Labor Day Stay-cation Fueled by Low Wine Prices

With our lives governed by precious petrol we had little choice but to turn to wine as an alternative fuel source over Labor Day. The Large provided the first tasting session on a perfectly sunny SoCal day. After checking out the SW swell at Salt Creek we retired for a serious and amusing tasting dubbed Le Ruse Rouge de Mooj. The crew assembled for the avalanche of U20 wines laced with commentary heavy in fake Frénch acceñts. Let’s get to it. Many of the wines are still available.

Chris primed the tasters with a nice selection of Rosés that showcased the range of varietals and regions making up this prototypical summer beverage.

2010 Valley of the Moon Rosato de Sangiovese $12: Dark ruby. Strawberry flavors, like plums crossed with cherries but still not not super fruity. From Sonoma. Not sure I have had a pink Sangio. Simple wine, great effort. U20. Available at Bev Mo. 13.5%

2011 Muralhas De Monção Vinho Verde $11: Outstanding wine and a U20 standout. Fell in love with VVs last summer. Portugal fave. Serve ice cold! Dry with a spritz. A bit tart. Not sure I have had a pink Vinho Verde. Truly delicious. Available online. 11%

NV Conte Priola Raboso Rose $8: Semi-sparkling pinko with a cucumber nose. Not very fruity and out of whack. Disappointment. 11%

The blind tasting produced observations on wines and people. The tasting crew was populated with the usual assortment of folks: intelligent naive adults with ample transferable knowledge to never buy a counterfeit bottle of Lafite; enthusiastic young ‘uns with undeveloped palates; and a couple of sand-bagging seasoned veterans. All wines were bagged and numbered. A “cheat sheet” was provided with data meant to confuse all!

#1 2010 Cote du Py Morgon $13: Purple color, spicy nose, medium body, full flavors. Veterans suggest Tempranillo, perhaps Malbec. Only Mrs. tBoW [ed. the ultimate sandbagger] picked it as the Gamay. Everyone else thrown by the spicy nose. There was general agreement the wine was Old World and young. Educable moment: observing the color against a white surface such as a napkin is helpful. 13%

#2 2009 Bodegas Volver Paso a Paso Tempranillo $8: Purple color, viscous liquid, recent vintage, chocolate flavors. This wine threw everyone for a loop. Nobody guessed it. The veterans thought this might be the Beajuolais. Turned out to be the Spanish Tempranillo grown at 2,000 feet with low yielding vines from a winery producing 48,000 cases. Got better with the evening. What a U10 bargain! 13%

#3 2003 Ridge Geyserville $32 (online Cellartracker): Red brick color, soft fruit, still quite viscous, can smell the alcohol. Well balanced. Older wine. Easy pick for the cognoscenti. Popular favorite. Wonderfully aged. Balanced with soft flavors. Blend is 76% Zinfandel, 18% Carignane and 6% something else grown in California.

#4 2008 Kir-Yianni Xinomavro Ramnista $25: The Greek wine made from indigenous Xinomavro. Tough to pick inclduing tBoW who supplied the bottle. Tasted like a young green Cabernet! This turned out to be the “ruse” in the tasting as there was no Cabernet even though the cheat sheet listed one! Le Large is the strictest of taskmasters. 14%

#5 2008 Soter North Valley Pinot Noir Willamette Valley $30: The nose confused the tasters who described it as unfamiliar, strange and of a new kind. Some said peachy like a blush wine. Vets piked up oak and vanilla and pepper. Several picked it as Pinot Noir. Turned out to be a dense Pinot Noir assembled from several vineyards. Pretty beefy but this IS a meaty vintage. 13.6%

#6 2006 Oddero Barolo $75 online: Positioned to be the cap on the tasting. Widely disliked especially the the 20-soemthings who spit it out like they did with their first taste of broccoli. Light brick red color showing too much age for the vintage. Dry flavor with little fruit. Opens up after 30 minutes but still pretty lean. We would guess the vineyard labels are much better. Available on line and in LA at Wallys. Too bad as the younger tasters will retain a poor impression of Nebbiolo. 14%

Final wine of the evening pleased the tasting crew – seasoned vets – that had not succumbed to palate fatigue.

2009 Derby Vineyard Derby Estate Fifteen 10 White
$28: Just another outstanding white Rhone style wine from Paso Robles made by another vintner nobody knew about – Tiffinee Vierra. Oily, unctuous [ed. emphatic redun-dunce], excellent blend of 43% Marsanne, 33% Rousanne and 24% Viognier. Each component is discernible but the Marsanne gives it the peachy mango nose and flavors. Lovely finish to a perfectly enjoyable Labor Day with friend and wine. Small production. 14%

Le Large hosted a fine wine event, perfect for Labor Day. The waves at Salt Creek were friendly with excitement. So was the tasting. The college football season is young while the summer season is at its apex. We can enjoy both for another 6 weeks. Many of these wines are available and there seems to be no limit to the number of games on the tube. Only matter left unresolved is the election, although we think we know which that will go.


  1. Wavatar
    Mouse says:

    Maestro. While researching the Derby 15 white, I came across this site. Welllll….. i gots the wine for $13 including shipping all da way to Connecticut. Happy Pesach!!!

  2. Wavatar
    Bacchus says:

    You gots a good deal!! Now send your comments preese.

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