It never hurts to try new things when wine tasting
Nov. 22, 2001
You don't usually think of wine being seasonal, but it is. The big red wines sell rather consistently throughout the year because meat and Italian foods really know no season.
But the chardonnays, the sauvignon blancs and particularly the German white wines, sell better in the summer than they do in the winter. Sipping on the back porch or patio has many fans.
As for champagne because it is known a celebratory wine, it does have a year around base. But it peaks during the holiday season and from just before Thanksgiving until after New Year champagne is a major seller in any wine store.
That's why we decided last year that our November tasting should be devoted to champagne and nothing else. It has become an annual feature and it will be again this year.
We also looked at last year's list and avoided those that were served, even though most of this year's attendees probably weren't there in 2000. If they were, they have probably forgotten the pros and cons of the individual champagnes served.
But I can hardly urge you in column-after-column to try new products in the world of wine and then not arrange the tastings to do exactly that. So here is the lineup for the tasting of Nov. 29, our final tasting of the year.
The feature wine of the evening will be the Krug Grande Brut, one of the greatest wines made in France. I mentioned the wine last week and said it sells for about $120 per bottle. I was wrong. It sells for $140 per bottle and I've found it in ads by New York wine outlets at $165.
Here's what one critic said about this magnificent wine: "Krug puts quality first and makes champagne in its own individual style, regardless of popular taste or production costs. With the possible exception of Salon, this sort of quality is not equalled by any other champagne house, although it could be if they were willing to sell tiny quantities at very high prices. If everyone did this it would be a disaster champagne has to be affordable but that at least one house does is not just laudable, it is very important for champagne."
Krug is the greatest wine on the tasting table next week but there are several others from France that are considered to be high on he list of the best. Drappier Grande Brut at $45 per bottle is one. The magazine review said: "Drappier's champagnes are brilliantly consistent, ultra fruity and rapidly acquire mellow biscuity complexity."
The third French wine is produced by Bruno Paillard who, I am happy to say, is a personal friend of long standing. I have been to his winery in France, had dinner at his home and have enjoyed every single bottle with his name on the label. A review of Bruno Paillard champagnes went this way: "Bruno Paillard is champagne's fastest rising star. He opts for elegance rather than body or character and his Premier Cuvee is not just elegant, it is one of the most consistent non-vintage champagnes on the market." His wine is in the $40 per bottle class.
We have also selected three American sparkling wines. Remember no wine can be called champagne unless it actually comes from the champagne district of France. American wines, even those made the same way as the French, must be designated as sparkling wines.
One of the American offerings is Iron Horse Russian Cuvee. It is a California Sonoma County wine rated by The Wine Spectator at 90 and reviewed as follows: "Richly textured with toasty hazelnut, pear, peach, green apple and citrus notes blending elegantly in well balanced harmony. Firm acidity highlights the wine's substance and complexity. Finishes with both power and finesse." It is a $25 a bottle wine.
I was recently called on to review the Pacific Echo sparkling wine and liked it so much I added it to this tasting. It is crisp with lovely small bubble effervescence and a touch of citrus in the flavor. The wine retails for about $20.
The first wine of the evening is made in Washington State by the famed Ste. Michelle winery. At about $13 a bottle, it is a bargain. You'll be pleasantly surprised how so much quality can be purchased at such a low price.
Because of the demand at this time of the year, I had to buy the wine early for this tasting. For example, the Bruno Paillard was the last case in the state warehouse. If you were to buy one bottle of each of the wines to be served for yourself, the total price would be in excess of $250, tax included. Therefore, we must have reservations since the number of seats will be limited.
Please call 482-0930 or 693-1441 ext 143 to contact me for a reservation or further information. For this one tasting the price will be a bit higher than usual but the best always costs a bit more, doesn't it?
Stan Torgerson, a longtime resident of Meridian, writes a wine column for The Meridian Star.