Last night, I hauled my sober self out to Brooklyn Heights to meet my classmate Cathy, so that we could study by way of tasting, for our final exam at the International Wine Center. At this pre-holiday wine tasting benefit, sponsored by Heights Chateau, I sampled over 40 wines, left a few stones unturned, and remedied my Thursday night sobriety–all before the clocks chimed nine.
They say that Catholics can drink, and last night’s event at St. Francis College served to validate this assumption. From church ladies to collared priests–the guests at this event were not the trendiest of folks–but they all seemed to enjoy their wine. With twelve tables to cover and over 50 spirits and wine–for $25, this was one charitable event not to miss.
In anticipation of the up and coming holiday season, the folks at Heights Chateau assembled this event and offered a 17% discount on all of the showcased wines (most of which retail for under $20). By the end of the night I’d had my fill, and was lucky enough to get myself home, never mind having to lug a few fragile bottles of wine.
At table #6 we sampled a few Italian wines, including, Frotto della Jatto, 2006, for $18.99. This garnet colored wine from Puglia possesses earthy notes of leather, mushroom, and eucalyptus on the nose, followed by cherry on the palate–very different from the other Nero d’Avola: Valle dell’Asso, Galatina Nera, 2006, (also $18.99). Though made from the same varietal as the first, this wine is more ruby in color with a garnet rim and notes of overripe fruits– black cherry and plum. Medium bodied and slightly herbacious and spicy, the Galatina Nera is full of tannins that help structure and balance the wine.
Of all the sparkling wines offered, the Schramsberg, Blanc de Blancs, 2004 ($36.99), was by far the best. Made from 100% chardonnay, the Blanc de Blanc is high in acid with notes of lemon and green apple, and pleasantly tart. With medium to small bubbles that do not cause one to foam at the mouth, this is one hell of a Californian sparkling wine.
The surprise of the night came in the form of Madeira, a fortified wine from a Portuguese island of the same name that is heated to 140 degrees and cooked. Being exposed to such high levels of oxidation extends the shelf life of this wine to 150 years or more if sealed; opened, it can easily last a year. Perhaps this is what justifies the price. We sampled three last night, all from The Rare Wine Company’s Historic Series, two at $54.99 and a third at $62.99.
Named for the three cities where Madeira was the most popular in the 18th and 19th centuries: Charleston, New York, and Boston, these three Madeiras were created as an affordable option for those who enjoy nutty, cream brulée, toffee and caramel flavored wines.
Nothing short of divine, I’m a proud convert, and look forward to purchasing my first bottle of Madeira wine!