I’m a member of the Wine Media Guild of New York, which probably makes little sense to many of you reading this considering that a) I don’t live in New York, b) I’m not formally in the media trade and c) I posses (maybe) one tenth the talent of WMG members like Kevin Zraly. Members are required to attend a minimum of one WMG event per year, and so I carted my ass up to the Big Apple last week to attend the annual Hall of Fame dinner at the Four Seasons.
This year saw four people elected as Hall of Fame Inductees, none of whom, puzzlingly, were actually present to accept their honors (though in the case of Leon Adams, whose induction was posthumous, the absence was understandable!).
While it’s nice to rub elbows with the Right Coast’s wine media heavy-hitters, one of the biggest draws of the WMG annual HoF dinners are the wines brought by the members – many of whom pull out interesting/special/older bottles from their personal cellars, and I’m not above mooching off of the vinous bounty of my fellow members (not by a long way, in fact).
I guessed (correctly, it turned out) that most of the Right Coasters were going to go French (and older) with their selections, so I went a bit rogue with my choices…
The first was Italian, my “conservative” choice – but of course I had to put a twist on it and go dessert, because I guessed (fortunately also correctly) that some manner of chocolate would be served eventually. I’ve long been a fan of the dark-chocolaty, blackberry goodness of Giovanni Allegrini’s Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (in this case the 2004, made from dried Corvina Veronese, Rondinella and Molinara grapes aged in French oak for 14 months; it will set you back about $50 for a half bottle). It made nice with the chocolate dessert, and as far as I know it was the only Italian sticky in attendance.
I went Napa with my other choice, Prime’s 2005 “District 4” Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley (about $35, if you can find it) – a wine I first reviewed back in 2008 and I’m happy to report that it’s fared quite well, gaining a bit of spicy and herbal complexity while maintaining good acidity and a lot of fruit.
The Prime was a surprise hit at our table – by which I mean surprising to me, because I (ignorantly) assumed that there might be some nose upturning to any non-European selections (dear CA peeps: do not take this as evidence that hard-core East Coast wine geeks no longer see Napa and Sonoma as the ugly stepsisters to Bordeaux’s Cinderella, because many of them still totally see Napa and Sonoma as the ugly stepsisters to Bordeaux’s Cinderella). A solid Cab, by any stretch, and aging well.
One of my table mates, all-around nice guy John Concannon, brought along his family’s 2006 Concannon Vineyard “Captain Joe’s” Petite Sirah from Livermore Valley, which I thought was a very good buy for around $30, considering that it’s a PS with an honest-to-goodness mid-palate between the dark fruits, florals, pepper and tannic, gripping finish (John attributes that to the wine’s mostly-inert but oxidative oak aging regimen). It’s also a wine with an incredible back-story (though slightly unimpressive packaging), with a history going back to WWI. As for food-friendliness, it stood up admirably to peppered steak with a whole lot of pepper on it.
Wine of the night honors for me, though, had to go to the 1989 Dr. Burklin-Wolf Wachenheimer Gerumpel Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese from the Pfalz. Prices vary wildly for this wine but plan on spending a few hundred bucks at a minimum if you want to try it. I have two three-word phrases that summed up my experience with this now darkly rust-colored treasure of a TBA wine, one of which is “kerosene and caramel” (meant in a totally great way), and the other being too rude to repeat but rhymes with “moldy trucking wit.” You get the idea. I stole a few additional ounces for the foie gras course, and it was sort of like heaven only probably a tad better, and I officially give everyone reading permission to secretly despise me forever for having had the opportunity.
And so we end with a note of gratitude… Dear “whoever brought this wine to the MWG dinner”: if you’re reading this… THANK YOU!!! I owe you. Big-time.