Tag Archives: wine tasting

Faulty Towers


And there I found myself paying to taste…. off-wines…

definitely spat my way through this one

definitely spat my way through this one

Since my days of running around the Savoy are long gone, I tend not to have the high turn-over of faulty wines at my disposal. When you’re opening 50-some wines a night….you’re gonna find some bad ones.

Those were the days.

Les Marchands has these bi-monthly tasting things which cover regions, grapes, you get the picture. But my interest was particularly piqued when I received the email blast on a faulty wine tasting. The last time I sat through such a class was during my first year of university….about 15 years ago, a refresher was in order.

We went through all the major wine faults: brett, VA (I actually like that), oxidation, SO2, TCA, secondary fermentation and heat stress…..you know all the GOOD stuff!!

Here’s some cheat notes on what to look out for:

  • brett – gamey, barnyard, oddly enough I always find it scratchy on the palate
  • VA – I always think nail varnish
  • Oxidation – nuttiness, tastes tired (but sometimes it’s meant to be…)
  • SO2 – match sticks – rotten egg
  • TCA – aka corked – cardboard
  • secondary fermentation – when it’s sweet and not meant to be, sometimes bubbles
  • heat stress – smells/tastes of cooked fruit

Highly recommended since the guys at Marchands sought out these examples for the class.

Punters basking in wine fault glory.

Punters basking in wine fault glory.

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Backing into the Garagiste


It’s spring time again and right on cue is  The Third Annual Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure!

Admittedly, I am a fan of this little event. Well it was a little event when it started four long years ago in Paso. Then it was a one day tasting, now it’s morphed into a 3-day event of seminars and tastings. And best yet, you are 20% likely to find a wine you enjoy at the Garagiste Festival, let me explain…..

Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure

I have found some gems at Garagiste. The first to come to mind is that crazy dry-farming duo in Paso, Phillip Hart & Mary Morwood Hart, who together make up Ambyth Estate. Then there was the Tempier loving (well who doesn’t love it) winemaker Ryan Pease, of the Southern Rhône influenced, Paix-sur-Terre (that’s Peace on Earth…see what they did there?) Then there’s the Tim Riggins look-alike, Central Coast’s very own Texan, Ryan Roark, who is inspired and lived in the Loire Valley (he loves talking about minerality).

I like this event, but it’s not to say, if you are a Garagiste, aka a small producer, that you make good wines. In fact, it’s the contrary, there are a few amateur wines here. BUT, of the four Garagiste tastings I’ve been to, I have always seemed to find one or two superb wines. From that there are usually five or six great wines. So, of the 30-odd wines at these tastings there’s a 20% hit rate on very good wines….not too shabby….and that’s statistically proven.

Another, little thing I like about these guys. Because less popular grapes tend to be cheaper, it’s at these sort of events where you might see the beginning of a trend or two. I’m not dropping any Trousseau bombs…..but you never know.

Garagiste Festival Southern Exposure runs from Friday March 27th to Sunday the 29th.
There is still some availability to the individual events.
For ticket details go to: http://www.showclix.com/event/GaragisteSE2015

The Saturday and Sunday tastings have different wineries:
Winemakers on Saturday Include: Apical Cellars, Archium Cellars, Baehner Fournier, Bellissimo Cellars, Bradley Family Winery, Brophy Clark, Carivintas Winery, Carucci Wines, Clos Des Amis, Cordon Wines, Cotiere, Crawford Family Wines, Dascomb Cellars, Ferguson Crest, Kessler-Haak Vineyards, La Montagne Winery, Larner Vineyards, Levo Wines, No Limit Wines, Pence Ranch, Press Gang Cellars, Roark Wine Co., SamSara Wine Co., Scott Cellars, Seagrape Cellars, Section Wines, Solminer Wines, Turiya Wines and Weatherborne.

Winemakers on Sunday Include: Alta Colina Vineyards, Ascension Cellars, Barbieri Wines, Big Tar Wines, Central Coast Group Project, Center of Effort Wines, Cloak & Dagger Wines, Conarium Wines, Dilecta Wines, Dreamcote Wine Co., Falcone Family Vineyards, Graef Wines, Imagine Wines, J. Brix Wines, J. Ludlow Vineyard, Mattina Fiore, MCV Wines, Mount Dorado Winery, Pace Family Wines, Ryan Cochrane Wines, STANGER Vineyards, Tercero Wines, Tierra y Vino, Vines on the Marycrest, Vino Vargas, Wandering Dog Wines, Workman Ayer and Zeppelin Winery.

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