Barrel Samples

If you have ever been wine tasting, you may have had a chance to taste wines right out of the barrel.  It’s a lot of fun.  I have been lucky to taste wines out of the barrel several times.

Wine barrel sampling
Wine barrel sampling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the Napa Valley Wine Auction, they have a barrel auction.  People go around a massive tent and barrel sample.  As they taste, they bid for a case of wine.  When I did this I got some from Cuvaison and it held up wonderfully.

One time, I sampled a 1994 Caymus Special Select from the barrel.  Old Charlie Wagner siphoned me a glass.  It was amazing then, and once bottled was truly an all time great wine.

Yesterday, we did some tasting up in the Dry Creek Valley.  We went to an old favorite, A. Rafanelli.  They have one of the most beautiful vineyards you’d ever want to see.  I posted some photos on Instagram.

We stumbled across this winery 20 years ago during the crush.  Got on their mailing list and have been buying wine ever since.   Yesterday, we tasted their Cabernet, and got re-acquainted.  Their wines are unfined, and unfiltered.

One tidbit of information that is being repeated over and over again; 2012 is going to be a blockbuster year in California.

We drove up the road to a newer winery.  Zichichi.  It was started by a New Orleans physician.  This is where we barrel sampled.  Their wines are fined and filtered.  An interesting contrast to Rafanelli wines which are made a mile or two down the road.

They have an old vine Zin which from the barrel tasted fantastic.  I think it will come together to be a great wine.

On the way to dinner, we stopped by a new tasting room in Healdsburg.  If you ever come here, you ought to try it.  Sanglier Cellers is an interesting wine operation.

The manage vineyards, and they make limited quantities of wine.  Their rose hit the spot on a hot evening.  We also tasted, and bought, a Syrah wine that didn’t taste like it was from California at all-it smelled and tasted like a Chateau Neuf from the south of France.

I asked the wine maker if they were unfiltered and unfined.  He said some of their wines are, and some aren’t.  Just depends on the vineyard and wine, and what they are trying to do.

The most important thing about wine is to make it fun.  Don’t be intimidated.  Figure out your price point, match food to wine and go from there.  It doesn’t have to be expensive to have a great bottle, or great experience.



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