These tastings have become part of my weekly routine enjoying as I do the selections they present, the service they offer and not insignificantly, the jazz they pipe in from satellite radio. What is it about Duke Ellington that makes a fine wine taste finer?
The wines of the day were from Gehringer Brothers, the most unassuming winery in the Okanagan Valley. Almost all the wines they produce are priced under $20 and a few are still below $15. How they maintain this level of affordability, I don’t know, but I wonder if it has anything to do with their lack of a Web site.
The Gehringer portfolio is peppered with Germanic varietals and hybrids – Auxerrois, Schonburger, Gewurztraminer, Ehrenfelser – that reflect their family’s roots, but today it was mostly French varieties.
Pinot Gris 2006 Private Reserve $15.99
The last of the 2006’s, this one is due for replacement by the 2007. Despite its relative age, the PG had lots of lively acid and forward fruit to offer. On the nose, it has citrus and flowery notes, with lemon-lime and green peaches on the palate, leading to a clean refreshing lemony finish with hints of sage and white pepper. A seafood ready wine.
Chardonnay 2007 Dry Rock $14.99
A pleasantly appealing chard with an aromatic nose of apple and pineapple. On the palate the oak is balanced well with the apple and citric fruit and augmented with vanilla notes, but the wood picks up on the finish.
Riesling 2007 Private Reserve $15.99
Minerals jump from the glass so fast you think you are kissing a concrete lime. We were told this one is less sweet than the last vintage, though it is still classified off dry, but we didn’t expect it to be a stone bomb. Fruit backward, steel forward, it has hints of grapefruit and kiwi and leads to a dry, limey finish. Quick, grab some oysters!
Pinot Noir 2007 Private Reserve $16.99
This wine has been a favorite of mine since first tasting the 2004 in 2006. I found the candied fruit and lush mouthfeel very attractive, and eagerly gobbled up the 2005 soon after. But the 2006 wasn’t the same. I found it bitter and green and not very pleasant. Now, the 2007 is like a whole different wine entirely. This one is drier, earthier and more Burgundian than ever. Ivana noted that it’s earthier than in her five years of tasting it. The smooth mouthfeel remains, as do the Bing cherries, and it has more wood, mushroom and a slightly bitter, cherry pit finish. If the Gehringers had a website, I would search for a tech sheet, to find out what they’re doing differently.
Merlot 2005 Dry Rock $16.99
Sweet, baked blackberries dominate the nose and follow through on the palate where it picks up savory notes of sage and basil. There are medium tannins that harden the mouthfeel and it resolves into a dry, slightly stemmy finish with hints of red and green cracked pepper. This is a food wine, not a sipper.
Once again, Gehringer Brothers prove that high quality and high price can be synonymous.