Friday, September 21, 2007

2005 Cambria Pinot Noir, Julia's Vineyard

That's right, there's TWO glasses in the picture. The one on the left is the Eisch "breathable" Burgundy glass that was the subject of an earlier blog post this week. It was purchased from from Domaine547 and arrived quickly, packaged very, very securely in perfect condition. The glass on the right is a Ridel pinot noir stem from their Vinum line.

Looks are a bit deceiving. Or rather, my picture is. The Eisch may not look like it, but it actually had the bigger bowl between the two glasses. The shapes are similar but the Eisch had a larger aperture as well as being taller. Quality wise, while the Eisch had fine balance and a smooth rim, the Riedel's crystal was nicer. There was less distortio
n when you look through the Riedel as opposed to the Eisch. On the other hand, the Eisch is about 1/2 the cost of the Riedel and is quite attractive. I'm glad I bought it (it comes in a set of two), plus Domaine547 is a great store so it's nice to do business with them.

The deal with the Eisch is that it's supposed to be "breathable." That is, some special, ultra-secret technology of theirs in the manufacturing process results in a glass that aerates the wine. Letting the wine sit in the glass for 2-4 minutes is supposed to be equivalent to decanting the wine and letting it sit for 1-2 hours in the glass. So I did the comparison. Let's see what happened.

On to the wine: the 2005 Cambria Pinot Noir, Julia's Vineyard, was purchased at Costco. There's still plenty left in the bin, at least at the Burbank location as of today. The wine was drunk over the course of three days this week: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, the unused portion kept fresh in the bottle by Private Preserve. Since I received the Eisch stemware on Wednesday, I was only able to compare the wine on the 3rd day in both glasses.

This was an interesting wine - it changed quite a bit over the three samplings. The color was typical pinot noir, a reddish purple, not too dark.

Day one: Aromas of cherries, oak, some earthiness and underlying spice. On the palate the wine reminded me of Jolly Roger cherry candy - it seemed artificially sweetened and at times even reminded me of cherry cough syrup or Nyquil. Soft tannins with underlying acidity emerged, and the finish was pretty short and alcoholic. Overall this wine seemed harsh, hot and unbalanced.

Day two: Similar to day one except the fruit was not as prominent. The oak and a bramble component stood out and once again, there was too much heat from the alcohol to my liking.

Day three: I poured equal amounts into the Eisch and Riedel stems. I let them sit for about 5 minutes and tried first the Riedel then the Eisch. Riedel: aromas of cherries, oak and some spice, along with a slight alcohol harshness. Eisch: similar, but mo
re subdued. The aromas were more focused with the Riedel, perhaps because the opening in the glass was smaller.

There was a definite difference in the mouth. With the Riedel, there were cherries, bramble, cinnamon and spice on the palate and the alcohol was less prominent and more balanced. When tasting using the Eisch, the wine seemed much smoother. In fact, it was so smooth it seemed diffused and flabby, even a bit watery. There was a perceived lack of acidity. The wine showed better in the Riedel - it was more focused and concentrated, with more zing from the acidity. In both glasses the wine was better on day 3 than the previous two days - it was more balanced and less harsh, allowing the fruit to come out.

Now was this due to the Eisch's breathing properties, or due to the shape of the glass? While similar, the Eisch had the larger opening so, as the Riedel people tell you, the wine lands on different areas of the tongue when put into the mouth. I don't know, but I do know there was a difference between the two glasses. Not a big difference, but noticeable nonetheless. I am thinking that the Eisch, because of its size, needs a better wine that will show well in a big bowl. Like I said above, I'm glad I purchased this and am curious to see how it does with other wines.

As for the wine itself: it was $16.99 at Costco which is generally lower than most anywhere else. I have to give this wine two thumbs down. I di
dn't sense any complexity here, and even though it was better on the 3rd day, it still was lacking balance. It's not worth the money. That said, the reviews were kinder in Cellar Tracker so this is just my two cents.

Have a nice weekend, y'all!

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