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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I recently received a shipment of wine samples from the critics’ darling Molly Dooker, which came with a handy set of instructions on how to perform the now-famous “Molly Dooker Shake.” The Molly Dooker shake is the arguably inelegant but certainly effective way to release the nitrogen that is used is bottling several of the Molly Dooker line of wines.
But I ran into some trouble when I hopped onto the Molly Dooker website to learn a bit more about why they use nitrogen in the winemaking process in the first place. Not technical trouble, but accuracy trouble.
The accuracy trouble is that their explanation contains less truth than it does (as Steven Colbert likes to put it) truthiness.
Here’s the explanation, given both on the Molly Dooker website and in the demonstration video of the Molly Dooker shake; I’ve added comments to the quote below to indicate the parts that as far as I can tell have Truth and those that have truthiness:
“Why do we use Nitrogen gas in our winemaking? Sulphites are often added to wine after fermentation to protect the wine from oxidation [Truth]. The only problem is that some people have an allergy to high levels of sulphites [Truth] and may get headaches [truthiness – if they mean getting headaches from sulphites, that is]. By using Nitrogen to protect the wine during winemaking, we can use less sulphites [Truth] and more people can enjoy our wines [truthiness].”
Now… let’s break this truth vs. truthiness down in a little more detail…
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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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