Friday, February 22, 2013

Boston Wine Expo 2013 – Thank You & Highlights

The 2013 Boston Wine Expo has come and gone. Overall I thought it was another well executed and well attended event. There were many wines, lots of foods to sample, an array of lifestyle vendors and all together I saw lots of smiling faces.

Thank You!

A number of thank you’s are owed. The organizers of the Boston Wine Expo took great care of a group of bloggers who were on hand sharing their experiences and creating buzz for others who might be watching the social networks for updates about the expo. My two-day admission to the Grand Tasting was comped, I was provided with tickets to give away to readers (Congrats to Kurt, Liz and Wayne!) as well as a discount code to share with blog visitors who might be interested in attending.

( Bloggers and wine reps tasting & learning at the Boston Wine Expo. )

During the event there was a "Blogger Lounge" overlooking the expo floor where coffee and water was available, and several times each day vendors were invited to pour wines and engage with us on the labels they represent in a more personal setting. Volunteers working in the lounge were able to answer questions on where seminars were located and what other facilities were available at the show. Nicely done!

Thank you's go out to

Resource Plus (Sharon, Janet and others)
Boston Guild of Oenophilists
All the vendors, sponsors, supporters
Boston Express (for getting me there and back safely both days)

Attending the Expo both days I had the pleasure of cruising the show floor looking for interesting wines with several groups of friends. It was great to meet Liz (@travelwinechick) in person. I had a great time with Richard (@RichardPF), Kurt, Christi, Todd (@vtwinemedia), Wayne and Meredith. Marie (@mariepayton) and I missed each other on Sunday afternoon, but it turned in to a cute joke about whether I was really there! Chatting with Terry (@drinkinsider) and Ray (@frenchoaktv) about beverages was fun as always! It was also nice to see Elizabeth and Matthew, at the Finger Lakes tables no less, fellow NH food and wine explorers who I've run into a couple time at events. I didn’t cover as much ground as I originally planned (I'm always optimistic!) and some of the highlights I’ll share next were worthy of a return visit on the second day so I could share them with friends who hadn’t tasted them yet.

One suggestion I have for the event organizers is that it would be eminently more helpful to attendees who might want to “plan ahead” to have the vendor list and floor map electronically (a PDF would be fine, but smart-phone-app it if you think that will help) for review ahead of the event. Would delivering the label and vendor information via a smart phone app be better here? Actually I don’t think so, and not just for this information specifically. Something more social in nature (like the Second Glass Wine Riot App) might indeed be successful with the right features and promotion.

The Social Media café in the middle of the expo floor had tweets from the event scrolling and the folks from Drync were promoting their direct shipping app active for the wines from the event in this same location. I don’t have an iPhone so I didn’t get involved in the Drync smartphone app activity.

( Social Media Lounge )

The first-thing-in-the-morning trade sessions are always the best opportunity to learn more about the wines, where they are from and how they are made, something I use to take the “pulse” of the industry. There just aren't as many people to fight through. I heard a number of reps talk about freshness, concentration of flavors but not necessarily color in red wines, and more restrained use of new oak. The recent vintages are primarily 2009 and 2010 with many reps suggesting that these years either are already or are beginning to taste well. Plenty of 2007 and 2008 wines were also poured, and I’d have to cross reference my notes before I could say which of the two groups was legitimately tasting better.

One aspect of the event that I had some conversations about on Saturday but really witnessed first-hand visually on Sunday was the change in balance between wine & food/lifestyle vendors and non-wine floor space. There appeared to be fewer tables pouring wines. On the flip side the event didn’t seem any less well attended, and I heard great things about the food, so until more feedback comes my way can't say whether this was a good or bad change.

During the afternoon sessions, when the crowd at each table was generally much larger, I took more opportunities to talk with fellow expo attendees. I love the diversity of the attendees to events like this. I talked with two women about their “wine" club (started as "book") and the challenge of consistently finding values that are both new and interesting. I sent them over to check out the Spanish and Portuguese wines where I knew they will find wines that fit the need. The three of us also talked about sensory exercises that groups of wine enthusiasts could use to sharpen their tasting skills which they can then turn around and use to explore and better develop a sense of what they like. I was excited to have a wine culture conversation with them, because in the end the Boston Wine Expo wouldn’t really be successful if it didn’t increase the desire of casual and enthusiastic drinkers  to explore more of the world of wine. I really hope these two ladies do in fact check out my blog and email me their wine questions. I’d love to share what I know to help pick the next destination in the journey.

Hey Jason, how about the wines?

Highlights from the Boston Wine Expo 2013
(in no particular order)

Sparkling wine is a constant curiosity for me now. I think it is the texture. There is so much range and I am always looking for new and interesting textures to try. The elegance of the Berlucchi Franciacorta sparkling wines was joyful to experience. Both were crisp and clean with fine, prickly bubbles. The rosé style was just a hint sweet, pale pink in color and tasted of crushed, dried flowers.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape & Rhones

I didn't spend enough time at the Chateauneuf-du-Pape & Rhones tables because I didn't find anything that really grabbed me. The most recent vintage of both seemed leaner and more austere to me than the profile in minds-eye.

