Drink Ribera


On Monday afternoon I attend the Drink Ribera tasting featuring, not surprisingly, the wines from the Ribera Del Duero region of Spain. The region is north of Madrid, and from speaking with some the wine makers at the event, a region with plenty of lousy weather. I’m not familiar with many of the producers with the exception of Vega Sicilia. The event took place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the Upper West Side, we had a killer view of the park.

The high-light of the afternoon was the seminar where they poured six wines from Vega Sicilia. Two of their second label “Valbuena”, three of their “Unico”, and the “Especial” which is a non-vintage wine blended with wines from three vintages.

2008 Valbuena. Dark red with a red robe and a nose of dried herbs and red cherry with cherry and dark chocolate fruit and a bright finish.

1998 Valbuena. Dark red to black in the glass with a nose of sea-air and dark leather, tight fruit with very firm tannin on the finish.


2004 Unico. Dark red to black with a nose of fresh mushrooms and dusty fruit, velvety with stewed fruit flavors and very firm acids on the finish.


1994 Unico. Black with a purple robe with a nose of barnyard and blueberry, tasted young with bright fruit and mouth-watering acids on the finish.

1981 Unico. From a magnum. Dark red with an amber robe and a gorgeous nose of cooked dark fruit and mint with velvet fruit, bright cherry with palate cleansing acids on the finish. Still drinking young.

Unico Reserva Especial. Black in the glass with a nose of a forest after a rain, very concentrated but I thought the finish was a little unbalanced.



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On Friday afternoon I attended the BurdiGala Grand Tasting held at St. Bartholomew’s church in Manhattan. Thirteen Bordeaux producers each poured wine from the 2010 vintage as well as a couple of wines from older vintages. I think the marketing department should have come up with a different name for the event but it promised to be an excellent tasting.

At the church, the event was held in the restaurant, Inside Park. Tables were scattered all around the place and they had a cheese table and a pate table for nibbles.

I started the tasting at Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtese de Lalande.  Their 2010 had a big perfume of dusty plums with silky fruit and tannins but young and needs time to come together.  The 2009 was medium red with a nose of strawberry, tight and a little grapey. The 2008 was drinking nicely, medium red with violets on the nose, tight, dry and dusty with a long finish.

Chateaux Ducru Beaucaillou. The 2010 had a beautiful nose of earth and violets with tight but velvety fruit with nice acidity on the finish. Very approachable. The 2009 was dark red with a nose of stewed prunes. The 2000 was dark red with a nose of stewed fruit silky fruit but a bit harsh on the finish.

Chateau Pontet-Canet.  The 2010 was dark red to black with graphite and red roses on the nose, good fruit with nice mouth coating tannin at the end. The 2006 was dark red with bright cherry and smoke on the nose, firm, velvety with approachable tannins on the finish. The 2000 was dark red with a nose of tar and cigar box, I thought the finish dropped off.

Chateau Clos d’Estournel. The 2010 was black in the glass with a nose of black cherry. The 2008 was a nice glass of wine, dark red to black with a gorgeous nose of camphor and black berries with silky graphite fruit and a balance long finish. The 2006 was black in color with a tight nose of violets, chunky and velvety, tight with a moderate to long finish.

Chateau Gruaud-Larose.  The 2010 was black with a slightly closed nose of mint, tar and graphite with chunky, tight fruit. The 2007 was dark red with nose of green pepper with peppery, tight fruit. The 2004 had a beautiful nose of tar and camphor, very concentrated with velvet balanced fruit. I thought it was drinking perfectly now.

Chateau Ormes de Pez. The 2010 was dark black with a nose of black cherry. The 2005 was medium dark with a nose of stewed fruit. The 2003 was medium red with a nose of earthy berries with very tight fruit with the finish dropping.

Chateau Lynch-Bages. The 2010  was black and chunky and needed some more bottle time to come together. The 2006 was dark red to black with a closed nose and tight tannin. The 2003 was medium dark with a big perfumed nose of red roses and graphite with moderate fruit but with a very long finish. Tasty.

Chateau Palmer. The 2010 was black in color, deep and concentrated with firm tannins and acids on the balanced finish. The 1998 was dark red with an amber robe with a beautiful perfume of tar, cherry and smoke with a velvet smoke on the balanced finish. The 1990 was medium red with an amber robe with a nose of dried leaf, camphor and slate with silky and smokey fruit and a very long finish. Some nice wines all around.

Chateau d’ Issan. The 2010 was dark purple to black with black cherry on the nose with closed fruit at this time. The 2008 was dark purple with toasted oak and smoke on the nose with tight but concentrated rustic and earthy fruit with a balanced finish. Tasty. The 2006 was dark red to black with dusty violets on the nose with good concentration but I thought the fruit dropped a bit at the end.

