Tasting Report: Robert Parker’s Matter of Taste, 2015

Wine events are a dime a dozen, particularly in Northern California, but Matter of Taste, launched in 2014 by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, is something worth your consideration. The idea is simple: With a focus on (but not exclusive to) Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from California, Oregon, and New Zealand, every wine poured at the event had to score at least 90 points from Parker’s crew.

Does this keep the swill out and the quality in? Sure does: At Matter of Taste it was tough to find a wine that wasn’t good, and some of the biggest blue chip names in the business were in attendance, pouring their pricy bottlings for the masses. Kistler, DuMOL, Signorello (which had my favorite wine of the event)… all on hand with top shelf bottles to share.

Keep an eye out for this show, which landed in nine cities worldwide this year and will likely hit even more in 2016. It’s well-run, not too crowded, and well worth the price of admittance.

Brief thoughts on all tasted wines follow.

Tasting Report: Matter of Taste, San Francisco, 2015

2012 Anaba Wines Chardonnay / B+ / big oak but gentle fruit and herb notes shine through
2012 Auteur Durell Chardonnay Sonoma Coast / A / outstanding; dense fruit with golden peaches and bright apple notes
2013 Auteur Savoy Pinot Noir Anderson Valley / B / cola and pepper notes, some tobacco
2011 Bell Hill Chardonnay / A- / some acid here and layered fruit notes
2012 Bergstrom Vineyard Pinot Noir Bergstrom Vineyard / A- / dense and peppery, dark cherry notes; lots to love
2012 Bergstrom Vineyard Chardonnay Sigrid / B+ / a bit dry, slightly unripe and herbal
2012 Bethel Heights Pinot Noir Casteel Reserve / B / quite fruity, some candied violets, vegetal notes on the finish
2013 Bevan Cellars Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard / A- / caramel-focused, some coconut; lots of French oak influence
2009 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir Gestalt Block / B+ / quite racy, dense with spices and pepper; some balsamic notes
2009 Brittan Vineyards Pinot Noir Basalt Block / A- / bright cherry and berry notes, tea leaf and spice
2007 Calera Mt. Harlan Ryan Pinot Noir / A / supple fruit, chocolate-covered cherries
2009 Calera Mt. Harlan Ryan Pinot Noir / A- / more herbal, bitter edges
2012 Calera Mt. Harlan Ryan Pinot Noir / B+ / lots of tea, some coffee and herbal notes
2012 Calera Mt. Harlan Jensen Pinot Noir / B+ / tempered, drinking well now; light herbs and fruit
2013 Calera Mt. Harlan Viognier / A- / intense and racy, tons of spice
2006 Dog Point Vineyards Section 94 / A- / mellowing out a bit, nice sweetness on the lovely finish
2012 Dog Point Vineyards Section 94 / B / intense tropical nose, with minerals on the back; a bit weedy on the finish
2012 Domaine Serene Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir / A / almost perfect, with bright fruit, some chocolate and a touch of vanilla; a breath of fresh mountain air
2013 Domaine Serene Chardonnay Evenstad Reserve / B+ / long, with some minerals and quieter, restrained fruit
2013 Donelan Chardonnay Nancie / A- / lots of fruit collides with huge wood notes; best of both worlds
2012 Donelan Syrah Cuvee Christine / B / 100% syrah, nice density, lots of fruit, and a bit of acidity on the back end
2012 Donelan Richards Family Vineyard Syrah / B+ / spicier with licorice and dense, dark chocolate notes; bittersweet
2013 Donelan Syrah Obsidian Vineyard / B+ / none more black, this smoky, tobacco-laden dark horse is nothing but dense weight; try it in 2020
2012 DuMOL Vineyard Estate Chardonnay / A / beautiful, with fresh fruit galore and gentle sweetness
2010 DuMOL Vineyard Pinot Noir “Eoin” / A- / menthol, more fresh fruit
2013 DuMOL Vineyard Estate Pinot Noir / A- / big and bright, long finish
2012 DuMOL Vineyard Eddie’s Patch Syrah / A- / lush with dense chocolate and dark fruits, killer syrah
2012 Fort Ross Vineyard Chardonnay / B / some mushroom notes seem off; woody, forest floor character pervades
2012 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Rochioli Allen Vineyards / A- / lovely lime notes meet apple
