On Friday, Jenn–producer extraordinaire– and I arrived at 583 Park Avenue, an awesome space for which I–in my DM’s and black skinny jeans–felt awkwardly underdressed. Opening the doors for a press tasting at 5:30, for which we were there on the dot, Bottlenotes launched Around the World in 80 Sips, an event that hits NYC, Chicago, and in 2010, San Francisco. Showcasing wines from 14 countries, Bottlenotes (an online wine community) managed to pack the house with the most colorful crowd I’ve ever witnessed at a tasting; one that actually represented the demographics of New York City. Wow. Why are tastings often such a white-wash? To address this question, I could write a book, so for sake of this short post I will simply applaud Bottlenotes for their fresh approach, their outreach, and their interpretation of the word community.
So, while my photographs do not accurately represent the crowd that night, I cannot help but wonder, why most wine communities fail to strive for any kind of racial integration. I live in a neighborhood and teach in schools where I am a minority. However, when attending wine events, I cannot help but note of the lack of color in these communities. Why is this, and how can we outreach? Isn’t everyone, regardless of race or class, entitled to the pleasures that wine brings?
The list of countries represented at this event included Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Lebanon, and Thailand–which is one hell of a rainbow. And while the selections of New World wines on the market seem to grow by the minute, I expect the range of consumers to change over time. Each generation of the global economy in which we now live will likely (hopefully) age as members of racially integrated communities, with palates more curious than those born a few generations back. How long, I wonder, will it take for the wine market to notice their presence?
In addition to bringing all these folks together, Bottlenotes also donated 10% of their net proceeds to Robin Hood, an organization that targets poverty in New York City. Very cool…I dig it.
They also offered a fine selection of wines. In my time there, I barely made my way through Italy and France. If the bottles were difficult to access through the crowds, the spit buckets might as well been on the moon. And so, to keep my mind on the right path and my senses alert, I worked my way through the wines slowly.
Which leads me to a few notes. Domaine du Grand Bourjassot Gigondas Cuvée Cecile 2007 (pictured above). Wow! 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah, from the Southern Rhone region of Gigondas, this baby has the skunky nose of durian fruit! With chalky minerality that slips beneath a cloudy impression of big fruit (without the jam), this light bodied Cuvée shows light tannins with a super clean finish and a little spice. (Available on Bottlenotes for $28.)
The Domaine Fournier Grand Cuvée Sancerre 2006 ($24.95) comes from 30-50 year old vines and spends six months on its lees. Minerally with peach shadows and cascading acidity, this Sancerre shows integrated fruit and oak that’s round on the lingering finish, again with a touch of spice.
Thanks to Bottlenotes for extending invitations to Jenn and I, and for hosting one hell of a pre-holiday event.