Wine Tasting and IRL Meetings
Being in the wine world but not in the service end of things means that many of the industry people I meet I meet online. Social media keeps me connected with wine writers, winemakers, and many other people in the wine industry without having met them IRL (In Real Life). We often revel in the IRL meetups on press trips and at conferences.
I had one of those IRL meetings in February when I attended a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo tasting here in Las Vegas. For several years, I have been following and adding to a FaceBook group called “Friends Who Like Wine in the Glass.” Steve and Vashti Roebuck host this page. At the tasting, I ended up sitting next to Vashti. It seems crazy that even though we live in the same town (well, if you consider Vegas a town), we had never met in person. We enjoyed the time tasting and getting to know each other a bit. We promised to stay in touch.
Vashti reached out to me a few weeks ago to invite me to a tasting that she and Steve were hosting, and I gladly said I would love to attend.
This tasting was held at the Total Wine at Town Square Las Vegas, with about 20 people in attendance. Steve selected the wines, and Ronald, of the Total Wine Staff, talked us through each wine.
The selection was anticipated to be a Spanish Line up, but, looking through the wines, Steve chose a different direction. Eight wines were on the tasting lineup, and each was set up for a side-by-side tasting of similar variety wines from 2 different regions.
I will dig into the background of these wineries (you know that’s what I like to do!)
Iugiter Les Notes White Wine 2021 Priorat, Spain
We began with Spanish white wine, the Iugiter Les Notes 2021 from Priorat.
Priorat is southeast of Barcelona, 18 miles from the Mediterranean sea. Located in the mountains, the steep vineyards are protected from the sea air as well as from the winds from the Ebro Valley.
Wine in this region began in the 12th century with the Carthusian Order of monks. The early 20th century saw a decline in wine in the region. The late 1970s saw a movement back toward wines in the region, and then in the 1990s, René Barbier and some friends kicked off a real resurgence in the area. In 2009, Priorat was elevated to a DOQ (or DOCa), only the 2nd in Spain.
This is an unforgiving land with steep slopes and rocky soils of llicorella, a decomposed slate flecked with mica that breaks easily, and a climate that is continental with long hot summers and little rainfall.
The Iugiter Les Notes White Wine was 80% Garnacha Bianco. You might be more familiar with this grape by its French name Grenache Blanc. Iugiter is a special label created by the boutique winery La Conreria d’Scala Dei, established in 1997 by winemaker Jordi Vidal and two friends. I wrote about another of their 2nd label wines a few years ago.
Priorat: Medieval Monks, Modern Rebirth, and Outstanding Wine from Spain
The La Conreria winery is located near the monastery of Scaladei. They have 52 hectares that are either leased or owned, with parcels in the Coastal, Terrace, and Plains areas that are between .3 and 4.5 hectares. Annually they produce 130,000 bottles.
My notes on this wine:
Dry, high acid with notes of tart fruit, lemon pith, and unripe stone fruit with a medium plus finish.
Abv 13.5 SRP $33.99
Other articles by CGC on this region
Priorat DOQ in Spain’s Cataluna region and Franck Massard’s-2015 “Humilitat”
Domaine Présidente Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc 2021
The 2nd wine was the Dom Presidente Châteauneuf du Pape 2021 (CdP) from the Southern Rhône Valley in France. This wine leads with Grenache Blanc but at just 45%, followed by 25% Clairette Blanche, 20% Roussanne, and 10% Bourboulenc.
This is a family estate in the Rhône Valley near Avignon. They have over 100 hectares in the Côtes due Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Villages, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Cairanne appellations.
The history of Domaine Presidente begins in 1615 when Alexandre de Galliffet, who owned the property, became the President of the Provence Parliament. He planted vineyards here and named the property “La Présidente.”
Time passes, as do the owners of the property, until in 1968, the Aubert family purchased and grew the estate.
The grapes for the Châteauneuf du Pape Blanc are grown on 3 of the 20 hectares the family owns in the commune of Bédarrides. This wine matures in new barrels for a short time.
