On the 18th, thanks to an invitation from Brian Scott, the Sweet Partner in Crime and I had the good fortune to attend the 20th Anniversary grand tasting at the home warehouse of Vintner Select in Mason. As I've mentioned a few times, Brian has been a real source of wine knowledge and inspiration for me, and I was very pleased to be a part of the tasting. As I've also mentioned, if I'm wondering about a wine from France, Italy, or Spain, and I see "imported by Vintner Select" on the bottle, I can almost be guaranteed of a good bottle.
The event featured over 20 different wine distributors, each of whom poured some of the better wines from their catalogue. Additionally, there was a full room of excellent edibles, ranging from scrumptious paddlefish caviar raised locally by Renee at Big Fish Farms (coincidentally, my first "wine mentor"), organic produce from Farmer Jones in Sandusky, wonderful cured salmon from Just Cured in Cincinnati, and a variety of locally grown and raised meats, vegetables and cheeses whipped into delectable amuse-bouche by my esteemed neighbor Jean-Robert de Cavel.
But the wine was truly the star of the show. Specifically, the row of Italian winemakers. Apparently, these winemakers were already touring the US with their latest releases, and it happened that they all could simultaneously show their wines in Mason. So, what happens when you get this many Italian winemakers in one place?
The good stuff comes out.
When I say "good stuff," I'm talking about serious special-occasion wine. I must have sampled at least 15 different types of Barolo, and half a dozen types of Brunello di Montalcino. Absolute heaven. I don't know if I'll drink 15 different Barolo in the rest of my life, so I took full advantage of the opportunity to compare and contrast. The best of the bunch, in my estimation? The Molino 2005 Barolo Gallinoto and Molino 2005 Barolo Conca. Both these wines had exquisite structure, plenty of fruit, and were obviously built to age for the long haul. Even this young for Barolo, these wines showed head and shoulders above the rest. And at $45-60, they were extremely affordable for these types of wines.
In addition, there were some unbelievable ports from Porto Kopke (their "Glorious 50" port -- at around $140 retail for a 500 ml bottle -- was an explosion of unbelievable peach and deep fruit flavors.); a wonderful spread from George Hendry in Napa Valley -- ranging from their crisp rosé to knock-your-socks-off Primitivo and Cabernet Sauvignon; an incredible Blanc de Noirs Champagne from Cedric Bouchard; and any number of other winning selections.
And yes, there was even a spread that was entirely within Vine range. Many thanks to Sergio Reyes Moore from Montecastelli Selections from Chile for taking the time to walk the SPinC and I through his book. He had an entire table of selections that ranged in retail from $9-15. The "Chono" label wines were incredibly flavorful and approachable, especially the Carmenere and Syrah. His Sauvignon Blanc was as flavorful and crisp as you could ask for. His other label, "Rayun" were inexpensive and easy to drink...perfect "second bottle" wines for any occasion.
We left the tasting with full bellies, empty glasses, and happy hearts. An excellent experience all around. Here's to another 20 years...