Sunday, February 28, 2010

NY Wine Expo - or more like a bigger tasting

Yesterday I went to the NY Wine Expo at the Javits Center in Manhattan. For those unfamiliar with the Javits center, it's a popular site for trade shows as it spans a few city blocks. When I went to the Wine Expo a few years ago, the show took up the entire ground floor. This time it took up a 1/3rd of the place. I'm guessing that's due to the economy. Unfortunately, this meant that a lot of my favorite regions (namely Oregon) had limited to no presence. The upside is that the show was a lot more manageable this year. Well, mostly manageable - the guy working the Portguese Port table was particularly snobby. It's a good thing I already love Port, otherwise his attitude might have turned me off of trying it.

So who was there? Greek wine had a very large presence. Lately I've been reading a lot about how Greece is the next up and coming wine region and I was eager to taste Greek wine. For the most part it was disappointing, but one bright spot was Cambas Wines. I particularly enjoyed their Mantinia, a white that was light, well balanced and crisp and made me crave summer. I also liked their Nemea Reserve which was dry, with some good black fruit on the nose and palette, a slight hint of pepper and a lingering finish.

However, my favorites were (in no particular order):
-2007 Quinta Do Vallado Douro Red: Dry, elegant, plum and cherry; Would lay down for 2-3 years; Portugal
-2009 Dominio De Punctum Anada White: Slight oak, but not overdone, lovely and fragrant with apricot and honeysuckle notes; Spain
-2007 Bodega Monteviejo Petite Fleur Red: Balanced, black fruit, complex and smooth; Made me crave food; Argentina (but made by a winemaker out of Pomerol - not a shocker that I'd love this wine)
-2008 Conway Deep Sea Viognier White: Light, stone fruits and minerals; Would enjoy with lobster; Central Coast California

I was also pleasantly surprised by the white wines of Heron Hill out of the Finger Lakes Region in New York. One of these days I'm actually going to get up to the Finger Lakes!

All in all, it was a good show and though it was a lot smaller, I'm glad I went to see some of the newer vineyards and emerging regions I haven't had the chance to experience. Moreover, it was a great way to spend a cold afternoon - indoors sipping lots of wine.

On Thursday I'm heading to an Argentinian wine tasting. Are you shocked?!?

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff (uh, Thursday night),

Alli M.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Final Argentina Post - only a week late

I returned from Argentina last weekend, but I never discussed the final vineyard we visited and the one I'd been looking forward to all trip - Vina Cobos. Vina Cobos was created by a partnership amongst Paul Hobbs, Andrea Marchiori and Luis Barrand. Paul Hobbs is one of my favorite producers out of Sonoma. He makes incredible Cabernet Sauvignon and every wine of his I've tried has an incredible nose.

The Vino Cobos tour was actually quite brief - not that we minded after 2 days of tours and differing explanations for the same fermentation process. We then got down to the fun part, the tasting. I was hoping to taste some of the high end Vina Cobos labels, but it was the last day of the tour and I was exhausted and light on cash so I wasn't up for the additional tastings. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I should have just sucked it up, but that's what too much cheese, too little sleep and warm weather when you're body is expecting cold will do to you!

However, what we did taste was terrific. Like many of the Mendoza vineyards we visited, Vina Cobos has different labels - Felino is their value line, Bramare is their mid-tier and Vina Cobos is their high end. We tasted the 2008 Felino Malbec, the 2008 Felino Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2006 Bramare Malbec. My favorite was the Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, it was as good as some of Hobbs' Sonoma Cabs, at 1/4 to 1/5th of the price! Wonderful nose and palette of cassis with a slight hint of smoke. I even got some minerality - almost like wet pavement, which was unexpected and yet so pleasant. Or maybe it was just a whiff from the outside because it rained a little that morning. Though I can get it here, I just had to pick up a bottle. I liked the Malbecs as well. The Felino Malbec was what I've now come to expect from a young Malbec - deep purple in color, a lot of plum and raspberry on the nose with some pepper and earth notes. Quite tasty. The Bramare Malbec had more of a cooked fruit/raisin nose though the palette was very smooth with some bright red berry notes.

