Greg La Follette has a long history in winemaking (De Loach and Flowers are two labels you might recognize that he’s worked on) — on a global scale — and a passion for both his family (six kids, “Brady Bunch” style, as he puts it) and his leather pants. But get La Follette talking about his wines and you can forget about all other topics. The man is a fountain of information ranging from biochemical analysis to the virtues of sampling the lees while your wine is fermenting.
I had the chance to join a dozen other journalists at a private dinner with La Follette, where we tasted eight wines, ate six courses, and spent four hours poring (and pouring) over the intricacies of La Follette’s lineup at his own winery, Tandem.
In sampling four chardonnays and four pinot noirs, I was impressed by virtually the entire lineup. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be his 2006 Auction Block Pinot Noir, a blended pinot that is so massive it stretches the bounds of what I’d though pinot could taste like. Decanted, though, it becomes supple and silky, a rich wine that pairs perfectly with a big dinner.
Some rough notes on the lineup follow. Thanks to La Follette (who I somehow managed to miss taking a photo of) and our host James Stolich, who prepared an outstanding meal for the group.
Tandem Wines Tasting Report
2007 Tandem Manchester Ridge Chardonnay / A- / buttery and nutty
2007 Tandem Sangiacomo Chardonnay / A- / bright with flowery acidity
2006 Tandem Kent Richie Chardonnay / A- / best of both worlds? But with a bit of bitterness in the finish
2006 Tandem Lorenzo Chardonnay / B+ / more like Sangiacomo, but lighter in style
2006 Tandem Sangiacomo Pinot Noir / A- / bright and light, with perfume and tart cherries
2006 Tandem Auction Block Pinot Noir / A- / leathery, tobacco, massive
2007 Tandem Hawk’s Roost Pinot Noir / B / huge berry bomb with some bite to it
2007 Tandem Manchester Ridge Pinot Noir / A- / earthy and rich, mysterious with odd perfume notes — controversial at the table and not yet released
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- Tasting Report: Family Winemakers of California, August 2009