White Flight

Tonight seemed like a fine night for tasting an assortment of white wines, and fortunately Brendan seemed to agree. He lined up a sweet night of Viognier and Pinot Gris, with an Albarino to finish. We had 10 wines, all of which were at least decent, and some of which were rather good. Since we were tasting three totally different grapes, we did the tasting in three chunks, starting with the Viognier, and I remembered to take tasting notes this time. Well, actually, Brendan handed out notecards, so it was hard not to. But you get the picture.

I’m listing the wines in the order we tasted them, and including my personal as well as group ratings, for general interest. In case you’re curious, we did the tasting blind, so we didn’t know what we were tasting and ranking until the end. As you can guess from my tags, I am not a professional wine taster, and I am transcribing my notes exactly as I wrote them, so…some things are a bit odd. I also included some choice bits from others.


2005 Foundry Viognier, South Africa
Nose: peaches, turpentine, vanilla
Tasting Notes: cream, lemons, limes, clay
Notes From Others: wild rice, nasturtiums, raspberry, “rusty garden hose”
Personal Rating: 2/4
Overall Group Score: 2/4

2005 Jean-Luc Colombo Amor de Dieu Condrieu, Rhone Valley, France
Nose: mossy, redwood, fungus, lemons, apricot
Tasting Notes: sweet, cream, vanilla, lemon, “girl at the bar wine”*
Notes From Others: white grape, “doily wine”
Personal Rating: 4/4
Overall Group Score: 3/4

2004 Pike’s Viognier, Australia
Nose: cat pee, poop, pears, something burnt, wet wool
Tasting Notes: mandarin, satsuma, tangy
Notes From Others: salami, latex
Personal Rating: 1/4
Overall Group Score: 1/4

2005 McNab Vineyards Viognier, Mendocino County
Nose: sweet, honeysuckle, satsuma, vanilla, peach, watermelon
Tasting Notes: lemon, peach, grapefruit
Personal Rating: 3/4
Overall Group Score: 4/4

Pinot Gris

2006 Huia Pinot Gris, New Zealand
Nose: honeysuckle, apricot, melon
Tasting Notes: honey, nutmeg, meyer lemon
Notes From Others: grapefruit
Personal Rating: 2/5
Overall Group Score: 2/5

2006 Greenwood Ridge Vineyards Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley, Mendocino County
Nose: honey, melon, white peach, papaya, mango, apricot
Tasting Notes: honeysuckle, papaya, citrus, yellow, dandelions
Notes From Others: cries from Brendan, Sven, and I of “Greenwood! This is the Greenwood! It’s the fucking papaya!”
Personal Rating: 3/5
Overall Group Score: 3/5

2000 Trimbach Pinot Gris, Alsace, France
Nose: apple cider, grapefruit, carrot greens
Tasting Notes: apple cider, honey, cinnamon, apple pie, lemons, vanilla, like making out
Notes From Others: “smells like the middle daughter of the Hapsburgs” “dried pear up the fucking shit creek”
Personal Rating: 1/5, and my personal favorite of the evening as well. Buy this wine
Overall Group Score: 1/5

2006 Chehalem Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon
Nose: fermented melon, lemon, summer river**, cream, bubblegum
Tasting Notes: sour apple, dirt, bubbles
Notes From Others: “woah, smells like alcohol”
Personal Rating: 5/5
Overall Group Score: 5/5

2006 Friuli-Isonzo Lorenzou Pinot Grigio, Italy
Nose: sparkles, lemons, cinnamon, honeysuckle, butter, azalea
Tasting Notes: honey, cream, bubbly, acidic, lime
Personal Rating: 4/5
Overall Group Score: 4/5

I am intrigued to see that the group ratings matched my personal ratings on the Pinot Gris. Most of us felt that the Trimbach was far and away the most outstanding wine in the Pinot Gris group, with some of us thinking it was the best of the night as well. We finished with the odd one out, the Albarino, just for fun.

2005 Nora Albarino, Spain
Nose: orange, sugar, honey
Tasting Notes: cream, eggnog, nasturtium, lemons

A pretty fun night with some great wines. The thing I love about these tastings is that they allow me to experience wines that I could never have for myself. There were a couple of $70 bottles in there, and my finances right now just don’t really logistically permit that kind of thing. Someday, I will start collecting wonderful wines, and I will accumulate quite a horde, I’m sure.

(Just in case anyone is curious about the state of my liver, I’m a spitter. Mmm. Spit. Although I did have a half glass of the Trimbach, because it’s just that good. And when I have a half glass of something, you know it’s good.)

*A girl at the bar wine is a wine which presents beautifully, with an alluring nose full of rich, sexy scent. When you actually take a sip, however, you are ultimately disappointed, just as you often are when you bring a hot girl home from a bar.

**”Summer river” is also an official tasting term. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of swimming in the river on a summer day, think of bay steeping in warm water, hints of redwood notes, warm sun on sand.