Indegenous Whites


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Last Saturday afternoon I attended a tasting held at the Italian Wine Merchants wine shop located at 108 East 16th Street near Union Square Park. It was a consumer event and originally was to be a walk-around event. Apparently they didn’t get the numbers they were hoping for and it was set up as a sit down tasting. They poured an interesting line up of eight Italian and French whites. As usual for this venue good cheeses and proscuitto were served.

We began with the Domaine Barat 2010 Chablis 1er Cru “Cote de Lechet”. It was gold in color with a big nose of honey and wild flowers with some nice mouth filling honeyed fruit. A nice beginning.

Hofsatter  2011 Pinot Bianco from Trentino-Alto Adige was yellow gold in color with a nice nose of lavender and herbs with good balance.

Rijckaert 2009 Monthelie Blanc “La Combe Danay”.  It was dark gold with a nose of slate, wet rocks with a salty tang on the full finish with  moderate acids and was very drinkable.

Antinori Castello della Sala 2009 “Cervaro della Sala”.  Primarily Chardonnay, it was very deep gold in color with a nose of ripe mango and melons, full-bodied with some oak notes on the finish. Balanced, this wine was the most Cali-like of the bunch.

Edi Kante 2008 “Vitovska”,Fruili. Bottled in one liter bottles with a skinnier than normal cork. Something different, Vitovska is the grape varietal and it was dark gold verging on brown with a nose of dried herbs and candy (I wrote tic-tacs) and was tight with a salty, citrusy finish.

Gravner 2003 Ribolla Gialla Anfora, Fruili.  Something very different. The wine maker is one of those mad scientists wine guys that make wine in a biodynamic manner,  in this case using wild yeasts and fermenting the wine in large amphorae that reside underground. The wine was decanted and was bright brown in color with a nose of smoky toffee, dusty with notes of hard candy and was tight with mouth puckering tartness and some wet cardboard on the finish. Unusual.

Domaine Michael Lafarge 2010 Bourgogne Aligote Raisins Dores.  Gold with brown notes on the color, closed nose of ripe peaches and was lean and tart.

Conarea 2011 Roero Arneis, Piemonte. Gold in color with green tints with a nose of sweet candy and bread dough with a crisp finish.


Bottle Notes In Southhampton

On Friday June 28 me and a colleague took a road trip to Southampton to attend the “Around the world in 80 sips” wine event sponsored by Bottle Notes and Sherry Lehman Wines & Spirits. We took the bullet train from Penn Station and arrived a couple of hours later and the event space was conveniently close to the train station. The event was actually two tastings, the regular tasting in the main room and the “Sherry Suite” with some very nice juice to be sampled. Of course, we made a beeline to the Sherry suite.

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I started the evening with a glass of the 2002 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne and then a glass of the 2009 Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne. Another nice white in the room was the 2010 Domaine du Vieux Lazaret white Chateauneuf du Pape. White Rhones are  rare so I never miss an opportunity to try one and this one was excellent.

Chateau Montelena from Napa Valley poured a few of their wines. I started with the 2010 Chardonnay. It was light yellow with a nose of ripe melons and tropical fruit up front followed with crisp acidity. They poured a vertical of their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon starting with the current release 2009 which I thought was very tight with high acids. I had better luck with the older vintages. The 2003 was dark red to black with a nose of cherry cough drops and was silky and concentrated with a firm and dusty, balanced finish. The 2004 was my favorite and was black in color with a nose of crushed blackberries and was chewy and silky with a firm but balanced finish. The 2005 was dark red and had a nose of dried herbs and tight fruit. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars poured a couple of nice wines, the 2009 “Fay” Cabernet Sauvignon and the excellent 2009 “Cask 23” Cabernet Sauvignon.

I stopped by the Italian part of the room and tried some nice juice. The 2009 Gaja Barberesco was purple with an amber robe with a nose of cigar box, tar, truffles and red roses and was silky, firm with a nice grip at the finish.

