Sunday, February 03, 2008

Tasting Sized Pours

Sure, you can't buy wine in Indiana on Sunday but you can read about it. Last week, popped in to the Kahn's "Burgundy" tasting. It was really Burgundy style wines with a whole bunch of pinot noirs, pinot blancs, chards, and more. I wasn't terribly vigilant about hitting all the stations, but a few quaffs caught my eye. (And check out the cool new champagne sign out front!)

Valley of the Moon Pinot Blanc 2006 -- a light, acidic white perfect as a weeknight drinker, $19.49 a bottle

Rodney Strong Russian River Pinot Noir 2006 -- Rodney Strong has long been a personal favorite for California reds and they deliver with this pinot noir. Rich, elegant, and great for the money -- $25.99 a bottle

Bergstrom Cumberland Reserve Pinot Noir -- When Bill Kennedy from Crossroad Vintners said he had an Oregon Pinot that would turn me around, I was skeptical. But then I tried this Bergstrom. Rich, round, earthy, and highly complex, it doesn't typify the bitter, tannic, thin pinots I too often find typical of the region. An incredible wine. $52.99 a bottle

22 comments:

Phil Lavoie said...

Actually, you can buy wine on Sunday. You just have to buy it direct at the winery. More reason to head to some of Indiana's great wineries.

braingirl said...
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braingirl said...
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braingirl said...

I really shouldn't post before coffee. (Or, if I have nothing nice to say.)

Phil Lavoie said...

You're funny.

I agree that Indiana wines may not be the best, but visiting the wineries can still be a fun thing to do on a Sunday.

braingirl said...

Ok, I'll give you that. As long as I can smuggle my own wine in and don't have to drink their stuff :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Braingirl, I can tell you're not the biggest fan of Indiana wines, but from what you have tasted, what do you consider the best?

braingirl said...

I cannot recommend any Indiana wines. I've found none I would buy and certainly none I would order in a restaurant.

Several times in the past two years, I've gone through an enourmous range of Indiana wines in everything from formal judging environments to IWG-sponsored tastings. Even the fruit wines, which could potentially have a lot to recommend them (they can be fun dessert wines) disappoint. (And I've really tried! I've kept an open mind for good stuff!)

A lot of Indiana wine is made with out of state juice which introduces production problems if not handled properly. Those wines made with local grapes just (to me) don't have a pleasing terrior. (It's just *overwhelmingly* earthy to me.) In my opinion -- and it's strictly my opinion -- the vast majority of Indiana wines I've tasted have wine making/aging/chemical problems. Some of the dry wines -- especially the reds -- are really, really awful.

It's also not a bias against sweet wines -- I think sweet wines have their place and can be great food wines, but they still need to have a technical correctness.

That said, I still hold out a strange and weird hope that there's a hidden gem out there. (Hey, we're all drinking the crap out of New Mexico's Gruet sparkler these days!) So far, I'm getting no love. If last week's tasting of 20 or Indiana wines at the Taste of Elegance was any indication -- it's a false hope. (Many were worse than I remember.)

I'm all for local eating/drinking, but not at a sacrifice for quality. (You wouldn't keep going to farmers markets if the produce was crap, would you?) While a local winery can be a nice outing, spend the same money for a few good bottles and spend some time educating your palette for the better. Life is just too short to drink really bad plonk. (And some Indiana wines aren't cheap!)

Drink good stuff. Try that Rodney Strong. Better yet, that Bergstrom.

Anonymous said...

^^^Thanks for the reply.

"I'm all for local eating/drinking, but not at a sacrifice for quality."

The best part of the post. It can be applied not just to food, but to art, architecture, etc. Kind of off topic, but I continually see every big project in Indy go to locally based architects that design the same boring project over and over.

braingirl said...

Amen to that, brother (or sister).

CorrND said...

I've only tried a handful of local wineries. I had a Mallow Run wine (maybe Shiraz?) that was dreadful. I'm not a huge fan of Oliver, but I like their tasting room and I can usually find something that grabs me. I fear Easley and have never been there.

But I think Chateau Thomas does some pretty interesting things out in Plainfield. You've never had anything you liked from them?

I have to agree on Rodney Strong, though. If budget didn't hold me back, I would have bought a lot more when I was there last summer.

braingirl said...

While I think Dr. Thomas is generally considered the most knowledgeable of the Indiana winemakers, I, personally, don't like their wines that much more -- nor would I, again, personally, choose theirs over something of significantly better quality at the same price produced in France, Australia, Chile or Oregon, for that matter. Thomas, if I recall correctly, produces their wine mainly from west coast grapes. (They even have a new Temprenillo running around.) When juice travels 2000 miles in trucks, I'm not sure it even qualifies as "local".

