Saturday, March 14, 2009

Napa Valley Takes NYC By Storm

A long week of tastings coupled with friends in town and some crazy overtime play for Syracuse in the Big East Tournament (shout out!) makes for one broken down Vino Girl. That said, there were some good times, fabulous wines, and compelling people that certainly deserve some air time.

We already talked about the Napa Valley Vintners tasting but it doesn't stop there. Next up was the Skurnik portfolio event which means tables and tables of great wines from all over the globe for tasting. We carry a great deal of wines in the shop from this distributor including amazing producers such as Ramey (known for reliably awesome Chardonnays and Cabernets), Peter Michael (focused on killer Chards and Cabs), Karl Lawrence (amazing Cabs for less-than-amazing prices), and Detert and Lang & Reed (the kings of Cabernet Franc).

I did discover some new things at the Skurnik tasting too including the Peay Syrahs, particularly a Syrah called Le Titans, and the Capiaux Pinot Noirs, especially the Widdoes Pinot Noir. The biggest surprise for me was the Turley Wines. I had always thought the wines were way over the top, particularly the Zinfandels for which they are known. I must admit that the wines were approachable, balanced, intensely flavorful, and enjoyable – but not over the top. My apologies to Larry Turley and wine maker Ehren Jordan for trash talking the wines for so long. (No, c'mon, I would never do a thing like that!)

The next day I was off to the Napa Valley Women of Wine & Vine Luncheon at Gramercy Tavern. (I know, I know, poor me, no rest for the weary, and all of that!) This was probably my favorite event of the week because I was able to speak to some fascinating women in wine in a more intimate setting. Guests included Linda Lawry of the International Wine Center, who taught me while taking the WSET advanced certificate, as well as female journalists, retailers, and sommeliers in the world of wine. The hosts were an impressive group of proprietors and wine makers including Cathy Corison of Corison Wines, Karen Cakebread (who is not working on Cakebread any longer but her own soon-to-be-released project), Paula Kornell of Oakville Ranch Winery, Elizabeth Pressler of Elizabeth Spencer Wines, Julie Johnson, owner/winemaker for Tres Sabores, Sharon Crull of The Terraces., and Jeanne Cabral , Director of Sales & Marketing for Heitz Cellar. Wow, what a lineup! We chatted (natch!), and had a few flights of their wines paired with some tasty morsels from the Gramercy Tavern kitchen. It was a very gracious group of ladies and there was much praise and even more sharing of ideas.

As if that was not enough, the icing on the cake was that when I returned to the store (At 3pm, which Winemonkey attributed to the fact that it was a 'chatty lady lunch'), winemaker Tor Kenward was on his way to pay us a visit. We adore Tor's wines (clearly since we have a whopping 8 skus!) and it was a pleasure to see him again, taste some of his wines, and have him sign some bottles (come on down, they are available at the store!). To cap off the day, husband and wife wine making team Mike Hirby and Schatzi Throckmorton (best name ever) came in to share their Relic Wines with us. We carry their Artefact Cabernet-based blend but all their wines were intriguing.

All that and the week ended with Winemonkey attending a Lieff Wines lunch, where they shared their Cabernet (which we carry) and previewed their new Sauvignon Blanc, which I was able to taste at the Vintners tasting and I think we both agree is an exceptional wine for a first bottling.

I swear I am getting tired again just reading this. Sorry to be long-winded, but there is more wine tasting fun to come next week so stay tuned!

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