Monday, May 30, 2011

Chez Ray 2007 / 2008 Blending Party

Background:  Every now and then we need to declare a "blending party" to put together a few single varietals from Chez Ray bottlings.  We did the last one in 2006, which is described here. This time a few folks got together to work through the 2007 and 2008 vintages of various California Chez Ray wines.

Blending parties are never defined by the wines, but by the company.  Many thanks to Karen and Linda, who sheparded the food and provided social lubrication, and Karin, Jim, Eric and Rob, who joined me as we conducted the tastings and lubricated ourselves.

Here I will report out the individual tasting notes alphabetically by varietal within vintage, then I will report the favorite blends by taster.

The tasting!

Here are the individual varietal tasting notes:

CM7 (2007 Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot, Suisin Valley): Ray: color light red with pink highlights; aroma clean and fresh with blackberries; flavor supple and round.  2+ for friendly. Karin: too tannic.  Eric: Color deep red; aroma very subtle but rich and alcoholic; longer finish, light but frui9ty, not too sweet, 3+.  Rob: color light red; aroma faint alcohol, strawberry; flavor smoother, verry finish, 3.

CRR7 (2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Russian River Valley, Sonoma): Ray: color medium brick; aroma deep fruit and alcohol; flavor clean bright but light, 2+ for bright fruitiness.  Karin: delicate flavor, sweet finish, 3.  Jim, good fruit.  EricL aroma not much smell; flavor, very nice tannins, strong finish, rich flavor but not too remarkable (though very enjoyable!), 3+.  Rob: color, deep red; aroma, tarry; flavor, alcoholic, 2.

CS7 (2007 Cabernet Sauvignon State Lane, Napa, CA): Ray: color, medium deep red; aroma, fruity and deep bold, hint oxidized; flavor, clean and bold dark chocolate, 4.  Jim: color, deep red; aroma, spice, boysenberry; flavor, light cab, good fruity, smooth finish; 4+.

MC7 (2007 Carneros Merlot, Sonoma, CA): Ray: color, medium deep red; aroma, funky, deep and vegatative old world; flavor, oxidized, deep and bold; 3.  Karin, 2.  Jim: flavor, too dark; 2+.  Eric: aroma, stronger than most, almost a hint of red licorice; flavor, strongly alcoholic, a bit fruity, but has an odd funish; 2.  Rob: color, dark burgundy; aroma, metallic; flavor, metallic tannins; 3.  

P7 (2007 Carneros Pinot Noir, UCD18, Sonoma, CA): Ray: color, light pink; aroma, deep, musky, some oxidation; flavor, tangy and  bright with some must; 2+ for layers.  Jim: flavor, light fruit; 2.  Eric: aroma, fairly strong smell; flavor, sharp and acidic, slightly metallic; 3.  Rob: color, pinkish red; aroma, very light alcohol; flavor, very tannic, strong alcohol; 2.  

PS7 (2007 Petite Sirah, Edon Knoll, Talmage CA): Ray: color, medium deep red;  aroma, bold, beefy  and alcoholic;  flavor, deep plums and smooth; 3.  Karin: some tannin, 4.  Jim: color, ruby; aroma, spicy; flavor, nice fruit, alcoholic finish; 4.  Eric: aroma, no smell; flavor, very thin and metallic; 1.  Rob: color, dark burgundy; aroma, light, loamy, butter; flavor, smooth, full-bodied; 4.  

S7 (2007 Lodi Syrah, CA): Ray: color, mid brick; aroma, bold, some black cherry, alcoholic; flavor, chocolate and sweet, bright; 3+ for depth.  Jim: color, deep red/pink; aroma, spice; flavor, good fruit, slight tannic finish, 4+.   Eric:  aroma, not much aroma; flavor, thin, a bit spicy and acidic; 2.  Rob: color, very deep red;  aroma, grassy, fresh; flavvor, smooth, tannic; 3.  (May actually be 525 AVS7, an Alexander Valley Syrah from 2007)

SG7 (2007 Stage Gulch Vineyard Syrah, Petaluma, CA):  Ray: color, deep brick; aroma, bold and dark chocolate; flavor, cocoa, round and sweet with solid overtones; 4.  Karin: aroma, spicy; 3.  Jim: color, ruby; flavor, light finish, fruit; 3.  Eric: flavor, hint of pepper, long complex finish; 3+ finish is fantastic.  Rob: color, burgundy; aroma, tarry and oak; flavor, smooth tannins, sweet berries; 2.

