Wine & Spirits Top 100 N.Y. 2022

On February 23rd, Wine & Spirits magazine held their 2nd annual Top 100 wine festival which featured the 100 best wines of 2021 from their list.

It was a benefit for the New York and New Jersey Baykeeper, an organization “dedicated to maintaining the health and integrity of the waterways that feed New York’s and New Jersey’s food and wine industry”.

The event was held at the popular event space The Metropolitan Pavilion located at 125 West 18th Street in Manhattan.

It was open to both trade and consumer and had a very nice selection of wines from all the major wine producing countries.

Some of the wines I sampled:

2019 Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards HJW Bio Riesling: One of a trio of Riesling they poured, this one was medium yellow, with ripe stone on the nose, oily fruit with good acidity.

2018 Ashes & Diamond Mt Veeder Napa Valley “Saffron Vineyard” Cabernet Sauvignon: From a small producer, light clear red, dusty, woody red fruit on the nose, medium fruit with earth notes on the fruit long finish.

2018 Ashes & Diamond Santa Cruz Mts “Bates Ranch” Cabernet Sauvignon: Opaque medium red, red leather on the nose, silky, dusty red fruit with good balance.

2015 Beringer Vineyards “Private Reserve” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Clear medium red with a perfume of plum, bacon fat, black pepper and bell pepper, silky dark chocolate fruit and finish.

2016 Beringer Vineyards “Eighth Maker” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Medium clear red, aromatic nose of earth and dark leather, chewy and silky with cocoa notes with the nice grip, long finish.

2017 Diamond Creek Vineyards Diamond Mt District “Volcanic Hill” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Opaque dark red, great perfume of crushed black fruit and dried herbs, chewy, silky dark fruit with great balance on the long finish.

2018 Diamond Creek Vineyards Diamond Mt District “Volcanic Hill” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: Opaque dark red, closed nose of ripe red fruit, tight and silky with some nice bitter cherry notes on the finish.

2018 Donkey & Goat El Dorado “The Bear” Counoise Blend Fenaughty & Lightner: Clear light brick, light red cherry candy nose, chewy with earth notes on the fruit, easy drinking.

2018 Duckhorn Vineyard Napa Valley Merlot: Clear medium red with a tight bell pepper fruit.

2018 The Eyre Dundee Hills “Roland Green” Pinot Noir: Light clear red, toasty earth on the nose, silky green fruit with good balance.

2017 Calera Mt Harlan “Ryan Vineyard” Pinot Noir: Clear light red, crushed ripe cherry on the nose with tight, ripe red fruit.

2018 Delas Freres Crozes-Hermatage “Les Clos”: Opaque dark red, roast meat on the nose, chewy, ends with a good grip and green herbs on the finish.

2018 Louis Jadot Nuits-St-Georges: Clear light red, warm red cherry and forest floor on the nose, tight and silky.

2016 Paolo Scavino Barolo “Bric del Fiasc”: Clear red brick, tarry red cherry nose, chewy, silky fruit with great balance.

2016 Paolo Scavino Barolo “Bricco Ambrogio”: Light brick in color, tar and fresh herbs on the nose, silky fruit with good structure and balance.

2016 Bodegas Muga Rioja Muga Aro: Clear red, crushed red cherry on the nose with tight red fruit.

Puligny-Montrachet Tasting

Pressoir.wine is run by the team behind La Paulée and La Fête Du Champagne. In addition to running those events they also host (very expensive) Burgundy dinners and about once a month a Burgundy “happy hour”. At the happy hour they pick a village in Burgundy and showcase about a dozen, mostly premier cru wines from that village.

On February 10th it was the appellation of Puligny-Montrachet which has 17 premier crus of mostly white wines made from Chardonnay.

The tasting was open to the consumer and was a casual, walk around tasting held at their tasting room and clubhouse located at 285 West Broadway in lower Manhattan. Most of the wines were from the 2017 vintage which is considered a good vintage. I found a lot of lemon, tart notes on the finish. There were also a sprinkling of other vintages as well.

As usual, knowledgeable staff were on hand with information on what they poured and to answer any Burgundy related questions.

White wines I sampled:

2018 Domaine Bachelet-Monnot “Les Folatieres”: Light gold, toasty nose, nice fruit with firm acids.

2017 Domaine Genot-Boulanger “Les Folatieres”: Light gold, closed nose, tight with some oak notes on the back end, firm acids.

2017 Domaine de Montille “Les Folatieres”: Light gold, dried herbs and white flower on the nose, middle fruit with lemon tart on the finish.

2017 Domaine Leflaive “Les Folatieres”: Light gold, honey, ripe kumquat and toast on the nose, tight with citrus notes on the finish.

