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.

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

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.

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.

Wines of Uruguay Tasting

On November 11th I attended a tasting of wines from Uruguay sponsored by Uruguay Wines. This is the first time I’ve been to a comprehensive wine tasting of wines from Uruguay, in the past I’ve had a bottle of Tannat here and there but never a tasting where I could try several.

Tannat is the star grape in Uruguay, the varietal is a native of South West France and the main grape in the Madiran AOC of that country. It was brought into Uruguay by Basque settlers. This tasting was a great opportunity to sample several in one sitting.

The tasting was held at Estancia 460, a cozy Argentinian restaurant at 460 Greenwich Street in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan and the event was open to consumers.

Most of the reds were of course Tannat or Tannat blended wines, though I did try a couple of Cabernet Franc bottled on their own. They were pouring a few whites, it seemed that Viognier and Albarino are the trending whites, I also sampled a couple of Orange wines and interestingly, a red and a rosé vermouth from Vermuth Flores.

If you like California style fruit forward and accessible wines you will love the Tannats coming out of Uruguay. Generally black in color with aromas of crushed rock, slate, gun-metal and blueberries with good structure that are ready to drink.

Some of the wines I sampled:

2018 Antigua Bodega Tannat/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon: Medium purple with a dusty nose, juicy dark fruit with red licorice and dusty notes on the nice balance.

2020 El Capricho Aguara Tannat: Clear red with a purple rim, crushed red fruit and slate on the nose, bright fruit with forest floor and slate on the fruit, good grip at the end.

2017 El Capricho Tannat Reserve: Clear red fruit, crushed rocks and forest floor on the nose, bright red fruit with slate and earth notes on the fruit with a nice grip at the finish.

2018 Bouza Monte Vide Eu Tannat/Merlot: Opaque dark black, crushed red berry and gun metal on the nose, chewy, thick with dark chocolate notes, nice balance.

2018 Bouza Tannat A6 Parcela Unica: Black in color, closed nose of green herbs, chewy and thick with dark chocolate notes on the nice balance.

2019 Familia Traversa Tannat: Clear medium, crushed red fruit on the nose with silky red fruit and bitter almond notes on the balanced finish.

2018 Pedregal Roble Tannat/Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon: Clear medium red, dusty slate, earth on the nose, silky red fruit and balanced.

2018 Pedregal Prima Donna Tannat: Dark red to black, bright red fruit and earth on the nose with tobacco notes on the balanced finish.

2017 Artesana Tannat/Merlot/Zinfandel: Opaque dark red to black in color, crushed black fruit and slate on the nose, silky black licorice fruit with green olives and a nice grip on the balanced finish.

2016 Alto de la Ballena Tannat/Viognier: Opaque dark red, overripe fruit on the nose, chewy fruit with crisp acids

2020 Bracco Bosca Tannat Clasico: Opaque medium red with some stinky notes on the nose, clean bright red fruit ending with moderate tannins and acids

2019 Bracco Bosca Cabernet Franc: Opaque medium red, cigar box and red fruit on the nose, sweet dusty red fruit, nice balance.

2019 Famiglia Deicas Bizarra Extravaganza Orange: Cloudy rusty orange, tangerine notes on the nose, chewy fruit with good balance at the end.

Grand Crus of St-Emilion Tasting

The Association De Grand Crus Classes De Saint-Emillion held their 2021 tasting tour in the USA on November 8th in New York City and in San Francisco on the 10th.

In New York the event was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion event space at 123 West 18th Street in Manhattan.

Bordeaux is one of the most famous wine regions in the world with many well known classified growth wines. The Appellations and vineyards are on the right and left bank of the Gironde estuary. The wines are blends of legally permitted varietals but mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.

On the Right Bank the most famous communes are Saint-Emilion and Pomerol. While they are permitted to use the classic Bordeaux varietals, a distinguishable characteristic of the wines of the Right Bank is that Merlot is the predominate grape in the blend.

At the tasting the Chateau were showcasing their 2018’s along with another older vintage. I was getting a lot of nice aromatics but not surprisingly the wines were hard as nails at this point. Like most Bordeaux they will need a few more years in the bottle to become approciable.

Some of the wines I sampled:

Chateau Chauvin

2015: 80% Merlot. Opaque dark red with an amber rim, black fruit and crushed rock on the nose, silky fruit with green olive notes on the dusty finish.

