Buehler Vineyards is a 4th generation run vineyard perched on a mountain East of Saint Helena in Napa Valley.
This is their entry level Cabernet Sauvignon and is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot.
2016 Buehler Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon: Opaque dark red, red leather, red licorice and roast meat on the nose, silky dark red fruit of crushed rocks with crunchy tannins and green herb notes on the moderate to long finish.
The Frescobaldi family have been involved in the political and social life of Tuscany for over 700 years. They’ve been making wine as well.
They produce wine from their six estates in Tuscany as well as producing famous wines such as Ornellaia from outside the region.
This wine is a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantitia) that comes from Rufina which is the smallest of the seven sub-zones of the Chianti region. As a Riserva it’s aged a minimum of 24 months in oak before release.
2015 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva:Opaque medium brick, perfume of camphor, black olives and roast meat, moderate fruit with big, silky tannins on the finish.
Beringer vineyards has been producing wine in the Napa Valley since 1876. Their tasting room is a Napa Valley landmark.
They produce a wide range of wines from budget bottlings to their flagship Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon along with several bottlings of hard to get single vineyard wines.
Their Quantum bottle is a red blend of the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot with some Petit Sirah.
2015 Beringer Quantum Red Blend: Opaque dark red, violets, anise and crushed black fruit on the nose, juicy and jimmy with black licorice and slate on the moderate to long finish, good grip, some heat.
The Allegrini family has been making wine in the Veneto region of Italy since the 16th century. The most famous red wines from that area are Valpolicella and Amarone, both red blends made from indigenous grape varietals.
Allegrini produces both Valpolicella and Amarone as well as single vineyard and proprietary wines. Their Palazzo della Torre wine is stylistically somewhat in the middle of those two wines. It’s made in the “ripasso” method in which some of the grapes are set aside to partially dry out and then blended with the finished wine to undergo a second fermentation. This adds body to the wine.
Everyone likes a good glass of Pinot Noir. Unfortunately the Premier Crus and Grand Crus of Burgundy are really not priced for everyday drinking, or at least for people in my financial reality. The conventional wisdom is that cheap Pinot Noir is not worth drinking which is often true. It was great to find and drink a budget friendly Pinot Noir that was interesting enough to make for a good glass of wine.
A to Z winery sources the fruit for their wine from across Oregan. They share a tasting room with Rex Hills Winery in Newberg in the Willamette Valley and was one of the wineries I visited during my Willamette Valley wine tour a couple of years back
2016 A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir: Clear medium red, red licorice on the nose, medium juicy red fruit with some herb notes on the balanced finish. Nothing too serious but very drinkable.
J Vineyards and Winery is located in Sonoma County, California.
I’m not a big fan of the old style California Chardonnay that are buttery, fruit forward with loads of tropical fruit notes. There is still that style of wine to be had if you want it but many wine makers are moving away from long oak aging in their wines. This wine had a nice balance of delicious fruit and acidity to make it interesting.
2017 Chardonnay Russian River Valley: Medium gold with greenish tints, honey, saffron and cantaloupe on the nose, medium fruit with lemon curd and cinnamon on the finish and good acidity. Very drinkable.
This year was the 20th anniversary of La Paulée de New York which was held from March 4-7. The week included seminars, tastings and some very expensive dinners. The Grand Tasting was held on Saturday afternoon at the Pier Sixty event venue located at 60 Chelsea Piers on the far west side of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson river.
In the U. S., the festival alternates between New York City and San Francisco and showcases the latest vintage of the Burgundian wines to be released. At the Grand Tasting on Saturday afternoon over 50 wine professionals were on hand to serve the wines from over 40 domains of Burgundy. A team of top-notch chefs prepared “petits plats” for guests to nosh on while they sampled the various wines. Members of the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastvin were on hand to serenade (a capella style) the wine drinkers.
The event is Restaurateur and Sommelier Daniel Johnson’s homage to the annual La Paulée de Meursault in Burgundy. That originally began as a end of harvest festival thrown by the Burgundian growers for their guests and field workers and was revived in the early twentieth century as an annual event for the growers and their guests.
The 2017 vintage was a much better year for Burgundy than Bordeaux. The later suffered through epic frost while Burgundy was able haul in the biggest crop since 2009.
This was one of those tastings that I could have spent 2-3 days tasting through all the wines. There were over 150 of some of the most famous (and expensive) wines in the world to taste. I really enjoyed the whites, in general they were very elegant and balanced wines with just enough of the tropical fruit and oak notes to make them interesting. The reds were light in color with restrained fruit and firm acids, very old world style.