I've noticed that most of the older Malbecs we tried (2006 and earlier) had that raisin/cooked nose. However, almost all of these "older" Malbecs also had a brighter, more fresh fruit palette, like the Bramare. Really interesting. I'm guessing it's a function of how hot it gets in Argentina.

And yet here I am back in the cold.....Though it was a long trip down (10+ hour flight), it was worth it. Now I just have to figure out which new world wine region I visit next....or maybe I go old world and check out the land of Riesling or Burgundy....

Well, until the next sniff, sip or quaff (which will be tomorrow's "Wine Expo" at the Javits Center in NYC),


Alli M.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Just keeps getting better....

Another 8:45am pick-up for another day of tours and drinking. I was honestly a little concerned that I wouldn't make it, but I got my rally on and somehow saw my way through today's tastings. See how I suffer to deliver information and opinions to you?!?

Batter Up: Achaval Ferrer
Achaval Ferrer is a large Malbec producer, exporting several thousand cases of their Malbec Mendoza as well as a few thousand cases of their Quimera (Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc blend) each year. They also make small batches of single vineyard Malbecs - Finca Bella Vista (from Mendoza), Finca Mirador (from the East, which is a warmer climate) and Finca Altamira (from Yuca, which is a colder climate). I've had their Malbec Mendoza and hated it. For those of you who have actually been following this blog since last spring, you might recall I wrote about this Malbec this past July. Well, when in gotta give it another shot, right?!? Unfortunately they weren't pouring the Malbec, but we were able to taste a 2007 Quimera, Finca Mirador and a Dolce that they decided to make just for fun. The wines were much better than what we had this past summer and I'm hoping that we just happened upon a ruined bottle and didn't realize it. The Quimera was earthy, a bit too tannic for my taste and very dry. The Finca Mirador was beautiful - acidic with a strong nose and palette of green pepper. It also had some nice black pepper notes thanks to the year it spends aging in new oak. As much as I liked it, I couldn't justify spending $110 US for a bottle. It was very good, but not great. The Dolce was also quite good - sweet and jammy, but not syrupy. Since it was only available at the vineyard, I decided to pick up a bottle. Plus, it was a lot less than $110 US!!!

Bodega 2: Lagarde
Lagarde is the oldest vineyard that is still operating in Mendoza. They make several different varietals, including sparkling. For their high end sparkling, they use the traditional Champagne method. Learning about the "Methode Champenoise" and seeing the bottles they're currently fermenting was the highlight of the tour. It is painstaking process and it takes a long time which may explain why GOOD sparkling wine can be very expensive. Unfortunately, we did not get to taste any of Lagarde's high end anything, let alone their sparkling. It was actually a bit of a letdown, but somehow we found a way to get over it as we enjoyed their classically crisp and citrus-y Lagarde Sauvignon Blanc as well as their light, dry and refreshing Altas Cumbres Extra Brut. We then moved on to their Lagarde Malbec 2008, which was pretty good. Ruby colored, cherry on the nose with some smoke and oak notes. One thing I really liked about Lagarde is that with the wines we tasted they seemed to tailor their wines to the local climate. It gets very, very hot and dry here and as expected the Sauvignon Blanc and Extra Brut were refreshing, but even the red had a lighter touch and would be quenching on a hot day. It would be a red I'd give a friend who refuses to drink white, even when it's 95 degrees and they're eating salad.

