On line at the Javits Center 30 minutes before the New York Wine Expo began, Suzanne and Daniel ensured us a six o’clock start. Joined by Cathy, and later Jenn and Matt, Imbibe had a crew of six seeking an educational debacle–a night offering over six hundred wines. My aim was to map an agenda, which was never realized. It was impossible. With the exception of a few small sections–Portugal and Argentina, and a table of Chateauneuf-du-Pape–there was no strategy behind the floor plan. So instead we wandered. And rather than seeking specific regions–hoping to contrast and compare–we sampled a smattering number of wines from everywhere: New Zealand, France, Spain, South Africa, Argentina, California, and Portugal. And if I can decipher my notes correctly, I’ll be writing on a few below.
Equipped with an “EVENT GUIDE” with two lined pages for notes, I juggled business cards, notebook, vineyard and winery lit, along with my camera and a sticky wine glass. For $70, one would expect a little more than a cheap pamphlet. Other tastings offer booklets with information on each distributor, and lots of space for taking notes. Who was their desired audience? Small wine producers looking for distribution and fans, I imagined, because it certainly wasn’t arranged to aid one’s learning about wine.
That said, we had a fabulous time–blood pumping with wine, I don’t think I saw anyone spit. My favorite table of the night was visible from the door: Chateauneuf-du-Pape, and it’s not just because they provided their own pamphlet complete with a listing of wines and varietal content. I believe they offered ten, and I must have tried nine, including Cuvée des Deux Soeurs 2007 (“85% Grenache, 10 % Syrah, 5% Mourvedre-Cinsault. Aged in cement tank and neutral barrels.”), full of red fruit, a bit of briny minerality, and pleasant tannins. The Cuvée Tradition 2007 (85% Grenache, 12% Syrah, 3% Mourvedre-Cinsault) showed red berries, tobacco, and spice. It was soft, and well structured with a slightly tannic finish that lingered nice and long.
It was Daniel who had heard about Fulcrum, a producer of Pinot Noir who buys grapes from four California vineyards: Hein Family and Hayley, both of Anderson Valley, Split Rock of Sonoma Coast, and La Encantada from Santa Rita Hills. La Encantada, Pinot Noir 2007 is earthy, with a touch of minerality, and full of dark berries and cherry with a spicy tannic finish. Anderson Valley Pinot Noir possesses red fruit, cherry, earthy undergrowth, and spice. Though easy drinking now, it would probably benefit from a little time. Split Rock, Pinot Noir, 2007, Fulcrum‘s final offering, was the earthiest of three, with cherry and ash, and silky tannins. All three Pinot’s were divine.
Aveleda distributes inexpensive wines from Portugal including NV Casal Garcia Vinho Verde, a low alcohol rosé, fill of apple and cherry, for $7.99! 2007 Charamba Douro has pleasant barnyard aromas and red fruit, easy and simple on the palate and pocket; it too goes for $7.99. 2005 Aveleda Follies Touriga Nacional Bairrada is made of 100% Touriga Nacional, a varietal usually reserved for port. For $17.99, you get an earthy vegetal nose, with blackcurrant and cherry, round tannins and spice.
What would I change? I’d add bread or water crackers for palate cleansing, because there was none of that. And I’d get rid of Tribe Mediterranean Foods as an exhibitor, one who broke a slight pretzel stick in half before dipping in hummus and offering to starving imbibers as a sample snack.