Brown Bag Wine Night “Pinot Shminot”

A group of Dallas wine enthusiast, including myself, have started this tradition where we meet at a BYOB restaurant and each person brings a bottle of wine. The wine is wrapped in a discrete brown bag and we all taste the wines blind later disclosing what they are after everyone has sampled the wine.
This time we met at Kozy’s Kitchen
I loved this venue and it really lived up to its name. The place is really “Kozy” and the food was spectacular. I had Buffalo Tacos which can be seen here.
A great food to load up on before a wine tasting!

Kate Lynch wrote an awesome post about Kozys that I could not agree with more you can read that here.
I really hope that we do another tasting here at Kozy’s I really liked the place!

Now back to the Wines:
We always have criteria for what we are to bring and this time the tasting was with “Pinot”
I have struggled with Pinot Noir for a long time. Mainly because of the price points and quality for the price. Many I have talked to about my lack of excitement for this varietal look at me like I have a 3rd eye or some other odd appendage growing out of my head when I tell them that I just don’t get what other see in the grape.
I argue the point that the American wine drinking public did not really know about Pinot Noir till the movie Sideways came out where the co-star of the show Miles made the comment that he would not drink Merlot and preferred Pinot Noir over any other wine. Now where people got this movie incorrect was that Miles would not drink Merlot because of an emotional connection he had with his divorced wife. And Pinot being the complete opposite end of the spectrum was a great alternative. Most of the wine drinking public did not get the point being made in this movie and many felt that it was a push for Pinot Noir.
Sales for Pinot Noir did increase by over 20% in the first few months after the movie was released back in 2004.
I am on my soap box about this because this is a major factor in why I am just not “into Pinot” like many others are. I do drink Pinot Noir from time to time and have had (before this tasting) a few good Pinot Noirs but what you get for what you pay for is a hard sell to me.
So me going into this tasting was somewhat of a struggle.
Now I did my homework on Pinot Noir, I sampled lots of Pinot Noirs from all over the world got recommendations from many helpful people, but all in all I just could not find a Pinot Noir to bring that I could say “I love this wine!”  All the things that people said they loved about Pinot Noir I just did not find impressive. I did have a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley and a Pinot Noir from Chile that I really liked and did not mind drinking, but when the date for our BBWN was approaching I could not come up with a wine for me.
My decision at the last minute was to  completely blow everyone out of the water with a “Pinot” except this was a 2009 Chandon Pinot Meunier from Carneros region of California
 Now one thing I will point out about this grape, Many would never have even tried this wine because it was a grape varietal they were not familiar with. This is one of the 3 grapes used to make Champagne with. It is similar to Pinot Noir however the taste profile is completely different. And honestly, some said that they were able to pick it out of the line up, but in all honesty I think maybe only 1 or 2 could.
The reason why I brought a Pinot Meunier instead of Pinot Noir was because on Twitter when we were all setting up the criteria for this event I was the only one arguing about doing a blind tasting of Pinot. Terry @Friscokid49  and I went round and round about doing something other than Pinot Noir. At the end I gave in realizing that I was the only one who did not want this varietal so I said “Ok, thats fine lets just do Pinot” Terry Agreed and the Night was set. We all know that day the rebellious “Texian” in me came out… as I was following the rules set just not the intent of the rules 🙂 Come to find out another person who was ill that day had plans on bringing a bottle of Pinot Meunier so that made me feel a little better. I sure wish he had been there, as that would have been someone else in my corner that night 🙂

I brought my electric wine opener that I thought would come in handy. Since the last meet up there were some issues getting the bottles open since the restaurant only had 1 corkscrew. This wine opener was given to me by my Aunt and Uncle as an anniversary present a few months back and honestly I had not had any issues opening wine bottles until that night. I made a complete fool of myself trying to open the bottle of wine Melanie (The Dallas Wine Chick) brought (which I should have known was going to be aged) as you can see here this is what happened!

