The weekend's Boston Wine Expo offered the usual mix of good news and bad news.
With hundreds of wineries, distributors and importers offering samples of their wares from booths in the sprawling exhibition hall of World Trade Center Boston, the two-day event gives the serious wine lover a chance to taste from literally thousands of wines - many of them new releases not yet on the market - and to meet and chat with wine makers and knowledgeable winery representatives.
Despite a few significant disadvantages - primarily the high cost to the public, and huge crowds - the Expo is a trip worth making, and I've made it a point to get to Boston for the festivities every winter.
I tasted well over 100 wines at this year's Expo (and another 50 or so at wine dinners with Boston-area friends). If you would like to read all my tasting notes from the weekend, I have included links to the online pages below. For this E-mail report, I'll hit a few highlights.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape: One of the highlights of the Expo for me is Alain Junguenet's Wines of France, which offers the first easy opportunity to taste the coming year's releases. Based on quick tastings, the coming 2000 vintage seems more variable in Chateauneuf than the big, fruity 1998s or the traditionally structured '99s. Showing particularly well at this point are the 2000 Domaine Moulin-Tocussel, Domaine Pontifical, Domaine de la Cote de l'Ange, Bousquet des Papes and Le Vieux Donjon. Chateau-Fortia was hard to evaluate, closed and tannic, but showing promise.
Jean Thevenet: This artisinal producer from the village of Quintaine in Macon makes a range of absolutely remarkable Maconnais white Burgundies, wines of stunning intensity and flavor that redefine the name Chardonnay. Watch for his Domaine Emilian Gillet and Domaine de la Bongran.
Domaine Raspail-Ay: This producer, imported by World Shippers of Philadelphia, makes one of my favorite Gigondas. The 1999 is right up with the big and fruity 1998.
Portugal: Save for Port, Portuguese wines are still under-appreciated in the marketplace, but a broad selection from Massachusetts' Whitehall Imports was loaded with high-quality wines at bargain prices. Watch for Falua 1999 "Duas Castas" Ribatejo, a winner at $8; Casa de Santar 1999 Dão Reserva; Sentus 1997 Douro, and the purported successor to the once sought-after Barca Velha, Quinta do Vale 1999 Meão Douro.
Speaking of Port: Porto Barros 20 years old tawny is a delicious fruitcake in a glass, one of the most delightful tawnies I've tasted.
South Africa: Special thanks to Wine Advisor reader Charlie Lynch, an enthusiastic advocate of South African wines, for tracking me down and offering a guided tour of some of the top offerings at the South Africa tables. Highlights included Thelema 2001 Stellenbosch Sauvignon Blanc; Spice Route 1999 Swartland Flagship Syrah, and Vinum Africa 2000 Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon.
California: Many good offerings here, including the Zinfandels from always-reliable Renwood; Turnbull 1999 Napa Valley Red Wine; a fruity and quaffable Pinot Gris from Gallo's Rancho Zabaco; a good value $12 Monterey Pinot Noir (coming to national markets this summer) from Fetzer's new Five Rivers Ranch label; and all the wines from a delightful, tiny Santa Barbara winery, Richard Longoria.
If you would like to read all my wine reports from the weekend, here are the links:
Wine Expo tasting notes
Dinner at Angelo's in Stoneham
Dinner at King Fung Garden
Dinner at Thor and Theresa's
WineLoversPage.com has joined with Emerils.com to bring the fun of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse and his cooking to wine lovers on the World Wide Web!
For four weeks, "Emeril's Missing Ingredient Sweepstake" will present a new recipe each week for a good wine-pairing dish from Lagasse's latest book, "Prime Time Emeril" ... with one essential ingredient missing. Your challenge is to study the recipe (or, if you prefer, search for the complete original on Emerils.com) and figure out what key ingredient has been left out.
Each Friday we'll choose a winner from those who correctly identify the missing ingredient. Winners will get a free, autographed copy of Lagasse's latest book, "Prime Time Emeril," and a Grand Prize winner will win an entire Emeril Cookbook collection.
We'll also award a few bonus prizes - Emeril's spices and sauces - to the comments we judge most creative and imaginative among those who fill in the optional block inviting you to tell us why you chose a specific missing ingredient.
This week's "Missing Ingredient" recipe is SPICED BAKED HAM WITH SWEET POTATOES. For details, the recipe and entry form, see http://www.wineloverspage.com/emeril/index.phtml.Note from Acker Merrall: Auction Love is in the Air
Fellow Wine Lover,
February is upon us, and Acker Merrall's Spring 2002 season is officially off and running! As we speak, our latest chapter of our Internet epic is up and running ... check out http://www.ackerwines.com/onlineauctions. Over 750 new lots are available ... and we already have a healthy head start to the action with close to $100,000 worth of bids! Still almost 2/3 of the lots are available at minimum bid, so don't wait ...
Speaking of auctions, our first live auction catalog of 2002 is off the presses and in the mail. We have titled the catalog "All You Need Is Love" in honor of not only the month, but also the spirit of wine and sharing it with others ... in fact, in that same spirit, we are offering a FREE CATALOG to anyone who does not receive it already (this month only) ... at least for the first 500 people that respond - after that, we're all out! The sale is spectacular, with over 1,500 lots of phenomenal wines available. You can also search the catalog through our website, http://www.ackerwines.com/onlineauctions.
Surrounding the live auction will be the our infamous pre-auction tasting on Friday night as well as our legendary BYOB dinner after the auction on Saturday. Already slated for an appearance on Friday are 75 La Mission, 90 Grange, 82 Las Cases, 94 Araujo, 92 Harlan, 89 Le Pavillon, Jayer, Colgin, Petrus,and much more! Our last BYOBs would have made the greatest Roman Emperors envious ... 95 Screaming Eagle, 90 La Tache, 74 Heitz MV, 76 Grange, 97 and 94 Harlan, 78 La Chapelle, 71 DRC RSV (out of magnum), 89 Haut Brion (out of double magnum) ... get the idea? Don't worry, if we don't see you the Saturday night after the auction, we'll make sure to tell you all about it! Please contact Corrine at (212) 875-0222 or email@example.com for reservations before the events sell out.
Speaking of events, our affiliated company, the Wine Workshop, has launched its 2002 Spring schedule ... you can access our events through http://www.ackerwines.com/workshop. Over 40 events featuring appearances by Clive Coates, Manfred Krankl, Eric Solomon, Dan Phillips, Bill Blatch, Paul Hobbs, and more are available for your tasting pleasure!
Our next auction is April 6 at the Beverly Hills Peninsula in Los Angeles, and it promises to be another spectacular weekend. All wines for this sale must be received by the end of February (on either coast). Get us those lists ASAP.
We look forward to a healthy, happy, and productive 2002. All the best to you and yours,
President & Auction Director
For Monday-only readers who'd like to read specific daily Wine Advisor articles, here's last week's index:
Two Gruner Veltliners (Jan. 31)
Organic Provence (Jan. 30, 2002)
Link: Supply, demand and WineReleaseDate.com (Jan. 29, 2002)
Bottled late, enjoyed early (Jan. 28, 2002)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.