2018: 88% Merlot. Dark red to black, crushed black fruit and spices on the nose, juicy black fruit with firm tannins.

Clos des Jacobins

2016: 80% Merlot. Clear medium brick, perfume of black olives and oak, tight dusty tannins on the red fruit.

2018: 80% Merlot. Opaque dark red, graphite and crushed red fruit on the nose, peppery black fruit with firm tannins.

Couvent des Jacobins

2015: 85% Merlot. Dark red to black with a purple rim, sweet perfume of tar and tobacco, silky black fruit with bitter almonds on the firm finish.

Chateau Dassault

2016: 73% Merlot. Opaque dark red, tar and black plum on the nose, chewy black fruit with olive notes on the firm but balanced finish.

2018:75% Merlot. Opaque dark purple, sweet perfume with burnt notes with ripe vegetable on the finish.

Chateau de Ferrand

2016: 80% Merlot. Opaque dark red with a purple rim, crushed rocks and graphite on the nose, chewy black fruit followed by big tannins.

2018 73% Merlot. Opaque dark red, crushed black fruit on the nose, green olives on the fruit with firm tannins.

Chateau Faugeres

2011 85% Merlot. Opaque dark red, black olives, mint and tar on the nose, minty red fruit, getting some heat at the end.

Chateau Fleur Cardinale

2016 74% Merlot. Clear dark red, ripe fruit notes on the nose, silky red fruit, moderate long balanced finish.

2018 74% Merlot. Clear dark red, perfume of crushed red fruit, juicy with bitter almonds and firm tannins on the finish.

Chateau Fonplégade

2015 95% Merlot. Clear dark brick with an amber rim, black olives and tar on the nose, tight, dark fruit with a mouthful of tannin.

2018 90% Merlot. Opaque dark purple, sweet perfume of violets, tight red licorice fruit with firm tannins.

Chateau Franc Mayne

2011 90% Merlot. Opaque dark brick with an amber rim, perfume of black olives and violets, dusty firm tannins with gun metal notes on the fruit.

2018 90% Merlot. Dark red to black, crushed dark fruit and black licorice on the nose, juicy and tannic.

Chateau La Marzelle

2012 75% Merlot. Black in color with a purple rim, toasty notes on the nose, chewy, juicy dark fruit with firm tannins on the long finish.

2018 75% Merlot. Dark red with a purple rim, cooked fruit and crushed rocks on the nose with red fruit on the crisp finish.

Chateau Villemaurine

2016 80% Merlot. Opaque dark red, perfume of tobacco and crushed dark plums, green herbs on the red fruit with firm tannins.

2018 80% Merlot. Opaque dark red, red flowers on the nose, concentrated red fruit with firm tannins.

Wine Spectator’s NY Wine Experience 2021

After cancelling last year, the best consumer wine tasting event of the year was back. The 40th anniversary Wine Spectator’s New York Wine Experience was held on October 21-23. The event featured wine seminars given by some of the leading wine makers/owners in the world and a Grand Tasting held on Thursday and Friday evenings that had over 200 participating international wineries pouring wines rated 90 points or higher by Wine Spectator magazine.

The first Wine Experience was held in 1981 in San Francisco. For many years the event alternated between San Francisco and New York City until they made the decision a few years ago to have New York City and the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square as the permanent host city and venue for the event.

The Wine Experience is sponsored by the Wine Spectator Scholarship Foundation.

This year for the first time I was fortunate enough to attend both nights of the tasting. With such a staggering amount of good juice I had to focus my efforts on the red wines of Bordeaux and Napa Valley with few outliers thrown in.

That only put small dent in the amount of wines that were offered, I could have easily spent a couple more evenings sampling the rest of the wines. There were plenty of Italy’s finest, Brunello’s, Super Tuscans, Barolos and Barbaresco’s to sample and a copious amount of wines from the other wine producing countries.

In years past they would end the event with an award banquet that included live music from the likes of Chicago, The Beach Boys, Huey Lewis and the News, John Legend and Neal Sedaka to name a few but they forgo the banquet this year.

Some of my highlights:

Napa Valley

1995 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon “S.L.V.” (Napa Valley): Medium brick, warm baking spices, tar and leather on the nose, tight with dried leaf notes on the finish.

