Adventures in Wine Tasting

Goldeneye Winery

Goldeneye Winery

I (Aaron) felt compelled to write this post not about a particular wine but about the best tasting experience I’ve ever had. I should acknowledge I find tastings appalling. The sales-focused experience which almost guilts you into buying something is rarely relaxing, commonly crowded and almost never worth the “tasting fee”. Therefore please consider when I recommend visiting Goldeneye Winery in Mendocino County to enjoy the most relaxed, pleasant, classy tasting experience I’ve ever heard of.

We arrived at the Duckhorn-owned property expecting the traditional setting of “belly up to the bar while someone who must be an expert on wine blabs at you ab2015-03-14 13.11.14out what you’re tasting”.  In contrast, the friendly faces who greeted us quickly poured some Chardonnay and directed us to find a seat indoors or on the patio where they would serve the remaining wines. We sat down and within a few minutes were shocked to see a large tray of 10 individual glasses brought to our table. A specific card boasting extensive information on each wine was placed in the proper tasting order and our wine steward gave a brief overview as she sat each glass on the table. A pricing sheet was of course provided and were we left in peace to relax on a beautiful vineyard-looking patio and enjoy our buffet of wines. I should note: 1. These wines are pricey ($50-100).  2. Each wine was amazing. Even if they weren’t however this tasting experience was magical. Wines were served in individual, classy Reidel stemless glasses, each paired not only with almonds and dried cherries, but extensive information which you could study at your leisure. In summary, this is what a wine tasting should be! Tasting room attendants were helpful and checked on us but weren’t pushy and did not try to sell us anything. Particularly for smaller vineyards who must deplete their inventory to run a tasting2015-03-14 12.24.03, I am fine reimbursing a winery for the expense of my tasting, but frankly these have become outrageous.  Goldeneye has a $15 fee per person which is worth every penny plus a generous tip. This is one of the first times I’ve felt I got my money’s worth for anything beyond a $5 fee. Thank you Goldeneye for reminding me wine should be enjoyed while relaxing not sipped awkwardly in front of a salesperson.

Thank you also to Janelle  our very friendly and attentive new friend at the winery who was kind, knowledgeable and enjoyed her job, making the experience that much more pleasant.

-Aaron and Teri


Edmeades Zinfandel 2009 / Brix Wine Spot

Purchased at Brix Wine Spot in Cave Creek, AZ

Aaron and I took a drive south to Cave Creek, AZ and stopped into a small western themed wine shop called Brix Wine Spot. We were greeted warmly by one of the owners, Bryan, and surrounded by an impressive collection of quality wines. The atmosphere was pleasant and the cheesecake we tried was delicious! If we lived closer I am sure this would be one of our regular stops.

While at Brix we enjoyed this bottle:

Aaron:  The notes above say it all, however in regards to the wine: there was a great full smell with tons of chocolate and fruit with a slight tinge of fire on the nostrils.  A mildly jammy flavor with lots of fruit and not much earth featured pleasant tannins and a hint of raspberries.  90 points + 5 for the company and 3 for the cheesecake

Teri: Jammy strawberry preserves in the smell is just the start to this delicious Zinfandel. With a full body and slow legs, flavors of plum compote and smooth spice entertain your taste-buds along with hints of raspberry and cherry. 90 points


PRP Wine Tasting

We were very excited when we saw a deal through “Spreebird’ for a 12-person, in-home wine tasting from PRP Wines.  Our wine associate brought six bottles for our group to try and everybody had a great time.  Our thoughts about the wines are listed below.  In general this is a great experience and a good excuse to get some friends together – realize they only sell wines by the case but it can be nice to have a professional there to walk you through the tasting.

Chevalier de Bayard
Teri: This was a light semi sweet red wine with lots of strawberry on the nose and taste. It contained an overall light body and flavor similar to a rose. This would be a great glass to enjoy in the evening, outside on a warm day, or after dinner. 88 points

Aaron:  This was a super sweet wine – far too sugary for my palate however my sister Autumn loved it.  The smell was heavily influenced by notes of strawberry and white sugar and the taste had no bite but frankly needed some.  The flavor was light, almost more juice than wine, and I equated it to grenadine.  I did note some apricot and other light fruit flavors after a few sips which was interesting for a red wine and earned some extra points, though I certainly would not seek this wine out.  82 Points

Deerwood Cellars Pinot Noir 2009
Teri: I was first impressed with the color and nice legs on this wine. There was lots of plum on the nose and the taste, very complex but I couldn’t quite separate the flavors. This wine had medium tannins but tastes very young. The flavors are very tight. It could use some decanting to bring out more flavors and give this bottle more life. 85 points

Aaron:  I was reasonably impressed with the bright and sharp smell on this pinot.  Similarly, the heavier-than-expected tannins almost confused my taste buds into thinking this was a heavier wine.  The flavor was relatively flat and “tight” (as Teri correctly identified) with strawberry and red cherry.  There was more bite than expected but the flavor was slightly lacking for me.  83 Points