Antinori poured a trio of some very nice wine. The 2007 Badia A Passegnano Chianti Classico Riserva  is 100% Sangiovese and was dark red in the glass with a nose of rose petals and tar and was chewy and silky with notes of earth and good grip on the finish. The 2008 Guado Al Tasso, a Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot was black in the glass with a nose of smoky black cherry with toasted oak notes on the fruit with a firm and balanced finish. The 2009 Tignanello was black in color with a closed nose of slate and was deeply concentrated. Cerreto poured a couple of their wines, the 2007 Barolo “Brunate” and the 2008 Barberesco “Bricco Asili” which was dark amber in color with a nose of cherry tar and was silky with firm tannins on the finish. Allegrini’s 2007 “La Poja” was dark purple with a nose of red cherry and bright fruit with notes of smoke, earth and sour cherry. Altesini’s 2007 Brunello di Montelcino was dark amber in color with a nose of toasty earth and truffles, concentrated with a toasted firm finish. Out in the main room, Chateau D’Esclans poured several different rose which was made for an interesting tasting.

Penin Guide Top Wines

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On Tuesday I attended a tasting sponsored by the Penin Guide. The guide lists what they consider the best wines from Argentina, Chile, Spain and Mexico. The event was held at the Bowery Hotel located at 335 Bowery in Manhattan. Cool hotel and mercifully, the event was indoors as it was brutally hot that afternoon.

I started with some whites and I always like to try wines made from the Verdejo grape which is pretty much unique to the Rueda region of Spain. You know you are drinking a Verdejo the minute you sip it, it’s like drinking a grapefruit. At this event I tried some Verdejo that were barrel aged and took on a different flavor profile with rounder fruit and more moderate acids. One that I liked was the 2011 Nisia, DO Rueda. Penin gave this wine a 95 rating and it had a nose of grapefruit and sweet mango with moderate and juicy fruit with notes of bubble gum on the fruit. It tasted more Chardonnay than Verdejo.

Some of the wines I enjoyed  from Spain:

The 2011 Abadia da Cova de Autor, DO Ribera Sacra and is 100% Mencia grape, a varietal pretty much unique to Spain and was dark purple with a nose of roasted coffee, young, juicy and dusty. Another Mencia I liked was the 2008 Men de Mencia, DO Bierzo and was dark red to black in color with a nose of earthy berries and mint and was fresh and juicy with some cherry earthiness in the glass.

The 2006 Frontaura Crianza DO Toro, was dark red to black with a closed nose and roasted coffee notes on the big finish.

The 2009 Don Miguel Comenge DO Ribera del Duero was dark purple to black with a nose of stewed fruit and was rustic and chewy with a long toasty finish.

The 2009 Domaines Lupier La Dame Vina Viejas, DO Navarra was dark red with a nose of stewed red fruit and spicy cinnamon and cherry fruit notes and a balanced finish.

The 2009 Eccoci Tinto Premium, DO Vino de Gerona was black in color with a nose of toasty stewed red cherry and plums and was concentrated and firm with a long finish.

The 2010 Urbezo Crianza, DO Carinena was dark purple with a nose of stewed fruit and was chewy and rustic with notes of dried mushrooms on the balanced finish.

The 2006 Vega Enix Damaris, DO Ribera del Andarax is 100% Merlot and was black with a closed nose of black licorice and was chewy with roasted nuts on the fruit and was nicely balanced.

The 2008 Marques de Caceres “Gaudium”. DO Rioja was a big wine, black in the glass with a nose of roasted coffee and black cherry and was very chewy with notes of toasted nuts on the long finish. Tasted like a big Cali red. 

Something different, a wine from the Baja region of Mexico. The  2007 Bodegas de Santo Tomas “Unico” which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and is in an impressively heavy glass bottle, was black in color with a nose of black plums with toasty and juicy fruit.