Lunchtime: Ruca Malen
When we were planning this trip, our agency gave us a list of about 20 vineyards to pick from. We had to make sure that two of the vineyards offered lunch - one for Wednesday and one for Thursday. When I started researching where we should go, I read several favorable online reviews where people were raving about the wine pairing lunch at Ruca Malen so I made sure this was one of our choices. Little did we know that Lucas Bustos, the chef at Ruca Malen would also be the chef who cooked our lunch at Belasca de Baquedano (yesterday's incredible mid-day gastronomic experience). As you can imagine, we were even more excited heading into today's lunch. Once again, Lucas did not disappoint. From the pork empanas to the pumpkin terrine to the perfectly cooked filet, it all delicious and perfectly paired. We also had the pleasure of meeting Lucas and found out that he studied in Hyde Park, NY and apprenticed with Daniel Boulud at Boulud. The foodie gods have smiled upon us. And the wine? Well, it was good. Their high end label, Kinien, was particularly tasty and the 2007 Malbec with it's medium body and fresh plum and oak notes paired beautifully with the steak we had for lunch. It also had nice tannins and a medium to long finish. It's something I'd want to lay down and revisit in a few years.
The Finale (for today): Dolium
During lunch, our guide, Rolly, gave us the history behind Dolium. Dolium was started 10 years ago by an ex-engineer named Mario Giadorou. To save on cooling costs, he built the tank and barrel rooms several meters underground. Mario passed away a few years back, but his son, Ricardo, now runs the vineyard. Dolium is one of the bigger family owned vineyards in Mendoza. We were a little tired after lunch, but once Rolly gave us the back story, we were pretty excited to see the facility. The tank room looks like any other tank room, but it's definitely cool to look down over the tank room from the window in the ground level tasting room. However, the architecture was nowhere near the best part of the visit. In the tank room we had three tastings directly from the tank - a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (typically crisp, citrus-y, refreshing), a 2009 Chardonnay (pineapple, tropical, slight oak - not at all typical) and a 2009 Malbec (bright cherry fruit with some oak on the finish). Then, Ricardo joined us for another 4 wines in the tasting. We first tried the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc from the bottle. It had the slight petrol nose that I often get from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, but the body was light and not too acidic. Admittedly, Sauvignon Blanc is not one of my favorite varietals, but I can always appreciate a well made wine. From there, we moved on to the 2008 Classic Tempranillo. Several of the vineyards in Argentina seem to have Tempranillo - mostly for blending purposes. Tempranillo is another varietal that's not on my favorites list, but this was pretty good. It was light to medium bodied with a lot of red fruit and some pepper on the finish. It was also a bit astringent, which is my general feeling about Tempranillo. But the love was back with the 2007 Classic Malbec. It had the nose and palette that I love - gamey, earthy and a nice hit of red fruit - in this case raspberry. Medium to long finish. Unfortunately, the 2007 is no longer available so I picked up a bottle of the 2008. For $9 US, it was a no brainer. If I weren't so ridiculous about shoving everything into small suitcases, I'd have picked up two bottles. But it kept getting better.....Our final tasting was the 2004 Grand Riserva Malbec. It smelled like cooked plum and raisin and was very smooth with plum and oak on the palette. It also had good tannic structure and when speaking with Ricardo, he confirmed that this is something you could drink now or lay down for another 4-5 years. I had left my wallet with my credit cards back at the hotel and didn't have enough cash to buy a bottle, but I'm pretty sure I'll find one of their reserves in the U.S. Despite my klutzing out on one of the water canals in the tank room, this was my favorite visit of the day. Viva Dolium!

Tomorrow we have our final tasting at Vina Cobos. As some of you know, I love Paul Hobbs' wines (well, the few that I've tasted - many are well out of my price range). Vina Cobos is his vineyard in Mendoza and I've been looking forward to this visit ever since we booked this trip.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

3 Vineyards, No Sleep and One Nasty Stomach Ache

By vacation standards, we had an early departure this morning - 8:45am. Considering Argentinians don't eat dinner until around 9 or 10pm and we've been sticking to that schedule, it was that much tougher to get up. Then again, knowing that you'll be tasting wine at 9:30am makes it all worthwhile.