The corkscrew striped out of the cork and we tried everything to get the cork out…sadly this is what resulted…

It had to be filtered and decanted into a pitcher…forget the brown bag….

The wines that tatsed were:

The Four Graces 2009 Oregon Pinot Noir

Acrobat 2010 Oregon Pinot Noir

Windsor Sonoma 2008 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Bearboat 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Decoy by Duckhorn 2010 Sonoma County Pinot Noir

Chandon 2009 Pinot Meunier -Mine 😀

Nuits St. Georges  2007 Burgundy

Retour 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Check out Kate Lynch’s blog for better pics and descriptions of the wines from her perspective. She really did a great job on the descriptions of the wines.

One thing I noticed about Pinot Noir was that it needs lots of time to breath. After opening and letting them get a little air the wines were still not as drinkable as we all expected. Also too the wine glasses that Kozys provided did nothing for the wines as you can see here thanks to Melanie who was proactive enough to bring REAL wine glasses that made a complete difference in the taste of the wines. It made me wonder if the reason why I might not be “into Pinot” is because I do not have the right glass….After tasting and re-tasting all these wines I came down to my top 3.

1. Decoy by Duckhorn 2010 Sonoma County Pinot Noir – I really liked the fruit and syrup like texture that was coming out of this wine when I discovered what it was I was very impressed as I have found it as low as 15.99 in a few stores. And for that price point I would not hesitate picking up a bottle of this wine.

2. Chandon 2009 Pinot Meunier – This wine really impressed me. Terry and myself both agreed it was allot like drinking a Dr Pepper with a little bit of vanilla in the finish. Later after the wine breathed more we could tell that there was an interesting sarsaparilla (root beer) flavor coming out as well. We all agreed it was a “Soda wine.” Being the #Bteam wino that I am I was very impressed by this wine even though it was not a Pinot Noir. And I pointed out to a few people that most would have never tried this wine if I would not have brought it.

3. Retour 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir – Now this wine really shocked me. If someone would not have told me that this was a Pinot Noir I would have thought it to be a different grape. There was a very unique lavender hint on the nose which I at first thought “Ok who just put lotion on their hands and touched my glass!” The wine was not light bodied like I have had from all the other Pinot Noirs and the acid was very much balance quite possibly from the age. I was shocked to find out that it was from Willamette because all the Pinots I have tasted from that region are always acidity first and fruit second. I really loved this wine. It made me wonder if all the other Pinot Noirs I have tasted have been the “bad Pinots” that many talk about. I know for myself that this wine really made me rethink Pinot Noir. The price point was the highest of the lineup ($80s) but I would have paid that price for this wine if I had known the quality behind it.
In the past I have been burned with over priced Pinot Noirs so Im always cautious. Leave it to Melanie to teach me a lesson!
I came out of the tasting learning:

1.Willamette Valley is pronounced “Will-amit” Thanks to Justin’s friend Chad who taught us this very important fact. He said just think of saying “Damn-it” and add “Will” before it! A cleaver tip! Thanks Chad!

2.The right glass with Pinot Noir is VERY VERY important.

3.If you want good Pinot you are going to have to spend some money from an established producer (one who was making and growing quality Pinot Noir before the movie Sideways came out) The money spent will be worthy of the price.

This tasting did make me rethink Pinot Noir as a good wine, I just have to know what Im doing to find it. We all need a Dallas Wine Chick to help us stretch and grow a little! Thank you Melanie!

But with all sincerity,  I just want to know when a movie about Mencia will be coming out so that the wine drinking public will all want to drink wines from the Bierzo region of Spain! 🙂


Make your own Pizza night!

