Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Great Wine Week

Today is Sunday, and it's morning, I've got house guests and they are all sleeping, so instead of annoying them with the tap-tap of fingers on keys, I decided to treat myself to a jaunt out of the house (it's a respectable 8:30 am) with a Starbucks coffee, a blueberry muffin, and a half-hour or so at Kinkos for a little blogging fun.

What a week! I was stressed out for most of the week, unfortunately, because planning a party for 40 or 50 people apparently does that to me! A little overwhelmed. Fortunately, the party last night was a HIT and my hubby, for whom the party was for, was very happy, and so were the guests, I am told. We ate nice food (oysters freshly shucked by friend who flew into town for the party; a variety of seafoods and rack of lamb, barbecued burgers - in January! gotta love Californian weather) and drank nice wines (non-vintage Agrapart Blanc de Blancs was a hit as always - this Champagne just over-delivers every time; readers of this blog are surely tired of hearing me wax poetic about how great Agrapart et Fils is!) Great party. Belgian beers (which our store, The Wine Country carries a great selection of) were being poured from double magnum (3 Liter) bottles, along with Double Bastard from Stone Brewing Co., which of course was a lot of fun. And the company, the people, were the best, including hubby's parents, who flew in from out of the country to be here, everyone totally enjoying and having a good time, which in a gathering, is just the best. That's something that money can't buy. I love our friends & family!

So that was last night. I'm working backwards through the week here. My Wine of the Night was actually not a wine I provided, but a wine that owner Randy Kemner brought for me/us: 2005 Milz Trittenheimer Felsenkopf Riesling Spatlese - my God, I could not put this wine down! It was just perfection. I could not stop sipping/drinking this wine - it was pure quality in a glass. I think Randy bought my last bottle of this wine, since we are onto the 2006 vintage for Milz. The flavor was fresh and pure and delicate and ethereal, and in the words of importer Rudi Wiest: "Hey if you can find me peaches and pears and apricots that taste like this, I want it!" Rieslings from the Mosel go beyond fruit juice. They simply possess an indescribably beauty - my first sip, and I told Randy, "Wow, that brings back memories!" Yeah, memories of riding up that steep vineyard in Trittenheim with Marcus Milz in his motorized gizmo that takes pickers up that 90 degree grade of a hill covered with Riesling vines. That ride that made me realize I *do* have a fear of heights - who knew?? At any rate, you don't need to have been to the Mosel to appreciate how utterly fantastic these wines are. Sigh.

So that was Saturday. A success. In more ways than one.

Back up to Thursday. We had a fun tasting of wines from the Teusner winery in the Barossa Valley, Australia. This was a consumer tasting in our store, and we featured The Grateful Palate importer representative David Townsend, who comes up all the way from Temecula to do a tasting for us. Distributor Henry Wine Group's representative Pete Stolpman was also there to show his buddy Kym Teusner's lovely wines. Great stuff. Unfortunately, we only had a turn-out of 29 people for a tasting we should have seen 50. I think Australian wines have fallen out of favor and people have turned against them. Too bad. There are many gems there. Many gems that are not the overblown out of balance alcoholic creatures people have come to hate. There is elegance in some wines, and these Teusner wines have it. We featured the Joshua and the Avatar, both Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro blends, and The Riebke and the Albert, both 100% Shiraz. What makes these wines fine is that they are made from old vine fruit, and the winemaker's style is toward a more European/French/food-oriented style, which is nice. They are not fruit bombs, though of course there is lush fruit on them. My favorite of the bunch that day, the one that showed fantastically at the outset was the Avatar, aged 18 months in old oak barrels. This was the 2004 vintage by the way. Lovely, right out of the gate, such mouthfeel and complex layers. The second favorite was the Albert, also a 2004 vintage - what a Shiraz - the last bits in the bottle were the best - I'm assuming this wine needs some air, some decanting. At any rate, it was a great tasting.

Still earlier in the week, and I believe it was Tuesday, my day off, I got invited to a wine lunch. At first, I really wanted to decline - I want to be away from the whole wine thing for a day out of the week if possible, but I relented and ended up going to L'Opera, a beautiful Italian restaurant in downtown Long Beach, where I know the G.M. I was invited by Estate's Group representative Mosha, and we were meeting with Stacy and Chris from the people that represent Angove's from Australia. This is an old winemaking family business that has expanded widely because they established early and owned a great amount of vineyard property. I have had experience with their wines and liked them, also for the similar reasons that I like Teusner's wines - they tend to be on the elegant, lower alcohol side (eg. 13%), not oaky, not over-the-top. At any rate, I enjoyed a nice lunch, sampled their 2007 Nine Vines Rose, 2005 Vineyard Select Clare Valley Riesling, among other wines such as their Vineyard Select Shiraz, Chardonnay and Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, of which I have now forgotten what the vintages were. Overall, nice wines, very user friendly with food. We'll likely bring some of these into the store in the near future, to join the 2006 Angove's Nine Vines Viognier which I currently have in stock.

There was another Australian tasting I did this week, and that was the portfolio of Grant Burge. I'll be honest and say the only one I liked was their 2002 Grant Burge Holy Trinity (GSM) which I have tried before and we were carrying in the store. That's a wine with some complexity that I enjoyed, plus the name is great and the label is great, and I'm starting to think this is really pretty important if you want your wine to sell.

Well, that sums up my wine-intensive week! This coming week will be pretty intense also. I've got a wine dinner featuring Argentine wines for Thursday, and a Mosel-Saar-Ruwer tasting that I'm hosting on Friday evening, during which time I will be given the opportunity once again to go on and on about one of the most beautiful places on earth, while savoring its sumptuous products. I really do love my job.

No comments: