Aside: A horizontal tasting is when you select a year (and often restrict it to one vineyard) and taste producers against each other to get a sense of the quality of the vineyard, the vintage and of course the different producers idea of the best way to make a killer wine from very similar grapes. A vertical tasting on the other hand is when you select one wine, say for example of Penfolds Grange, and taste different vintages against each other to get a sense for the wine as it evolves and the style/quality. All of the wines were served "single blind", which means we knew what wines were in the tasting but not which bottles were which since we emptied all the bottles into unmarked decanters.
Overall the tasting was very enjoyable. The unique Rosella's "citrus" component was evident in most of the wines but there were many different approaches taken to expressing Rosella's, some pulled off better than others. The bright red fruit was also in evidence across all the bottles and there was plenty of refreshing acidity to go around. A lot of the wines also had that "funk" (forest floor, mushroominess) one sees often in Rosella's. I am glad that I have stocked my cellar pretty full of most of these puppies!
So how did I rank them?
1. 2005 Kosta Browne Rosella's Vineyard
This wine was the stand out of the tasting for me. Mouth coatingly voluptuousness and superb palate weight - bright red fruit, orange zest, grapefruit, baking spices and cleansing, refreshing acidity. A damn sexy wine.
2. 2006 Kosta Browne Rosella's Vineyard (Barrel Sample)
Very young but this wine has some promise. A perfect yin-yang match of masculine power in the mid palate with the feminine high toned lift in the finish. I like this a lot! I hope I am not developing a house palate. ;-)
[this wine was the ringer to confuse everyone and was the #2 wine for the group - a hint at what a great year the 2006 vintage will be for Kosta Browne]
3. 2005 A.P. Vin Rosella's Vineyard
Excellent well crafted wine. Rosella's citrus (grapefruit on this one), red fruits (raspberry, strawberry) and a touch of the "funk". This wine gets your attention with its power and acid. Well done Andrew!
4. 2005 Loring Wine Company Rosella's Vineyard
Citrus, raspberry, strawberry and cranberry - wow! What tasty juice! Tannins give this one some backbone. Cleansing acidity balanced the fruit well. Neck and neck with #3 for me. Could have gone either way. Definitely one of the best crafted wines of the tasting. As always, Brian delivers.
5. 2005 August West Rosella's Vineyard
Ed Kurtzman brings it with this wine! Baking spices, grapefruit, raspberry, lemon zest, and cherries - and throw in a bit of funk for good measure. Lovely mouth weight. These #3, #4, #5 wines were so close - different but very good. I took the rest of the bottle home later to have with dinner and it continued to get more impressive. So glad I have eight more of these in my cellar, the most of any 2005 Pinot Noir.
6. 2005 Siduri Rosella's Vineyard
Plush, velvety and ripe. Very funky (which I like) but the fruit was hiding a bit for me. Still a delicious wine. This was Emma's #2 wine.
7. 2005 Vision Cellars Rosella's Vineyard
A little thin for me but well received by the group. Ripe fruit, a little bit of harshness from tannins which were less integrated than the higher scoring wines. Not a bad drop but outclassed for me by the others in the field.
8. 2005 Roar Rosella's Vineyard
Could this wine be any more polarizing. My wifes #1 wine (and the #1 of many in the group), several in the tasting including myself ranked this at the back of the pack. Way too much oak for my taste with what I call a "halo" mouth feel (all sides and roof with no mid-palate weight). In the positives though, this one had a great floral nose that I didn't see in many others. Lacked the complexity that the top wines showed.
9. 2005 Morgan Rosella's Vineyard
For me this wine was last by a long way. Bitter, astringent, and green (unripe fruit). Tannin sticks out like a poke in the eye. Not enjoyable.
All in all, I think the tasting showed what an amazing vineyard Gary and Rosella have and how unique the flavor profile is from their little plot. Who would have thought that you could get grapefruit and mushroom funk in the same glass?
The wine paired well with my signature harvest dish -- Salmon smoked over dried Rosella's stems.
Does working in a winery get any better than this?