Saturday, November 15, 2008

My first vertical

Last weekend my wine club had our first vertical tasting. (A vertical tasting is where you have the same wine, but different vintages, side by side.) Often wineries will sell these, but its usually the top end wines, averaging $80 or more per bottle. I think $30/bottles are worthy of saving and trying, and that's about all we can afford right now, so that's the price point we went with. We tasted the following wines:
  • 2003 Kenwood "Jack London" Cabernet
  • 2004 Kenwood "Jack London" Cabernet
  • 2005 Kenwood "Jack London" Cabernet
  • 2003 Simi "Landslide" Cabernet
  • 2004 Simi "Landslide" Cabernet
  • 2005 Simi "Landslide" Cabernet
We started off the evening with some Gloria Ferrar sparkling and cheeses then we served some filets with some yummy sides, and tried the wines. Both wines are from California, one is from Sonoma (Kenwood) and the other from Napa (Simi). Both use other grapes for blending, although the Simi is about 85% Cab and the Kenwood is about 90% Cab. It was interesting to see what the difference was, both in year and between the two. As suspected, I liked the 2003s more. I tend to like my cali cabs about 5 years old. What was slightly suprising, was that I liked the 2005s and 2004's about the same overall. Personally, I liked the Kenwood Jack London more, which is sad because its not as readily available here in the Lou.
For those of you who want to do a vertical tasting I have a few tips:
-Pick something ageable, but that you can also afford to keep for a few years.
-Start with the oldest one first. Its harder to track down an older vintage than the newer one and you don't want to be stuck bidding on some older wine to complete the vertical. Mr. Lush and I had both the 2003's and one 2004, so filling in the newer wines was easier.
-Speaking of newer vintages, don't be discouraged if you have a hard time getting the most recent vintage either. The 2005 Kenwood was hard to comeby because all the distributors wanted to sell out of the 2004 first. Which, of course if I had waited until the 2005 was out, the 2004 would've been hard to find. So planning and patience are key.
-Its best to have a group, even a small one, to taste. Then you aren't left with a bunch of opened wine or drinking the nice bottles by yourself. We had a group of 8, and with the sparkling before hand and dessert wine after, it was perfect. We split the cost of the wines between everyone and everyone brought a side dish. Of course, a downside of a group is the glassware needed.
-Get some cheap stemless glasses. The Dollar Tree (or other local dollar store) usually has them for, you guessed it, $1. We bought about 60 for the reception in the spring and kept them to use for wine functions. They travel well, store easy and if they break, who cares, they were only $1!
-Remember to label the glasses in some manner, whether paper labels on the glass, or the same wine charms for the certain year, whichever, you just don't want to get the wines mixed up.
-Get a measured pourer. I have a one ounce pourer we used for club tastings, so we had one person pour two ounces in each glass, and "eyeball" matched the level. (since we had the same glasses, this was an easy method) The two ounces was perfect, enough to sip each one a few times, but left enough in the bottle you could go back for at least one or two of your top favorites.
-Remember to print off a bit of info on the wines. I only printed off the blend percentages and how long it was aged in oak. If you're tasting the same wine, its better to know as much as you can about why you like one and not the other.
-Finally, if you do want to do a vertical tasting, I recommend starting off at Sams Club or another warehouse like place. Often Sams Club has multiple vintages, since they will cut a deal with a distributor. Sometimes you'll luck out and get 3, but usually they'll have at least 2 years. For example, on Tuesday, Mr. Lush and I picked up the next vertical- the 2003, 2004, and 2005 Mount Veeder Cabernet were all at Sams Club and we noticed they had another cab in 2003 and 2004.
Cheers and good luck!


LucyinStLou said...

It was so much fun! About the 04s/05s tasting similar...(I noticed the same thing). I read 04 was an excellent year so it could be it would need to age longer than the 05s?

WineLush said...

You're right...that gives me reasons to stock up some 04s next time I see them getting cleared out for the 2005s.