The Country Vintner Trade Show Tasting

This is a big month for distributor portfolio tastings.  Most wine growers are able to get away from their vineyards for a few days since a lot of the hard work is done, or in a waiting stage.  Most of the wines are resting in tank or in barrel and will be bottled come springtime.

The Country Vintner is one of the larger wholesale wine distributors here in Virginia representing about every wine producing wine region in the world.  They have a huge 170,000 square foot, temperature controlled (this is important) distribution center located in Ashland and a pretty huge 20,000 square foot center down in Florida.

Being in about every market, grocery store and restaurant here in Richmond they do deal with a lot of mass produced plonk.  They are however (with their deep pockets and heavy influence) able to bring in many of the elite and distinguished wine producers from many classic wine growing regions.

The industry only tasting (I was invited to sneek in) was held at the ever popular Boathouse Restaurant right here in Richmond.  It was packed.  Many people were bussed in from Virginia Beach and Charlottesville, it seemed most were in fact not part of the industry at all lending the function to feel as though it was a high class frat party.  I overheard one person telling Muffi Guilbert of Mas de Daumas Gassac that they didn’t like white wine. Another told Julia Gazaniol of Château de Parenchère they didn’t like Merlot.

There were quite a few beautiful wines to taste though.  The Country Vintner always opens a few sexy bottles from their portfolio, this time they included a 2005, Giacomo Conterno Barolo, and a 2007, Zind-humbrecht Gewurztraminer Clos Windsbuhl.

Not a fan of Billecart-Salmon but the Brut Rose was lovely.

My favorites were the wines of Isole e Olena.  The 2008 Chianti Classico will make you rethink your opinion of Chianti.  The 2006 Cepparello is one of the finest expressions of Sangiovese you will ever encounter.  Gorgeous.  They also produce a fascinating Chardonnay and a Syrah which accurately reflect the soil of Tuscany.  

Luca de Marchi was on hand pouring wines of Isole e Olena.  Along with his father Paolo they recently reclaimed their families estate Proprieta’ Sperino which is located  in Lessona, near Gattinara, above Barolo.  Think about elegant Nebbiolo wrapped in silk, mated with Gevrey-Chambertin and you can imagine what these wines taste like.

Alessandria Ciacci of Azienda Agraria Mocali represents early approachable Brunello di Montalcino and olive oil.  They also make value based wines from vineyards located south in Morellino di Scansano.  Very easy to drink.

Phillippe Blanck of Domaine Paul Blanck is a producer from Alsace new to the Country Vintner book.  The wines were classic examples, pure and focussed.  The 2007, Gewurtraminer’ Altenbourg stood out nicely as well as the baby 2007, Riesling Grand Cru ‘ Schlossberg.

Vittore Alessandria of Fratelli Alessandria has high quality and fair priced Barolo from Monforte and probably the coolest wine of the day the 2009 Verduno Pelaverga.  Light and spicy, very versatile with all types of cuisine.

Fattoria La Gerla makes powerful, structured, long lived Brunello di Montalcino and early enjoyable Rosso di Montalcino.  They also produce a modern style “Birba” from French oak barriqued Sangiovese.

Guiseppe Vajra of Azienda Agricola G.D. Vajra blends modern wine making with responsible vineyard stewardship to produce a wide variety of fascinating wines.  The 2009, Langhe Bianco “Petracine” is made from 100% Riesling and is meant for long aging, a noble wine that can translate the place from where it comes.  The 2006, Barola “Albe” is value priced and can be consumed early. It is always lovely.  Vajra also acquired the Luigi Baudana estate in Seralunga back in 2006 and now produces wines there with the estates original name.  The hills of Seralunga are known to produce the richest of all the wines of Barolo.

The tasting all in all was a nice showing with some great estates present.  These environments aren’t really the best way to evaluate wine.  Especially after mouth drying Bordeaux and mouth drying Barolo and mouth drying Brunello…It is a great way though to meet the people behind the wines and hear about the traditions involved in their farming and production.

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