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DudesI’ve written and even posted video of my Wine Dude friends from time to time over the past few years. Jobs and spouse’s jobs have broken up the band a bit. But over the weekend we had three of the original five guys together, one newbie – and two youngsters! (of age, of course!).

We tasted our way through several wines.

cultivateCultivate Dream Walker 2010 Chardonnay – This is a blend of Chards from Mendocino, Central Coast and Napa. It was a little higher on the alcohol side at 14.1 percent with a suggested retail of $17.99. (Trade Sample)

The guys ended up liking this wine quite a bit. There was a stronger hint of oak on the nose than the palate – and that pleased most of our six-man group. One of the guys said, “There’s a small taste of the oak but you can still taste the mineral.” I thought that description was spot on. Another of the guys also may have hit the nail on the head from a different point of view.

“This is a wine that doesn’t know what it wants to be.” In a way, they both had it right. But the wine won in the end because all six of us liked the Chard.

B_Vignoles-crop - CopyHuber Winery’s 2012 Indiana Uplands Vignoles – This was the Indy International Wine Competition’s top wine beating out more than 2,500 entries from nearly 40 states and 13 countries.

Ted Huber’s award-winning Vignoles fools a lot of people with its incredibly bright fruit. This group is pretty uber-sensitive to sweetness. A couple guys argued it was too sweet. But I cautioned them to judge the wine on the third or fourth sip. They then admitted it was not as sweet tasting as they first thought.

Words like “honeysuckle, pear, and honey dew melon” were some of the descriptors. I like this wine a lot. I get a hint of fall spice among all that fruit that I love. At $14.99 a bottle, it’s a great, great Hoosier white wine.

creekbend_chambourcin11 - CopyOliver’s Creekbend 2010 Chambourcin – This is a grape grown throughout Indiana that can make great wine. It can also make musty, skanky crap.

Fortunately, Bill Oliver – best known for sweet Oliver Red and Oliver White found in more than 30 US states – has a great vineyard and makes some great wines he often gets little credit for under the avalanche of the winery’s flagship bottles. When harvested right and handled properly this a rich red wine with an earthiness that is somewhat reminiscent of a nice Pinot Noir. It has red raspberry but also hints of dark cherry.

One of the guys found a hint of caramel on the nose and I couldn’t argue. “It’s balanced and round. It’s got a solid nose. It’s a bit like a Cab Franc but more mellow – and without the nasty back end.”

I poured the Chambourcin blind without telling the guys a thing. They all liked it quite a bit. A couple of the guys loved it. When I told them it was $22 – they thought that was about right for a Hoosier wine of this quality.

Yes, we sit about being THAT wine geeky!

I’ve found Oliver, Huber, Buck Creek, and Turtle Run to all make really nice Chambourcin. There may be other but these four do it right. SRP $22.

One of the better palates of our group said, “I like the idea that two or three Indiana winemakers who say they’re going to take an Indiana grape and make a world class wine.”

2008-panther-creek-freed-18904-736z - CopyPanther Creek 2008 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, Freedom Hill Vineyard – This bargain found on several of the sales flash sites is really solid Pinot.

The nose and palate features typcial strawberry, caramel and dark cherry, floral hints and nice balance for an Oregon Pinot. A couple of us thought the wine lacked when it came to fruit. It was well balanced but just didn’t bring enough sense of barnyard stink – or terroir – of most Oregon Pinot.

This wine retails for $40 but has been features on several of the flash sites for $40. For my money, it’s not $40 Pinot but at $19.99 its a great buy.

kokomoKokomo Vineyards 2009 Zinfandel, Timber Crest Vineyards – I had saved this bottle of wine for a special occasion. I had carried it back from Sonoma a couple of years ago.

I had had a great visit with Erik Miller, owner/winemaker, and his vineyard manager Randy Peters. We tasted through several wines in the tasting room and I was really taken by this Zinfandel. Randy grows the grapes.

The guys loved it. It’s a big rich Zin without being as over-powering as many. The balance was nice with a silky mouth feel. This is a small production, winemaker’s designate wine that you might not find. To top it off, I couldn’t not find a price online and don’t remember what I paid for it. It was in the $40-$50 range, as I recall.

It’s great wine. So the lesson on this one – sometimes vineyard designate, winemaker’s reserve and such labels mean something. This bottle of wine proved that.