WHAT: The 8th Annual MOtown Co-Operative Off-Line Tasting
WHEN: Sometime in August 1999
WHERE: The Ann Arbor - Detroit, Michigan, area
WHO'S WELCOME: YOU! -- if you're a wired wine lover!
MoCool 1998: Final Report
You might want to bookmark this page for early announcements about plans for next year's gathering, which will be posted here from time to time; or use the submission form in the column at left to place your name on the MoCool '99 E-mail list.
Meanwhile, here's the final tasting report on MoCool '98; following the notes you'll find some summary information about MoCool, and links to tasting reports from previous events.
Thursday Night 'Warmup'
A sizable crowd gathered on a perfect summer evening to enjoy the hospitality of Gary Kahle's spacious deck, and his excellent grilling; and just about everyone brought "interesting" wines, most of which wouldn't fit the "North America - Anything But California" theme of the organized MoCool weekend.
Without further ado, here are the tasting notes, with the usual caveat that a social gathering (in growing darkness) with food and friends at hand doesn't lend itself to analytical tasting.
St. Francis 1996 Pagani Vineyard Sonoma Valley Zinfandel - Inky dark reddish-purple. Big berry fruit, brawny and deep, blackberries and tart acidity. A superb Zin and a world-class wine, even to a not-particular-Zinfan like me.
St. Francis 1996 Sonoma County "Old Vines" Zinfandel - Dark reddish-purple, almost black. Rather shy blackberry fruit aroma; big, powerful and tart flavor.
Domaine de Pegau 1995 Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Clear, dark garnet. Red fruit aromas, fresh and appetizing but a little tight. Full, multi-dimensional, showing substantial potential, but much more closed up than most of the '95 Chateauneufs I've tasted this year. U.S. importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va.
Chateau de Lancyre 1995 "Grande Cuvee" Pic Saint-Loup - Dark ruby color. Red fruit and delicate "garrigues," the characteristic herbal aroma of Southern France. Bright and juicy flavors follow the nose. An excellent wine, further evidence that the Coteaux du Languedoc can produce wines of significant potential. U.S. importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va.
Domaine Sainte-Anne 1996 Cotes-du-Rhone (100% Viognier) - Pale straw color. Light, pleasant floral scents and a whiff of hay. Fresh and juicy fruit, soft at first, with crisp acidity on the finish. U.S. importer: Kent Beverages Co. Inc., Wyoming, Mich.
E. Guigal 1996 La Doriane Condrieu - Pale straw color. Peaches and wildflowers on the nose, delicate and appealing. Crisp and tart flavor, consistent with the nose. U.S. importer: Classic Wine Imports, Boston.
Vendanges de Soleil non-vintage Coteaux d'Aix en Provence Rosé - Very pale salmon color. Delicate herbal aromas; dry and crisp flavor. Perfect summer sipper. U.S. importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va.
Thunder Mountain 1996 Matteson Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay - Hazy bright brass color. Odd but intriguing aromas, green peas, honey and mint. Big and rich, pineapple and mixed citrus flavors, long and rich. Idiosyncratic to the max, but delicious.
Ernest and Julio Gallo 1996 Estate Bottled Northern Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon - This is the controversial high-end Gallo Cab, with a startling "suggested retail" price around $60, but actually competitive at its usual street price in the $40 range. Very dark garnet, with deep but shy aromas of blackcurrant and mint. Structured and balanced black fruit flavors over firm tannins. Excellent wine, needs time in the cellar.
Domaine Jean Deydier et Fils 1978 Chateauneuf-du-Pape - Clear dark ruby. Earthy old-Rhone nose, black fruit with nuances redolent of "chicken manure," but within acceptable bounds for a 20-year-old Chateauneuf. Absolutely delicious old-red "sweet" fruit on the palate, full and long, very much alive. Bought at auction, no importer's label.