Before I go on, I should share a little "intel" on wine tasting in Argentina. As you might expect, it's not like wine tasting in the U.S. You need to have a reservation to visit a vineyard and you need to make these reservations at least a few weeks in advance. In addition, you are not just visiting tasting rooms as you would in the U.S. You will go on a tour at every vineyard before you taste. The tours are only about 20-30 minutes, but they do get repetitive. Between these rules and lunchtime/siesta, you can only schedule 3-4 vineyards each day. Our guide "stretched" and scheduled us for 4 today and 4 tomorrow. As you may have noted by the title, despite our best efforts and those of our driver, Eduardo, we might have shown up an hour late for our last appointment and missed it. Oh well. As far as we're concerned, it was Luigi Bosca's loss!

So without further ado, let me discuss the wine we actually tasted and the tours we actually took.
For those who are geographically challenged (and I count myself in this group), Mendoza is in the shadow of the Andes mountains which makes it an ideal place for growing wine and a breathtaking one at that. I've attached a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.
First stop: Dominio del Plata
Many of you may know of Dominio del Plata's Crios label, which is widely distributed in the U.S.
They make a very good Torrontes and though I'm not a fan of their Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon, many of my friends like their red varietals and for $12 - $15 per bottle, who am I to argue?!? Domino del Plata is also owned by Susanna Balbo, the first woman to get an enology degree in Argentina (according to the tour). I have an obvious bias towards wine chicks so I was pretty excited to hear this. I was also looking forward to trying some of the other labels they make. Unfortunately I was disappointed by Domino del Plata. The tour was quite good and Rudolpho was an excellent guide, but the tasting was lacking. We only tasted the Crios Torrontes, the Crios Malbec and the Crios Cabernet Sauvignon. The Torrontes was crisp and light with atropical nose and some tropical as well as citrus notes on the palette. The Malbec was a little too peppery for my taste while the Cabernet tasted a bit unbalanced (too much alcohol) to me. I was bummed I didn't get to try something I'd never tried from one of their other labels. If this were in a U.S. tasting room, I would have asked and/or offered to pay a supplemental fee, but this was the first time I've ever tasted in Argentina so I just went with it.

I was concerned that I would have a similar experience at the other vineyards, but this was not the case.

Round two: Finca Decero
I'd never heard of Finca Decero before we started planning this trip and when it came time to pick the vineyards we wanted to visit I chose it somewhat blindly based on some good online feedback. Thank you internet!!!! Rachel, Aimee and I all loved Finca Decero. Our guide, Anna, was only on her 5th day, but she was as charming and knowledgable as ever. The tour was standard, but it was very interesting to find out that they hand harvest their grapes twice - once out in the vineyards (like most Argentinian wine makers) and another time at the winery before the grapes are squeezed. But what really set Finca Decero apart was the product itself. They served us a Syrah, a Malbec and a 100% Petit Verdot (which is very rare since Petit Verdot is often used as a blending grape). All of the wines were wonderful. Initially the Syrah gave off a lot of alcohol on the nose, but after about 20 minutes, the fruit came through and I got a nice hit of some warm berries and spice. The Malbec had a surprisingly earthy, somewhat gamey nose with a hint of plum. It was well balanced, which I have had a hard time finding in Argentinian Malbecs (hot weather = higher alcohol and I'm particularly sensitive to alcohol notes). It was by far my favorite wine of the day and I thought the winemaker was really creative in his decisions - especially when it came to making a 100% Petit Verdot. Rachel and Aimee loved it. I really liked it as well with its dry, tannic jammy-ness (a good level of jam, not the jam of an overdone Pinot Noir). However, with the funky nose I have come to love, the Malbec legged it out for me.

