Last weekend, I did something I've always wanted to do … did a vertical wine tasting with a bunch of friends. It was great fun, enlightening, and I recommend it.

The wine was one of my favorites - Roads End, from Carlton Cellars, in Oregon's Willamette Valley. (We've always been big fans of Carlton Cellars, which is a small-production winery with limited distribution outside the Pacific Northwest; we belong to the wine club to make sure we always have some on hand. Plus, we love owners Dave Grooters and Robin Russell.)

Roads End is the best of several pinot noirs that Carlton Cellars makes, and so we decided to line up five vintages of Roads End - the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. All from the same vineyard, grown by the same people - but, of course, grown with different levels of rain and sun and heat and cold. And so, the wines inevitably were going to be different. (I had bottles of all of them, except for the 2013, down in the wine cellar … er, the basement that has wine racks … but Brandon Harlacher, Carlton's director of sales and marketing, was kind enough to ship one out to us.)

We had a number of friends over, and they were as fascinated and delighted by this experiment as we were. There were some variations in taste, as one might expect, but I think it is fair to say that the 2015 largely was ranked best, with the 2012 coming in second. I ended up drinking more of the 2013 … there was something about it I really liked … it seemed a little more delicate than the others, which seemed more robust to me. Plus, I knew how much trouble Brandon had gone to, and that kind of stuff matters to me.

I haven't had the chance to do so yet, but I'm anxious to see if our assessments of the various vintages match up with how Dave and Robin and Brandon would rate them. They're wonderful winemakers, and I recommend you check out Carlton Cellars online.

But here's my suggestion. If you've never done a vertical tasting, try it. Get your local wine merchant to help you line up an appropriate wine and get you several vintages, and see what happens. It is great fun, and wonderfully enlightening.

Plus, you get to drink great wine.



That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend.

Back Monday.

Slàinte!