Grangehurst 1994 Stellenbosch (South Africa) Pinotage - Inky dark reddish purple. Pleasant earthy aroma, the characteristic "paintbox" of Pinotage. Full and juicy flavor, soft at the start and tart on the finish; a bit one-dimensional but a pleasant introduction to Pinotage. U.S. importer: Fairest Cape Importing and Distributing Co., Long Beach, Calif.
Kenwood 1984 Jack London Vineyard Sonoma Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Opaque garnet color, almost black, brownish at the edge. Strong black-coffee aroma, characteristic of older California Cabernets. Flavors consistent, black fruit and earthy notes. Still quite tannic, raising some question whether the tannins will resolve before the last of the fruit fades.
Thunder Mountain 1995 Beauregard Ranch Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon - Notes quite consistent with my last tasting of this wine on June 6: Very dark reddish-purple. Ripe black-cherry fruit, dark chocolate and mint aromas. Bright, tart fruit over a firm acidic structure; marked tannins present, but the forward fruit rides over them, making the wine delicious now.
Chateau L'Arrosée 1983 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe - Very dark ruby. Ripe, luscious fruit, subtle earthy notes and leather. Mature, but in no danger of going over the hill. Very nice!
Chateau Moulinet-Lasserre 1982 Pomerol - Dark garnet. Black fruit and leathery "barnyard" aromas. Ripe fruit and lemon-squirt acidity on the palate, tastes much younger than the earthy aromas suggest. U.S. importer: Nor-Glo Import Co., Atlanta.
Chateau Clerc-Milon 1985 Pauillac - Dark garnet. Considerable "barnyard" on the nose, but it's good barnyard, evoking memories of country lanes on summer nights, with ripe black fruit showing behind it. Flavors consistent with the nose, juicy, tart and long. I wouldn't hold this one a whole lot longer, but it's delicious now, one of the top wines of the evening. U.S. importer: The Stacole Co., Inc., Boca Raton, Fla.
Chateau Palmer 1966 Margaux - Dark garnet. Blackcurrant and lovely bookbinder's leather aromas. Full, bright, complex. At its peak but probably has another decade or more of life. Beautiful.
Chateau Margaux 1966 Margaux - Hazy dark purple. Funky, mushrooms, forest floor and black fruit aromas. Sweet fruit flavor, long and deep, showing its years but wearing them well.
Chateau Tayac 1982 "Prestige" Cotes de Bourg (from magnum) - Slightly hazy dark garnet. Black fruit and caramel aromas; tart, juicy black fruit flavors, fresh and surprisingly youthful. Stylish wine, though it probably suffers unfairly in proximity to the Clerc-Milon, Palmer and Margaux. U.S. importer: Hand Picked Selections, Warrenton, Va.
Raymond 1994 "Generations" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Very dark reddish purple. Black fruit and spicy oak, pleasant enough, but, as with the Tayac only more so, seems one-dimensional and disappointing after the cascade of excellent Bordeaux.
Smith & Hook 1981 Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon - Very dark reddish-purple. Black currant and chile-pepper aromas; dark chocolate and plummy fruit on the palate. Simple, forward, surprisingly youthful.
Heitz Cellar 1994 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon - Inky dark garnet. Oaky vanillins and black fruit on the nose and palate. Juicy, tart, balanced but hardly complex.
Huber Winery 1997 Indiana "Autumn Frost" - Made from late-harvested Vidal grapes "in a traditional ice wine style" (pressed from grapes frozen in a commercial freezer), this is a surprisingly credible ice wine from Southern Indiana: Clear, pale straw color, with perfumed fruit and aromatic pine aromas with a whiff of butterscotch, and an unctuous texture, honeyed apricots and a whiff of botrytis, full and long.
Friday: Dinner at Morels
Morels, "A Michigan Bistro," a stylish eatery in a suburban office building on Detroit's Northside, lures MoCoolers annually, not only because Executive Chef Andrew Barnett puts together excellent American cuisine (and sizable portions) but, even more important, because it's Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon's venue, and Madeline is probably one of the top wine people in the U.S. -- knowledgeable, possessed of a sterling palate, and best of all, the antithesis of the traditional wine snob.
