Bentleigh Tasting Group – Napa Valley Tasting

In my recent exploits attempting to gain employment back home in Melbourne I trialled at the now 18-year-old Punch Lane Wine Bar & Restaurant. The venue is a staple in the city centre, having been an early proponent of the now famous lane way culture here. Whilst here I met with James Dossan, a certified sommelier originally hailing from Sydney, who is managing this venue. James runs a monthly tasting group for friends who are in the industry, which includes sommeliers and wholesalers alike. Each of them has is or will study wine and thus the tastings are designed to improve everyone’s skills in analysis. A theme is chosen and each member brings a bottle to be tasted blind.

The theme for my first occasion was the Napa Valley, a region which I of course visited in October of 2011. There is a limited amount of wine from the Napa that gets brought into Australia so sourcing was somewhat of an issue. This probably contributed to the fact that there were two bottles that were the same wine, and also three were not even from the Napa Valley. Regrettably most of the wines didn’t show the region in the best light, but in fairness I didn’t leave the region with the most favourable of opinions myself. There is a lot of wine coming from this incredibly over-planted region, the vast majority being either woefully commercial or heavily over-worked in the cellars. There are some gems to be found though…

Wine One
Very bright intense blackcurrant slightly leathery, on the maderised end. Exceptionally hot, very forward on the palate, very little restraint or elegance.
Linnaea Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon  2008 (Howell Mountain AVA)

Wine Two
Chocolatey leather red dusty vanilla, raspberry liquorice. Overworked oaky hot middle palate, micro-oxidised. Leathery chewy tannins but still supple. Long.
La Jota Vineyards Merlot 2009 (Howell Mountain AVA)

Wine Three
Dirty dusty funky earthy spicy, completely hidden fruit. Slightly more balanced alcohol and oak. At least it’s a bit more interesting. On the wild side.
Phillip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (St Helena AVA)

Wine Four
Very closed reductive rubbery leathered oak. Feeling hot hot hot, jubey juicy broad fairy floss. Reasonably supple.
Hyde de Villaine ‘Belle Cousine’ 2008 (Carneros AVA)

Wine Five
Really closed earthy oak, very very brooding. Alcoholic but seamlessly long, exceptionally well-balanced and complete, no donut whatsoever. Perfectly integrated oak, just a bit young and exuberant at the moment.
Linnaea Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Howell Mountain AVA)

Wine Six
Pork rinds, fat, sweet cola, dark plummy fruit. Soft subtle bold quite simple quaffable.
Hyde de Villaine ‘Californio’ Syrah 2008 (Carneros AVA)

Wine Seven
Dirty dusty earthy plummy juicy. Quite dumb, broad, simple, uninspired.
Ridge Geyserville 2006 (zinfandel carignane petit sirah mataro, Sonoma Dry Creek AVA)

Wine Eight
Buckwheat, brown rice. Super locked up intense grainy. Clumsy tannins.
Chateau St Jean Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Sonoma Valley)

Wine Nine
Plummy juicy jubey fat broad. Hot maderised watered down, at least ten years old.
Raymond Cabernet Sauvignon 1995 (Napa Valley)

Wine Ten
Toasty earthy crunchy meaty. Powerful expressive earth. On the simple side.
Voss Zinfandel 1994 (Alexander Valley AVA)

The line up of wine

The line up of wine

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