Tonight I was fortunate to receive some tickets to the "Wild World of Wines & Beer" benefit at the Memphis Zoo. Now, I've got a membership to the zoo and go there often. It's celebrating its 100th birthday this year, but the past twenty years have been amazing, as they decided to upgrade from the "concrete and cages" model to more natural habitats for the various animals. Over the years they've built Cat Country (all major large cat species), Primate Canyon (everything from lemurs to gorillas), the China Exhibit (pandas and more), and recently they've added the Northwest Passage exhibit (polar bears, black bears, etc.). At the right is a photo I took of one of the polar bears last month.
In honor of the Pacific Northwest theme, most of the wines came from that region. I skipped a few, as I had tried some of them before and they were pouring rather generously. I had to drive myself home, plus I really didn't want to fall in the baboon pit. Also, I was wondering beforehand if my notes would include things like, "this Merlot smells like elephant dung", or "this Riesling has the musky undertones of the tiger habitat". But all of my wine drinking happened indoors, so no outside olfactory influences were involved.
Wine 1: 2003 Foolish Oak Chardonnay. Columbia Valley, Washington. Light and fruity with a crisp finish. Great way to start off the evening. $11.
Wine 2: 2004 Hedges CMS White. Columbia Valley, Washington. I've had this before, but I was able to appreciate it more with a bigger sample. Very crisp, with a clean feel and herbal tones. Mix of Chardonnay, Marsanne, and Sauvignon Blanc. $15.
Wine 3: 2004 Ste. Michelle Riesling. Columbia Valley, Washington. Drier than I expected. Crisp with firm acids. Slightly bitter aftertaste. $10.
Wine 4: 2003 Columbia Crest Two Vines Chardonnay. Columbia Valley, Washington. Oaky and buttery, with some cream and vanilla highlights. $10.
Wine 5: 2003 Foris Pinot Noir. Illinois River Valley, Oregon. Mild cherry and strawberry flavors, with strong tannins and a short finish. $20.
Wine 6: 14 Hands Merlot. Columbia Valley, Washington. Black cherry, spice. Fortified by 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, so it's a surprise on the tongue. $12.
Wine 7: 2002 Red Diamond Shiraz. 3% Viognier blended in there. Berry and pepper flavors with a dry finish. A great little wine. I'm definitely going to give this one a second try when I can really focus on it and enjoy it. $12.
Of the three remaining wines that I didn't try, one was a White Merlot I skipped on purpose, one was a Cabernet Sauvignon I'd had before and enjoyed, and the last was a Fumé Blanc that looked promising, and I'll see if I can find it around here.