Last weekend was the 2011 Livermore Barrel Tasting weekend. It was a very enjoyable time sampling upcoming releases as well as tasting current vintages. The rainy weather must have kept some people away as the crowds were on the lighter side on Saturday.
The wineries I tasted at were:
The 2010 Pinot Gris, Buttner Vineyard, barrel sample was quite nice. It had a good viscosity with lovely pear, white flower and apple flavors/aromas. The wine is being stirred every two weeks to help develop the mouthfeel. The wine will be bottled in May.
The 2009 Tempranillo, Raboli Vineyard, was a bit lacking in the mouth. The aromas were of classic Tempranillo — red fruit and spice.
Of the current vintages, the 2008 Malbec and 2008 Cabernet Franc were both quite good. I would recommend that go and try them.
Page Mill Winery:
Page Mill’s barrel tastes were both quite good: Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. The Petite Sirah was a classic example of dense, chewy, blue/black fruit bomb in your mouth with very solid but fine grained tannins. The Petite Sirah is a must try if you go to Page Mill.
I also tried some of the existing vintages. The chardonnay was not remarkable. The other wines were fairly good — worth trying. The people working in the tasting room were a lot of fun!
Darcie Kent (produced at Concannon) & Concannon:
Concannon is the oldest winery in Livermore. They are known for their Petite Sirah and have championed it for over a hundred years. Barrel samples were from Darcie Kent: Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. The barrel samples were fairly good. It was very interesting to try the same wine but in different barrels (some new, some once used and one neutral). All of the grapes are from the Livermore valley yet the wines were reminiscent of El Dorado Zinfandel and Napa Valley floor Cabernet Sauvignon.
The current vintages were all good examples of the respective varietals at nice prices. If you are looking for value wines, I would suggest that you check out Concannon’s portfolio of wines. You will not be disappointed.
Stony Ridge / Crooked Vine Winery:
The wines all showed a bit of brett contamination in the barrels. The wines were not very good. The winery site would be a good place for a picnic.
Steven Kent & La Rochelle:
The best wine that I tasted during the day was the 2009 Four Sisters Vineyard Pinot Meunier. It is a great example of Pinot Meunier (normally used in making sparkling wine). The futures price is $38 or $30.40 for 6 or more bottles. If you have never tried a Pinot Meunier, you really should stop by La Rochelle and give it a try. It will be worth your time to make the trip.
The wines were not particularly good. They made quite a few sweet wines / pseudo-ports. The wines were super sweet, the fruit flavors tended toward the overly ripe and the alcohol was not well integrated. I can not recommend Cedar Mountain.
This is a small winery who were tasting two variations of the same syrah. The wine was alright but nothing to go out of your way for. They did have some very yummy brushette to have with the syrah. It was a good combination.
Big White House & John Evan:
The winery tasting room was packed. The wines were ok — some good, other not so good. I did notice a hint of Brett in some of the wines. I am rather sensative to Brett. I get concerned about winery when several of their wines show Brett. The tasting room would be a fun place to go with a group of people if you are wine drinking instead of wine tasting.
We ended up tasting at McGrail Winery. The Rose barrel sample was pretty good — Grenache. If would be worth your while to give it a try. The Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends were both good — not outstanding but enjoyable. Several of the wineries tasting staff suggested McGrail. I did not get to taste any of their current vintages which was unfortunate. If you tasting in Livermore, make it a point to stop by McGrail winery.