Tasting notes, varietals, grapes - anything related to wine
(I'm sure others will chime in who were there,but I like to get my notes out early, so I can't second guess myself)
So I rarely have lunch away from desk, but today was too good to pass up. Daniel Posner at Grapes in N. White Plains invited me to join a group of geeks for lunch and a blind tasting, with the only knowledge that it would include the 2005 Sierra Carche. If anyone isn't familiar with this story, this was a "brand" wine that got a very high score from Dr Jay Miller at WA, and subsequently has led to some major disappointment among a lot (though not all) buyers. There has been some controversy and confusion re lot numbers, production figures, and what the wine actually is.
Lunch was hamburgers for appetizers and steak for main course, a real guy lunch (there was potato salad, vegetables, and cheese too). Lineup was 14 wines (a 15th, the 2005 Pico Madama, was corked). Daniel knew the lineup, but had employees blind the bottles, so single blind for him, for the rest of us it was double blind (though we knew there was at least one 2005 Sierra Carche). About a dozen foks attended, some ITB, a couple consumers who had bought SC, and a few interested observer winegeeks.
As a disclaimer, I don't drink much Spanish wine except some Rioja, so maybe not the best judge.
Flight One - Not an auspicious start
#1 Menthol, slightly weedy, tired. Not good. C-
#2 Grenachey, jammy/hot B-/C+
#3 Porty slightly lifted nose , alcoholic, heavy in mouth but thin flavors C
#4 Light, cherry fruit, a touch of frizzante at first, some people really hated, I thought a simple quaffer but not awful B-/C+
#5 Horrible nose, VA meets turpentine meets weedy greenness, really terrible, Kenney (who has had Sierra Carche a number of times) says "this is it!" D/F
#6 Ripe, jammy, dark red fruit, sweeter than my preferred style but at least not flawed. B-
Some talk of stoning Dan and raiding the store downstairs for something to drink
#7 Green , some VA/shoe polish, not quite as bad as 5, but similar nose makes us think we found a second Sierra Carche. D
#8 Jammy, sweet, rich, low low acid, a charred oak component. Not my style, but at least not flawed. Actually a bit of a relieft after #5 & 7 B-/B
#9 Muted fruit, a little burnt rubber, I come around to agreeing it's corked.
We're beginning to resemble the villagers in Frankenstein, luckily the upstairs of Grapes is devoid of torches.
#10 A bit of black fruit, a little brett, but comparatively straightforward and not flawed by my standards. C+/B+
#11 OK, I thought #5 was bad, till I tasted this. Burnt rubber and sewagey brett. Horrible wine, we tried to one-up each other with descriptors. "tires leaving skid marks as the car slides off road into the waste pond at the pig farm" was my contribution (Tyler informed me the wastepond is called the "lagoon", I'll use that next time). Fatally flawed wine. F
#12 Red berries, a bit plain but clean, one of my faves of the lunch (admittedly a bit of faint praise). It's a rare tasting where "it's clean" is one of the top superlatives of the event. B
#13 Red fruit, very sweet, but some balancing acids, one of the best of the day (again, faint praise). I thought this or maybe #12 was an 01 Embruix I expected to be in lineup. B/B-
#14 Hot, disjointed, off nose (I think Adam nails it with"rotting hay." ) C-
Thank God, it's over!
Then we sent in our votes for top 3 faves, and Howard totalled while Daniel unveiled.
#1 2005 Sierra Carche (lot 8114)
#2 2005 Espectacle (Monsant) - Dan says $150
#3 2004 Pico Madama
#4 The Pepper Pot (South Africa) missed vintage, $14
#5 2005 Sierra Carche (lot 8114)
#6 2005 Pasanau (El Vell Coster) Priorat
#7 2005 Sierra Carche (lot 8114)
#8 2005 Mollydooker Carnival of Love
#9 2007 Resalso (Ribera del Duero)
#10 2007 A1 Mouvedre $12
#11 2007 Panarroz (Jumilla)
#12 2008 Oriol (Emporda) $12
#13 2001 Clos Fonta (Priorat)
#14 2005 Sierra Carche (lot 8113)
#2 1 1st Place Vote
#6 1 1st Place Vote, 1 2nd Place Vote, 2 Third Place Votes
#8 4 1st Place Votes, 6 2nd Place Votes, 1 Third Place Votes
#12 4 1st Place Votes, 2 2nd Place Vote, 3 Third Place Votes
#13 2 1st Place Votes, 3 2nd Place Vote, 6 Third Place Votes
OK, so #11 wasn't Sierra Carche (this was a terrible bottle, but a couple of people who know the Panarroz said bottle wasn't representative).
