Wine Spectator Awards Banquet

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This past week the Wine Spectator held their annual wine experience, and it was as they say “a three-day joyous celebration of great wine”. I attended the black-tie Award Banquet on Saturday night in which the 2012 wine of the year was annouched and that wine is the 2008 Shafer “Relentless” Napa Valley which is a blend of Syrah and Petite Sirah. In addition, Robert Drouhin the longtime proprietor of Maison Drouhin and the founder of Domaine Drouhin in Oregon was given the Distinguished Service Award. Drouhin’s wines were served at the banquet. The wine experience had alternated between New York City, San Francisco and Chicago but at the banquet it was announced that the event will be held in New York exclusively for the next five years. The last time I attended the event, the musical guest was Neal Sedaka, this time around they chose someone a bit more contemporary, John Legend.

Before the dinner a Champagne cocktail hour gave us the opportunity to drink wines such as:

Bollinger Brut Special Cuvee NV

Charles Heidsieck Brut NV

Delamonte Brut Blanc de Blancs NV

Dom Perignon Brut 2004

Krug Brut Grande Cuvee

Louis Roederer Brut, Brut Premier

Perrier-Jouet Brut, Grand Brut

Tattinger Brut Rose Prestige.

For our appetizer we were served an Apple and Goat Cheese Tart with celery and golden raison salad with crème fraiche dressing and mint oil. It was a pretty tasty starter and I enjoyed the celery and raison salad most of all. With it was served the 2010 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis “Secher”. On the nose, floral with honey and dried mushroom with very tight fruit and high acidity on the finish.

For the Entrée we were served a double-cut Rack of Lamb with mushroom risotto, swiss chard and a fig and mushroom ragout. The dish was excellent especially considering it was served in a mass seating. With the entrée two of Drouhin’s red wines were served:

2009 Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir Willamette Valley (Oregon). Started with a big nose of classic Burgundy forest floor and damp earth and was very tight with notes of red leather followed by crisp acids.

2008 Joseph Drouhin Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru. A nose of black cherry, cassia and herbs with tight young and dusty fruit with notes of cherry and leather with firm acids on the finish.

With dessert which was a 64% Chocolate Mousse, Luxardo Cherries, Chocolate Blackout Cake and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream, we enjoyed a performance from musical guest, John Legend and of course, more wine.


Food Network Grand Tasting

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This week the Food Network held their annual food and spirits event. A four-day festival of seminars, demonstrations and food and wine tastings held at various venues around town. From Friday to Sunday they held their Grand Tasting which this year was housed at Pier 94 at 55th Street, an airplane-hanger sized venue on the westside highway. It was a consumer event with many booths with food products, spirits and wine, it was also a mob scene Saturday afternoon. Like a lot of consumer events there was plenty of wine with some of it drinkable. I cherry-picked my way around the room and began at the Simi Vineyards table.

The 2010 Simi Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) was dark red with notes of bright cherry on the fruit.

The 2009 Simi “Landslide” Cabernet Sauvignon was dark purple and concentrated with a nose of toasted oak and cherry and was tight with a mouthful of tannin.

At the Inglenook Winery table, three wines were poured. The 2011 “Edizone Pennino” Zinfandel was dark red with a nose of roasted coffee and toasted oak and was juicy with firm acids on the finish.

The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley was dark red to black with notes of stewed dark fruits and roasted nuts on the nose with black licorice flavors on the fruit which ended with big tannins.

Their flagship wine, the 2009 “Rubicon” which is 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and was dark red to black with notes of roasted nuts on the nose and was very concentrated and was dusty with black licorice on the fruit and was firm with a nicely balanced finish.

Kendall-Jackson 2010 “Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon was black in color with a nose of stewed fruit and was concentrated and thick with some oak notes on the fruit with firm but manageable tannins.

