I tasted a Napa Valley Pinot Noir along side a Bordeaux Pinot Noir to see if I could see some of the differences. I noticed the French Pinot Noir to be a little lighter while the Napa Valley one smalled and tasted fruitier.
While researching the same question, I came upon a website with the following information:
The red Burgundies were easily distinguished from the others by their comparative leanness of style and complex layered flavors and aromas. Most New World Pinot Noirs seduce the palate with a barrage of deliciously explosive fruit. Other aromatics and flavor components are perceived almost like a footnote.
The red Burgundies we tasted were more refined and lighter on the palate, although no less tasty. Tasters’ comments on the New World examples tended more to generalities such as rich, bright, clean, fresh, chewy; the French examples tended to elicit more focused descriptors such as mint, pepper, cherry cola, mushroom, cinnamon, flint, vanilla. We found more to notice, enjoy, and discuss in the French examples.
However, there was a huge surprise in store when the identities of the wines were finally revealed. The top scoring wine of the event was not French! Are New World wineries finally beginning to approach the lofty standards of red Burgundy? We’ll address that issue in our next article, along with individual reviews of all the wines tasted.
Read more at Suite101: Red Burgundy vs. NW Pinot Noir: New World Winemakers have Optimal Vineyard Sites, 46 Clones of the French Grape, and excellent Wine Production Techniques but will it Win the Taste Test?
Now that I feel I’m starting to gain a larger appreciation for wines, I felt it necessary to go back to the basics. I wasn’t sure exactly where to start, and I’m still not that sure, but I decided to start somewhere. And that was with a book: Kevin Zraly’s Window’s on the World Complete Wine Course: 25th Anniversary Edition
That said, if anyone can recommend another book to help me down this adventure, I am definitely open for suggestions.
I plan to start with wines from far off places before ending up back in California, even though that might not be the order suggested by the book. This way I can really enjoy the easy access to those Californian wines, seeing as I live in the Bay Area.
For lunch/dinner (or something in between based on the time of day), we went to Los Olivos Cafe, a very popular spot as it turned out. It’s not hard to see why it was so popular. Besides having become famous in the movie Sideways, the food and wine selection were also great.
My favorite part, although the whole meal was delicious, had to be the Cafe Baked Brie. We’re talking about Choice Brie and Honey Roasted Hazelnuts in Cinnamon Puff Pastry with Port Syrup. WOW!
2 vineyards and a great meal–we’re definitely satisfied.
The Brander Vineyard was very nice and its smaller scale very inviting. I was a little less impressed with their wines; however, I realize that some of my opinion could be altered because I had already had a bit to drink by this time.
They did have a couple Sauvignon Blancs that were very nice.
These two wines were probably my favorites from our tastings at Firestone.
The 2008 Sauvignon Blanc reminded me of passion fruit (along with many other summer fruits). But being someone who loves the smell and taste of passion fruit, I was sold on this wine the second I tried it. Perfect for a hot sunny day and it definitely makes you bend at the elbow!
The 2005 Late Harvest Reisling was also a fun dessert wine. The look and smell makes me think of honey straight away, and it even has a bit more of a viscous feel when tasting it. The trick now is to find the right kind of dessert to complement this very sweet Riesling. Also to note, it makes sense that a late harvest riesling would be sweeter because the grapes had a longer time to ripen and become sweeter–more sugar!
The Firestone Vineyard is a big, nice vineyard just outside of Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County. The service was friendly, the wines were good, and the atmosphere nice (especially given the rather hot temperatures outside today).
If you’re looking for a big vineyard feel and not too expensive of a tasting, this might be a nice place for you.
I haven’t posted since the end of our wine tasting class in late May at Stanford, but I decided it’s time to post a little more consistently when I find wines I like, etc. So, here I am this labor day weekend in Santa Barbara and am about to go wine tasting today. Selfishly, this blog also makes it easy for me to keep track of wines that I’m tasting and that I’m enjoying for future reference (that is of course with a little help from the trusty iPhone).
The current plan is to go to Los Olivos in Santa Barbara County.
1999 Bollinger La Grande Annee
Now, this is a fancy bottle of wine– somewhere around $110.
94 points Wine Spectator: “A beautiful Champagne, from the complex floral-, coffee- and brioche-scented nose to the graphite, vanilla and citrus flavors. Light-weight and intense, with a lively structure and a long, lingering finish. Drink now through 2018.” (11/07)