Rather than have a formal tasting in December, we simply gathered at Ali & Andy's house for some wines, fantastic cheeses, and excellent mushroom risotto.
None of the wines had a "wow" factor, but all were at least good, and the Grange bordered on outstanding.
The tasting notes below are presented in the order they were poured, non-blind.
Gruet Blanc de Noirs Non-Vintage. Light-bodied, clean, and dry. Citrus, yeast, white bread. Pleasant mouthfeel. Brings out the funky/mushroom flavors in the cheese. About $15. Served with Forsterkase cheese (Switzerland, cow).
Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Noir 2009 (Santa Rita Hills). Bubble gum, dust, cherry, and rose petal aromatics. Ali was reminded of "good times with a convertible". Juicy on the palate, with plum and raspberry flavors. Tobacco on the short finish. Good, solid California Pinot, but not outstanding. About $22. Served with Old Kentucky Tomme (U.S.A, goat).
Penfolds Shiraz Grange 1995 (South Australia). Dark color, that Ali described as "blue/black tweed". Tasters noted aromas of blueberry, eucalyptus, mint, cedar, blackberries, and anise. Andy found "dusty wood" scents. Rich, detailed wine. David described it as having "plenty of life to it, like it has seen life, but there's more life to it". Creamy mid-palate, really elegant, plenty black fruit, and espresso notes. Ali detected "fennel-cream". Very long finish featuring cola flavors. No faults, but doesn't blow us away. Andy summed up our feelings with, "for that price, it should define the category". About $300. Served with Fiore Sardo (Italy, sheep).
Ecluse Zinfandel Lock Vineyard 2008 (Paso Robles). Ripe tomatoes, with undertones of briar. Youthful. Plums, green bell pepper, stewed cherry notes. Very juicy, showing coffee and caramel. Exuberant. Andy felt "a level of electricity" about it. Served with Brescianella aquavite (Italy, cow).
Jordan Mellifera Noble Late Harvest 2010 (Stellenbosch). Peaches, honeysuckle, melon, oranges, and honey notes. Good acidity keeps this balanced.