2018 Jean-Luc & Paul “Champ Gain”: Medium gold, oily, toasty nose, light lemon fruit.

2017 Domaine Faiveley “La Garenne”: Very light in color, ripe fruit on the nose, moderate fruit followed by crisp acids on the finish.

2017 Etienne Sauzet “Les Perrieres”: Medium gold with a floral nose, tight fruit with tongue coating acidity.

2015 Domaine Bachelet-Monnot “Les Referts”: Light gold, honey on the nose, nice balance of tropical fruit notes with good acidity.

2017 Etienne Sauzet “Les Combettes”: Medium gold, toasty nose, juicy with dried herbs on the finish with good acidity.

2015 Etienne Sauzet “Les Combettes”: Medium gold, closed nose, light with moderate acidity.

2015 Etienne Sauzet “Champ Canet”: Medium gold, honeyed nose ending with some tart notes.

Slow Wine Festival at Eataly

Eataly is on a roll with consecutive wine events at both their locations so far this year. On February 2nd they held the Slow Wine Festival New York at Eataly downtown which is located at 101 Liberty Street in lower Manhattan.

Slow Wine is part of the Slow Food concept. It’s an Italian wine organization with a commitment to sustainable agriculture and whose mission is “good, clean and fair” wines.

The trade portion of the event was held in the afternoon with a consumer tasting later that evening, I attended in the afternoon which I was told was a larger event with more wines than the late consumer tasting.

It was a huge event with over 100 wines poured. The majority were Italian with all the regions from North to South represented with wines in keeping with the Slow Wine concept.

Along with the Barolos, Chiantis, Brunellos, Amarones and other world-famous Italian varietals, I made a point to sample wines made from unusual or rarely seen varietals such as Freisa, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Grignolino and even an Italian Tempranillo.

There were a few tables of New World wine from California, Oregon and Long Island where I sampled some nice wines from Adamus Winery, Burgess Vineyards, Domum Vineyards and Left Coast Winery to name a few.

Brunello Camp Eataly

During the last week of January, Eataly Flatiron held Brunello Camp which were a series of Brunello themed events. On Thursday January 28th I attended their walk-around tasting of Brunello wines. Eataly Flatiron is located at 200 5th Avenue in Manhattan.

Brunello is a red wine produced in the Piedmont region of Italy along with its famous cousin Chianti though Brunello came into being much later, courtesy of Clemente Santi in the mid 1800’s. The differences between the two is that for Brunello, it must be 100% exclusively from the Sangiovese Grosso variety which is a large berry form of Sangiovese and the aging requirements. Regular Brunello must be aged for five years before release while the Riservas for six years. In the meantime, to have some income flowing into the wineries, they produce a younger version of their Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino which are available after one year of aging.

It was a snowy evening this Thursday, a perfect time to spend indoors drinking wine. The event was open to the consumer and featured over 50 wines. Most were from the 2016’s and 2017’s vintages which were back to back blockbuster vintages. There were also a few older vintages poured. There was a table in the seperate wine shop that poured a handful of extra older wines (20+years).

Most of the wine tastings have been held at Eataly dowtown and this was the Flatiron stores first wine event in a couple of years. I don’t think that they weren’t expecting the size of the crowd that showed up as we were jammed into a space literally cheek to cheek at the tasting tables. Still, I didn’t have to wait too long for a pour and Management promised to use a larger space next time around.

Coming from a couple of great vintages there were some very nice, elegant wines with good acidity being poured. The only disappointment I had that evening was at the table in the wine shop. Brunella has a reputation as age worthy wines, but I found most of them tasting old.

Some of the producers I sampled:

2004 Tenuta Frigiali2012 Fuligni
2013 Il Palazzone2013 Lisini
2014 Il Paradiso2012 Barbi
2015 Podere Le Ripi “Amore Magia”2015 Le Ragnaie
2016 Col d’Orca2015 Vigna Nastagio
2016 Fanti2017 Argiano
2016 Campogio Vanni2016 Collemattoni
2016 Mastrojanni2016 Castel Giocondo
2016 Pietrosso2016 Antinori Pian delle Vigne
2016 Ferrero2016 Barbi
2015 La Togata2016 Poggia Cerrino
2016 San Polino2016 Molino di Sant Antimo
2016 Collemattioni2015 Fuligni

Chianti Lovers U.S. Tour 2022

On January 11th I attended the Chianti Lovers U. S. tour. This was another wine event promoted by the I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management) and showcased member wineries of the Consorzio Vino Chianti, an organization established in 1927 that oversees the regulations for the seven subdistricts of the Chianti region.

