Archive for May, 2011

Toast of the Town & am I becoming a wine snob?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Once again I had the good fortune of attending the Wine Enthusiast Toast of the town.  This was my 4th year, but this was the first time I attended as a vendor as opposed to as a journalist (OK, blogger).

In a new location (Avery Fisher Hall instead of Koch Theater) within NYC’s glorious Lincoln Theater, Wine Enthusiast put on its annual Toast of the Town event this past Thursday May 5th.

It was bigger than its ever been before with a ton of wine and lots of great restaurants.  This year there were also spirits and beers being poured.

I attended this year on behalf of Israel’s Barkan Winery.  The Barkan lineup this year was a pretty cool one.

The 2007 Barkan Superieur Pinotage is a very cool & interesting wine.  Rich chocolate, toffee & ripe fruit… A great wine that really makes you go “hmmmm”.

Speaking of going hmmmm, we also poured the 3 wines in the “Altitude” series.  The altitude represents vineyards at different heights above sea level, representing different terroirs.  The wines also come from different regions, so the altitude isn’t the only difference.  But the 3 wines (a 412, 624 & 720) are basically all made the same way – so like an experiment with the winemaking as the control.  It was lots of fun to hear the people, most of whom had different favorites amongst the 3.

I did try to hit up a few other tables while I was there and I managed to taste about 30 wines.

In no particular order, I liked the following:

Perry Moore: A 2008 Napa Cab & 2008 Beckstoffers vineyard Oakville Cab that reminded me a lot of the wines I got to work with when I lived in Napa and worked in the lab.

Don Sebastiani & Sons 2007 Aquinas “Philosepher’s Blend”  had great acidity balancing out its ripe fruit.

A Greek wine, the 2004 Oenoforos Lanos Cabernet Sauvignon had dusty fruit & a good earthiness that reminded me of an aged Israeli wine (which makes some sense as they are both Eastern Mediterranean).

The 2004 Batasiolo Vigneto Cerequio Barolo was a WOW wine with great liveliness, subtle burgundian fruit and cola flavors.

Of the whites the one standout for me was a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (which when done well I find to be so refreshing…I can drink LOTS of NZ Sauv Blanc) the Matua Valley 2009 which had fresh pink grapefruit.

Sooooo….what do I mean by “Wine Snob”?  Sure I prefer good wine to mediocre wine, but the reality is that most wine these days (and surely almost all being poured at events such as this) is pretty good.  I guess I felt like a bit of a snob at this event more because I’m tough to impress.   I’ve come to expect most wine to be good these days.  But good isn’t good enough anymore, it needs to be interesting.  And in the end, very little of the wine that I had the opportunity to try was truly interesting.

Happy Interesting Wine Tasting


Expensive wine & upcoming TOTT & Riesling tastings

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

I had a story forwarded by a reader I thought I’d share.  Also want to give a heads up about two of my favorite tastings of the year; first the annual TOTT (Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town) & next week’s Riesling (Wines of Germany) tasting.  I expect to attend both and hope to write about each shortly thereafter…

In the meantime, enjoy!

“Expensive Wine Indistinguishable from the Cheap Stuff”

The case for boxed wine just got stronger. In a blind taste test at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, 578 volunteers tasted wines ranging from 3.49 British pounds (or about $5.78 in American dollars) per bottle to £29.99 (just shy of $50). They were told that they were drinking one cheap wine, classified as being under £5 per bottle, and one expensive wine that cost £10 or more, and asked to identify which was which. Read on to see how they fared.

As reported in The Guardian, the volunteers managed to identify the more expensive wine only 53% of the time, and even less than that (47%) when the wines in question were red. Essentially, you’d have an equal chance of guessing an unborn baby’s gender or calling a flipped coin mid-air as you would of determining which wine is of higher value by taste alone. The wine with the highest accuracy rate was a pinot grigio, and that with the lowest was a claret, for which 61% of tasters thought the £3.49 bottle cost more than its £15.99 counterpart.

The moral here seems clear: If you want to drink free wine, sign up for more European science festivals. Also, if there is a costly wine you legitimately love, by all means, go ahead and splurge. But don’t venture down the wine aisle hoping to stumble on something tasty using price alone as your guideline, particularly with reds. Time to stock back up on that Two Buck Chuck.