30 Second Wine Advisor: Wine tasting potpourri 30 Second Wine Advisor: Wine tasting potpourri

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 Wine tasting potpourri
A traveling wine merchant drops by for lunch, bearing a half-dozen interesting wines.
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Wine tasting potpourri

One of the simple pleasures of writing about wine is the opportunity to meet visiting wine makers, winery representatives and distributors who pass through my city on business and, now and then, offer to get together to break bread, pull a few corks and talk about wine.

I certainly don't consider my tasting notes from these casual, convivial get-togethers to be as analytical as the wine reports I write at home based on extensive tasting of wines I've purchased on my own budget and consumed thoughtfully both with and without food.

Still, provided the circumstances are disclosed, I generally think it's worthwhile to share brief notes and information about such tastings, reasoning that it's a good opportunity to report on interesting wines that I might not otherwise have a chance to taste.

So it was my pleasure the other day to meet and enjoy lunch at Louisville's Napa River Grill with Brian Jordan, the Nashville-based regional manager for AV Brands Inc. Fine Wine and Spirits, a firm that both imports international wines and represents U.S. producers. Also joining us were Amy Cherrie and Nicole Weissman with the distributor Southern Wine & Spirits.

Brian brought along a half-dozen wines and a potent Italian aperitif for us to taste, with Napa's Artesa winery as the centerpiece.

Artesa ("Ahr-TESS-uh") is a property of the Codorniu Group, a Spanish producer from Barcelona that's perhaps best known for its cava, Spanish sparkling wine. Its impressive, high-tech facility in Carneros (the southern end of Napa and Sonoma on the north shore of San Francisco Bay), was originally built as Codorniu's American sparkling-wine facility. In 1977 management renamed it Artesa (meaning "craftsman" in Catalan) and begain producing quality still wines in the $20-and-up niche.

We also tasted a Septima Malbec, also imported by Codorniu; an excellent high-end Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige, and had a sip of the potent Italian aperitif limoncello.

Following are my notes on the wines tasted. Prices are estimated retail based on the distributor's list; actual street prices may be a bit lower.

Ca' Montini 2006 Pinot Grigio Alto Adige ($17-$19)

Straw color, with lush floral aromas and a hint of musk. Good texture, rich mouthfeel balanced by tart acidity. A serious Pinot Grigio.

Artesa 2006 Carneros Chardonnay ($18-$19.99)

Straw color with a light golden hue. Tropical fruit, ripe pineapple, leading into a medium-bodied palate with fresh tropical fruit and good acidity; finishes dry.

Artesa 2006 Carneros Pinot Noir ($18.99-$20.99)

Clear garnet, not too dark. Appetizing cherry perfume; appealing red-fruit flavors shaped by appropriate acidity. Simple but delicious Pinot.

Artesa 2004 Carneros Pinot Noir Reserve ($29.99-$31.99)

Red cherries and earth, a pleasant whiff of "forest floor." Intense cherry fruit and mouth-watering acidity, dry and fresh; nicely balanced and a bit more "Burgundian" than the regular Pinot.

Artesa 2004 Elements Red Wine ($21.99-$23.99)

The winery doesn't disclose the proportions of this stylish red blend, but Jordan says it's a mix of the Bordeaux varieties plus Syrah and Tempranillo. Dry and full, cherry-berry fruit and spice, it's a sturdy, appealing red table wine. Made to go with beef or lamb, it made a surprisingly good companion with an ahi tuna salad.

Bodega Septima 2007 Mendoza Malbec ($12-$14)

Dark garnet; plums and black fruit and a whiff of smoke. Juicy and ripe on the palate, with good acidity to bring it up to food.

Giori Limoncello liqueur ($19.99-$21.99)

We finished with this classic Italian aperitif; hazy pale yellow, it offers an intense scent of lemons and an alcoholic whiff akin to vodka. Sugary lemon zest on the palate leaves a lingering sense of lemon and alcoholic heat.



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