I'm surprised that Carnival of Love was one of my top wines, but it was a relief to have something that seemed to be what the winemaker intended.
There may be some 96 point Sierra Carches out there, but these four were sub-80 in my mental conversion
I may not be much of a judge of Spanish wines, and not the biggest fan of grenache etc, but even folks better disposed towards those wines seemed to be in agreement that the Sierra Carches were all terrible, and I didn't hear one person say "I'd buy this" about any of the wines. I could see maybe #12.
I can't say it was my favorite lineup, but the good news was since I was driving and going back to work I had no trouble spitting!
Fun time, nice group, good food, "interesting" wines, good to see some old acquaintances and meet some new people.
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.
Very entertaining read but glad that I wasn't in the panel. Not much left to be said about whether SC is a 90+ point wine after this. Nail in the coffin until it resurrects under a different name.
C l 3 m
Thanks! Great notes. I have had good luck with the Panarroz before but I haven't tried one since the 05 vintage. We sold tons of the '04. It is a Dan Kravitz Selections wine, and, in general, I like his picks.
Rosso Wine Shop
The best part of the luncheon was the Kenney & Manzi show next to me! I almost spit wine out on several occasions, which come to think of it would not have been a bad idea with some of the atrocities. I'll post my notes later, but I too had the Carnival of Love (formerly known as "The Carnival of Crap" by me) as my #1 wine, but after tasting those Sierra Carches I think I might have given 90pts to turpentine.
Very generous afternoon Dan, thanks a lot. I had a great time and learned a lot.
Many, many thanks to Dan for sponsoring this exploration of the undrinkable and for manning the barbeque, and to all the participants who sacrificed their palates in the interests of oenology (assuming this was wine). Robert Kenney, who brought the Sierra Carche problem to light, deserves a special mention, too, for joining us and recounting how he's methodically worked his way through 18 bottles of the stuff (hereinafter "SC"). (Sure you want to keep telling people that, Robert?)
It was fascinating in a morbid sort of way. The SCs were indeed awful, but each bottle was awful in a subtly different way. Some were more porty, some had more of a pine antisceptic note. But there were a couple of common strands that allowed the group to pick them out for the most part.
For starters, they oozed VA. I make my own vinegar, so I'm not usually too sensitive to VA, but I'm sure you could clean your copper pots with these.
The other signature could be summed up in my note “underripe and overripe at the same time” -- no small feat. They were also brutally tannic and fruit-free.
I'd love to know what a winemaker would say about these. We never did hear about those lab tests in Barcelona, did we? Aside from the VA, I don’t know that these were technically flawed. I think they may just be overripe, overextracted and wildly out of balance.
My scores for the four SC bottles were 50, 60, 60 and a whopping 74 for one (on the 50-100 point scale). The only wines that came close to being as bad were the Pico Madama, made by the same winery for the same marketing/importing firms (it also wreaked of VA), and another Jumilla. (I'll spare you my thoughts on Jumilla.)
There were a few pleasant wines, including a 2006 Espectacle from ancient vines in Montsant (96 Jay Miller points; 86 John Morris points), but I lost interest in that when the $150 price tag was revealed. I liked the 2005 Pasanau Priorat, too, though it had a zin-like fruit to it and someone guessed it was a Toro. Sorry -- it was $70 but goes for $120 at Grapes now that it has garnered 97 Jay Miller points (cf. 86 John Morris points).
Perhaps this fact sums up the experience best: Two of my four favorite wines were a slightly corked $15 Resalso Ribera del Duero and a Mollydooker Carnival of Love ringer (it is what it is, it tasted like an Aussie shiraz, and it was more potable than the other Mollydookers I’ve had).
Nonetheless, it was by far the most entertaining wine event of my year.
