The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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104 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 The Tasting We tasted eight whites, one rose and eight reds. With the excep- tion of sweet Tokaji from Hungary, the panel concluded that simpler is better. The Suavia Soave Classico Monte Carbonare was largely considered an acceptable bottle for most plates and palates. Mike liked "the interplay between the ripe fruit and the acidity," finding enough energy between the two poles to recom - mend it with food. Juliette agreed. "I think it could be a crowd pleaser as a vaguely cool-climate Chardonnay stand in . . . [There are] golden apples flavors, decent acidity and juiciness, and a creamy fleshy round- ness. It has a refreshing chalky lemon finish," she said. A blend of Gual, Marmajuelo and Vijariego Blanca from the Canary Islands was a wine that Eric said "really sings to me," and was "rich, exotic and flashy" to Grant. But its complexity and opulence limited its drinkability. "I like it for its personality—it's really unique—but I would be tired after one glass," Mike noted. Food recommendations included stuffing, a rich fish and a creamy cheese. The panel had different takes on the two Pinot Gris, noting the super-simple Gris from Oregon was probably a crowd-pleaser whereas the biodynamically produced Ostertag from Alsace with its intense earthiness was more of an acquired taste. Noting its vegetal qualities, evoking dandelions and green olives, Eric said "This would be great if all of us were having dinner together, but it's not for the wine novice." The clear successes in the white group were the Chassagne- Montrachet Premier Cru Les Vergers from Domaine Marc Morey, a wine that despite its heavy oak accent, was well-made and "flashy and sexy enough for new world lovers" said Grant. The Disznóko˝ Tokaji 5 Puttonyos was lauded for its acidity and rich tropical flavor profile and versatility with cheese or dessert. As rosé often serves as a bridge wine between seasons, we tasted one as a bridge between our white and red groups. The Stoller Pinot Noir from Oregon was largely considered "quaffable and solid with good acid and fresh red berries." For the red group, I considered two perennial favorites: Merlot and Pinot Noir, and chose wines that expressed those varieties in different blends and from different regions. In a New World/ Old World Merlot mashup, two wines overturned assumptions and switched places. The 94-percent Merlot from Lieb Cellars in Long Island was favored over a Right Bank Merlot-based blend for its savory Bordeaux-like qualities, and recommend for roasted game dishes or braised brisket. Whereas the Lieb was earthy and structured, its French cousin (85 percent Merlot) was jammy and sweet, its fruit masked by oak. Two Pinot Noirs came under similar assessment. A Chilean from the San Antonio Valley was spicy, heady and oxidized, its fruit not as apparent as expected in a New World wine. The J. K. Carriere Pinot Noir Vespidae from Willamette Valley puzzled the panel, which could not place its origin, but was agreed to be agreeable for a mix of diners. Three of the five somms thought they might sell it by the bottle for the right price. We tasted two Cabernet Franc–based wines. The entry from the Sierra Foothills AVA was a shutout, leaving the 65-percent based Triple C from Santa Rita the standout and noted for its straightfor - ward black fruits (plum, raspberry). Jeff recommended serving it with a roasted rack of lamb, as is the Chilean spit tradition. We finished in the Northern Rhône Valley with two Syrahs. Boutin's Côte-Rôtie "Bonnevaux" won high marks for its spice and varietally correct profile: ripe black and red fruits, chocolate, smoke and black pepper. "My impression was fresh and fun and easy-drinking and here it is, Côte-Rôtie!" Eric commented. "I get a freshness to the fruit, and also a tartness and a pretty green all at the same time. This is the one I'd want most on my table," Jeff said. He could not, however, say the same of the final selection, the Jaboulet 2010 Hermitage La Chappelle. "This is thick and viscous and tannic but not very expressive," he said. Juliette added "This would be your last wine of the evening; you might want this to be open for a long time before drinking it." "It's heady, plummy, hot and tannic with definite acid . . . there's a roughness to this wine—it could be a lot of things," Mike noted. The panel was surprised at the reveal, but also noted that changes in ownership might have affected the winemaking of the once-legendary producer in recent years. "This," he concluded "is clearly made for the international crowd." Eric Hastings, Chief Sommelier at Jean-Georges. Jeff Kellogg, Wine Director at Maialino. Juliette Pope, Beverage Director at Gramercy Tavern. Grant Reynolds, Wine Director at Charlie Bird.

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