Trade Community - yesterday I hit the Martin Scott Wines Spring Fling at Carbones Kitchen in Bloomfield.
As a side note, I have been saying for a while that Martin Scott's portfolio is one of the most under-sold portfolios in the state. They have a huge portfolio, which if you dive into it has some top level wineries, as well as spirits. At my Florida location, I rely on them (Stacole is the name in FL) for many of the wines on my list. Martin Scott Wines is now part of the Winebow Group, which includes wholesale distributors in a number of states, some still using their original names, such as Stacole in Florida and Martin Scott in CT/NY, but others simply rolled into Winebow.
This tasting was a little disappointing in the respect that it focused very much on the import side of the portfolio, and although there were a number of domestic wines, this was definitely not what I had expected. I blasted through nearly every wine as this was an easy set-up and was basically self-serve. I like this format as I can go at my own pace, which is often quick when there are a lot of selections.
Without getting into too many write-ups I am going to simply highlight my picks for the best of the tasting. Keep in mind that these are of course for my tastes and needs, yours may be different.
Stand-out White I actually have two wines that I liked for very different reasons. The first is a Rioja Blanco from Navardia (2013). It is listed as an organic production, and a quick link to the website shows it to be a 50/50 blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache Blanc. I liked this because the Sauvignon aspect was kept in check by the sightly richer style of the Grenache - something I am becoming much more enamored with lately. Very reasonably priced, with a retail price around $11.99, this is definitely in the BTG arena for most on-premise.
The other white I was liking was the Neudorf Chardonnay from New Zealand (2013). Obviously a different animal than the leaner white above, this wine had good balance and character on the palate. Refreshing but weighty in the right places, delicate in others. This stood out for me among the handful of Chards being offered. I would like to see this as a BTG option somewhere, but just a little on the upper tier of the price point for that use. Comes in at about a $22 retail, although a well priced retailer might hit it under $20.
CT Trade Community note - the min bottle here is not elevated so you can place on the BTB list without getting whacked.
Stand-out Rosé The rosé that stood out for me was the Castello di Ama Rosato, 2015. Just brilliant wine. Blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, they have been making this wine for nearly 40 years. The winery has not updated its tech pages for the 2015 vintage, yet, but we can assume the wine is made in a similar fashion as previous years. I liked the fruit here, it is rich and smooth with just a touch of round berry sweetness to balance the dryness and acid. Lovely, and lovely with food. Get some of this on your lists. About $17.99 at retail, could be a good alternative pour verses the Provencal rosé we see so much of, right now. Plus, its Ama - what could be cooler?
Stand-out Red The reds for me all seemed to be very forward and tannic - maybe because I had just tasted 60 whites in about 20 minutes...
The red for me that I liked the best of the day and again I am looking for wines to sell (but of course I like to sell what I like to drink), was the Pali Wine Co. Pinot Noir Riviera from Sonoma Coast (2012). "Pali" is the local's name for Pacific Palisades just north of Los Angeles, which is where the owners hail from (learned that on my trip to Santa Barbara a few weeks back). Any-hoot, this wine is great for the region with full fruit and rich depth but again in a subtle style that has some oak, but is not overwhelming. Very drinkable and a good choice for food pairings. This is going BTG in one of my spots very soon. Retail will be about $20-25.
So this first question to address might be, what is Chianti Rufina?
Chianti Rufina is a small sub-zone in the northeast part of the greater Chianti district, and is a area that has always been associated with Florence. I was fortunate enough to visit this area about 8 years ago courtesy of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi and their Nipozzano estate. I remember two distinguishing things about the area - first, it was quite small, and second, was very hilly - being tucked into the foothills of the Apennines and all. The vineyards are basically tucked into the twisting hills outside the limits of Florence by about 30 minutes. The other thing about this area is that there is a fairly short list of wineries. Once you go beyond Selvapiana and Nipozzano, there are literally only a handful of other producers. Nonetheless, the region makes outstanding fan-favorite wines, that showcase beautiful fruit and great style.
Chianti Rufina is the quiet corner in the NE part of the greater Chianti "super-Zone"
A 25 year drinks industry expert, Brian has worked on just about every side of the beverage business, specializing in wine & spirits education, staff training, creative consulting, and of course service. He lives and works in Connecticut, where the number of working Somm's is limited, but he hopes through the effort of this site and its related events, that will change.