Deerwood Mendocino County Zinfandel 2008
Teri: This wine also tasted very tight out of the bottle. Other than some flavors of dark cherry there was also an overall lingering oak taste that lasted throughout the entire taste. Also very oaky on the nose. I have liked a good amount of zinfandels in the past but I could pass on this one. 85 points

Aaron:   I was excited for this Zin because, let’s face it, I love Zins.  I found this to be mild and medium bodied with some black cherries on the nose and tongue.  There was a slightly jammy flavor which was pleasant and though there was a slight bitterness at first, this dissipated after sitting for a few minutes.  I greatly enjoyed the blueberry and vanilla flavors as well as the pleasant finish.  Overall, this was a very drinkable wine and probably the best of the group.  89 Points

Romanet Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Teri: I have always been a fan of un-oaked wines, leaving more fruit in the flavors. This wine had a great fruit forward flavors of cherry and raspberry but it quickly disappears. Nice medium legs but I would have loved a much longer finish to truly enjoy all of the nice flavors in this wine. 89 points

Aaron: The smell of this cab was extremely fruity and reminded me of many pinots.  The flavor was so smooth I actually wanted some bite to force me to drink more slowly and enjoy the taste.  The wine was pleasant though the smell was too sharp and bitter.  Fortunately, this was not predicative of the flavor at all.  The taste was light and fruity and went down very gently but dissipated quickly.  It wasn’t bad but in my opinion needed some extra tannins because it was just too easy to drink.  87 Points

Finca Las Zazarenas Malbec – Argentina 2009
Teri: Sadly this was my least favorite of the tastings. Slight bitter taste paired with a heavy body with strong legs. My taste buds kept searching for a flavor but it never quite landed on one. 81 points

Aaron: The smell of this Argentinian wine was overpoweringly spicy.  There were certainly some fruits on the bouquet but they were hard to find.  The tannins were notable but the finish was surprisingly smooth.  I wish the flavor had more fruit to it and felt smoke was the overpowering sensation.  In my opinion this wine needs some more complexity and left me wanting something else.  85 Points

Golden Grape Black Shiraz 2010
Teri: I consider this Shiraz a middle of the road bottle, nothing too special but not too poor. It has a light nose with the classic spice you can smell and taste from the shiraz varietals. I also tasted some darker fruits but they weren’t quite clear, maybe a slight plum is the closest I could classify it with. 83 points 

Aaron:  The last wine we tried had a light but potent smell and wasn’t very appealing.  The flavor started with a burst of fruit which was fantastic but was quickly replaced with more earthy tones.  Our wine rep cited a tobacco flavor and I could agree with that analysis, but don’t tend to embrace it.  Overall I needed some more fruitiness.  84 Points

Granite Creek Vineyards Wine Tasting

Granite Creek Vineyards, Prescott AZ

A beautiful site to relax and enjoy some wine, Granite Creek was a must visit once we moved to Arizona. With live music on the weekends, Aaron and I enjoyed our tastings with entertainment included. (note, read to the end, the wines get better).

Il Cantico Pinot Grigio
Teri: This is a great summer outdoor wine with a sweet smell and light flavor.  I tasted a lot of melon and lemon with a hint of butter on the finish. 86 points
Aaron: Crisp, bright and almost bitter smell, this white had a thin and light flavor which was dull.  There was some green apple but mostly dirty mud, not the best.  81 points

2008 Chardonnay
Teri: My first impression of this wine was the nice bright yellow color. Buttery and honey-citrus flavors were followed by lots of lemon and this was not my favorite chardonnay but it was unique. 83 points  
Aaron:  The deep yellow color was intriguing, the wine was not.  I enjoyed the rich cantaloupe smell, but the taste was dirty with lots of wood and bark.  There was a sharp tingle but no bite. 79 points

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Teri: This cab had a sweet cherry finish very different from its raisin smell. Medium bodied with a long an lingering finish I could easily enjoy a whole glass of this by itself or with a meal. 90 points 
Aaron: My points are awarded for the smell, literally, I could smell this wine all day.  Rich, jammy, chocolate covered blueberries surrounded the nostrils, but the taste was young and far too crisp.  I expected much more flavor and a much longer finish.  This could be good with some aging.  86 points

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
Teri: After being in the bottle a bit longer Granite Creek’s Cabernet becomes an even better wine with a great smell and even more cherry flavors. Dark blueberries add to the flavor with an extremely long finish. 91 points  
Aaron: The rich smell of cherry and mocha with vanilla undertones was great and while the flavor was very smooth it lacked some traditional berry flavor.  There was no bite and gentle tannins gave the flavor good length.  Overall, this was calm enough for the masses but complex enough for the snobs.  89 points

Superstition Gold Riesling 
Teri: I am a huge fan of summer wines, riesling included. The Superstition Gold had a slight hint of sweetness with balanced acidity. Light apricot, lemon, and pineapple make a great summer sipping wine to go with salad or just to be enjoyed alone. 91 points  
Aaron:  This was the best of what we tried.  Apricot was dominated by sugar on the smell and the palate was smooth and sweet featuring apricot and pear.  There was a good balance of sweetness with just a bit of tang at the finish.  I particularly noticed pink apples and some tropical fruits.  92 points