Madeline chose a dozen "Anything But California" wines -- four each from Oregon, Washington and Michigan -- and Andrew came up with courses to match. Here's the report:
Reception: Wine Bar (with appetizer mini-slices of Margherita, white shrimp and chicken barbecue pizza):
L. Mawby non-vintage Leelanau Peninsula (Michigan) Sparkling Wine - Pale straw color with a lasting stream of pinpoint bubbles. Yeasty apple aroma, and a crisp, creamy and clean flavor. Impressive bubbly, more than a match for the California model if not the French. (Cuvee includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Vignoles.)
Ponzi 1997 Willamette Valley (Oregon) Arneis - One of the few U.S. renditions of this Piemontese grape, it's a pale straw color, with delicate floral aromas (sort of like Viognier turned down low), and a tart, fruity flavor with a good bitter-almond finish.
Woodward Canyon Winery 1996 Washington Chardonnay (magnum) - Pale gold. Spicy candy-apple aromas; crisp, full and almost obnoxiously oaky, at the expense of fruit. Too much wood for me.
Veramonte 1996 Casablanca Valley (Chile) "Primus" Merlot - No, it's not from North America, but Madeline says she couldn't resist throwing it in because it's one of the best value Merlots she's found. Dark reddish-purple, with delicious, ripe black-cherry aromas and tart-sweet fruit, juicy and fresh. Good quaff.
Kiona 1995 Washington State Lemberger - This unusual red-wine grape (no kin to Limburger cheese) makes a grapey, light wine somewhat in a Beaujolais style. It's a clear dark garnet in color, with a burst of tart cherries on the nose and palate. Fresh, bright, invites gulping and goes very nicely with the pizzas.
L'Ecole No. 41 1995 Columbia Valley (Washington) Cabernet Sauvignon - Dark garnet. Blackcurrant and dark-chocolate aromas; loads of fruit and oak, tart acidity and substantial tannins. I'd liken it to Silver Oak and note that it sells for half the price. Accessible now, but time is on its side.
First course: Roasted butternut squash soup with ginger creme fraiche.
L. Mawby non-vintage Michigan Cremant Brut - I think I like this even better than Larry's excellent Talisman bubbly. Pale straw in color with pinpoint bubbles, it's biscuity and toasty with a whiff of yeast. Tart and creamy on the palate, clean and crisp, it's very pleasurable and balanced and speaks with a distinct French accent. (Cuvee: 100 percent Vignoles.)
Chateau Grand Traverse 1996 Michigan Dry Riesling - Pale straw color, tiny bubbles on the glass. Soft and light, doesn't seem to show much structure at first, and the curry flavors in the soup overwhelm it. As it warms in the glass, though, it starts showing much more character and form, dry and ripe, with a pleasant bitter finish.
Second course: Duck tamale with roasted garlic, white corn and chevre polenta.
Archery Summit 1997 Oregon "Vireton" - Clear straw color. Melon fruit aromas, soft and off-dry on the palate, crisp and tart in a long finish. A blend of Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, it's reminiscent of Caymus "Conundrum" but without the complexity. Works nicely, though, with the slightly spicy duck tamale.
Adelsheim 1995 Seven Springs Vineyard Polk County (Oregon) Pinot Noir - Dark ruby, with intriguing aromas of black cherries and pumpkin-pie spice. Juicy and tart, a little "green." Good balance and structure, but a little closed and tight.
Principal course: Prime beef Wellington with wild mushroom duxelles and cracked-pepper Bordelaise.
Peninsula Cellars 1995 Leorie Vineyard (Michigan) Merlot - Madeline calls this the best Michigan Merlot, but to be blunt, Michigan red wines still have a long way to go. Very dark reddish-purple. Acetone and veggies aromas, strong on the asparagus. Black fruit and tart acidity in a lean, green flavor.