This week has been a tough one for me. Ive been all over the state not to mention an emergency trip down to Houston due to a scare from an ill family member as well as my CRX dying on me in Dallas. The Distributor went bad on me after being in the car only 4 months. Apparently from what Ive been told by many fellow CRX owners, the distributors are a very sensitive part to these cars and unless you buy an “O.E.” replacement you are going to have problems. The one I purchased when I was having other issues with the car was brand new from Oreilly Auto parts and was made in China not Japan. Needless to say its a good thing I had a spare because Im back on the road. Its terrible that I can not get reimbursed for having to tow it back home.

So I said all that to say… I needed some good food and wine! What better than to make your own pizza!

The wife and I invited our close friend Nicole over who just recently turned 21 to celebrate and help us eat all this pizza! We all 3 prefer thin crust pizza and lots of veggies on ours as you can see. There were tons of left overs!

I also experimented with something new a BBQ chicken pizza with onions and 2 kinds of cheese. This one was my favorite!

Now the wine….
I have been on this quest to understand Pinot Noir and why people like this grape so much. I honestly still do not see what many see in it as opposed to many other fuller bodied varietals. Ive been drinking Pinot all around the world and This one was from Mendoza Argentina this time.

09 Salentein Reserve Pinot Noir, Mendoza Aregntina – 17.99 –
One thing I noticed about this Pinot was that it was very well balanced. The acidity was not as prominent as you find in many other Pinots. The fruit was mostly strawberry which I am finding is something that you find in more South American Pinots than other regions. I actually like this Pinot because well it did not remind me when I drink it every time that it was a Pinot. There was some nice soft tannins that also showed up later after being open a while. All around it was a good wine at a good price point.

2009 Domaine Santa Duc Rasteau Rouge Les Blovac, Rhone, France -16.99
After the last Brown Bag Wine night and hearing @Friscokid49 talk about how 09 was a phenomenal year in Rhone, Ive been on a quest to find a bottle that would match what he brought that night. Sadly I have been really disappointed with the Rhone reds Ive been finding. This one was part of that group. While the wine had a fantastic deep color and quite a bit of blueberry fruit, I could not get over the Bret. that was on the nose. I know the French love this in their wines because they feel it expresses the “Terroir” But for me I just could not get over it.  Also on the palate was a very airy feel almost like c02 that was not removed. Made me almost think that this wine needs to age for a few more years. Again Im pretty sure the french love this in their wines but for me it just was not worthy of the price. It did do quite well though with my BBQ pizza and the tannins and mouthfeel were disguised when paired with that cheesy monster of a concoction. I will say it was way better with food than without. Maybe some who love this style of wine will appreciate it more so than I

2010 Cap*Rock Bingham Family Vineyards Dry Grenache Rose, Texas High Plains – 10.99 –
I really liked this wine and loved that it was from Texas! I tasted it on my last trip out to Lubbock and was saddened that I only brought back one bottle. I had tasted so many wines that day that things were kind of running together taste-wise. Since the new Specs has opened in Dallas I now have access to this wine and love the quality for price that this wine shows. I firmly believe wines like this will put Texas on the map more so than some of the over priced wines that are being pushed through the Texas wine blogs.
The wine is simple and has a nice berry finish which as you let it sit open a while really shows it self. It caters to the novice wine drinker as well as the more experienced. The nose also does not have the powerful strawberry aromas that you find in most Roses.

But I can say all kinds of things but Ill let this be a testament for you. Our newly 21yr old friend Nicole loves this wine. She is not a wine drinker by any means and has always wanted sweeter wines. This is the first wine I have ever found that she likes. Ive tried other SPW’s (silly pink wines) and none please her palate like this wine does.
To me that says allot and is worthy of some respect even if the wine is pink.

Nicole still has issues learning how to open a bottle of wine, so here is her is a picture of her practicing.  I bought a bottle for her Birthday and she said it took her 10 minutes to figure out how to open it. So funny, after I showed her a few tricks to using this type of corkscrew she quickly became a pro!

Last night was a blast… Good food, a good friend and Time with my beloved wife and family! It was what I needed!