I've been slightly busy as of late, so here is my posting on the awesome tasting hosted by Snooth about a month ago....
On March 23rd Snooth held their first ever People's Choice Wine Awards Grand Tasting which served about three hundred wines, all voted on by Snooth members alongside small dishes prepared on the spot. I went with my sister and her new fiancee, we had been looking forward to this for almost a month but were unsure of what to expect-- neither of them had ever gone to a tasting and it's been a few years since I've attended one.
The Grand Tasting took place at the Altman Building, a landmark building designed by Kimball and Thompson Architects in 1896 and used as the carriage house for the Altman Department Store. It sits on 18th street between 6th & 7th Avenue and served the purposes perfectly with the wide open space and vaulted brick ceilings. It also happened to be less than a block away from my current place of employment.
Since I was on antibiotics I went into it with a bit of a handicap, it didn't stop me from tasting... but put me in a slow pace with which most tastings should actually be approached with so as not to get intoxicated at lightning speed. I won't lie, we got all the way around the room and probably tasted just over half of the wine served. We got there just before six o'clock and the event was already swarming with people, so we grabbed our glasses and hit the the bubbly table first. To my chagrin we didn't get to try most of them because of the hoards clogging any attempt at trying even the Veuve Clicquot or Perrier-Jouet Fleur (pet peeve #1 at tastings, those who hang around a little too long around a table blocking others from getting in...) and so a little impatient we moved onto neighboring tables. I tried to guide my sister and her fiancee towards wines I knew or had tried or sold in the wine shops and was familiar with. I'll admit, I was a bit rusty and in trying to ask about some of the wines we soon realized that it was almost impossible because of the sheer volume of noise and not wanting to become a table hog more often moved on. Besides, there were many more wines to be tasted and that was the main point of this adventure.
We kept ourselves open to most everything that peeked our interest: red, white, bubbly, and dessert wines were open game. Popular brands like Simonsig, Hob Nob, Goats do Roam, Jordan, Silver Oak, Gnarly Vines, Marques de Caceres and even Yellowtail were all there alongside loads of other wines I only knew by region, varietal or because I recognized the label and hadn't had a chance to try until now. We made our way through a menagerie of wines in the beginning that pleased us and then hit the Italian reds--Barolo, Barbaresco, Amarone, Montepulciano. Suffice it to say there were some great ones there that needed a little bit more of one-on-one time and by now we already began to feel like most of them, including the New World reds from earlier, were exhibiting similar profiles and so, craving a change, we hit the new world: Australia. The Yalumba wines consisted of one bone dry Riesling, a Grenache, a Cabernet Sauvignon blend called the Scribbler, and their Antique Tawny. Out of the bunch I recalled the Grenache the best: on the lighter side and reminiscent of a Beaujolais with that dynamic combination of acidity and deep berry notes - sort of like smearing berries against aluminum, rubbing it into slate or stone of some sort, and licking it off, that's essentially the characteristic I love about those wines.
Next we hit up some Riojas, some reds from Bierzo (a little known wine growing region where Mencia is one of the main varietals and one that everyone should hunt down), and a Spanish dessert wine that wasn't particularly sweet, slightly reminiscent of honey, but mostly reminded me on the nose of fresh celery juice-- so cool, except for the part where it stuck around for the next few wines.
South Africa soon followed with a Pintage from one of the country's oldest wineries, Simonsig; it showed well, full bodied with a nose like that of frothy seawater on a warm summer day in the early morning blowing straight off the ocean. We then passed through some strange white wines from Slovenia (another instance where they needed a bit more attention) and then hit German Sekt (their version of bubbly), Rieslings and a Gruner Veltliner. All of them grown in limestone and exhibiting that seashell quality--lovely! I wish I could have taken that Sekt home, I love me my bubbly and this blend was fantastic and slightly bready on the nose-- think Cremant from Bourgogne with a German twist.
I have to say the last stretch was a little less than stellar even though there were some heavy hitters in that corner, but that could be because we were buzzed and our palates were well fatigued by this point. It was here that I got to try Silver Oak and Jordan's Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (wines that I'll most likely never purchase or have a chance to try again), Domaine St. Michelle (which makes a lovely bubbly-- go Washington!), Gnarly Vines (which we were all fairly unimpressed with but for the price point served well), and a refreshing Moscato d'Asti (one that dispelled any lingering misconceptions we had about this low alcohol and often slightly sweet bubbly).
Overall the event was a blast. In a way it pains me that I couldn't take down detailed notes of the wines I'd tasted, even if it was only the select few I can remember, but it's a tasting with three hundred wines and it's more about opening ones palate and enjoying company rather than analyzing each and every bottle as if you were at home. I applaud Snooth for organizing the event and can't wait till the next one!!!