It’s the time of year when distributors and/or importers have annual (or semi-annual) portfolio tastings. These are opportunities for breadth, not depth, as hundreds of current release wines (and occasionally some older ones) are put out on tables, often with the winemaker pouring. Yesterday was the Polaner Selections tasting and I dropped by for a while in the second half. Below are a few impressions and photos.
I also love a good craft beer. As do the editors of Bicycling magazine who write often about many delicious brews to pop after a ride. While beer is refreshing, it’s not the only drink in town: head over to Bicycling.com for my list of “10 refreshing post-ride wines.” It was a fun assignment, blending two of my passions. Given that we’ve had a mild winter here, the list focuses on lower-alcohol and higher acidity wines. I only included one full-bodied wine but it is still refreshing in its category.
Do you cycle? Do you ever pull a cork after a ride? Or after a ride and a recovery drink?
Nicolas Joly’s talk wasn’t the only thing packed on Monday; the tasting itself at Return to Terroir, NYC edition, was really crowded in the latter half.
I didn’t get a chance to taste all the wines (I hear I really missed out by not hitting the German area), but I did taste some really good ones. Biodynamics comes in for some flack, perhaps rightfully as some of the statements are unfalsifiable, but two things are hard to dispute: the growers are very attentive to their vineyards and it’s often hard to argue with is the quality of many of the wines in the glass.
Since walk-around tastings offer only glimpses of a wine, not the progression over an evening, I offer you some literal snapshots here.
It’s no secret in Burgundy and beyond that Faiveley has been on a roll. And it’s no secret why: the arrival of the young Erwan Faiveley at the helm.
Erwan, 32, is the seventh generation in his family to run the company, which was founded in 1825 as a negociant, buying and selling wine. When his father was 25, Erwan’s grandfather literally turned over the keys to his dad. And in 2005 when Erwan was 25, his father continued the tradition and put Erwan in charge (Erwan himself has no children, so his position is likely safe for 25+ years). I sat down with Erwan in New York a few weeks ago to talk about how he has improved the house style, overcoming paternal resistance, vineyard acquisitions and biodynamic winemaking.
With the weight of generations on their shoulders, today’s heirs to the storied estates of Europe could be forgiven for having one primary goal: Read more…
I recently tweeted that I’d be leading a tasting of hipster wines. “Will you wear a wool hat?,” someone asked in response. Another tweep asked if there would be any PBR on hand for afterward.
The tasting on Manhattan’s Upper East Side came and went and I didn’t wear a woolen cap, flannel shirt, or use empty 40-ounce cans of PBR as decanters. But we did taste some fine and fun wines, if quirky and hard to find (though not in Brooklyn).
We started with the Cedric Bouchard, Inflourescence, “Val Vilaine” V09 Read more…
During the recent, week-long power outage, we sought refuge in an undisclosed location that may or may not have been the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We found a bottle of “brut nature” cava German Gilabert (about $15; find this wine) at a local wine shop and got some lobstah rolls. This is hipster cava with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, six bar of pressure, no dosage and overall a very solid match!
Interestingly, a little of the cava remained in the bottle and I left it on the counter. A couple of days later, I poured it in a glass and was surprised it was bubbly! I tasted it and it showed no signs of deterioration.
I asked the wine’s importer, Jose Pastor, via email for his thoughts on why this bottle held up so well. He was puzzled by the persistence of the bubbles, pointing out that he likes to decant many (grower) Champagnes and that reduces the fizz. As to the lack deterioration, he said that many of the (natural) wines from his portfolio often actually show better after being open a couple of days.
As several small producers in Champagne are making their bubbly more wine-like with less fizz, perhaps giving sparkling wines some air and serving in wine glasses will be a good way to go. What have you found in your experiments in giving bubbly some air?
Sometimes you can seek solace in wine. Our town was shaken by an unthinkable tragedy this week. Right now, all I want from wine is to act as a bit of a balm.
So here are a few wines that I brought some joy to my NYU class this week. We opened with the Roederer brut premier Champagne, and that was enjoyed by everyone but the few bubbles haters in the room. The Francois Pinon, cuvée tradition, Vouvray 2009 was almost unanimously liked, and rightly so. The vintage was on the warm side and the wine has an enticing balance between acidity and some residual sweetness. I poured a Clos de la Roilette, cuvée tardive, Fleurie 2010 from magnum. Everyone was wowed by the large format–and cru Beajolais is a large format that isn’t priced into the stratosphere. They really liked the wine too. And a final wine that met a very warm reception was the Domaine Montpertuis, vignoble de la Ramiere, Cotes du Rhone, 2009. The estate is an old-school Chateauneuf producer and this is their mostly-grenache CdR blend that clocks in at a mere 13.5% alcohol. At about $15, the class really liked it as a relative value too. (find these wines)
Which wines are you looking forward to this weekend? Or what have you had recently that provided you some joy or solace?
I attended a private dinner recently where a Brunello was the main wine. It was big and extracted and I found it fatiguing. I can’t even remember the producer’s name. Of course, the palate fatigue wasn’t helped that the other wines on the table were a primitivo and an Amarone. It was the sort of lineup that made me want to step outside under the pretense of feeding the meter and wander off to find a beer.
A few weeks later, I had another side of Brunello, aptly named Il Paradiso. In 1958, Manfredi Martini bought some land in Montalcino. He worked at Biondi-Santi and converted his seven-acre property from olive trees to a vineyard of sangiovese grosso. When the Brunello de Montalcino DOC became formalized in 1968, there were only about a dozen producers (there are now over 200). Today, the vineyards ekes out a mere 9,000 bottles a year, split between a Rosso and the Brunello. Manfredi’s daughter and son-in-law, Sorella and Florio, continue making old-school Brunello from the organically grown vineyards and raised in barrels as large as 2,500 liters.
When sangiovese is on, it is gorgeous. I tasted the wines at their American launch (Grand Cru Selections is importing them; search for these wines). The 2004 was the richest of the wines I tasted–this is still Brunello, not Chianti, after all–but it was plummy rather than the tiring jam. The thing that got me about this wine was the concentration without being overdone. The 2001 has an alluring aroma of spice, cedar, faint volatility and oxidation with a lovely, appetizing bitterness on the ten-year old tannins. Layered and complex, it is drinking well now. The 2000 Riserva saw more time in large oak barrels but has an old-school charm, redolent of earth, leather, and faint spice. These are distinctive Brunellos–definitely not ones to walk out on.