Thursday, July 8, 2010

Michael Chiarello's Bottega, Yountville, CA

After dinner, we headed over to Michael Chiarello's Bottega. Lo and behold, Michael knew one of our friends so he promptly joined us and asked his staff to bring out his Chiarello Family Roux Old Vine Petite Sirah, vintages 1998 and 2007, to do a vertical tasting.

I did a little research online, and this wine (over several vintages) has been rated up to 92 points and is grown on a century old dry-farmed vineyard. We first tasted the 1998 vintage, which retails at $108 for 3 bottles on the winery's website.

Aroma - subtle fruit and chocolate
Taste - fruit, black tea, moderate tannins, so smooth, very long finish

Then Michael "spanked" the 2007 just a bit (shook it really hard in the decanter with a napkin over the top of it) before we tasted it. This vintage retails for $45/bottle on the winery's website.

Aroma - cassis, very fruit forward, slightly smoky
Taste - dark fruit, strong tannins, tobacco

Both D and I liked the 1998 vintage a lot better, although I can see that the younger wine will probably age nicely.

Michael then brought out a white varietal that I've never heard of before, and served it to everyone on our side of the deck.

Ribolla Gialla is a white Italian wine grape, and this Chiara Bianco Ribolla Gialla 2009 is from Napa Valley. It smelled and tasted light and citrusy with hints of honeysuckle. I really liked it and would be very interested in trying it again. It retails for $30/bottle on the winery's site.

We also tried 2 other wines at Bottega prior to the tasting with Michael.

The first was the Patz & Hall Jenkins Ranch Pinot Noir 2007, Sonoma Coast, CA, which retails for $62/bottle at Bottega and around $45/bottle online. It was rated 94 points by Steve Heimoff from Wine Enthusiast, and other vintages of this wine have been rated in the 90-point range as well.

Aroma - cherries
Taste - cherries, black tea, soft tannins, a little like cherry cough syrup at first, but opened up to notes of chocolate later

This wine was okay, but I've had better in this price range. I wonder if it would help to aerate or decant the wine, because it seemed to have potential as it opened up.

The final wine of the evening was Pneu Pinot Noir 2007, Anderson Valley, CA, which we drank before and after the tasting with Michael. It retails for $80/bottle at Bottega, and can be found for around $50 at V Wine Cellars in Yountville.

Aroma - cherries, minerals
Taste - cherries, minerals, black tea, soft to moderate tannins

I liked this wine - I especially like the taste of minerals in wine, so this one really appealed to me!

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