Fri 14 Sep 2007
The annual portfolio tasting mounted by Martin Scott Wines of Lake Success, New York, is so vast that participants must limit themselves in some rational manner and mount an agenda-based attack or else wander aimlessly, trying wines here and there. Held on several levels of the lobby of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, the event offered almost 900 wines, of which I tasted, between noon and 5 p.m., Monday, about 120. Yes, that’s 24 wines per hour, one wine every two and a half minutes, and that’s counting taking time to chat with people and snatch cheese and bread from the snack tables and gulp it down.
I decided to limit myself mainly to pinot noir and chardonnay, because Martin Scott’s portfolio is rich in wines made from those noble grapes, being deep into Burgundy and small producers from California and Oregon. Most of these wines were from vintage 2005, a fine year for vineyard regions practically everywhere in the world, and, indeed, these wines did not disappoint. Interestingly, however, I found the examples from Burgundy bigger, more structured and more tannic, sometimes searingly so, than the models from California and Oregon; they also possess the potential for long aging and development, some perhaps not coming into their own until 2015 to 2018.
For example, I use phrases such as “Whoa, huge tannins!” or “Holy shit, staggering tannin” for wines like the Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Corbeaux 2005 from Domaine Heresztyn (“like drinking the vineyard”), about $88; and the Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Clos de la Marechale” 2005 from Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier (“you can smell and taste the limestone”), about $80; and the Volnay 1er Cru “Les Chevrets” 2005 from Domaine Henri Boillot (“wonderful purity and intensity”), about $100. The point, though, is not that these wines, and others like them, are merely stout and tannic, but that they are deep and powerful and exhibit profound clarity and purpose. Some are more approachable now than others, of course, and I’ll get to those wines and the other Burgundies when I write out full reviews in a full days, either on this blog or over on KoeppelOnWine.
The California pinots that showed size and structure similar to their Burgundian counterparts for 2005 included the Ketcham Estate Pinot Noir 2005, Russian River Valley (“great but quite serious”), about $55; the Pisoni Vineyards and Winery Pinot Noir 2005, Santa Lucia Highlands (“what power!”); the Fiddlehead Cellars “Cuvee Seven Twenty Eight” Pinot Noir 2004 — note the year — Santa Rita Hills (“deep, intense, powerful”), about $43; and the Adrian Fog “Savoy Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2005, Anderson Valley (“spare, elegant, fills the glass, wow!”), about $83. No, friends, these are not cheap wines, mostly being made in limited quantities.
Generally, however, the pinots from California and Oregon conveyed a sense of earlier drinkability and younger balance and integration than the wines from Burgundy for 2005, and just for the record, let me add that among the loveliest, most elegant and classic Burgundian-style pinots I have encountered from California is the Inman Family Wines “Olivet Grange Vineyard” Pinot Noir 2005, Russian River Valley, about $45. Pinot noir lovers who value nuance and finesse over power and size should search for this wine relentlessly.
So, we’re leaving for La Guardia in a couple of hours, and we’ll we back in Memphis this evening. I just wanted to give readers a preview of what would be going on in my (our) world of wine for a while.