Dude Patrick!

For more than two years a group of friends have gathered nearly every 2-3 weeks to sip wine, compare thoughts, and tell each other that they have no idea what they’re talking about.

We tasted all sorts of wines at low price points, high price points, and from countries around the world. We’ve done dinners, blind tastings, and a couple of videos for this blog.

After all, isn’t that what friends do? We dubbed ourselves “Dudes on the Porch.” That’s because it all started on my front porch when I lived near the center of town in grand 100-year old home. I’ve moved to a newer condo, Dude Mike has moved away because of his wife’s career, and tonight we lose Dude Patrick for a year as his Professor Wife goes on sabbatical.

So tonight we’re opening some wines. I’m going to update throughout the evening. We’ve sort of pledged to bring different wines but only good ones!

I’ll udpate with the wines, some thoughts and a few photos as we go along. This is sort of a “live blogging” night!

We started with a wine I carried back from Wisconsin last year – Ledgestone 2009 Le Crescent. Le Crescent is an Elmer Swenson creation. Swenson was a grape-development pioneer at the University of Minnesota. He developed the slightly better known Frontenac as well.

Le Crescent combines another of Swenson’s grapes, St. Pepin, along with a clone from Muscat Hamburg. What you get is a refreshingly tart white wine with strong apricot and tart citrus. It’s quite refreshing. Winemaker Tim Abel talks up the varietals and this wine delivers. The $22 price point is higher than a lot of white wines but worth it to discover these unique varieties you’ve probably never tried nor heard of before.

Next up was a Burgundy Patrick brought along. We enjoyed a rather big Domaine Larue Saint-Aubin 2008 1st Cru Sur Le Sentier du Clou.

“This has bigger, darker fruit than you get from Burgundy,” Patrick said. Indeed, the dark fruit was much bigger than most Burgundy (think bold cherry flavor) but it had great acidic balance for a great mouth feel.

Patrick snatched this $50-plus wine from Cinderella wine.com for just under $30.

Our last wine was John Bojanowski’s Clos du Gravillas Lo Vielh – or 100 percent Languedoc Carignan. This wine stands out as one of my favorite finds from a week-long visit to France’s Languedoc region in January.

The Lo Vielh – which means old one – is big, earthy, and bold – the perfect way to send Patrick off to Tennessee. John doesn’t make much of this wine so the fact it made its way to Indiana is even more amazing. Thanks go to our friends importer Paul Chartrand and Derek Gray of Graybull imports.

The wine features grapes from 101-year old vines on John’s small property in the Languedoc. Clos du Gravillas is also certified 100 percent organic by French laws. John has personally taken Carignan on as a personal cause. It’s grown widely in southern France but most often used as a blending grape. It has a wonderfully stinky nose and might be off-putting to some until you tasted. If you can find the Le Vielh, because most sold out on the first shipment, expect to pay $25-$35.

All four of us present Monday night really liked this unique bottle of wine. I briefly met John at the Millesime Bio in Montpellier then had the chance to talk with him a bit during a spring visit to Indianapolis promoting his wines. The Kentucky native is an interesting guy making some really unique wines worth seeking out.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com