Thursday, May 20, 2010

Wines I'm Drinking: Pahlmeyer Tasting at Wine Spectrum

Tonight I attended one of the always-interesting tastings at the Wine Spectrum Shop and Bar in old downtown Santa Rosa, just off of Railroad Square (707 636-1064)--one of the best wine shops in the area. Pahlmeyer was the featured winery. I tasted five wines. Tasting notes follow.

2007 Pahlmeyer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay: Very pale in the glass. Light oak on the nose, vague hints of pineapple, and a touch of pear blossom. A little caramel, too. Overall, though, not very open. Has presence on the palate, but mostly a sweet, not-very-subtle fruitiness suggestive of caramel and pineapples. Quite long, but low in acid, which made it seem rather flat. Not at all my style. The winery representative I spoke with very briefly said they poured them comparatively warm on purpose, but I find it hard to imagine this wouldn't have been more attractive more thoroughly chilled.

2007 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Chardonnay: Slightly deeper in color than the Sonoma wine. Peachy on the nose. Light, oaky scents again. Pineapple, but more restrained than in the above wine. Not very forthcoming at all, despite the comparatively warm temperature. Some floral scents not present in the Sonoma wine, a bit perfumey. I had to go outside to be sure I wasn't smelling the perfume or cologne of one of the patrons, but the floral quality appeared to be in the wine. Tarter and more subtle than the Sonoma wine, but mostly had a simple sweetness without much nuance. Moderately long. Some apricots on the finish. Nothing wrong with this wine (and I preferred it to the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay), but not a very interesting wine either.

2005 Pahlmeyer "Jayson" Napa Valley Red: This is a blend of Merlot (73%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19%), Cabernet Franc (6%), Petit Verdot (1.5%), and Malbec (0.5%)--in other words, a Bordeaux-style blend. A fairly full-looking medium red that looks neither young nor old. Scents of currants and boysenberries and black raspberries. Very Zinfandel-like on the nose. Tasted blind, I would have called this a Zin just from the nose. Medium body. Moderate tannins. Moderate length. A trifle rough overall. Something spicy and woody on the finish. Again, tasted blind, I would have called this a decent, if not great, Zinfandel. Not at all unpleasant--probably my favorite wine of the evening--but this left me cold.

2006 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Merlot: A medium red not showing much age but this does not look like a young wine either. Perfumy scents on the nose--scents I associate with women's make-up, but overall quite closed. Sweet on the palate. Good tannin. Much more grip than the above wine. Nicely balanced with fruit and acidity. Of only moderate length. Seems quite closed. Young. Will need time, but seems to lack distinction already. I may be wrong, but I find it hard to imagine this improving that much--aside from softening. Seems a trifle thin, even.

2005 Pahlmeyer Napa Valley Proprietary Red: A deep, full, purple-red. Fairly closed on the nose--suggestive of black raspberries mostly. Good fruit on the palate. Concentrated. Prominent tannins. Still seems young. Clean and fruity, but, again, seems rather bland and of only moderate length.

If the sheet provided is correct, Robert Parker has given many of these wines high points and the prices asked range from $39 to $99 a bottle. I don't understand what he was thinking. I found the entire flight rather disappointing. It's hard to imagine the wines were poorly stored or in any way compromised as these came directly from the winery. The winemaker, Erin Green, was present and presumably tasted the wines. I can only think that they were as they were intended to be. There's no accounting for taste, as they say, but I expect to be really excited when someone asks me to pay $100 for a bottle of wine (the Proprietary Red). I found no excitement tonight--which is no reflection on the Wine Spectrum. This is doubly puzzling, though, as I have good memories of Pahlmeyer wines from the mid-1990s. I fully acknowledge that a brief tasting of this sort is not the ideal way to taste wine. Having said that, based on what I had tonight, I'd say the emperor is naked.

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