Chateau Ste. Michelle 1995 Columbia Valley (Washington) Syrah - Dark reddish-purple with a day-glo edge. Black pepper and jammy blackberry aromas; pepper, fruit and lemon-squirt acidity on the palate. An oddball take on Syrah, but pleasant enough.
Dessert: Warm Michigan apple pie and caramel ice cream.
Saturday: Picnic at Joel's
Saturday's gathering, by many standards, is the centerpiece of MoCool. Sprawling inside and out into the yard around Joel and Sally Goldberg's lovely home in suburban Ann Arbor, the event lured a crowd of well over 100 this year, and according to one count, at least 170 wines were available for the tasting. Most held to the theme, "North America, Anything But California," but a few ringers turned up from the Golden State as well as other world wine regions. Naturally, all were welcome.
The event was long on wine tasting, great food and socializing, short on formality, although the group did enjoy meeting a few "ABC" wine luminaries including Michigan wine maker Larry Mawby, Ontario wine maker Sal D'Angelo, and Michigan State University wine-and-grape researcher Dave Creighton.
The wine list this year reached the point where it was simply impossible for one taster, no matter how obsessive, to review them all. I managed to take notes on 60 of them, making a particular effort to catch as many of the Eastern and Midwestern U.S. wines as possible, at the significant cost of missing a lot of the fine bottles from the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. If anybody looking on has notes on MoCool wines that I've missed here, please send them to me by E-mail, and I'll gladly add them to the archive.
Spartan Winery (Michigan State University Test Lab) UCD Clone 15 Chardonnay - Very pale straw color. Ripe apple aroma, delicious fresh fruit flavor, clean and tart. Zero oak, and needs none.
Leelanau Cellars 1996 Leelanau Peninsula Michigan Manitou Reserve "Tall Ship" Chardonnay - Pale gold, with pleasant apple aromas and good Chardonnay fruit well integrated with subtle oak. Nice!
Chateau Grand Traverse 1995 Old Mission Peninsula Michigan Reserve Chardonnay - Pale gold color. Ripe apple and pineapple aromas and spicy oak; ripe tropical fruit and oak flavors.
Chateau Grand Traverse 1993 Bay Vineyards Michigan Johannisberg Riesling - Light brass color. Good piney-petrol Riesling aromas and flavors; crisp, barely sweet, with fresh-fruit acidity to balance.
L. Mawby 1995 "Simplex Munditis" Old Mission Peninsula Michigan Pinot Gris - Pale gold, with pleasantly funky melon aromas and flavor, tart and crisp.
L. Mawby 1997 Leelanau Peninsula Michigan Vignoles - Pale gold, delicious peach aromas carry into a long, crisp and dry flavor.
Shady Lane 1995 Leelanau Peninsula Michigan Dry Riesling - Very pale greenish-gold, with a faint piney aroma and tart, fresh fruit flavors. Pleasing, simple.
Chateau Chantal 1994 Old Mission Peninsula Michigan Brut - Pale straw color with a faint salmon hue; fat bubbles dissipate fast. Tart-sour, crisp, acceptable bubbly.
Chateau Chantal 1997 Old Mission Peninsula Michigan Select Harvest Riesling - Very pale straw color, with faint peach aromas. Soft, sweet, innocuous.
D'Angelo 1996 Ontario Marechal Foch - Dark reddish-purple, day-glo bright. Juicy, jammy red fruit, fresh and ripe, particularly impressive for a French-hybrid red.
Vineland Estates Winery 1997 Ontario Rosé - Clear, pale pink with a light berry scent. Tart, juicy berry fruit, almost sour.
Vineland Estates Winery 1996 Select Late Harvest Ontario Vidal - Bright gold, with a luscious honey and apricot flavor, suggests botrytis although the experts say the "noble rot" is rare with thick-skinned Vidal. Deep and rich flavor, sweet and shimmering, remarkable length.
