I was recently fortunate enough to land an invitation to one of the largest distributor wine-tasting events in Manhattan. These freebie drink fests allow wine and spirit makers the ability to peddle their wares in front of restaurateurs, buyers, and a few select people who manage to weasel their way in. That would be me. I guess on paper I’m a good fit: trained chef, food and travel writer, face-that-can’t lie taste tester. But I don’t spit.
This has nothing to do with that fact than when tasting a 144-page portfolio I don’t want to spit. I pay no attention to the polished spittoon or the carafes of water intended to rinse my glass. I’m holding on to every drop. So for this momentous occasion, I gave myself three parameters:
- Red only (which I broke almost immediately).
- Choose wines based solely on their label design.
- Make sure to taste the expensive stuff, regardless of two previous rules.
So I could make some grandiose statements about the relative merits of all the different wines I tasted, but instead we’ll do this the ES way. I’ll just share my complete notes from the event. They’re scattered at best—muddled descriptions easily influenced by knee-jerk reactions to those pouring and an over-consumption of pigs in a blanket and spinach dip. But I stand by them.
Backsberg, Pinotage, Paarl, South Africa 2008—$20
chocolate, tar, ass
Backsberg, Klein Babylons Blend, Paarl, South Africa 2005—$33
bigger chocolate, tar, ass
Neumeister, Sauvignon Blanc Moarfeitl Grosse Lage, Steiermark, Austria 2008—$64
Spiderman makes a fruit salad
Harlan Estate, Harlan, Napa Valley, California 2006—$900
Four Graces, “Dundee Hills” Reserve Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2007—$36
Bond, Pluribus, Napa Valley, California 2006—$433
Futo, Napa Valley, California 2006—$300
really? whatevah. (apparently this catch phrase caught on, as it appears on multiple pages throughout my tasting notes)
Futo, “OV”, Napa Valley, California 2007—$144
melt mouth ocean nose
Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz, California — Zinfandel Flight:
“East Bench” 2008—$43
“Pagani Ranch” 2007—$50
Alicante Bouschet (how I overheard this or even spelled it correctly is beyond me—it’s a hybrid red varietal that was originally planted in California during Prohibition)
“Lytton Springs” 2007—$50
Milbrandt Vineyards, “Traditions” Merlot, Columbia Valley, Washington 2007—$22
yum dusty cocoa!
Clear Creek Distillery, Mt. Hood, Oregon — Spirit Flight:
Eau de Vie of Douglas Fir—$72