Sunday night I attended a tasting of some wines from the portfolio of World Wine Headquarters. The event was held in the “wine room” at Public restaurant which is located at 210 Elizabeth Street. It was a small tasting with about a dozen wines, all Australian with one New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc thrown in.
I started the tasting with a couple of Aussie whites. The 2011 The Wishing Tree Unoaked Chardonnay and the 2010 Elderton Unoaked Chardonnay. The Elderton was a nice sippping wine, not heavy with peach flavors on the finish. On the reds I started with the 2008 Tir Na N’Og Old Vines Grenache McLaren Valley. Very dark and jammy fruit with black licorice and damp earth on the finish. From Clonakilla I had the 2008 “Hilltops” Shiraz, very concentrated with a good grip. The 2008 Shiraz/Viognier had a nose of roasted nuts with tight, silky fruit and a balanced finish. From Craiglee I tried the 2001 Shiraz which had a big nose of red roses and pencil shavings with velvety fruit that dropped out at the finish. Elderton Barossa Valley poured two of their single vineyard “Command” Shiraz, the 2003 and 2007 which I was told have vines that were planted in 1892. The 2003 was poured from a magnum and had a big nose of slate and wet stone with a long finish.
Last Saturday I attended a fundraiser sponsored by Chambers Street Wine. The event was held in the afternoon at City Hall restaurant which is located at 131 Duane Street. The event had mostly French wines with some Italians thrown in. All of them were small, little known producers. I started tasting at the table of Marc Ollivier and his trio of Muscadet. His 09 Sevre et Maine “Clisson” had more complexity than most Muscadet with a beautiful floral nose, light peaches and a long, balanced finish.
They were pouring a few Cru Beajoulais. From Domaine Georges Descombes I enjoyed the 09 Morgan “Vielles Vignes” with a nose of damp earth, tight fruit with the earthines on the nose carrying through on the fruit with some tartness on the finish. From Condert Pere et Fils I enjoyed the 2010 Fleurie Clos de la Roilette and the 2010 Fleurie Clos de la Roilette “Cuvee Tardive”.
From Italy Christiano Guttarolo poured a trio of his Primativos frum Puglia. His 2007 Gioai de Colle Antello had a nose of pencil shavings and was jammy with firm tannins. The 2009 Primativo Amphora had a big barnyard nose with moderate to light fruit and a rosemary, tart finish. The most interesting wines at the tasting were the trio of orange wines from Sasa Radikon which is located in the Fruili Venezia Giulia region of Italy. The wines are made using natural methods and eschewing all chemical treatments. All the wines were poured from 500ml bottles. The wines poured were the 05 Oslavje, the 05 Ribolla Gialla and the 05 JAKOT. The JAKOT is made from the local Tocai grape. All of the wines had a dark orange hue with lots of interesting flavors going on.
One Sunday night each month, Corkbuzz wine bar has a byob wine class. For a fee they provide the space, hor d’ourves, some wine and everyone brings in a bottle to share. Sounds like a fun way to share wine with some fellow wine geeks so I decided to give it a try. Spontaneous guy that I am I figured I would just show up with bottles in hand. I found out that spontaneous doesn’t necessarily mean smart. I showed up at the bar and was told that the class was cancelled. So there I was with a bag of wine and no place to go. Might as well have some wine anyway. I started out with a glass of 2008 Nittnaus Blaufrankisch from Burgenland Austria. One of those obscure varietals that I like to drink when I can. Medium to light bodied, a little closed right now. Blaufrankisch reminds of a Beaujolais with a tad more spice on the finish. I was in the mood to have some good cheese so I made my way to Otto restaurant located on 1 5th Avenue. Another one of Mario Batalis restaurants, all Italian wine list and the cheeses never disapoint. The best part of the cheese selection are the condimints that are given with each cheese plate. Honey with flecks of truffle, cherries marinated in Amarone and tangerine bits marinated with chilli peppers. A piece of blue cheese slathered with the honey/truffle is mind-blowing.
To start I had a glass of 2010 Salice Salentino Liante Castello Monaci from Puglia. Closed nose, light, boring. Next glass was the 2009 Maculan Brentino from Veneto. This one had more character than the Salice. A Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, inky black in the glass, dark fruits, cedar and leather on the nose with a nice grip.
This past Thursday I attended a tasting sponsored by Le Cercle Rive Droite de Grands Vins de Bordeaux (The Right Bank Circle of Great Bordeaux Wines). This organization is composed of 139 chateaux and 19 appellations located on the right bank of the Gironde. The theme of the event was “From Barrel to Bottle” featuring the recently bottled 2011 vintage as well as previous vintages.The event was held at the French Consulate which is located on 934 5th Avenue. The consulate is in a mansion overlooking the park and pretty much looks like a museum inside. It’s always interesting to try a horizontal of similar wines to compare the differences in producers. Since it was right bank wines, Merlot is the dominant grape. Wines out of the barrel are a little tough to figure out since the wines haven’t had much of a chance for the flavors to mesh together and they can taste grapey. After tasting through a few producers, my opinion on the 2011 vintage is that they are going to be “restaurant wines” That is, wines that will be ready for short term consumption and not wines that need to be laid down for years. Which is not a bad thing in itself since most of us don’t have the resources or patience to lay down cases of wine for several years. From almost all the 2011’s I tried I got lots of extraction, dark purple to black colors, very dark berry fruit with none of the lip-smacking tannins and tingling acids that I’ve gotten from barrel samples from other vintages. In fact there were a couple that I would be happy to pop open and have with dinner tonight. Each winery poured their 2011 and an older vintage, usually an 08 or 09, though there were exceptions.
Some of the wines I enjoyed: From Fronsac, the 08 Chateau Fontenil, mint black berry on the nose, juicy, nice frame of tannins and acid on the finish. The 08 Haut-Carles, barnyard nose, velvety, chewy tannins, finishes a bit hot (14.5%). From Canon-Fronsac I enjoyed the 09 Chateau Gaby. Dark, some forest-floor on the nose, earthy, juicy, concentrated fruit with a balanced finish. From Pomerol I enjoyed the 06 Clos L’Eglise. Beautiful tarry, black fruit dusty nose, mouth coating tannins and long finish. The 09 Chateau Vray Croix de Gay. Black in the glass, toasty nose, velvety with firm tannins and a long finish. From Saint-Emilion Grand Cru I really enjoyed the 06 Magrez Fombrauge. To me it had the classic Bordeaux nose of green olives, some smoke, silky, balanced with a long finish. It’s always nice to try a mature Bordeaux, the 2000 Chateau Corbin-Despagne was dark purple with dried leaf and stewed fruit, cedar and tobacco on the nose. It was a very interesting wine. The 09 Chateau Le Prieure Grand Cru was black in the glass, very concentrated with firm tannins on the finish with great fruit.
Last Saturday afternoon I took a drive out to Long Island wine country. It was a nice day for a drive. I’ve been coming to the wine country for a couple of decades now and have seen the industry grow from a handful of wineries to 37. This afternoon I decided to stay on the main road (Route 25). My first stop was at Comtesse Therese Bistro on 739 Main Road Aquebogue. The Bistro is in a charming, restored, circa 1800’s home. The tasting room is located in the Bistro. Comtesse Therese is a small production winery. This winery is interesting in that it uses oak barrels from different countries, in addition to French oak they use Hungarian and Russian oak. This day I tasted through five of their Merlot. The last two, the 05 and the recently released 07 Chateau Reserve Merlot were particularly tasty. Roasted coffee and dark chocolate on the nose, tight fruit with good balance they had more in common with a French Bordeaux than a Cali Merlot.
Driving eastward on the Main Road, I stopped at Lenz Winery located at 38355 Route 25. Lenz, established in 1978, is one of the founding fathers of the Long Island wine industry. The tasting room is in a rustic barn-like building. Lenz is known for their Merlot and they make pretty good sparking wine as well. I had the premium tasting. The 08 Old Vines Chardonnay was full of tropical fruit flavors with a cinnamon finish. The 05 Cuvee sparking wine made from 100% Pinot Noir was crisp and balance. The winery holds back bottles from older vintages so there is an opportunity to try some of their wines with some bottle age. I had the 02 Old Vines Merlot which had interesting toasty flavors and was holding up well.
Heading back West, my final stop was at Bedell Cellars Winery, located at 36225 Route 25. The tasting room was in front with another larger enclosed tasting room out back. In the back tasting room that day they had a four piece jazz band playing some good tunes. I enjoyed the music while drinking a glass of their 2010 First Crush white which is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. It was a fresh, easy drinking white wine.
This past Wednesday I attended another night wine tasting, this one sponsored by Dreyfus & Ashby. The event took place at the boutique Setai Fifth Avenue hotel located on 400 5th Avenue. It was a small event. They had three tables of wine, one French, one Italian, and one Spanish plus assorted cheeses and charcuterie. As usual with the night tastings, the vibe was very cool.
I first stopped at the French table and dug into the reds. I started with a horizontal of Joseph Drouhin’s 07 and 08 Chorey Les Beaune. It’s always great to try a couple of wines from the same producer from different vintages to see the differences in styles from one year to another. The 09 was dark in color with black berry nose, fruit forward, silky. The 08 was completely different. Lighter in color in the glass than the 09 with a classic barnyard Burgundy nose which I love. The fruit was tighter than the 09 with firmer acids on the finish. I enjoyed them both. At the table I also tried the 09 Drouhin Gevrey-Chambertin and the 09 Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir.
At the next table, they poured the wines from Renato Ratti and the Tuscan wines of Ricasoli. The Ratti 07 Barolo “Marcenasco” was very tasty juice. Big nose of pencil shavings and cigar box, silky, mouth-coating fruit with balanced tannins and acid on the finish. I also enjoyed the 07 Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico poured from a magnum. Dark, pruney nose, nice balanced, a bit closed on the finish.
At the Spanish table I enjoyed the 05 Torres “Mas La Plana”, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, it was poured from a magnum.