Wednesday, June 06, 2007

VinDiVino Tasting in Chicago pt 1

Sorry that I've been away from blogging. Kelly and I made the jump and decided to adopt a new puppy. The house has felt so empty since Otis' passing and Hank was getting lonely. So we adopted a brother and sister from the Humane Society. More on that later.

Recently, I was lucky enough to go to the annual Vin diVino Grand Tasting in Chicago. All the winemakers were there pouring their incredible (yet way too young concerning the reds) wines. Enrica Scavino, Peter Zemmer, Franz Hertzberger (be still my heart), Kerstin Klamm and Gerhard Kracher to name a few.

Austria is the future. I'm telling you right now. The wines I tasted up in Chicago were the most pure, vibrant, racy, lively, honest and expressive of place that I've ever experienced. The minerality and acidity were spine-tingling. I truly was amazed. Kerstin Klamm of Domane Wachau was the first person I spoke with. As she was pouring her beautiful rieslings and gruner veltliners she explained the differences in the '05 and '06 vintages. She also led me on a virtual tour of the Domane's vineyard sites in the Wachau region. I immediately wanted to book a trip to Austria. Kerstin was very friendly and very informative. But the star was her wine. The 2006 Federspiel Gruner Veltliner is astounding in it's raciness, purity, crisp fruit and staying power. I popped open another bottle that I brought home from Joe's (1681 Poplar, 725.4252), and I was shocked at how it got better as the glass warmed up. Never once did I detect the alcohol even when the wine was room temperature.

It took every ounce of my willpower not to make a beeline for Kracher's table the moment I walked in. Kracher makes life altering dessert wines unlike anything I've ever tasted. Much to my surprise Gerhard makes a dry pinot gris and rose of zweigelt (brush up on your Austrian grapes because they are coming on strong). The '05 pinot gris was drinking beautifully with crisp acid and lovely textures. Unfortunately, I think the '06 was suffering from bottle shock. Gerhard brought it with him from Austria so it traveled quite a bit. However, once it does settle into itself it will drink beautifully. I did have to pull myself away from the table to taste more of the dry style wines. Otherwise, I would have blown my palate by diving into the stickies.

Another surprising Austrian winery was Umathum. Their dry muskat was simply a stunner. The aromas were of traditional muscat (floral, sweet fruit, candied ginger) but the wine itself was bone dry and razor sharp. It does have a hint of sweetness in the mid-palate but the prickly acidity washes it away on the finish. Incredible.
Austria is the future of wine.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Night at the Carova Milk Bar

It had been a long while since the Carova Milk Bar had convened. Too long in fact. Michael Barar, the world renowned viola player, requested that we meet to sip and dish at Casa de Richie and Meagan. The lineup was positively drool worthy:

  1. Canella NV Brut Rose of Pinot Noir
  2. Clos des Lambrays Domaine des Lambrays Morey St Denis 2001
  3. I Giusti e Zanza Belcore Toscana 2000
  4. Loring Wine Cellars Hungry Like the Llama 2005 Pinot Noir
  5. Dunham Cellars 2003 Columbia Valley Syrah
  6. Mitolo Jester 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon McLaren Vale
The Canella had a beautiful onion skin color, a toasty strawberry and raspberry nose with a crisp, light slightly creamy finish that lingered on the palate with good acidity.

Red Burgundy. What can I say that hasn't already been said? It's center was ruby with light brick rim. On the nose I found fennel, lavender, unripe cherry, tarragon and earth. The palate!! Silky, supple, cherry and earth carry over from the nose, balanced acidity velvety tannins, almost no alcohol detectable, and beautiful balance. The elegance and minerality was amazing. I wrote in my notes "I can smell the plot of land this was grown on". Amazing.

Italian wines are so unique to me. The Belcore's color was a deep purple with a nose of chocolate, plum, berries, anise, earth and olive. On the palate the chocolate carries over and with it a medium body, firm tannins and the earthiness from the nose. The texture is the true star of this wine. It is soft suede and a firm ocean breeze.

The Loring Pinot Noir had a ruby color and a very new world new barrel funk of licorice, green pepper, toasted oak and hints of smoke. The palate was all cola, hazelnut, black cherry and rhubarb. It was so far from being ready to drink with huge tannins, large fruit and no secondary characteristics. But, I could discern that this wine will be incredible in about 5-10 years.

Washington is, in my opinion, producing some of the best red wine in the world. Particularly with syrah and merlot. The Dunham had a dark purple center and a ruby rim. The nose was bright with blueberry, blackberry, nutmeg, star anise, hoisin and white pepper. It was elegant and masculine at the same with beautiful textures and distinct aging potential.

And lastly we come to the Aussie, a big ass 2006 Cab from the McLaren Vale district. The nose was pure eucalyptus, menthol and chocolate. On the palate I found chocolate, mint and raspberries; but no earthiness. I was disappointed by the lack of a mid-palate, unfortunately. But quite honestly, this wine could get better if given time. Maybe.

All in all, a very fun and educational meeting of the Carova Milk Bar. Thanks Richie, Meagan, Michael, Jenn and Anna!!