Tres: Belasco de Baquedano
Again we started with a generic tour, but the one stand out was the Aroma Room. At the end of the tour, they let us into a room with over 50 stations, each giving off a different aroma when prompted. It was really fun to play and to figure out which notes I wanted to look for in wines. But as interesting as this was, the best part of Belasco de Baquedano was the lunch. As you read in my previous post, we've been a bit disappointed by the meals we've had here. That ended today when we had a phenomenal 4 course gourmet wine-paired lunch. We were very happy to dive into our well-seasoned, perfectly cooked, juicy and tender pieces of steak. There are not enough superlatives to describe the meal. I could not stop eating (hence the wicked stomach ache). AND, the steak was paired perfectly with Belasco de Baquedano's Swinto Malbec. It was a melt in your mouth pairing. Though we were very focused on the food, we did enjoy Belasco's Malbecs (it's the only grape they grow). Their Loan was a little too dry, alcohol-y and rustic for all of us, but their AR Guentota was smooth and spicey with some nice oak and their Rose was quite refreshing with a classic strawberry nose and palette.

Though we lingered over lunch and missed our last appointment, we were all a bit relieved as our stomachs needed a reprieve. However, we were able to rally and make it out for our customary 9:30pm dinner. This time, we finally hit it right with our restaurant choice and we all had fantastic meals - albeit alcohol free. Sometimes you just need a little Sprite to get you through the meal....
Tomorrow we're back on the van at 8:45am for our next round of tastings. Our lunch will be at a different vineyard, but we already know the chef of today's lunch will be cooking for us again. God (and Rolaids) help us.
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

1st Beer of the Trip!

Though it was our first night in Mendoza, we decided to veer from the obvious and we went to a local brew pub for dinner and beers. We didn't have Stella, but this was the only picture of beer I had from the trip. These big bottles or "double wides" as I call them are commonly served in restaurants in Argentina. At the brew pub, we all had the honey wheat beer which was quite good. Smooth, nutty with just a hint of sweetness. Nice cloudy honey color as well.

We paired our beers with pizza, which, was not so good. Unfortunately we've been a bit disappointed with the food. We expected to eat some of the best steak of our lives. What we've found is that they tend to under-season their steak (or maybe we over-season ours in the States!). Either way, we haven't been loving the steak.

Additionally, they seem to really love their cheese. The pizza we had tonight was basically bread with some oil and an over abundance of cheese. And yesterday, I ordered what I thought would be a tasty and light quinoa and pumpkin dish off of the "light choice menu" for lunch and it was basically melted cheese with some pumpkin and a few kernels of quinoa. Suffice it to say, I think I'll be holding off on cheese plates for a little while. I hope my fellow foodies and wine buddies back home understand.

One note - Aimee and Rachel have been raving about the helados (ice cream) as well as the sugar cones they come in. I've been trying to hold off as I'm usually too full after dinner, but I'm now thinking that I need to skip the meat, bacon and cheese dinners and go right to ice cream!

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or ice cream,

Cheers and Ciao Ciao,

Alli M. (a.k.a. Farmacity and Disco Supermercado's biggest fan)

p.s. Tomorrow I will go back to talking about grape based beverages, I promise.

Last Tango in Buenos Aires

For our final night in Buenos Aires, my friends and I attended a tango show. for those who know me, you know I don't love doing the obvious tourist things, but, when in Buenos Aires.....

The show opened with a seeming rip-off of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal," but it got better from there! The dancers were truly talented and though the storyline was a bit melodramatic, we had a good time. Moreover, our show came with a complimentary lesson beforehand. I barely remember the steps at this point, but the instructor was quite good and very, very patient. I have some video of my friend, Aimee, dancing but she'd kill me if I posted it and I'd like to remain friends with her.

We also had dinner with our show. We didn't expect the food or the wine to be good and we weren't let down on this account! The red wine would have been better off being re-packaged as varnish or perhaps rubbing alcohol while the white wine had a terrible nose of dried out raisin (not something you'd expect or want from a Chardonnay). They could have turned it into sherry - then again, it still would have been an incredibly crappy sherry. Well, we didn't expect much so we just went with it and the upside is that we barely indulged which made it easier to pack last night.