Clos Fourtet.  The 2010 was black with toasted black berries on the nose, inky, concentrated but young and needs time to come together. The 2008 was dark with a nose of toasted oak and petroleum with hard acids on the finish. The 2005 was dark purple with nose of camphor and stewed fruit with velvety fruit, firm and balanced with a long finish. Tasty.

Chateau d’Yquem. The 2009 and the 2007 were both light gold in color with saffron and wild mushroom and earth on the nose. I thought that the ’09 had higher sugar levels and a bit unbalanced than the 2007 . The 1996 was very dark gold in the glass with dusty saffron and forest floor on the nose with rich, mouth coating fruit and a very long finish. Could drink it all night.

Boston Wine Expo 2013

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Last month I celebrated the one year anniversary of my blog. It was the first blog I wrote and I went through the usual learning curve to get it right. If you look through the archives you can see that my first bog posting was of the Boston Wine Expo that I had attended last January. This year the event was held in February and I decided to attend the event. An early start to catch the Chinatown bus to Boston and, much to my colleagues surprise I rolled into South Station without any near-death experiences on the way up. The event was held at the same venue it was held last year which was the Seaport World Trade Center not too far from the bus station. The expo was open to the public but trade were let in a couple of hours beforehand. They held a separate “Grand Cru” tasting across the street at the Seaport Hotel. These huge mass tastings are pretty much a drinkfest with happy consumers rushing from table to table. Usually there are boatloads of mediocre wines but some drinkable juice can be had. The Grand Cru room poured some more upscale juice. After checking in I decided to start the day with the good juice and made my way to the Grand Cru room. I have to say that I was a little disappointed, I felt that the quality of the wines last year were better. But, it was an intimate room with good wines, tasty food, live jazz and a nice view of Boston harbor so it wasn’t all that bad.

Started at one of the Cali tables with the flagship wine from Beaulieu Vineyards, the 2009 “Georges De LaTour”.  It was dark purple with a nose of dusty slate, nice tannin and acids on the finish with some heat from the 15.7% alchohol peeking through at the end. The 2008 Hewett Vineyards Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was dark in the glass with a nose of dusty black cherry and camphor, tightly concentrated with crisp acidity at the end and some heat peeking through as well. I haven’t been a big fan of the wines of Sterling Vineyard but I like the 2009 “Platinum” Napa Cabernet. A new bottling from them of selected lots of their best juice, it was dark purple with a nose of sweet mint with silky, chewy fruit and nice balance. Walked over to the other Cali table where they poured a few good glasses. The 2010 Mount Veeder Winery Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was black with a nose of wildflowers, dried herbs and mint, it was very concentrated and tight with notes of coffee and slate on the long finish. Tasty. A couple of wines from Caymus Vineyards, the 2010 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was black in the glass with nose of roasted coffee with dusty black cherry fruit. Their flagship 2010 “Special Selection” was also black in the glass with a nose of tar, camphor and coffee with velvet fruit, I though it was perfectlybalanced at this stage. The 2009 Robert Mondavi “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon was inky with tar and coffee notes on the fruit.

Merry Edwards poured a nice Pinot, the 2009 Russian River “Meredith Estate” it was very dark for a Pinot Noir, with a classic nose of barnyard with bright silky fruit with moderate tannins and firm acids on the long finish. A small Russian River Valley producer, Donelan Family Vineyards poured a couple of wines. I liked the 2009 “Walker Vines Hill” Syrah, inky black and very chewy with dusty mint fruit nicely balanced and chunky. Cedar Knoll Vineyards 2008 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was dark black with a nose of plums and stewed fruit with velvety and chewy fruit.

A couple of interesting Cali wines were from Nyarady Family Vineyards in Napa. Very small production, about 50 cases, they owners basically hand sell the wines at events like this. The 2009 “Howell Mountain” Cabernet Sauvignon was dark in the glass with a nose of cherry with black fruit on the palate and firm tannin and acid on the finish. The selection of foreign wines wasn’t too extensive but I did like a couple. The 2009 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne was medium yellow with a big nose of pineapple and honey and a touch of oak, tight fruit with balanced finesse with some mineral notes on the finish. From Italy the 2005 Franco Todini “Nero dell Cervara” was dark red with a rustic, stinky nose with cherry fruit, nicely balanced with some mint tones on the finish. I decided I had my fill of the Grand Cru and was about to leave when I noticed at this one table behind the pourer was wine in a carafe and an empty bottle of Bordeaux. Of course I asked for a glass. It turned out to be a 1985 Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse De Lalande. It’s always nice to try a mature Bordeaux. The wine had an amber robe with a big perfume of red roses, tar and leather with smokey roasted coffee notes on the fruit with dried leaf on the finish. Nice example of a mature Bordeaux.

