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johnvasilj



Wine

I've been interested in wine since my cousin started his vineyard about 25 years ago.  At first wine was something for "special occasions" only, generally selected from a restaurant wine list assembled by someone probably more interested in profit than anything else.  The larger the restaurant the more likely the list was to be a reflection of a good, run-of-the-mill wine shop.  Nothing unusual, nothing special, most of them cut from the same cloth.  A half-dozen Chardonnay's, a half-dozen Cabernet's, a couple of bottles of Champagne (or, more likely, Sparkling Wine) then the token half-dozen or so made up of White Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Merlot.  Varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir were virtually unheard of.  (This list could go on, but you get the idea.) 

About the time I got married (1990) I started paying more attention to wine and wine lists.  My consumption increased from a bottle "every now and then" to about a bottle every two or three months (still not much, I know.)  By about 1995 we discovered a couple of wines that we really liked and consumption skyrocketed to about a bottle a month as we started receiving a bottle here and there as gifts to augment our purchases.  These days, at any given time, I've got 75+ bottles of wine between the cooler and the "cellar" (basements are great!) of many varieties.  I do tend to lean heavily towards Chehalem.  They're not only a sentimental favorite they also make some great wines.  I'm the first to admit that I'm not wild about everything they do;  their Pinot Blanc doesn't do much for me and their Gamay Noir/Pinot Noir blend, called Cerise, is a bit off for my taste.  I also lean towards Biltmore due to the N.C. connection and have found that BV keeps coming to the surface on the large commercial winery list.

I'll be adding to the tasting notes as I go along, giving my impressions of most of the wines I've tasted in the past couple of years.  I try to rate wines on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best rating possible.  I also try to give some degree of description of my impressions.  Keep in mind that I'm a rank amateur and only purport to communicate my thoughts and impressions.  I might be able to discriminate differences in terroir, all other things being equal, but not bloody likely!  Frankly, as long as I enjoy the wine I really could care less if it's the finest Burgundy from France or an $8 bottle picked up at the corner grocery.  That said, I've had very few wines that retail for more than about $25 a bottle, and some of them were obviously beyond my taste.

I know enough to understand the difference between wine I don't like and bad wine;  I've had 2 bottles of bad wine that I can recall, but I doubt I could recall the number of wines I've sampled that I didn't like.  Nevertheless, I never let a wine I don't like prevent me from trying other incarnations of the same varietal or other varietals from the same winery.  More often than not I'm even willing to give another vintage of the same wine a try at some point.  As others much more qualified than I have said, "It's only grape juice."  With that said, have fun, and I hope that my novice notes might inspire you to seek out something that you haven't enjoyed before.  I'll even share my mistakes with you;  those bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau that weren't consumed in a timely manner, the Riesling that got "lost" for 5 years and the Chardonnay that just didn't make the cut after growing to the ripe old age of 8.

Reports

Whites
Oregon
        Chehalem Pinot Gris Reserve 1994 : 1995 : 2001
        Chehalem INOX Chardonnay 2002 : 2003
        Chehalem Willamette Valley Chardonnay 1996 : 2001 : 2002
        Chehalem Dry Reisling Reserve 2002
        Chehalem Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2003
        King Estate Pinot Gris Reserve 1993

North Carolina
        Biltmore 1997 Chateau Reserve Johanisberg Riesling
        Biltmore Zinfandel Blanc de Noir (NV)
        Biltmore
1996 Chateau Reserve Chardonnay

        Biltmore Chenin Blanc (NV)

Washington
        Woodward Canyon Columbia Valley Dry Riesling 2002

California
        Caymus Conundrum 2000
        La Terre' White Zinfandel 2002

France
        Pouilly Fume Domaine Denis Gaudry 2002

Reds
California
        BV  Georges de Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 1979: 1995 : 1999 : 2000
        Grgich Hills Napa Valley Zinfandel 2000
        Beaulieu Vineyards  Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon 1999
        Erath Pinot Noir 2002

Oregon
        Chehalem 2000 Stoller Vineyards Clone 115 Pinot Noir
        Chehalem 2001 Cerise (Gamay Noir/Pinot Noir)
        Chehalem  3 Vineyard Pinot Noir 2001

        St Bart's Limited Edition Pinot Noir

Washington
        Chateau Ste. Michelle 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon

France
        Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau (1996, 1997, 1998)

Spain
        Vinansar Vino de la Tierra Castilla (NV)