On the afternoon of Saturday, November 15, 2008 I attended the 2nd annual Holiday Grand Tasting at The Spirited Gourmet in Belmont, MA along with some members of the Boston-area wine interest group North Shore Winers. Richard of The Passionate Foodie who runs the Winers had indicated that this store has a carefully selected inventory of fine wines and that this tasting would be a treat. And indeed it was! At large tastings I make it a point to dump pours that I don’t enjoy so much so as not to fatigue my palate and liver on mediocre wines – I was having trouble wanting to dump any pours at this tasting. Also on hand were some yummy nibbles and a very conscientous clerk who threw away my tasting notes when I put them down to nibble (they were later retrieved).
There were 5 tables with 11 distributors representing. My favorite tastes are as follows:
Horizon Beverage – Helfrich Gewurztraminer 2007, Small Gully The Formula 2004, Nita Priorat 2006, Pirie Tasmanian Pinot Noir 2005
Classic Wine Imports – Henriot Brut Souverain NV. I LOVED this CHAMPAGNE. It just about knocked me out. Coincidentally Gordon’s in Waltham is having a free wine class on December 5th presenting champagnes of Henriot and I feel it my duty as an amateur wine blogger to attend.
Cafe Europa – Santome Prosecco X-Dry, Jelu Mendoza Torrontes 2008, Anne Amie Willamette Pinot Noir 2005
Boston Wine – Gisselbrecht Pinot Gris 2006, Ramos Loios Alentejano 2007
M.S. Walker – Qupe Chardonnay Bien Nacido 2005, Zantho St. Laurent 2006, Ratti Barbera d’Alba 2007
Vineyard Road – Fairhall Downs Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Richter Riesling Kabinett 2007, Eclipse Carneros Merlot 2006, Scholium Project Gardens of Babylon Tenbrick Vineyard 2006
Charles River Wine Company – Il Cuore Chardonnay 2007, Mills Reef New Zealand Merlot/Malbec 2007
Gilbert Distributers – Clautiere Mourvedre 2004
Spirited Gourmet provided a lovely shiny sheet listing the wines with sufficient space for tasting notes. I’m sure I will be returning to this beautifully arranged store some time soon before the holidays to pick up a few of these and other choice wines.
Last night with Richard A.’s (A Passionate Foodie) wine interest group The North Shore Winers I attended a wine tasting at a neat little boutique wine store called Wine-Sense in Andover, MA. It’s really a tiny store but each wine for sale is carefully chosen by ebullient and personable owner Samanta Turner, shown below.
On April 23rd I attended a tasting of the wines of famous Tuscan producer Isole e Olena at Salem Wine Imports (in Salem, MA) with the North Shore Winers, which is a wine interest group organized by Richard of A Passionate Foodie. The wines were being poured by the famous Isole e Olena winemaker himself Paolo di Marchi. The laws governing how to label Tuscan wines are rather byzantine, having to do with the percentage of Sangiovese grapes and the percentage and types of other grapes, if any, included. There’s an interesting article about this here.
The most famous offering being poured was the highly regarded 2004 Cepparello, his 100% Sangiovese ‘Super-Tuscan’. He cannot label it as a Chianti Classico Reserva as it doesn’t have enough ‘other’ indigenous Tuscan grapes in it. This wine is refined with silky tannins, very enjoyable. Mr. di Marchi is an expert in Sangiovese grape clone selection. Also being poured were his Chardonnay, Chianti Classico, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. There were also a few other wines from the Piedmont in northern Italy that were outstanding. I picked up a bottle of the Chianti Classico (90 points Stephen Tanzer/IWC) and will enjoy with some Italian food some time soon, undoubtedly.
Salem Wine Imports is small, but has a carefully selected inventory of wines with emphasis on outstanding imports from Italy.
For detailed tasting notes, be sure to check Richard’s blog soon (he took notes – I didn’t). The tasting room was small, hot, and many people showed up to taste the famous producer’s offerings. Overall, a beautiful day in historic Salem.
Before I attended the tasting, I had some time to kill, so did a tour of the Salem Witch Museum. It’s more of a pre-recorded presentation in-the-round with scary dioramas of girls having hysteria, people being tried, pressed to death, and hung. 19 people were killed in Salem 1692 – but apparently hundreds of thousands of presumed witches in Europe were killed around the same time – where is their museum, I wonder? Next tasting in Salem I will allocate more time beforehand and visit the awesome Peabody Essex Museum.
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 ….!