Polaner Selections’ 2009 annual portfolio tasting

Wow, could this year’s Polaner tasting really have been my 3rd?  It is a large and diverse tasting and a portfolio with some real winner wines.

In previous years I recall tasting lots of big tooth staining wines.  This year’s tasting comes at a busy time as I have been occupied with Passover wine stuff  so I was only able to stop in for about an hour.  I wish I had all week!  So many wines to taste, analyze & ponder.  Alas, it was one of the better hours spent in a long while.

I began by tasting through a bunch of whites and I then moved on to some reds.  Choosing to focus more on old world wines this year I spent a great deal of time tasting Italian wines, though I did start with some real nice French whites, and finished with some well known and very unique Spanish wines.

There were a few standout wines I’d like to write about tonight.  Beginning with the Foradori Myrto IGT Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco 2007 (pic is of 2006).

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The wine, made from 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Incrocio Manzoni (yes, that is apparently a grape varietal) started off a bit unusual as I thought its color was a bit deep for such a young wine.  Rather than the light straw color I saw a lot of this wine seemed to have hints of gold.  The nose was floral, but once again, not a floral I was accustomed to smelling.  I could not quite put a finger on the specific, but the floral notes, combined with a spicy, white pepper & herb thing led to a crisp wine with a medium finish.

Next was another white, made from 100% Prie’ Blanc (“pree” is the hebrew word for fruit) by the Cave de Morgex et de la Salle winery in Valle d’Aoste, Italy.

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The 2008 Vini Estremi was so light in color it was almost clear.  Made with indigenous yeasts, it had a sweet, floral and bubble gum nose that was scrumptious.  There was a bit of fizziness to the wine that was crisp and finished nice and long for a wine its style.

From Sicily, Italy I tried some of the wines of Calabretta.

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I tried their white Carricante Sicilia 2005 which was oily, floral and nice.  But it was their reds that I found most interesting.  I tried both the 1999 & 2000 Etna Rosso.  Each wine was a light, clear brick color.  Apparently these wines are aged for 6-7 YEARS in large botti (basically traditional Italian barrels).  While the botti do not impart big oak flavors they clearly do something.  The wines had a unique yet admittedly appealing oxidized/medicinal quality to them.  They were almost Sherry like.  Quite unusual but I did enjoy.

My favorites of the day were the wines of Roagna from Piedmont Italy.  I tried 2 Barbarescos and 2 Barolos.  The 1999 Barbaresco Crichet Paje’ had soft red fruit and cola characteristics packaged in a wine so beautifully round, with its acid and tannins that it was the only wine I could not bring myself to spit.

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BUT, it was actually the 2004 Barolo Vigna Rionda that blew me away.  Where to begin with this wine.  Still a baby, this wine was clear light ruby-garnet and had the most unusual aromas.  Yes, there were lovely (yet restrained) ripe black cherry aromas.  But the aroma that blew me away was what I can best describe as grilled veggies.  It kind of had a charred-fresh-sweet-herbaceous thing going on.  WOW!  On the palate was smoke & black fruit brought together beautifully by soft ripe tannins, classic Italian acidity and a very long finish.  My birthday is just over 4 months away.  Start saving up FRIENDS… ;)

My last major stop was at the Lopez de Heredia table.  This Rioja, Spain producer perplexes me in many ways.  I’ve tried (and written about) their wines a few times before.   I tried a white, the 1989 Tondonia Blanco Reserva that was interesting – crisp yet oxidized (intentionally).  A rose, the 1998 Tondoni Rosado Gran Reserva that was a pink-orange color & showed a touch of oxidation.  And I tried 5 reds, the youngest a pre-release of the 2003 Cubillo Crianza and the oldest the 1985 Tondonia Gran Reserva.

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Of the 5 I actually only found one to show that traditional Heredia oxidation…and it was NOT the ’85.  It was the ’91 Tondonia Gran Reserva.  Interestingly enough, my favorite was the ’85 (picture above).  It was brick in color with browning edges.  NO OXIDIZED aromas (or maybe I was simply palate fatigued).  I got tar, leather and burnt tobacco.  But what impressed me most and the reason I really enjoyed this wine was its remarkable liveliness.  It was light, yet bright & crisp.  NOT what i was expecting.  GREAT!

All that and I was only there for about an hour.  OK, maybe it was an hour and a half.  What a treat.  The tasting was just over 48 hours ago and already I can not wait until next year!

Happy POLANER WINES wine tasting!

WTG

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