Archive for May, 2009

Paumanok Vineyards – Long Island NEW YORK winery

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

I had the surprise privilege to taste a very nice lineup of wines with Paumanok vineyards winemaker Kareem Massoud.  While visiting a friend at a retail store in NYC Kareem came by to show him a bunch of wines.  And I jumped on the opportunity to join them.

The North (or South) Fork of Long Island has yet to reach prominent status as a world class wine growing region, but there certainly seem to be some world class winemakers making some lovely wines there.

IN the interest of keeping things brief (partly due to some frustrating internet issues) I’ll get right to it.

I tried the 2007 “Dry Riesling” and 2008 “semi-dry Riesling”.  The semi-dry only had about 2 grams of residual sugar, so the sweetness was not overly detectable.  I found the two wines to be quite similar.  They both showed some bubble gum aromas and a nice crispness.  The dry Riesling also had some nice spiciness to it.  Nice!

The wine that I thought presented the best value, and also really enjoyed was the 2005 Merlot.  This 100% Merlot had ripe tannins, blue & black fruit characteristics (rather than the usual red fruit one often finds in Merlot), had a nice mouth feel and a medium to long finish.

The last wine I want to mention was the 2005 Assemblage, a blend of 44% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon and 22% Petit Verdot.  This wine had dark berries and some subtle chocolate aromas.  On the palate it was fruity and a bit of a lean wine, and consequently I think a good food wine.   It too had a pleasant medium to long finish.

In all it was a pleasure speaking with a winemaker who is willing to hit the road to promote his products and equip retailers carrying his wines with as much ammunition as possible to best enable them to be successful with the wines.

Happy little known wine region wine tasting!


Burgundy tasting – Vosne Romanée

Monday, May 25th, 2009

Before reviewing the recent Burgundy tasting, I want to start off by encouraging anyone curious enough about wine to be reading this blog to JOIN A WINE CLUB.  I joined the club I’m in over 2 years ago and the core of the club is still intact.  We have a real nice group of people, and while pooling money, we are able to sample some of the great wines of the world.

Speaking of great wines of the world, Burgundy wines (the red made entirely of Pinot Noir) are said to be some of the finest in existence.  And of the various communes, Vosne Romanée, together with Chambolle-Musigny & Gevrey-Chambertin, are said to make up the finest Burgundy offerings.

Finishing our tour of the various communes, the group focused on some wines from Vosne Romanée.  We tasted 7 wines, 2 village level, four Premier Cru (1er Cru) and one Grand Cru wine.

(2 bottles are mysteriously missing)

The tasting was exciting & educational and a terrific ending to our series of RED Burgundy wines.  Up next – Chablis!!!

A quick and interesting (to me at least) note is that we tasted these bottles the first time around immediately after opening them.  In the past we have decanted, but we (primarily our host) decided not to decant and to taste right after opening.  I did not have a problem with this and found plenty going on in each of the wines during the first taste.  HOWEVER, I re-tasted all of the 7 wines and found that EACH AND EVERY ONE was showing different characteristics the second time around.  An assessment that was shared by other group members.  And while this is not exactly a shocking realization for wines reputed to be the most complex in the world, it was nonetheless quite an exciting revelation for me, and helped me to better grasp the allure of great Burgundy wines.

The first wine we tasted was a 2006 Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg, village level wine.  This was the youngest wine we tasted, yet it had a unique aroma I really enjoyed.  I found cola syrup smells on the nose.  While cola is not an unusual aroma for wines, this was different – it seemed to be more concentrated and reminded me of frozen cola pops.   The flavor one gets when sucking the syrup from the pop, that strong syrupy taste – that is what I picked up on.  Otherwise, this light ruby wine had a stoney-mineral thing and subtle fruit, to compliment its round feel and medium long finish.

The 2004 Domaine Robert Arnoux, the second village wine, was clear pinkish-garnet-brick in color. A little more faded then what i would have expected from a 2004 at this point.  It had a lot going on.  Aromas ranging from red berries and wet leaves to cola and tobacco.  Some others picked up on what they considered to be undesirable attributes in this wine, but aside from a touch of heat, I thought the balance between berries, acid, minerality and finish made for a very nice wine.

