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Wine Industry Events | 1 Wine Dude - Page 26

Posts Filed Under wine industry events

Sake Tasting @ Azie: The Oh-So-Tasty Wrap-Up!

Vinted on July 23, 2008 under wine industry events, wine tasting

When it comes to me and Iron Chef Takao Iinuma, well, we’ve just got to stop meeting like this.

Because that guy is so skilled, he’s going to ruin me for all other Japanese cuisine. With the exception of cuisine in Japan itself, presumably.

I’m not going to recap the food from my recent sake tasting at Iinuma’s fabulous Azie restaurant in Media, PA. I’ll let my good friends over at WCDish.com do that. You can read up on the details of the Azie tasting in my previous post shamlessly plugging the event.

But I will tell you about the sake I had the pleasure of tasting that evening. Because it’s gone a long way into making me a convert in the temple of all things sake. And a yummy, tummy-warming temple it is…


What’s great about events like the Azie tasting is the high probability of running into other ‘foodies’. In this case, I had the pleasure of hanging with Christine Olmsted of Teikoku, Mary and Sugendran of WCDish.com, and Gino Razzi, the Penns Woods winemaker who is starting to skae things up in the world of east coast wines (see inset pic of Gino, me, and Mary). Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that one of the best chefs in the eastern U.S. is whipping up the fare, either.

The sake samples on display at Azie were selected by Matt Palmer of Star Cellars. the man knows his sake, and since I am a complete sake novice, I took advantage of the opportunity to bend Matt’s ear and ask him a seemingly endless serious of questions about each sake, and the process of making sake in general.

Sake is often referred to as “rice wine” since at its most fundamental it is an alcoholic beverage made from rice. However, the process used to make sake is actually somewhere between those used to make beer and those used to make wine. Specifically, sake is made with a special type of rice with a high starch content, with a mold called koji used to convert the starch into sugars that can then be fermented into alcohol. From there, many techniques are used to create sakes with different characteristics. Like wine and whiskey, sake from different areas of Japan are noted for their distinct styles. You can learn more by checking out Sake.com.

The samples that we tasted at Azie really show the depth, range and breadth possible with sake. We started with an accessible, fun & sweet sparkling (yes, as in ‘with bubbles’) sake, and ended with the complex, powerful, and deep “Mountain Flowers” – a drink that requires (and deserves) as much concentration as a decent Burgundy.

As for the specifics on the sake that we had for our pairings at Azie, I’ve reviewed them in ‘mini’ form on twitter, and included the wrap-up below:

  • Harushika Tokimeki Sparkling sake: *Very* sweet n’ fruity for sake; CO2 is added but integrates well, and that acidity rocks the house.
  • Bishonen “Beautiful Boy” Ginjo sake: Lots of grain (duh!) and dairy, & good acidity. Maybe a bit too delicate, but beautiful nonetheless…
  • Ohyama “Big Mountain” Junmai sake: Pear, peach, minerals, lemon, flowers… isn’t that supposed to be Riesling? Wow. I think I’m a convert!
  • Masumi Sanka “Mountain Flowers” Daiginjo sake: Grains, herbs & floral notes. Like a crouched panther – graceful, but ohhh the *power*!

If you’re new to sake… let me tell you, you need to give this stuff a fair shot. Because it is definitely going to surprise you.

Consider this oenophile a convert.

Cheers!

(images: courtesy of Sugendran.net)

Wine on the Deck @ Teikoku – Aug 14

Vinted on July 22, 2008 under wine industry events, wine tasting

I suppose that I’m running the serious risk of becoming a walking virtual billboard for Teikoku at this point, but I’ve got yet another wine tasting event of theirs to plug here on 1WineDude.com.

So sue me – if I’m going to plug something, it might as well be something good, right?

Anyway, Teikoku (located just outside of Philly) will be having another wine tasting on the deck on August 14 at 5:30 PM ET. Details are below.

