Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Dallas Wine & Food Festival

Everyday Wines For Everyday People
April 2, 2005

By Frater Bovious
9th Level Adept, THOOTR
Frater Bovious, Madame Bovarie, along with J & J, family friends, attended this event Saturday morning. 9:30 am to be exact. Tasted six wines, and took notes from various wine judges and wine representatives. It proved to be diverting and educational, and provided some new flavor comparisons to use when out dining. The following bolded comments were all actually heard from these various wine commentators. The rest is just information about the wine, or my own commentary:

Principessa, Gavi DOCG, Gavia 2003, the grape is cortese, a minor grape grown in the Piedmont region of Italy and used to make the "Gavi" - (e.g: Cortese di Gavi), white wines. This feisty little entry won a bronze at some obscure tasting.

Commentator, Fran Baker: Light, honeysuckle note, acidic backbone, great with shell fish, sitting on the patio or beside the pool. The high acid content gives it a cleansing effect. I actually found it somewhat watery, yet a good counterpoint to the morning's Crest Toothpaste. I rated it an "I like it."

Gray Monk, Okanagan Valley, VQA, Pinot Gris 2003, a Canadian offering, the grape is pinot gris, a mutant clone of Pinot Noir. Has several synonym names in France, eg. Fromenteau (Gris) or Fromentot in the Champagne region where it is used in a sparkling wine blend along with Arbane and Petit Meslier wines), Malvoisie (Blanc) in the Loire Ancenis region (an alias not to be confused with the Malvoisie synononym name for the Bourboulenc variety found in the Languedoc), fresh from garnering a silver at the aforementioned obscure tasting event.

Commentator, Larry White: Crisp & clean, citrus - fruity - light finish, good Texas Hot Weather Wine. Don't over think it, just drink it. Does not step on any food, pair with fish, cheese. I found it somewhat more 'there' than the Principessa, really nice, more complex flavor and rated it a "Really Wonderful."

Crios de Susana Balbo, Mendoza, Rose of Malbec 2004, from Argentina, the grape is malbec, a Semi-classic grape grown in the Bordeaux region of France and in other areas under the names Médoc Noir, Côt or Pressac, while in the Alsace it has the local name Auxerrois. This also won a silver, which is a delightful coincidence, as Argentina derives it's name from Argent or Silver.

Commentator, Amy Atwood: New World style - 'fruit forward'. Rose is a year round wine, refreshing & fun. It is what it is. And, it is not a White Zin. Nice acidity on the finish, no Jolly Rancher effect. Argentina, keep your eye on it - affordable quality. Argentina will be next year's South Africa. Picnic fare - sunshine, mid day, good with chocolate mousse. I actually thought of strawberries as I smelled and tasted this wine. I rate it an "I like it."

Graham Beck, Western Cape, Pinno Pinotage 2003, From South Africa, the grape is Pinno Pinotage, Cultivar widely grown and successful in South Africa since its release in in 1925. Also currently grown in Brazil, Canada, California (USA), Virginia (USA) and Zimbabwe. Derived from the crossing of Pinot Noir x Cinsaut. Used to make a popular, hearty red wine that ages well - (and often requires it). By this stage of the tasting I was losing track of what medal which won, but I think this won a silver at whatever tasting had happened sometime previously.

Commentator, James White, Wholesaler: Pinot Noir is a difficult finicky grape, very challenging to wine makers, and there are lots of really bad pinot noir wines out there. Every winery seems to think they will make the 'great pinot noir'. The pinno pinotage grape is a sub species of the pinot noir, crossed with cinsaut, and had only truly been successful in South Africa. They have managed this wine by limiting the yield to 4 tons per acre, and harvesting before the grape is overripe. It is fermented in a stainless steel pump over - well, the important thing, as the vintner from the winery told me, is that he had "learned to take the wet monkey on fire out of the wine." I found it to have a flat start, almost tasteless, but possessing of a very interesting finish. It was a bit of a surprise with smoke notes. I imagine it would go great with a sidecar of Liquid Smoke. Seriously, I want to try this with a nice rib eye. I rated this an "I really like it."