The 2004 Domaine Hudelot-Noellat “Les Beumonts” was the first 1er Cru wine and the first of two from this Domaine.  This clear ruby to garnet wine black berry, earth and wet leave aromas.  On the palate was a touch of heat, with pleasant cherry cola and tart berry flavors.  It had a nice long finish.  This was the only wine where I wrote a note the second time I tasted it as I found the aroma to be unusual – PICKLES.  Others in the group picked up on the pickle smell, so in this particular case I knew I was not crazy.

The fourth wine was the Domaine Hudelot-Noellat “Les Suchot” 1er Cru.  Made by the same producer as the previous wine, the Les Suchot is made from 70 year old vines while the “Les Beamonts” is made from 35 year old vines.  The Les Suchot had a salmon/orange/garnet like color with a whole lot of funk on the nose.  Wet leaves, canned vegetables, earth and cooked berries were just some of the aromas.  On the palate this wine showed under-ripe fruit (very different from its cooked fruit aroma) with a lovely acidity and a very clean, soft mouth feel.  It had a medium long finish.

Stepping back a few years bring us to wine #5 – the 1996 Domaine Robert Arnoux “Aux Reignors” 1er Cru.  This orange/brick wine had begun to throw some sediment, and had a complex nose with cola, funky earthiness, and some subtle fresh berry.  The palate followed through with cola and tart berry flavors, a bracing acidity and a velvety mouth feel.  It had a pleasant medium to long finish that i thoroughly enjoyed (though if I remember correctly others were less enamored by).

I can’t say that I recall why we did things in this order, but the second to last wine of the night was the 1999 Domaine Meo-Camuzet “Aux Brulée” 1er Cru.  Apparently this wine carries a retail price somewhere near $500.  Thankfully we did not pay that.  And frankly, for comparison sake, i would say that for most of us any of these more affordable options (relatively speaking of course) would present fine alternatives.  This wine had a youthful dark ruby color with some small sediment.  Given its youthful color I expected more fruit, but found this wine (at least the first time around) to be more mineral driven.  Lots of chalky, stoney minerality going on.  There was a touch of funk and some interesting mintiness as well.  On the palate this wine showed its fruit.  The red berry flavors were ripe, different from some of the under-ripe or cooked berry flavors of others.  And it had a very nice and long finish.

Our 7th and final wine of the night was the Louis Jadot (negociant) 1999 Romanée-Saint-Vivant GRAND CRU.  Negociant Jadot makes a lot of wine all across the quality spectrum.  Some group members were not optimistic about this wine given the negociant’s checkered reputation, but I attempted to taste this wine with as open a mind as possible – if for no other reason than its status as a Grand Cru Vosne Romanée.  And while I was not blown away by the wine, it was quite lovely.

It had a light pinkish ruby color and a very subtle, possibly closed nose.  My notes from the taste read as follows: “mineral, nice lite red fruit, round, nice, but…”.  As you can see, I was expecting more.  Again, a lovely wine, but…no earth shattering WOW, this is amazing, I can now die and go to H…  The wine by the way had a medium to long finish.

Happy BURGUNDY wine tasting!


Vibrant Rioja – Grand Tasting

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

This past Tuesday I stopped in at the “Vibrant Rioja” Grand Tasting.  The tasting was help this year in NYC’s “City Winery”.  There were over 50 tables, each representing a different producer,importer or distributor of Rioja wine.  Each table seemed to have at least 4-5 wines, and some had even more.  There were reds, whites & rose.  And though I did not come across any, I’m sure there was some sparkling Cava as well.

I ended up spending a bunch of time speaking with industry contacts while I was there, so I did not taste as much wine as I normally try to taste, but the experience as always was invaluable.

