So what happened? First, I was never told where the tasting was. I went to the address on the website. When I called and told them that the door was locked, they told me that I was not in the right spot, which already started the experience badly (i.e. with me irritated). Had the tasting been only for me, I would not have felt bad since it was not my fault. However, there was another couple doing the tasting and I felt bad that I was wasting their time. Then, I was told that I would get a Tranche tasting even though it was very clear (both when making and when confirming my appointment) that I was there to taste Corliss and not Tranche. For some reason, the hostess kept insisting that I was there to taste Tranche (despite me telling her I was there for Corliss). What made it even worse was that the other couple was also there to taste Corliss and yet she kept insisting that I taste their Tranche lineup. For those who are not familiar with the two brands, Tranche is their entry-level line (although they state that they are two different brands). It was as if she was insisting that I “should be” tasting Tranche for some reason.
Once that was settled, we proceeded to do the tour (which I would have skipped… how many times am I going to have to tour production facilities in my lifetime?). Once the tour had ended, we started to taste their wines. We tasted the 2008 (I believe…I did not note the vintage) Malbec and the 2009 Syrah. Throughout the tour/tasting, I felt like the host was not taking me seriously. I did not buy their wines in the end, not because I could not afford to purchase their wines but rather because I did not enjoy their wines. I am aggravated by wineries who judge people by what they think they will buy (or by what winery names they drop during the visit). The very fact that I sought them out should be a signal that I am serious. This is the kind of place that makes me understand why some people are intimidated by the world of wine. It should be about enjoyment and experiences rather than snobbism (which is how I would characterize Corliss).
Before I turn to the tasting notes, it is important to note that Corliss claims to make old-world style wines (this was emphasized during the tour). These, at least to me, are pretty much as far from old-world as a wine can get! They are the very definition of fruit bombs with little, if any, terroir characteristics. One last thing: I would like to commend them on the pours. The pours that they gave us were more than generous (especially since the tasting was free). So here are my tasting notes:
2008 Malbec – This wine is exclusively available to club members (which always puzzles me – why am I tasting it then?). The color was very dark and purple as one would expect. The nose was very aromatic and rich, almost like smelling a baked dark fruit dessert. I got some dark fruits (blackberry and plum mostly) and maybe a hint of dark chocolate. There was mostly fruit on the nose for this wine (hence the fruit bomb characterization above). The palate was quite similar to the nose although I did get a tiny bit of minerality. I did not find the tannins to be overbearing on this wine and it had decent acidity. There was also some sweetness that came through (from the use of oak I suspect). Overall, I think that if you like this style of wine, it should be up your alley. If I had to score this wine, I would give it an 88-90.
2009 Syrah – This was my favorite wine of the tasting. The color was a very rich and dark purple color. I would describe it as a very ripe wine. On the nose, it had the typical Syrah suspects: a bit of smoked (or maybe grilled?) meats, a bit of dark chocolate, some dark fruits (mostly blueberry and blackberry here), and maybe some licorice. On the palate, the notes are similar except that I also got some notes of exotic spices (from the oak?). This is definitely a very rich and ripe wine and it was not overly tannic with a good balance and finish. Overall, this was a good wine. If I had to give it a score, it would be a 90-91.
2011 Slice of Pape – Since the hostess really wanted us to taste their Tranche cellars wines, she opened their Chateauneuf-du-Pape style wine. Unfortunately, this wine was so incredibly tight that it was not very enjoyable. It should be opened many many hours before being served. Even the couple who was there tasting with me did not finish their glass of this wine. Basically, the wine was so tannic and closed that there really was nothing discernable about it. Ultimately, I did not write any notes because there was nothing to write about. I am sure that, if opened ahead of time, this wine would have been pleasurable. Given that it did not breathe, opening this bottle was essentially nothing more than a waste.
One problem with their sale strategy is that they are adamant about selling in pre-specified amounts. You cannot buy one or two bottles. You must purchase six bottles (or some other multiple). This makes absolutely no sense to me, especially since almost all of their wines can be purchased in stores or online (and often at prices that are better than winery prices). The fact that people are willing to purchase their wines (in any quantity) should be reason enough to allow them to buy however many they want. For the life of me, I cannot understand why wineries impose restrictions on quantities to people who want to buy their wines! What difference does it make (especially if I am paying shipping and handling)?