2006 Caymus Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “Special Selection” (Napa Valley): Black in color, crushed black fruit, mint and strawberry on the nose, thick dark chocolate and coffee notes on the fruit, bitter dark chocolate on the long finish. Nice.

2007 Lokoya Cabernet Sauvignon “Howell Mt” (Napa Valley): Black with a purple rim, ripe red fruit on the nose, silky, chewy with a nice grip at the end.

2013 Opus One Red Blend (Napa Valley): Thick black in color, crushed black fruit, cedar and pickle juice on the nose, silky dark chocolate fruit with a chewy finish, nice balance.

2014 Promontory Red Blend (Napa Valley): Opaque dark purple, raspberry and cooked vegetable on the nose, sweet fruit finishing with bitter cherry notes.

2015 Heitz Cellar Cabernet Sauvignon “Trailside Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Clear medium red, sweet tar on the nose, juicy black fruit ending with moderate tannins and acids.

2016 Kerr Cellars Red Blend “Reserve” (Napa Valley): Thick black in color, crushed rocks and black fruit on the nose, thick and chewy dark chocolate and mint on the fruit, good grip on the medium to long finish.

2016 Bond St Eden Red Wine (Napa Valley): Cloudy dark red with an amber rim, warm spices on the nose, silky bitter almonds on the fruit with a long finish.

2016 Hall Cabernet Sauvignon “Kathryn Hall” (Napa Valley): Black in color, sweet dried leaf on the nose, chewy dark chocolate on the fruit with a nice grip on the chocolatey finish.

2016 Pahlmeyer Red Blend (Napa Valley): Black with a purple rim, crushed black fruit on the nose, juicy red fruit with tight tannins on the finish

2017 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon “The Reserve” (Napa Valley): Dark red, crushed raspberry and oak on the nose, silky red fruit with a nice grip on the finish.

2017 Staglin Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Black in color, smoky bacon fat and red licorice on the nose, tight concentrated fruit with some earth notes with lip smacking, firm balanced finish.

2017 Mayacamas Cabernet Sauvignon “Mt Veeder” (Napa Valley): Dark red to black, closed nose of cherry and dirt, firm tannins.

2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot “Three Palms Vineyard” (Napa Valley): Clear dark red, red licorice and toasted earth on the nose, tight and concentrated with green herbs on the finish.

2018 Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Dark red to black in color, toasted green herbs on the nose, tight red berry fruit with youthful firm acids.

2018 Ovid Red Blend (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red, slate and crushed red fruit on the nose, juicy red fruit with a nice grip at the end.

2018 Continuum Estate Sage Mt Vineyard (Napa Valley): Cloudy dark red with a purple rim, dried herbs and crushed red fruit on the nose, tight, dusty silky fruit with a firm, long finish.

2018 Diamond Creek “Red Rock Terrace” (Napa Valley): Dark red with a purple rim, tea, sweet red candy, crushed red berry on the nose, chewy red fruit, nice tannin grip on the long finish.

2018 Dominus Estate (Napa Valley): Opaque dark red, smoky cooked asparagus on the nose, tight red fruit with fresh herbs on the finish.

2018 Mt Brave Cabernet Sauvignon “Mt Veeder” (Napa Valley): Black with purple rim, toasted oak on the nose, tight black fruit with crisp acids at the end.

Other California

2001 Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello ( Santa Cruz Mts): Cloudy brick with an amber rim, sweet tar on the nose, silky fruit, grippy tannings and great balance on the long finish. Tasty.

2018 Peter Michael Winery “Les Pavots” (Knights Valley): Clear medium red, toasted red fruit on the nose, tight, sweet black fruit with a firm, balanced finish.

Bordeaux

2006 Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan): Brick in color with a pretty perfume of tar and leather, silky, chewy dark fruit with tree bark on the nicely balanced, long finish.

2010 Chateau La Fleur-Petrus (Pomerol): Clear dark red with an amber rim, tobacco and tar on the nose with tight black fruit.

2010 Chateau Pichon Longueville Lalande (Pauillac): Opaque dark red with sweet red fruit on the nose, tight with dusty tannins.

2011 Chateau Cheval Blanc (St Emilion): Opaque medium red, sweet smoke on the nose, firm red fruit that tightens up with a smoky notes on the balanced finish.

