One of the things I love about the onset of fall is that it is often new release time for the local wineries. My phone and email have been busy with folks letting me know that they are getting ready/are ready/releasing their latest vintage. Yeah, it can be irritating sometimes, I won’t lie. But when you put it together with one of your favorite wine clubs doing a pickup, it can mean good things are afoot. Sokol Blosser did just that this past weekend.
I haven’t been going to a lot of winery events this year. Too often they are crowded, too often you end up jostled off to a corner (especially if you aren’t there with a posse of any kind), and too often the promised good eats run out well before you get to the front of the line. I suspect it had a lot to do with a sudden increase in popularity and the old methods just not doing the trick.
Sokol Blosser has always done a decent event, but they’ve been around a while and had a chance to perfect their game. The first time I went to the winery was a Thanksgiving weekend six years ago and I remember being bowled over by the event, the way the barrel room was so beautifully lit, the room, the wine, the people, even the smell of the place is etched in my memory. So when they told me about this club event, I really wanted to go; I knew it was going to be good. I wasn’t disappointed! Along withe five new releases, they had a nice little barbecue going, music, the requisite visiting dogs, and a gorgeous afternoon. I dragged Brother Pete and TK along and we all had a great time.
We all agreed that the 2011 Pinot Gris was just beautiful. A lovely nose – the wonderful citrusy, green apple pinot gris perfume that makes me want to bury my nose in the glass; and that signature taste that is crisp and refreshing. This one has a lot of flavor, a lot of great summer fruit flavor with a hint of mineral underneath. This is one of those consistently good wines that SB does so well. The Evolution 16 was, I think, one of the highlights of the day. I love that it changes just a bit with each release, but always has that moscato nose; is always in the off-dry so that is lots of fruit, a little sweet, and incredibly flavorful. This is one of my favorites, good with the pulled pork sliders we had at the event and good to just drink on a warm afternoon.
It was also fun to taste the difference between the 2009 and 2010 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. Vertical tastings are always fun to me because I am constantly amazed at the differences between vintages. That one fruit can make such a different wine year to year is just boggling to me, even taking into consideration how wine changes over time in the bottle. These two are a good reminder of that.
The 2009 is just lush and, well, juicy. There is a good, solid tannin structure on this wine and yet it is not overwhelming for being so young. The nose is surprising, I was immediately hit with caramel, followed by a nice spicy, earthy note And the taste – hard for me to pinpoint, really. Plummy? A bit, yes. Dark cherry? Yeah, that was there. Spice – I could say that yes, a bit of baking spice was in there. It just melded so nicely together. This one is going to be saved for a bit, I suspect. If it is this good right now? I can’t wait to see what happens when some of that tannin mellows out. 2009 is going to be a memorable vintage, I suspect.
2010? This is an interesting wine. My first take on it was that it was good, not a lot of tannin, nice. Then we moved on to the 2009 and were blown away. A nice woman wandered past a bit later with a bottle of the 20010 and we allowed her to fill our glasses – it would have been rude not to, right? And as we discussed whether we had liked the 2009 or the 2010 better, I took my second taste of this one and was…impressed. It was richer, it was fruitier than I had thought it originally. I had started out thinking this would be one of those vintages best drunk sooner rather than later. But now I don’t know. I think it is going to be interesting to see where this one goes.
We had a good time at this event, a chance to taste some good – really good – stuff, enjoy some good food, talk to some nice people. They did it up right, I have to say. The scattered tables for the tastings meant that it never felt crowded even though there were a goodly number of people. The food line moved at a good pace, and I thought it inspired to have folks roving that line and offering second (or third) tries of the wines. This was a nice way to put a cap on the summer, a fitting farewell that includes a little anticipation of what is to come for fall.