I headed downstairs to the main room and the consumers were in high spirits with packs of them going from table to table drinking wine and having a good old time. Some of my favorite in the room were the wines from Gallo. The black label signature series are their high-end wines made by Gina Gallo. The 2010 Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir was nice and 2009 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon was excellent. The Cabernet was black in the glass with black cherry and mint on the nose with dusty crushed rocks on the balanced finish.

Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2013

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On Friday Gambero Rosso which publishes the authoritative guide to Italian wines held their 2013 annual tasting of the Tre Bicchieri awarded Italian wines. The event was held at the Metropolitan Pavillion event space, I’ve been to many a tasting as this space. It was a huge event with table upon table of Tre Bicchieri awarded wines being poured. There was some nice juice to be had this afternoon even thought the catering company van must have lost their way since the cheese and bread was laid out a couple of hours after the event began.

When I walked in I made a bee-line to the Tuscan section of the room and started the days festivities tasting the iconic Super Tuscans.

The 2009 Tenuta Dell’Ornellaia was black in color with dusty black cherry nose, very concentrated with hints of earth on the finish with some silky tannins. Very nice. From the same producer the 2009 “Masseto” (100% Merlot) was another concentrated red that was black in color with a nose of dark strawberries with sweet chewy fruit and silky tannins at the end.

The 2009 Tenuta San Guido “Sassicaia” had plenty of character, very dark with a nose of dusty plums and dried herbs with sweet cherry fruit and notes of barnyard on the finish. Very manageable tannins. The same wine maker and company produce a couple of Carrignane based reds from Sardegna that were very tasty. The 2009 “Barrua” was dark purple to black, very concentrated with silky fruit and a balanced long finish. The 2010 “Montessu” was dark purple with bright black cherry and strawberry fruits on the nose with silky fruit and bright acidity on the finish. Another Sardinian wine I liked was Tenute Sella & Mosca 2008 “Alghero Tanca Farra”. Dark red with a beautiful perfume of barnyard and roses with chunky and earthy fruit and silky tannin on the finish.

The next stop was Marchesi Antinori 2009 “Tignanello”. Dark red with a nose of red roses and tar, tighter than the Sassicaia and the Ornellaia, it had silky with a floral notes on the balanced finish.

Some more wines from Tuscany I enjoyed included the 2009 Famiglia Cecchi “Coevo”. About half Sangiovese with the rest a Bordeaux blend, it was really black in the glass with a nose of black cherry and roasted nuts, a big wine with mouth coating tannin on the finish.

From Brancaia the 2008 “Il Blu” had an equal amount of Sangiovese and Merlot, it was very dark with a toasty nose with velvety concentrated fruit and silky tannins on the finish.

From Casanova Di Neri the 2006 Brunello di Montalcino was dark red with a slighty closed nose of red roses with big chewy fruit and a balanced finish. Very brawny style for a Brunello.

From Fontodi the 2009 Chianti Classico “Vigna del Sorbo Riserva” was a nice glass, dark and concentrated with velvety fruit and great balance.

Something from Piedmont I enjoyed was Franco M. Martinetti’s 2010 “Rosso Sul Bric”.  An equal blend of Barbera and Cabernet Sauvignon it was dark red in the glass with a nose of red roses with silky floral fruit on the balanced finish.

Very nice tasting, lots of good Italian juice, seemed like anything from Tuscany from the 2009 vintage was outstanding, something to keep an on.

Barrel Tasting Of 2011 Burgundy


This past Wednesday importer Frederick Wildman & Sons held a tasting of their Burgundy portfolio barrel samples of the 2011 vintage. The wines were specially put in bottles for this tasting but back home they are still in barrel. The wines are not available for retail sale yet and they should begin to show up in the States around June of this year. These are straight out of the barrels and are just babies, the wines are still coming togther but it still was an excellent tasting if only to get a handle on the vintage. The event was held at Astra restaurant in the Decoration & Design building on 3 Avenue. I’ve been to a few Burgundy events at this venue.I began the tasting with whites at the table of Maison Olivier Leflaive. I had the pleasure of having Mr. Leflaive himself pour the wines. He poured a horizontal of nine white Burgundy. The Meursault had a big nose of honey and pineapple with a citrusy finish. The nose on the Chassagne-Montrachet was less so but still finished with a burst of citrus.  The Puligny-Montrachet had a closed nose with tight fruit but more balance than the first two whites I had. The Meursault “Poruzots” was my favorite white, you can smell the vanilla and cinamon from the oak with some oak flavors on the crisp, long finish. The Puligny-Montrachet “Champ-Gain” had a big nose of oak, vanilla and pineapple with crisp toast on the finish. I finished with the Grand Cru, the Corton-Charlemagne with oak on the nose and very tight fruit at this stage.


