By S. Irene Virbila - May 28, 2013
This week two big wine tastings came to town. The drill for any of these tastings for the trade and press is pretty much the same. Enter, give your name, get your badge and program, and pick up a wine glass on the way in.
The first was a tasting in celebration of the distinguished San Francisco importer and distributor Chambers & Chambers' fortieth anniversary held at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Nah, we didn't get to lean against vintage Jaguars and muscle cars while we sipped. But we tasted the equivalent in this generous tasting replete with older vintages.
I loved seeing the excitement of young sommeliers and wine buyers as they tasted the extraordinary Vosne-Romanée "Clos des Réas" premier cru from 6th-generation vintner Michel Gros, the Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé Bonne Mares grand cru, or Roche de Bellene Corton "Les Grandes Lolières," also a grand cru. Few of us get to taste wines like these very often.
Balancing my glass as I tried to scribble notes, I made my way around the room, stopping at Billecart-Salmon for a taste of the latest brut rosé and at Dalla Terra's table to taste a range of exceptional Italian regional wines.
I tasted some swoon-inducing high-end Burgundies, but also a very pretty Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits Blanc priced under $20 wholesale. In fact, I found a number of reasonably priced wines that should be showing up in shops and on wine lists soon, including the 2012 Viognier (only 500 cases made) and Rhone reds from Terre Rouge in the Sierra Foothills. They also produce a nice little bistro wine called Téte-à-Téte with more Mourvèdre in the blend.
I chatted a bit with Ehren Jordan, as of this April the former winemaker for Turley Wine Cellars, now concentrating on his own wines, including a very pretty 2012 Failla Wines Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir. Elegant and nuanced, his own wines are an abrupt departure from the Turley style.
Ernie Loosen of Dr. Loosen in Germany's Mosel was pouring a terrific Riesling Kabinett from the famous Wehlener Sonnenuhr vineyard. Next to him the Crusius family of Dr. Crusius in Nahe showed an excellent Traiser Rotenfels Riesling Kabinett.
I appreciated the minerality in Sergio Mottura's Greccheto "Poggio della Costa," a white from Umbria. Paolo de Marchi of Isole e Olena in Tuscany had the 100% Sangiovese 2009 Cepparello and his 2006 Syrah, still one of the best in Italy.
So many wines, so little time.
My last stop: Charles Neal Selections Calvados and Armagnacs (Neal has written a book on each), wishing I could have snuck off with some Domaine Boingnères Le Frêche Bas Armagnac to savor while I dipped into John Le Carré's latest spy novel that night.