The event was for members of the trade and was held at the Eventi Hotel at 851 7th Avenue in midtown Manhattan.

The event consisted of a seminar in which we blind tasted a horizontal of 2017 Riserva Chianti from each of the seven subdistricts. That was followed by a walk-around tasting.

Since it’s the job of the I.E.E.M. to promote the wines and winereis, the wineries pouring today are small producers that are looking for exposure and a Distributer so there weren’t any trophy wines but a very good selection of off the radar wines from the various sub districts of the Chianti D.O.C.G.

This was supposed to be the first of two Chianti tasting with a Chianti Classico event for the next week but that event was postponed.

Seminar: Horizontal Tasting of 2017 Chianti D.O.C.G. Riserva (Tasted Blind)

Pietro Becconcini (Colline Pisane)

Medium brick, tar, fennel and crushed rock on the nose, tight with some vegetal notes on the lighter finish.

Cantagallo Il Fondatore (Montalbano)

Dark brick in color, closed nose of tar, tree bark and herbs, medium to light bodied with a tight and dusty finish.

Poggio Del Moro (Colli Senesi)

Opaque dark brick, perfume of violets, tar and vanilla, tight and dusty ending with tongue coating tannins.

Podere Dell’ Moro (Montespertoli)

Dark red in color, camphor and crushed black fruit on the nose, starts juicy with crunchy tannins ending with firm acids and bitter almond notes on the balanced finish.

Torre Acona Badia a Corte (Fiorentini)

Clear medium brick, sweet ripe fruit on the nose, medium fruit with wood notes, bitter cherry, firm tannins ending with mouthwatering acids.

Buca Nerta (Arentini)

Opaque dark red, closed, oily nose with young silky fruit, firm, dusty tannins and firm acids.

Fattoria Selvapiana (Rufina)

Clear medium brick, perfume of sweet fruit, tar and raspberry, silky fruit with bitter cherry notes with firm tannins and acids on the finish.

Some of the producers I sampled wines from at the walk around tasting:

Cantina SorelliColle Adimari
DianellaFattoria l’Arco
Fattoria MontecchioFattoria San Michele a Torri
Fattoria UccellieraIl Palazzo
Podere dell’AnselmoTenuta Coeli Aula
Tenuta di CastelfalfiVal di Botte
ValvirginioGrignano

Paumanok Vineyards

1074 Main Road (Rt 25), Aquebogue

Paumanok Vineyards is one of the original founding fathers of the North Shore Long Island wine industry. It was founded in 1983 by Ursula and Charles Massoud.

It’s the first winery you run into on the North Shore wine route (Main Road) as you are travelling Eastbound.

They are an under the radar winery that have been pumping out drinkable wine for years, they are one of the few wineries growing and bottling a Chenin Blanc.

The sunny tasting room overlooks the vineyard, and not surprisanly, the winery facilities are in a converted barn.

On this visit I decide to sample a couple of red.

2019 Estate Cabernet Franc

100% Cabernet Franc. Opaque black with a purple rim, crushed raspberry and bacon fat on the nose, juicy, silky dark fruit with some black licorice notes on the finish. Moderate tannins and acids, very drinkable.

2019 Estate Petit Verdot

100% Petit Verdot. Opaque black in color with crushed rocks and spicy crushed black fruit on the nose, tart black fruit followed by firm tannins.

Comparing Italy & Spain

On December 5th, I attended the “Taste the Difference; Quality Wines From The Heart of Europe” wine event.

It was a tasting for members of the Trade that showcased wines from two of the classic wine producing countries of the world, Italy and Spain.

What is interesting about these two wine producing countries is while they grow the classic French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc. they also grow unique varietals that seen to flourish in those two countries such as Sangiovese and Nebbiolo in Italy and Tempranillo and Macabeu in Spain to name just a couple from each country.

The tasting was held at the Altman Building, an event space located at 135 West 18th Street in Manhattan.

It was an interesting tasting and I was able to sample wines from many of the wine districts in each country. I was also able to sample a couple of obscure wine varietals from Italy, Enantio and Albarossa for the first time.

A few that I sampled:

Italy

2015 Tenuta Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany): Clear medium brick, tar and red leather on the nose, silky red fruit with firm citrus notes on the finish.

2015 Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico Riserva (Tuscany): 95% Sangiovese. Dark red with a perfume of tar and roast meat, chewy black fruit with a nice grip on the balanced finish.

2015 Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico Gran Selezione “Millenio” (Tuscany): Clear dark red, tar and camphor on the nose, tight, silky fruit ending with smoky tannins.