McPherson Cellars, Texas, Tre Colore 2004, I have not a whit of an idea what grape, other than 'red mediterranean blend', disclosed I suppose by the tre color name. I did find this description of a 2002 year Tre Colore, so am assuming the grapes are the same: "a terrific red-wine blend made from syrah, carignan and viognier. The first two provide sturdiness, while the third somehow makes it all work out." - from an Aug 2004 Fort Worth Star Telegram article. This won a bronze.

Commentator, John Bratcher: Going to be visiting wine country? Great, we're in Lubbock, where are you staying? Texas is suited for Italian, Rhone and High Plains wines. Texas and McPherson Cellars have a long wine history, and in fact Communion Wine continued to be made in this region during Prohibition. This is a blended wine, soft, great fruit notes, chill it a bit for a Hot Texas alternative to Pinot Noir. This is a young wine, but you don't want to age it - drink it now! I rated this wine a "pretty good."

Wyndham Estate, South Eastern Australia, Bin 555, Shiraz 2002, the grape is Shiraz, an alternate name for the french Syrah clone grape grown in Australia and responsible for very big red wines that are not quite as intense in flavor as the french Rhone versions. In the past it was also known under the alias name Hermitage. This won a silver at the same wine tasting referenced above, i.e., that one I don't know about, but that happened this year in Dallas.

Commentator Zelijko "Ziggy" Blagojevic: Wine is about enjoying wine & food with good friends. Serious wines are drunk by serious people. Everyday wines by everyday people - great concept. This grape came from the Northern Rhine to Australia in Hunter Valley (Dalwood) in 1830. This area is now known as Wyndham Estate, and consequently we are the birthplace of Australian Shiraz. This is the perfect wine for 'I just want a glass of Red.' It is aged one year in oak barrells used 2-3 times before. This has that Aussie Berry Shiraz Flavor. Nice, warm, inviting. I rated this an "I like Shiraz."

Other interesting things learned or heard that morning:

Flavor note: Sweaty saddle.

Bin numbers: Supposedly, for non-criminals living in Asutralia, someone owning an estate or ranching endeavor had one criminal allotted for every 100 acres of land. Or something like that. Anyway, these folks were educationally challenged, and so could not read. So, someone got the idea of just naming the various wine lots by the bin numbers, i.e., Bin 1 was called Bin 1 etc. They don't have a Bin 666. This story while entertaining is not true.

On Blended Wines: Nothing wrong with blended wines. In fact most bordeauxs are blended, as are all good champagnes.

Pinno Pinotage: Comes alive with veined cheeses. I have experienced this to some degree with Port and Stilton, about which Winston Churchill said, "Port and Stilton are like Man and Wife. What God has joined together let no man put asunder."

On stemware: The finest of glasses, Reidel, is pronounced reedle, not rydel.

On youth: "These wines are like our host, young at heart."

Decanting: Decant wine to add oxygen and add flavor - up to an hour. But in the proper vessel, one that allows for a large surface area. Simply opening a bottle and letting it stand won't do it. Not enough surface area is exposed.

Room Temperature: 63 to 68 degrees. So, on a typical hot Texas day, if you want your red at room temperature, you know that one in the bottle rack over there by the window, pop it in the freeze for 10 minutes. Perfect.

On the whole we all really enjoyed the outing and learned quite a bit. Wine drinking has a certain allure, that is after you've outgrown the 'pound beers until you are snot-slinging incoherent' phase. Once you have a few wines and phrases and grape names under your belt, you can engage in a little tongue-in-cheek snootery with your friends. Nothing like a little faux haughtiness around the pool with family and friends. I highly endorse this type of activity, rating it an "I really like it."



Anonymous said...

Well, how high falutin'.
I prefer a real mans wine; MD 20/20
Why drink if not to get wasted?

Buck said...

it all sounds smarter than i know you are

Steve Austin said...

Tasty blog! Please check out my refrigerator wine blog.

Anonymous said...

Just tried the Bin 555 Shiraz - not a bad wine for the money, very much a traditional inexpensive Australian Shiraz.

Shiraz Australia said...

Nothing beats Aussie Shiraz.