Monday, January 23, 2012

Boston Wine Expo, Some Random Notes, and the Ghost of Myra Kraft

This weekend sure did not want for excitement.  The two cornerstone events--the Wine Expo and the AFC Championship game--were both on Sunday, leaving a Saturday sized black hole in my schedule and causing me a little bit of unease.  However, I somehow persevered.  I'd like to first talk about the football game.  In a weekend full of wine tasting and borderline over-consumption, watching the Patriots game, while drinking only water, was the most damaging activity to my health.

I've covered my love for the Patriots before, so I won't go into the history.  Suffice it to say, I was pumped for this game.  I wasn't as confident in victory as so many were, but I thought the Pats had the edge.  Then again I thought the pats had the edge in 2009 too, but it only took one 83 yard Ray Rice dagger to prove me wrong. Many others have exhaustively covered the events of yesterday's game, so I'll only touch on a couple highlights/key moments.
  1. BenJarvus Green-Ellis scoring on an 8 yard run, then pointing to the MHK patch on his jersey. (I knew I shouldn't have been cutting onions during the game)
  2. Brady going over the top on 4th and goal then nearly being cut in two by Ray Lewis.  I'm surprised more hasn't been said about this.  Lewis (an obvious first ballot HOFer) has made his name by playing juuuuust this side of dirty, and this was a perfect example.  He knew Brady was in, but took the shot anyway.  
  3. Brandon Spikes' awesome INT, followed by perhaps the single worst play call (and execution) of the Patriots' season.  How do you follow up a death blow like that by calling a deep pass to your #5 WR? For a second I thought it was Bill O'Brien that had died the previous night.
  4. Bernard Pollard.  Honestly, what an asshole.  Takes out Brady in '08, Welker in '09, and now maybe takes Gronk out of the Super Bowl. On my list of hated athletes, he is firmly #2 behind this guy.
  5. Billy Cundiff is probably resting on the bottom of the Chesapeake right now.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, I'm with Jerod Mayo in saying Myra may have had something to do with both Cundiff's yanked kick and Sterling Moore's sudden ability to play football.
A short footnote on Myra Kraft (MHK).  By now everyone knows the story, Myra died this summer as Robert Kraft was working to end the lockout.  She was a tireless philanthropist and just an overall good person.  In my first year of teaching, one of her granddaughters was in my class, and meeting her on Grandparents' day was wonderful.  A genuinely nice person.  Feels right that the Pats will get to wear their MHK patches one more time.

So--the wine.  I shared some delicious wines with friends on Thursday night which I want to talk briefly about here.  First up was the 2006 Buronfosse Cotes du Jura "les Ammonites" that I bought on Thursday.  I simply couldn't wait to open this up.  It showed just as beautifully as I expected.  It was slightly less oxidative than my previous Jura experience and that, I believe, was to its benefit.  Beautiful lemon and subtle pear fruit mixed with a delicious almond and peanut skin characteristic that made it really fascinating.  This wine was showing very little at refrigerator temperature, but when it was a little warmer, the full spectrum of flavors and aromas was present.  I'd recommend serving this a little warmer than most of your whites. (Side diatribe--almost everyone, restaurants included, serves white wines WAYYY too cold and red wines WAYYY too warm.  I like to let my whites warm up slightly from fridge temp before serving, and I like to chill my reds in the fridge for about 15 minutes before serving.)  I served this Jura wine with Comte cheese, a gruyere made in the Jura region.  The pairing, as one would expect, did not suck at all.

Next up was the 2009 Château de Mayragues Gaillac.  I bought this wine down at Chambers St. in NYC this fall.  I buy nearly every Gaillac I see, because they are so rare and, to me, so delicious.  I have uncles that live in Montauban, France just north of Toulouse and just outside the boundaries of the Gaillac AOC.  While there, I completely fell in love with the wines.  They use local, obscure grapes like Duras and Fer mixed in with international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah.  This wine was 60% Duras and 40% Syrah.  I find wines made from Duras to be incredibly unique.  The nose on this wine was almost overpowering in its spiciness.  It was like walking into a Penzey's store.  It also showed some dark fruits like plums and blackberries.  The palate was filled with the same dark fruits as well as cumin and white pepper.  This was a very well executed blend.  I find that too often winemakers mix international varieties with local varieties in an attempt to overpower the local varieties.  Here, the Syrah played well with the Duras.  It was still present (white pepper), but let the Duras do most of the talking.  A wine worth seeking out, as are any wines from Gaillac.  They certainly will not be run of the mill.

