For Valentine's Day, a.k.a Hallmark-Buy-Something-Red Day, Julien and I had a lovely little wine tasting excursion in Carmel Valley. First we headed over to Chateau Julien, a lovely little tasting room on Carmel Valley Road. I wanted to go try Chateau Julien because people kept telling me how much they loved/hated it, so I figured I should try it out for myself instead of relying on everybody else's opinions. By the way, Chateau Julien is sub-par at best. Their wines are watery, young and, as a whole, largely tasteless. Their tasting room was cute, but the wines couldn't match.
Julien's trying to figure out if he should change his name now.
The other main tasting room we went to was for Boekenoogen Wines, a fairly new and family-owned estate winery based out of Santa Lucia Highlands with another winery in Carmel Valley. Julien and I were rather impressed by their wines. As of now they produce mainly Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, although they did have one Syrah for tasting, as well as a brand new Viognier that we were able to taste, despite the fact that it wasn't available on the tasting menu. Here's a breakdown of the wines we tasted:
1. 2008 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate "Stainless Fermented/Barrel Aged" Chardonnay ($28) - This was a light and fairly young Chardonnay that was fermented in steel, then aged in the barrel. It had notes of honeydew, lemongrass and ripened white pear with a tart finish.
2. 2008 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate "Barrel Fermented" Chardonnay ($32) - This wine smelled young and sweet with a noticeable flavor of honeysuckle, pineapple and oak.
3. 2008 Boekenoogen Carmel Valley Estate Viognier ($24) - Sweet and medium-bodied, the Viognier was a fabulous tasting with notes of white and yellow peach. We ended up buying a bottle of this and took it home with us. It's now in our collection waiting to be tried again in the future!
4. 2006 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir ($45) - This was a rich and fuller-bodied Pinot Noir with a smoky nose. It had notes of ollalieberry, blueberry and black pepper with a raw cinnamon finish ... almost like a cinnamon stick. It had a tiny hint of tar on the end as well.
5. (see above) 2007 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Pinot Noir ($39) - I much preferred this Pinot Noir. It was smooth (even smelled smooth) with notes of dark red cherry and plum. The flavors were incredibly subtle and increased in my mouth as I was tasting it.
6. 2007 Boekenoogen Santa Lucia Highlands Estate Syrah ($36) - This wine was good as well, although I'm not the hugest fan of Syrah after tasting a Pinot Noir. The nose had dried herbs with mint and honeybaked ham. I know, not the most natural thing to smell in wine, but that's what I got! It also had notes of white pepper and black plums.
Overall, I would definitely recommend trying a bottle of Boekenoogen if you have a chance to. It's a winery that shows a lot of promise, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with in the future.