Tag Archives: Wine Tasting

Bottlenotes 80 Sips Challenge: The Challenge

As I’ve mentioned, I’m always ready to do some sipping (especially something new), but little did I know that the challenge would not be as much tasting 6 different wines in one evening as it would be finding an open bar on a Monday night.

The challenge has 4 participating bars (continuing through Jan. 31): HUB51, Gilt Bar, Maude’s Liquor Bar, & Naha. As we started the challenge at HUB51, Jess, Martha, & I decided to try Maude’s Liquor Bar which we all had been dying to try.

Unfortunately, Maude’s wasn’t open – minus. Never fear, we decided to head to River North to Gilt Bar as I had never been there. Problem: also closed.

Now I should remind everyone that all of this occurred in January, on a MONDAY, in Chicago. (Read: It’s cold and we were thirsty.) So knowing that HUB51 was both open and nearby, we agreed to complete the challenge where started it.

To complete the challenge, we needed to try one wine from each of the following wineries, as well as 2 additional selections from Italy & France chosen by the bar:

  • Chateau Montelena (One of my favorites)
  • Domaine Carneros
  • Greg Norman Estates
  • Brancott

Having tasted the Domaine Carneros the week prior, Jess started with a Brancott Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (which we believed to be a 2009). (None of the vintages were listed on the menu.) Martha selected a 2008 Patch Block Cabernet Sauvignon from France, and I ordered the 2009 Chateau Montelena Riesling.

The Sauv Blanc & Riesling were initially delivered to us incorrectly, as I received the Sauv Blanc and Jess got my Riesling. We realized upon tasting and shared a laugh.

The Sauv Blanc was very crisp with notes of apple. It was extremely smooth and would be great for everyday drinking. The Cab had very nice and mellowed tannins that allowed the bramble, tobacco, and chocolate notes to shine.

I enjoyed the Riesling immensely, and I’m not always a big Riesling fan. I do LOVE a good Gewurztraminer, and the Chateau Montelena had lychee notes that are usually found in a Gewurzt. It had a nice crisp, lemony finish. A very pleasant wine.

For Round 2, Martha selected a  2009 Pinot Gris from La Rocca Winery in Italy, while Jess picked the 2008 Greg Norman Estates Shiraz from New Zealand. The Pinot Gris has a nice minerality to it that I love about Italian whites with a smooth stony finish. The Shiraz was smoky & leathery with hints of cherry, and while I am not the biggest fan of Shiraz, it did make for pleasant sipping.

We all had such a great evening that we decided to form a “Wino Wednesday” group (even though it was Monday) so that we can try wine bars and restaurants in the city. Any suggestions for where we should go next?

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Bottlenotes 80 Sip Challenge: The Kick-off

As an avid wine lover eager to expand my wine horizons, as soon as I received the email from Bottlenotes.com describing the Chicago 80 Sips Challenge, I knew I was up to the task of tasting new wines and commenting on the experience.

For the Kick-off Party on January 18, my favorite Urban Explorer, Jess, (check out her blog!), my friend Martha, and I gathered at SUB51 (the downstairs of HUB51) to sample some Domaine Carnaros 2006 Sparkling Wine & 2008 Pinot Noir, as well as hear from the head winemaker.

Now I love hearing from winemakers regarding their favorite qualities of their wines as well as how they became interested in wine. Domaine Carnaros did not disappoint.

We started with the 2006 Sparkling Brut Wine which is composed of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s a classic style Brut that is dry and buttery with a very smooth finish. Excellent start to the evening (especially a Tuesday).

Following the Sparkling wine, we enjoyed a 2008 Pinot Noir. I am starting to fall in love with recent Pinots, and I know that I’m not the only one given the recent article in the NYTimes. It was the epitome (in my opinion) of what a Pinot Noir should be: mellowed tannis, slight fruit at the front (think cherry/strawberry), finishing with a bit of tobacco. Wonderful.

Throughout the entire evening we snacked on various nibbles provided by HUB51 like spicy tuna rolls, fish tacos (yum), and mini grilled cheese.

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