Last night I attended the Amanti Vino Fall Wine Tasting Event (to benefit MOSCOT Mobileyes Foundation) at Irving Mill, an event featuring over 100 wines that was open to the public for a price, following a tasting for the trade in the afternoon. And since I rarely cross the bridge, I was glad that Amanti Vino, located in Mountclair, NJ, had brought a large portion of their hand-selected artisinal and boutique wines to NYC.
From their website, it seems that Amanti Vino carries a host of Old and New World wines, but last night was all about the red, white, and blue. Of the 29 producers showcased, five were from Oregon, sixteen from California, and two from Washington State–making for a jam-fest on the palate, with too many unfortunately indistinguishable Pinot Noirs, that were all about the fruit. And since last night only confirmed my inability to detect anything but fruit when I’m submerged in it, I will focus here on the wines that piqued my palate with pleasure or surprise.
My favorite west coast Pinot Noir sampled that night is made by Maysara Winery—“Delara” Pinot Noir Momtazi Vineyard McMinnville 2005 ($59.99). I spoke with Maseem Momtazi (pictured below with Paul de Lancellotti of De Lancellotti Family Vineyards) about her sister–the youngest female wine maker in the US–Tahmiene Momtazi, who is only 26! Their parents immigrated from Tehran in 1982 and founded their now biodynamic winery in 2001. I sampled three of their wines, but liked this one best because it’s dusty and not bogged down by fruit. “Delara” shows dusty herbs on the nose, and licorice infused red fruit on the palate.
Minutes before I left, de Lancellotti called me over to sample the 2005 Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley that he’d just uncorked. And though I didn’t scribble notes, I recall its dusty rose pedals on the nose, and pleasantly integrated fruit.
Before I continue, I want to clarify that the presence of so much fruit is not a terrible thing; it’s just not to my liking. ImbibeNY is not about numbers or scores, though I do tend to describe only wines that I like. And while a number of my nearest and dearest love fruit laden wines, my aim here is obviously not to offend those who prefer big, lush, ripe red and black fruit. The fact that I met a man who sensed pear in his Pinot, when I could detect nothing but cranberry, only helps prove this point…the palate is an incredibly personal thing.
The three other California wines that struck me were all made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Mauritson Wines showcased two single vineyard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon wines, “Suther” and “Positas”, each with remarkably different soils. The “Suther” ($79.99) shows minerality and talc on the nose, and rose pedals. The fruit is well managed and finite on the finish, allowing the other elements to linger. “Positas” ($79.99) has a smoky, minerally bouquet. It’s dusty and light for a Cabernet Sauvignon, with a light fruit finish.
Vineyard 29 also makes interesting Cabernet Sauvignon wines, though their representative, Holly Anderson, emphasized that 2006 was an unusual year for their wines. Their Aida Cabernet Sauvignon is usually a masculine wine, she told me, but the 2006 was clearly not. It shows more fruit than their Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, an accessible but age worthy wine with notes of cocoa, licorice, black fruit, and dusty tannins. The Aida is not only slightly fruitier, but it has a silky texture, with notes of graphite, cocoa, spice, and black plum. At $199.99 and $249.00, these are wines that one should lay down, if you can afford them.
Finally, I must give a shout out to the Old World; Thunevin Ets Wines poured three, but their Virginie de Valandraud St. Emilion Grand Cru 2006 ($89.99) was best. Earthy with mushroom on the nose, Virginine de Valandraud offers fresh fruit, minerality, talc, and integrated tannins, a lovely note on which to depart, YUM!
Anyone have any dirty reds from the Left Coast to share? Especially Pinot Noirs?