Trius 1995 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay - Clear gold, oak and apples, very woody.
Harrow Estates 1995 Lake Erie North Shore Ontario Cabernet Franc - Clear ruby. Earthy, weedy aroma and jammy fruit flavor, clean and tart.
Southbrook Farms 1995 Ontario Cabernet Franc - Dark ruby. Sulfury red-fruit aroma; soft and juicy on the palate, turning sour in the finish.
Southbrook Farms non-vintage Ontario Framboise - Inky dark purple, delicious ripe raspberries on the nose and palate, sweet and strong.
Fulkerson 1996 Finger Lakes New York Diamond - Made from a rarely seen native American grape, this watery pale wine shows the expected grape-jelly "foxy" quality of the genre, but it's incredibly well made, perfectly expressing the nature of the grape. Juicy, grapey, fruity and fresh, taking a sip is exactly like biting into a fresh table grape.
Wagner 1988 Finger Lakes New York Johannisberg Riesling - Pale bright brass color. Fresh, tart Riesling fruit, holding up very well.
Hermann J. Wiemer 1996 Finger Lakes Dry Johannisberg Riesling - Pale greenish-gold, good Riesling petrol aroma and aromatic pine. Dry and tart flavors, a little short.
Hermann J. Wiemer 1995 Finger Lakes Semi-Dry Johannisberg Riesling - Pale straw color, pine and petrol. Good, balanced sweet-sour flavor, long and lasting.
Pellegrini Vineyards 1995 North Fork of Long Island New York Cabernet Franc - Dark reddish-purple, with perfumed fruit and floral aroma notes. Ripe, juicy fruit and lemony acidity on the palate. Fine wine.
Paumanok 1995 North Fork of Long Island New York Tuthills Lane Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon - Very dark reddish-purple color. Bitter chocolate over weedy fruit aromas; lean and tart, balanced flavors. Good Eastern red.
White Winter Winery non-vintage Wisconsin Black Mead Honey and Black Currant Table Wine - Clear dark garnet. Jammy raisin aromas; soft and sweet-sour flavor, fruity and intense. Interesting, could pass as a grape wine.
Markko Vinyard 1975 Lake Erie Ohio Markko Red - Hazy reddish-amber. Sherrylike and maderized, not surprising after 23 years, but, remarkably, still showing ripe sweet-fruit flavors.
Terre Vin non-vintage Sycamore Mist - Made in Indiana from Finger Lakes Vignoles fruit. Pale gold in color, with a pleasant aroma of peaches. Off-dry flavor, simple, sweet and tart.
Huber Winery 1996 Indiana Heritage - Clear dark ruby. Perfumed red fruit aromas and flavor, ripe and tart. A blend of Chancellor and Chambourcin, exceptionally stylish for a hybrid red.
Huber Winery 1997 Indiana Seyval Blanc - Pale straw color; absolutely delicious grapefruit and peach aromas and flavors, fresh and crisp, just off dry, with a pleasant prickly petillance on the tongue. Excellent, wins raves as one of the top French-hybrid wines of the day; it's so good that one Eastern-wine expert finds it hard to believe that it's all Seyval and all home-grown Indiana fruit.
The Russell Family non-vintage Massachusetts Red Currant Fruit Wine - Clear rosy-orange. Clean fruit and sweet-tart flavor, clean and long. Could possibly pass as an idiosyncratic dry table red.
Horton Vineyards 1996 Orange County Virginia Norton - Inky dark reddish purple. Jammy red-fruit aroma with some spicy oak; tart-sour flavor, loaded with fruit.
Horton Vineyards 1993 Orange County Virginia Cabernet Franc - Dark reddish-purple. Oaky vanilla and ripe red fruit. Flavors follow the nose, aromatic and "sweet," seems younger than a '93. Very nice.
