smig vs. the wine barn

the wine barn, orlando, fl

Tasted August 12, 2010 by caeleric with 481 views


The purpose of this event was to blind-taste 3 wines made by Dave Smigielski and Eric Gordon under their labels Dacalier, Punk Dog and Madison Chase Vineyards, against 3 wines of similar varietal makeup and price points offered by the staff at The Wine Barn. There were 4 flights in total, with 3 of the flights being a part of the head-to-head and the last flight being a free-for-all of interesting wines. Of the head-to-head flights, the first flight was Rose, the second flight was a red blend, and the third flight was Cabernet Sauvignon. In the head-to-head, all wines but one were made in California.

Flight 1 - Rose (2 notes)

this was a little bit of a mismatch, with dave and eric going for provence in their style using grenache and mourvedre, and team twb choosing a vin gris of pinot noir made in a decidedly californian style. they were both very good for what they are trying to achieve, but the dacalier was definitely the more adaptable/food-friendly wine than the calera imho.

2009 Dacalier Première Rosé USA, California, North Coast, Lake County
91 points
consistent with prior notes. lovely strawberry, melon, herb garden, and what someone in the group described as wheat bread, whole grain or oats. love the dry, Provence style and the light but firm, oily but dry texture. good stuff.
2008 Calera Pinot Noir Vin Gris USA, California, Central Coast
87 points
syrupy nose of strawberry jam and watermelon jolly ranchers. the mouth was very dense without being alcoholic, just tasted like it had seen some time in new wood and/or had gone through malo. i might be totally wrong, but that was my impression. overall a very nice sipper on its own, but more california than provence.

Flight 2 - Red blend (2 notes)

again, a bit of a mismatch. i won't say what the blend of the riddle is because that's half the fun, but the makeup of the penny black is all about density and intensity. it was a little apples and oranges, but in a blind head-to-head where you're comparing the wines, the riddle was way overmatched.

2005 Punk Dog Sophie's Riddle Napa Valley USA, California, Napa Valley
80 points
thin garnet color in the glass. a nose of sour cherries and earth. lacked any real backbone, and the finish was close to unpleasant. i really wanted to like this, and maybe it was dwarfed by the other wine in the flight, but tasted blind this was my least favorite wine of the night.
2006 Post House Penny Black South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch
90 points
going from memory here, but i remember a dark and brooding color in the glass. the nose was very intriguing and promised nice ripe fruit and new wood. but the mouth was completely different. in fact, two of us at two separate times as we went through our blind tasting said "whoa" after taking the first sip. the mouth was much more minerally and tight than expected. the finish was nice, if unique, and lasted about 20 seconds (don't recall the flavors from memory). my first sa blend and i really enjoyed it.

Flight 3 - Cabernet Sauvignon (2 notes)

i think the madison chase was the clear winner here. the beau vigne was overwrought and manipulated, while the madison chase is all about elegance and purity. team twb was shocked at how poorly the beau vigne showed. but for my palate, it showed in line with many of the ct notes.

2006 Madison Chase Cabernet Sauvignon USA, California, Napa Valley
92 points
nice purple concentrated color in the glass. a beautiful nose of blackcurrant liquer, black cherries and a dash of new wood. nicely concentrated in the mouth with well-integrated but firm tannins, and the finish plays out the nose beautifully. overdelivers for its price point imho.
2007 Beau Vigne Cabernet Sauvignon Juliet USA, California, Napa Valley
85 points
medium ruby in the glass. candied excess on the nose, just too sweet and overwrought for my preference. my comment was "dimetapp cough syrup." i like a big bold cab, and while i certainly wouldn't turn a glass away, it did not have great qpr. in total, it felt fake. the retailer, after tasting this blind with the rest of us, admitted that it did not show as well as his previous experiences, so he opened another bottle, which to me was no different from the first.

Flight 4 - Free for All (3 notes)

this was just for fun and an excuse to open unique bottles that not everyone had the opportunity to try. so while there's no winner in this flight, it was still a lot of fun. we also opened a 2007 tablas creek esprit de beaucastel that i did not write a tasting note on because, well, after 3-4 oz pours of 9 different wines, things become a little fuzzy!!!

2005 Altamura Negroamaro USA, California, Napa Valley
93 points
continues to impress. the nose, while complex, is more unique and intriguing than layered. still offers beautiful black fruits and chocolate-covered cherries, along with warm spice cake. the palate echoes the same, and the finish amplifies the chocolate component, almost like a black raspberry chocolate torte. lovely!!
2008 R Wines Shiraz Southern Belle Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale
88 points
threw this in at the last minue in our dave & eric vs. twb tasting. i love this wine, and it definitely turned a few heads. most people enjoyed it for its pure hedonism, but the style overwhelmed a few in the group. a blueberry milkshake spiked with bourbon, with a thick viscosity in the mouth that is cotton-candy-esque, and a deliciously decadent finish of blue and black fruits. i can't get enough of this wine!
2007 Cayuse Syrah En Chamberlin Vineyard USA, Washington, Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Valley
91 points
definitely not my usual style for syrah, but utterly profound in its uniqueness. the nose was all about wet animal fur, locker room, golf clothes after an afternoon round in august in florida, with some dense blackberries coming through. funky funky!!! the palate was incredibly full and round, with delicious concentration of fruit without coming across candied or excessive. the finish was long and decadent. this needs soooo much time in the cellar, and if it's your style i can see rating it close to 100 points.


We didn't discuss WOTFs or WOTN. For me WOTF for Rose was the 2009 Dacalier, WOTF for the red blend was the 2006 Post House "Penny Black," and WOTF for the Cabernet Sauvignon was the 2006 Madison Chase. WOTN of the head-to-heads was the 2006 Madison Chase, while WOTN among everything was the Altamura Negroamaro.

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