At the table of Marques de Riscal from Rioja, there were a trio of nice wines poured. A new label made from young vines, the 2009 “Proximo” made from mostly Temprinillo was dark red with roasted coffee on the nose and was tight and concentrated with firm but balance finish, still a little young.

The 2007 “Reserva” was dark red with a brown robe and had notes of tar and black leather on the nose with tight and concentrated fruit with notes of roasted nuts and coffee on the fruit and ended firm and balance.

The 2001 “Gran Reserva” was dark red with a brown robe with notes of black licorice on the nose and was concentrated with great balance and a long finish. Very nice..

I was in the mood for a glass of white so I had the 2011 William Fevre Chablis which was light gold with a nose of white flowers and was dry and crisp with nice balance. A nice glass of white.  Another table with some nice juice was at Duckhorn and their second label Decoy.

2010 Goldeneye Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley) was medium red with notes of leather on the nose with bright cherry fruit.

2010 Duckhorn Merlot (Napa Valley) was dark red with ripe plum on the nose with ripe red fruit.

2010 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) was dark red with dusty plum on the nose with dusty fruit with oak notes and good balance. Tasty.

2009 Paraduxx “C” Blend was dark red with a nose of black licorice and had concentrated, dusty fruit with good balance.

2011 Jordan Vineyards Chardonnay (Russian River) was light gold in color with notes of honey and ripe tropical fruit and was big and juicy with firm acids at the end. Old school Cali Chard.

2009 Jordan Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley) was dark red with a nose of stewed fruit and roasted coffee was young and dusty and I thought a little unbalanced.

I ended the tasting with a glass of the 2010 Artesa Pinot Noir (Carneros) which was dark red with a closed nose of black cherry and leather and was nicely balanced with a long finish.

From the Grand Tasting me and my fellow wine drinkers hopped on a cab and headed to the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District to attend a sit-down tasting presented by Wine Spectator. Called “California Dreaming” it was a tasting of two whites and five reds to showcase the diverse terroir of the state.

Girard 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley). Gold in color with a nose of white flowers with moderate fruit and a floral finish. I thought it was a nice glass.

Ferrari-Carano 2012 Chardonnay (Sonoma County). Gold in color with toast notes on the nose and was medium to full body with toastiness on the fruit and crisp acidity on the finish. Mouth filling.

Robert Mondavi 2011 Pinot Noir (Carneros). Black in color with a nose of dried herbs and bacon with chunky big fruit at the beginning but dropping near the end with big acids at the finish.

Napa Cellars 2011 Merlot (Napa Valley). Dark red with dried rosemary and cooked vegetable on the nose with some cigar box on the full fruit, some unbalance.

Robert Mondavi 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Black with a red robe with notes of green bell pepper on the nose and was very tight with a mouthful of tannin.

Mount Veeder 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley). Inky black with a beautiful nose of fresh herbs, black cherry and slate and was concentrated and tight with a firm and balanced finish. The star of the tasting.

Wheeling Forward Fundraiser

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On Saturday evening I attended a wine tasting benefit for Wheeling Forward for the upcoming NYC Marathon. Wheeling Forward is a non-profit organization that provides guidance and resources to disabled individuals. The event was held at the Renaissance Hotel 57 at 130 East 57th Street. The event was supposed to be held at the rooftop but the windy conditions forced us to hold the event in the indoor lounge. It was a casual event with several wines being popped open to drink.

It was a varied group of white and red wines and I began the tasting with a glass of Deutz Champagne. Some whites poured included the 2011 Raats Chenin Blanc (South Africa) which had a nose of funky petroleum and over-ripe flowers.  the 2009 Auxey Duresser “De Montille” had a stinky nose with crisp acids on the finish. The 2010 Milleseme Samur had a nose of petroleum and dried mushroom while the 2011 Monte Alpha Chardonnay (Chile) was big and ripe with notes of mango and honey

