Searching the Net a few weeks ago, we came across Swirl, Smell, Slurp, a Los Angeles wine blog written by another couple. An email later, we were invited to participate in their latest project, United Slurps of America. The goal is to taste wine from all 50 states--and, as luck would have it, Illinois was up next.
We tasted wine from Lynfred Winery in Roselle. Until this project, we didn't even know it existed; however, we'll be heading there soon to check it out in person. The wines proved it's worth a visit. See below for our notes on the three samples they sent us, but please check out Swirl, Smell, Slurp for our collaborative review and to read about wine from other states.
2009 Seyval Blanc (sample, $25.25)
He Sipped: I don't think I've ever had a French-American hybrid before, so I really didn't know what to think going into this. French-American hybrids are a cross of a classic French vinifera grapes (such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, etc.) and grapes that are native to America. Vinifera typically does not survive well in Midwestern climates, but hybrids can. That's why this is the only wine of the three we tasted that is actually grown in Illinois.
The Seyval Blanc definitely exceeded my expectations - even if those expectations were pretty low. It's ia a light to medium yellow color in the glass. The nose is pretty light and perfumy with a hint of apple and banana in the background. On the palate, this wine is smooth and enjoyable. It has flavors of sweet ripe fruit, but the wine was actually pretty dry. Lynfred lists it as a semi-dry wine, but at only 0.7% residual sugar; it's not very sweet--and that's a good thing.
She Sipped: On the nose I get fruit, mostly bananas. In my mouth, it's light and smooth but subtle. This wine is easy to drink; I'd call it a picnic white. I can imagine it with cheese and bread and a warm day. It's good but not great, and I'm not sure I'd pay $25 for it.
We Sipped: Have a glass
2007 Zinfandel (sample, $25.25 to members only)
He Sipped: The Lynfred Zinfandel is a pretty dark purplish wine. Typical of the grape, it has a very fruity nose with loads of dark fruit--blackberry and plum. There is also a bit of cocoa in there at the end. This wine took a few minutes to open up, but even after it did, it didn't blow me away. The dark fruit was still there on the palate, as was the cocoa. With a medium body, this is a bit lighter than what I've come to expect from Zins. After we did this tasting, we ate Mexican food from a take-out place in our neighborhood. I certainly didn't plan on drinking this wine with a steak burrito, but it actually went with it pretty well. On its own, the wine isn't anything special, but with food it works quite nicely.
She Sipped: I'm pretty sure I could live off the smell of this wine; it has a perfect nose--berries that grab you right away, a smell that makes you want to stick your nose in the glass, a smell that makes you want to drink it. First sip: Ugh, not at all what I expect from a nose like that. It's not thick enough; it's too thin. I want it to be viscous. Is that even a wine term? "Full bodied," the tasting notes from the winery suggest; I think not. This wine is way too liquidy in my mouth for a Zin. I expect more.
After letting it open and eating steak tacos: Much better. This wine seems to be meant to drink with food. The flavors from the steak brought out the flavors in the wine. It also tasted good with goat cheese. Actually, as I ate my meal, I drank an entire glass of this Zin and didn't even think about grabbing my glass of the next wine (which I loved). This bodes well for this wine, which I was sure I didn't like.
Buy a Bottle (But only drink with food)
Lynfred Cuvée Red NV (sample, $30)
He Sipped: The final wine from our Illinois tasting was no disappointment. This was pretty dark and opaque as well, but not quite as purple as the Zin. The first thing that hits you on the nose is wood. Think back to when you were in school and the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil. That's what this smells like, and that's not a bad thing. There also is some dark fruit in there trying to peek through the wood. In the mouth, the Lynfred Cuvée still has some woody notes, as well as some spice, but the fruit is much more prevalent. It is smooth, full bodied, and easy to drink. If you like new-world-style fruit-forward, oak-aged red wine, then you will like the Lynfred Cuvée.
She Sipped: Immediately, I get a familiar nose, but I can't place it. After swirling and smelling more, it comes to me: a musty cellar, like the caves in France. This smell was so startling after smelling the Zin; however, after the initial shock, I grew to like the smell because it took me back to wine tasting in Bordeaux and Burgundy. And if a wine can do this, it's a good wine in my book.
Even if many people would be turned off by this smell, what follows is quite nice. A totally different taste awaits: fruity, smooth, spicy. Real nice. I really liked this wine. I would pay the $30 for the bottle. I'd drink this again. I'm proud to say this wine was made in Illinois, even if it wasn't grown here.
We Sipped: Buy a Bottle (borderline Buy a Case)
Thank you so much to the He and She of Swirl, Smell, Slurp. Your project is awesome--and we were so happy to a part of it! So readers, make sure you check out their blog!