The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux is a trade organization that promotes the Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux, France. At the beginning of each year they sponsor a world-wide tour where they showcase the current vintage that is being released. The U.S. and Canadian portion of the tour will make stops in Toronto, Montreal, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC and on January 20th, the tour arrived in New York City. The event as usual, was held at Cipriani restaurant at 110 East 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan across the street from Grand Central Terminal. It’s the former Bowery Savings Bank which was constructed at a time when banks were built to be opulent places of commerce. A trade tasting was held in the afternoon and Sotheby’s auction house held a tasting for consumers at the same venue in the evening.
The 2017 vintage in Bordeaux was not the best of vintages. It was the “year of the frost” where the worst frost in living memory created conditions that had yields coming in at about 40% lower than the previous year. There were fewer wineries attending this tasting than there were in previous years as many wineries did not make a wine or made very little wine from the 2017 vintage.
In tasting through the wines, no one would confuse them for the lush and fruit forward wines of a Napa Valley Cabernet. In general for this vintage, I was finding a lot of lean red fruit with red cherry aromas and bitter cherry flavors on the finish. Many, not surprisingly for young wines, were hard edged, but many had low tannins and acids. I was not getting the type of concentration in these wines that I had gotten from the 2015 or 2016 vintages. I think these will be wines to be drunk in the short term.
Chateau Haut-Bailly: Clear medium red, toasty nose, tight with big tannins at the end.
Chateau Canon-La-Gaffeliere: Opaque medium to dark red, pretty nose of black fruit and graphite, dusty red cherry fruit with firm tannins.
Chateau Canon: Clear medium red, cooked fruit notes on the nose, tight with crisp acids and firm tannins.
Clos Fourtet: Opaque dark red, crushed black fruit on the nose, juicy, graphite black fruit ending with a firm, silky finish.
Chateau Larcis Ducasse: Opaque medium red, sweet red cherry on the nose, moderate silky and dusty fruit with moderate tannins and acids at the end.
Chateau Pavie Macquin: Cloudy dark red, crushed black fruit and mint on the nose, tight red cherry fruit with tongue coating tannins at the end.
Chateau Villemaurine: Medium clear red, floral black cherry on the nose, bright dark fruit with a bitter cherry finish.
Chateau La Cabanne: Clear medium brick, dark chocolate on the nose, juicy red fruit with silky tannins and firm acids.
Chateau Clinet: Clear light amber, red cherry graphite on the nose, tight, silky tannin on the firm finish.
Chateau Gazin:Clear medium red with some tar and earth on the nose, tight, red cherry fruit, low acids.
Chateau Cantemerle: Opaque medium red, graphite notes on the nose, tight red fruit with big tannins and acids on the finish.
Chateau Citran: Opaque medium red, candy red cherry on the nose with juicy red fruit and moderate acids.
Chateau Coufran:Medium to light brick, sweet red cherry on the nose, light black fruit with a chewy finish and moderate tannins.
Chateau La Lagune: Opaque medium red, dusty red leather on the nose, tight fruit with bitter red cherry at the end.
Chateau Giscours: Medium to brick in color, toast and wet earth on the nose, moderate chewy fruit with dark chocolate on the finish, nice balance.
Chateau Kirwan: Clear medium red, crushed black fruit and some earth on the nose with bright red fruit ending with moderate tannins and acids.
Chateau Rauzan-Gassies: Clear medium red, crushed black fruit on the nose, chewy, toasty red cherry fruit with a firm finish.
Chateau du Tertre:Opaque medium red, toasty dark chocolate on the nose, bright dark fruit, firm finish.
Chateau Beychevelle:Medium purple, green olives on the nose, light fruit with olive notes, balanced finish.
Chateau Branaire-Ducru:Clear medium red, toast and graphite on the nose, light fruit with a bitter cherry finish.
Chateau Lagrange: Clear medium red, minty nose, dusty dark chocolate fruit with crisp acids.
Chateau Leoville-Barton: Medium red, tarry nose, moderate black cherry fruit, firm but balanced.
Chateau d’Armailhac: Clear medium red with some cooked vegetable notes on the nose, light fruit with very tight tannins on the finish.
Chateau Clerc Milon: Medium to light red, dirt and sweet red fruit on the nose, tight with big tannins.
Chateau Duhart-Milon: Clear medium red, stinky nose, moderate dusty fruit with a bitter cherry finish.
Chateau Grand Puy-Lacoste: Clear medium red, dusty nose with tight red fruit and crisp acids.
Chateau Lynch-Bages: Opaque medium red, red cherry and graphite on the nose, light red fruit with high acids at the end.
