Thousand bottles of wine (this is not a mere matter of speech, but- more or less an exact count, give or take a hundred bottles). 4 hours. Come up with the list of 12 most favorite wines. What do you think about a task like that?
Whether you think it is easy or hard, this was my experience at the Michael Skurnik 25th Anniversary wine portfolio tasting few weeks ago in New York (selecting 10 wines was not the goal, of course, but tasting many great wines was).
”Overwhelming” would be an under-representation of the experience. Sip, swish for a second, think for a second, spit. Take a mental note, or may be a quick mark in the book. Move on to the next wine, then to the next table. Get through the crowd with your glass. Repeat until your palate is completely locked down by the amount of fresh tannins. Have a sip of fruity white to unlock and refresh. Continue and repeat until fully exhausted. Leave happy.
Above is a quintessence of the experience. Below, I would like to give you mostly a photo report with some comments on the most memorable wines. The list is not prioritized at all – if anything, it may be coming out in the order we tasted the wines. Here we go.
2009 Peter Michael ‘L’Esprit des Pavots’ – clean, gorgeous, elegant, balanced, approachable – this is Bordeaux-style red which you can drink now or cellar for next 20-30 years:
2009 Paul Hobbs Winery Chardonnay, ‘Ulises Valdez Vineyard’ - best non-French Chardonnay I tasted. Elegance and perfection of balance – acidity, hint of vanilla, hint of butter, hint of tasted oak – all in a perfect medley:
2009 Martinelli Syrah ‘Vellutini Ranch’ – full-bodied, luscious and well balanced, with nice dark fruit and spices. Outstanding Syrah:
2007 Corison Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Kronos’ – I was really looking forward to trying this wine after Joe Roberts, a.k.a. @1WineDude, called it “Black Panther” in his review. I’m not sure I personally met the panther, I rather discovered a mystery. This wine is impossible to understand in the format of the standard trade wine tasting. It says “let’s dance a little longer, shall we”? When you take a sip of this wine, it is asking you to think – there is no flavor attack, no particular taste element standing out – instead, there is a perfectly balanced, thought-provoking, mysteriously delicious substance. This wine needs double time – time in the cellar, and time in your mouth – then you might stand a chance of solving the mystery:
2009 Domaine Newman Mazis-Chambertin – exemplary Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir by the book – whatever way you want to call it, this was one of the most elegant Pinot Noir at the tasting – perfect balance of earthiness, fruit, acidity and power:
2010 Clusel-Roch Condrieu – beautiful full-bodied white, powerful and structured – great example of Viognier from the most classic Viognier Appellation:
2010 Domaine Saint Prefert Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blanc ‘Cuvée Speciale Vieilles Clairettes’ – fresh, elegant, beautiful white fruit, perfect acidity – definitely one of the best white wines in the tasting. Unfortunately, equally rare and hard to get:
2009 Domaine Allary Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan – classic Bordeaux from classic vintage. Perfect wine – you can drink it now, or wait for 30 years – the choice is yours:
2010 Boyer-Martenot Meursault 1er, ‘Perrières’ – absolute elegance ( yes, if you think that I’m abusing the word “elegant”, I agree with you, but I can’t find a better word to express my thoughts about these wines, so bear with me, please) – outstanding Chardonnay, great balance of white fruit, acidity, earthiness and tannins:
2011 Domaine du Moulin Méthode Gaillacoise – personal sparkler favorite at the tasting – bright, fresh, full-bodied, with apple and toasted bread perfectly showing on the nose and on the palate. Lots of pleasure:
2005 Cavallotto Fratelli Barolo Riserva, ‘San Giuseppe’ – trying Barolos at the such tastings is always fun – you need to build your impressions quickly, before tannins will completely numb your palate. This wine had enough power to get through everything else I tasted before and deliver plums and dark cherries and outstanding balance of spices which make Barolo a King of the Wines. Truly an outstanding wine:
2007 Hendry Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon and 2007 Hendry Vineyards Red Wine (Meritage Blend) – one of my biggest surprises in the tasting. I never heard of Hendry name before – they mostly had being known as a grape growers for all other prestigious winemakers. But then at some point they started making wines, and I can tell you – it was very hard to pick only one favorite out of the outstanding lineup of wines. This is why you see two red mentioned here – both are very elegant, balanced and varietally correct (and reasonably priced!):
This concludes our journey through the great tasting of Michael Skurnik wines – there were hundreds of other wines worth mentioning, but – sometimes I have to sleep too, right? Thanks for reading and cheers!
Aren’t you tired of reading wine reviews about “hint of apple”, “cinnamon and clove”, “coriander and last year’s rain”? Especially when you can’t find that specific flavor profile in your glass no matter what? Today I managed to come across two wine reviews which were much easier to assess and appreciate.
First, here is review of the Corison Cabernet Sauvignon (not so widely known but excellent Cabernet from Napa Valley) by Joe Roberts, a.k.a. 1WineDude (@1WineDude on twitter): “07 Corison Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): Sort of like owning a trained black panther; dark, piercing & gorgeous.“. How do you like that? Is this is the wine you want to try or what? I don’t know about you, but I will be glad to meet this black panther at any time.
And the next one was a review by Adler Yarrow, who has one of the best wine blogs called Vinography. Latest two posts in that blog are on the subject which is an ultimate treasure for any wine lover – wines of Domaine Romanee-Conti (DRC, as it is typically called). DRC wines are considered best of the best, in any vintage and any time. So I think all people who are serious about wine can be divided into two categories – those who tasted DRC wines, and those who are dreaming about it. I belong to the second group ( sigh). Adler Yarrow belongs to the first, and he recently tasted full line of DRC 2009 wines – you can find his detailed notes here. But one particular review attracted my attention. It was for 2009 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Grand Cru Montrachet, the only white wine produced by DRC and considered the rarest of the rare. While the descriptions there allude to the usual taste elements such as nuts and apples, one sentence I think puts that review in a totally different prospective: “In the mouth the wine has an incredible texture that I’m prompted to describe as liquid sex, and gorgeously balanced flavors that…“. Once you read this description, do you really care about the rest of the grapefruits and nuts, or do you really get one pounding question in your head: “where can I try this wine”?
I’m really glad to find those reviews – now I got a frame of reference for my own reviews to aspire to. What is your favorite wine review, the one which forced you to resolve “nothing can stop me, I will find and drink this wine”? Anyway, while you are thinking, let me go back to my dreams. Cheers!