One observation made by some of those had to do with the venue.   City winery is being run professionally by some very hard working people.  It is an amazing facility that blends food, wine & music.  The people at City Winery have aggressively sought out those who organize wine tastings such as Vibrant Rioja in an effort to hold any such event at the venue.  While this seems to make a lot of sense, there seems to be one problem.  Wineries, and fermenting wine has a strong smell.  And while about 90% of the exhibitors were in an area of the main hall with little or no foreign aromas, there were a few exhibitors in the tank room.  In the future I hope they learn that as cool as the tank room is, it is no a place to taste wine as the foreign aromas introduced really prevented the wines being poured in the tank room from showing well, and the exhibitors in that room were rather upset about this.

The second observation had to do with the style of wines being poured.  Spain, and Rioja in particular, has seen a renaissance of sorts of modern styled winemaking.  So in theory, we are seeing an old world country producing new world style wines.  However, it appears that there may be a backlash taking place as I was quite pleased to see exhibitors, young and old, pouring wines that many would consider to be more “traditional” in style rather than “modern”.   Both styles have their appeal and respective fans.  There certainly is a large customer base who prefer the BIG, fruit forward, modern style.  But I think that what makes the wines of Rioja unique and quite special are those wines made in the classic or traditional method, and I was pleased to taste many such examples.

Which is a great segue into a few quick wines of note.  Though I ended at this table rather than starting there, no Rioja tasting is complete without representation from R Lopez de Heredia wines.  And sure enough, the good folks at Polaner together with a representative from the winery were there to pour some wines.  I tried an ’89 Tondonia White Reserva that was showing the characteristic oxidation, with good acidity and little fruit.  A ’98 Tondonia ROSE Gran Reserva that had a slight oxidation, floral aromas and a crisp acidity.  And a bunch of reds, of which I most enjoyed the 2001 Bosconia Reserva which was subtle and food friendly with lite fruit, crisp acidity and lots of character.  And the ’85 Tondonia Gran Reserva which had a light orange brick color, tart berry aromas, and a palate that was light, crisp and lively, with berries that was both elegant and complex.

Near the Heredia table, I quickly tasted a bunch of wines from Bodegas Las Orcas.  These wines were all made in a traditional style and were showing quite well.  The 2000 Pagos de Valde, a wine whose fruit was hand harvested from a single vineyard, was subtle with good tannic structure, subtle fruit, and a soft and food friendly palate.  While they had a specially marked bottle that I was told was a 1996 reserva.  But not any reserva – this wine was aged in stone. I asked if he meant concrete, but I was told that it was actually stone cut into the side of a mountain.  Pretty cool huh!?  The wine itself was a touch oxidized, but it was also uniquely interesting and worth checking out – if you can find it.

The Bodegas Breton 2001 Lorinon Gran Reserva had some sediment and a minty-leather nose, with light red fruit flavors and good acidity.  The Maques de Riscal 2000 Gran Reserva Rose had an orange-pink color with lovely pink grapefruit and pomelo aromas.  I loved its nose, and was amazed byb the long finish though I wish its acidity was bit livelier.  Another rose’ I enjoyed was the Bodegas Don Sancho de Londono Cortijo 2008 Rose, which at the price (retails for about $10) is a great buy.   It has  a pretty reddish pink color with a BIG RED like cinnamon gum nose.  It was crisp and refreshing.  Yummy!  SO many wines to write about…I feel like I am leaving out lots of winners.

The last wine I want to mention was the Castillo de Cuzcurrita Senorio de Cuzcurrita 2002 made from 100% tempranillo.  I thought this wine was great.  It had cola, raspberry, earth and tar on the nose.  It cherry cola flavors were revealed in a wine with silky tannins, and well rounded mouth feel, and a pleasant and long finish.  terrific!

In all I was quite impressed.  I look forward to trying more from Rioja and while many out there might not agree with me I hope to see a return to the roots of Rioja (good name for a tasting) with more traditionally styled Riojas hitting the market.

Happy Traditional Rioja Wine Tasting!


ignition interlock device

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

So much to blog, so little time to do the actual blogging.  I guess that is why Twitter has become so damn popular of late.  I attended the Rioja grand tasting on Tuesday and tasted some wonderful TRADITIONAL style Spanish wines.  And Wednesday night, after a prolonged break, our wine group resumed our tour of Burgundy.  It was the grand finale (for now) of reds – Vosne Romanee!  Next up, Chablis.  I will do my best to blog about them sooooon….

