Saturday, August 6, 2011


Fellow Wineaux, I have just returned from a week in Rhode Island at the Society of Wine Educators' annual conference.  A whirlwind of wines, to be sure.  I estimate I sampled around 200 wines, and will be reporting on much of what I encountered.  Know that I will gladly suffer daily purple tongue and teeth on your behalf, Wineaux, and keep your eyes peeled for the fruits of my labor.

But I have to give you a little tease, now, don't I?  (The answer is: Yes, I do.)

I've awarded my version of "Most Likely to Succeed" and "Best Smile" to some of the wines and regions that truly leapt to the forefront.  Read on...

Sexiest Wine: 2009 Spice Route Pinotage
Forget about traditional descriptors, this wine basically takes you over in the corner and bites your earlobe.  Drinking it is a visceral experience that is sensuous, pulse-quickening, and maybe a little naughty. It certainly cast a spell on me and may cause me to make rash decisions in the name of lust.

Best Bang-for-the Buck: 2009 Ch. Peyraud Premieres Côtes de Blaye 

The Right Bank of Bordeaux's relatively new "Côtes" region is producing some absolute stunners, at a true fraction of typical Bordeaux pricing.  And this little gem in particular is a must-buy at only $11.99.

Best RI Wine: 2005 Sakonnet "Blanc de Blanc"

Fresh, clean, relatively inexpensive, a lovely aperitif and a bit of a shocker as I was expecting next to nothing from RI vineyards.  (No offense.)

Consistent Performer: TIE - Champagne & Alexander Valley
I may have never met a Champagne I didn't like, but my experience over two different seminars on Champagne was a lovely reminder that the quality control going on over there is pretty darn good these days.  And I have never sampled so many gorgeous reds from Alexander Valley (Sonoma) in a row - the winemakers seem to be engaging in a friendly game of one-upmanship and they are somehow all succeeding.

Change-Your-Mind Winner: NV Piper Heidsieck Cuvee Sublime Demi-Sec
I - and many Wineaux - tend to favor the Brut, or dry, style of Champagne, but this Demi-Sec (nearly the sweetest style in the canon) was perfectly balanced and absolutely gorgeous.  Really.  Give it a try, trust me. 

Favorite Champagne: 2004 Louis Roederer Blanc de Blancs
Wow, wow, wow, wowie wow.

Favorite "Secret" Region: Chile's Central Valley
Chile's meteoric rise in quality over the past decade or so will soon make it a favorite wine shop destination for Wineaux if it isn't already.  Keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming and very thorough entry on Chilean wine, coupled from an earlier Wines of Chile event as well as a few seminars this past week.

Chilean Champion: 2008 Casa Lapostalle Clos Apalta Red Blend
Another wine to garner a lot of "wow"s, this is an absolute stunner.

Nummiest Napa: 2006 Heitz Wine Cellar Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

One session on the possible effects of climate change showcased a number of wines from Heitz Wine Cellars and Cain Cellars.  Every single one scored highly with me, but this little lady was the belle of the ball.

Best Wine I'll Probably Never Taste Again: TIE- 1981 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino & 1968 Blandy's Bual Madeira
Although the Banfi was from an iffy vintage, it was just gorgeous, and poured from magnums liberated from their cellar.  (Apparently there are still a few bottles left available for sale at the winery, priced in the 400-600 Euro range, but alas, I don't have a trip to Tuscany pencilled in my calendar anytime soon.) And the Madeira was nectar from the gods, turning this previously Madeira-averse Minx into a convert.  I see on that a store in NYC carries it, but it costs $250 and I just don't have that kind of change lying around.  (But maybe the Minx will receive a nice gift for Christmas if she's a good Minx, right Santa?)

I can't wait to share with you more in-depth reporting from the SWE conference.  But I must dash, a scrumptious bottle of vino is calling my name.  Cheers!

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