C8 (2008 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon, CA):  Ray:  color, medium light red; aroma, shy light, funky blackberry; flavor, clean, moderate finish, interesting funk; 3.  Karin: tannin, 2.  Jim: flavor, light cab; 3. Eric: aroma, salty smell; flavor, also salty, a bit strange and metallic; 1.  Rob: color, light burgundy; aroma, tar, tobacco; flavor, smooth.

CS8V (2007 State Lane Cabernet Sauuvignon, Napa, CA, with VQ-15 yeast):  Ray: color, deep purple; aroma, fresh laundry and deep plum; flavor, sleek, extracted cherries and plums, 4.  Karin: 3.  Eric: aroma, not noticeable; flavor, big lasting finish, rich and fruity, hits every part of the tongue; 4.  Rob: color, deep burgundy; aroma, oaky; flavor, sweet berries; 4.

M8 (2008 Lodi Merlot, CA): Ray: color, light red, hint of brick;  aroma, plums and hint cocoa; flavor, milk chocolate and bright; 3+ aromatic palate.  Karin: perfumy; 3+.  Eric: flavor, smoky, acidic, light finish; 3.  Rob: color, light burgundy; aroma, tar; flavor, sweet, berry; 4.

MA8 (2008 Columbia Gorge Malbec, Hood River, OR):  Ray: color, medium deep burgundy; aroma, perfumed, violets; flavor, concentrated, rich and bright; 4 (3+ after awhile).  Karin: good to blend; 3. Jim: flavor, good finish, light fruit, tannic middle; 3.  Eric:  aroma, very little; flavor, acidic, a bit fruity; 2.  Rob:  color, burgundy; aroma, oak, woodsy; flavor, sweet, smooth; 4.

P8 (2008 Underwood Mountain Pinot Noir, WA):  Ray:  color, light brick pink;  aroma, shy light, hint tobacco; flavor, bright, spicy, clean, aromatic finish; 3.  Karin: good finish; 4.  Jim: color, light; aroma, raspberry; flavor, light fruit, deep finish; 3+.  Eric:  color, very light, more like a rose; flavor, banana-like aftertaste; 1.  Rob: color, pink; aroma, tar; flavor, thin; 1.

SA8V (2008 2008 Alexander West Side Syrah, Sonoma CA - with VQ-15 yeast):  Ray: color, deep brick; aroma, milk chocolate and plums; flavor, extracted black cherr, bold; 4+ layered and long.  Karin: too tannic; 2.  Jim: color, ruby; aroma, ?nose?, light gooseberry; flavor, little tannin; 4.  Eric:  aroma, light but interesting; flavor, big and bold, long finish, almost a meaty feel; 3+.

SR8 (2008 Rodger's Vineyard Syrah, Mendocino CA):  Ray: color, deep brick; aroma, sweet and aromatic violets; flavor, sleet and alcoholic; 3.  Jim: flavor, spicy fruit; 3.  Eric: flavor, light but slightly earthy, shor finish, high alcohol; 3.  Rob: color, deep burgundy, purple; aroma, tarry, buttery; flavor, tannic, berries; 2.  Rob: color, purple; aroma, tar; flavor, alcohol, sharp; 1.

Z8 (2008 Lodi Zinfandel, CA):  Ray: color, medium brick; aroma, alcoholic and bright, some twigs; flavor, sweet, some tannins, red berries, solid; 3+ distinctive, red berry style.  Jim: flavor, light zin.  Eric: flavor, tangy and metallic, strange; 2.  Rob: color, light burgundy; aroma, metallic berries, tar; flavor, sharp tannic, sweet; 3+ is good!

The blends!

1) CS7, CS8V, SA8V;
2) CS7, S7, SG7, SA8V;
3) CS8V, MA8, Z8

1) CRR7, M8;
2) PS7, CS8V

1) S7 (25%), CRR7 (25%), SA8V (50%)

1) CM7, CS8V, SA8V;
2) CRR7, CS8V, M8

1) PS7, CS8V;
2) M8, MA8;
3) CS8V, M8


Updated note, over six months later, December, 2011:  I tried a "Chez Ray Emeritage 2007/8" from CS8V, CRR7, PS7, MA8 and M8, all of which figured fairly prominently in the favorite varietal blends:  Color is medium red with hints of both brick and magenta.  On the nose, some deep classic Napa-style fruit with hint of oak.  Palate is soft, deep, luxurious, rich and full of solid black and red fruit.  Spreads gently across your palate, bringing depth, rich plums, cassis and light acids that help the deep fruit lodge in your cheeks for a full finish.  Four stars.  

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