But I’m posting tonight simply to share an interesting tidbit I was just made aware of by Megan of Wine & Spirits Daily.  Apparently, an alliance of 11 car companies are asking congress to mandate the installation of ignition interlock devices on all vehicles within 5-10 years.

In case you, like me, had no idea what an ignition interlock device was, here it is as per good old Wikipedia…

An ignition interlock device or breath alcohol ignition interlock device (IID and BIID) is a mechanism, like a breathalyzer, installed to a motor vehicle’s dashboard. Before the vehicle’s motor can be started, the driver first must exhale into the device, if the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programed blood alcohol concentration — usually 0.02 or 0.04 per cent, the motor will not turn over.

I’m not sure whether to applaud this as it will seemingly prevent reckless selfish drunks from entering our roadways OR freak out that big brother is coming….

Happy stay at home or get a designated driver wine tasting!


Wine in a can

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

I recently wrote about plastic wine bottles, but it seems that wine containers are being invented faster than you can pop a cork!

UK’s Timesonline reports that Rexam, one of the worlds largest can manufacturers sold 6 million cans to the wine industry in 2006 and that last year that number increased to 35 million.

Now that is a lot of cans…

The article pointed out a lot of reasons why cans actually do make more sense than bottles.  The single serve size would mean a lot less wine being poured down the drain.  Less (or eliminate) broken glass.  And apparently, aluminum is 100% recyclable (anyone know what percentage of glass is recyclable?).  Aluminum, like the plastic bottles discussed in this space a week ago, also weighs less than glass and as such have a lower carbon footprint.

Would you drink your wine from a can?

Happy aluminum can wine tasting!


“Map-It ™ Because Place Matters”

Monday, May 18th, 2009

“Place Matters”.  This is what is telling us with their latest marketing tool.

Terroir, or the “sense of place” as it is often described, is said to be what distinguishes ordinary, or what I suppose could theoretically be laboratory wines (those manufactured anywhere, and tasting of nowhere), from extraordinary wines; those wines that truly bring you to a specific geographical location through its aromas and flavors.

The idea of terroir-driven wines makes sense to me in that these wines possess a unique quality.   They might possess that unique smell of saltwater from the parallel ocean, or they might possess a flinty aroma from the flint stones scattered throughout their vineyard.  Or, as is the case with some of the better Israeli wines, they might possess an herbaceous or even green olive quality from all the wild sage, rosemary, thyme and olive groves that grow throughout the country and often surround the vineyard itself.

Getting back to the new Map-It feature, I wonder how important it is for people to SEE (on a radar image) the location where the wine was made, or better yet (when available) where the grapes were grown.  If it opens up one’s imagination to a story and helps to paint the picture behind the wine for the wine-curious consumer then I guess it is important.

As is generally the case when it comes to my bizarre mind, this all led me to think about Israeli wine.   In this case as it pertains to Israeli wine in retail stores.   Outside of Israel I would venture to say that NYC has the greatest selection of Israeli wines in the world.  But if you are to enter a retail store seeking an Israeli wine do you know where the clerk would take you?  To the KOSHER section.  WHERE in the world is kosher???

There is a section for France.  Italy.  Spain.  US wines are generally grouped together, yet they usually are separated between states.  German wines.  Australian wines…I can go on and on.  Heck, even organic wines are USUALLY found in a section pertaining to their country of origin (though some stores ALSO have a special organic section).  So why does just about every store in the region with the 2nd largest concentration of Israeli wines group these wines together with other wines from all over the world??

What of those wines made in Israel that do not have kosher certification??

Why not create a section for Israeli wines (they should be contained within an Eastern Mediterranean section near wines from Greece, Cyprus & Lebanon) AS WELL AS a kosher section just as is done with organic wines???

Clearly I am a very biased observer here.  But the more I read about how trendy terroir is and how important a “sense of place” is when it comes to wine the more I wonder, why not for Israel????