Grapes are grown and wine is made in all 50 states in the US. Doesn't mean it's going to be good. Lots of people drink and enjoy Indiana wine -- and I'm a big proponent of drinking what you like. If you like Chateau Thomas, then go forth and drink the hell out of it. And branch out and try some other things as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your taste on most Indiana wines. They tend to be one dimentional and sweet (bleh). However, I have found a couple drier selections that are decent for the $$ at Buck Creek. Granted not 3 buck chuck cheap. Considering the cost of producing wine commercially, they are doing a great job with what they have access to in IN. They do produce some with west coast concentrate, but also have a couple locally grown varietals. Most are fruit and/or very dang sweet though. We are not the climate for wine production, just as you wouldn't expect a great coffee to be grown here! Have you tried any of the Buck Creek wines? Not trying to beat a dead horse as you've made your taste perfectly clear, but curious enough to inquire. I do believe in eating and drinking local- and will try any local brew/wine. They are the first wines I've ever returned to purchase more bottles. Not drop dead fantastic, but not bad for the $$. My mid week wines don't tend to be in the $20.00++ bottle range, but that's just my personal economics speaking.

braingirl said...
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braingirl said...

Horse. Dead. (Yes, I've tried Buck Creek and Mallow Run.)

But this has prompted me to put together a post on maximizing your wine dollar. You can drink great on a budget without feeling like you're just randomly picking bottles off a shelf.

Anonymous said...

Pretty close minded attitude there braingirl, while Indiana wines don't, can't and probably never will compete with wines that are produced in terroir that is perfectly suited for such endeavors, I think there is something to be said for context. As an IU student I have very fond memories of sitting out in the courtyard of Oliver and sipping overly sweet wines while listening to bluegrass and having basically a perfect sunday. Many of the country wines produced in France and that are sold in liquor stores all over the state realistically are not all that much better than some wines found here in Indiana but because they have a sexy label with a french address they are automatically assumed to be better. I agree, Indiana produced wines have a long way to go, but they will only be able advance themselves if people approach them with an open mind and a playful curiosity.

Blueberry wine lover..anonymously.

Anonymous said...

How is somebody closeminded because they don't like an inferior quality product? If braingirl was someone who had never tasted Indiana wine and dismissed it just because it was made in Indiana, then, yes, that would be closeminded. But reading her posts its clear she has tried wines from all over the state and has give specific examples of their deficiencies.

Anonymous said...

Oliver's higher-end Chambourcin is really nice, I think. Creekbend, is it?

I'm in love with another Oregon Pinot Noir that Ruth's Chris had: Adelsheim.

David said...

I think this is another case where everyone has their own opinions on what constitutes a good wine. I do believe however there is some shortsightedness happening. You cannot expect the tastes of wines grown in diverse locations such as Italy, France, Germany or CA to be all on the same level field as each location in "interpreted" differently by the grapes. Just as Indiana or Ohio or NY wines are all different. I've had nice selections from many states I've travelled to including some interesting offerings from Hawaii. You just need to have an open mind and as one person noted- some curiosity. Educating the palate (not palette) is a wonderful pursuit as long as you don't forget one point of the learning process- to experience the taste of place, the unique flavor that comes from the locale that the product was born of. Just as anything else local- the wine is just another reflection of place. It may not be your favorite, however- that is an opinion. Some may like the over abundant earthiness that our soil lends to the wine. Some may dislike the heavy forward new world wines..

twoheads said...

Well said, David. It is all a matter of keeping an open heart, an open mind, an open palate...

braingirl said...

I largely agree with David, however disagree on one point. There's a difference in what makes a good wine and what a person might *like*. Good wine is quantifiable. When I taste a wine with sulfite residue, excessive carbonation, a significant tangyness or bitterness out of line with the standard or varietal, or a chemical smell, it's a quantifiable problem. Quite a few Indiana wines have these issues.

Terrior is indeed a personal taste. It took me a long time to come around to some German whites and get past a petroleum taste, too. But generally, successful, pleasing wines -- wines that multiple experts rate as excellent -- are balanced, and have a good mix of fruit, earthiness, and few if any technical problems. Again, this hasn't been something I've found in Indiana wines.

As I've said, if you like certain Indiana wines, drink away. Just because I don't like them and don't care to recommend them doesn't mean I don't have an open mind -- or an open palate for that matter. Wishing a wine great doesn't make it so.

twoheads said...

Many of the now beloved California wineries took decades to become what they are today (or even drinkable). The wineries with the most success (just an opinion) do not try to replicate the wines of France, Germany, etc. but instead, develop regionally specific tastes and styles. Give Indiana wineries some more time and I believe that they will improve. In the meantime, we need to keep trying them and giving the wineries feedback.