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30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Vertical on the Roasted Slope

In wine-tasting language, "vertical" and "horizontal" have nothing to do with the position of the taster or the glass. These handy terms simply offer a shorthand way to explain the selection of wines chosen for a structured tasting:

  • A horizontal tasting features a number of related wines all chosen from the same vintage. A selection of 1982 Bordeaux, for example, or a group of 1997 Napa Cabernets, would be a "horizontal," allowing the taster to compare and contrast similar wines grown in the same year.

  • A vertical tasting, on the other hand, offers a selection of wines from the same winery or region, all grown in different years. This is one of the most educational tasting formats because it offers the opportunity to taste the effects on wine caused by weather, growing conditions and changes in wine-making style over time, as well as demonstrating how wines change as they mature.

I had the rare opportunity to enjoy a vertical tasting of Domaine Ogier Côte-Rôtie at the "MoCool" offline gathering of Internet wine lovers over the weekend in Michigan. This tasting, with the winery's Stephane Ogier on hand to discuss his wines, featured all the Ogier bottlings from 1988 through 1999; it was said to be the largest formal tasting in history for this sought-after Rhone property.

Côte-Rôtie - literally "the roasted hillside" - is one of the most celebrated sections of the Northern Rhone. Its wines, made almost entirely of Syrah, sometimes with just a dash of white Viognier to give zippy acidity to the blend, are among my favorite Rhones.

Domaine Ogier is one of the newest wine estates in the region. Although the Ogier family has grown grapes in the region for generations, Stephane's father, Michel, began to sell his own wines commercially only about 15 years ago. In that short period, Domaine Ogier has become known, according to the critic Robert M. Parker Jr., as "an unheralded source of profound Côte-Rôtie."

Because of its minuscule production - the family owns just 6.5 hectares of vineyards and only 2.5 hectares (a little over 6 acres) in Côte-Rôtie - Ogier wines, unfortunately, are hard to find. If you're desperate to try some (and if you're lucky enough to live in a state or region that permits Internet wine buying), you might look for an online vendor at

I have included brief notes on two Ogier wines below. For my full report on the Ogier tasting including notes on all the wines, click to For details on all the MoCool tastings (and a form to sign up for an E-mail list to be notified about next year's gathering), see

What's your take on Côte-Rôtie - or vertical tastings? If you would like to comment on this week's subject, you're welcome to post a new topic on our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, Or write me at I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll respond to as many as I can and do my best to address specific questions. Please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.

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30 Second Tasting Notes:
Two from Ogier
Michel Ogier 1998 Côte-Rôtie
With its big and open aromas of smoky bacon, pleasant "barnyard" and fresh black fruit, this robust wine stood out from its siblings in the vertical tasting. The flavors are consistent with the nost, big and appealing. It invites gulping ... but you really should take the time to savor it.

Michel Ogier 1998 "La Rosine" Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes Syrah
From a vineyard adjacent to Cote-Rotie but outside the appellation, this qualifies only for the Vin de Pays designation, but it could have fooled me with its Cote-Rotie-like character. Dark ruby in color, it shows peppery, smoky black fruit on the nose and palate, ripe and structured. It's excellent with a long-braised lamb shank.

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30 Second Administrivia
This free E-mail publication is distributed to subscribers every Monday, and our daily Wine Advisor Express is E-mailed Tuesday through Friday. Previous editions are archived at

You are on the subscription list because you registered during a visit to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page. To change your E-mail address, switch from the weekly (Mondays only) to daily distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail And of course we welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. We do not use this list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail to anyone.

All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.

More time for wine?
You don't need to wait for Mondays to read about wine! Drop in any time at the Wine Lovers' Page,, where we add new tasting notes several times each week and frequently expand our selection of wine-appreciation articles, tips and tutorials. If you'd like to talk about wine online with fellow wine enthusiasts around the world, click to our interactive, international Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forums,

Vol. 3, No. 32, Aug. 27, 2001

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