Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guess which wine had me on the floor?

Wow- There are few tastings as focused and full of quality from top to bottom than the Skurnik Wines portfolio tasting. I was so excited to dive in and check out the new releases, from recently disgorged Grower Champagnes, to vibrant, fresh Rose' wines, zippy German and Austrian white wines, and a plethora of American, Italian and Bordeaux reds. I'm ready for a nap!

To kick off spring, I began with the beautiful wines at the 'Pink' table, celebrating all the wonderful Rose wines of the world. While I'm a traditionalist at heart, and truly adore the racy, brisk style of Provence, it was two wines from Portugal and Greece that stole my attention. The KIR-YIANNI Akakies 2013 had a hot pink color with lots of zippy, fresh grapefruit notes, and had a juicy mouthfeel. LOVED it. Then, the VERA VINHO VERDE 2013 equally impressed at an incredibly attractive price. It had super strawberry that made me super happy!

Then I moved to the Finger Lakes, one of my happy places (I have a lot of them in the wine world, as you'll see) and had the Charles Fournier Riesling Gold Seal Vineyard 2012, which stole the show for a bit with its bright apple freshness and beautiful rich texture. And I forgot how GOOD Upstate NY Cabernet Franc can be! This was the perfect balance of lightness and up front acidity, and intense flavor that persisted without being cloying. Really nice. Like a perfect Chinon without the weighty price tag. Under Twenty bucks too! Kind of HAS to come home with me....

Then I landed in Bordeaux, with some pedestrian wines, and one really awesome value that blew my doors off for under $15 called La Courdraie 2012. It is my perfect blend of 60% Merlot, and 20% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This drinks like a $40 California Meritage with CLASS. Yup- I said it!

My 'go-to' grape variety these days is Chenin and I FORGOT how AWESOME this wine can be when done well. If I were to find the PERFECTLY balanced white for drinking with absolutely everything in my cupboard, THIS would be it. Domaine de L'enchantoir Saumur Blanc 2011 has the complexity of good White Burgundy, the acidity of top notch German wines, and the elegance of a fine Champagne. AND the truly best part? It's $15!!!!

Then I scooted over to Italy to taste one of my favorite white wines in the world year in and year out. This insanely cool white wine from the Italian Alps is known as Kerner. It's a wild cross between the local Schiava and dry Riesling, with loads of peaches, apricot and white flowers on the nose and palate. And yet, it is DRY! Impressive length, and the subtlety hits you like a heart attack, as wave after wave of complex flavors waft over your lucky lucky palate. I could easily see paying $40 for this, and yet it's $25. This is COOL.

Oh how I DO love bubbles! If there is a greatest area of strength in a portfolio, I'd have to say it's in Michael Skurnik's unparalleled Grower Champagne selection from Importer Thierry Thiesse. Ok, I have a bread problem. I'll explain. When I smell brioche, there is a sort of visceral response that immediately makes me hungry and crave it intensely. The Pierre Gimonnet Brut Selection Belles Annees makes me do just that. It smells like glistening with butter, fresh from the oven, perfectly toasted, like baked brioche. I literally sat down in the middle of this busy wine tasting and got cozy with this gorgeous glass.

And finally, the grape variety that I 'cut my teeth on' as an excited teenager traveling throughout Europe that got me INTO this whole wine mess to begin with; RIESLING! It is not a coincidence that this noble grape is considered the king of all white wine. It is by far the most versatile thing you can put in your glass. Good German Riesling can be laser-like and super high in acid, causing your mouth to literally pucker in recoil at its lime-laden sour tartness. And then the very same wine from further up the slope or in a different valley can be honeyed, unctuous, rich, full, silky, and super duper long and sweet. No two are remotely the same!

So I was TICKLED when one of my favorite Mosel Riesling producers (next to Dr Thanisch), Johannes Selbach Oster came out with a KILLER value Riesling that really takes your palate to the stratosphere. With a name like INCLINE, that is an ENTIRELY appropriate description! From the Mosel's steep slopes, this is juicy with green and red apple, lime and spritzy, fresh acidity, and a lip-smacking medium body that has beautiful length. Yup, for $14, he NAILED it!

So, I'd bill the Skurnik CT Spring tasting as time well spent. There is something for everyone here.

Amy Dixon CSW and
Guiding Eyes for the Blind Elvis

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