It has been a while, but it is fall portfolio tasting season. Which means WTG gets to put the ole palate back to work and taste lots of new wines. It is an exciting time, but I wont be attending as many tastings as in years past. TOO MUCH WORK. I’m not complaining, but the life of an unemployed, aspiring wine professional affords for much more time to attend wine tastings than that of a wine salesperson/ entrepreneur.
The tasting was great. I traveled the wine world. I tasted France, Italy, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and some California wines. I sadly did not have enough time to get to Germany, Austria, Argentina, South Africa, Spain or parts of the US such as NY State, Oregon, Washington State or the Sake selection from Japan.
I tasted many of the wines with a friend and we focused on old world regions such as France and Italy. Given the slow evolution of my palate preferences, I was very excited to have the opportunity to taste some special wines presumably made in an old world style. When i speak of an old world style, I am referring to wines that are not as fruit forward or extracted as those from new world regions such as Australia or California. These wines may have more earthy or minerally nuances rather than fresh fruit & berry ones.
In all I tasted close to 70 wines – not bad for an out of practice taster. We started in the Bordeaux section. And while Bordeaux style blends are (had been?) some of my favorite wines, the ones I tasted today were not special to me. Yes these wines do show better with food (although theoretically so do many wines), but I found the Bordeaux that I tried today to be lacking in fruit or other complexities – simply being wines that were overly tannic, acidic and unripe.
From Bordeaux we settled down in the Burgundy section. WOW. There was a very sweet and warm woman telling me about her move to Burgundy, prompted following a “visit” there. She encouraged me to visit and I told her that based on the wines I was tasting I would never leave either. I tasted a good deal of both red (Pinot Noir) and white (Chardonnay) burgundy. These wines were really good. I must admit that I still prefer a good Cab to many of these wines, but I am really starting to understand why so many people consider good Burgundy to be the best wines in the world.
As to a specific standout, now that is tough. I still have lots to learn about Pinot Noir and Burgundies in particular. There were clearly some made in a more masculine style – bigger, less subtle & more aggressive, while others were more elegant, soft & subtle (those considered to be more feminine in style). I don’t particularly care for the big California Pinots and as such I was not in love with the bigger burgundies. Similar to how Cali Pinot often turns me off with its BIG artificial cherry flavor, some of the burgundies had strong cola aromas that did not bother me as much as Cali Pinot, but lacked the elegance that I am gaining an appreciation for with Burgundies. I actually remarked at one point that some of these Burgundies reminded me of some Chateaunuef du Pape. But these over-the-top Burgundies were far a few between. For the most part they were a pleasure to taste and I really do feel privileged.
As to Chardonnay, or white burgundies, I enjoy a good chardonnay, but don’t seek them out. I find that too many are either over-oaked (from new barrels) or overly buttery (from malolactic/secondary fermentation) or both. And they lack the crisp acidity I seek in a nice white. WELL, many of these white burgundies had amazing acidity to go along with their fruit and very well integrated oak. Really great!
In addition to the Burgundies I had a very nice Chat du Pape, an excellent Super Tuscan, and what may have been my favorite of the tasting, a Cote Rotie. I’ve only tried 1 or 2 other Cote Roties in my short wine life, and the others were quite tannic. I’m told that these long lived wines really need time to soften. Well of the two I had tonight, the second one was soft, complex & LOOOONG.
The Domaine Jean – Michel Stephan 2005 Cote – Rotie “Coteaux de Tupin” was special. Its complex aromas included white pepper, cola, coffee and what I decided was a forest pine perfume aroma. WOW! The wine was also so soft (not tannic) it was almost sweet – but not of course. The taste lingered on my palate with its long finish and left me envious of those with extensive Cote Rotie collections.
In all it was a really fabulous tasting. I hope you were able to enjoy just a little bit of it vicariously through me.
Happy spectacularly special wine tasting!