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.

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