The Finger Lakes Region

The Finger Lakes region had a great presence at the Boston Wine Expo again. As a disciple of the products AND the region I have tried enough of the wines and visited some of the region to know that there is little chance one would be disappointed to visit and taste. Get out the word!

With a combination of wineries, wine trail groups and the local winery associations the Finger Lakes region had 10 tables in total! I tasted some of the Riesling at Wagner Vineyards, the Gruner at Dr. Frank's, Seyval from Hunt Country, the Ravines 2011 Dry Riesling and Game Bird Red from Heron Hill, which I found particularly interesting. I heard great things from others about many of the same wines as well as both the Cabernet France and Meritage blend from Wagner. 

I had a chance to talk with Katie Roller and Stephen Lee from Wagner about their Expo experiences. They both agreed that there had been lots of consumer interest in the wines and they were answering lots of questions. I brought several groups of friends by to check out what the region is doing. It made me realize I need to plan another warm-weather trip to the area!

( Lots of activity around the Finger Lakes tables! )

Garrafeira Vinho Tinto Alentejo 2002

Of all the red wines I tasted at the Expo Grand Tasting this wine was the most interesting. It has a spiciness to it that is so complex. I easily detected black pepper and brown spices, but there was so much more that was elusive. I am still somewhat unfamiliar with Portuguese wines so I can only rely on feedback from friends that suggests that this spicy attribute is something I can explore more with wines from different parts of the country. Exciting!

Nobody is going to be surprised that I mention Moonlight after a tasting event. Rock solid as always. Fran was working the table when I visited with friends and he nailed some rather specific fermentation questions (asked by a friend) with confidence, which of course made me smile. I got to taste some Utopian, which is always a pleasure. The current batch is tasting drier to me than I recall. I might have to invest in some to do further periodic tasting!

( Experienced Romance by the Glass with Moonlight Meadery. )

You got it, more sparkling wine! 

I tasted the Anna Codorníu Rosé in the Blogger Lounge on Sunday and tasted the Brut at the Codorníu Raventos table a bit later that day. Both are crisp and focused, and the rosé being as dry as it is it finishes with a blast of tart red fruits.

Corte Di Dionoso Amarone

This wasn't the best Amarone I tasted all weekend, but it was a very delicious start. I didn't write the vintage down but I believe it was a 2007. Richly fruity but with a surprising angularity and dryness to it. The typical stylistic sweetness was not in the proportion I expected for a young wine. Still being a medium plus bodied wine it finishes with an restrained sweetness that almost tastes like it was made in the lean vintage.

Stay tuned for a post on the Soave & Amarone seminar I went to on Sunday of the Expo.

Beverages made from apples and I are great friends. Sparkling ciders made with heirloom, vintage and traditional cider apples can be all as elegant as Champagne, but bring their own unique aromas and flavors thanks to the apple. I love them.

The Neige Sparkling Apple Wine has a balanced apple profile with flavors of both tart cider apple as well as those I more associate with dessert apples. It is plenty carbonated and served cold would be a fine stand in for something sparkling made from grapes. The cidre de glace (ice cider) is viscous liquid apple sugar. Definitely a very fine taste and an example where hard work and a concentration of resources can create something highly sought after!

This wine is from the new-to-me region of Mallorca, which is the largest of the Balearic Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Made from a blend of Mantonegro, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot this wine presents a good balance of fruit and earth with an interesting savory element to the finish. This was the boldest and most characterful wine of the offerings from Son Prim in my opinion.

Roberto Ceraudo Rosé

Both of these rosé wines are made with the Gaglioppo grape in Calabria, Italy. The silver label is aged in old barriques and the copper label is not. Both wines were very straightforward and smooth with the expected hints of lees and oxidation/oxygenation from the barrel aging in the silver label version. The ability to taste the same wine made in two ways was an exciting opportunity. In research the wines, they are not yet distributed in the US, found the following article from The Wine Traveller on the wines and their producer.

I don't have a lot of experience with the grape Aglianico, but I do know that when used to make a decent wine the grape adds a layer of wildness to the mix that excites me. This wine also includes some Sangiovese, a combination used in many areas where both grapes are grown in Italy. The wine is flavorful but not demanding, dry with a nice thread of acidity that builds through the finish. A very food friendly wine and also one that could take a chill and bring refreshment on a hot day. And all for likely between $11-13!

Those are only some of the highlights from the weekend. I estimate I tasted about 100-120 wines over the course of two days, and while my perceptions were mixed, there were plenty of wines that would be worth another taste in a different setting.

Next up will be separate posts on the two seminars I attended during the expo. One was on Bourbon and the other included both Soave and Amarone!



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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