Biodynamic Wines At Corkbuzz

This Sunday I attended a wine class at Corkbuzz wine studio which is located at 13 E 13 Street. Recently opened, I’ve stopped in a couple of times to have a glass or two at the bar and I found the place to have a nice vibe with a cool crowd. I’ve been wanting to take one of their classes.

They poured six wines, all white and all Organic/Biodynamic. We started the tasting with a Champagne, the Fleury, Fleur de L’Europe NV Brut. Dark gold, yeasty and crisp with sherry like overtones. Made from wines from the 01 and 02 vintages. The featured speaker was Nicolas Joly, France’s “apostle” for biodynamic wine making which takes into consideration not only the soil and air but radio waves and magnetic fields and how they affect bio-life. Mr. Joly was a very passionate speaker, he sort of reminded me of a wine making Doc Brown from Back to the Future. They poured two of his wines, the 09 Les Vieux Clos Savennieres and the 07 Coulee de Serrant Grand Cru Savennieres. According to Karen MacNeil of the Wine Bible,Coulee de Serrant is considered to be one of the “greatist white wines in the world”. Wow. The vineyard is owned by Mr. Joly. Both wines had a deep amber color, very dark. Both wines are Chenin Blanc. On the Les Vieux I got aromas of pickle juice with an earthy, wild mushroomy finish. On the Serrant I got  toastiness on the nose, chewy fruit and the same earth, wild mushroom on the finish. Mr. Joly said that about 5% of thegrapes in both wines had botrytis which is unusual because I associate botrytis with dessert wines. That explains the earthy flavors I was getting.We tried three wines from the Josmeyer Winery which is based in Alsace. The 09 Pinot Blanc, the 08 Pinot Auxerrois Vielles Vignes “H” and the 09 Riesling Grand Cru. The wines were gold in color, not as deeply colored as the wines from Joly, and the Alsacian wines had brighter fruit than the Loire wines. I really enjoyed the Riesling, with lemon and rosemary on the nose, good fruit with juicy, mouth-watering acids on the finish.

It was a very interesting tasting.




Gala Italia

This past Thursday I attended the 27th Edition of Gala Italia. As they put it, “a wine, food, art, design, music, and fashion extravaganza”, with the emphasis on food and wine.The event took place at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in the heart of Times Square. I have attended the event several times in the past. It is a huge event, in one of the larger event spaces in the hotel with six long rows of table with various Italian wines. The event this year was scaled back from the previous years. There were a few empty tables, and where last year they had Italian actors, a fashion show and a lot of Vespas, this year they had a few paintings and a few songs from the Italian singer, Federico Martello. The lousy sound system made that feel like karaoke night at the local pub. A few of the attendees told me with the current bad economic situation in Europe, the government cut back funding to the trade associations. In addition to the wines being presented, several local Italian restaurants had food stations serving bits of food so they was plenty of good pasta, prosciutto and cheese to compliment the wines.

I have been to this event before and I know that not many of the Italian superstar wines are poured at the event. My first stop of the evening was at the Biondi Santi table. Biondi Santi are famous for their Brunello. I was never a fan of the wines, I thought the wines weren’t as good as the reputation (and high prices). For once I was pleasantly surprised. From what I understand , the winery has been upgrading the quality of it’s products. I enjoyed the 2006 Brunello, big nose of tar and leather with silky firm tannins on the finish. I also sampled the 2008 Rosso di Montelcino and the 2004 Brunello Reserva.

I stopped at one of the food booths for a quick bite and had some excellent aged Pecorino cheese. Crunchy, salty, and nutty, I needed a big red to wash it down with. Fortunately the table across from them were the wines from the Arcanum Winery. They poured three wines from the 07 vintage. Arcanum I, Valdorna, and Il Faunodi Arcanum. All of the wines were blends in various proportions of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Very new world, dark, dense with black fruit flavors. Went great with the sharp cheese.

I stopped by Castello di Gabbiano to try some of their Chianti Classicos and Super Tuscans. I enjoyed the 08 “Bellezza” which is their single vineyard Chianti Classico, 100% Sangiovese. Big nose, dusty mediterranean spices on the fruit with a long finish. I had the 08 “Alleanza” which is a blend of Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. Mouthfull of silky tannins with a long finish

At the Casetello di Querceto table I enjoyed the 06 “La Corte” which is 100% Sangiovese. Nose of old smokey leather,silky fruit, with firm tannins on the finish. The 06 “Il Querciolaia” which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese and was dark with black cherry fruit with a long finish. Both very nice wines.

