Monday, November 26, 2012

Wine Riot NYC 2012- September 21st and 22nd

So many of my "wine discoveries" these days come from the wine events where I pour and present. This was my first time working the Wine Riot series for "Wines Of Alsace". These events are a madhouse of primarily younger wine lovers- most of them just beginning to explore the multitude of different wines from around the world. I have represented "Wines Of Alsace" several times on the retail level, and their campaign is top-notch. As opposed to the "mid to high-end" wines I present off premise (retail), we showcased 6 entry level wines for this event. All of these wines truly represent the quality and detail of Alsatian wines- with a clean focus on each varietal. I have to say that there was extremely informative literature provided on these wines- something not every booth provided. Here is my rundown on the wines:

Lucien Albrecht Crémant d'Alsace Brut Rosé
First of all, this wine is so clean and focused- a testament to Alsatian quality. It is 100% Pinot Noir, with the grapes hand-picked, and produced using the Méthode Champenoise technique (all like a Non Vintage Rosé true Champagne). The fruit is ripe and concentrated, with nuances of mineral (chalk/limestone) and slightly bitter herbs. The "Dry & Fruity" quick description on their card above, can be misconstrued by many newer comsumers. They react to the ripe fruit and sense this as "sweet", not fully appreciating the balance which comes from an acidic-laden backbone. This wine was made in the dry (Brut) style, and even though there is some residual sugar present (because of the last step in Meth Champ- dosage), it is unlikely that the sugar level is high enough to exhibit even an "off-dry" (known as "Extra-Dry" in Champagne) sensation. And all of this taste and finesse at $17 retail, makes this sparkler an affordable alternative to the NV Champagne price tag.

2010 Domaine Schlumberger "Les Princes Abbés" Pinot Blanc
From a property established in 1810, this Pinot Blanc exhibits all of the attributes you would expect from this Old World production. From the ripe, focused fruit, through the mineral-laden nuances on the nose and palette, this terroir-driven wine showcases the pure attributes of Pinot Blanc- a true testament to quality given this "entry level" bottle. Great balance and clean flavors, all for $15 retail.

2009 Trimbach Riesling
As usual, this dry Riesling was a major surprise for most tasters. It was not the comfortable quaffing variety- this demanded attention. Well-balanced, with a razor-sharp focus on the palette, it gives a concentrated exhibition of the Riesling varietal- without the overly sweet, easygoing versions most people have been accustomed to (I have always enjoyed the reactions from people who have never experienced a true Alsatian Riesling). Now, I can always assure them that an Alsatian Riesling is a more food-friendly, versatile wine than any others they are used to. Also a major testament to this longstanding producer ($17 retail).

2010 Hugel Gewurtztraminer
A varietal that most were unfamiliar with, I believe that since it was a "dry white", they became more apt to try it. Produced by another longstanding family vineyard, this wine was a controversial one. I can personally say it was a true representation of the grape (as was with every winemaker's single varietal contribution here), representing good quality at this entry level. The wine was well-balanced with all of the Gewurtztraminer characteristics- pungent aromatics (some floral notes), with nutty (Lychee), oily/buttery tones, but balanced with a fine acidic backbone structure. More complex than most others, it netted out as a "yes/no" kind of wine with our guests (i.e. they either "got it" or were not hip to the grape's taste). ($23 retail)

2011 Pierre Sparr ONE
This was our only "blend" at the table, but because of its predominant Muscat inclusion, it was a showcase of this varietal. Very "racy and wild" from this Alsatian property, this wine made a statement to most. It's bold personality pulled in most tasters, and its ripe, round, opulent fruit and rich flavors made believers out of most. Some commented on the "ONE" label positively as well. Readily available and at a good price point ($14), this was a definite "hit".

2010 Willm Pinot Gris Reserve
So now we have to bring the masses to try an "off-dry"wine...(slight departure::: at many of these "massive pouring events" we are dealing with a multitude of subjective likes and dislikes and levels of appreciation, so I emphasized the fact that this was not a "dessert wine"(overly sweet), but just a wine where the old vine fruit was picked at a later stage in order to ensure ripeness- with good acidity to balance the wine). I still believe that because these were white wines, and that they tried the previous wines and for the most part enjoyed them, that I could convince them to try this last wine. As you know, I was totally enamored with the pedigree of every previous producer we represented... and now Willm... another house of Old World reputation. The wine was everything it should have been- rich and ripe with a fuller mouth-feel and a total expression of the Pinot Gris grape. Slightly more rounder than the previous wines, but as complex and balanced as all above. ($13 retail).

Summary

As usual, whether I represent entry level wines or the Grand Crus, these tastings really open the eyes of most consumers. These tastings represent wines that they may not have gravitated towards in the immediate past, but wines that they will now consider immediately from these tastings or in the near future. Always a pleasure.









Monday, October 1, 2012

You have a current blog?

I was approached by someone in the trade today asking about the current state of my wine blog. I have to say that a number of personal issues have prevented me from the upkeep of this blog. I will be posting as soon as possible to fill you in on various wine prospectives in the Metro area. Sorry again, and please stay tuned...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vieilles Vignes Part 2: The Wines



These 2 examples of "old vine" wines embody the descriptives in my previous post:

2008 Gerard Tremblay Chablis Vieilles Vignes
Medium gold. Fragrant lemon/lime scent, with "wet limestones" (mineral presence) with a smoky element.Deep, vibrant fruit profile (with some pineapple and other tropical fruits) intermingled with complex mineral flavors. Long finish (especially for a young white wine).