Horton Vineyards 1995 Orange County Virginia "Dionysus" - Purportedly Horton's high-end proprietary bottling, an odd blend of the Portuguese Touriga Nacional (77%) and Tinta Cao (13%) with Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), but I find it odd and dissatisfying. Very dark in color, it's ripe and juicy, but a significant wallop of sulfury "rubber tire" is a near-fatal flaw.
Horton Vineyards 1997 Orange County Virginia Late Harvest Viognier - Pale straw color. Lovely floral aromas, classic Viognier. Full, sweet fruit flavors with piercing acidity to hold it in balance.
Broad Run Vineyards 1993 Jefferson County Kentucky Cabernet Sauvignon - Clear ruby with a marked amber hue. Blackcurrant and sherry notes on the nose; juicy currant fruit and markedly herbaceous veggie flavors. Seems heat-damaged, not nearly as good as my last tasting of this estate-bottled Louisville-area wine.
Broad Run Vineyards 1995 Jefferson County Kentucky Chardonnay - Pale-gold in color, with good apple flavors and an overtone of musky melon. Similar on the palate, tart and full fruit, unoaked; good wine, but the un-Chardonnay-like musky qualities suggest that the offbeat Chardonnay Musqué clone may be in play here.
Gulf Coast non-vintage American Mississippi Muscadine Wine - Clear bright gold, "foxy" grape-jelly aroma and flavor, sweet and full.
St. Innocent 1993 Seven Springs Vineyard Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir - Dark ruby with an amber hue. Nice earthy and sour-cherry Pinot aromas and flavors, good balance and finesse. This is the wine I choose to go with the roast lamb for dinner.
Starr 1995 Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir - Dark ruby color. Good earthy and tart-cherry Pinot on the nose and palate.
Bethel Heights Vineyards 1995 Willamette Valley Oregon Pinot Noir - Hazy ruby color, with nice tomato-skin and Pinot fruit aromas; full and ripe, juicy and tart. Very fine Pinot.
Domaine Drouhin 1996 Oregon Pinot Noir - Dark reddish-purple, with pleasant black-cherry and tomato-skin aromas; fruity and tart flavors, but I'm looking for complexity and failing to find it.
Dundee Springs 1994 Oregon Reserve Pinot Noir - Dark ruby color. Big Pinot fruit aromas, black cherry, smoke and tomato-skin. Balanced and structures, flavors follow the nose. Impressive.
King Estate 1995 Oregon Reserve Pinot Gris - Pale straw color, with attractive melon fruit and oaky vanillins on the nose and palate. On the woody side but full-bodied and ripe, makes a good accompaniment to the roast turkey on the picnic buffet.
L'Ecole No. 41 1995 Columbia Valley Washington State Merlot - Very dark garnet. Black cherry and weedy green aromas; flavors consistent with the nose, vegetal black fruit.
DeLille Cellars 1992 Chaleur Estate Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc - Hazy dark purple. Pruney fruit and slightly dank aromas; woody and tannic, lots of fruit, but overall, an awkward and inelegant wine.
Leonetti 1996 Walla Walla Washington State Merlot - A cult wine, its opening inspires a near-riot, but I'm not sure I get it. Inky dark reddish-purple with black fruit and vivid oak aromas and flavor, full and intense but far from subtle.
Quilceda Creek 1994 Columbia Valley Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon - Another "cult" item, dark reddish-purple, weedy red-fruit and oaky vanillins; quite "green," but full and complex.
Quilceda Creek 1992 Columbia Valley Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon - Quite similar to the above, showing greater intensity and a better balance of fruit against green weedy flavors and oak.
Columbia Crest 1995 Columbia Valley White Riesling Reserve Ice Wine - Pale gold color, good aromatic, piney Riesling aroma; syrupy sweet, good acidic balance.
Llano Estacado 1996 Texas Merlot - Dark garnet, pleasant aromas of blueberries and vanilla. Soft, fruity, simple, good quaff.
