Posts Filed Under kick-ass wines

37th Heaven (Highlights From The 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition)

SFIWC 2017 1

All smocked up and ready to go

By the time that you read these words, the results of the 37th (!!) annual San Francisco International Wine Competition should be publicly available, so I thought that I would share some of the highlights among the event’s big winners.

The SFIWC is one of my favorite weekends of the year. Under the watchful eyes of Executive Director Anthony Dias Blue and Director of Judging Tim McDonald, SFIWC assembles a top-notch volunteer crew and some of the best and most experienced tasters in the U.S. wine biz (and yes, I’m still trying to figure out why they keep inviting me to judge).

That large, talented team happens to be chock full of some of the funniest, liveliest, and kindest people in wine, and so it’s a real pleasure to interact, work, and generally just break bread with all of those folks.

SFIWC 2017 2

Sweepstakes and super tasting require smocks, not capes…

We also happen to taste some killer juice over that weekend, all done blind within categories, in panels of 3-4 people,  with “super tastings” and an eventual sweepstakes round to help determine the best-of-the-best. It’s from that latter category – the wines fully deserving of having Tenacious D’s To Be The Best as their theme song – that I draw my personal competition highlights…

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The Week That Terrantez Took Over My Brain (Tasting Old Terrantez Madeira)

Vinted on June 14, 2017 binned in elegant wines, kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review
Committee Boston

Committee Boston

Rouge Tomate tasting

Getting our Madeira on at Rouge Tomate Chelsea

“As uvas de Terrantez Não as coma nem as dês, Para vinho Deus as fez.” *

Earlier this month, I had what amounted to a kind of dream speaking gig for me: leading Madeira masterclasses in both Boston (at Committee) and NYC (at Rouge Tomate Chelsea).

Pinch meeeeeee!!!!

I was a hired gun for these events, so I had no hand in choosing the wines on offer during the classes or walk-around tastings; not that I’m complaining, since there was an embarrassment of riches in the lineups, ranging from the intriguing to the excellent to the pretty-much-life-changing.

Given that this was a paying gig, I didn’t want to formally review any of the wines on hand at the events, but I struggled with not sharing something from the wares we tasted on those days, if only because these are precisely the kind of wines that blow my dress up over my head. And so, I thought that I’d share something on the rarer side of these rare vinous treasures…

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Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang (2017 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition Highlights)

San Diego kiss

Kiss kiss! We heart San Diego…

CIWC 2017I was once again fortunate enough to be invited to judge at the annual Critics Challenge International Wine competition, which took place late last month in Stay-Classy San Diego.

CC is always one of the highlights of my professional year; the organizers, volunteers, and fellow judges are all top-notch, and the fact that they’re also great people with whom to hang is just tasty icing on the cake. And then there’s the whole going-somewhere-gorgeous-to-taste-wines aspect, and, well, I suppose In can’t be helped for waxing too poetic at about it.

As in past years, I thought that I would highlight a few of the wines that I considered particularly memorable from the medal-winners. In this case, there were two that received a Platinum award from my judging panel that went on to take Best-in-category awards, and another that didn’t come from my table, but I just wanted to make sure was on your radar because it’s friggin’ tasty…

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Butt Bugs And The Art Of Mellowing Out (Recent – And Not So Recent – Trabucco Rapicano Releases)

Vinted on May 11, 2017 binned in kick-ass wines, on the road, wine review

Trabucco vineyard

You wouldn’t necessarily know it when meeting him, but Nicola Trabucco‘s childhood nicknames (which in turn provide the fantasy names for two of his eponymous winery’s releases) included “bug up the ass” and “active.”

Maybe the former consulting agronomist/enologist (and, it could be argued, aging Michael Keaton doppelganger) has mellowed with age? That would be fitting, considering how his flagship Aglianico performs after several years of bottle rest. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; context first, right?

Nicola Trabucco

Nicola Trabucco

Trabucco spent over ten years as a consultant to wineries in Campania’s Falernum region, helping some of his clients achieve high scores from the traditional wine rags, and bringing additional attention (some of it unwanted, apparently) to the Monte Massico area, and a small explosion of sorts in the number of wineries producing and labeling Falerno. In 2003, he opened his own winery in a former Carinola stable, with vineyards seated not far from the coast, among the cherry trees dotted at various elevations on Massico.

By his own account, Trabucco can thank the past for much of his success. Aside from the high Parker scores that helped ensconce his consulting gig, the name Falerno itself is a favorite of history buffs, being derived from the famous falernian wine of ancient Rome. As Trabucco puts it, “Falerno today has little to do with the drink of antiquity.” For starters, that wine, though made from Aglianico, was probably white. But, like modern Campania reds, it was powerful; as Pliny the Elder put it, falernian vino was “the only wine that takes light when a flame is applied to it.” [ Editor’s note: I’ll bet that they were sober when they performed that experiment, too. ]

It’s how Aglianco fares over time, however, that constitutes its modern reputation; to wit, here’s a little trip down Trabucco’s corsia di memoria del vino rosso

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