2016 Ruffino “Alauda” (Tuscany): 47% Cabernet Franc, 43% Merlot, 10% Colorino. Dark red to black, slate and bacon fat on the nose, bright red fruit, nicely balances with a moderate to long finish.

2017 Goretti “L’Arringtore” (Colli Perugini): 60% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot, 10% Ciliegiolo. Cloudy dark red, smoke and earth on the nose, chewy and smoky fruit, tart.

2018 Societa Agricola Roeno “Enantio” (Veneto): Made from the obscure Enantio varietal, opaque dark red to black, smoke, mint and toast on the nose, chewy, chunky and juicy bitter black cherry fruit with a nice grip at the end.

2018 Dezzani “Albarossa” (Piedmont): Obscure Albarossa varietal. Opaque dark red, roast meat and crushed rocks on the nose, juicy dark fruit with a bright citrus finish.

2018 Societa Agricola i Veroni Chianti Rufina Riserva (Tuscany): 100% Sangiovese. Dark purple with a brick rim, earthy notes of crushed red berries, sweet red fruit with bitter cherry notes on the finish with firm tannins.

Spain

2015 Celler Laurona “Pythagora” (Montsant): 100% Garnatxa Negra. Cloudy mediium red, crushed ripe black fruit on the nose with chewy very ripe fruit.

2018 Herencia Altes “La Pilosa” (Terra Alta): 100% Peluda Grenache. Clear medium red, crushed red fruit on the nose with some earth notes, juicy tart red fruit.

2018 Terra Remota “Camino” (Emporda): Red Blend. Black in color, closed nose with some crushed rock notes, thick and chewy with gun metal notes on the fruit, firm grip at the finish.

2019 Castell del Remel “Gotim Bru” (Costers del Segre): 35% Grenache, 35% Temprinillo, 15% Syrah, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. Clear medium red, roast meat and crushed red fruit on the nose with chewy bright red fruit with firm acids.

2019 Clos Pachem “Pachem” (Priorat): 100% Grenache. Clear mediuim red, very closed nose, juicy red fruit with nice acidity.

2020 La Nit de les Garnatxes “Slate” (Montsant): 100% Grenache. Clear medium red, green herbs on the nose, juicy red fruit with crushed rock notes on the firm finish with moderate acidity.

2020 La Nit de les Garnatxes “Limestone” (Montsant): 100% Grenache. Light purple in color with crushed red fruit and green herbs on the nose, juicy, tart.

Macari Vineyards

Macari Vineyards in located in the North Fork of Long Island wine country at 150 Bergen Avenue in Mattituck. That’s right off of Sound Avenue which is one of the two main roads along with Route 25 (Main Road) of the North Fork wine trail.

It’s a three-generation family run winery that was started by Joseph T. Macari in 1995 who purchased an old potato farm. They do have another tasting room off the main road in Cutchogue but that seems to be closed most of the time.

On the afternoon I visited I noticed an unusual bottle sitting on the tasting table and decided to give it a try.

2020 “Horses” Cabernet Franc

This is a Pet-Nat (petillant naturel) wine topped with a metal stopper. Clear bright dark red in color with a light fizz to it and was earthy and crisp on the palate.

Wines of South Africa: Low Intervention Wines

On December 6th I attended a tasting sponsored by Wines of South Africa. It was in conjunction with the Raw Wine virtual wine fair. Raw Wine was a yearly wine event held in New York City as well as in Berlin and London that featured low intervention wines from around the world. Over a hundred wines were poured and was a great opportunity to sample numerous of those styles of wine in one event. They cancelled the New York event last year and unfortunately this year as well.

This event was held at Sommtime wine bar located at 254 Bromme Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. It’s a wine bar that specializes in natural wines. It’s a tiny restaurant and made for an intimate tasting experience and I mean intimate with most of us standing cheek to cheek while sampling the wines.

This was a great opportunity for me to try wines that I admit, I usually pass over when I’m at one of those mega tastings. In South Africa their iconic white wines are made from Chenin Blanc while their iconic reds are made from Pinotage which is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It was a very enjoyable tasting with most of the whites poured Chenin Blanc while the reds were more diverse with some Pinotage, many Cinsault blends and French varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Syrah.