Last edited by John Morris on September 3rd 2009, 3:53pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Why can't a dog simulate pain? Is he too honest?" -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
This is a great thread. I love Dan Posner and his passion for both the integrity in wine making and in critic wine reporting.
I am one of the lucky ones that actually tasted the Sierra Crash.
I bought 3 admittedly because of the $29.00 tariff for a highly rated wine. To my credit it was only a case filler for some 05 Bordeaux futures I purchased from WL. I really never has any expectation that it was a mid 90 point wine.
It was horrific. It was so bad that instead of opening a second bottle as I normally would to assure myself that the first was not flawed, I gifted the remaining two to women with whom I am friendly when they had reached a level of intoxication that I doubted they could tell the difference.
I also had the " pleasure" of tasting the 05 Pico Madama in Napa with the berserker crew. If your bottle was truly corked, then all I can say is you were lucky. I would have preferred a corked wine to the dreck I tasted.
Last, I notice that you also "loved" the 2007 Panarroz (Jumilla). I received a donation of 3 cases of that lovely wine along with Eric Solomon's Garnacha that spurred great debate in a similar way as Sierra Carche last year at my Culinary Festival for our Sunday Brunch. I rarely would be critical of any wine or wine company or distributor that gave any wine to a charity especially mine. These wines were not anywhere near drinkable. The reason I state this is that the WA loved both. The WA never changed the scores of either after many complaints from its subscribers. Yet both were below swill.
In conclusion, I take heat here because I am not in love with people that have nothing better to do than blast our country because it is not run their way.
Dan Posner has taken heat for demanding integrity. This tasting supports Dan, his mission and the absolute failure of the critics over there. Great job guinea pigs.
Last edited by Jack Bulkin on September 3rd 2009, 4:28pm, edited 1 time in total.
An article in the “Journal of Ps
Who loved it? Not Dale or me! That was the only other wine I gave 50 points. Someone described it accurately as smelling like "rotted bubblegum."
What did Miller give that? I don't think Dan told us.
"Why can't a dog simulate pain? Is he too honest?" -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
I put the word "loved" in quotes because of the vivid and wretched tasting notes you both gave. The 07 was not rated. The 05 was given an 88.
An article in the “Journal of Ps
Now I understand RMP's infamous quote that only makers of swill do not want him to review their wines. Those who make wine below swill are eager to have him do so.
I ventured out for my first get together with some wine geeks, and was looking forward to some great posner selections, even though we had to agree to put some Sierra Carche in our mouths again. What it turned out to be was a laughathon, with some food and a big dump bucket.
I kept waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out and hug me and tell me "You just got Punk'd"
I have to admit, those were THE worst lineup of wines I have EVER tasted. And I have been tortured with way too many of Kenney's "Wait till you taste this one from my man Dr. Big Jay."
With that, I am afraid I healed a bit too quickly, and DID attend this one. I would have rather had a few more weeks of healing, and missed this massacre.
#1 A bit candyish on the nose. But other than that, thin, insipid and hot. 28 pts My note thought "SC", but the candy nose made me think it was some gem that Posner carries. 2005 Sierra Carche
#2 I thought this decent, a bit thin also, but something I could actually drink, if I had to. "A low level CDR?" 2005 Espectacle - Monsant
#3 Tannic and thin, not much fruit and no finish. "possible bordeaux?" 2004 Pico Madama
#4 I agree with Dale, that it was light, with some cherryish fruit. Drinkable, but forgetable. "Chianti?" The Pepper Pot
#5 This was so horrible, that it could only be the SC. VA big time. What a terrible nose. I do not remember the SCs that I had being THIS bad. Mine were more in the 55-60 pt range:) 22 pts tops 2005 Sierra Carche
#6 I also thought this was fairly rich and jammy. Had sweet tannins, and was decent to nice. "Aussie?" Pasanau - El Vell Coster
#7 Another FOR SURE CR. Disgusting nose, hard to put in mouth, easy to spit. "SC" 23 pts 2005 Sierra Carche
#8 Big sweet fruit, full bodied, jammy and fun. "Cali syrah?" Mollydooker COL
#9 corked? Resalso
#10 A basically sound wine. Unremarkable, decent wine. "QPR Spanish? 2007 A1 Mouvedre
#11 A terrible wine that was again, either a SC or another Posner gem he was trying to sell us on. "SC" 2007 Panarroz
#12 Sweet, fairly balanced, blueberries, smooth "Higher level spanish" Oriol - Emporda
#13 By this time I wasn't able to tell much, other than that it was a decent bottle, and a winner compared to most of the shit we had to put up with. Clos Fonta
#14 either poster has put in many bottles of SC, or he is in bed with Miller. Disgusting 23 pts "SC" 2005 Sierra Carche
Nice meeting all of you, and thanks to Dan for putting up all of the wines and supplying the foods. As bad as the wines were (mostly), it was well done and makes a point very plainly.
