Thursday, October 18, 2007

YESTERDAY WAS W&S TOP 100 TASTING DAY



Yesterday was the single busiest day we have had at the shop year to date. The ever powerful closeout email insured an afternoon of trying to stay on top of the order qeue, pick and process order after order, cart after cart. Usually not my j-o, but as it's a team effort, I was hangin' with the operations crew, processing orders for the better part of the afternoon yesterday. They're good guys, slightly more friendly than the ops team at Dundar-Mifflin.

I had planned to go to the trade portion of the good old Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting, but ended up catching the last hour of the consumer portion of the event since I didn't get out of the shop until later than I had hoped. It's just as well. Trade tastings, at least as used for tasting, enjoying and remembering wine, are not ideal events. They are crowded, noisy, and full of distractions. As a way to meet other people in the business (crotchety old retailers, chipper young distributor reps, cute servers, etc) trade tastings sometimes are fun. Yesterday, however, I was in the midst of an all-out consumer cocktail party, sponsored by Wine & Spirits. With about an hour to fit it all in, I definitely missed a bunch of stuff. It didn't help that I was not entirely focused, talking to some winemakers or importers for too long, allowing a drunk restaurant owner to chat my ear off for what seemed like forever. You need to attack an event like this in the way you would a museum. Example: OK, I'll start with Champagne at the Gimmonet table, try the Cliquot stuff so I have something to hate on for my blog, skip the Gobelsburg because I know the wines really well already, hit the Royal Tokaji table for some 6 puttonyo deliciousness before it gets too crowded at the end of the night when everyone wants dessert wine, then have some food and taste wines from Toro and Ribera del Duero so I have more things to hate on, and so on.

So this time around I only tasted champagnes and whites, which is fine as there was not a whole lot of winners from the looks of the red wine line-up. A very condensed listing of some highlights and lowlights:

TASTY

Pierre Gimmonet Blanc de Blancs 1999 - Very precise and crisp, with great minerality and fruit intensity. Their special club, very recently disgorged, was a bit tightly wound up and very mineral. Needs some time.

Hidalgo 'La Gitana' Manzanilla and 'Napoleon' Amontillado - These are always good, better than the comparable Lustau sherries. I was talking to the importer rep, a nice girl who grew up on Russia's Pacific coast, who is now selling wines along the United States' Pacific coast.

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire 'Les Choisilles' 2004 - Tasty, dry chenin, tasting of green things: green figs, green tea, just under-ripe Anjou pears.

Francois Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Clos Habert 2005 - Off dry and the most funky of his whites that I have had. There is a similar funk in his sparkling wine. This chenin tastes like a peach pit, is slightly honeyed, and has a real chewy Loire chenin texture.

Francois Chidaine Vouvray Le Bouchet 2005 - This is between demi-sec and moelleux. Sweeter, but the acidity seems brighter and stands out more than the Clos Habert, which by comparison is heavier and, once again, fonky. On this particular evening, Le Bouchet was my clear favorite.

Domaine Huet Vouvray 'Clos du Bourg' 2005 - Very famous vineyard site and producer and it was very tasty. I do not remember specifics, just that it was really good Chenin that has a long, long life ahead of it.

Domaine Weinbach Cuvee Ste-Catherine L'Inedit Riesling 2006 - My memory is failing me here. I remember just the slightest bit of RS, ripe mandarin fruit, and lots of energy on the palate, with very good depth, intensity and length. The gewurz, the 2004 Cuvee Lawrence, had a really gorgeous nose, with an amazingly vivid, red grapefruit character, and then was all gewurz on the palate - spicy, bitter, alcoholic and lacking in acidity. If I don't like this then I guess I'm officially an Alsace gewurz hater.

JJ Prum Spatlese Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese 2004 - Really cool wine. Super funky doryann fruit characterize the nose of this riesling. Very slatey /petrolly and already an interesting wine, though it is still a young pup.

C. Von Schubert - This is what I get for not taking notes. These were good wines and I don't recall which was my favorite, the Maximin Grunhauser Abstberg Riesling Spatlese or the Maximin Grunhauser Herrenberg Riesling Spatlese. Were they both '05, or was one '05 and one '06? Maybe one was a kabinett as well. I don't know, outta sight outta mind. All I remember is that these are very solid Rieslings, with talc like minerality and very clean, lemon-lime soda flavors.

EH...NOT SO MUCH

Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame 1998 - What a waste of money! This is so boring. A real snooze fest. I'd go as far as saying that I would rather drink even a few mediocre grand marque NV champagnes than this stuff. For $130 I would just get four bottles of good grower champagne. Or Bollinger. BOYCOTT Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy. products. They're overpriced, branded, strictly profit-driven wines that are guaranteed to disappoint.

Schiopetto Mario Schiopetto Bianco 2004 - Anonymous, boring, friulian wine.

That was the tasting - as you can tell, a rushed, not so expertly recorded event. For dinner I decided to dine solo (something I enjoy doing and haven't done in a while; if you haven't already done so you should try it) and went to Two (which is in the former Hawthorne Lane space). I ate an amazing lamb pastrami sandwich with russian dressing, sauerkraut and melted gruyere served on toasted black bread. The pastrami was spicy but not overly salty, and much more tender and less dry than the usual rendition. At first I had ordered a bottle of 1990 Poniatowski Vouvray Moelleux (only $42 on the list) which, sadly, was corked. I then got a bottle of 1995 Crouchet Vouvray Demi-Sec. Nothing like a high acid, slightly sweet white wine to go with some hearty, spicy meat and kraut. The sommelier noticed that I still had a good amount of wine left, so I was comped a cheese plate (thanks, Jeff). Great food and way reasonable prices, so I will definitely have to make a return visit to Two sometime soon.

4 comments:

Lyle Fass said...

After a Martin Scott tasting this year in NYC I boycotted big trade tastings forever. Only small importer-geek tastings now . . .Dressner, Theise, Weygandt, Wiest. I feel for you.

Joe M. said...

That sounds like a good way to go.

David McDuff said...

At least you got to try some tasty stuff, Joe. I haven't had the chance to sample Chidaine's 2005 efforts yet but have always loved his wines, a feeling reinforced by a visit there in 2004. It's interesting, in particular, that you found the Vouvray "Le Bouchet" to be so rich, as it's usually been in the just slightly off-dry end of the spectrum, i.e., typically less rich than the Montlouis "Clos Habert." But hey, these wines should be a reflection of site, style and vintage. I'll look forward to tasting them.

Nice write-ups, by the way.

Joe M. said...

True...definitely the main reason I do what I do (sell wine). Le Bouchet is absolutely usually demi-sec, though in the ripe '05 vintage it is heading towards moelleux territory. Whatever it is it's delicious.

Joe