With the reds I started with a couple of PInot Noir. From California, the 2009  Donatella “Middle Ranch” was dark red with notes of cherry cola and leather on the nose with cola spices on the fruit. In a different style was the From New York State, the 2011 Element Pinot Noir (Finger Lakes). It was light red in color with a stinky nose with moderate fruit but with great balance and a long finish. From Italy, the  2009 Latium Valpolicella had a nose of roasted coffee and was concentrated with toasted nuts on the firm and balanced finish. From Bordeaux, the 2004 Chateau Massereau had a beautiful nose of ripe cherries, licorice and Asian spices and was silky and dusty with earth notes on the finish. The 2002 Les Fiefs de Lagrange was black in color with smoky black cherry on the nose and was dusty and velvety but dropped a bit at the end.


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This past week the 8th annual Starchefs international congress was held in New York which was a three-day food and spirits expo featuring demonstrations, seminars and new food products. And of course, wine. One of the events at the Expo was the Somm Slam which was a Sommelier competition. I was lucky enough to attend as one of the judges on Sunday. There were twelve Sommelier in attendance with some local favorites as well as few out of towners and a Somm from Mexico. The group of Somms were split into two groups of six, and each group (and the judges) were given two different cheeses (from Murray’s Cheese)to taste. The Somms were to go to a table which was stocked with various bottles of wine and they were to pick a wine they believed would go well with the cheeses. The two groups took wildly different approaches to picking what they thought was an appropriate wine.

The first group picked all red wines including the 2011 Damilano Barbera D’Asti, the 2008 Produttori del Barberesco Barberesco, the 2008 Argiano Brunello di Montalcino, the 2012 Leyda Las Brisas, and the 2008 Produttori del Barberesco “Rio Sordo” Barberesco Riserva. In my opinion, in the first group I thought the 2009 Damilano Barolo “Cannubi” picked by Somm Erin Scala paired best with the cheeses.

The second group picked five whites and one rose, the 2012 Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc, the 2011 Concha y Toro “Amelia”, the 2012 Vadio Bairrada, the 2012 Domaine les Hautes Cances “Cairanne”, and the 2012 Chateau Mourgues du Gres “Galets Dores Blanc. I thought that the 2011 Domaine de la Verriere “Chene Bleu” Rose picked by Somm Yannick Benjamin paired best with the cheeses.

It was an interesting competition.

After the judging I strolled around the event and sampled lots of ham, specifically cured hams from Spain, Italy and the U.S. And I hate to say this about my paisan but the other countries gave prosciutto a run for their money. That black-hoofed pig from Spain makes some mighty delicious ham. There was even a producer from West Virginia who aged his ham for four years and it was delicious. The Somm Bar keep the wine flowing by pouring wines from the Somm Slam competition as well as wines from PortugalVerdejo and Sagrantino.

Overall, it was an enjoyable Sunday afternoon.

Taste Of France

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Taste of France was a two-day festival held last weekend in Bryant Park promoting French culture and lifestyle. There were more than 120 booths showcasing French culture, technology, beauty and cuisine including 30 French Master Chefs . Of course there was also wine. On Saturday afternoon there was “Le Grand Wine Tasting” held under the big-top in the park featuring 100 wines from the top 10 regions of France poured by some of the top Sommeliers in New York . It was a consumer event with a portion of the proceeds going to Action Against Hunger and Wheeling Forward. I made a beeline to the Burgundy table where I started my tasting.


Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru “Blanchots” 2009. Gold in color with a nose of honey and toast with full fruit and notes of slate and wet rocks  with a long finish.

J. A. Ferret Pouilly Fusse “Sous Vergisson” 2010. Light gold in color with a floral nose with medium fruit and some nice crispness on the long finish.

Antonin Guyon Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru “Pucelles” 2009. Yellow with floral notes on the nose, starts tight and then opens with some sweetness in the middle before dropping off.

Francois & Denis Clair Santenay “Clos Gents” 2010. Medium red with notes of cherry earth on the nose with moderate body, chewy fruit with great balance with some earth notes on the finish.