This CdP was softer than the Priorat white on the nose. The fruit here leaned more to stonefruit. The nose has floral notes and something like fresh-cut wood. It was zippy and refreshing but less acidic than the first wine, the blend had complexity and the aging in wood allowed the flavors to integrate well.
Abv 14% – SRP $39.99
If Bourboulenc intrigues you…here is an article we wrote on one from Tablas Creek
Domaine Trouillet Pouilly-Fuisse 1er Cru Chailloux 2020
The second set of tastings was of Chardonnays. The first from Bourgogne, a Domaine Trouillet Pouilly-Fuisse 1er Cru Chailloux 2020.
This fourth-generation estate has 20 hectares currently, increased from just 4 hectares when Jules Guérin began. They now have plots in Pouilly-Fuessé, Mâcon Solutré, Saint Véran, Pouilly Loché, and Pouilly Vinzelles.
This 100% Chardonnay comes from a plot of 1.65 hectares where the vines are about 60 years old. This is in the Aux Chailloux Premier Cru in the Mâconnais, where the soils are silty clay. They vinify without sulfur in French oak, 30% new, and age 1 year in barrel on the lees, then 6 months in stainless steel.
With pleasant warm gold tones in the glass, this wine had notes of tart peach and unripe stonefruit. There were definite notes of oak and a bit of jasmine. There was an interesting sweetness to the nose that a woman sitting near me described as “cotton candy.”
Full in body but not heavy, this wine was soft and integrated on the palate.
This wine is 13.5% abv SRP $46.99
Baldacci Chardonnay Carneros 2019
The other wine in this section of the tasting was a Baldacci Chardonnay Sorelle 2019 from Napa Valley.
Tom Baldacci drove by an old house and farm that looked like it needed repair, with aged vines and views of the Stags Leap District. In 1998 they founded Baldacci on this property. Today, Michael Baldacci, Tom’s son, is in charge of the winemaking and vineyards.
They are working toward Organic Certification and hope to have that later this year and work hard on sustainability, especially with water usage.
The Chardonnay for this wine comes from the Carneros District of the Napa Valley from their Honey B Vineyard. Close to the San Pablo Bay, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir thrive in this cool region.
This wine was brighter than the Puilly-Fuisse, and oakier. This wine melds stone fruit with citrus and pear, with a creamy note, like lemon curd.
14.5% abv – $46.99 SRP
Next, we were on to Pinot Noir. The first from Marsannay in Bourgogne, France, from Dom Derey, and an Anam Cara Pinot Noir called Nicolas from the Chehalem Mountains in the Willamette Valley of Oregon (I am a sucker for the Chehalem Mountains)
Domaine Derey Marsannay Les Vignes Marie 2019
This family has been growing wine grapes in this region since 1650, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that brothers Albert and Maurice founded the Domaine Derey estate. In the 2000s, the next generation took the helm with Pierre and his wife, Susanne. They prepared this Domaine for the next generation. Derey Frères is now represented by the 6th generation with Maxime, Romain, and Pierre-Marie.
Their 20 hectares of vineyards lie between Dijon and Gevrey-Chambertin, in various “climats”. They expect to be certified organic for the 2023 harvest.
This Pinot Noir is from a .5-hectare property in the villages of Marsannay and Couchey. The vineyards include plots in Crais, Herbus & Verdots with soils predominately clay with limestone and marl.
80% of the grapes are destemmed, and the grapes are gently pressed. They age for 12 months in neutral oak.
Red cherry, spice, and earth
SRP $49.99 13% abv
Ronald also had a bottle of the Dom Derey that was 2021. It was so different from the 2019, brighter and decidedly more fruit-forward with lighter tannins.
Anam Cara Pinot Noir Nicholas Estate, Chehalem Mountains, Willamette Valley 2021
Nic & Sheila came to Oregon in 2001 and turned a nut and fruit orchard into the Nicholas Vineyard. Sheila is from Scotland, and the name “Anam Cara” is Celtic for “friend of my soul.”
