Though the weather in NYC might be indicating otherwise, Spring is here and the Spring wine tasting events are in full swing. I had the opportunity (& good fortune) to attend two such tastings the past few days. The first was a Chianti event down in the Meatpacking area. It was a partially outdoor venue and was well attended with a good crowd tasting the wines and speaking with winemakers.
What has been of most interest in the world of wine to ME lately are really unique wines; those wines that stand out as different in one way or another from others. In general that “different” comes from aromas detected as soon as I put my nose in the glass. And not all different is good. Sometimes different is medicinal, oxidized or otherwise unpleasant. But picking up on aromas that are not familiar to me is always fun. And while the diversity of styles at the Chianti tasting was limited by the fact that all the wines came from the same region, there was a pleasantly surprising assortment of wine styles present.
The wines that stood out that afternoon were the simply made DOCG Chianti wines; those made mostly from Sangiovese and aged in either concrete or stainless steel tanks – not seeing any barrel aging. The wines were fresh & lively, fruity, well made and easily drinkable. These are wines I think a large percentage of people can appreciate as wines that don’t need a big steak to pair it with, instead great for sipping on their own or pairing with a more diverse range of foods.
What was pretty amazing to me is how many of these quality producers don’t currently have US importers and were at the tasting seeking representation. I hope I’ll be able to help them out in one capacity or another as I embark on my next project.
The second tasting was a very different type of tasting. It was Wine Spectator’s “Grand Tour”. I’ve attended the WS tasting once before but was not prepared. WS attracts some world renown wineries and I discovered them once they were all out of wine. I was not going to make the same mistake twice.
First Growth Bordeaux…not the easiest first wine for a palate, but I was not going to miss out this time. 2004 Chaueau Margaux. 2007 Chateau Haut-Brion. OH MY. Both wines are babies and were in my (very inexperienced when it comes to top Bordeaux) opinion not showing too much about what makes them special, but they were beautifully aromatic, velvety soft and had long yummy finishes. What a TREAT!
I got to taste some great Premier Cru Burgundy, some Barolo, Super Tuscans, WS’s #1 wine for the year the CVNE 2004 Gran Reserva Rioja and enough Champagne to plaster a big smile on my face for several days! But there were also some very “fancy” (expensive) wines that didn’t do it for me. They were in most cases good, but they didn’t really stand out to me as special and were certainly not wines I would spend my coin on (if I had that kind of coin). In the end though, I marked about 30 wines I hoped to taste and figured I’d be in & out within an hour. I ended up being there for just shy of the full 3 hours and tasted over 60 wines. It was really a special night and I am super appreciative of my industry friend who helped me procure my ticket.
Takeaway for you…forget the score, forget the rating…trust your palate and when given the opportunity buy a wine YOU TASTED first rather than one someone else insists you will love.
Happy Spring Wine Tasting!