Posts Filed Under wine review
Tasting Nobilo, Kim Crawford, Monkey Bay and Drylands new releases Or “Big Acid in The Big Apple”
Last week, I was the guest of Constellation Brands (good sports that they are!) who trotted me up to New York city for a media tasting of the new releases from their New Zealand portfolio. A lot of “new” going on in general there.
On deck were winemakers Darryl Wooley and a jet-lag-battling Dave Edmunds to walk me and a few other wine-writing-types through a handful of tastings at the Institute of Culinary Education. Afterward, we donned aprons and threw back a heap of wine as the ICE staff walked us through cooking our own dinners. Or, I should say, walked most everybody else through cooking dinner, while I mulled about and chatted up everyone and generally avoided poisoning the food with my sub-par culinary skills. To be fair, I did pat down a rack of lamb; not only do they need to be dried off a bit before cooking, but it’s NYC and so you never know, that lamb might have been packing heat.
Apologies if this post has a bit too much “weeeee! I was there! check out my blurry cell phone pix!” factor to it – but the approach felt right for recapping the event (and the cell was the only available photographic equipment I had at the time…).
Anyway, highlights for me included catching up with Tish (who was working an event in an adjacent room), and finally meeting the World Wine Guys. Oh, and watching Constellation’s Rebecca Hopkins perform the most perfect oyster shuck that I’ve ever witnessed (see inset pic).
While not all of the 2010 Kiwi SBs floated my boat, the style is more “me” than the heavier take on SB so prevalent on the U.S. Left Coast, and the 2010 Marlborough harvest has yielded some interesting fruits worthy of note.
The yields in Marlborough were down seven percent vs. 2009, thanks to a slightly cooler end of Summer and a dry harvest that ran three weeks late in some places. This had the effect of raising abv levels to some of their highest points ever, though you’d be hard-pressed to tell when it comes to Constellation’s NZ brands, as the wines on the whole were very well-balanced. There were a few badge-worthy standouts from the festivities, and I found Nobilo generally to be the best brand of the bunch – particularly their Pinot Noir, a grape that, after a rocky-but-promising start in Kiwi land seems to be coming more and more into its own. PN clone selection has been an ongoing experiment, but Marlborough seems to have found the right matches now, and plantings are up 930% since 1996 (no, that’s not a typo).
Badges and the full run of the wines sampled are after the jump…
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Ten years ago, on a trip with friends to New York’s Finger Lakes wine country, I bought a few bottles of bubbly.
I was not a pseudo-wine-pro back then; I was an avid consumer (that term still applies!), and the majority of my vacation travel was centered around wine exploration. I had a budding interest, passionate zeal, and I knew what I liked though I would have had a lot more trouble telling you why, or explaining how, a wine I liked got to that point.
It was one of those gorgeous sunny Autumn days that was quickly turning into a chilly Autumn evening (no sun = no heat) and most of the Finger Lakes tasting rooms were closed or moments-away-from closing; we happened upon what was then a joint-producer tasting room featuring only local sparkling wines.
I knew what I liked, and I really liked the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut that evening. So, my girlfriend and I bought some.
Ten years later, at the surprise 50th birthday party of one of dear friends (who helped us greatly in getting through the tough times leading up to the recent loss of our Weimaraner, Samson, and to whom we gave a bottle of 2007 Quinta do Vesuvio so you know we love her), I had occasion to open the 2000 Chateau Frank Brut – Dr. Frank is one of the birthday girl’s favorite wine producers (alongside the most recent offering of Chateau Frank’s non-vintage Riesling sparkler, Célèbre Cremant).
And it rocked.
The fruit had started to subside a bit, but what remained was bready, lively, and wonderful; still fresh, still food-friendly, still (in the words of Simple Minds) Alive & Kicking.
An apt comparison, it turns out, for the state of NY wine in general…
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A short-and-sweet little ditty for a couple of badge-worthy wine recommendations this week. I also want to thank everyone who has contacted me through various channels with their positive vibes for the badges; so far I’m enjoying using them so they’ll be sticking around:
2008 Three Rivers Winery Insania Red (Columbia Valley): A bit hot but pleasingly complex (hello Olives & cedar!) Bord’x-style blend. $35 B+ #
Produced in cooperation with bad-ass hard rock vocalist Geoff Tate, this is one of those reds that has the virtue of being pleasantly drinkable now, complex enough on the nose to get wine geeks talking about its olive and cedar overtones, and carries with it the cache factor of limited production from an emerging hot-spot wine region (and being associated with Queensryche, who kick all kinds of ass).
2006 Hugel & Fils Pinot Gris Classic “HUGEL” (Alsace): I consider it very awesome that someone is making a lively & very non-flabby PG. $15 B #
This wine will definitely come off as too racy and acidic for some, but the geekier among us will love the fact that there’s a food-friendly PG out there that delivers oodles of tropical fruit aromas without turning into a flabby-ass alcoholic mess on the palate (PG lovers will know what I am talking about here).
If anyone out there gets the chance to try these puppies, let me know your thoughts!
There’s a special mention this week as well, one that doesn’t really fit into any of the badge categories, but does deliver some serious goods:
07 Shinn Estate Vineyards Nine Barrels Reserve Merlot (Long Island): Walk-on part by dried fig steals the show in off-Broadway hit. $42 B+ #
Part of a Taste NY twitter live-tasting event earlier this week, this Merlot-based blend from Shinn should bring the smack-down on any naysayers who continue to believe that East Coast reds can’t compete in terms of ripeness and complexity.
Because I’m perpetually behind in all aspects of my life, I now find myself spending time that I don’t have perusing productivity websites looking for ways to get time “back.” So far, I’m (at best) breaking even in terms of getting back the time I spend perusing productivity websites.
One of the cardinal sins of productivity these days is multitasking, which is almost universally derided as the enemy of true efficacy. So, it should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me well when I tell you that I resorted to multitasking in order to get through a backlog of wine and wine product samples to review.
What you might call shiftless otioseness, I call adding value.
So, I used a product sample to open a wine sample, and poured that wine sample through another product sample (into a glass that I purchased myself, so that part won’t get reviewed – I do have some limit on the number of freebies to be strung together (apparently, that limit is three).
The result – a review of the True Utility Twistick, the massive 2006 Luce Della Vite red, and the Vinturi Wine Aerator (yeah, I know – I’m the last wine guy alive to try the Vinturi). I had fun, but didn’t get to the semi-orgasmic status suggested by the image on the back of one of the products (see inset pic).
Man, I’m already tired and I haven’t even gotten into any details yet. Can you just come back tomorrow? No? Fine, let’s get started…
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