Happy terroir driven wine tasting!


small country, gov’t supported wine event

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

No, I’m not referring to Israel here.  Though I did have the Israeli wine industry in mind when I attended the “Austrian Samples & Swing” event yesterday.  But what else is new…

Set up in conjunction with, and co-hosted by the Austrian Consulate General and the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, this was a very well attended professional event.  Yet it was also quite intimate.  Only 6 importers/distributors were there pouring wines.

I had an appointment to get to so I was not able to stay long.  And I basically stuck to whites, though I did try 2 sparklers & a rose’.

I started at the Prescott Wines table, where I tried 5 Gruner Vetliners (over 1/3 of the country is planted in GV).  I found a pretty nice variation between the wines, which impressed me as many wine regions seem to have many producers making varietally correct but uninspiring and nondescript wines.  The wines showed characters ranging from mineral & flint to citrus & spice.

I enjoyed the 2007 Michlits Gruner that I found to have appealing flinty and stone fruit characteristics with a crisp palate and long finish.

Another wine of note was the 2008 Strauss “Samling”.  I was told that Samlling, the varietal, is a cross between Riesling & Silvaner.  WOW…this wine had a Sauvignon Blanc gooseberry nose to it.  It didn’t have Sauvignon Blanc (or GV) acidity/crispness, but it was an interesting wine.

I then moved on to the Skurnik wine table.  The non-vintage Schloss Gobelsburg Sekt Brut, a blend of Gruner Veltliner with Pinot Noir and Riesling, was interesting as it is a wine that is estate: harvested, riddled & disgorged.  It was a crisp & yeasty with citrus notes and a long finish.

Also of note at the Skurnik table was the 2007 Hiedler GV that was crisp, spicy and even a bit creamy.  And the 2008 Hofer Zweigelt Rose’ which had a pinkish-salmon color, rose pedal aromas and a crisp refreshing palate.

The final table I was able to visit prior to my appointment was the Vin Divino table.  Vin Divino had a nice lineup of affordable wines and my favorite was the light and simple yet refreshing 2007 Wieninger “Genischter Satz” which I was told was a field blend of 13 varietals all fermented together to make this fun, fruity & crisp wine.  And the 2007 Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel “Terrassen” which had citrus & stone fruit (white peach maybe?) characteristics to go along with its crisp, refreshing & long palate.

In all I will say that while I was not BLOWN AWAY by anything, I was quite impressed.  It seems that the Austrian wine industry has found varietals that work with their soils & climate.  They are introducing their wines, together with the help of the government, at affordable prices.  Together with informative and professionally printed literature, and top notch importers and distributors I am certain that the Austrian wine market is on the upswing.

Happy Austrian Wine Tasting.


New Look & …PLASTIC wine bottles??

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

So the look of the site has once again been updated.  I hope you all like it.  The bottle background was actually designed for me by a talented designer based in Israel.  I use it for my business cards.  I use it on my Twitter page.  And I finally figured it was time to update things here.  What do you think?

Onto wine news, I read the other day that Australian wine producer Wolf Blass has begun to bottle (a portion of?) his wines in plastic bottles rather than glass bottles.

Looks ok…

Apparently the intent is to be more “green”, as the plastic (PET – polyethylene tetraphthalate) bottles are 90% lighter, and transporting them will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

I like to think of myself as somewhat progressive, and I am all for screwcaps in place of corks.  At least on wines that are not intended for long term cellaring.

And I am also all about reducing greenhouse gas emmissions, saving the environment, all the good stuff.  But PLASTIC WINE BOTTLES????

I suppose I should ponder the concept for a while before I pass judgement.  I just thought the issue was worth bringing up.

Any thoughts?

Happy plastic bottle wine tasting!


Does the price of wine matter?

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Apparently it does.  But more for one gender than for the other.  Can you guess which one?

As a long time single guy I often heard people speak of what women & men ask when being told about a potential suitor.  The man might ask “what does she look like?”, while the woman might ask “what does he do?”.