NOW I see how jay rated the SC 96 pts.....four bottles, add em up = 96pts. Easy stuff, this wine rating for WA.
As far as wines, it can only get better!!
Last edited by Steve Manzi on September 3rd 2009, 5:16pm, edited 2 times in total.
If you knew how bad the wines would be, you would buy her a new car to go along with that seat.
No doubt Steve. I would have enjoyed the company a lot more than the wines, I am sure.
Proudly ITB -
Now that I understand!
would have been fun for me - was having an annual physical which included getting very friendly with the doc
My public apology for not being able to attend this "event for the ages" after being cordially invited by Dan. I'm sorry I missed it, and I'm especially sorry I missed looking at the faces of the attendees while they were tasting these atrocities! It sure sounds like an exercise in s&m...
I wanted to thank you for setting up the tasting and providing lunch.
This was my first blind tasting, and an eye opener it was. The Mollydooker wasn't as good blind as it was when I originally tasted it in June. Did blind affect the outcome, or was it a bottle variation? Beats me. It was my #3 wine. It tasted like a crowd pleaser, but a buy? My notes say not for me.
I was surrounded at the table by ITB folks and serious wine drinkers. In this group, I'm low man on the totem pole. I was surprised to find that all the experts seemed to agree with some of my notes. Am I getting smarter as I progress in my wine education, or is there something the other guys have to worry about.
As for the SC, I think we all agreed that the high rating of a professional wine critic was flawed. Heck, even I know that. Just a smell of this and you'd start the points at 20. Eich.
I thought the Resalsco was a simple wine, and I was right. Retail $15.
I thought the Panarroz tasted funny. Someone said this was flawed. At $9, I'd have no problem pouring this down the drain.
My #2 wine was the Oriol. It was sweet, but not overly sweet. An easy drinker. Retail $15.
My #1 wine was the '01 Clos Fonta. A Spanish Priorat. 94 points $90. Is it worth $90? That's for you to decide, but if I was spending $90, I'd pick up an ACV Eloge or a couple of Sojourns.
Who says good wine has to be expensive. If I paid $150 for the Espectacle, I would have been pissed. Was it good? yes. Is it worth $150? No.
I specialize in airline miles and hotel points, with a minor in wine.
2014 WOTY based on CT notes.
2004 Anderson's Conn Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate Reserve
2009 EMH Cabernet Sauvignon Black Cat 10th Anniversary Special Selection
2009 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon GIII Beckstoffer Georges III Vineyard
While I can't say I enjoyed the wines, I certainly enjoyed the tasting. I thought Daniel did a good job of choosing wines mostly from the same areas and/or same cepages to give the SCs a fair chance.
Some thoughts based on comments on eBob- As I noted, my palate preference is not towards hot climate wines. That said, these bottles were just flat out flawed IMHO. I put the CoL in my top 4 wines, despite my palate preference, just because it was so clean compared to the SCs, the Pico Madama (also from Well Oiled), the Panarroz. etc. Others who like very ripe wines more than I do were just as unhappy with those wines. I've never been at a tasting where some of the top positive comments were along the lines of "hey, at least this one is clean."
I understand that Mr Parker and some other posters have had better experiences. But the 4 Sierra Carches came from separate sources (2 from PLCB, 2 from participants who bought at retail on East Coast), so I don't think storage is the issue. I guess heat in shipping might be an issue, but I've tasted lots of heat damaged wines, and these didn't strike a profile I would associate with that. I guess maybe the first SC , which had at least a less offensive nose than the others. might resemble a heat issue with its premature tiredness . I can believe the Panarroz is an off bottle, tough to judge on one, but 4 bottles from 3 or 4 different stores?