Joseph Drouhin Chambolle Musigny 1er Cru 2008. Medium red with an amber robe, big nose of barnyard and black cherry and was silky and smoky with an excellent long finish.

Domaine Marc Roy Gevrey-Chambertin “Villes Vignes” 2011. Dark red with a nose of wet stones and dark plums and was chewy with hints of dark chocolate with moderate tannins and a long finish.

The Burgundy table was nice and I had some nice juice at the Bordeaux table as well.

Chateau D’Yquem “Y” (Sauternes) The dry white wine from this estate made with equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon and was yellow in color with a nose of damp earth and fresh-cut grass and had great fruit and balance with a long finish.

Chateau Brillette 2005 (Moulis-en-Medoc) Poured from a Magnum, it was dark red with an amber robe and had a big perfume of herbs, bell pepper and black fruit and was chunky with notes of smoke and black licorice with great balance. Tasty.

Chateau D’Issan 2005 (Margaux) Dark red with mint and vegetal notes on the nose and was very tight with firm tannin on the tight finish. Not my favorite on the table.

Chateau Branaire-Ducru 2007 (St. Julien) Dark red with red licorice, mint and dark fruits on the nose and was chewy and smoky with great balance and a long finish. Another tasty one.

Chateau Lynch-Bages 2010 (Paulliac) Dark red with a nose of roasted meat and black cherry and was silky with a hit of mouth puckering tannin at the end.

Chateau Phelan Segur 2004 (St. Estephe) Dark red with an amber robe with notes of damp earth, mint and cherry on the nose with great mouthfeel and a balanced finish.

Domaine de Chevelier 2005 (Pessac-Leognan) Poured from a magnum, it was dark red to black in color with notes of earth and barnyard on the nose and was concentrated and silky with  black licorice on the balanced and long finish. Drinking nicely.

Chateau Gazin 2005 (Pomerol) Dark red with a big nose of mint, bell pepper and black licorice and was silky and dusty with mouth filling fruit and great balance on the very long finish. Nice juice.

Le Petit Cheval 2006 (St. Emillion) Dark red with notes of Asian spices and stone on the nose and was tight and concentrated, I thought it was a little closed right now.

That was some outstanding juice on those first two tables but I had to give the other regions a stop by. I tried some nice wines at Beaujolais, the Cru wines are very underrated and are a good price quality ration in my opinion. A few that I enjoyed includes:

Domaine Guy Breton 2011 “Regnie”. Medium red with a pretty  tang of sea air and earth on the nose  with great balance with notes of damp earth on the long finish. Very complicated for a Beaujolais.

Domaine de la Conseillere 2010 “Julienas”. Dark red with a nose of earth and cherry candy with notes of wet earth on the fruit with good acidity at the end.

Domaine Du Vissoux 2011 “Brouilly” Pierreux. Dark purple with a nose of red candy and was silky and dusty with good acidity.


Domaine De L’Ecu 2011 Muscadet “Granite”. Nose of apricot with notes of canned peaches on the fruit with good balance. Not at all what I was expecting from a Muscadet.

Pascal -Jolivet 2011 Pouilly-Fume “Les Griottes”. Dark yellow with notes of earthy flowers on the nose and mowed grass on the fruit with good balane.

Domaine Galbrun 2010 Bourgueil “Chatrois”. Dark purple with a stemmy nose with big notes of dried herbs on the finish.


Chateau De La Selve 2006 Coteaux De L’Ardeche “La Serre De Berty” Dark yellow with a nose of ripe floweres with full, floral fruit and good balance.

Chateau De Vaudieu 2010 Chatteauneuf Du Pape. Black in color with a closed nose of cherries and bacon with fruit and was chunky and firm.

Domaine Pierre Gaillard 2009 Saint Joseph “Les Pierres”. Dark red with a nose of earth and cherry and was chewy with notes of bitter cherry on the long and balanced finish. Very nice.

It was a great afternoon with some outstanding wine.