Friday, July 14, 2006


Occasionally I find very informative data on wine tasting that I simplify and keep on my blog.

Have you ever wondered where wine adjectives like “cherry, blackberry, cedar…” come from? Several grapes have naturally occurring aromatic compounds with fruits, flowers or herbs. While other aromas and flavors like butter, vanilla is a result of the oak barrels and the result of sometimes secret techniques used by winemakers.



1) FLORAL – Honeysuckle, jasmine in Gew├╝rztraminer, Riesling and Muscat. Violet in Cab Franc. Rose aroma in Beaujolais and Pinot Noir.

2) FRUIT - Chardonnay & Sauv. Blanc typically shares aromas like pineapple, pear, peach and apricot. Some wine makers are leaving out the oak to produce wines with more fruit characteristics. Big red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon produce fragrances like cherries and berries. Raisin and prune flavors can be found in Zinfandels.

3) HERBACIOUS – Bell pepper sometimes in Sauvignon Blanc and in Cab Franc produced in cooler climates. (Not my favorite style of Cab Franc) Mint, eucalyptus and other vegetables aromas are found in Cabernet Sauvignon.

4) SPICES – Oak creates different levels of spiciness. Black pepper aromas are characteristics of Zin, Syrah and Cab Franc from warmer climates like Napa Valley.

5) OAK – Woody, vanilla and smoky aroma is created by the fermentation of wines in oak. Smokey aroma can be controlled by the style of “Toast” in the oak barrel. Most Napa Cab’s use a Medium Toast oak barrel. The nutty aroma comes from the aging in Oak.

6) BUTTER – This smell is a result of the secondary malolactic fermentation process which converts malic acid to lactic acid. Think Kendall Jackson Chardonnay – and you’ll know this flavor. Butterscotch aromas can also materialize.

7) CARAMEL – Aromas like cedar and honey derive from the fermenting and aging wines in oak. Pinot Noir may develop aromas like molasses or soy as its fruit aromas diminish – this was evident when I sample a 1990 Gainey Pinot last year – amazing! Cab Sauv and Merlot may take on chocolate aromas as they age. If you ever had a barrel sample of wine that was just put into a new barrel – it’s amazing how much flavor is impacted to the wine.

BONUS SMELL – BARNYARD – Found in the big Bordeaux from France. Yes if it smells like you're surrounded by cows and need to watch your step – its Francais.
Likely a result of the aging in reused French Oak Barrels.

Ignore the Smell and drink up – tastes much better than the aroma!


Source: direct mail piece from not available on their webpage.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Silver Oak Release Party - Alexander Valley 7/29

It’s always party time in Napa when Silver Oak holds one of its release parties.

Upcoming Release Day: Saturday, July 29, 2006

Featuring....2002 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Why only '02 when everyone else is on to the '03 and newer? Because Silver Oak keeps their wines in American Oak (yes American) longer than other wineries, which is one reason for its unique taste.Because of the crowds this weekend a lot of other wineries will also have special offerings. Tasting notes from previous years - the Alexander Valley is typically sweeter with fruit forward taste, while the Napa has always been hearty, beefy and chewy! I've always thought the Alexander Valley was the good value priced at $60 a bottle. See you there!

Here is the information borrowed from

More than a decade ago people started waiting outside our door to be among the first to taste our new release. Today we continue the tradition and would like to invite you to our 2002 Alexander Valley Release Day.
Again this year, small quantities of a desirable library wine will be released for sale and a selection of delicious hors d'oeuvres will be offered. At the Alexander Valley Estate large format bottles of older vintages will be opened and guests will enjoy live music in the fountain courtyard. In Oakville, Winemaker Daniel Baron will be on hand to sign bottles and Thomas Arvid will have a selection of his gallery on display. We invite you to reconnect with old friends and taste the 2002 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., sales will continue until 4:00 p.m.

Price: $20 per tasting, includes a complimentary Silver Oak wine glass. Wine is $60 per 750 ml bottle and the allocation is 12 bottles per person.
For more information, please call: 800.273.8809