I must admit that I have never (or rarely) heard a woman brag about how much something cost.  But I have seen men, waving around their metaphorical swords, proclaiming their suits, watches, pens, cars and yes, bottles of wine were better because of how expensive they were.  Talk about insecurity…at times it seems the person is so unsure of their purchase, yet if they are able to convince someone else how valuable their material (suit, bottle of wine, etc) is then maybe they will begin to believe it and feel better about it themselves.

OK, I digress.  Surprisingly to me, it is WOMEN who apparently are affected in terms of their enjoyment, by the price tag on a bottle of wine.

A study performed by the Stockholm School of Economics and Harvard University and written about by Leslie Gevirtz for Reuters, found that women are more affected by the price of wine than men.

The research found that “disclosing the expensive price of a wine before people tasted it produced considerably higher ratings, although only from women”.

So it seems that all that sword waving being done is wasted between men.  The real targets should be the sought after women.  As apparently, if you tell them it cost a lot they will like it.  But will they like you????…

HAPPY expensive and proud of it WINE TASTING!


Lauber 2009 Grand Annual Tasting

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

This past Monday I squeezed a couple of hours of wine tasting into my busy schedule.  The Lauber tasting is a HUGE tasting with what I would guess is somewhere in the range of 1000 wines on hand.  The wines come from all over the world, and some producers even bring a “library” wine – a wine from an older vintage that is generally for sale.  Tasting an older wine is always a treat, but it also allows the potential wine buyer a glimpse into how the wine might age given how the library wine is showing.

Although I did not have a lot of time, I did still decide to begin by tasting exclusively white wines, and then later changing my focus to reds.  I managed to taste about 45 whites and then about 25 reds.  I tasted US wines (from California, NY, Washington & Oregon) as well as wines from around the world.  The only common theme between the wines were that they are all distributed by Lauber. This made making any comparison difficult, especially since I like to write about standout wines – those that while similar to the others seem to really stand out.

A last factor I want to mention before getting to my standout wines is the tasting book provided by Lauber.  The tasting book is something provided at all of these tastings so that the attendees can both find their way around the tasting and take notes on the wines tasted.  The book went in table order and made navigating the tasting very straight forward.  Physically, the book is a manageable size and that made taking notes while tasting a simpler task.  Lauber also provides the wholesale price of the wine in the book.  This is helpful for buyers, as the focus can then be on wines that fit what the buyer may be looking for.  Unfortunately it biases writers (such as myself) as I found in my limited time seeking out the most expensive wines hoping to try the “best”.  And while some of these expensive wines were quite special, there were a few that were seemingly lost on me.

I began my tasting at the table of Chablis producer Jean-Marc Brocard.  Chablis is made from Chardonnay, a varietal I have tired of lately.  Too many are still being made in the outdated heavy cream & big oak California style of the 1990’s and early this decade.  The word “tired” is applicable as these flabby wines (wines whose acid is low in relation to its other elements) can really tire a palate.  That said the cheapest Chablis (should retail for under $20) from J-M Brocard, the 2007 Chablis A.C., was crisp & lively and its citrus grapefruit characteristics reminded me of a nice refreshing Sauvignon Blanc.  It also had a surprisingly long finish.

Speaking of California Chardonnay, I tried and enjoyed the Bouchaine Vineyard Estate Chardonnay.  It was buttery but it comes from the cool Carneros region and had a very pleasant crisp acidity that made it a lovely wine.

The wines of Dr. Konstantin Frank from NY’s Finger Lakes region are great ambassadors for the Finger Lakes.  Lively acidity and bursting aromatics make the whites of Dr. K-F interesting, refreshing, terrific food pairings and simply quite tasty.  A varietal I have never heard of before, the 2006 Rkatsiteli (I was told it is a 2000 year old varietal of Russian/Georgian origin) was a bit bready, and had citrus and tropical notes.  Tropical fruit flavors led to a clean & crisp finish.  And while they are known for their Rieslings, I found the 2006 Gewurtztraminer to be quite interesting with its bubble gum & cotton candy nose (yes, it has 1.5 grams of residual sugar), its sweet pick grapefruit flavors and subtle yet creeping acidity.

