Recently I had the opportunity to attend two portfolio tastings that swung through Dallas. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to attend a portfolio tasting; it’s designed to showcase the wines imported and distributed by the company sponsoring the event. It is a bit of a “kid in a candy store” experience, with wine buyers, restaurants, sommeliers and other industry wine people together in one place at the same time.
Winebow was the first to come through town with the Vini d’Italia Tour 2014. With this tour there was an opportunity to spend a brief period of time with one of my favorite wine people and friends, Melissa Sutherland Amado. The tour focused on the Northern, Central and Southern regions of Italy and with 35 wineries they brought an array of wines.
Melissa brought me through a variety of Italian wines. I enjoyed them all – it was a diverse and interesting snapshot into “off the beaten path” Italian wines. My favorites included:
- Valdipiatta (Toscana) Vino Nobile Di Montulciano DOCG – this was 95 percent Sangiovese and 5 percent Canaiolo Nero. It was elegant and delicious.
- Giuseppe Cortese (Piemonte) Barbaresco Rabaja Riserva DOCG – this was earthy, rich and fabulous. I really enjoyed this wine and would love to see what develops in the bottle over time.
- Tenuta di Fessina (Sicilia) Erse Etna Rossa DOC – grown in volcanic rock, this was a mix of herbs, flowers, oak and black fruit. I loved it – so different.
- Altesino (Toscana) Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG – made from 100 percent estate grown grapes, this wine was truly the crème de la crème of the region. It was stunning.
The next portfolio tasting came from the Wilson Daniels, a company known for its collection of luxury wines and spirits. When I say luxury, I mean luxury. Approximately 32 wineries and spirit companies attended and attendees were given several tickets that I soon realized the value of as I walked the floor. The first ticket entitled us to a generous taste of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux, one of the Grand Cru burgundies.
I quickly learned to hold my other tickets close to the vest as the second one brought me to Domaine Leflaive where I tried the 2009 Puligny-Montrachet. Whoa. There I had a great conversation with the rep at the table who guided me toward a small winery purchased by Anne-Claude Leflaive and Christian Jacques in 2008. Clau de Nell made some great estate wines that are biodynamic. I had never tried Grolleau, a native Loire Valley wine that I loved. Seek it out if you can find it.
My final ticket gave me access to the Royal Tokaji portfolio where I was lucky enough to sit down with Ben Howkins, author of Tokaji, “A Classic – Lost & Found” and the co-founder of Royal Tokaji and the Tokaji Renaissance. He personally tasted me through 10 wines in the portfolio including still and dessert wines that ended up with a spoonful (yes, usually a mother of pearl spoon, but not at a portfolio tasting) of the 1991 Tokaj Betsek, proof that God loves wine.
This was a great week to be a wine blogger – I must say. The good news is that these importers understand that Dallas wine drinkers expect to have access to great wines – and they are answering the call.