I don’t yet know what vino Heather is bringing, or what Iron Chef Iinuma is whipping up, but both of them are top-notch and in my book have built up a serious track record of quality, so I doubt very much that you’d be disappointed by this event…


5492 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square
, Pennsylvania 19073

telephone
610.644.8270

Thursday August 14, 2008 – 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. An evening of wine on the deck with Heather Wright, wine educator and consultant from Cellar Door Imports. We will be featuring some new, off the beaten path pours along with small bites from Executive Chef Takao Iinuma to compliment them.

$35 per person all inclusive; Space is limited, reserve now.

Cheers!
(images: courtesy of Sugendran.net)

Wine Events: Wine on the Deck @ Teikoku Restaurant!

Vinted on June 29, 2008 under pennsylvania, wine industry events, wine tasting

Another (sort of) rare event plug here on 1WineDude.com – I don’t do these plugs too often, so when I do, it’s because I think that the event is really going to be cool. And in this case, I think the cool potential is very high: I personally know the two people selecting and pouring wine at the event, and they definitely know their wine (not to mention that they’re also really splendid people).

The fabulous Teikoku restaurant (where I recently covered an event featuring the wines of Penns Woods Winery) is hosting a wine tasting event this coming Thursday, July 3 2008.

I will be there – so if you’re attending, drop me a line and stop by to say hello.

Teikoku Restaurant
Thursday July 3, 2008 –
5:30 to 7:30 p.m
.

5492 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square
, Pennsylvania 19073

telephone
610.644.8270

Join us for an evening of Wine On The Deck with former sommelier and wine educator, Matthew Esser from Shiffrin Selections and wine educator and consultant, Heather Wright from Cellar Door Imports.

We will be featuring some new, off the beaten path pours, along with small bites from Executive Chef Takao Iinuma to compliment them.

$30 per person all inclusive

Space is limited, reserve now

Cheers!

A Pennsylvania (Wine) Revolution (Penns Woods Wine Tasting)

A shot has been fired in the world of Pennsylvania winemaking.

And it’s a portent of a revolution in how wines are made in PA – and for that matter, how wines are made in all of the East Coast U.S. wine regions.

A bold statement? You bet. But I mean every word of it. And yes, I am totally sober as I write this (a condition I plan to remedy by sampling some heavy reds later this evening).

And if you taste some of the wines from Penns Woods, the brainchild of Italian winemaker and importer Gino Razzi, you might end up agreeing with me.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gino and sampling his wines during a recent first-rate tasting event at Teikoku Restaurant. Now, before you write me off as having gotten wined & dined so that I would waste several minutes of your life with a recap of a drunken Penns Woods love-fest, you need to know that I did not care for all of Gino’s wines.

At worst, Gino’s wines were over-manipulated, over extracted, Parker-point-chasing fruit bombs (2005 Merlot Reserve); or, just plain unnecessary (2006 White Cabernet, a rose that somehow kept astringency without offering much in the way of fruity goodness).

But at their best… Gino’s wines are nothing short of the opening salvo in a PA wine revolution. A shot that is sure to have reverberations felt as far away as VA, Long Island, or wherever quality wines are trying to be made in the U.S. right coast.

Because at their best – most notably the 2007 Chardonnay – Gino’s wines are that good. Not “good, for a Pennsylvania wine” good. They are “stand up to any U.S.-made wine” good…

While I’d been interested in trying Gino’s wines ever since I read Craig LeBan’s enthusiastic review of Penns Woods, I wasn’t expecting any miracles. We’re talking about PA, after all, whose future seemed to best lie in unique expressions of Cabernet Franc and the brambly Chambourcin. When I saw that the dinner at Teikoku was being prepared by Iron Chef Takao Iinuma (pictured, left), and was bookended by Wakatake Daiginjo Onikoroshi sake and gelato covered in 50+ year old Modena balsamic vinegar made from trebbiano grapes that goes for well over $40 / ounce, as far as I was concerned if the accompanying Penns Woods wines were any good, it would simply be a bonus.

