Wine at Five Annual Wine Tasting   Leave a comment

Wine Tasting Faux Pas No. 1: "Hey, are you wearing cologne?"

Friday May 20th.  What a way to start the weekend! 

Wine at Five proprietor, Cai Palmer, has organized an elegant, yet informal, event at the Wainwright House, located in Rye, NY.  Bottom line: very decent grub, and a nice selection of wines being poured by 12 distributors.  All wines available for purchase, though not all of them at discounts to what you might pay for them elsewhere with a little bit of internet research.  But many of them were well priced.  Still, for a more-than-fair fee of $50 per person it’s tough to go wrong.  Wine at Five is a small, though high quality, store also located in Rye.  Want to learn more?  Check out Cai’s blog (the Wine at Five link is on the left side of this page):  Usually informative, always entertaining. 

Ms. R and I attended the event  last year, loved it, and were anticipating having an even better time this year.  We were not disappointed.  First off the food: an international selection items from Italian charcuterie to paella to barbecued pulled pork to vegetable and chicken skewers.  All quite good, but forgive me for this, Cai, the paella paled in comparison to mom’s.  The pulled pork, however, was excellent. 

During the course of the evening, Cai, ever the gracious host, polled some of his guests, including Ms. R, on the quality of the comestibles.  Their exchange went a little like this:

Cai:  How was the food?

Ms. R:  It sucked. 

Cai:  (expressing momentary look of shock) You’re kidding me!

Ms. R:  (Pauses) Yes I am!

Thanks a lot, Ms. R– Cai will not soon forget you.  It’s a good thing you happen to be charming because this is the only way we will get invited back for next year’s event…

Given the volume of wines being offered, it is difficult to decide where to start.  Thankfully, Cai and his team, distributed the evening’s  catalog of offerings earlier in the week.  So I had a chance to peruse the list and determine which distributors should get my fullest attention.  [Note to Cai– thanks for this, since I missed some good wines last year.]  With 12 different distributors to choose from, you know you will get an eclectic selection of wines and to Cai’s credit, he asked the distributors to pour higher quality wines than they might normally pour for a tasting.  Here were some of my favorite selections of the evening (the distributors are identified in parentheses). 

Table 1 (Soilair Selection): Pietranera Rosso di Montalcino 2008— This was a bit of a surprise.  With a pale color, my expectations for concentration were lowered.  You know who she is: the quiet young thing sitting at the end of the bar in the understated dress.  But this sweet thing was packing some heat underneath that shift.  We’re talking vibrancy of fruit and unexpected earthiness.  Rated **1/2

Table 2 (Acid Inc. Selections): Vaona Odino Valpolicella Classico 2009–another good Italian– but quite different from the Pietranera.  A softer style of wine with good fruit up front balanced by just the right amount of tannin and acidity.   Food friendly and just good on its own.  Rated **1/2

Table 3 (Encore Wines):

    • Fontallada Cava Brut Nature (NV)— typical cava with some soft edges and a yeasty bread like finish.  Rated **
    • Broc Cellars Vine Starr White 2009— Chardonnay (50%), Rousanne (25%) & Picpoul (25%).   My first reaction “This SOB is from California!?  No way!”  Way, dude, WAY– a native Nebraskan winemaker with a degree in philosophy working with Paso Robles grapes at a Berkeley address.  Perfect, huh?  This is chardonnay for chardonnay haters– I know, we had one with us and she was enamored with this white.  Of the whites I tasted, this was among the ones that showed some elegance.  I’m thinking Rhone.  I’m also thinking buy it.  Rated **1/2
    • Sleight of Hand Spellbinder 2009— another one of these kitchen sink blends from the Columbia Valley.  It’s Super Tuscan meet Washington State: Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese & Syrah.  A little something for everyone with good presence and in a nicely balanced package.  Rated **1/2

Table 4 (Felipe Gonzalez-Byass): Beronia Crianza 2007— I have to confess that I like the more classically-styled crianzas.  Restraint, but a lot going on in the bottle.  And at $13, this is one that is bound to make it to No-Guilt Wednesday.  Stay tuned for more.  Rated **1/2

Table 8 (Wildman & Sons): Heitz Cabernet Trailside Vineyard 2001— this is the standout of the  evening– layers of aromas and flavors.  And at 10 years of age, doing that thang the way it should be done.  Not inexpensive at $74, but a damn good wine.  Rated ***1/2

Table 10 (Jerome Selections): Chateau de Callac Prestige 2005— Having tasted the Heitz Cab, this was my favorite affordable wine.  An expressive nose in this Bordeaux blend, but with restrained fruit and balance.  A wine done up in a classical style from the very good 2005 vintage.  The tannins were still a little grippy.  Decant this before you drink it.  I had this rated at little bit better than **1/2, but I don’t think it merits a *** rating, at least not yet.  In time, that may change.  Rated **1/2

How many hands does it take to balance a glass of wine, a plate of paella and um...

Wine Etiquette Observation No. 1: To the subtle woman who smothered herself in perfume shortly before arriving at the tasting, 2 short couplets:

The wines we tasted were most glorious;

Contrary, your bouquet was just odoriferous. 

Your scent, we noticed before you arrived

And taking our leave, we felt revived. 

OK, I’m no Lord Byron, but you get the picture.

Wine Etiquette Observation No. 2: While this was, ostensibly, a wine tasting it seems that different folks arrived with different agendas.  For some, tasting wine was mere pretext.  Flipping through a recent issue of Ebony (and doesn’t everyone read Ebony?  If you don’t, you should.), I came across a comment by a real-life Hitch– the professional pick up artist/wingman who charges clients to show them how to score with the opposite sex in social situations.  He noted that women choose to go to wine tastings to troll for men.  And so they do– I saw some of these women.  They did not look like my friend to the left.  And they certainly couldn’t hold a candle to my wingwoman, Ms. R!

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Posted May 22, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

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