drink as much Rhône as before though, my limited wine budget being spent mostly on the Loire, Cru Beaujolais, Bordeaux and Madeira.
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Robin Garr » Mon Oct 01, 2012 1:49 pm

My two gateway wines were far from geek stuff:

1) Cheap Italian reds enjoyed at the homes of Italian-American friends in Brooklyn when I spent my teen summers working at NYC-region Boy Scout camps. It seemed really grown-up to get wine at family dinners. And the kids got theirs mixed half-and-half with 7-Up. :mrgreen:

2) I'll just come right out and say it: Taylor Lake Country Red. By this time I was legal and occasionally drank real Italian wicker-basket Chianti (without 7-Up) at Italian restaurants, and thought it was okay, but I could never figure out why it was sour and didn't taste grapey. Then I got some Lake Country Red and, whoa! IT WASN'T SOUR AND IT TASTED LIKE GRAPES! This was a big breakthrough for me, unaware that wine snobs considered "foxy" a bad thing. My wine geek ways came a few years later. :lol:
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Ian Sutton » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:54 pm

Seems like we're up and running already, so why not start the posting.

Yes, definitely post tn's whenever you're ready, the idea being returning to, re-discovering or just plain revelling (if you never stopped drinking them) in the wines that first sparked your interest. So current notes for sure, though if you have older notes to compare against a recent tasting of the same wine, that would surely be of interest.

Edited the initial post to wave the flag on a prompt start 8)
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Re: Open Mike (November) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:00 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:Hi Bob
Might join you in a Faustino as their GR is only about £16 in a local supermarket.
regards
Ian


You`re on, will look for something on Wed.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Tim York » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:40 am

Thinking more about my early days of wine drinking, I don't recall an epiphany moment with Bordeaux (claret). I just slipped into enjoying it quite naturally. My parents did not drink wine very often but, when they did, the reds were claret and my godfather whose brother was a wine merchant had some very nice ones in his cellar. When I was a student, a lot of people were interested in wine; the college cellars, mainly reserved for senior members, were usually well stocked with claret as well as port, sherry and hock and this set an example. Burgundy was less in evidence and indeed a lot of red "Burgundy" in the UK at that time had seen more Grenache than Pinot noir.

Yet, I did have an epiphany with Burgundy. Sometime at the beginning of the 60s, a friendly wine merchant, my godfather's nephew, kindly offered me a glass of Chambertin Cuvée Héritiers Latour 1947, which he did not list, saying "this is like nothing you've had before" and indeed he was right. Through the mists of time, I recall a blend of power, elegance and sensuality coupled with captivating flavours which I had never met before. The Burgundies which he did list were by no means up to that standard but the clarets, mainly his own bottlings, were pretty good, particularly the 1953s as were also the '53 hocks and Moselles (sic).

One of the features of wines of that calibre at the time was incredible cheapness by modern standards. Even as a student and then an apprentice professional, I was able to afford occasional bottles of "super-seconds" as they are now called and, two or three years later as a beginner professional, I was able to order them in Bordeaux restaurants (and I remember the '53s as wonderfully elegant).

During the course of this OM, I'll see if I can find something in my cellar which can replicate these memories. In Bordeaux, 1985 was a vintage of similar character to 1953 but they are now at a more evolved stage than in my heyday of drinking the 53s; maybe a 2001 Gruaud-Larose would do the trick if there is not too much wood, which was largely absent in those days.

As for Burgundy, I found a bottle of Chambertin Clos de Bèze 1997 from Rousseau the other day; almost at the same age now as that memorable Chambertin 47 was then from a theoretically superior grower but inferior vintage. But seen from the perspective of the 2010s that is a very "important" bottle usually reserved for a special occasion.

PS - YIKES, I've just discovered that Rousseau's Clos de Bèze 97 is quoted on Wine Searcher at prices upwards from €450.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Andrew Bair » Tue Oct 02, 2012 10:37 pm

The first wines that I remember liking when I was 23 and 24 were widely available brands like Rosemount Diamond Label Shiraz and Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon. They were a significant upgrade over the Paul Masson carafes that my folks used to drink when I was growing up. I also remember buying wines like Blackstone Merlot, Robert Mondavi Fume Blanc, Bogle Merlot and Petite Sirah, and Clos du Bois Chardonnay early on, some of which I liked better than others. Eroica Riesling was considered a treat, and I've certainly moved beyond that. One of my first attempts to trying an Old World wine saw me purchasing something labeled as "Marsanne Viognier", not having any idea that Marsanne was the name of a grape.

Eventually, I decided to take out some books on wine from the library that got me interested in trying some of the better known wines from around the world. One of those books was Liquid Gold: Dessert Wines of the World by Stephen Brook, which inspired me to really get into sweet wines of all sorts - Canadian icewines, obscure botrytis and Passito wines, and vins doux naturels, among others. There was a time in grad school when just about half of what I was buying and drinking was decidedly quite sweet. A couple of other books that furthered my interest and curiosity about new wines at this time were Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible, and Robert Parker's 6th Buying Guide. The Parker board in its heyday was also a great resource for me when I was just getting into wine - it even introduced me to Valtellina :D - and it's unfortunate how some things changed.

