I will soon be visiting the Napa Valley region of California for the very first time. So when I saw an advertisement for the annual wine expo in Boston, I felt it was my duty to prepare – both in the practice of tasting, as well as scouting for some decent wineries to tour.
The Boston Wine Expo is the largest wine event in the country, featuring over 1800 wines from more than 400 wineries from 13 different countries. There are also over 40 restaurants showcasing their delectables, and other vendors, such as the occasional cuban cigar retailer and travel outfitter.
With so much on offer, the event is split into several exhibition rooms. I opted for a ticket in the Vintner’s Reserve Lounge to “sample rare and expensive vintages… [that] retail for $75 and up” and that also hosted a live jazz band while we all quaffed and nibbled our way through the various tables.
With a few hundred wines to taste in just 4 hours, I needed a plan of action, which was to work counter-clockwise through the whites first, then circle back around and repeat through the reds, ending with fruit liqueurs, champagne, and rums. Along the way, I’d sample the cheese and crackers, fruits, marinated vegetables, meatballs, caviar, vichyssoise, oysters, chocolates and mini-cakes.
I am by no means an expert, but did find a few very nice worth mentioning (and some that just had to be spat out!)
Best and Worst White
Made from old Chardonnay vines, the 2011 Chassagne is smooth and refreshing with hints of peach, vanilla and hazelnut (that would go nicely with a fresh catch of the day from my yacht in the Med). Whereas the 2011 Mer Soleil literally tasted of dead fish brine. Perhaps I should have guessed from the name.
Best and Worst Red
For lovers of Cabernet, the 2011 Revana from Napa Valley is a rich berry infused wine that is like velvet across the tongue. It is earthy yet refined and suitable for any occasion. The 2008 Grgich Hills Merlot, on the other hand, is credited with a “dry, crisp acidity and intensity” which translated to my buds as pure vinegar. Acidic and intense, yes. Palatable, no.
Best Dessert Wine
This was actually the only dessert wine I came across, and I am not actually much of a fan of them (too sweet). But I am intrigued by the production of ice wines, in which frozen grapes are harvested from the vine. Since the water in the fruit will freeze but the sugars do not, it generates a much more concentrated flavor. Inniskillin from Ontario do however produce a very luxurious ice wine from the vidal grape. Delectable in small sips when super chilled.
Are there really any ‘worst’ rums? Not that I have yet to come across anyway, but I do prefer the dark (and/or spiced) rums and was highly impressed with the selection from Rhum Clément. These rums are made from sugar cane from the island of Martinique and in particular this X.O. was to die for. Being a blend of vintages from 1952, 1970 and 1976 and with words such as “toffee, dark honey, vanilla, mulling spice, nougat, and candied walnut” I could not resist!
Best Drink of the Day
This fine gentleman from Inspired Beverage was partnered with Merlet, a french cognac and liqueur producer, to concoct and market a cocktail utilizing their fruit liqueurs. The result was magnifique! I encourage everyone to try it.
CITRUS SEASON SIDECAR
by Inspired Beverage
2 oz Merlet “Brothers Blend” Cognac
3/4 oz Merlet Trois Citrus Liqueur
1 oz Fresh Squeezed citrus sour*
Combine all ingredients in an ice filled cocktail shaker.
Shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with Quatre epices.
*Sour is equal parts juiced Pomello, Meyer Lemon and Tangerine combined with an equal part unrefined cane sugar.
Best Delectable (like the rum, there are no worst ones)
All in all, is was a mighty fine day!
… and probably a good thing that I booked the hotel for the night…