From Domaine Sylvain Cathiard I had the Vosnee-Romanee “En Orveaux” which on my notes I had “really stinky nose” which is not a bad thing in Burgundy.

From Domaine Hubert Freres I enjoyed the Fixin which was nice and rustic with some earth flavors and the Gevrey-Chambertin “Vielles Vignes” had some nice toasty and earthy notes.

From Domaine Alain Burguet the Gevrey-Chambertin “Symphonie” had a nice barnyard nose, it was silky if a little simple with nice balance at the end. The Gevrey-Chambertin “Mes Favorites” Vielles Vigne had a nose of black cherry with great fruit and balance. The Vosne-Romanee “Les Rouges du Dessus” had some nice silky fruit but was a little hard at the end.

I had some nice whites from Chateau Fuisse. The Pouilly-Fusse “Les-Combettes” had a nose of honey with a nice body and great balance. The Pouilly-Fusse “Les Clos” had a mouthful of fruit with great balance and nice acidity at the finish. The Pouilly-Fusse “Les Brules” was gold with toasty full fruit with citrus at the end.

From Domaine Francois Lamarche the Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Nuit had a big nose of barnyard with the fruit on the light side but still silky.


Hiding in the corner of the room set apart from the other producers were, in my opinion the best reds of the day. Domaine Armand Rousseau poured four of his reds and I really enjoyed three out of the four. I started with the Gevrey-Chambertin. Purple with a nose of crushed blackberries and slate with some notes of bubblegum and earth on the finish, tasted better than that sounds. The Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru was purple with a pretty perfume of red flowers and slate and silky mouth-filling fruit on the palate with nice dusty notes on the finish. Very tasty as was the Clos de la Roch Grand Cru which was purple with a big nose of barnyard and crushed rocks with gorgeous silky fruit and balance on the long finish. The Chambertin Grand Cru had a big perfume but I thought the acid levels were high on the finish.


At the Domaine Faiveley table there was an extraordinary opportunity to try a horizontal tasting of fifteen of his Burgundy, four whites and eleven reds.


The starter white was the Mercurey “Clos Rochette” which had toasty moderate fruit with some minerality on the balanced finish. The Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru had a big nose of toasty and vanilla oak with full fruit on the palate and nicely balanced on the long finish. The reds I enjoyed were the Mercurey “La Framboisiere” which was light red with salty dried herbs on the nose with some chewy fruit on the long finish. The Nuits-St. Georges “Les Damodes” had a delicate nose of barnyard and herbs with silky fruit but finishing with high tannin and acids on the finish. The Chambertin-“Clos de Beze” was medium red with a big nose of barnyard with moderate tight fruit with some heat showing through on the finish. My favorite red at the table was the Mazis-Chambertin Grand Cru, big perfume of red roses and slate with velvety fruit on the moderate to long finish. Tasty.

Overall I agree with the assesments of the wine pundits which say this is a vintage more for short term enjoyment than wines to lay down.

Vinitaly And Slow Wine


This past Monday Vinitaly and Slow Food held their New York stop of their international wine tour. The event was held at the Tribeca Rooftop event space in Tribeca. I’ve been to many wine events at that space and it’s a gorgeous spot to hold an event on the top floor of the building with outstanding views of downtown Manhattan.

This was actually two wine tasting events and various seminars so there was a lot of juice to be had. I went to the trade portion of the tasting in the afternoon and they held a consumer tasting that evening as well though the consumer event had about a quarter of the wines that were available for the trade.


I started the festivities in the Slow Wine room. Some of the wines I enjoyed included the 2008 Damilano Barolo “Cannubi”. The color was brick-red with a nose of smoky leather with chewy and silky fruit, great balance with some dried herbs on the long finish. They also poured the 2008 Barolo “Lecinquevigne”. It was brick red with a nose of sweet tar and leather followed by firm mouth coating tannin on the finish. The 2009 G.D. Vajra Barbera D’Alba was dark purple to black with a nose of crushed red berries with juicy but firm fruit and a long finish. Another Barbera D’Alba I enjoyed was the 2010 Borgogno & Figli. Dark violet with a nose of crushed berries and slate with chewy dusty fruit and good balance at the end. They also poured their 2005 Barolo Riserva. Medium red with a classic nose of cigar box and tar, dusty fruit with the tannin and acid nicely balanced on the long finish.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bertani poured their 2005 Amarone. Brick red to dark in color with ripe red fruit on the nose with chewy fruit and a tight finish. A couple of Tuscan wines I liked included the 2009 Fattoria Selvapiana Chianti Rufina “Bucherchiale” Riserva. Medium red with a big nose of earth and barnyard with silky chewy fruit and great balance on the earthy and rustic finish.

The 2009 Isole e Olena “Cepparello” was medium dark in the glass with a pretty nose of crushed raspberries velvety with some nice tannin on the long finish.  I had some unusual wines from Podere Il Carnasciale. They had three magnum of their “Caberlot” As the gentleman pouring explained to me, Caberlot is a grape varietal hybrid of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, very unusual. The 2008 was black in the glass with a nose of mint with great concentration and balance with a long finish.

I made my way into the Vinitaly part of the room to see what might interest me. My first table was the Tuscan winery of Carpineto and I had some nice juice. The 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva was violet in color with a pretty nose of red roses, dusty with some bitter almond on the long finish. The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino had a nice nose of smoky leather with silky fruit and great balance. The 2006 “Farnito” (100% Cabernet Sauvignon)  was dark red in the glass with a nose of green peppers and dark berry with tight and chewy fruit and a medium to long finish.


At the next table I sampled the 2007 Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino. These guys have improved their wines the last few vintages and this one was very tasty. Medium amber in the glass with a nose of warm leather and roses with sweet fruit with a moderate to short finish.

Skurnik Pinot Noir


January has been an embarrassment of riches as far as wine tastings are concerned. Many trade events this month. This week I was able to attend a couple of events that featured American (mostly Cali) Pinot Noir. On Tuesday importer Michael Skunick showcased his portfolio of California and Oregon Pinot Noir. The event was held at the Tribeca Grill. On Saturday City Winery hosted the 2nd annual Pinot Days. Most of the wines presented were from Cali with a few from Oregon thrown in.

My first stop was the Skurnick tasting in Tribeca. They actually had two tastings, their Pinot Noir on the top floor and the rest of their portfolio on the ground floor. I decided to stick with the Pinot. I haven’t had the chance to try many Oregon Pinots lately and this was a good opportunity to do so. It was interesting to see the differences between the Cali Pinot and Oregon. In general, Oregon Pinot Noir were lighter and more delicate with finesse, feminine. The Cali Pinots on the other hand were darker, chewy and brawny wines, masculine.

I started with Oregon at Domaine Serene. They poured five Pinot Noir and all were excellent. The 2008 “Evenstad” was medium red with cherry cola, earth and herbs on the medium light fruit. Long finish. The 2009 “Yamhill Cuvee” cola on the nose with a nice balance of silky, cinnamon fruit. Their entry level 2009 “Oregon” light to medium red with a nose of crushed blueberries with medium juicy fruit.


Another Oregeon winery was Cristom Vineyards. Their 2010 “Jessie” was light in color with muted dark fruit on the nose with a tasty long finish. The 2010 “Mt. Jefferson Cuvee” was light in color with a tosty nose and smoky fruit on the balanced finish.

From Cali Hirsch Vineyards poured his 2010 “Sonoma Coast San Andreas”, moderate to light fruit, smoky with great balance that dropped a bit at the end but still tasty. The 2011 “The Bohan-Dillon” was medium red with a nose of pencil shavings and bright fresh fruit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA couple of nice wines from Kistler Vineyards, the 2010 “Sonoma Coast” was medium dark with a nose of spicy leather with a silky firm balanced finish. The 2010 “Kistler Vineyard” was medium dark with a nose of blueberries and forest floor, chewy with moderate to long finish.

Martinelli had my favorite Pinot of the night. The 2010 “Bondi Home Ranch” was medium red with a nose of dried herbs and toasted nuts, full fruit with some nice earthiness on the long finish. I also had their 2010 “Zio Tony” which was pretty chewy for a Pinot.



From Anthill Farms the 2010 “Anderson Valley” was medium in color with a classic nose of forest floor and barnyard, velvety mouth filling fruit with a great mid palate and nice acidity on the finish.

I spent most of my time in the upstairs Pinot Noir section but downstairs I couldn’t help but to stop by the Vega Sicilia table to try the 2000 and 2002 vintages of “Unico” as well as other wines from Vega Sicilia such as “Alion”,Pintia”, and “Valbuena 5 Ano”. All outstanding.