Lastly I want to talk about the Boston Wine Expo.  My mother lovingly gave me two tickets for Sunday's event, so a friend of mine and I set off to the World Trade Center yesterday to taste some delicious wines.  I had looked at the list of exhibitors before hand and had narrowed the list down to those I was interested in.  At a big tasting like this, it's easy to be overwhelmed, but I figured out 3 priorities and we stuck to them pretty well.  First was to get a broad sense of new regions.  Second was to taste any local wineries that were pouring.  Third was to visit small, domestic wineries that we were already fans of.

We spent a great time tasting at the table of Finger Lakes, NY wines.  Quality has skyrocketed in this region, and with some increased distribution, this should be mainstream sooner rather than later.  They are capable of producing bracingly dry rieslings, delicious pinot noir, and some of the best Cab Franc in the country.  This is an area to watch.  Wines I particularly enjoyed from this area included:
  • 2009 Fox Run Dry Riesling
  • 2008 Fox Run Cabernet Franc
  • 2008 Fox Run Cabernet Franc & Lemberger (Blaufrankisch) blend
  • 2009 Ravines Riesling
  • 2010 Ravines Rose of Pinot Noir
  • 2008 Ravines Cabernet Franc
  • 2008 Ravines Meritage (Cabernet Franc and Merlot)
  • 2008 Dr. Konstantin Frank Pinot Noir
  • 2009 Dr. Konstantin Frank Rkatsiteli
Next up we spent a great deal of time at the Hellas Imports table featuring the wines of Greece.  I've made it my goal in the coming year to learn more about the wines of Greece.  They are delicious and completely underpriced due to limited recognition as well as the complete inscrutability of most of the labels and grape varieties.  Excuse the lack of vintages on these.  They're all the current vintage available in stores though.  I loved:
We also stopped at the table for Laureate imports which specializes in Slovenian Wine.  I was hoping for some oddball stuff along the lines of Alex Kristancic, but settled for some moderately priced Pinot Grigio that didn't suck, and the Traviata Ribolla Gialla which was decent as well.

Next we focused on two California wineries that we both love: Truchard Vineyards and Inman Family Wines.  It's worth noting that JoAnn and Tony Truchard were pouring the wines at the Truchard table, and Kathleen Inman was pouring the wines at the Inman Family table.  Can't get much closer to the action than that. These are wines that you should buy if you see them.  Between these two tables the standouts (and the standouts were incredible) were:
  • 2010 Truchard Rousanne
  • 2010 Truchard Chardonnay
  • 2008 Truchard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2008 Truchard Syrah
  • 2010 Inman Family Russian River Valley Pinot Gris
  • 2010 Inman Family Chardonnay
  • 2007 and 2008 Inman Family Pinot Noir Olivet Grange Vineyard. (I preferred the 07 to the 08, as did Kathleen.  It's a leaner, lighter wine with more structure)
  • 2007 and 2008 Inman Family Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge Ranch Vineyard. (Again, I preferred the 07)
  • 2009 Inman Family Brut Rose Nature "Endless Crush" (a ridiculously good, sans-dosage sparkler)
Lastly, before we headed out, we stopped by Turtle Creek winery located in Lincoln, MA.  I've been singing the praises (to anyone who will listen) of their "Conservation Hill" Cab Franc and Chard made entirely of MA fruit.  They were only showing their CA wines (including a rocking barrel sample of 2010 Pinot Noir), but those were also excellent.  I also learned that there's a connection between the winery and my school, which makes me like it even more.

So, there you have it.  A not-shitty weekend.  Thanks for reading and enjoy your week filled with Billy Cundiff/Scott Norwood jokes.


  1. Deacon - thanks for the kind words about our wines at the Boston Wine Expo. Congrats to the Pats, we didn't have as much luck out west, but are proud how far our team got and looking forward to playing you next year. - Anthony Truchard

    1. Anthony--thanks so much for taking the time to respond to this. I was rooting for the niners last night too. Thanks again for taking the time to come out to the expo and pour your wines. It's always a great experience to talk with the people behind the wine.


    2. We plan on being back in Boston next year.