2012 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Durell Vineyard / A- / quite bright, similar to the above, with a longer finish
2012 Jeff Cohn Cellars Rockpile Vineyard Syrah / A- / epic chocolate notes, dark brown sugar; very exotic, almost unreal
2013 Kistler Vine Hill Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay / A / a perfect melding of bright apple, pear, and vanilla — minerals strong on the finish; there’s a reason this is one of the most famous Chardonnays in the world
2013 Kistler Kistler Vineyard Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast / A / big and bright, some floral notes; fresh raspberries and cherries, very long finish
2012 Landmark Vineyards Rodgers Creek Chardonnay / B+ / lots of spice up front, oaky in the back
2012 Landmark Vineyards Damaris Reserve Chardonnay / A- / some florals, brighter, with stronger fruit notes
2012 Martinelli Pinot Noir Three Sisters Vineyard / B / slight meatiness here, with notes of canned fruit; lighter body
2013 Morlet Family Vineyards Chardonnay Coup de Coeur / A- / lots of power, aromatics galore, fruit and some spice add balance
2012 Morlet Family Vineyards Pinot Noir Joli Coeur / A- / lots of extraction here; blueberry fruit and chocolate
2013 Morlet Family Vineyards La Proportion Doree / A- / semillon-sauv blanc blend; strongly floral, slate notes; some mushroom
2012 Morlet Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Passionnement / B+ / dense, marshmallow ceram mixes with drier, tannic fruit notes; very big structurally
2013 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard / A- / classic Patz and Hall, lightly buttery but full of caramelized fruit
2013 Patz & Hall Chardonnay Zio Tony Ranch / A / more sedate, more balanced, with coconut notes, some almond, and a bright, acidic finish
2013 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard / A- / bright acid and chewy fruit, tea leaf and cola notes
2013 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Jenkins Ranch / A / loads of flavor, peppery with dense fruit
2013 Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown Vineyard / A- / lighter on its feet; more fruit, slightly sweeter
2012 Paul Hobbs Chardonnay Ellen Lane Estate / A / lovely balance, some coconut, fresh apples, crisp and acidic on the finish
2012 Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard / A- / epic, dark chocolate and nuts, dense red fruit, and tobacco on the back
2013 Paul Lato Chardonnay le Souvenir Sierra Madre Vineyard / B+ / moderate oak, with a solid fruit core
2013 Paul Lato Pinot Noir Seabiscuit Zotovich Vineyard / B / a little flabby, dialed back on the fruit
2012 Peirson-Meyer Chardonnay Charles Heintz Vineyard / B+ / fresh green herbs, bit with coconut notes, and more herbal notes on the finish
2012 Pyramid Valley Lion’s Tooth Chardonnay / C- / the sole miss of the show; a fishy, cheesy white with some frizzante; very funky
2012 Rex Hill Vineyards Pinot Noir Jacob Hart Vineyard / A- / heavy body, thick and rich; spicy and long with blackberry fruit
2012 Rex Hill Vineyards Pinot Noir Rock Rose Vineyard / A- / lots of spice, red fruit, and a medium body
2012 Signorello Estate Padrone Proprietary Red Wine / A+ / best wine of the show, an incredibly dense with rich fruit, some violets, blueberries, cocoa, and more; lovely balance with a lengthy finish
2014 Signorello Estate Chardonnay Estate Unfiltered Hope’s Cuvee / A / oldest Chardonnay vines in Napa; baked apples head into vanilla notes and some baking spice
2012 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon SLV / B+ / chocolate candy atop strawberry and blueberry notes; drinking a bit sweet
2012 Staglin Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 30th Anniversary / A- / nice balance, with long fruit and some floral notes
2013 Staglin Family Vineyard Chardonnay Estate / B / a big wine, lots of wood and an unctuous body
2013 Turley Wine Cellars Zinfandel Dragon / A / more baking spice and vanilla, coconut cookies and some cocoa
2013 Turley Wine Cellars Zinfandel Salvador Vineyard / A- / vines from 1896; really opens up with jam and fruit, plus a smattering of herbs

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