Dan and Mark, good to see you again. John and Steve, nice to meet you. Max, sorry you missed it.
Paul, I also thought the Panarroz decent in earlier vintage. As noted, could just be a bad bottle
2004 Panarroz (Jumilla)
Jim really liked this. Super fruit-forward. A very ripe red fruit body, with a light herbal note. Very soft mouthfeel. Probably a very good value (someone had brought to a party on weekend, but I think I've seen at $7-8), but not a style I really go for. But probably a huge hit at a non-geek party. B-
Ok, I'd like to post my thoughts on the wines, I think they mirror a lot of others thoughts that day. It was great to meet everyone and put faces to names I see on this board and to see old friends again.
1) stewed fruit, hard, tannic, chemicals, not pleasant at all - 2005 Sierre carche #15235 lot8114 - this was the best of the four Sierra Carches, which is like picking out your favorite turd in the bowl
2) nice fruit, very ripe, loads of alcohol, spoofed - 2005 Espectacle (at $150 I would be PISSED if I had bought any of this, most of us thought this was low end shiraz or CdR
3) tannic, tight, some spice, some fruit, might open up a bit, not too bad, but not something I want to drink again - 2004 Pico Madama
4) loads of alcohol initially, I thought it may be a Shiraz, very fruit forward and ripe - 2008 The Pepper Pot(South Africa) Syrah/Mourvedre/Tannat blend - interesting wine and for $12?? or so not a bad wine really, my #4
5) varnish, bad, awful - 2005 Sierra Carche - this was horrendous swill
6)nice fruit, oak, maybe a new world Cabernet?, I liked this and would drink it - 2005 Pasanau El Veil Costere Priorat - my #3 of the afternoon
7) awful, varnish, toxic chemicals - 2005 Sierra Carche - #15236 lot 8114
8) akin to a dry port, sweet fruit, very nice, loads of rich, ripe fruit, very Aussie - 2005 Mollydooker Carnival of love - I've had this wine twice in the past and have hated it, but this time, against this lot of horrific wines it was the best one going, my #1 wine of the afternoon, at lest it didn't taste manufactured in a lab
9) tainted or possibly cooked, - 2007 Resalso Ribera del Duero
10) not bad, a bit tannic, good fruit, but simple - 2007 A1 Muvedre Alicante
11) bad, stewed fruit, va, hot, actually painful to drink, aroma of overcooked cranberrys - 2007 Panarroz - This was clearly an off bottle, as I just had one of these and it was much better
12) a little over the top, big fruit, ripe vanilla and spice, nice wine - 2008 Oriel Vines del Aspres - my #2 of the afternoon
13) tannic, dusty, stewy fruit, oak, and alcohol, not very pleasurable - 2001 Mas de Gil Clos Forta Priorat
14) burnt rubber, va, hot, chemicals - 2005 Sierra Carche
Thanks again Dan, this was avery informative afternoon and a load of fun.
Okay, my turn. Firstly, thank you everyone who attended and were good sports. I tried to keep this event small and tried to have people attend who showed a previous interest in this whole Wine Advocate embarassment. What people lose sight of here is that a few weeks ago, Robert Parker "claims" to have tasted a good btl of Carche. Previous to that, he PROMISED to taste a btl on his video blog first. Instead, he tasted it in private with his wife, who gave the wine 93 points. We tasted 4 btls yesterday, from 3 DIFFERENT sources. And all were SHIT! That is the start of an investigation, not what Robert Parker has done.
Thank you, Jack, for your comments. I have been on the Wine Advocate's case for 2+ years now about Jay Miller and his tasting methodology. In that time, he has admitted to tasting just as Robert Parker does. This should ring serious alarm bells. Whatever Jay tasted for Carche was certainly not what anyo of us tasted yesterday and we had to do it 4 times.
On to the tasting...I selected, what I thought to be a good lineup. 15 wines served blind with a filet mignon lunch.
Lets examine the lineup, before we shit on the wines...
