As I have said many times before, the best way to learn about wine is to taste it. Taste as many different wines as you can, trying new things all the time. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to wine so the only way to know if you will like a certain wine is for you to taste it.
Fall is one of the best seasons to test your wine likes and dislikes because the calendar is filled with many grand wine tastings. This weekend, I went to one of these events, a Grand Tasting at Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquor. If you did not attend, then you missed an excellent opportunity to taste over 180 wines! And it cost nothing to attend this event.
There was a large diversity of wines, from regions all over the world, costing from $4.99 to $194.99 (with seven wines costing over $100). Whites, reds, rose, sparkling wine, fortified wines, dessert wines. Plus almost all of them were all discounted by about 21%. If you had been there, you probably would have found some new favorites. Besides the wines, there was plenty of cheese, crackers, bread and small appetizers to help cleanse your palate between tastes.
At such a large tasting, I don't recommend trying to taste all of the wines as about all that will happen is that you will get drunk, fail to remember what you tasted and probably be hung over the next morning. Instead, try to plan out which wines you want to taste. For example, Gordon's gave each attendee a booklet listing all of the wines and which table they could be found. This way you could better gauge which tables you want to hit, and in which order. Maybe you want to start with Spanish wines or French Bordeaux.
I also highly recommend you get to the tasting exactly when it begins. At the beginning, there are far less people at the tasting so you will be better able to access all of the different tables. Later on, there will be large crowds and you will have to wait in line to get a taste. That is another reason why you should preplan your tasting, to get to the tables you most want to visit before the crowds show up.
Some of my favorites from the tasting included:
Adonna Imports: As usual, this distributor brought several excellent wines.
---2007 Gritsch Kalmuck Pink ($11.99) is an Austrian Rose made from Gruner Veltliner. A fine dry Rose with nice strawberry notes and some interesting minerality.
---2004 Cascina Roera Barbera d'Asti Superiore "San Martino" ($26.99) is an elegant Barbera with a complex melange of dark berry flavors and subtle spices. A bit tannic so it would be best enjoyed with dinner.
---1998 Azienda Agricola Martilde Oltrepo Pavese Rosso Riserva "Ghiro d'Inverno" ($19.99) is an Italian wine made from 100% Bonarda. I have long been a fan of Bonarda from Argentina, but I generally have not cared for Italian Bonarda. Until now. This was a delicious wine with rich berry flavors, spicy notes and a lingering finish. It is full-bodied and tannic but is complex and well balanced. Very enjoyable and a good value at this price.
United Liquors: This distributor brought numerous higher end and excellent wines, including 2005 Dominus Meritage, 2005 Quintessa Meritage, 2006 Pride Merlot and 2005 L'Aventure Optimus.
---2000 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Y Gay Gran Reserva Rioja ($49.99): This Spanish wine is produced from 70 year old vines and only American oak is used. It was subtle, complex and absolutely fantastic. A long, lingering finish that only makes you crave more. Deep berry flavors, vanilla, and other spices. Restrained tannins though this is probably still a wine you would enjoy best with food. This wine really stood out for me.
Moet Hennessy: This distributor has some high end Champagnes available for tasting, including the famous 1998 Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame ($194.99).
---2006 Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier ($32.99): It is rare to find a wine made from solely Pinot Meunier as it is usually just a blending grape. This wine was similar to a light Pinot Noir, with rich red berry flavors, especially cherry and strawberry, but with a spicy undertone. There was also an intriguing, subtle exotic flavor that underlied the wine. A very interesting and delicious wine.
United Liquors Connoisseur's Division: Another solid distributor who often has some very interesting wines.
---2007 Pierre Boniface Apremont Vin de Savoie ($14.99) is an intriguing French white wine made from the grape Jacquère. Crisp wine with flavors of melon and green apple and some mineral notes. A nice summer wine or something for a light fish dish.
---NV Sokol Blosser Meditrina ($19.99) is a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. Yes, it may seem an odd blend but it works quite well. An easy drinking wine with bright fruit flavors and hints of spice, especially on the finish.
---2005 Simi Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon ($36.99) is a muscular Cabernet, ripe plum and blackberry flavors as well as vanilla and other spices. Lots of complexity and a lingering finish. A top notch Cabernet at a reasonable price for the quality of this wine.
Arborway Wines: They brought four different Barolos from the much lauded 2004 vintage.
---2004 Luigi Pira Barolo Marenca ($68) was a very smooth wine with mild tannins. Ripe red fruit flavors with subtle spice notes and a lengthy finish. A very approachable Barolo that is ready to drink now though it should be able to cellar well too.
---2004 Azelia Bricco Fiasco ($68) is a wine whose name, in English, is not fitting at all. This is an excellent wine, not a "fiasco." Though you need to understand that "fiasco" in Italian means "bottle" or "flask." This is an elegant wine with moderate tannins that has good structure and balance. Plenty of delicious red fruit flavors, spice and a bit of leather. Complex and with a lingering finish. Though you could drink this now, I would like to see how it develops over time.
D.B. Wines: This is a distributor new to me though I hope to learn more about it.
---NV Cosecha Amontillado 15 Years ($39.99) was an exceptional sherry with delicious flavors of caramel, vanilla and butterscotch and a lengthy finish. I love a good Amontillado after dinner and this one should please all sherry fans. A hedonistic pleasure that definitely satisfied me.
Gordon's Fine Wines and Liquors
894 Main Street