New York is actually the oldest wine region in the U.S., but is obviously shadowed by Napa. Nonetheless, New York native Jeff bravely decided to tackle wines from that state last night, going where most wine distributors in Chicago haven’t dared to tread – I know, because we have been asking around. He’d gotten most of the wines shipped back from a previous visit, and carried the rest back in his suitcase on other trips.
So it was that we held our DGS New York wines tasting at Jeff and Zhen’s Saturday night. For the most part, we tried established grape varietals, and didn’t taste native grapes such as the Concord and Seyval Blanc. There were around twenty people in attendance, including three new folks whom I think enjoyed themselves, and would hopefully be around in the future. And even though we tried to end earlier by starting at the much earlier time of 6pm, the tasting only concluded at midnight. Hehe.
We started the ball rolling with a couple of fun wines, a pear wine, Goose Watch Bartlett Pear $12. It was fun, with clear pear notes but not too cloyingly sweet on the palate.
Next up was a strawberry wine, Baldwin Strawberry $16. Sadly, that was the only bottle that lay unfinished at the end, no mean feat considering we went through 12 bottles in total. It had a bold nose, big, ripe strawberry jam. Alas, it was sweet, waaaaaaaay too sweet, and most people had to cut it with a couple of ice cubes or water it down.
The Viognier, Casa Larga Viognier $20, we were served next was almost a relief from the lingering sweetness. I say almost because it tasted a little too green and tight, maybe a result of an unfortunate contrast with the syrupy strawberry wine. It’s definitely not my favorite examples of viognier; I could name a dozen more that had showed a much better structure of the woodiness. Bruce and a couple others said it smelled musty. No matter, Aaron and Yeming found that they quite enjoyed the almost refreshing crispness of the wine.
We got a bottle of Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling $24 next. Aaron and I both agreed that the wine showed a lot of potential in the nose and body… alas only to suddenly disappoint with a finish that plunged into nothingness.
Happily, the next dry Riesling, Hermman Wiemer Dry Riesling $30, showed really beautifully. It was my favorite bottles of the night, with an elegantly light nose and dancing aromas of pineapple and floral notes, and a soft finish.
Wine Number 6 was a late harvest Riesling from the same vineyard, the Hermann Wiemer Late Harvest Riesling $30, and again, this one thrilled, though I’d much rather the drier version.
We tried a third bottle from the same vineyard, this one the Hermann Wiemer gewurztraminer $25 that had the clearest example of lychee notes so far. Beautiful nose, and the slight spiciness of the body was a delight.
Wine Number 8 was a Chardonnay, the Palmer Reserve Chardonnay $17, and Natalie, upon lifting the glass to her nose, immediately pointed out the buttery popcorn notes, and not just buttery, mind you, but with a little bit of burnt edge to it, as if the popcorn had been in the microwave for a couple seconds too long. How true! I loved it, and especially savored the slight salty edge in the wine.
We had a Pinot Grigio next, the Hunt Country Pinot Gris $16, and I stand by my statement that I’ve not had many Pinot Grigios that have wowed me, one excellent exception being the Pinot Grigio from Rocca, Italy. This was not it, but tasted pleasant enough, even if it didn’t give a lasting memory.
After all the whites, we finally moved on to the reds. My second favorite of the night, a Merlot blend, the Rivendell Merlot $17. This one had a funky-ish nose, not quite merlot tasting with its smell of wet earth/wood, but I loved the soft tannins in the mouthfeel and found myself reaching out for refills a couple times afterwards.
The next red was a Pinot Noir, the Six Mile Pinot Noir $22, and this was a surprising version, the color so light that it could almost pass for a rose. Not quite what I’d expect from a Pinot Noir – a little too tart and almost sweet for my liking?
The last wine of the night, a Salmon Run Petit Noir from Dr. Konstantin Frank, was interesting. The color wasn’t quite as light as that Pinot Noir, but still a lighter shade than the Merlot. Light and fruity. Apparently a blend of Gamay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvginon (how the hell did they come up with the name Petit Noir???).
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