The July tasting was a comparison of sparkling wines from three states in the union, with a broad array of flavors and styles. Tasters were pleased about the wines, as they showed remarkable diversity, and overall high quality. Every bottle received at least a few points.
The winner was a consistently excellent bubbly from California, but not far behind was the bottle from southern Massachusetts, showing complex aromatics and great balance.
Brian and Nancy were excellent first time tasters, with uninhibited commentary that provided for an superb night of wines.
First Place: Roederer Estate Brut Non-Vintage (Anderson Valley). Tasters found sweet nut, cheese, anise, praline, earwax, and wax crayon aromatics. David noted "red fruit in the background". Tasted of rose petals, fennel, mushroom, red grapefruit, pumpkin pie, allspice, and molasses. Complex, with a layered finish, almost syrupy. David thought it was "most improved" of the night. This was Nancy and Andy's favorite of the tasting, but was the second favorite for everyone else. Received 28 points. Ali's bottle. About $20.
Second Place: Westport Rivers Westport Brut 2003 (Southeastern New England). Yellow in color. Complex scents of brioche dough, golden raisin, prune, honey, orange blossom, candied ginger, Meyer lemon, tawny port, hot pavement, cat pee, and red fruit. Ali noted "Path station in Hoboken", but David thought it was "pretty". Granny smith apple and honey flavors. Smooth in texture, with tart finish, but still with everything in balance. Long. Brain, David, and Kristin's favorite of the night. Received 25 points. Brian's bottle. About $24.
Third Place: Piper Sonoma Brut Non-Vintage (Sonoma County). Intriguing nose of dirty sponge, wet dog, mushroom, minerals, latex, forest floor, meat, and Elmer's glue. Andy found "dried old milk". Tasted of apples, smoke, hazelnuts, and honey. Darker profile on the end. Ali said it was "just about what i expect a sparkling wine to be", and David hated the rubber flavor. Lingering finish that featured wild berry flavors. Ali gave this her top vote. Received 17 points. Nancy's bottle. About $19.
Domaine Carneros Brut 2004 (Napa Valley). Brighter, with aromas of urine, rhubarb pie, pie crust, rubber track, cranberry, lemon, bacon, and grass. Nancy noted "dentist office", while Kristin said it "smells like pizza to me". Sour entry, featuring grapefruit, sour milk, and tonic water, but with noticeable minerality. Kristin found "high fructose corn syrup", and Andy said, "I don't trust it". Received 9 points. David's bottle. About $22.
Gruet Brut Non-Vintage (New Mexico). More lively bubbles, with cherry, candied apples, butterscotch, cleanser, bread, band aid, and watermelon Hubba Bubba scents. David thought it was "neutral", and Andy felt it was "more about the texture than the flavor". Lemon and cement flavors. Brian felt that it "lingers on my palate, but not in a pleasant way", and Ali thought it was "dead". Received 3 points. Andy's bottle. About $15.
Domaine St. Vincent Non-Vintage (New Mexico). Almost pink/platinum in color. Andy noted that it "smells like a hefeweizen", with lemon, banana, and yeast on the nose. Andy found "lemon lozenge", and Nancy noted "car exhaust". Very yeasty, on the palate, exhibiting tangerine and cream flavors. Andy felt that it was "not the most interesting man in the room", and Nancy described it as an "orange that was picked too early". Andy liked the neutrality of it. Received 2 points. Kristin's bottle. About $10.
Hartley Ostini Hitching Post Santa Rita's Earth Pinot Noir 2003 (Santa Rita Hills).
This wine's nose exhibited burning leaves and cola scents that were echoed on the palate. Cola, prune, black olives, Dr. Pepper, coffee, mint, and black pepper flavors. David felt that it was "perfectly mature". Excellent balance. From David's cellar. About $22.