Oddly, Germany was one of the last major wine-producing countries that I bothered with. Then, an '04 Maximin Grünhauser Abstberg Riesling Spätlese changed everything... I just wish that I had bought more than one bottle of it way back when (okay, not THAT long ago).

Ultimately, I'm not sure that I would really find that much to enjoy with most of the wines that I first tried 8-9 years ago. And though I'd be glad to try more Canadian icewines sometime, I am afraid that they would now pale in comparison to some of the great German eisweine that I have had the chance to drink since then.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Bob Parsons Alberta » Tue Oct 02, 2012 11:01 pm

Great story Andrew and love the book/s reference. I have all my early book purchases still including>

The Great Wines of Burgundy. Hubrecht Duijker.
The Wines of Rioja. Same author.
Italy`s Noble Red Wines. Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Tim York » Wed Oct 03, 2012 12:24 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta wrote:Great story Andrew and love the book/s reference. I have all my early book purchases still including>

The Great Wines of Burgundy. Hubrecht Duijker.
The Wines of Rioja. Same author.
Italy`s Noble Red Wines. Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman.


Alas, I have mislaid/lost some of my original wine books, which did a wonderful job in whetting my appetite, even though they dealt with vintages which mostly were no longer available in my youth.

Vintagewise by André Simon (lost) - http://www.andresimon.co.uk/about_andre.html
Natural Red Wines and White Wines and Cognac by H. Warner Allen
Wines of France by Alexis Lichine
Notes on a Cellar Book by George Saintsbury (lost) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Saintsbury

Of the above, only Simon and Lichine were wine professionals. By present day wine writers' standards, Warner Allen didn't know much about wine but he wrote beautiful wine descriptions and had friends who treated him to wonderful old bottles including some from the 1860s and 1870s pre-phylloxera vintages.

Also, I remember some evocative wine enjoyment passages in the novel Brideshead Revisited written around that time by Evelyn Waugh.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Joy Lindholm » Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:39 pm

When I was in my early 20s, I drank what just about everyone in my local market starts with - California reds. I would also try a few French or Italian (basically whatever I could find for under $10 at World Market). At that time I knew nothing about wine, and thought it was ridiculous to spend more than $10 on a bottle, ever. :oops: What really made me take the leap into wine as a hobby was my first fine-dining restaurant job, and working under a Master Sommelier. He was very gracious and took a lot of time to teach me what I needed to know as a server with their (very in-depth) wine program. We would taste wine every day during our pre-shift meeting and talk about where it was from, how to taste, how to talk about it at a table. The wine list there was 98% European, and I fell in love with wines from the Loire, Piedmont, Southern France, Burgundy, Germany, etc. I never knew wine could have such depth and be so complex, which isn't surprising considering the plonk I had been previously exposed to. I think the single wine that captivated me the most in the beginning was (and still is) Riesling. We would do monthly tasting groups and try 6-8 different wines holding to a theme. The Riesling that caught me (and never let go) was the 2007 Joh. Jos. Prüm Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese. I love all types of Riesling, especially dry, but this one holds a special place.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby JC (NC) » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:18 pm

My love of wines began when I worked as a civilian at American military posts in Germany. My standard wine at the local Gasthaus within walking distance of my quarters was a Piesporter Michelsberg.
I will try to purchase a PIESPORTER GOLDTROPFCHEN to replicate (or improve) on that experience. I also developed a fondness for Dr. Fischer Ockfener Bockstein, Wehlenuhr Sonnenuhr, Urziger Wurzgarten wines from Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Erbacher Marcobrunn (Rheingau) and Liebfrauenstift Kirchenstuck from Worms (Rheinhessen) mostly at the Spatlese level. I also was able to afford some Auslese and Eiswein bottles. I came across an interesting article by Sally Easton, Master of Wine, on how Liebfrauenstift is trying to reclaim its reputation damaged by the widely labeled "Liebfraumilch." The Liebfrauenstift Estate (Valckenberg) is only 14 hectares and is working toward VDP status. I will also seek out a ST. URBANS HOF OCKFENER BOCKSTEIN to report back.

I lived in Maryland for three years after returning from Germany and took a noncredit class on wines at the University of Maryland Adult Education Center taught by Dr. Hamilton Mowbray, owner of Montbray Wines in Maryland. My epiphany in that class was a few sips of LE MONTRACHET! ordered accidentally when the professor intended to introduce us to Puligny Montrachet. I don't recall the name of the producer or the vintage and can't afford to replicate that sublime experience but have had tastes of Montrachet and Corton Charlemagne on other occasions.

After another tour in Germany I lived in California. My epiphany wines in that region were RIDGE LYTTON SPRINGS (still enjoy and will open one during this open mike) and SONOMA-CUTRER THE CUTRER (Chardonnay.) I don't know that the company still produces The Cutrer and I don't particularly care for Sonoma-Cutrer River Ranches or Sonoma Coast.