4 btls 2005 Sierra Carche @ WA 96 points each
2005 Pico Madama (corked, never served) WA 95+
2004 Pico Madama WA 93
2001 Clos Fonta WA 94
2007 Panarroz (Unrated by JM, but RP gave 2003-2006 all WA 90)
2007 Telmo Rodriguez A1 Murvedre
2005 Pasanau El Vell Coster WA 97
2008 Edgebaston Pepper Pot unrated
2007 Emilio Moro Resalso WA 90
2005 Espectacle (unrated, but 2004 was WA 99, 2006 WA 96)
2008 Oriol Unrated
2005 Mollydooker Carnival of Love WA 99
Is this really a bad lineup of wines? It reads like something Jay Miller might have on a riverboat cruise down the Murray River, no?
Most of these wines were very highly rated, and none were poorly rated. Before Thursday, I had never had Sierra Carche before, and all 4 btls were crap. I will never forget that smell of three of those btls. Absolutely disgusting. Panarroz must have been an off btl. I tasted that wine one week earlier and it was good.
One of the things I wanted to see was whether Pico Madama 2004 suffered like Sierra Carche 2005. It was not as bad but it was univerally panned by the group. I am curious to see where the 93 point btls of this are? Maybe Robert Parker can muster one up from another bulletin board member and taste it with his wife.
Onto Espectacle...first read this...http://dat.erobertparker.com/bboard/sho ... espectacle
I had the 2004 and it sucked. 2005 was a decent wine...for $10, much like the 2004. This is another example of what happens when an importer whispers into a wine critic's ear about 100+ year old Grenache vines in Montsant. In the 45 seconds that Jay Miller presumably spent with the 2004, he called it a 99 point wine. With the 2006, it is 96 points. Assume the 2005 would be a 97-98 pointer based on that scale. This is really a shame. I have not yet heard of anyone (besides Robert Kenney) have a full btl of this stuff and call it great. It should be noted that Robert Kenney thought the wine was crap yesterday.
Blind tasting is very revealing. Critics at the Wine Advocate should try it some time. Something is wrong with Sierra Carche. As Jay Miller first said, there was fraud somewhere. It is a shame that Robert Parker has no interest in seeing where it happened. It is a shame that Jay Miller will apparently continue to taste the portfolio of wines from Well Oiled Wine Co, when they have shown no proof that they are, in fact, innocent in all of this.
Special thanks to Steve Manzi and Robert Kenney. I worked this tasting around their schedules. I think I did right by them and the wine consuming public on these bulletin boards. I would have loved to taste a good btl of Sierra Carche. That would have made for interesting debate. Instead, we tasted 4 btls of shit. More importantly, many of these wines were shit.
So, where is the fraud really being committed?
I hope someone shows this post to people like John Kight, so that they can stop apologizing for the Wine Advocate. I wish Robert Parker would do the right thing, and continue his investigation into what happened with Sierra Carche. I also wish that he would change his tasting methods to those that he has preached for decades....taste blind! If not, do not tell your subscribers and the wine consuming public that you do!
To Mrs. Robert Parker,
I do not know your palate, but for you to score this wine 93 points, I do not wish to see anymore reviews from you.
I will add that the SCs that we tasted at this get together, were nothing like that BAD bottles I had. The three that I opened were all drinkable, as opposed to these wines that were deeply flawed on so many levels. The earlier ones I drank, resembled a very bad mountain cab profile, without the tannins. These wines made me think that there is some sort of bacteria going on in there. As bad as the wines were earlier, these wines were atrocious.
It is just funny (sad) that parker has (so far) been unable to find a bottle like we had. The things he said on his board, about how he enjoyed it, his wife enjoyed it, and then the real scientific investigation he did that sealed that this wine was well received, was his statement that "stores in the area reported selling well, and then having happy customers coming back for more"...are just so ridiculous for a publication that pronounces itself the CONSUMER advocate. What a joke.
Again, I hope that someone with strength in the media, gets this out to others beyond these boards, to report the WHOLE story for what it really is. A sham and coverup from many angles.
Nice write up for a dismal tasting.
As an aside, I was at Costco yesterday and I counted a total of eleven Spanish red wines with 90+ points from TWA. They made no mention of BJM, but had a nice glossy sign proclaiming their points. I wish that the general populace could see something like this or even attend before being duped into buying the swill.