The Tasting Panel magazine

January / February 2017

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Page 26 of 148

26  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2017 The Ransom Note is a monthly column by The Tasting Panel's East Coast Editor, David Ransom. Each month, David connects readers with some of the people, products and events that are making news along the Eastern Seaboard. Stop press! At an awards ceremony last month in New York City, The Tasting Panel's sister mag- azine, The Clever Root, received Media Industry Newsletter's coveted 2016 Hottest Magazine Launch of the Year honors, beating out over 200 magazines. I was in attendance to proudly accept the award for the team onstage in front of hundreds of publishing industry luminaries with a blowup of my recent cover story as a backdrop! Now to business: My formative years in wine were in New York's wine industry, which, to be hon- est, is not the place where one aspires to delve too deeply into wines made from a region's native grape varieties. However, it did instill in me a curiosity to seek out a winemaking region's traditional grapes whenever possible. I had some opportuni- ties recently to try some wonderful wines made from a number of "Alt-Grapes" that really intrigued me—and also made me want to know much more about the historic winemaking regions from which they came. First, winemakers from the country of Georgia hosted a supra (Georgian for feast) at New York's Rouge Tomate Chelsea, where Wine Director and partner Pascaline Lepeltier, MS, spoke of Georgia's widespread embrace of using native varietals to make "natural" wines in traditional equipment—in this case clay vessels called qvevri, which are buried in the ground. Saperavi (red), Chinuri and Rkatsiteli (both white) are just three of the more than 500 native species grown in Georgia, the country that, with an 8,000 year history of cultivating vines, is considered to be the cradle of the world's winemaking industry. Producers to look for include Gotsu, Lagvinari and Orgo. Second, I had the pleasure of attending Lebanese Wine Day, where over 20 produc- ers, including Domaine des Tourelles, Château Musar and Château Ka, poured wines made mostly from French varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and a host of Rhône grapes, all of which do very well in Lebanon's mostly temperate climate (contrary to popular opinion, there is no desert in Lebanon). But they also showed wines made with Obaideh and Merwah, two native Lebanese white grapes that make very nice, if austere, wines. With a historic yet relatively young winemaking industry in terms of commercial production, Lebanon's wines are definitely worth seeking out. Diana Zhgenti, Consul General of the Republic of Georgia in New York (second from left), with Georgian wine producers at Rouge Tomate Chelsea. Sisters Reem (left) and Ghida (right) Kassatly of Château Ka at Lebanese Wine Day in New York. Going Native The Tasting Panel's East Coast Editor David Ransom onstage at the MIN Awards. by David Ransom PHOTO: CHRISTIAN JOHNSON PHOTO: DAVID RANSOM PHOTO: DAVID RANSOM

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