CTS Wine Ministry 2009 – Overview

Wine Ministry

It was a great week at CTS with a community of friends, some good theological thoughts, and plenty of wine flowing. Thanks to all who participated in the fellowship of the overflowing chalice!

I will post a bit more information and reviews of each of the wines we tasted, but for now here is a listing of the four tastings we shared. Leave a note on this or the other postings to let me know your favorite wines as well as your memories of the week we shared. Check back soon for the wine notes…

Monday, July 6, 2009
Theme: Warming Up the Palates

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2007 Clean Slate Riesling Shared by Stephen [Germany] $9.99
3 – 2007 Total Depravity Pinot Noir [Ohio/California] $priceless
4 – 2002 Pillitteri Estates Gamay Noir Family Reserve [Canada] $32.99
5 – 2002 Kacaba Vineyards Meritage [Canada] $36.99

Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Theme: Vertical Tasting of California Rhone Varietals

1 – 2005 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
2 – 2004 Zaca Mesa Syrah [California] $23.00
3 – 2006 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
4 – 2005 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $24.00
5 – 2004 Gainey Vineyard Syrah Limited Selection [California] $38.00
6 – 2002 Gainey Vineyard Syrah [California] $22.00

Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Theme: The Variety of White Wines – Find One for Your Palate

1 – 2008 Black Mountain Pinot Grigio Shared by Stephen [California] $5.99
2 – 2008 Greenhough Sauvignon Blanc [New Zealand] $15.99
3 – 2007 Shoo Fly Buzz Cut (white blend) Shared by Lisa [Australia] $10.99
4 – 2006 Sonoma Vineyards Chardonnay (unoaked) [California] $14.99
5 – 2007 Newton Chardonnay Napa/Sonoma Counties [California] $18.99
6 – 2007 Domaine Pichot Vouvray Domaine Le Peu de la Moriette [France] $14.99
7 – NV Botter Prosecco Vino Spumante [Italy] $14.99
8 – 2008 Ceretto I Vignaioli Santo Stefano Moscato d’Asti [Italy] $24.99

Bonus Wine:
9 – 2008 Project Happiness Chardonnay Shared by Bryan [California] $5.99

Preview of Thursday’s blending seminar:
10 – 2003 Clos du Bois Marlstone (Bordeaux style blend) [California] $39.99

Thursday, July 9, 2009
Theme: Bordeaux-Style Blending Seminar

1 – 2008 Total Depravity Riesling [Ohio/Washington] $priceless
2 – 2008 Muga Rioja Rose [Spain] $12.99
3 – 2005 Celler de Capçanes Montsant Mas Donis Barrica Shared by ??? [Spain] $12.99
4 – 2006 Domaine “la Garrigue” Côtes du Rhône [France] $15.99
5 – 2007 Layer Cake Primitivo Zinfandel Shared by Lisa [Italy] $13.99
6 – 2006 Santa Rita Merlot Reserva Shared by ??? [Chile] $9.99

Samples of Bordeaux-Style Blends from Around the World
7 – 2001 Rosemount Traditional [Australia] $29.99
8 – 2001 Creekside Laura’s Blend Meritage [Canada] $18.99
9 – 2002 Chateau Peyre-Lebade (Rothchild) Bordeaux Haut-Medoc [France] $24.99
10 – 2006 Steltzner Claret [California] $16.99

Blending Wines (components of Bordeaux/Meritage):
11 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (barrel sample) [California] $23.00 (prerelease)
12 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Merlot (barrel sample) [California] $19.00 (prerelease)
13 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Cabernet Franc (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
14 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Malbec (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail
15 – 2007 Dry Creek Vineyards Petit Verdot (barrel sample) [California] not sold retail

Prize Wine & Finale Tasting:
16 – 2001 Le Sillage de Malartic Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan [France] $29.99

Extra – Just for Fun
17 – NV Riondo Prosecco (with a sliced strawberry in the glass!) [Italy] $12.99

2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Series Silver Label

2006 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir Diamond Series Silver Label
USA, California, Central Coast, Monterey County

Wine Rating: 87

Uncorked: 2008.07.05
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Saturday, Wine No. 5

This wine was introduced in the tasting to introduce a fairly typical affordable California Pinot Noir. To be sure, this is not representative of the best of California Pinot Noir, but Coppola is making decent juice for a good price.

Plenty of fruit on the nose with strawberries, light cherries, and raspberries. There were hints of wood, but not oak – more like the smells of a forest floor. The medium bodied wine presents the mouth with a bit of an alcohol punch, but quickly moves to round flavors of berries and plums. The forest floor aromas continue on the palate along with some cinnamon and light smoke. The tannins are a bit uncontained on the finish leaving a somewhat bitter taste after the fairly well balanced flavors.