At another table I enjoyed the Tenuta Santa Maria Valverde 09 Valpolicella Classico Superiore. It is a Riposso style, dark, medium fruit with a good balance on the finish.

The event space was huge but it never got very crowded I don’t think that they got the crowd they were hoping for. Since the weather was not to blame in my opinion many people from the trade were scared off by the fee charged.





Wine and Swine

This week was Natural Winemakers Week in New York. Various wine makers spent the week at events around town. On Saturday night they had an end of week bash. The bash was held at Pasanella & Sons wine shop located at 115 South Street in the South Street Seaport area. They promised roast pork, wine, and fun. Roast pork and wine, what’s not to like?

The party was held in the brick-lined back room, very cosy. They had a tray of roast pork as promised as well as several excellent cheeses. The pork was great and the crispy skin was delicious.

They poured two wines that night, as the gentleman running the show reminded me, it was a party and not a wine tasting. The first wine was a white from Alsace, a 2008 Muscat from the producer Binner. I was told that the wine went through an unexpected second fermentation in the bottle so the wine had a slight fizz to it. Interesting wine with a very floral and spicy nose with a cinamon, earthy finish. The second wine was poured from a magnum and was a Gamay from the Loire. “La Mule” from Gregory Leclerc. Very nice sipping wine, good balance, dark fruits with some earthiness on the finish. The wine was served chilled but the distributer who was there recommended that the wine should be drunk at room temperature. I tried it both ways and I though a slight chill on the wine didn’t take anything away from it. I thought both wines went well with the crispy pork.






Wine On Wheels Fundraiser

Le Du wineshop had a fundraiser Saturday. About a dozen local Sommelier volunteered their time and wine distributers donated their wine. About 100 wines were being poured. I arrived at the 1:00pm start time before the crowds came in so I was able to enjoy the first half hour of wine in relative peace. When it got crowded, it wasn’t even rush-hour on the subway crowded, it was rush-hour on the subway during a disaster crowded. It was pretty much cheek to cheek especially in the back room where the reds were being poured. A lot of tasty juice was poured that afternoon. I began with some whites. I enjoyed the 2010 Patrick Piuze “Petite Chablis” and well as the 06 William Fevre Chablis Premier Cru “Fourchaume”  Went off to the New World. Had the 08 Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay. Buttery, new oak on the finish. The 09 Hanzell Sonoma Valley Chardonnay was excellent. More old world than new, tight with a long finish, it had more in comman with the Chablis I had previously drank. Was disapointed in the 06 Kistler “McCrea Vineyard Ahern Estate” Chardonnay. On my notes I had “salty, briney, like eating an oyster”  Would have liked to try another bottle to see if it was bottle variation.

The reds were being poured in the back room. I tried some outstanding juice. First stop was the Bordeaux table. First wine was the 1980 Calon Segur “Grand Cru”. It was exciting to have the opportunity to drink a mature Bordeaux. Brick robe, chestnut nose, smokey fruit. Very interesting. Others I tried: 08 Blasson D’Issan, 08 Chateau Certain de May, the 08 Chateau Puy Blanquet and the 07 Chateau Beausejour. At the next table I tried some outstanding Barolo. Every bottle I tried was drinking beautifully especially the 1998 Bussia Soprano “Vigna Colonnello”. The wine was maturing nicely, the tannins have sofented to a nice velvety finsh. Others I tried were the 07 Giovanni Corino “Vigna Giachini”, 07 Casa E. di Mirafiore, and the 07 Enzo Boglietti “Fossati” At the table I also enjoyed th 2000 Gianni Brunelli Brunello di Montalcino. Another tasty red was the Ricasoli 08 “Colledila” Chianti Classico.

My next stop was the table with Southern French wines. I enjoyed the 06 Domain du Pegau Chateauneuf du Pape. Very earthy, chewy and balanced. The 2000 Bandol Domaine Le Galantin “Longue Garde” was delicious, rustic, smokey, chewy.

By this time the crowd was huge and I had to use all of my wine glass balancing skills while I made my way to the Pinot Noir table. I liked the 09 Evening Land “Seven Springs”, the 09 Peay Vineyards “Scallop Shelf” and the 09 Ben Leroux Volnay. My favorite was the 09 Mount Eden Vineyards Estate. Nose of forest floor, mushrooms, restrained fruit with a silky finish, very nice.

Overall it was an outstanding tasting for a good cause, there was much wine I didn’t get a chance to try.