Riesling is still my favorite white wine grape along with white Burgundies and Pinot Noir is my favorite red wine grape. I would count as epiphanies my first two tastes of red Burgundy Grand Cru wines--an Alex Gambal BONNES MARES at a Nantucket wine festival and a Jean Raphet CLOS DE BEZE at a Raleigh wine shop tasting. Ditto a Dauvissat Grand Cru Chablis at a Raleigh restaurant. I do own another Alex Gambal Grand Cru (Clos de Vougeot) but don't want to open it yet.)

Getting into Burgundies and excellent Rieslings cured me of being satisfied with Mateus Rose'.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Ian Sutton » Wed Oct 03, 2012 2:41 pm

OK here goes.
Not a direct TN comparison, but very much in the style of the full on & oaked up Aussie reds that formed the start of my initial interest in wine back at the tail end of 1980s. I certainly remember buying the Wolf Blass yellow label and I'm sure a couple of the other baroque-labelled / colour coded wines. Thie particular label is a more recent addition. Other wines in the style included Wyndham Bin 444 and Bin 555, plus a very early taste of Penfolds Bin 389, Bin 28, Bin 707 and Grange (I recall thinking at the time £25 a bottle was an insane price, but actually fair enough for the intensity/complexity & sheer enjoyment of the wine in the glass).

So anyway here's the TN and the modern-day take on the style:

2002 Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon Grey Label - Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, Langhorne Creek (10/3/2012)
Tasted as part of a 'revisiting your wine drinking roots' exercise.

Deep, dark purple in colour without any hint of age emerging. On the nose, this is very much in the old school US oaked style. Sweet coconut oak (like a dark chocolate bounty bar) vie with surprisingly leafy blackcurrant fruit (with blackberry as well), that despite that leafiness clearly carries some richness, there's a pleasing touch of smoke/meat slowly emerging. This isn't so far removed from the style of the yellow label wine that was an early insight into Aussie reds. Yes it carries a bit more class, but it still drops it's h's.

On the palate the acidity is surprisingly punchy, but then when the rich fruit comes through you realise it's necessary. The intensity and richness of the fruit is indeed quite challenging, tannins are there but cowering behind the plush fruit, so they're barely noticed.

So do I like the wine now? Yes it's different, at least in the context of more recent wines I've tasted. That same charm that Aussie wines in the late 1980s/early 1990s brought to us is still there. It's flavour-packed and you're not fighting rough edges, though it's a wine that I find myself drinking slowly due to the intensity and richness.

I miss the subtlety and elegance that I've grown to enjoy more in other wines, but like a good old rock album, it's great to dust the cover off, and 'give it a blast' sometime. The dial certainly goes up to 11 on this one.
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Re: Open Mike (Oct & Nov) - Wines that got you into this hobby

Postby Jenise » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:33 pm

Oh this is going to be such fun!

I had a number of epiphany wines. Mateus rose, believe it or not, is the first wine I ever remember liking when it was served at my dad's home. It was a huge step up from the Annie Green Springs and Tyrolia I would get a guy who worked at a gas station to buy for me and my friends to drink while cruising Whittier Blvd. on Friday nights. By the time I was 19, I had a ten-years-older boyfriend who took me wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma. It was winter, rainy and cold, and the wineries in the pre wine-tourism days didn't have much traffic, so we were treated generously everywhere we went. I remember to this day some of the wines that stood out: Souverain chardonnay, Pedroncelli zinfandel, and Freemark Abbey and Sterling Winery Cabernets. We eventually married but didn't get into fine wine so much as he drank Jack Daniels and I ordered wine whenever we were out because I didn't like anything else. Five years later we divorced, and six years after thatr I married Bob whose salary so dwarfed mine that we essentially didn't need it, so I committed to spending my income on wine and food to impress him.

Things ramped up pretty quickly. A bottle of Montrachet on our honeymoon rocked my world like an earthquake. I loved chardonnay, but I had no idea it could taste like THAT. Shortly thereafter a bottle of either Haut Bailly or Haut Batalley fished out of a supermarket close-out bin turned Bordeaux from unknown into neccessity, and then we moved to Alaska where we met a couple on one of the flights north who insisted we should join this tasting group they met with once a week for a series of weeks, like a class, in the chilly backroom of an Anchorage liquor store called Trader Jim's.

The group was led by a local dentist and wine importer, and I quickly became a star pupil. I remember that the first 'class' I attended was a horizontal tasting of ten 1989 and 1990 California Cabernets, and from that I ordered a six pack of Caymus, which had been my favorite of the night, and which marked the first time I ever spent more than $30 for two or more of something. At the time that occurred, my reigning favorite Cal Cab was--get this!!!--Kendall Jackson. Just loved that big oak, and didn't know enough to realize this brand would be frowned upon by the type of person who was more accustomed to the Caymus level of wine than I was.

If I understand this exercise correctly, then, it's the KJ Cab at the top of my list of wines to go back to.

More soon!
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
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