A shot has been fired in the world of Pennsylvania winemaking. And it’s a portent of a revolution in how wines are made in PA – and for that matter, how wines are made in all of the East Coast U.S. wine regions.

I’d expected a quiet spot in the corner where I would be able to take a few tasting notes. Instead, I was given the honor of sharing the winemaker’s table with Gino, wine guru John McNulty, consultant Heather Wright of Cellar Door Imports, West Chester foodie Mary of WC Dish fame, and talented WC Dish photographer Sugendran Ganess, among others. One of the best things about sharing a wine event with a crowd that irrepressible (outside of the fun factor), is that it saves me from having to be irrepressible myself, and afforded me a few moments to reflect on Gino’s wines – which through the course of the dinner were wowing me nearly as much as the food.

As soon as I had a whiff of the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, I was almost speechless. Sure, it has some of that PA ‘grit’; but this wine delivered an improbable amount of citrus fruit. I scratched my head… did these grapes honestly ripen in southeastern PA?

When Gino decided to make wine in PA, he told us, he sent some of his grapes to trusted associates for examination. The news Gino received back was that he should go ahead and make wines with his PA grapes, because they had levels equal to the quality of the grapes that produce his high-scoring Italian-made montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

I was brought down by the Merlot. It tasted of raisins and the varietal character felt masked – overdone and over extracted, I thought. And then it hit me again – how the hell did he get so much fruit out of these wines? No one in PA has been able to do that since, well… ever.

When Gino decided to make wine in PA, he told us, he sent some of his grapes to trusted associates for examination. The news Gino received back was that he should go ahead and make wines with his PA grapes, because they had levels equal to the quality of the grapes that produce his high-scoring Italian-made montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

The two wines that really drove things home for me were the Ameritage red blend and the Chardonnay. According to Gino, year on year he may not have any idea exactly what grapes will go into his Ameritage, but year on year “I promise you, that wine will be good.” And he delivers. Was it a tad manipulated? Yes. But it was also very, very good, at par with (or better than) similarly-priced red blends I’ve had from CA, WA, and southern France. The hint of nebbiolo gave a small, delicate polish aroma to the wine that countered the intense fruit nicely. Nebbiolo? In Pennsylvania?? Is this guy nuts?!?

Gino was insistent that there was no secret to his approach: he wants to make world-class wines in PA, and he has invested the capital (physical and mental) to do so. He uses expensive, ultra-modern equipment to extract the maximum amount of fruit from his grapes. He hires consultants that charge more for a few vineyard visits than most PA winemakers clear in an entire year of doing business. And he uses new (= very expensive) French oak barrels to impart complexity to his wines.

The shining result of this work is the 2007 Penns Woods Chardonnay. John McNulty (pictured, far right, with Gino and the Dude) introduced this wine as “a home run.” My tasting notes for the Chardonnay have two words that really stood out when I went back to them to pen this article:

“A revelation.”

This wine had tropical fruit, just the right amount of oak and creaminess, and was big – and I mean BIG – on the palate. It finished long and strong with minerals, almost like wet rocks. Tropical fruit? In Pennsylvania?? This was one of the best Chardonnays I’d had in the last three years outside of France. I was stunned. Maybe it’s not as steely as a great Chablis, or as complex as a Montrachet, but it aims to kick no less ass than the French big boys.

A Revelation – for me, anyway. Actually, it’s more like a Revolution.

The word is out, and if you want to hear it, just pick up a bottle of the Penns Woods Chardonnay, pour a glass, and listen to what that fine wine is telling you.

PA can make world-class wines.

It’s now a fact – and if Penns Woods repeats this over multiple vintages it will be indisputable – and not just a dream of a few passionate individuals. Gino has fired a well-aimed first shot. Will any PA wineries return the volley? Time (and a good heap of venture capital) may tell…

Cheers!

(images: members.aol.comliv18thc, sugendran.net)

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