Recently, I was invited to Marietta Wine Market for a tasting of Cakebread Cellars wines. Located just a block off the square in downtown Marietta, the Wine Market has a very nice selection of wines, along with local beers, a variety of cheeses, and more. They do wine tours, and in fact the owners had just gotten back from conducting a port tour in Portugal. Their tasting events are also built around having the participants make a donation to go to a local charity.
In the community, Bentley is regarded as the true host and owner of the establishment. He oversees things most days, though -- sadly -- he didn't stay for our tasting. He is such a part of things that cold-calling salesmen have been known to call and ask to speak to him, according to the owners.
There was a nice turnout for the evening, and the relaxed atmosphere allowed for a number of discussions about the wine.
The evening started with the Cakebread Chardonnay. I want to start by saying that chardonnay has not been my favorite wine over the years. A good bit of that comes from experiences with American chardonnays, where the vinters were determined to make a mark for themselves by having the most oak flavor possible. Oaking was the thing, and frankly if I wanted that much oak flavor I would simply go out and cut an oak branch to chew on. So, I admit I approached this part of the tasting with some degree of trepidation.
From the start, I was quite pleasantly surprised. The nose was filled not with oak, but with tart green fruit, floral notes, citrus, and hints of honey. The rich full mouth did have oak, but also butter so that the two traditional flavors of a good chardonnay were very well balanced. Oak and butter lead into lime and fruit, with a sweet finish on the sides. The finish is clean, and there is a nice bit of tartness. In all, one of the best chardonnays I've had in quite some time.
Next was the Pinot Noir, which had a nice nose with red fruit, chocolate, and hints of leather. The nice mouth was mild, and rich with red fruit, dark chocolate, and leather. The finish was clean and dry, with very little hints of spice on the side.
Next came the best wine of the evening, in my opinion: the Zinfandel. The solid nose was rich with spice, dark chocolate, leather, fruit, and hints of aged tobacco. The nice body was rich and solid, with spice notes of cinnamon, anise, more over dark chocolate, ripe red fruit, leather, and tobacco. There was a bit of tartness to balance the sweet rich flavor, and the long finish let one savor the components. It was a delightfully complex yet understated wine that invites you to savor and explore.
Our evening ended with the Cabernet Sauvignon. The sharp nose contained old leather and tobacco, with hints of red fruit and spice. The mouth as full bodied and rich with leather, tobacco, red fruit, and hints of cinnamon and cloves. The strong finish was long, allowing one to savor a good solid Cabernet.
Cakebread Cellars clearly has earned its reputation, and this event reminded me of that. It also has me much more optimistic about the state of American Chardonnays, and knowing one that I would not hesitate to serve guests.
Also, if you are in the area and want to know what events are planned -- not just tastings -- look to the full events list. They publish all events they are sent by groups and organizations, and this is a great resource for residents and visitors alike.