Chateau Pichon Barton: Clear medium brick, chocolate on the nose, chewy bitter cherry fruit with a firm but balanced finish.
Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande: Opaque medium red, tar and red cherry on the nose, light and tight with low tannins and acids on the finish.
Chateau Ormes De Pez: Light red in color, graphite on the nose, tight red fruit, nice grip.
Chateau Phelan Segur:Cloudy medium red, red pixie stick and toast on the nose, tight, light closed fruit with low tannins and acids.
Italian Wine Merchants (IWM) is a wine shop that, not surprisingly, specializes in Italian wines. It’s located at 108 East 16th Street across from Union Square Park in Manhattan.
Unusual for a wine store, they have a small room and a dedicated kitchen in the back of the shop that they use as a venue where they host wine dinners and wine tastings.
On the weekend after Thanksgiving Day they hosted their Black Friday mini grand tasting. On this Saturday afternoon, it was a casual walk-around tasting of 32 Italian wines. I’ve been to a few tastings at this venue and I know they pour quality juice. It was a mostly a red wine list with a couple of sparking wines, a rosé and a handful of whites thrown in. They poured a good representation of Italian wines from the North to the South of the boot.
As usual they put out a nice spread of food with good bread and an excellent selection of charcuterie. The kitchen cooked up a couple of tasty pasta dishes as well.
It’s a popular event and the crowd became a little thick at times but I was able to sample as many wines as I wanted, everyone was in a festive mood. My favorites of the afternoon were a couple of Nebbiolo based wines, the 2015 Luigi GiordanoBarbaresco Asili and the 2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia.
NV Cima da Conegliano Prosecco Extra Dry
2011 Castello Bonomi Franciacorta Brut Cru Perdu
2018 Cornarea Roero Arneis
2015 Drago Collio Friulano
2018 De Concilus Falanghia
2018 Masut da Rive Maurus Chardonnay
2015 Per Luna Cerasuolo
2016 Hilberg-Pasquero Vareij
2016 Hilberg-Pasquero 29.5 Per Alessandra Barbera d’Alba
2016 San Giuliano Barbera Fiore di Marcorino
2015 San Giuliano Barbaresco
2017 Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo
2013 Scarzello Barolo
2015 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Asili
2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia
2013 Gaja Costa Russi
2017 Masut da Rive Maurus Pinot Noir
2018 Per Linda Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
2017 Schiena Vini Salento Enneoro Negroamaro
2017 Schiena Vini Impero Primitivo di Manduria
2017 De Conciliis Donnaluna Anglianico
2010 De Conciliis Naima
2017 Begali Valpolicella Classico
2012 Nicolis Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico
2008 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi
2014 La Corsa Settefinestre
2014 La Corsa Teroldego
2015 Trecciano Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva
2017 Collemattoni Rosso di Montalcino
2016 Le Mortelle Botrosecco Maremma
2011 Talenti Brunello di Montalcino
2012 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
Matter of Taste is a global series of fine wine tastings hosted by wine critic Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate journal. The 2019 tour took them to Napa, Taipei and Zurich with the final Grand Tasting in New York City on Saturday, November 23rd.
The event was held at the Ziegfeld Ballroom, a 1920’s inspired Art Deco, movie palace themed event space located at 141 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan.
At the Grand Tasting over 250 international wines with scores of 93+ from the Wine Advocate were poured in addition to several Master classes.
Along with the Wine Spectator’s Wine Experience, the Matter of Taste Grand Tasting is one of the premier wine tasting events available to the consumer. There were an amazing amount of high end wines from around the world in the room to sample. As much as I would loved to have tried them all that’s just not possible so I did what I usually do in these situations and picked a category to focus on. Bordeaux and Burgundy were lightly represented so I directed my attention to Napa Valley Cabernet, specifically Cabernet from labels I wasn’t familiar with. Many of the wineries with the unfamiliar labels I sampled are extremely small production wineries, in most instances only a handful to a few hundred cases produced a year. There were so many Napa Valley wineries on hand that after several hours I did not get to all of them. It was an excellent tasting.
Some of what I sampled:
2016 Addax Cabernet Sauvignon “Tench Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Cloudy, dark red with a purple rim with dusty, chocolate fruit, nice balance.
2017 Alejandro Bulgeroni Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, violets and crushed black fruit on the nose, concentrated dusty dark fruit with a firm but long finish.
2017 Alejandro Bulgeroni Cabernet Sauvignon Lithology “Dr. Crane Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Opaque black, mineral and crushed black fruit on the nose, thick, chewy black fruit with a nice grip at the end.
