Friday, April 11, 2008

Salem Wine Imports: California Wines

This past Tuesday, I once again stopped by Salem Wine Imports for their weekly wine tasting. There usually are very few, if any, other wine tastings elsewhere on Tuesdays. The primary theme this week was California Wines, a mix of whites and reds.

The first two wines were Chardonnays but they were very differently made. The 2004 Serenity Vineyards Unoaked Chardonnay ($14) is from the Santa Barbara region of California. This wine also does not see any malolactic fermentation. Thus, is is crisp, smooth and has delightful apple flavors. You do not get any of the buttery or creamy taste that you can in oaked Chardonnays. This is my preferred style of Chardonnay, letting the fruit stand on its own. It is also lighter in style and makes a nice summer drink.

On the other hand, the 2006 Wyatt Chardonnay ($13) does see a little oak and also undergoes malolactic fermentation. Thus it has a creamier flavor than the Serenity and you lose much of the apple flavor. But, as it is only lightly oaked, this Chardonnay is still pleasing. It is a bit richer and thus can stand up to richer foods. It is a matter of preference which of the two Chardonnays you prefer.

Next, the reds. We began with a 2006 Vinum Cellars Pets Petite Sirah ($14). This was a radical departure from the Chardonnays. The Vinum was very dark red in color and was a big, muscular, spicy wine with noticeable tannins. Lots of jammy fruit mixed with a bit of smoke and leather. Break out the steaks for this wine as it would overpower lesser foods.

We then returned to Wyatt for their 2006 Wyatt Cabernet Sauvignon ($14). A good everyday Cabernet with tastes of black cherry and a little spice. Not overly complex but it does not need to be. A smooth, easy drinking wine that would be good for the BBQ.

The 2005 Cellar No.8 Zinfandel ($10) has an alcohol content of 14.6% but seems to me to be a much milder Zinfandel. It is not big and muscular as many of the more expensive Zinfandels tend to be. Instead, you get good fruit, a bit of spice and a nice, smooth taste. A good value at this price and it would also be a good BBQ wine.

We made a slight detour from California to taste one Oregon wine, the 2002 Foris Fly-Over Red from the Hogue Valley. This wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. This wine did not please me. It had a sour nose and was rather harsh on the palate. You get some dark berry and plum flavors but it seemed unbalanced to me. Though I will note that some of the other people at the tasting did enjoy this wine.

There will not be a wine tasting next Tuesday (April 15) at the store but there will be one on April 22.

Salem Wine Imports
32 Church St.
Salem, MA
Phone: 978-741-9463

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