Messina Hof non-vintage "Papa Paulo" Texas "Port" - Clear, dark reddish-amber. Odd weedy-veggie aromas don't evoke a Port-like style, but it's better in the flavor department, ripe and sweet red fruit, full-bodied and warm.
R. W. Webb Winery 1992 Arizona Petite Sirah - Hazy reddish-purple, amber at the edge. Pruney, sherrylike, with lots of sweet fruit behind the maderized flavors, reminiscent of a cheap domestic "tawny port."
Monte Xanic 1995 Valle de Guadalupe Mexico Cabernet Sauvignon - My first exposure to this well-reputed red from Baja California left me disappointed. Very dark garnet, it shows very vegetal green-pepper and spicy oak aromas, and a very tart and astringent flavor. There's plenty of fruit, but it's neither stylish nor balanced.
Terra Vin 1996 Napa Valley Reserve Red Table Wine - Dark garnet. Black fruit aromas and flavor, intense and multi-layered.
White Cottage 1995 Howell Mountain Zinfandel - Hazy dark garnet. Deep and brooding blackberry fruit, full and intense.
Thelema 1998 Stellenbosch South Africa Sauvignon Blanc - Pale straw color. Citrus and markedly "catty" aromas, the way I like 'em. Full and tart flavors follow the nose, very nice.
Champagne Jean Laurent non-vintage Blanc de Noirs Brut - Pale gold, with a lasting stream of bubbles. Lovely perfumed aroma, and a crisp and full flavor, clean and delicious. Very fine bubbly.
Chateau de Fesles 1996 Bonnezeaux les Deux Allees - Clear bright gold. Delicate, layered fruit aromas, tobacco leaf and mint. Honeyed flavor, unctuous and remarkably complex, full and long. Amazing wine.
Castello Banfi Poggio All'Oro 1990 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - Inky dark purple. Rich and ripe black fruit, balanced but tightly wound. Excellent wine, needs cellar time.
Sunday: Ice Wine Brunch
Guest speaker Sal D'Angelo, owner and wine maker of D'Angelo Estate Winery in Amherstburg, Ontario (on the North Shore of Lake Erie south of Detroit), gave an excellent tutorial on Canadian late harvest and ice wine production, along with a warning to U.S. wine makers that the Canadian wine industry has acquired a patent on the traditional ice-wine method and intends to enforce trademark protection against wineries that use "ice wine" to describe commercial wines that don't meet the Canadian standard for sugar content or production -- i.e., no wines made from grapes frozen in commercial freezers may use the name.
The wines were poured from wrapped bottles so participants wouldn't know which wine was in which glass. A flight of five Select Late Harvest Vidals from Ontario were rated against each other; then nine ice wines, tasted in two flights, were rated against each other in separate competition.
The following notes are presented in the order of my preference within each of the two categories. With one or two exceptions, my preferences were consistent with the group's, as noted below. Prices shown are for 375 ml bottles in U.S. dollars.
Konzelmann 1995 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Late Harvest Vidal ($12) - Clear straw color, with pleasant scents of apricot, mint and orange peel. Sweet and citric, excellent balance. My rank: 1, group's rank 2. My score, 89/100, group's score 87.4.
Stoney Ridge 1996 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Puddicombe Vineyard Select Late Harvest Vidal ($14) - Bright brass color. Very fresh and ripe, peaches and apricots. Grapey,, sweet, almost "foxy." My rank: 2, group's rank 1. My score, 88/100, group's score 88.8.
Reif Ontario Select Late Harvest Vidal ($15) - Bright gold. Lovely honey and apricot aromas, but a plastic, synthetic-chemical note is offputting. Ripe, full and sweet. My rank: 3, group's rank 4. My score, 85/100, group's score 83.8.
D'Angelo Ontario Select Late Harvest Vidal ($10) - Pale brass color, with a light, piney scent. Tart, citric-sweet tangerine flavors. My rank: 4, group's rank 5. My score, 81/100, group's score 81.8.