2014 Buccella Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark purple, fresh herbs on the nose, juicy red fruit with big tannins at the end.
2016 B Cellers Cabernet Sauvignon “Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, roast nuts on the nose, juicy and tight with big tannins.
2016 Bevan Proprietary Red “Double E Tench Vineyard” (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, crushed red fruit and tobacco on the nose, tight with dusty tannis.
2016 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, crushed black fruit and licorice on the nose, chunky, dusty with mint notes on the crisp tannins.
2016 Darioush Cabernet Sauvignon “Darius II” (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, dark chocolate on the nose with chewy and chunky black fruit.
2015 Gallica Cabernet Franc (Napa Valley) Black with a purple rim, dark chocolate on the nose with a dusty, dark chocolate finish on the firm tannins.
2015 Hertelendy Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, closed nose of dusty fruit with chewy, dark fruit, long finish.
2014 Hertelendy Signature Mountain Blend (Napa Valley) Dark red, purple rim, closed nose of black cherry and oak, chewy red fruit with silky, lip smacking tannins at the end.
2016 Lail Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon “J. Daniels Cuvée” (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, dried herbs on the nose, tight and concentrated cigar box fruit, firm, silky finish.
2015 Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon “Monte Rosso” (Sonoma) Dark red, purple rim, crushed red fruit and green herbs on the nose, juicy, dusty fruit with silky tannins at the end.
2016 Mathew Bruno Cabernet Sauvignon Rutherford (Napa Valley) Dark purple, purple rim, dried leaf and black pepper on the nose with red cherry, tight fruit.
2016 Mt. Brave Cabernet Sauvignon Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) Dark black in color, crushed black cherry on the nose with juicy black fruit and firm tannins.
2016 Mt. Brave Merlot Mt. Veeder (Napa Valley) Dark purple, pickle juice on the nose, tight with big tannins.
2014 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mt. (Napa Valley) Dark red to black with a purple rim, sour pickle on the nose, juicy with firm tannins.
2010 Shadowbox Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Cloudy dark brick, tar and graphite on the nose, chunky with dried leaf and leather fruit, nice balance.
2012 Signorello Estate Proprietary Red “Padrone” (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red to black, crushed dusty red fruit on the nose, tight dark chocolate fruit with crisp acids.
2016 Signorello Estate Proprietary Red “Padrone” (Napa Valley) Opaque dark red, purple rim, toasty nose, concentrated with gun metal notes on the fruit.
2012 Sloan Estate Asterisk (Napa Valley) Decanted. Opaque dark red, brick rim, cooked fruit and black cherry on the nose, dusty black fruit, good balance and a long finish.
2015 Sloan Estate Proprietary Red (Napa Valley) Opaque black, brick rim, bell pepper and rosemary notes on the nose, chewy dark chocolate fruit, long finish.
2017 Tor Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, dusty forest floor notes on the nose, juicy, concentrated black fruit, firm finish.
2017 Tor Cabernet Sauvignon Vine Hill Ranch (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, black plums on the nose, thick, juicy with dried herb notes on the fruit ending with lip smacking tannins.
2015 Vangone Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, black plum on the nose, chewy, concentrated fruit with dark leather notes, good balance.
2016 Vangone Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) Black, purple rim, toasty roast nuts on the nose, chunky, with a firm grip on the long finish.
2014 Vega Sicilia “Valbuena” (Castilla Leon) Dark red, biscotti notes on the nose, juicy red fruit with some earth on the moderate finish.
2009 Vega Sicilia “Unico” (Castilla Leon) Dark brick, fresh herbs on the nose, green herbs on the tight finish with big tannins.
2015 Penfolds “Grange” (Barossa) Opaque black, pretty perfume of earth and crushed black fruit, concentrated, tight fruit, dusty finish with a nice grip.
2006 Ducru Beaucaillou (St-Julien) Brick in color, plum and tar on the nose, very tight with dried leaf notes on the finish.
Inside Barbaresco: A Spotlight On Produttori del Barbaresco
I was able to attend this seminar of a vertical tasting of the wines from Produttori del Barbaresco. The Produtori is a cooperative of 50 members and small growers in the Barbaresco zone of Piedmont, Italy. It’s one of the better consortium and are know for making quality wines. They are also know for bottling wines from several of the Cru vineyards in Barbaresco so it’s possible to have a horizontal tasting of Barbaresco from different vineyards. On this day I wasn’t feeling it. It might be that I had spent an hour before the seminar drinking fruit forward California Cabernet but most of the wines I sampled here had thin fruit and high acids. The only one that was appreciable was the oldest wine, the 1982 Rabaja. Still, a vertical tasting is always exciting.