It’s a very affordable and drinkable California Pinot Noir.

$19.99 widely available

2005 Cline Cellars Cashmere

2005 Cline Cellars Cashmere
California, Sonoma

Wine Rating: 89

Uncorked: 2008.07.03
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Thursday, Wine No. 5

Cline’s Cashmere is a pretty straightforward GSM (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre) blend, very similar to a Cotes du Rhone in style and taste. Dark color and dark flavors. Lots of ripe cherry in the nose with a bit of soil aromas. In the mouth it is soft with a few layers of flavors — dark fruit, raspberries, a bit of plum, some mushroom or loam, and a bit of light toast. The tannins were confident enough to balance the fruit, but fairly soft. It’s a very easy wine to drink.

$15.99 widely available

2006 McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 McManis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Rating: 86

Uncorked: 2008.07.02
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Wednesday, Wine No. 2

Nothing extraordinary about this wine, but it’s easy to drink and doesn’t demand much. Very dark purple in the glass – almost inky. The nose had some dark fruit and a very memorable smell of pencil shavings. It’s a fairly soft wine in the mouth with plenty of fruit – red currants, cherries, a bit of raspberry. It’s a little sweet in the mid-palate followed by a grand appearance of oak. The wine shows some steminess, minerality, and even some vegetal overtones – bell pepper perhaps. Fairly well balanced with smooth tannins on the finish.

$9.99 widely available

[yellow tail] Throwdown!

[yellow tail]. It’s everywhere. It’s extraordinarily popular. In 2005 this Australian winery produced more than 11 million cases of wine (yes, that’s more than 132,000,000 bottles of wine). There is more of this wine imported into the United States than all of the wines from France combined. More than 2 million glasses of [yellow tail] are consumed in the world every day. With this much wine being sold it simply MUST be good, right?

Wine connoisseurs (aka snobs) refer to [yellow tail] with great disdain. It is the antithesis to good wine. Its chemical aromas and overly sweet, fruity flavors should never grace the inside of a Riedel stem.

But this wine sells! Do we Americans really lack that much discrimination? We don’t really fall for sophisticated marketing, product placement, label design, price point, and market saturation, DO WE??? We would not permit our wine palates to be manipulated by engineered product, WOULD WE??? It is precisely these things as well as the sweet, fruity flavors that have lured consumers that have little or no wine expertise into the uncorking (unscrewing) of countless bottles of [yellow tail]. Did I mention that the makers of this wine add sugar to the wine to make it sweeter?

Ok, so now I’m sounding like a wine snob.

The project at this evening’s wine tasting was a [yellow tail] THROWDOWN. Since it’s the most popular wine in America, let’s see if people really like it when it is compared side by side with other wines. We did a semi-blind tasting. People knew that [yellow tail] was going to be served, they just didn’t know which wine it would be. So there were four wines each served without disclosing what it was. One was [yellow tail] Cabernet Sauvignon. As a control in the experiment, we also served a decent California Cabernet Sauvignon just to show what a Cabernet “should” taste like (which, admittedly, is very subjective). The final two wines were chosen because of their price and wide availability. They are approximately the same price as [yellow tail], but the wine snobs (me) actually drink these bargains, claiming that they are actually really good wines. So here’s the lineup in the order they were actually served:

    2007 [yellow tail] Cabernet Sauvignon
    2005 Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
    2006 Perrin & Fils Cotes du Rhone Reserve
    2006 d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Grenache – Shiraz – Mourvedre

And the winner is? In this order of preference by the esteemed panel of tasters:

    #1 – Avalon Cabernet
    #2 – The Stump Jump
    #3 – Perrin Cotes du Rhone
    #4 – [yellow tail] Cabernet

It is very important to point out, however, that [yellow tail] was the number one choice of three of our tasters. I haven’t decided whether or not they are invited back tomorrow evening. Two others preferred it over the Perrin Cotes du Rhone. It was a close race to first between the Avalon and the Stump Jump. Both were well-liked.

We had four other wines after the blind tasting, also in the under-$10 category. There were some really enjoyable wines, including one in that new eco-friendly cartons with milk carton-like spout. I’ll write reviews of all of the wines from this evening, but to round out this posting the other wines were:

    2006 Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon (the one in the box – Thank you, Stephen!)
    2005 Poliziano Rosse di Montepulciano (yummy!!! Thanks, Cory!)
    2005 Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County (Pepper! Thanks, Barbara!)
    2006 Marquis Philips Shiraz (we liked it tonight!)

    With a great deal of thanks to our esteemed panel of judges, we must officially dethrone the [yellow tail] from its place of prominence (at least in terms of appeal as a wine). To be sure, some folks really like this wine. Drink it! I hope you’ll discover what you like and truly enjoy it. For those who didn’t care for the [yellow tail], we’ve given literally dozens of alternatives in the under $10 wines that are more than just drinkable – they are actually excellent wines.