They sit just north of the 99W in the Chehalem Mountains AVA. Soils here are Loess with some bits of Jory soil. 25 of their original 27 acres are planted to Pinot Noir with Dijon Clones, 114, 115, 667, and 777. The other two acres are Riesling and Gewurztraminer.
They added 6 more acres in 2008 planted biodynamically. Here they have Riesling, Chard, and Pinot Noir in Wadenswil, Pommard and Dijon clone 113.
All the vineyards are farmed organically, but they have sold all but 6 acres, although they still purchase fruit from the original property.
The 2021 Nicolas Estate Pinot Noir is Mostly Wädenswil with some Pommard and Dijon clone 113. It sees 21% New French Oak.
This bottle was bright with raspberry and a pinkish-magenta watery rim. This had firmer tannins than the Bourgogne. I got floral notes, like rose petals.
SRP $44.99 14.7% abv
While we have not visited Anam Cara, we have enjoyed quite a bit of Pinot Noir in Oregon. You can visit our page on Oregon Wines for more links and details.
The last two wines were Bordeaux-style blends.
Echo de Lynch-Bages Paulliac 2019
The first is a second label for Lynch-Bages in Pauillac, on the left bank of Bordeaux. Lynch-Bages is a well-known producer, and their first label can be difficult to get your hands on. This second label has the feel of the estate, with lighter tannins (from my understanding, I have not tasted Lynch Bages).
Lynch-Bages sits at the entrance to Pauillac in the Médoc region of the Bordeaux left bank.
If Lynch doesn’t sound very French, well, that would be the Irish side of the original family. The Lynch-Bages vineyard was part of the 1855 Cru Classé. The vineyard changed ownership in 1939 when the Cazes family took over.
They have a beautiful map illustrating their vineyard locations here.
There is a story behind the name of this second label. It is based on the nymph named Echo, who distracted Hera so that Zeus could play around with some beautiful woman. When Hera figured this out, she decreed that Echo would never speak first but would always have the last word. Hmmm…appropriate.
They describe this vintage as having a mild winter with a very hot summer.
The blend is 53% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Cabernet Franc. (So left bank, but Merlot driven). It aged 1 year in one-year-old barrels.
Deep and rich in color with a very thin rim, this wine was lush with dark fruits tempered with the brightness of raspberry. There are notes of dried herbs and grasses, seasoned wood, and something savory.
14.5% abv – SRP $59.99
Domaine Chappellet Signature Cabernet Napa 2019
Our last wine was a Meritage blend from Napa Valley, California. This Domaine Chappellet Signature Cabernet Napa 2019 comes from the Pritchard Hill Vineyard. This high-elevation vineyard is in the Vaca Mountains near Lake Hennessey.
This wine began with a cool wet winter and spring. Budbreak was delayed and then the vines shot up with a full canopy that they thinned. This vigorous growth meant that they dropped quite a bit of fruit.
The blend is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon (in Napa, if a wine is more than 75%, one variety, it can be varietally labeled.) The remaining includes 12% Petit Verdot, 8% Malbec, and 3% Merlot.
The first thing that hit my nose was a note of anise, followed by dark fruit, black currant, cherry, cocoa, and spices, including cardamom and nutmeg. There are notes of coffee, tobacco, and a bit of dust and herbs.
14.5% abv – SRP $79.99
How to find Steve, Vashti and Friends Who Like Wine In The Glass
It was a lovely evening, with lively discussions all around.I encourage you to join Steve and Vashti in their Facebook Group Friends Who Like Wine In The Glass.
You can find their site online at https://wineintheglass.com/
Robin Renken is a wine writer and Certified Specialist of Wine and WSET 3 Certified. She and her husband Michael travel to wine regions interviewing vineyard owners and winemakers and learning the stories behind the glass.
When not traveling they indulge in cooking and pairing wines with food at home in Las Vegas.
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