By the Bottle – Boston Wine Expo

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Boston Wine Expo

2013 BOSTON WINE EXPO 649 (c. Scarpetta Photography)

The Wine Expo has always been a great event for expanding casual palates and cultural learning.

I attended the Wine Expo last weekend for the 1st time in a few years. I have many fond memories of the event. Years ago as a newcomer to wine and a budding collector I wanted to taste every wine I could, even if my palate was burnt to a crisp with tannins after hours of tasting.

As my taste matured, I gravitated to the seminars and specialty tastings. There were some beauties! One year I tasted through 8 or 9 vintages of Unico Vega Sicilia – a wine so prized I have been told that the King of Spain only gets one case a year. The wines are aged for 20 years in a barrel before release-so there are no off vintages and the wines, although magnificent, don’t taste much different in different vintages. Since I only got a small taste of each at the end I poured all the dregs into my free Wine Expo tasting glass and presented it to my wife (who didn’t want to spend the $250 for the tasting.) I have to admit the mixture was as good as any of the unique vintages. I attended a vertical tasting of Heitz Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet-hosted by Joe Heitz himself. I remember him complaining that critics tasted notes of eucalyptus in his cabs saying “Eucalyptus tastes like urine!”

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Louis DiBiccari of Tavern Road talks on the Celebrity Chef Stage.

Since those days, the Expo has settled down a bit.  Most of the iconic California wineries were not in attendance – I recall excellent offerings of Mondavi, Beringer, and Ravenswood which were usually poured by the winemakers themselves. I didn’t see Fred Eck pouring the marvelous wines of Guigal as he had customarily done in the past.

This year we had the most fun at the cooking demonstrations, where chefs from the likes of Blue Ginger, Tavern Road, and Sweet Basil prepared a dish and paired it with wines as we tasted the food. This reminded me of how much my interest in wines is based in my love of fine dining which is something I couldn’t really afford back in my early wine days.

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The Truchard wines stood out to us with the wine maker in attendance and pouring.

By and large only local distributors were visible, although three tastings stood out. The Truchard tasting was one of the few old time California wineries represented and all of their wines screamed California. They presented a Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Merlot that were sun-drenched and delicious. I enjoyed the Finger Lakes wines, especially the Konstantin Frank offerings-his Gruner was dynamite. As a whole the wines from the Languedoc stood out- (although I can’t recall any of the names ) they demonstrated a vibrancy that woke up my bludgeoned palate for a while.  Also honorable mention to the Chamisal’s stainless Chardonnay.  It was tropical, crisp, clean and balanced.

As the event wore on an old feeling resurfaced; hearing people excited in a way only slightly drunk people can be – to be learning, expanding their horizons culturally, while having great fun.  If only school could be like that we would all be better educated.