Last week, after a mildly numbing day of work, I was greeted by a dining room table adorned with some wine from the Livermore Valley. Besides Temecula
, Livermore is the only other California wine region that I have left on my "must see and taste list". A buddy of old roommate works at Wente
lab in the Livermore Vly and was tasting a few wines to hone his wine geek skills and invited me to join in. Not bad! The bottles had been opened since the previous evening, but in my estimation were tasting decently. In addition to tasting, I got to pick his brain on a few things...which was pretty cool (Brettanomyces, custom crushing for other wineries, and other small talk).
Wente Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2004: 6.5/10. This was an unlabeled one that I suspect was a final blend because it's about time for the new vintages to come out. Granted, my experience with Cab Franc is pretty limited, but I still thought that it was okay. Like my other Cab Franc experiences, this one tasted green or unripe. It didn't have rich, lingering aromas or taste, but rather indications of chocolate/coffee=mocha and blueberry that flitted around and then dissapated. Retails for $30ish
Wente Small Lot Petite Sirah 2004: 7.5/10...another unlabeled blend. Probably my second favorite of the assortment. Thin one was good one to let linger and taste. Compared with the Cab Franc's quick whiffs of berry, this petite was more like a freshly baked blueberry cobbler that just envelopes you...the disparity between the two was that wide. I came back to this one more than twice. That's a good sign. Retails for $30ish
2002 Souza (sp?) 5.5/10: I don't know which label they are selling this under, but it is an Italian or Spanish heritage grape (eg. Touriga Nacional, Aglianico, Freisa, Teroldego). Please leave your corrections for my phonetic spelling of it. Being my first time tasting of this varietal, I'm not sure if it was supposed to taste like this or was really oxidized and has a short counter life. The wine was really short, big on tannins and really lacking in fruit flavors. Retail price unknown.
Wente Livermore Vly SF Bay 2004: 7/10: This was a really lightweight Syrah. So much so, it reminded me of a Merlot profile. This is an offering from their flagship line so I suppose is meant to be really accessible for all. This wine is certainly easy to drink. If you have this at a party or potluck and leave it on a table while people mingle, it will disappear in no time. Enjoy it with your friends! $8-10?
Tamas Estates Barbera 2003: 8.5/10 This was by far, my favorite of them all. Not as adventurous as say, Easton or Seghesio Barbera, but extremely tasty. It was rich, smooth and easy drinking juice that was fairly well balanced and reminded me of jam. For your convenience, it has a screwtop closure. Thought to be between $8-12 pricepoint. Whatever it may retail for, I'd think it would be a great value.
Photo: Point Loma, CA