On Saturday I attended an interesting class at Gordon’s Fine Wine & Culinary Center in Waltham, MA: The Rhone: Evolution in the Face of Global Warming. The instructor was Nick Cobb, “Food and Wine Guy” (wine broker). We tasted 9 wines of the Southern Rhone – 5 Côtes du Rhône (1 Rose and 4 Red) and 3 Châteauneuf-du-Pape (all Red). He talked about the distinctive rocky terroir in CndP and the problems producers are facing with global warming. Higher sugar and alcohol levels are affecting the traditional elegance and minerality in CndP wines. He talked of the traditional method of fermenting wine in cement used in wines of the Southern Rhone, and why that isn’t a bad thing. These wines are primarily Grenache and Syrah based, with some added Cinsault, Carignan, and Mourvedre (but up to 13 varietals allowed).
I want to mention the wine of the day – Domaine de Deurre Vinsobres Côtes du Rhône 2005. This wine is the best seller in Cobb’s portfolio and that is completely unsurprising. 70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 100% hand-selected and de-stemmed berries. 100% fermented in steel – all the tannins are from the fruit. On the nose, burnt orange, cherry licorice, and lavender. Totally excellent mouth-filling fruity midpalate and a long, pleasant finish. Sooooo good. And sells for ridiculous $15.99. Tastes like a million bucks. Cobb mentioned that it tastes like CndP used to taste like ….!
Saturday we attended another wonderful wine tasting – this time at Harrington Wine & Liquors in Chelmsford, MA. Available to try were 50 wines from 6 different distributors. This was a well-attended event, apparently an annual Spring happening at Harrington’s. There was no theme to the tasting – just cool new wines to try. There were grapes, cheeses, and crackers there to cleanse the palate/munch on. A few people seem to recognize me because I bring that special glass from Pier-1 to tastings. Anyway, we did enjoy this quite a bit and I wanted to note a few of my favorites. My wine of the day was: Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina 2004. This was just the silkiest and smoothest Chianti, and so well balanced. Classy effort. Well, I’ve figured out that I’m really turned on by silky tannins and turned off by rough, grainy, or excessively mouth-puckering tannins. This is not so surprising in this relative newbie oenophile stage. Another surprise was the scarily named TAIT The Ball Buster Barossa Valley 2006. Despite the moniker this wine possesses a smooth refinement on top of the fruit-bomb flavorfulness that I really appreciate. Just deliciousness all the way. I also approved of the Folie à Deux Ménage à Trois Rosé 2006 which is a pleasant quaffer blend of syrah, merlot, and gewurztraminer. I was very impressed with the d’Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz/Viognier 2006, which was a big wine with gobs of fruit and gorgeous aromatics.
Tastings are so great for trying different producers, countries, regions, varietals… expanding your palate, opening your vinous mind, and for practical consumer purposes, testing out before you buy.
Afterwards we went to Sakura for sushi that was fabulous. I’ve never had actual raw sushi before (only CA rolls).
On Sunday we attended a wine tasting at The Vineyard in North Andover featuring 22 wines of South America. I brought glasses lest there were only plastic cups. They did provide actual wine glasses, but I used mine anyway. One of them broke in my back seat and I haven’t cleaned it up yet (bummer). Good thing it wasn’t Riedel! Anyway, the wines. The first table featured wines of Argentina and was my favorite. I’m not sure if that was the wines or my palate was not yet ‘fatigued’. I tried my first Torrontes and was blown away by the extremely floral nature of the nose – like burying your nose in a bouquet of honeysuckle. I picked up a bottle of this 2007 Jacques et Francois Lurton Torrontés. Of curious interest to me was the 2006 Michel Rolland Clos de Los Siete Mendoza Argentina. To my nose it was very young, tannic, and tight, and not close to being drinkable yet. Table 2 featured mainly wines of Chile. I picked up a bottle of the surprisingly complex 2007 Montes Sauvignon Blanc Classic Series. Table 3 featured more wines of Argentina, and is where I found the irresistible wine of the day: the silky smooth as a baby’s bottom 2006 Pascual Toso Malbec Reserve Barrancas Vineyards. Wow, the first Malbec I’ve tried that I’ve completely enjoyed. When I open these 3 bottles I’ll add more complete tasting notes in Cellartracker. Overall the distributors at each table where very nice and open to all sorts of questions and a good time was had by all.
Another Wine Blogging Wednesday already! The theme this month is Comfort Wine – wine that is an old standby, an old faithful, an old reliable. This theme was introduced by Joel at Wine Life Today. Since I’m a newbie, I really have no such animal yet. So… I chose a wine that someone else felt comfortable recommending to me. I was looking to try a Beaujolais and was looking at the Georges Duboeuf selections at Gordon’s (see link) and this was recommended to me: Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Cote du Py Vieilles Vignes 2006. Beaujolais is a lighter shade of Burgundy. This wine has a light body, some evidence of aging in oak, cherries on the nose, and bit more of a tannic structural attack than I expected. Quite dry, this stuff is refreshing and light but not wimpy, and would probably go with a variety of foods as a thoroughly comfortable choice.
This is a fascinating documentary about reclusive artist Henry Darger who produced some of the most arresting and original American outsider/folk art of the 20th century. Probably not many people have heard of him… I know I hadn’t. Darger walked a fine line between madness and manic genius, but there is little question of his talent. To understand his art, one must understand his life, and the film seeks to make that link. The filmmaker is clearly enchanted by the work. I won’t reveal too much, but this film is a must-see for art appreciators.
Grade: A, for pure charm, and for championing the cause of a great under appreciated artist