Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weekend Wine Tasting at Mission Wines

Mission Wines is doing it right. I had a great time at their weekly Saturday tasting. For just $10 you get five generous pours of a well-selected array of wines. And if you buy wine that day, the cost goes down to $5. Talk about excellent QPR! Saturday tastings run from 1 pm to 7 pm.

When I walked in shortly after 2, it was standing room only. There are only 6 stools at the bar--this is a small shop that prizes service and selection, not a wine warehouse--but this wasn't stopping people from ordering up flights, tucking themselves around the tasting bar's corner to talk to Dave (who was manning the operation), or drifting through the stores with their glasses looking at the wine. Mission Wines has a great atmosphere during its tastings. It's a neighborhood hangout where both regulars and newcomers of all levels of expertise from novices through serious collectors come to talk and drink wine.

On offer yesterday for the tasting were four wines under $20, and one under $30. While I do enjoy wine tastings that include sips of wine that are way out of my budget as a way to increase my knowledge this was great in a different way since theoretically everything I sipped I could conceivably purchase. The selection of wines was outstanding: 2 old world wines (a grenache and a gruner veltliner) and 3 new world wines (sauvignon blanc, pinot noir, and malbec).

Here were the wines and my brief tasting notes for them:

2005 Tobiano Sauvignon Blanc ($11.99): This Chilean sauvignon blanc exhibited textbook flavors of gooseberry and granny smith apples. No oak was used, allowing the fresh fruit flavors to come through. Excellent QPR.

2005 Wienenger Gruner Veltliner "Leicht and Trocken" ($15.99): Pale, almost translucent in color with vaguely citrus aromas and a hint of both greenness and spice. On the palate, it was mostly citrusy, and I couldn't detect any of the pepper or lentil varietal characteristics for which this wine is known. A neutral wine, at the price I felt it represented good QPR.

2005 Bodegas y Vinedos del Jalon Calatayud Vina Alarba Old Vines Grenache ($8.99): An appealing, bright garnet wine with aromas of black fruit and spice. On the palate you did get a bit of the characteristic grenache dustiness and smoke, with less fruit than the aromas would suggest. A great example of an old world, old vine varietal I thought this wine had very good QPR.

2005 Sineann Pinot Noir Oregon ($29.99): I was excited to taste this wine, but found it a bit disappointing. This was a wine that smelled better than it tasted, with interesting forest and fruit aromas. Once sipped, I felt it didn't really hang together and there was an undertaste I couldn't identify. This may well be a wine that is too young to be drunk right now, but I don't have any experience with Sineann pinot noirs--if a reader does, please let us know if this is likely to settle down because the aromas were very promising. At the price, and as it is drinking now, I felt this wine represented good QPR.

2003 Alto Cedro Malbec ($16.99): A very dark, plummy wine with whiffs of peppery spice tucked into the fruit. There was an interesting dried herbal note--black tea? tobacco?--that made it an interesting wine to drink. It would be great with grilled meat. For the price, this was a very good QPR wine.

Before I left I purchased a bottle of the 2005 Tobiano Sauvignon Blanc, which I felt represented the best QPR. All wines are available through Mission Wines, and the grenache and pinot noir look like they are widely available throughout the country. I know I'll be back to sample more great wines and to enjoy the welcoming atmosphere.


Brooklynguy said...

I haven't tasted the 05s at all yet, but I have mixed feelings about Sineann Pinots. They're usually pretty huge wines, nothing subtle about 'em. I would trust your judgement - if it doesn't taste good young, it probably won't taste good aged.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi, Neil. Glad to have my sense confirmed, especially since we seem to have very similar wine tastes. What a shame, because the aromas were so subtle and interesting. Oh well, $30 to spend on something else I suppose!