Monday, May 5, 2008

Spirited Gourmet Grand Tasting

After the disappointing tasting on Friday night, it was a delight to attend the Grand Wine Tasting at The Spirited Gourmet in Winchester on May 3. There were over forty wines available for tasting and they constituted an excellent variety of new wines and vintages. Plus, there were plenty of appetizers to nibble on between tastings. There was a good showing at the tasting though it was not too crowded.

The wine tables were divided by the distributors/importers, including United Wines, Ideal Wines & Spirits, Boston Wine Co., Classic Wines, Horizon Beverages, Ruby Wines and Masciarelli Wine Co.

My favorite table of the tasting was the Boston Wine Co. as they had the most wines that I especially enjoyed. Their portfolio also covers many different countries.

The 2006 Licia Albarino ($17.99) was a fine example of a Spanish Albarino. It was crisp, clean and fruity with a predominant grapefruit taste. A perfect wine for seafood.

The 2006 Tasca d'Almerita Regaleali Bianco ($11.99) from Sicily is a blend of three, less common Italian grapes: Inzolia, Grecanico and Catarratto. It had an interesting nose and was crisp on the palate. It had excellent fruit flavors including a bit of lemon and apple. A good value for a different white wine that is sure to please.

The 2007 Nieto Senetiner Chardonnay ($10.99) is from the Mendoza region of Argentina. Maybe you might hesitate to buy a Chardonnay from Argentina but give this one a try. Though it has a touch of oak, it is not overly oaked like some California Chardonnays. It has good fruit and a decent acidity. If you enjoy Chardonnay, then you are going to like this wine, especially at this price.

The 2006 Gai'a Notios Red ($13.99) is a Greek wine from the Pelopenesse region. "Notios" is a Greek word meaning "Southerners." The wine is made from an indigenous grape, the Agiorgitiko. I find so few Greek wines around so am always pleased to get to try a new one. And this wine certainly pleased me. It has a light red color with a delightful fruity nose. On the palate, it is a light-bodied wine with plenty of good berry flavors. An excellent, easy-drinking wine with plenty of character for this price point. I think it will make a good summer wine, especially for the BBQ.

The 2004 Spier Syrah/Mourvedre/Viognier ($21.99) from South Africa was very much the opposite of the Notios. This wine is a blend of 91% Syrah, 7% Mourvedre and 3% Viognier. It is very dark red in color and is certainly a full-bodied wine. It is a rich, muscular wine with plenty of dark berry and plum flavors as well as plenty of spice. South Africa is known for making excellent Syrah and this wine certainly falls into that category. But you definitely should drink it would a hearty steak.

The United Wines table had a couple of winners as well.

First, the 2005 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee ($27.99) from the Napa region. This wine is a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. It is a dark red colored wine with a nose of blackberry and plum. Those dark fruit flavors come out on the palate as well. Very concentrated flavors in this big, muscular wine. Plenty of complexity and a lingering finish. Another excellent wine with a thick steak.

The 2002 Lolonis Eugenia Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc ($31.99) is from the Redwood Valley in Mendocino, California. The wine has been 100% barrel fermented and then aged for 22 months in 40% new French oak. It is made in the style of Sauternes, thus relying on the noble mold, botrytis cinerea. This dessert wine is excellent and is not cloyingly sweet. It has interesting flavors of caramel, dried fruit and vanilla. Maybe pair it with some type of apple dessert?

The Ideal Wines & Spirits table delivered several very good wines.

The 2006 Ca'Rugate Soave ($13.99) is made from an indigenous Italian grape, garganega. This wine is a single easte wine. It had a light yellow color and a mild nose. On the palate, it was crisp with nice lemon and grapefruit flavors. Plenty of character for this price point and certainly unlike many of the more bland Soaves you might have had before.

The 2006 Gueguen Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet ($29.99) is made with only stainless steel. No oak at all. It is basically an organic wine as well though the vineyard is not certified as such. An excellent wine with good fruit and plenty of minerality. Complex, subtle flavors with a lingering finish. A bit expensive but well worth it if you really enjoy fine white wines.

The 2006 Pirlet Syrah/Mourvedre Vin de Pays ($10.99) is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40$ Mourvedre. This winery makes wines that are ready for drinking now and that need no cellaring. This wine had a dark red color with a fruity nose. On the palate, it had delicious dark berry and plum flavors with spicy notes. An excellent value wine that would make a great BBQ wine.

I only found one interesting wine on the Classic Wines table. I have had some of their offerings before and a couple of others did not appeal to my preferences.

The 2005 Clos la Chance Cabernet Sauvignon ($16.99) is a good value Cabernet. It is a rich, muscular wine with intriguing flavors of blueberry, blackberry and ripe plum. There is a spicy element that runs through the wine as well. It has a decently long finish, is well balanced and has a nice structure. For this price, this is a top notch choice.

At the Horizon Beverage table, I found a couple good wines as well as tasting a St. Germain cocktail. I previously tasted the St. Germain and was very impressed with it. And my feelings were confirmed once again.

The 2001 Helfrich Steinklotz Grand Cru Gewurztraminer ($21.99) was a bright yellow in color with an intriguing spicy nose. It was a rich, full-bodied wine with a touch of sweetness and intriguing flavors of citrus, herbal notes and spice. Plenty of complexity in a high-quality wine. For this price, this is an excellent value, especially if you are seeking a different type of white wine.

The 2005 Righetti Ripasso Valpoicella ($14.99) was another good value wine. A richer style wine with dark cherry flavors and herbal notes. A long finish and plenty of flavor.

Ruby Wines brought a couple interesting wines.

The 2007 Crios Rose of Malbec ($11.99) from Argentina is a summer winner. A bright pink color with a delightful strawberry nose. Not too sweet on the palate with bright strawberry and raspberry flavors. Not as fruity as many California Roses but not as dry as most French ones.

The 2006 Giacosa Fratelli Dolcetto d'Alba ($15.99) is an easy drinking wine with plenty of character. A dark red wine with a spicy nose and delicious dark berry flavors. A decently long finish for this smooth wine. Should be another good BBQ choice.

Finally, the Masciarelli Wine Co. presented a couple very good wines.

The 2006 Clos des Rochers Auxerrois ($16.99) is from Luxembourg, a country that I don't recall ever having had a wine from before. The wine is made from 100% Auxerrois, not a common grape. It has a pale yellow color and a subdued nose of citrus. On the palate, there are citrus notes, good minerality and a nice crispness. There was a hint of more tropical fruit flavors that added an interesting level to this wine. A very good summer wine.

The 2006 Secret de Campane Vin de Pays ($9.99) is a good value wine. It is a blend of 60% Grenache, 30% Carignane and 10% Cinsault. Plenty of great fruit flavors, mild tannins and a nice, smooth taste. Good BBQ wine.

Overall, I was very happy with the selection available at this tasting. There was a good range of price points, with a significant number of value wines. I was sure to buy several of the wines and have taken notes to pick up some in the near future as well.

The Spirited Gourmet
600 Main Street
Winchester, MA
Phone: (781) 721-9463

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