Wine Tasting with Shea Vineyards


With friends and families gathering this time of year, plus a multitude of holiday parties, what better time to open several bottles of wine and organize your own wine tasting. With this in mind, the GrapeRadio bunch got together to assess 10 wines in a slightly formalized setting. In this case, “formalized” meant a sit-down tasting of specific wines, as opposed to the normal party atmosphere of sipping wine while wandering among guests.

Our own Rusty Gaffney hosted the tasting, and we sat around a large dining room table where he had set out 10 Burgundy glasses for each taster (we were going to taste Pinot Noir, so Rusty supplied the appropriate stemware). Some food had been prepared for later (you can properly evaluate wines either with or without food, but should keep things consistent), as we wanted to check out the wines first without the compliment of food. Water bottles were available to freshen the palate and keep us hydrated, and we were ready to dive in.

There is no completely right or wrong way of assessing wine – people often take different approaches to determining what they like or do not like about a wine. Usually, a quick sniff, followed by a swirl and another longer sniff gives one a sense of the aromatics. Then comes a small taste, which is usually held in the mouth for several seconds before swallowing or expelling (yes, spitting out) the wine.

At this point, many people like to make a note of their impressions. The note(s) can be very brief or very verbose, depending upon what the taster wants to convey to him/herself or to others. Ordinarily, the wines are not discussed individually as tasted, but instead are discussed when all of the wines have been evaluated. As you might imagine, impressions of each wine can differ with each taster – it just depends on the taster’s preference.

Finally, food is served and the wines are evaluated once again, in a less formal setting with plenty of discussion along the way. And, there you have it – wine tasting made easy!

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Show #181
(56:45 min 39 MB)





13 Responses to “Wine Tasting with Shea Vineyards”

  1. 1 Tara Dec 17th, 2007 at 10:45 am

    Woot Woot! Thank-you for choosing an Oregon Pinot I look forward to more visits.

  2. 2 Ima Lush Dec 17th, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    I was as underwhelmed by the the Shea Estates Pinot as you were. Which was all the more disappointing considering the massive amount of hype these wines have received.
    The wine was not only tight but ungenerous and out-and-out watery in the mouthfeel. We were patient with it, going back to it after some time but. . .nothing. All the more distressing as the estate pinot retailed for fifty bucks. And I bought two. Anyone want the other one?
    Let this be a lesson to us all. Don’t believe the hype. Believe your palate.

  3. 3 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 19th, 2007 at 10:49 am

    I would be the first to say my palate would never earn me a job as a wine critic. While I confess that hype would get my attention, it does not mean it will get my dollars. Bottom line, like you said, trust your palate and you wil never go wrong.


  4. 4 DAVID Dec 24th, 2007 at 9:02 am

    I’ve had many of these wines – some good, some not so good. But I have to admit, the conversation and laughs you generated were great. Is there ANY whine Brian doesn’t like?

  5. 5 GrapeRadio Bunch Dec 24th, 2007 at 10:41 am

    I resemble that remark!

    I think when you are trying wines like these there is a certain expectation (fair or not) and so we tend to be a little critical.

    We are looking at these wines vs. past vintages, vs. other wine makers from the same vineyard, vs. other wines from the same region, and vs other pinots in the same price range. So even when you enjoy the wine you still often end up poking holes in it.

    I felt overall everyone enjoyed the Shea wines but a few fell a little short of expectations in this particular vintage and for the price. But not all!

    With that being said after the show I signed up on the Shea mailing list. I will pick and choose my favorites from the tasting and we will see what the future vintages turn out like. Thats the fun part of wine for me.


  6. 6 Mark Ryan Dec 24th, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Your comments on their most expensive wine, Homer, had me laughing. When your wine costs just as much as a great quality 1er cru Burgundy and it doesn’t deliver there’s something wrong with the market… Why do wineries think that bigger is always better (especially with Pinot Noir!)?

  7. 7 Jason Hagen Dec 27th, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Hey! I enjoyed this. I know this type of thing may not be your main focus … but I really enjoyed hearing a diverse group go through a bunch of wines. It was nice to hear some opinions. But there were no names “named” after the food. That was disappointing. Or did I miss it. There was a big discussion of the importance of the food/wine element … and then no names “named” 🙂

    Too bad you didn’t have any St Innocent Sheas… They are my favorites … and I know a guy 🙂 if you want to try some.

    Cheers and thanks for all the work you put into this!

    And please do this again.


  8. 8 John D Jan 3rd, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    I want to applaud you all for standing your ground. In a tasting like this, it is easy to get swayed by the people around you. I thought you all held your ground very well. Jay, even though it sounded like you disliked all the wines, apparently you weren’t spitting too much! Great show.

  9. 9 GrapeRadio Bunch Jan 13th, 2008 at 3:19 am

    John, totally not true about disliking all the wines. Sure, some I liked less than others in the tasting. As a matter of fact, I intend to try them again when the next vintage comes out.

    As to your suggestion I may not have spit enough, I did spit, REALLY!


  10. 10 Joe S Feb 21st, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    That was a fun review of the Shea wines; these folks may a quality pinot. I suggest another review of some of the other Oregon pinots like Domaine Drouhin and Eyrie.
    Please invite me!

  11. 11 Michael Green Apr 17th, 2008 at 2:10 am

    As so often happens with these trips, it’s not the wine that’s the greatest pleasure, but the company of friends.

    Still, does look like a lot of fun and I’ve made a note in my own calendar to visit.


  12. 12 Pamela Aug 23rd, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I am new to your webcast which is why my response is so late- I’ve been listening through older programming and very much enjoying it!
    I’m involved in a small tasting group in Massachusetts and at our last meeting we tasted 3 different St. Innocent pinot noirs: Alden Vineyard, Freedom Hill and Shea Vineyard. Most of my group preferred the first two, but my favorite by far was the Shea Vineyard. I thought it was much more subtle, elegant and restrained. It reminded me more of the brugundian styles of pinot noir, but without the “stinky” quality and a little more fruit forward, without being overly ripe or saturated.
    I loved “meeting” Dick Shea and hearing him speak.
    Keep up the great work!

  13. 13 bratz dolls Sep 16th, 2008 at 3:55 am

    very interesting … where else can you read about wine tasting

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