Dave at a Wine Tasting with the Gang of Pour

As written by George Heritier co-creator of The Gang of Pour blog. Music journalist Dave Marsh was in Day-twah in June to give a lecture as part of Cranbrook Art Museum’s “Bruce Springsteen: Troubadour of the Highway” exhibit, and wanted to get together with a few old friends and fairly recent acquaintances, in the case of Kim and this taster. Our friends Frank Joyce and Mary Ann Barnett, who introduced us to Dave two years ago at MoCool, offered their home for the occasion, and viola, we had a plan and it happened and a good time was had by all. There was plenty of good food to be consumed, as is always the case at Casa Joyce/Barnett, and there were good wines as well. We started out with a most unlikely white.

1999 Chateau Mercian “Sur Lie,” 13% alc.: This wine, from Japan’s Mercian Katsunuma winery, is almost the color of water; in other words, it has practically no color at all. What it does have are clean, straightforward apple and pear flavors and aromas that are surprisingly pleasant and enjoyable, along with good acidity and a decent finish. Dave picked this up out east, having not a clue as to the varietal content, but upon tasting it, hazarded the guess that it might be something akin to chenin blanc, and he might just be right. But then, it could be chardonnay, who knows? The only sites I could find on wines for this producer in a Google search were either in Dutch or Japanese, with one mentioning a Chateau Mercian Hokushin Chardonnay in the brief search summary. Whatever the case, it is a decent quaff and a nice summer sipper that would go well on a boat in the middle of a lake on a hot day in July, and that ain’t so bad.

1997 Vignerons du Val d’Orbieu La Cuvée Mythique Vin De Pays D’OC, $14.99, 11-13% alc.: As good, if not better than it has been for the last several months, and impressive, by all accounts.

1977 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 13.5% alc.: Another one that Dave gets out east, this rusty dark garnet is all about earth and tar on the nose, with dried sour cherries in the background, but the flavors are another story entirely, showing beautiful, almost floral black cherry and plum fruit with no secondary characteristics to speak of. Tannins are mostly resolved, with zippy acidity and a nice long finish, making for one of the finest wine experiences we’ve had in some time. I’m told that the grapes don’t see anything but glass-lined cement tanks from the time they are picked until bottling, and the wines are held for as long as 15 years, until deemed ready to drink. What a knockout!

1980 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains Monte Bello Cabernet Sauvignon, 12.4% alc.: Dave took a chance on this, finding it in a Right Coast shop in which storage conditions were uncertain. The rusty dark garnet color is as one would expect, but this bottle smelled and tasted like nothing so much as pickle juice, with Draper perfume, black currant, cassis and some mint relegated to second-class status. The tannins were fully resolved, with balanced acidity and a fairly long finish, and I actually finished the glass I was poured, hoping for some kind of miraculous change, but alas, such was not to be. When hearing about this, our Left Coast Correspondent, Allan Bree, opined that the gherkin character might be the result of a bad barrel, rather than poor storage. Either way, this was not a particularly pleasant wine to drink.

1987 Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel, 88% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah, 8% Carignane, 13.7% alc.: There’s some rust to the color of this dark garnet libation, and a nice dose of Draper perfume with just the faintest hint of funk over red currant, blackberry and a little black cherry and mint on the nose. The flavors echo with a lovely claret-like character, some tannins still to resolve, good acidity and notes of earth and cream that add interest rather than conflict. This old Geezer is drinking very well indeed, with a nice long finish, and I must say, it’s what Mr. Ridge is all about.

Many thanks to Dave for bringing some very interesting bottles to share, and to Frank and Mary Ann for hosting this most delightful get together. C’mon back to Day-twah more often, Mr. Marsh!

Visit the Gang of Pour’s new website & blog. About George Heritier and the Gang: The Gang of Pour is a close-knit group of friends based in the Metropolitan Detroit area, California, Ohio, Virginia and the wilds of Canada. We gather to enjoy fine wine whenever we can, but don’t call us connoisseurs. Rather, we like to think of ourselves simply as explorers who seek out new wines from around the world.