Archive for the ‘Tasting Notes’ Category

I must say, 2010 was a banner year for G. Sheaves.  2008 was pretty awful, 2009 was a year of stasis, but 2010 has been onward and upward – lots of new experiences and people made for a year truly worth remembering.  For those of you who have read On The Wall since it began this summer, I hope you’ve learned a little and had as good of a wine drinking year as I have.  I pledge to make a greater effort in 2011 to bring you more on the best wine in the Twin Cities.

I decided to look back through my 2010 wine journal and crunch the numbers a bit.  I wanted to get a better sense of what I was drinking, what I liked, and how I should plan my 2011 wine purchases accordingly.  I totally agree with Leslee Miller’s new year’s wine resolutions – let’s see if I can make a few of my own.

This surprised me.  I thought Italy would far and away top every other country in 2010.  But as it turned out, I drank alot of California wines this year.  Resolution #1) drink more wine from that list of “Others” that made up 28.1%.  This is especially true about Portugal, Spain and Australia, where there are alot of good values to be had.  The USA’s 32.7% of my consumption this year is probably due to my efforts to drink more local wine. I drank alot of MN wine this year and was pleasantly surprised with its level of quality – and I think you will be as well, provided you know which ones to buy (more on this in the months to come).  This diagram also shows that I have trouble drawing France.

(The size of the grape name is generally proportional to how many I drank.)  Holy cow, I drank A LOT of Riesling this year!  I’m talking more than twice the amount of the runner up grape, Sauvignon Blanc, and almost three times the amount of the most frequent red, Sangiovese.  It’s interesting that, even still, Germany was only my 4th most frequented country.  I drank Rieslings from California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Canada, France, Austria, Australia, and yes, a bunch from Germany.  The top three grapes are pretty similar: light, acidic whites.  Resolution #2 – there are alot of great grapes I shyed too far away from this year (Tempranillo, Torrontes, Nebbiolo, Chenin Blanc).  Try to even things out in 2011.    

Well, I drank alot of 2007s this year.  Not much I can resolve to do there, since I don’t have the luxury to be a cellar-dweller.  So, I spent a little more than 4% of my pay on wine (though this doesn’t count bottles as gifts and with dinner in restaurants, so it’s probably closer to 5%).  I suppose that’s reasonable.  I’d like to see a Spanish region crack that top 10 list for 2011 – and Bordeaux didn’t make the cut?  Strange.

Mainly, my wine resolution for 2011 is to share it with friends more often.  2010 was a tough year for a lot of my friends, and some of them aren’t quite out of the weeds yet.  My horrible 2008 was made tolerable with the support of friends, and I resolve to be ready with an ear and a glass for anyone who needs it in 2011.  Cheers to a great new year and thanks for reading!

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I have a love/hate relationship with Pinot Noir.  Other than Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s probably no tougher grape to find reliable versions of under $20.  It’s so finicky in the vineyard that expert cultivation requires more attention to detail than a library full of Where’s Waldo.  Burgundy in this price range?  Forget it.  Oregon Pinot at $15?  Not happening.  There are some good California ones to be had – Mark West is the most reliable cheap Pinot.  But I find myself going back to New Zealand to find super-underrated gems.  I humbly submit the 2007 Saint Clair Vicar’s Choice Pinot Noir from Marlborough as the most complex and interesting one i’ve had all year.  It’s not a timid rose-water Burgundian Pinot, nor is it a super smooth raspberry California Pinot.  It almost has a flavor profile more akin to Cabernet Franc.  It’s one worth pondering [and definitely worth gifting].  Pick it up at Surdyk’s for $17.99.

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I picked up the 2007 Tierra Alta Reserva Carmenere [$16.99 at Surdyks] a couple months ago and drank it with friends around a bonfire.  I saw it in Surdyk’s online catalog with a review by their wine associate Terrence French [read his review].  I believe Mr. French and I were on the same wavelength with this one, though I found it to be much more vegetal tasting than he did [he found a hint of bell pepper, I found an entire patch].  Blackberries, fig and chocolate are all common descriptors of the grape, and I agree with all of them in this bottle.  Carmenere, in general, deserves a serious look from the red wine drinker who wants a wine with some guts, but doesn’t like choking on CabSauv tannin.  There is alot of good Carmenere to be had in the $10-20 range, this is no exception.

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From the gsheaves tasting notes journal.  Get this semi-Chablis at Surdyks [$11.99]

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