I had a freaking fantastic time at the Spec’s at Brodie Lane Tasting Tuesday the other day! It’s a neat event that occurs the second Tuesday of every month. You pay $10 and get a Riedel white wine glass (probably from the Vinum series, but who cares, it’s crystal and you get to take it home!), and there are little stands all over the store giving out food and wine samples. The night I was there, which I think is typical, they tasted 20 different wines.
With your fancy new glass, you are also given a sheet of paper listing all of the wines being poured, with location of the tasting stand and prices for the wines. All wines being tasted are on sale for that night, and all of them were under $20 per bottle, so it’s a very affordable opportunity to stuff your cellar full!
At each “barrel” (tasting stand), there were two people, one to pour the wine (doubtlessly TABC certified), and one to punch your tasting sheet to show that you had been there, so you don’t get a double pour of anything. The pours were perfect 2-oz. portions. There were spit buckets and water pitchers at each station, so you could dump or spit your wine, and rinse the glass you were using.
I’m so sorry, gentle readers, but I was in such a daze on Tuesday morning that I plumb forgot my camera. I have no pictures! None, not even one! Next time, I promise to click my ass off, so you can see the splendour that is Spec’s Tasting Tuesday.
I was the ONLY geek there who was scribbling down tasting notes. Really! (Sidebar: Living my wine passion through print makes me want to be much more precise, so I have turned into the Biggest Wine Nerd Ever. I carry a wine journal in my purse everywhere, and I jot down tasting notes for everything I try, whether at a friend’s house or in a restaurant. I am so remarkably Wine Nerdy that other Wine Nerds look at me in pity as they swirl their water glasses.
What I’m trying to tell you here is that I publicly humiliated myself in front of about 8 wine savvy tasters, about 75 regular people who were just there tasting wine, and the 20 or so people working the event, all so that I could report back to you on 20 wines tasted in 90 minutes. Poor, poor pitiful me.
Disclaimer #1: You will be given no vintages, so don’t even ask. I draw the line at asking “erm, what vintage is that?” 20 times and jotting it down on my little paper while 15 people are behind me clamoring for their 2 ounces of juice. I have my pride, you know. Well, some of it.
Disclaimer #2: Round about an hour into this, palate fatigue set in. I kind of saved for last the wines I wasn’t really interested in, which was probably unfair to them as I was ready not to like them anyway. But some of these wines just tasted “eh” to me, and it may well have been that they were marvelous and my tongue was too tired to enjoy them
Disclaimer #3: I did not spend a lot of time with any of these wines, and I only elaborated on the ones I found impressive.
Estancia Pinot Grigio – Reg $9.72 I had not decided to make notes when I tried these first two wines. I’ve have the Estancia PG before – the distributor I used to work for sold the Constellation Brands portfolio – and it’s a very nice PG for the price point. Not too steely, fresh stone fruit and good acid.
Estancia Sauvignon Blanc – Reg $10.33 Ditto about the tasting notes. Competently made SB, nothing extraordinary, also a good value.
Ashwood Grove Soft Press Chardonnay – Reg. $8.41 Tropical nose with a clean palate. Typical Australian Chard; good value.
Baritone Shiraz/Cabernet – Reg. $12.62 Interesting — comes in a liter bottle! Slight orange to the dark red color. Red currant and peppery spice, maybe mocha, on the nose. Sour cherry flavors and a strong tannic grip in the mouth. Maybe some bitter tar on the finish? Nose = alluring Palate = so-so.
Loose End Rose – Reg. $12.44 Pretty strawberry nose, with a distinct creaminess, like cherry cheesecake on the palate. From Barossa Valley.
Loose End Grenache-Syrah-Merlot – Reg. $12.44 Yes, I wrote that right. Not Mourvedre, Merlot. Toasty cigar box nose with some scents of strawberry and blackberry jam. Intense palate PUNCH of rubber and earth. Less fruit than I want on the palate, but interesting.
Spier Discover Steen — Reg. $8.21 Had been wanting to taste this. Very grassy, with apricot/peach scents. Soft on the palate, but balanced; green apple flavors. Little perceptable acidity; a light bitterness on the finish.
Domaine Cabasse Seguret Cuvee Garnacho Cotes du Rhone-Villages – Reg. $15.76 Spicy, dark fruit scents, and the cigar box aroma again. Tart and fruitless on the palate. That spare French style I don’t like. Why make wines like this?
Chateau Hostens-Picant Blanc – Reg. $12.99 Informed by the Spec’s guy that this is 50% Semillon, 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Muscadet. Nose is pleasantly creamy, with distinct pear scents; very lovely and perfumed. Herbal and clean on the palate with a nice long finish. Extremely delicious white Bordeaux.
Chateau Hostens-Picant Rouge – Reg. $13.25 Informed by the Spec’s guy that this is 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. (Why do American need to break Bordeaux down into varietals? Yet, I love knowing what the varietal mix is in a Bordeaux I’m tasting! Sigh. I’m just like all the other plebs, oh well.) Very correct nose of tobacco, cedar, green pepper and a slight hint of currant. Bony on the palate: chewy and earthy. Would have to drink this with something very fatty to balance it. Maybe duck fried in lard?
Silverado “Jackie’s Chardonnay” Carneros – Reg. $21.04 Nice, typically constructed coldish climate CA Chard.
Block 312 Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford Bench – Reg. $21.04 From Vineyard Bench Estates (is this a Spec’s negociant brand?) Ripe, fruity blackberry and currant on the nose. Really grippy palate, but well balanced. Tobacco and earth with jammy currant and some mushroom. Great CA Cab for $20ish.
Campus Stella Albarino – Reg. $13.67 Opulent nose of heavy, over-ripe peach and orange blossom. Medium-bodied and appley on the palate; very clean and well-balanced.
Pretty Sally Sauvignon Blanc – Reg. $19.95 Palate fatigue setting in. Grass and gooseberry on the nose. Complex lemon and herbal notes in the mouth. Bright.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier – Reg. $11.84 Very pale in color. Nice ripe green melon nose, with peaches and an herbal note. Pleasantly light, delicate palate for a Viognier; bright acidity, really excellent. Very impressive blend.
Macrostie Chardonnay Carneros – Reg. 18.94 Very oaky. Full malo, rich CA Chard with nice spiciness on the long finish. Not my style, but well-made.
Gruet Brut – Reg. $13.07 This is from New Mexico. Unremarkable — similar to a cheaper Cava with the dirty lemon scents.
Gruet Brut Rose – Reg. $13.07 Also NM. Unremarkable dirty cherry scents.
Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Chardonnay – Reg. $10.91 Very oaky; forgot how much I don’t like this style. Crap, I have a bottle of this at home (a gift) — what will I do with it?
Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon – Reg. $9.15 Hot. Tobacco-ey, fruity nose. Green on the palate. Long finish, but oddly fruit free. Better once I had snagged a cracker with cheese on it. Palate fatigue probably ruined this for me.
Next time I go, I’ll for sure invite some wine-interested friends. I highly recommend this monthly event to Austinites (Austinians? Austinistas?). It’s unpretentious, and it’s a great way to taste a wide variety of wines for practically no money. Plus, can you have too much crystal stemware? I’ll see you there in October!