Friday, October 9, 2009

A Million Wine Stories in the Naked City

One of my favorite things about wine is that there are so many amazing stories behind each and every label, even the ones you think are huge, heartless corporations are still small business when considered in the realm of corporations around the world. Today, at a tasting of one of the largest wine portfolios in the New York, I heard a few stories that I felt compelled to share with you.

Its a sad thing that too many of the people who sell wine feel obligated to talk stats - grape composition of blends, use of oak and malolactic fermentation, reviewer scores, yadda, yadda, yadda! Just when I was getting to the tipping point, I met Hugh Hamilton, the owner and winemaker of Hugh Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale, Australia. He was friendly, a refreshing face in a room full of sellers and buyers, a refreshing personality from a place so far removed from our venue, Budda Bar, in the bowels of the meat packing district. I arrived at his table specifically interested in tasting Jim Jim Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 and Jim Jim Shiraz 2007. Who is Jim Jim, you ask? “He’s our dog,” said Hugh, as he handed me a postcard with a picture of the Labrador/Kelpie mix enjoying a sunny day in his home vineyard. “He’s a clever dog,” Hugh said proudly. The postcard was apparently one in a series of Wine Dogs - the dogs of Australian wineries. You’ll find this kind of canine-wine love in the books Winery Dogs of Sonoma and Winery Dogs of Napa (Winery Dogs Publishing, $36.00 & $38.00 respectively). The wines were really good, as well! The Chardonnay, crisp and refreshing with lovely balance, the Shiraz showing the depth and complexity of a pricier wine than itself - two winning selections!

From right here in New York, a relatively new wine called Imagine Moore, owned by Tim and Diane Moore, comes in a bottle whose label is silkscreened right onto the glass. The winery is the first one to be established in the Naples Valley, a Finger Lakes outpost, in 100 years. Each bottling features a picture of the Moore children. I tasted Imagine Moore Peace Pinot Gris 2007 which was rather good, with an edgy herbal, eucalyptus, sage vibe that reminds me of versions of Pinot Gris from Alsace, France. Their other wines dare you to imagine in many ways - Imagine Moore Joy Riesling, Imagine Moore Grace Dry Rosé.

There are a million wine stories in the naked city - stories of fortunes lost and won (see my first blog in this series, Wines of our Lives), families growing, pets, landscapes, history. Next time you go wine shopping, ask your fave retailer for some interesting tales among the wines you find on their shelves. If you’re lucky, you’ll walk away with more than just a bottle for the night!

The wines mentioned herein were tasted at no cost to the author of this article, but were not provided for the purposes of this article. The providers of these wines had no prior knowledge of the author’s intention to mention and endorse the wines in this blog

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