Two Trade Events Tuesday

Cheval des Andes

On Tuesday I attended a couple of trade events. The Estates & Wine 2012 Winemaker Tour and the Italian Wine Masters 2012 Tour. My first stop was the Estates & Wine tasting which was held in the penthouse of the Gansevoort Park Ave. hotel on Park Ave. South and 29th. street. I wasn’t familiar with this distributer, they have a small but interesting portfolio. Since I planned on attending the Italian event later in the afternoon I made the decision not to spend too much time at this event so I cherry-picked what I wanted to try. My first stop was at the 2007 Cheval des Andes. This Argentinian wine is a joint venture between Terrazas de los Andes and Chateau Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux. Bordeaux style with new world fruit, plummy nose, dusty fruit, a little raw oak on the finish but a couple of more  years in the bottle would take care of that. A nice wine.  Next stop was Newton Vineyards Napa Valley.                                                                  They poured the 07 Napa

Newton Vineyards

Merlot and the 07 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, both unfiltered. Both nice wines, I thought the Cab was plusher than the Merlot but with a drop on the finish, the Merlot tight but concentrated. They also poured the 2008 “The Puzzle” which is a Bordeaux blend. I though the wine was fruit forward and a little jammy on the finish. I would say that the Merlot was my favorite on the table. I stopped by Numanthia Estate which is from the Toro region of Spain. I tried a couple of old vine wines, the 08 Numathia and the 08 Termanthia. Both wines are big, with a black cherry nose, dusty, chewy fruit and a nice finish, very tasty. On a side note, what this distributor lacked in the  size of its portfolio it made up with the absolutely beautiful women working at the event.

I made my way downtown to the Italian Masters event held at the Metropolitan Pavilion. A much larger tasting, they poured wines from Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Noblile di Montepulciano, and Valdobbiadene Procecco (How they got in this group I don’t know how) I started my tasting with the Brunellos. Overall I, as well as my colleagues, were a bit disappointed with the tastings. It seemed the best part of the wines were the aromas coming from the glass with gorgeous perfume of roses, tar and leather. I would say my favorite was the Uccelliera 07 Brunello and the 06 Brunello Reserva. I enjoyed the 07 more so than the Reserva, big aromatic nose, great structure, long finish. I also enjoyed the Pian delle Vigne 07 Brunello and the 06 Brunello Reserva. I got a perfumed nose with earthy undertones. Barbi poured the 07 Brunello, the 07 Brunello Vigna Fiore and the 06 Brunello Reserva. Again with the great nose on all three with firm tannins on the finish.

I’m not a big fan of Prosseco so I didn’t try any. I enjoyed the Castello di Ama 08 Chianti Classico, earthy nose, good fruit, tight tannins and a long finish.






Night Tasting With Duckhorn

Most trade wine events are on the weekdays in the afternoon. Which makes sense since most people in the industry work odd hours. Sometimes they have a trade tasting in the evening.  Usually they are held at a hip bar somewhere with a vibe that is decidetly less business-like and more social than the day tastings. Last Wednesday I went to one of those tastings at Abe & Arthur’s restaurant in the Meatpacking District. They poured wines from Duckhorn Vineyards and their second labels, Decoy, Migration, and Goldeneye. They also poured the wines from Paraduxx Napa Valley but as the guy who was pouring the wines and who happened to be the winemaker made a point of telling me, Paraduxx is another winery and not the second label of Duckhorn.

First table poured the Decoy wines. A 2010 Sonoma Chard, 09 Sonoma Zin and an 09 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. These are their entry level wines, good bang for the buck, easy drinking.  The Chard my favorite.  At the next table they poured the Migration 09 Russian River Chard, 08 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir and the 08 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This Chard had more restraint than the Decoy Chard, the two Pinot Noir had a noticable smokiness on the finish. In the Summer of 2008, Northern California had more than usual wildfires. All that smoke penetrated the vineyards and you can taste it in the wines. I’ve experienced that smokiness in other wines and not just these. At the next table they poured the two Paraduxx wines, the 09 “C” Blend and the 09 “Z” Blend. These are new releases from them and are both blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel but in different proportions. I thought the wines were a little hard now and can use some bottle age to soften.

At the next table Duckhorn poured a couple of their Merlots. These are the wines they are known for. The 09 Napa Valley Merlot was tight and closed at this stage but with concentrated fruit. The star of the tasting was the 07 “Three Palms Vineyard” Merlot. The wine was decanted from a Jeroboum which is always a nice presentation. Outstanding wine, great balance, still with firm tannings, would love to see this wine in a couple of years.