If you enjoy trying small samples of a lot of different wines and don't mind a bit of a frenzy, there's hardly a better way to get this sort of educational exposure than to wangle an invitation to a trade tasting.
It was my pleasure to get in on such a tasting this week, when the excellent Cincinnati-based importer/distributor Vintner Select came to town to show local wine buyers and restaurateurs samples of more than 50 new arrivals from Italy, France, Spain and Australia, as well as a cross-section of its fine California portfolio.
The scene at Louisville's Blue Dog Bakery (which provided delicious goodies from pizza to paté and, of course, first-rate artisanal breads) was crowded and noisy. One of the difficulties of this kind of tasting can be a distracting environment that makes it tough to spend much time in deep analysis of each wine. But I soldiered on, and came home with a PDA full of brief notes on more than 40 new wines, which I share with you today.
Prices given are my unofficial estimates, approximating what you might expect to pay based upon the distributor's wholesale price.
Vintner Select distributes wines in Ohio, Kentucky and parts of North Carolina; many of its imports are also represented in other parts of the U.S. by other regional importers such as Skurnik in New York and North Berkeley in California.
Note that some of these wines are recent arrivals, so it may be a while before they show up on retail shelves. To find vendors and compare prices, plug in specific wine names on Wine-Searcher.com:
Italy - Marc de Grazia
Il Palazzone 2002 Rubio ($15)
Il Palazzino 2002 La Pieve Chianti Classico ($22)
Sassetti - Pertimali 2002 Rosso di Montalcino ($27)
Le Terrazze 2002 Rosso Conero ($16)
E. Pira & Figli 2001 Chiara Boschis Barbera d'Alba ($27)
La Spinetta 2001 Pin ($54)
Clerico 2001 Arte ($45)
La Spinetta 2002 Barbaresco ($90)
Casanova di Spinetta 2002 Toscana Rosso ($20)
My old friend David Schildknecht, Vintner Select's French importer, presided at this table and modestly accepted congratulations on his recent appointment as contributor for Austria, Germany, Eastern Europe, and North America east of the Rockies in Robert M. Parker Jr.'s Wine Advocate.
Marc et Roger Labbé 2004 Abymes Vin de Savoie ($9)
Boudin 2003 Chantemerle Chablis ($22)
Javillier 03 Meursault les Tillets ($54)
Egly-Ouriet non-vintage Brut Tradition ($45)
Chateau Haut-Guiraud 2001 Côtes de Bourg ($14)
Hervé & Cyprien Arlaud 2003 Bourgogne Roncevie ($22)
Gérard Raphet 2003 Givrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St. Jacques ($76)
Domaine Réméjeanne 2003 Côtes du Rhône-Villages "Les Genevriers" ($22)
Le Roc des Anges 2003 Côtes du Roussillon-Villages ($30)
Domaine du Dragon 2003 Côtes de Provence Cuvée St.-Michel ($16)
Spain - European Cellars (Eric Solomon)
Gramona 2004 Penedes Gessami ($15)
Arrazu 2003 Artazuri Navarra ($11)
Les Alcusses 2002 Roure ($18)
Elvi 2003 Makor ($20)
Castaño 2002 Solañera Yecla ($15)
El Seque 2002 Alicante ($30)
Closa Battlet 2002 Priorat ($45)
Cinnabar 2002 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay ($30)
Alban 2003 Edna Valley Estate Viognier ($36)
Lane Tanner 2003 French Camp Vineyard San Luis Obispo Syrah ($24)
Bonny Doon 2001 California Le Cigare Volant ($36)
Robert Sinskey Vineyards 2001 Merlot Los Carneros ($30)
Robert Pecota 2002 Kara's Vineyard Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($45)
Rabbit Ridge 2002 LPR Russell Family Vineyard Reserve ($34)
Selby 2002 Sonoma County Bobcat Zinfandel ($35)
Qupé 2003 Central Coast Syrah ($18)
Edmunds St. John 2003 Bone-Jolly El Dorado Gamay ($20)
Talbott 2002 Logan Monterey Pinot Noir ($22)
Havens 2001 Napa Merlot ($27)
Laurel Glen 2001 Sonoma Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($60)
Paras Vineyards 2000 Mount Veeder Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)
These two top Australian selections were tucked in at the end of a line of Californians.
Dutschke 2002 Willow Bend Barossa Merlot-Shiraz ($25)
Torbreck 2003 The Struie Barossa Shiraz ($50)
I regret missing the table at which Robert Whale's Australian imports were presented, as it included such Ozzie favorites as Plantagenet, Coriole and Parker Coonawarra Estate.
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Katrina fund-raiser: Wine sweepstakes winners announced
Many thanks to the 126 Wine Advisor readers and Wine Lovers' Discussion Group participants who made our charitable fund-raiser a big success by contributing well over $10,000 in donations to non-profit organizations involved in the Hurricane Katrina clean-up effort.
We've closed out the associated wine sweepstakes today, and the winners, selected at random from all entries, are listed below, along with the wine prize that each winner will receive.
Nick Molnar, New York, wins the Chateau Meyney "mini-vertical" (1986, 1989 and 1990) contributed by Dale Williams.
Bob Archibald, Oregon, wins the 1990 Chateau l'Angelus contributed by Randy Buckner.
Bill Gussett, Ohio, wins the 2001 J.J. Prum Goldcapsule Auslese contributed by John Trombley.
Mark Lipton, Indiana, wins the 1999 J.L. Chave Hermitage contributed by Robin Garr.
Carson Callahan, Florida, wins the 1998 Donnhoff (Oberhauser) Eiswein contributed by Randy Buckner.
Johanna Turner, Kentucky, wins the Dehlinger 1998 Russian River Valley Syrah contributed by Robin Garr.
Elizabeth Freligh, Massachusetts, wins the 1999 Bousquet de Papes Chante le Merle Chateauneuf du Pape contributed by David Bueker.
Paul Marquardt, Washington, D.C., wins the 1982 Chateau Latour contributed by Bob Ross.
Roger Merrick, Colorado, wins the 1990 Chateau Pichon Longueville Baron contributed by Randy Buckner.
Marc Davis, Washington, wins the 2000 Chateau Leoville Barton contributed by Randy Buckner.
Evan Schwartz, New York, wins the 1982 Leoville Las Cases contributed by Bob Ross.
Dale Williams, New York, wins the 1975 Chateau Lafite contributed by Howie Hart. (Dale was the source of the fund-raiser idea, by the way, so the happy coincidence that made him a random winner returns a small, well-deserved reward for the significant effort and personal contributions he offered to make this venture a success.)
John Tomasso, California, wins the 2001 Marcassin Chardonnay Three Sisters Vineyard contributed by Allan Bree.
Dr. Arthur Lewis, Georgia, wins the 1998 Muller-Catoir (Muzbacher) Eiswein contributed by Randy Buckner.
James Dietz, California, wins the 2000 Marcassin Pinot Noir Marcassin Vineyard contributed by Allan Bree.
Clark D'Elia, Washington, wins the 2000 Chateau Lynch Bages contributed by Randy Buckner.
Winners will be formally notified by E-mail today, along with contact information so winners and prize donors can get together to arrange shipment of the prize wines. (By the way, while winners were selected at random, I paired winners and prize donors non-randomly, seeking where practical to minimize the distance between winner and donor to simplify shipping issues.)
And, although the contest is over, of course we continue to encourage contributions for Katrina relief and other worthy causes through Network for Good, a reputable organization that acts as a clearinghouse for online contributions to quality nonprofit organizations in many areas of need. A list of more than 100 worthy Katrina-related organizations will be found online at
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Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2005