This morning we headed out to Mendoza. We had a nice lunch and enjoyed a bottle of Trivento Dulce Natural Vino Blanco with our meal. I had originally ordered a Torrontes, but the waiter told us this was better and the same price. It was very sweet - think a semi-dry Riesling. Like Riesling, it had some lovely tropical notes along with a lush mouth feel. I'm guessing the waiter assumed that 3 women wanting a white wine would want something on the sweet side (an assumption I'm constantly battling), but as my friend, Aimee reminded me, we were in Mendoza enjoying a local wine with our lunch. Really, can anything be bad about that?
Tomorrow we head to four different vineyards as well as a private winemakers dinner so I should have some more things to say tomorrow!
Until Manana (or the next sniff, sip or quaff),
Alli M.

Monday, February 15, 2010

And a not so good Malbec

Last night we headed out to a steak house that one of our drivers recommended. Note to self - when visiting a foreign country, you're likely better off taking restaurant and bar advice from people in your own age group, not a 60 year old driver! Then again, it really doesn't matter as long as there's a wine list, eh?

We decided to try something we hadn't seen in the states and we ended up having a bottle of Niente Malbec with dinner last night. NOT impressive. It was not balanced at all. The alcohol masked any sort of fruit. Unfortunately, I could not find an image to post on here. But with a bad wine, does it really matter?!? At the end of the evening, our server gave us a glass of Niente's Reserve. It was definitely better - much smoother - but the over-abundance of alcohol flavor was replaced with an over-abundance of oak flavor. Suffice it to say, I'm hoping we do not encounter this label in Mendoza!

Our server also gave us each a glass of complimentary sparkling wine. It was lovely. Semi-dry with a great citrus nose and mouth. I asked the server what it was and she explained it was a sparkler out of Mendoza called Charmont (or maybe Charmant). If I knew more than 10 words of Spanish, I would have asked to see the bottle, but unfortunately, that's all I have to go on. So now I'm on a mission to find some good sparklers in Mendoza - not a bad goal. Of course considering all the money I blew on leather goods today (I'm having a leather jacket being custom made for me as I type this), I might not be able to afford anymore wine!!

That said, until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Malbec, Malbec and more Malbec

As my regular readers - all 5 of you - know, I'm in Argentina this week for vacation. On Tuesday my friends and I head to the promised land (Mendoza), but until then, we'll be drinking a boatload of wine and I hope to make enough time to talk about it.

First, let me start by saying that we've been buying said "boatload" of wine at the Disco. It's not that we've been purchasing our wine where Gloria Gaynor rules, Disco is the name of a local Super Mercado chain and it, along with Farmacity, has become one of my favorite stores EVER.
Disco also has phenomenal prices on wine (the expensive bottles are in the $12-$15 range). We've been buying in the mid-range ($5-$7) and getting great bottles. Last night we had Don Maza 2007 Malbec. I picked it specifically because I'd never seen it in the U.S. I found a picture of a it on Google images so maybe you can find it in a store near you but I'm guessing it will cost a lot more than the $6 we paid!!!! In any event, it was nice - spicy, dry, some nice bright fruit - just what you want in a good Malbec. It was a little lighter than expected, which worked really well since it was our pre-dinner bottle.
At dinner last night I had a glass of Alamos Malbec, which has always been reliably yummy. My friends opted for the double wide bottle of Stella Artois. The beauty part is that dinner and drinks came to about $22 each - and that's with tax and tip. Getting down here is expensive, but once you're down here it's so cheap.....I may never leave. Especially since tonight we picked up a $5 bottle of Malbec, Perdriel Terruno 2006, which we're currently enjoying. I'm not loving it as much as last night's wine - the alcohol masks the fruit a little too much. However, for $5, what do you have to lose?!?

