Esporao Wine Tasting at Renaissance 4 May 2011

This is a Special Wine Tasting Opportunity

Join Jack Brice and Kelly Wright from Esporao Wines for SIX wines and food matched to the three whites and three reds Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel (downtown Pittsburgh)

Esporao’s New York based US Country Manager Kelly Wright will lead us through a tasting of six Esporao wines, Braddock’s Chef Brian Volmrich has matched appetizers matched to the whites and then another plate matched to the reds – this will be a great opportunity to taste wines from the up-and-coming wine maker (Esporao) from the up-and-coming wine region (Portugal!). 

Alandra White – light, crisp and fresh, a superb casual summer wine

Monte Velho White – Light to medium body with some exotic fruit and mineral notes

Reserve White – Rich and exotic, with some oak aging – a great wine for those who love American Chardonnay

Alandra Red – Light and flavorful, this wine is perfect for picnics and burgers on the grill

Monte Velho Red – Solid middle weight red with interesting dark fruit notes

Reserve Red – rich, complex and serious – aimed at the enthusiast

Only $25 per person  Don’t miss out!   Click the link to pay for your seat!  http://www.off-the-grid.ws/esporao-renaissance-wine-tasting

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Notes from Quantum Theatre “Maria de Buenos Aires” tasting with Grapenuts

For the fortunate 50 people who got tickets before they sold out – the Grapenuts (www.grapenuts.org) goes to Quantum Theatre (www.quantumtheatre.com) “Maria de Buenos Aires” tasting was great fun for all.   Even the performers enjoyed some authentic Argentine bites and wines before the show.   The empanadas were sourced from Pittsburgh’s absolute best Argentine Caterer, La Mendocina Caterning (www.lamendocina.com) and the tasty special dessert pastries were generously donated by Flor Anderson’s dessert catering business: A Sweet Box (www.asweetbox.com).

Here are notes on the wines we enjoyed:   Corn and cheese empanadas were served with the lovely and luscious 2009 Elsa Torrontes from Valentin Binachi.   This Torrontes, like manyMendoza wines, is from relatively high altitude (2,000 ft and more above sea level) and spent full fermentation in stainless steel.  These elements created a fresh and crisp wine with tropical fruit and citrus notes leading to a clean, slightly spicy finish.

Traditional beef empanadas were paired with the Catena Zapata Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.   The savory, spiced meat of the empanada provided a fine counter to the strength of this dense and tightly tannic Cabernet Sauvignon.   While many Mendoza reds are heavy and fruit-bomb-ish, this Catena Cabernet is restrained and stylish by comparison.  For those who were able to restrain themselves long enough to allow the wine a few minutes of breathing, the reward was a nicely balanced, quality Cabernet that beautifully complemented the empanada.

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Château Haut Beyzac 2009 Bordeaux

If I didn’t know better I’d think this were a dense and muscular right bank Bordeaux – but it is actually a Haut Medoc (Left Bank) wine that uses a more-common-on-the-right-bank blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.

This wine displays trademark Merlot lushness and mouth feel, with big fruit flavors unadulterated by oak flavors since no oak barrels were used to age the wine.   The fruit is the king in this wine and there is no lack of it, but despite relatively soft tannins, the wine still has some structure to it.   Definitely a big fruity example of what the 2009 Bordeaux vintage may bring us.  Due to the super dry second half of the 2009 vintage, and with many wines yet to be released, the results so are have been fruity wines of relatively low acidity – thus making those wines best to be drunk sooner than later.   Even though this wine will last a few years, it is best enjoyed soon – so grab a bottle of Château Haut Beyzac 2009 (or any affordable 2009Bordeaux) and enjoy the great vintage!

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Chateau Tour de Rodet Graves 2009 Bordeaux

The Bordeaux region of Graves is located south and east of the best known Bordeaux regions.   Graves soils include a great deal of ice-age glacial alluvial gravels, so much so as to prompt the region to named after them.   It is said that the Graves gravel and clay soils influence the robustness of wines made there.   Famous white wines are produced in Graves as well (the Graves Sub-Region of Sauternes, well known for sweet wines like Chateau d’Yquem, which is possibly the best known sweet wine in the world), and only one third of Graves wine is red, so finding a Graves Red is unusual and a treat.  

Chateau Tour de Rodet Graves 2009 (currently $11.99 in PA, said to be quoted elsewhere at $24.99), is a Graves red featuring a blend of 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Sauvignon.   The nose is not aromatic, but the red fruit notes are apparent, if light and delicate.   Flavors in this wine tend toward sweet red berry fruits, currant and an underlying hint of blueberry (common to some Merlot-based wines).  The Palate is fleshy despite the wine’s medium to light overall weight.   The aforementioned flavors are bright and fresh, without strong tannins that might give reason to lay this wine down.   Grilled meats and blue-type cheeses would combine well with this wine.   Enjoy it soon, it is a good value at this price.

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Longview Iron Knob Dry Riesling 2009

Many people enjoy the grapefruity crispness of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.  I do too.  But increasing popularity has brought to market seemingly countless New Zealand SauvBlancs with similar but nicely consistent character.   This is not a bad thing at all, but for sake of variety, many people have started to seek alternatives to the popular NZ SB.   When asked for a NZ SB alternative I immediately respond with the question: Have you tried an Australian Dry Riesling?   Many people have not, but I hope that will change.   Whereas the SB typically provides a mouthful of grapefruit and other strong citrus flavors, the typical Aussie Dry Riesling starts even more austere, with flavors that lean toward lime and flint/minerals – all in a tight and sometimes gripping package – a great warm weather aperitif.  Even more interestingly, Riesling is known to be an aromatic grape that often excels at showing the ‘terrior’ characteristics of the place it is grown, which makes trying multiple Rieslings from multiple regions great fun for all.

A currently available example of this Aussie Dry Riesling genre is the Longview Iron Knob Riesling 2009 ($15), from the South Australian region of Adelaide Hills, just a few miles east of the beautiful city of Adelaide.  The Iron Knob winemaker notes that the hillside vineyard soils are comprised of ‘unforgiving’ ironstone soils that provide great character to the wine.   At first whiff the aromas are engaging, with lime/citrus and hints of what is commonly described as ‘petrol’ (but not in a bad way).  Flavors are immediately mouth filling and juicy with lots of lime and undercurrent orange notes, taking over your palate and keeping a grip on it through a mineral tinged dry finish.   Those who believe a Riesling is a sweet wine will be shocked at the dryness of this one… But anyone who likes a New Zealand Sauv Blanc will surely find this Riesling quite pleasing and a great alternative to the Sauv Blanc – the Iron Knob Riesling draws you back for sip after sip to enjoy another taste of the fruits and structure at finish.  Give it a try, you will enjoy it!

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