I and a couple of the WING group, attended a Tasting of USA wines with supper at Hart’s on Thursday 30th May. A great evening, as usual, and some interesting Wines…

Here are my notes:

2012 Birichino Malvasia Blanca, Monterey
Warm, sweet fruit nose – with a grapey main line, though a little hint of herbs and warm citrus too. Later a perfumed – almost Parma Violets – note appears. Palate is warm and slightly soft – though there are elements of citrus and mineral holding up the sweet fruit. Later – with the food (a lovely checkerboard terrine of tuna, potato and avocado with a guacamole) – the wine just about holds its own. Really a warm evening quaffing wine of some interest…

2012 Qupé Viognier Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley
Oily, apricot and nutty nose (with a little vanilla?). The (Chardonnay?) citric note comes in early on the palate with a warm minerality, but these structured elements then struggle with the oily Viognier hints until finally losing out. Leaving a rather flabby final impression, with the food the wine rather collapses. Best rather cold on a hot day too.

2012 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County
This has quite a restrained nose (certainly by comparison with the previous wines), with citric and white fruit hints. The palate is very clean, with more prominent citrus… a line that persists and holds up the sweeter peach/melon fruit. Good and actually the best white accompaniment to the food.

2011 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir, Santa Maria
Very herby nose with jammy red fruit underneath: a Mercurey rather than a Côtes de Beaune nose? The palate has prominent fruit line – sweet cherry/raspberry – driving the wine, balanced by a parallel acidity. Quite simple, but pretty and balanced. With the (chicken and barbequed beans) main dish – the sweet fruit does well with the spice, but a little more grip would have shown the chicken better, IMO.

2011 Qupé Syrah, Central Coast
A very Syrah Syrah… que? Spirity blackberry nose, with a hint of brackishness. Palate has a lot of salty-ness and a slightly fatty, sweet black fruit middle, and some spice at the surprisingly early finish. A well-made New World Syrah, regular readers will know that this is very faint praise from me!

2009 Bonny Doon Vineyard “Cigare Volant”, Central Coast
A vegetal first nose, with a (Mourvedre?) perfume later. The palate is big, but very pliant with a spicy warmth and a sharp plum acidity running right through to the long finish. Balanced and satisfying. Good, my favourite, and lovely with the food!

2012 Ridge Lytton Springs, Dry Creek
This has a powdery, woody, pruney nose – quite typical Zin. Palate is big too, rather Italianate, with some leathery grip, and a spice and prune middle palate. A good showing for one of my favourite Zins.

2010 Andrew Will “Sorella”, Horse Heaven Hills, Washington State
This had text book Medoc notes: mint, cedar, blackcurrant but this bottle was rather dull (another bottle was corked). Palate is drying but well balanced with black fruit and a long line of acidity, but not very vivid – as if on half-power. A pity, because Washington “Claret” can be very fine, and this had promise.

An interesting tasting – showing ABC and Bonny Doon very well and overshadowing Qupé, IMO. The lovely food and erudite commentary by Tim Hart and Dominique Baduel, always makes a delightful evening.

Look out for the 100th post and the simultaneous competition on the members’ page – probably about 6.00 on Sunday (3rd) evening!

Until then…