Tonight we're off to a steak house and will likely enjoy even more wonderful Malbec (and Torrontes and Stella and who else knows - chances are we won't spend over $40 each).
Until the next sniff, sip or quaff (or steakhouse or pre-dinner bottle),


Alli M.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Once again I've been a complete slacker and I have no reason to be. Last Sunday, I had a wonderful brunch with friends at one of my favorite local spots, Raymond's, featuring mimosas made with a wonderful dry, structured sparkling wine, Henry Varnay. To punctuate the wonderful meal, I ran into the proprietor of Amanti Vino, the local wine store where I take WSET classes. She's a wine hero of mine and it was fun to show off that I'd thought ahead and brought a bottle of sparkling wine (from her store no less) to the BYO restaurant!

And on Tuesday I followed this up with a pairing dinner at CulinAriane featuring the wines of Camille Giroud, a low yield high end producer out of Burgundy. For those fans of Bravo's "Top Chef," you might have heard of CulinAriane because it is the restaurant owned by Chef Ariane Duarte (Season 5) and her husband, Michael. It's one of my favorite places and I feel privileged to live a few miles away.

Upon arrival, we started with a glass of Parigot Rose. This is not one of Camille Giroud's wines, but it is a lovely rose and a great, crisp, yet berry filled sparkler, with which to kick off a meal. From there, we went on to the 2007 Beaune Blance "Lulunne" and then the 2007 Chassagne Montrachet "Vergers," both of which were served with a crispy scallop with a frisee salad in caper cream. The scallop was perfectly tender with just the right amount of crsipy coating. Both the wines were fantastic. The Lulunne was tight and acidic, with some sweet pear notes on the nose. It also imparted a lovely nutty flavor on the palette. The Vergers was a bit creamier and richer. I liked both of the wines a lot, but I preferred the Lulunne. I felt that with its acid it would be a bit more versatile when it came to food.

The next course was a seared rare salmon with saffron aioli. This was paired with the 2007 Marsannay Longeroiles. The salmon was terrific - perfectly seared - and the Marsannay was a really tasty, classic Burgundy with notes of dried cherries and red berries. I also got a nice hit of earth on the nose. However, I didn't think the wine paired with the salmon that well. It was like seeing two wonderful friends who are great couple material, but shouldn't be seeing one another. Sometimes things just don't mix.

But when it comes to pork and Burgundy reds, this is not the case. This is a match made in, well, France! Our next course was pork loin over a bed of cheddar cheese polenta and blackberry brandy sauce. It was perfectly tender and delicious, and yet, it wasn't even the best of Ariane's pork loin I've ever had! We were served the 2007 Pommard Epenots and the 2007 Latrcieres-Chambertin with the pork. The Pommard was savory and spicy with a hint of cashew (rarely do I get random notes like this, but there was definitely a nuttines to the nose). I loved it at first sip. and then I had the Latricieres-Cahmbertin which had a big, funky, gamey nose (just the way I like it) and a mouthful of bright, red fruit. I was tempted to jump up and start singing, "That's the way, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh," but decided to just wash down another forkful of pork loin with this delectable wine. So I'm now looking for a Sugar Daddy so that I can afford to drink a $165 bottle of wine on a regular occasion....yeah, didn't think so!

We ended the evening with my favorite dessert - an artisanal cheese plate (yes, this really is my favorite as desserts go) - paired with a 1976 Corton Bressandes which just coated the mouth and eased it's way down the throat. I savored my pour for as long as I could. Dark, earthy, but with fruit as understated and a mouthful as smooth as you'd expect a 34 year old wine to be. The wine is slightly younger than me yet so much more sophisticated!

As the evening wound down, I was already looking forward to my next wine pairing dinner - whenever that may be. I encourage all of you to seek out wine pairing dinners in your area because they are a great, and relatively inexpensive way, to learn about a lot of different wines in an evening.
Tonight some friends of mine and I are heading out to a new Italian bistro in town and I will hopefully post about it in the next day, rather than waiting another week and a half.
Until the next sniff, sip, or quaff (and sooner rather than later),
Alli M.