I tried the 2007 Sancerre from Guy Saget & enjoyed the grassy & gooseberry characteristics along with its long finish.  The 2007 Domaine Du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf-du-Pape BLANC is a blend of 3 white grapes that was toasty, spicy and had good vanilla flavor.  The 2007 Bordeux Blanc from Chateau Tour De Mirambeau had a nice minerality to go along with its lemon and mandarin orange aromas and flavors.

Oxidation seemed to be prevalent with many wines.  Some of it seemingly intentionally oxidized, this style is interesting and while I wouldn’t choose any of the intentionally oxidized bottles for my own pleasure drinking, I am beginning to grasp their unique charm.  The 1985 Chateau Gilette Sauternes was a treat to try, but the hint of oxidation was a disappointing.

From Nicolas Joly came two white blends, primarily Chenin Blanc, that also possessed that axidation.  Again, not my first choice, but certainly interesting.  The 2004 Coulee de Serrant had an almost medicinal quality to it that was interesting.  While the 2005 Clos de la Bergerie was less oxidized, had some subtle tropical fruit notes and was also quite interesting.

I tasted a pair of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs and found it interesting to learn that the warmer climate prevalent in Martinborough led Palliser’s 2007 Sauvignon Blanc to have a softer acidity and more grassy characteristics with its lively acidity.

Finally, returning to Chardonnay, I tasted 2 wines deom the Famed California Chardonnay producer Hanzell Vineyards.  The Hanzell 2006 Chardonnay was subtle & elegant, with rich apple, melon & pineapple flavors pairing beautifully with its subtle oakiness and crisp finish.  Hanzell also brought along some Chardonnay from the 1996 vintage, but the bottle I tried had been open a while and had begun to deteriorate & oxidize.  Though it did still clearly possess ripe fruit and had a long fruity finish.

Moving on to the reds it is worth noting that I tasted subtle Burgundy wines interspersed with big, fruit forward California Cabs as well as Italian and other reds.  Really no order to the wines I tasted and much had to have been lost considering the tricks I was playing on my palate.

The 2003 Poggio Antico Brunello was full of cola, earth & spicy black cherry flavors, packaged in a still very young and tannic wine.

The 2005 Villa Russiz Merlot Graf de la Tour was round, rich, spicy and earthy with a complex and very long finish.

I tried two very expensive wines (including the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon with a wholesale price of about $100/bottle) from Roy Estate in Napa Valley and found them to be quite odd, both showing the usual Napa Cab characteristics, but also possessing strange pickle flavors.

The 2005 G3 from Goose Ridge in Washington state’s Columbia Valley was a blend of Syrah, merlot & malbec and was powerful, interesting and a very good value (should retail from about $15).

Another nice value from Washington was the Alder Ridge 2005 Cabernet (retail at about $35-40).  A blend of all 5 Bordeaux varietals, this wine had spicy black fruit aromas and a palate that was soft, velvety and silky smooth, all with a nice long finish.

Leaving the value arena I tried two Italian wines that I thought were great.  The 2004 “Siepi”, from producer Fonterutoli, is a 50-50 blend of Sangiovese & Merlot.  It reminded me a lot of some of the better Italian reds that I enjoy.  Earthy and foresty with some cola, maybe even cherry cola aromas and flavors this wine was rich and had a long finish.  While the 2005 Tenuta from Belguardo, a blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cab Franc was a nicely balanced Cab with typical black fruit but without the over the top alcohol (and subsequent heat) and oak.

Although I could have tasted for many more hours and still barely put a dent in all the offerings I ended my day on a high note with the wines of Jean Luc Colombo.  The 2005 Cornas La Louvee was rich, with black fruit and tar characteristics to go along with its mouth coating & silky tannins and long finish.  While the 2006 Cornas Les Ruchets was also round & balanced with ripe fruit, a soft mouth feel and a very long finish.

In all the tasting was a treat.  It was great to meet producers and speak with the various reps.  I came away with lots of suggestions for people in the NY bar/restaurant world, and have better familiarized myself with some wines I will certainly be looking to follow for my various wine related activities.

Happy massive portfolio Wine Tasting!