2009 Domaine Mardon Quincy Tres Vieilles Vignes

Pale gold. Lemon peel/rind, fresh cut grass notes (typical of the Sauvignon Blanc grape). Round but balanced , with robust flavors- grapefruit, parsley, and a mineral chalk component. Good acidity. A hint of lime as well. The mineral sensation lingers in the corners of the mouth. Also a slate and limestone nuance. A slightly oily (viscous) mouthfeel. A moderate to long finish.

So based on the"Vieilles Vignes Theory", these 2 young wines had the complexity and depth that come about from the older vines and everything they contributed to each of the 2 varietals.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Tale Of "Vieilles Vignes" (Old Vines)_Part 1 Of...

So if you have not heard of this term (or even if you have), I will break it down for you:

"Vieilles Vignes" (France) literally means- Old Vines. Now here is where the fun begins:

First of all, why would old vines even be indicated on a wine label? Well in principle, older vines tend to yield more concentrated grape bunches, with less berries and less water content per berry at the end of the growing season. And furthermore, older vines have longer roots which have burrowed further down in the soil to obtain nourishment and have even reached into the sub-soil of each particular vineyard. In theory, this would seem to signify that the grapes are being nourished by water that has been exposed to all content that exists in that particular vineyard's geological sub-soil makeup.

So this would typically indicate that wines produced with the specific "VV" designation would exhibit:

- more distinct, concentrated flavors than their "non VV" bottles

- a more complex flavor profile with nuances of the sub-soil content of each particular vineyard...

More to follow... with 2 examples...




Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favorite TJ Pinot Noir... at the moment



So after the past entries you've read (and knowing that I am very partial to PNs that exhibit Burgundian characteristics). here is my most current observation:

I had been extremely impressed with the "VintJS" offering last year (2009 into 2010)*(please see my previous posting)*

Nothing had replaced it ( and as you well know, I had tried extensive selections at that approximate price point). Then, the "new VintJS" Pinot Noir was released- the "first offering" was not comparable to the VintJS I had previously, and then... several weeks later, they released another PN from a "different location"- slightly better, but not up to the enjoyable qualities of the previous vintage.

So here comes my best recommendation from their existing stock:

Hahn Winery 2009 Pinot Noir Monterey

Appearance:
Lightish red color with a pale rim (if you need any explanation about the rim or anything else, please feel free to contact me)

On the nose:
Ripe, spicy presentation, with fresh berry (straw/blue) and a dark cherry component mixed with subtle earth notes(fresh soil, forest floor, etc.) with some fresh mint. Somewhat of an burning (alcohol) sensation on the outer nasal rim (yikes, this sounds weird).

On the Palate:

Fresh, ripe fruit with a "soil" component (along with tobacco herbs) and subtle, dark cherry along with a subtle tannic presence.

This Pinot Noir shines, as it displays a salute to it's Burgundian attributes, while presenting an accessible and affordable option to marketplace comparable red burgundies/pinot noirs.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Trader Joe's NYC revisited

Well, as you may know from my previous entries, I am perpetually on the lookout for "affordable wines that you would not be ashamed to take home"(or something like that), occasionally breaking away for some personal "cellar updates" (a shrinking cellar nonetheless). I have been away from "blog land" for too long, but now I will try to keep the entries flowing. Here is the first of a few "TJNYC" reviews I plan to post (believe it or not, some of the initial wines that impressed me from TJ are still available in NYC- updated vintages, etc.):

2 Cali Cab Bargains-

2008 "Trader Joe's" Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon- purple/ruby color with pale rim; nose filled with ripe blueberry/cherry fruit, with eucalyptus/alcohol element, some tar; very smooth on the palate- fruit forward with slight tannic acid and fresh herbs, currant (jam preserves); medium body with pleasant aftertaste. Priced appropriately at $10, with a good bottle presentation (not the Chuck Shaw austere look...)

2009 Alexander and Fitch Winery, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon- dark garnet with pale rim; deep, spicy, ripe fruit (cherries, blueberries), with a hint of mint and allspice, slight tobacco leaf; all carries through on the palate with some acidic side palate presence (tannins), but ripe fruit in the foreground with cinnamon and clove nuances. Does not really continue past the front to mid palate, but flavors linger. At $7, a wine that is worth trying- and may fill out with time (still maturing- within 1-3-years).

Two 2007 Napa Cabs on the market




Two 2007 Napa Valley California Cabernet Sauvignons- similar price range ($12-15 per bottle): Annabella "Special Selection" Michael Pozzan Winery, from Oakville, and Avalon from similar plots in Napa (Oakville, Rutherford, etc.). Both wines exhibit similar attributes- dark cherry, blackberry flavors interspersed with silky tannins and a kiss of new oak. Very elegant at this level. If anything sets them apart, the Annabella seems more refined and integrated, whereas the Avalon presents a more complex (Bordeaux blend grapes Merlot, Cabernet Franc, with some Petite Syrah) full-bodied profile. Nice to try them side by side with a suitable food pairing.