Friday, September 14, 2007

Great Scott!

How many wines can a guy try in five hours? Well, not as many as Martin Scott Wines laid out on the two levels of the New York State Theatre lobby on Sept. 10. I mean, Jesus H. Christ, talk about your wine lakes. There was one at Lincoln Center this week.

But folks were eager to drink, let me tell you. I got that exactly when the event was due to commence and it was already packed. It never stopped being mobbed. Many of my choices were dictated by which tables had no wait. (These included the table of Tuscan Volpaia wines and one of my favorite Muscadets, the Domaine de la Louvetrie, which was pouring a 2006 and a 2004. Foolish imbibers! You missed it!)

Also relatively uncrowded was a string of organic Zinfandels from California. Now, I'm not a Zin man; the grape is often rendered too powerfully for my tastes, and I don't like to be bullied by my wines. But these makers turned me around. I tried Porter-Bass, Wild Hog (also made by Porter Bass), Klinker Brick, a grower-turned-winemaker (who was also pouring a second label, Old Ghost) and four examples by Carol Shelton, who was there in person. My eyes were opened. These were balanced wines with depth and authenticity. Not just fruit, but a dozen other aspects. All were from frightfully old vines that stretch back from 70 to 120 years. The alcohol was high on each, but the acidity and fruit was such that they didn't feel like sledgehammers at all.

The first wines I zoned in on were my dearly beloved Schiopettos from Friuli. They did not disappoint. A group of California cabs, including Howell Mountain, Snowden, Janzen and Oakville East Exposure were being loved by all around me, but the tannic, fruity bombs just made we want to lie down somewhere and surrender.

A scion of the Sepp Moser Austrian winemaking family was very gracious and accomodating, but I have to say I wasn't overly impressed with his weakish line of Gruners and Riesling. That is until he passed around a sweet wine derived from Chardonnay which was quite unlike any other dessert wine I'd ever had. Light, more floral, slyly invited. Nice job. A sweet wine called Schiltwein was also good.

Another surprise was the Iona Sauvignon Blanc from coolish Elgin, South Africa. A fine, clean, mineral version of this variety which showed immediate potential for aging. Quite impressive. Pure and intense. The dignified owner Andrew Gunn himself did the pouring.

I finished with a visit to the fortified wine, spirits and liqueur sections, tasted through some Bodegas Dios Baco sherries that has been abandoned by their keeper, and then visited the Etter table of Liqueur. All were good, refined stuff, but my favorite was the mind-blowing, mouth-coating flavorfest of the Creme de Cassis. Unctuousness never tasted so good.

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