2011 Chateau Haut-Brion (Pessac Leognan): Opaque dark brick in color, cedar and sweet tar on the nose, tight with firm tannins.

2014 Chateau Leoville Barton (St Julien): Medium purple with a perfume of black licorice and tree bark, tight with firm acids on the finish

2015 Chateau Leoville Las Cases (St Julien): Dark black with mint and red cherry on the nose with crisp red fruit on the finish.

2015 Chateau Montrose (St Estephe): Medium purple with an amber rim, toasted, sweet wood notes on the nose, tight red berry fruit with a moderate to light finish.

2015 Clos Fourtet (St Emilion): Clear medium purple, stewed vegetable on the nose, nice silky black fruit with bitter almonds on the finish. Nice balance.

2016 Chateau Canon-La Gaffeliere (St Emilion): Dark red to black, bacon fat on the nose, tight silky fruit with green herbs on the finish.

2016 Chateau Pontet-Canet (Pauillac): Dark red to black, stinky, tar, floral nose, tight, silky dark fruit, firm finish.

2016 Chateau Lynch Bages (Pauillac): Brick with an amber rim, pretty perfume of cedar, tar and cigar box, tight bell pepper fruit with a long peppery finish.

2016 Chateau Pichon Baron (Pauillac): Opaque dark red, roasted meat and sweet violets on the nose, silky black fruit with a velvety finish and great balance.

Others

2001 Gaja Barberesco (Piedmont): Medium brick, sweet tar and leather on the nose, silky, tarry, smoky green herbs on the fruit with a mouthful, long finish. Tasty.

2010 Marquis de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva (Rioja): Medium brick closed nose of baking spices, silky cooked fruit with a firm finish.

2011 Bodegas Vega Sicilia Unico (Ribera del Duero): Clear medium red color, green blueberries and crushed red fruit on the nose, tight with bitter cherry on the finish.

2015 Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino (Tuscany): Light brick with a closed nose of crushed blueberries and black licorice, tight with green herbs on the fruit and crisp acids at the end.

2015 Penfolds Shiraz Grange (South Australia): Dark red with a brick rim, warm cherry tar on the nose, tight black fruit, crisp acids.

Milano Wine Week Chianti Tasting

Milano Wine Week was held on October 2-10. It was a series of wine related events based in Milan, Italy. One of the many events that week was the International Master Class Programs which was a series of classes held in various cities around the world that was coordinated with a live video feed from Milan.

In New York City those classes were held at Il Gattopardo restaurant located at 15 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan.

On October 4th I attended a tasting sponsored by the Consorzio Vino Chianti, “Chianti D.O.C.G.: Quintessence of Tuscany”. It was a blind tasting of seven 2019 Chianti from each of the seven sub districts in Chianti, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Colli Aretini, Chianti Rufina, Chianti Montalbano and Chianti Montespertoli. Chianti Classico, another sub district was granted its own DOCG.

All of the wines were from the 2019 vintage and were tasted blind and at this point still young.

Artimino Chianti Montalbano

Opaque dark purple with red candy, roast meat and wood notes on the nose, tight, red citrus and red candy fruit notes ending with crisp and crunchy acids.

Tenuta San Vito Chianti Fiorentini

Opaque dark purple, tree bark, black licorice and cooked vegetable on the nose, tight, black licorice and cherry on the tight fruit with bitter almonds on the finish.

Badia Di Morrona Chianti Pisane

Opaque dark purple with a sweet perfume of toasted oak on the nose, red licorice on the fruit with firm acids.

Poggio Al Vento Chianti Senesi

Opaque dark purple, red cherry and tree bark on the nose, firm dusty leather fruit, balanced with a tarry finish.

Podere Dell’Anselmo Chianti Montespertoli

Dark purple to black in color with sweet tar, earth and toast notes on the nose, silky fruit with graphite notes, good balance with a good grip on the moderate to long finish.

Il Palazzo Chianti Arentini

Opaque dark purple, sweet roast meat on the nose, dusty fruit with green herbs on the finish with a firm grip on the end.

Fattoria Lavaccio Chianti Rufina

Opaque dark purple, closed nose of violets and red leather, black cherry notes on the fruit with a firm, dusty grip at the end with bitter almond notes.