Some of what I sampled:

White
2019 David & Nadia “Plat’bos” Chenin Blanc2020 Intellego “Story of Harry” Skin Contact White
2020 Joostenberg “Die Agteros” Chenin Blanc2016 Sadie Family “Palladius”
2019 Mulleneux “Granite” Chenin Blanc2018 Bosman “Optenhorst” Old Vine Chenin Blanc
2017 Alheit “Cartology”2019 Blackwater “Pleasure Gardens” Palomino
Red
2018 Anybos Grenache Noir2019 Bostman “Twyfelling” Cinsault
2019 Carven Cabernet Sauvignon2020 Van Loggerenberg “Break a Leg” Syrah
2020 Intellego “Halagasha” Pinotage2020 JH Meyer “Cuvee NoS” Pinot Noir
2019 Natie Valleij Cinsault2020 Trizanne Signature Wines “TSW” Cinsault

Spain’s Great Match New York 2021

On November 15th I attended the 27th annual Spain’s Great Match, a food & wine event in which importers and distributors showcased the new vintages in their portfolios to members of the trade and to consumers. Over 300 wines were available to sample.

The event was held at Mercado Little Spain at 10 Hudson Yards. Mercado is essentially the Spanish version of Eataly, a food and wine theme park. It was opened by Chef José Andrés and the Adrian Brothers to showcase “the best of Spanish food, drink and culture”.

Spain is one of the world’s leading producers of wine and some of their top wine regions include Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Rias Baixas, Penedes and Jerez.

There were two sessions, an afternoon session for the trade and an evening session for consumers. I attended the trade session in the afternoon. As usual there were more wines available than I could have sampled in one afternoon, so I decided to focus my attention on one region and type of wine. At this event that focus was on the Reserva and Gran Reserva wines from Rioja. Those wines are primarily made from the Tempranillo grape and the Reserva must be age for three years with at least one year in oak and the Gran Reserva for five years with at least two in oak before release. I would have liked to sample wines from the other regions but perhaps another time.

It was an afternoon of good wine and plenty of tasty tapas (especially the ham).

Some of what I sampled:

2005 Martinez Lacuesta Campeador Gran Reserva (Rioja): Dark brick in color, silky fruit with a nice balance.

2008 Bodegas Frontaura Reserva (Toro): Opaque dark brick, mint and tar on the nose, dusty and tight with firm tannins.

2009 Manzanos Reserva (Rioja): Opaque dark red, black pepper, mint and crushed red fruit on the nose with chewy, dusty and silky fruit with a good grip and some heat at the end.

2010 Felix Martinez Lacuesta Gran Reserva (Rioja): Dark red with a brick rim, bright red fruit with a bitter, chewy finish.

2010 Bodegas Añaras Gran Reserva (Rioja): Opaque dark red with a brick rim, crushed rocks on the nose, tight and silky with earth notes on the fruit followed with crisp acids.

2011 Cerro Añon Gran Reserva (Rioja): Dark brick in color, black leather on the nose with chewy bright red fruit.

2012 Marquis de Caceres Gran Reserva (Rioja): Dark brick, perfume of red flowers, crushed red fruit with tight, bright red fruit on the finish.

2014 Muga Prado Enea Gran Reserva (Rioja): Black in color, slate notes on the nose with chewy dark chocolate fruit and a nice grip at the end.

2015 Lopez E Haro Reserva (Rioja): Medium brick with a spicy nose and silky red fruit.

2015 Bodegas Añaras Reserva (Rioja): Medium brick with crushed rocks on the nose, tight red fruit and nicely balanced.

2015 Vina Pomal Reserva (Rioja): Dark brick, red leather and tar on the nose, chewy, dusty fruit, nice grip with some citrusy acids on the finish.

2015 Vina Lanciano Reserva (Rioja): Dark red with a purple rim, camphor and crushed black fruit on the nose, dusty and tight with slate notes on the firm finish.

2015 Culmen Reserva (Rioja): Black with a purple rim, crushed ripe black fruit and mint on the nose, juicy, chewy and silky minerally fruit ending with a long finish.

2015 Bodegas Ugalde “Ugalde” Reserva (Rioja): Dark red with a brick rim, black pepper and crushed plum on the nose, nice silky fruit with mint notes on the firm finish.

2015 Bodegas LLeiroso Reserva (Ribero del Duero): Dark red, crushed black fruit and slate on the nose, chewy, dark chocolate fruit with bitter almonds on the finish, nice balance.

2016 Baron De Lay Reserva (Rioja): Dark red, tar and crushed black fruit on the nose, bright, silky black fruit, firm finish.

2017 Cerro Añon Reserva (Rioja): Opaque medium brick, tar and mint on the nose, chewy tarry fruit with a nice balance.

2017 Sierra Cantabria Gran Reserva (Rioja): Dark red with floral and tobacco notes on the nose, silky dark fruit with good acidity on the finish.

2017 Torres Gran Coronas Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon (Penedes): Dark red with tar and leather on the nose, juicy red fruit with a mouthwatering tannic finish.