Henry of Pelham Ontario Special Select Late Harvest Vidal ($13) - Clear brass color. Soft, faint aroma. Soft and juicy fruit, simple and short. My rank: 5, group's rank 3. My score, 77/100, group's score 86.4.
Konzelmann 1996 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Riesling x Traminer Ice Wine ($40) - Bright gold, with delicious honey and apricot aromas, balanced and appealing. Unctuous flavor, good balance of sweet and tart, lingering. My rank: 1, group's rank 3. My score, 93/100, group's score 88.8.
Inniskillin 1996 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Vidal Ice Wine ($35) - Bright greenish-gold. Excellent scents of strawberries and tangerines. Good sweet and tart flavor, full and long. My rank: 2 (tie), group's rank 1. My score, 92/100, group's score 89.9.
Stoney Ridge 1996 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Gewurztraminer Ice Wine ($35) - Clear greenish-gold. Lovely apricot and mango scents; luscious, almost syrupy, with good acidic balance. My rank: 2 (tie), group's rank 2. My score, 92/100, group's score 88.9.
Konzelmann 1996 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Vidal Ice Wine ($35) - Clear gold, with a ripe candy-apple and piney aroma; very sweet, with crisp acidity to back it up. My rank: 4, group's rank 4. My score, 87/100, group's score 88.4.
Thirty Bench 1992 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Riesling Ice Wine ($35) - Pale gold, with intriguing tropical-fruit aromas, figs and dates and banana (!) leading into a fripe and rich flavor, consistent with the nose and very long. Some call it oxidized, but I like it, making it one of the few wines in the flight in which my score differs significantly from the group. My rank: 5, group's rank 9. My score, 85/100, group's score 77.9.
D'Angelo 1996 Lake Erie North Shore Ontario Vidal Ice Wine ($30) - Clear gold, mango and pine aromas, clean and fresh; sweet and syrupy on the palate, a little on the soft side. My rank: 6, group's rank 5. My score, 84/100, group's score 88.2.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 1995 Finger Lakes New York Johannisberg Riesling Ice Wine ($40) - Clear brass color. Faint, citric flavor, pleasant but slight, touched with a whiff of acetone. Unctuous, toothache sweet. My rank: 7, group's rank 6. My score, 83/100, group's score 87.2.
Reif 1996 Niagara Peninsula Ontario Vidal Ice Wine ($30) - Bright gold. Earthy and melon aromas and a whiff of caramel. Sweet, one-dimensional. My rank: 8, group's rank 7. My score, 79/100, group's score 85.7.
Chateau Chantal 1995 Old Mission Peninsula Michigan Riesling Ice Wine ($55) - Clear brass. Faint, shy strawberry nose, with an odd and unpleasant hint of sauerkraut. Tangy, odd flavor, one taste doesn't invite a second. My rank: 9, group's rank 8. My score, 67/100, group's score 82.4.
The 7th Annual MOtown COoperative Off-Line, the world's longest-running gathering of wired wine lovers, took place on the weekend of Aug. 21-23, 1998.
MoCool 98's theme was North American ABCs -- our way of saying "Anything But California". We spent the weekend together with wines from Oregon, Washington, New York, and Canada, along with some of the finer bottles from other stops across the continent.
WEB SITES: The "official" MoCool site is graciously sponsored and maintained by Robin Garr from his Wine Lovers Page. You'll find the most recent MoCool information and prior-year tasting notes at: http://www.wine-lovers-page.com/mocool
An "unofficial" MoCool page is run by Kim Adams and Geo T. of Detroit's Gang of Pour tasting group. Lots of photos and irreverent first-hand reports will regale you at: http://gangofpour.com/mocool/mocool.htm
MoCool is a non-profit, non-commercial event, organized since 1992 by a volunteer group of net-wired wine lovers in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area. Our goal is a non-snobby, cooperative, affordable weekend for wired wine fans -- and those just learning about wine -- to enjoy wine, food, and each others' company.
Joel, for the MoCool bunch: