Spain’s Great Match And Vibrant Rioja

On Wednesday I attended Spain’s Great Match trade wine event which was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion located at 125 West 18th Street. The Met Pavilion hosts many events and I’ve attended many a wine tasting at this space.

The trade event was in the afternoon and there was a consumer event in the evening. I attended the trade portion of the tasting. It was a huge event with the usual charcuterie and cheese laid out for the trade, though the trade must have been very hungry since there was always a line at the food tables. One small room on the side was dedicated to wines from the Ribero del Duero, a wine region about 75 miles north of Madrid. Tempranello (local name Tinto Fino) is the big grape varietal in the region. Some of the Ribero del Duero wines I enjoyed included the 2007 Montecastro, the 2006 Callejo Reserva, the 2008 Tinot Pesquera Reserva, the 2006 Pagos Quintana Reserva and the 2001 Alenza Gran Reserva. At that part of the room they had a table with someone slicing bits of Iberico ham off a hock. That ham is outstanding and I spent a good part of the evening with a glass of red in one hand and a sliver of ham in the other.

I decided to sit-in at the Rioja seminar. It was hosted by the enthusiastic Steve Olson and they poured some very good juice. Eight Rioja wines were tasted as well as a sparking wine as a starter.

The starting sparkler was the 2011 Bodegas Muga “Muga Rosado”. It was light pink, dry and crisp. A nice wine to cleanse the palate after drinking all those reds at the main tasting.

The 2006 Bodegas CVNE “Contino Graciano” made with the Graciano grape which I was told represents only 2% of the plantings in Rioja. It was black with dusty, floral and oak on the nose with dry juicy fruit and good balance.

The 2008 Bodegas Palacios Remondon “Propiedad” was medium to dark red in the glass with a nose of sour graphite, tight fruit and sour black cherry on the finish.

The 2005 Baron de Ley Siete “Vinas Reserva” was one of my favorites of the flight. Dark in the glass, big nose of black fruits and slate, silky firm fruit and a long finish. Interesting and complex, very tasty.

The 2006 Familla Martinez Bujanda “Finca Valpiedra” Reserva was black with sweet mint and stewed fruit on the nose with tart fruit and a mouthful of tannin. I thought it was a little unbalanced.

The 2005 Bodegas Luis Canas “Hiru 3 Racimos” was another of my favorites. It was black with a slightly closed nose of pickle juice it was thick, juicy and silky with nice acids on the long finish.

The 2006 Finca Allende “Calvario” was black with a nose of black fruit and toast, tight plums on the long finish with a touch of heat at the end.

The 2005 Bodegas LAN “Culmen Reserva” was another favorite.  Black with a stinky nose of slate and pencil shavings with chewy, velvety fruit and great balance and grip on the long. Very nice.

The 2001 Vina Ardanza “Reserva Especial La Rioja Alta” was the last of the flight had a brick color with a nose of pickle juice with tart and tight fruit.


Vertical of Fontanafredda Barolo Vigna “La Rosa”

Last Saturday I attended the Grand Tasting event at the Food Network Food & Wine Festival being held around town. The event was held at the Hudson River Park Pier on W 15 Street. The place was huge, the size of an aircraft hangar and it was packed with thousands of festival goers. It was a zoo. Sort of like the subway during rush hour only more crowded.  I usually don’t have high expectations for these consumer events since they usually have a lot of mediocre wines. There were many restaurants serving bit size portions of food but you had to fight you way in to grab a bite. What food I got my hands on were pretty tasty though.

There were some decent wines at the event. I enjoyed the 2009 Goldeneye Pinot Noir and the  2009 Duckhorn Merlot.  Jordan Vineyards poured their 2010 Chardonnay and their 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon which I enjoyed as well. Silverado Vineyards poured their 2007 Mt George Vineyard Napa Merlot which was excellent.

Afterwards I headed to the Standard Hotel to attend a vertical tasting of Fontanafreddas single vineyard “La Rosa” Barolos. Compared to the mostly mediocre wines at the fest, these wines were outstanding.

Six Barolo were poured.

The 2006 Barolo La Rosa  was medium red to dark red with a nose of dried rosemary. Big fruit with firm tannins I thought it could use some more time to balance out.

The 2005 Barolo La Rosa had a big nose of tar and leather with silky fruit with great balance on the finish. Delicious

The 2000 Barolo La Rosa was dark red to black with tar and black cherry on the nose. Unusual to get black cherry with a Barolo but that’s what I was getting. I thought the wine was drinking at its peak right now with good acidity on the finish.

The 1999 Barolo La Rosa was dark in color with a nose of stewed fruit and roasted nuts with firm tannins on the finish. I thought it was a little unbalanced.

The 1996 Barolo La Rosa was dark with a slightly closed nose of dried herbs and mint. Tight fruit with a long finish with crisp acidity.

The 1982 Barolo La Rosa was dark in color with a nose of stewed fruit and dried leaf. The fruit was big and silky with balanced tannins and acids. Wouldn’t hold on to it much longer but was drinking nicely now.

All the wines were excellent Barolos made in a fruit forward, new-world style. That’s not such a bad thing since Barolos can be tannin bombs when they are young.

Rainy Day Sunday

Last Sunday was a rainy day so I decided to take a ride out East to wine country.  I like touring the wineries when it’s raining because I don’t mind being indoors when the weather is not too good and I don’t fee guilty about being indoors when the weather is lousy. On the weekends most of tasting room have some sort of musical entertainment to go along with the wine. I decided to stop into tasting rooms that are off my radar and that I don’t stop into often.

My first stop was Lieb Cellars winery located at 35 Cox Lane Road in Matttituck. They share their location with the Premium Wine Group, a custom crush facility that produces wine for over 70 vineyards. They describe their tasting room as “industrial chic”. The winery is known for their Pinot Blanc which is not widely planted out here but I had the red flight tasting.  Of the five reds I taste which included the 2005 Reserve Merlot, the 2008 Petit Verdot, the 2008 Right Coast Red,  the 2005 Meritage and the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc, the Cab Franc was my favorite with  a stemmy, vegetal nose, silky fruit with a moderate to long finish. I felt that all of the reds have crisp acids at the finish.

From there I kept heading East to stop at the Winemakers Studio, the cooperative tasting room in Peconic. After drinking all that red at Lieb I started with a tasting of the 2011 Anomoly which is a white Pinot Noir. It had a slight copper color with good body and balance, unoaked and dry it was a nice glass of wine. Other than that there was nothing new to try so I grabbed an espresso and hit the road.

The weekends are the busiest time for tourists to visit the wineries and most of the wineries have live music and I was in the mood to listen to some music and chill out with a glass of wine in my hand. Bedell Cellars is on the way back west and I know they usually get a good crowd on the weekends so I stopped in. Sure enough it was pretty crowded. The front room had the wine flight tasters and the back event space was packed with people having a good time drinking wine and listening to the one-man band. I grabbed a glass of the 2011 “First Crush” Red. A blend of Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc aged entirely in stainless steel with indigenous yeast, it was dry, young and fruity, a good party wine to sip.


Back on the road I passed Laurel Lake Vineyards at 3165 Main Road, Laurel. It’s one of those wineries that are off my radar, in fact I couldn’t remember the last time I stopped in so I decided to stop in this time. Bedell Cellars was a crowded party, when I walked into this tasting room there was a quartet of people out back listening to the two-man band and thats it. The guys were doing a good job of playing Hank Williams “Hey Good Looking” so I grabbed as glass of the 2009 Cabernet Franc and spent the end of the Sunday afternoon with a glass of red in my hand and listening to the excellent music.

Opici Portfolio Tasting

I’ve missed most of the trade wine tastings this Autumn season, sigh. I decided to drop in at the Opici Fall Tasting that was held last Thursday afternoon for a few minutes to say hi to wine drinking colleagues and to grab a quick taste. The event was held at the Prince George Ballroom which is located at 15 East 27 Street.

I didn’t stay very long but some highlights included: Peju Provence Winery “Tess”.  A non vintage blend of four red grapes and Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The wine was served chilled and it was the perfect Summer wine for when you don’t want to drink a heavy red but want something with a touch more character than a white. Great balance, easy drinking and chilled.

The 2008 Chalk Hill Estate Red is about half Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest a Bordeaux blend. It was dark, chewy and chunky with some mint and tobacco on the nose and dark chocolate on the fruit.

The 2006 Vibreti Barolo Riserva “Bricco Delle Viola” was medium red with a nose of leather and dried fruit with a silky finish and firm but balanced tannins and acids at the end.