I had the opportunity to meet with Kevin O’brien, general manager of Expression and Tetra Wines and taste through the portfolio yesterday. The Expression brand includes Pinot Noirs from Oregon, labeled Expression 44, Anderson Valley – Expression 39, and Sonoma Coast – Expression 38. The numbers refer to the relative latitude where the vineyards are located. We also visited the Expression 38 Chardonnay in both the entry-level bottling and the single-vineyard Gaps Crown bottling. Tetra is a blend of four Bordeaux varietals (thus the “Tetra”) from the Napa Valley.
Since we began our relationship with the Sorting Table, the Expression and Tetra wines nearly instantly became a customer favorite. It is not surprising as the quality and value of these wines is evident throughout the group. Chardonnays are vinted in the same manner at the basic and single-vineyard levels with minimal oak and a slight lees influence. The balance these wines exhibit make them both food and palette-friendly. The Pinots exhibit a range of styles with the California wines showing more fruit, the Oregon wines slightly more earth and higher acidity. ABV levels hover around the high 13s, with a couple reaching a still reasonable 14.1%. All walk and talk like Pinot Noir.
My personal favorites from this tasting were the following: Gaps Crown Chardonnay, which, has great varietal intensity and richness, without being over-the-top; the Expression 44 Pinots from Oregon continue to shine. The 2009 Anahala Anderson Valley Pinot Noir surprised me, as it exhibited more earth than on my previous tasting late last year. This evolution could indicate a fast development trajectory. Kevin promised to send samples of some 2006 bottlings, so we will see how some of these wines develop over a slightly longer period. Either way, there is no need to wait. Everything we tasted is drinking beautifully now.
We finished our tasting with the Tetra 2008. This wine continues to excel in its price category. If you follow scores, the Wine Enthusiast has given scores of 92 or higher for the previous two vintages. The 2008 scored 94 and is reviewed as follows:
Very delicious and luscious, but no mere fruit bomb. It has the tannic-acidic structure and dryness to make it refined, but explodes on the palate with blackberry, chocolate, cassis, anise and sweet, smoky cedar flavors that are deep and long. Tastes important and first rate. — S.H. (12/1/2011)
A second taste was required just to be sure. First impression confirmed – Good Juice!
This day was one that I had to brush the purple off my teeth by mid-afternoon. After tasting a lot of wine, the Expression group definitely had more than a few standouts. Expression and Tetra have something to please a variety of palettes, and the prices are commensurate with the quality and value of the wines. It was a welcome break in my afternoon. Come again soon!