    I’m working hard at getting all of the reviews done. There is a lot of wine to review… I promise I’ll get them all posted! I raise my glass to each of you – those who shared these wines tonight, and those who share with us vicariously through this blog…

2005 Dominican Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

2005 Dominican Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
United States, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena

Wine Rating: 85

Uncorked: 2008.06.30
Wine Ministry – CTS DMin Happy Hour
Week 1, Monday, Wine No. 4
Wine provided by Lisa R.

This wine is easy, approachable, and very likable (see notes below). The nose presents with red raspberries, ripe cherries, plum, and subtle oak – all of which carry into the flavors of the wine. It is a pleasantly fruity wine with dark berry and stone fruit flavors. The tannins are soft and the finish is very quick. While it is fairly uni-dimensional in the mouth, the flavors are all straight-forward and pleasant.

This is a very typical mass-produced California Cabernet. It is one of the many sub-labels of the Rutherford Winery, and is one they often use to sell to corporate incentive gift marketers to add their own label or engraving to the bottle. The down side of that is that it’s a “safe” wine – there is very little in this wine that would offend anyone. The up side to that is that it is VERY drinkable. The winemaker has figured out what most people like, and has made a really good wine to match that palate.

So if you’re looking for a red wine to take to a friend’s house for dinner and aren’t sure of their tastes, this is a really safe bet. It’s a very nice wine to sip on the back deck. It’s also a good choice to serve to guests whose palates you don’t know. It’s hard to not like this wine.

$14.99 widely available

1997 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley


















1997 Silverado Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
United States, California, Napa Valley

Wine Rating:  90

Uncorked: 2008.04.06 – Brigid & Morgan Richardson visit to NE Ohio

Nicely bottle aged. Pretty ruby jewel color with no bronzing. Soft nose with dark berries, soft smokiness and toasted oak. In the mouth it was very smooth and richly balanced. Ripe cherry, plum, and blackberry. Some earthiness, tobacco, and smoky oak flavors. The fruit was integrated with the other flavors for good balance. The finish was a bit weak with velvety tannins.  This one benefited from nearly 9 years laying in the bottle.  A bit on the light side, but this is what a California Cab should taste like.

$30.00  (in 2000)

2004 Bonny Doon Vineyard Big House Red

2004 Bonny Doon Vineyard Big House Red
USA, California

Wine Rating:  85

Uncorked: 2007.07.26, 2007.08.03

This one never disappoints — just a simple red table wine. Could be better, but could also be a lot worse. The nose is very fruity with grapes and raspberries. In the mouth it’s a bit jammy with lots of fruit — cherries, raspberries, and plums. The Petite Sirah comes through in this vitage with hints of licorice and peppery spice.  But it’s more than a mouthful of fruit — this wine has enough tannins to add some balance.  Nothing fancy or complex, but always enjoyable.  And it’s a great value — lots of wine for this price.


2004 Cline Cellars Red Truck

Cline Red Truck

2004 Cline Cellars Red Truck – California, Sonoma

Wine Rating:  85

Uncorked: 2007.08.03 – “Wine Ministry” at the end of Montreat Youth Conference
Nice Rhone-style table wine that’s a consistent drinker.  The nose presents some good fruit — cherries and plums — with some hints of tobacco and licorace.  In the mouth it’s a bit fruit-forward, but not unbalanced.  Round flavors of cherries, raspberries, leather and hints of earthiness.  Short finish, but very pleasant.  A good value.

$8.99  Cost Plus World Market

2004 Bonny Doon Vineyard Big House Red

Big House Red

2004 Bonny Doon Vineyard Big House Red – California

Wine Rating:  84 points

Uncorked: 2007.08.03 – “Wine Ministry” at the end of Montreat Youth Conference

This one is always a solid table wine — an easy drinker. The nose is very fruity with grapes and raspberries. In the mouth it’s a bit jammy with lots of fruit — cherries, raspberries, and plums. But it’s more than a mouthful of fruit — this wine has enough tannins to add some balance. Nothing fancy or comples, but always enjoyable.

$6.99  Costco

2003 Clos du Bois Merlot

Clos du Bois Merlot

2003 Clos du Bois Merlot – United States, California, Sonoma County

Wine Rating:  81     wine spectator 87

2007.06.19 – CTS DMin Happy Hour

Communal tasting note: Bright garnet color. Nose is sweet raspberries and red licorace. In the mouth blackberries and plum (including the skin) with a strange apple finish. Medium bodied. Finish endures, but unremarkable.

$13.99  Kroger Market, Decatur, GA