Taste Off

Part of the job of a professional in the wine industry is to attend tastings where hundreds of wines may be offered. Industry protocol dictates to spit, so as not to be affected by the amount of alcohol. That way wine number 43 can actually be judged accurately. My only problem with this is not experiencing the finish in a wine, which is the most enjoyable part after the aroma. This is not as difficult as one might think, in that inherently there is a lot of piquette out there, not worthy of being swallowed anyway.

Not so during a recent tasting held by Louis/Dressner selections on a beautiful, sunny autumn afternoon at a loft atop East Fourth Street. The affable Joe Dressner was omnipresent, having organized a miraculous spread of delicious and most interesting wines, with the added bonus of several winemakers such as Eric Texier, Silvio Messana, and Monique & Pierre Luneau.

The wines are vinified naturally, resulting in some of the most exciting wines in the marketplace today, thus leaving the old world vs. new world squabble to the rest of the producers. I have been fortunate enough to have tasted many of these wines over the years, although each vintage is different, so I had to carefully strategize which wines I just had to taste.

Table 1 highlights Larmandier-Bernier, a biodynamic producer, crafting gorgeous, bone dry champagnes that get the party started right. Onto Philippe Pacalet for a taste of light, aromatic, almost ethereal pinot noirs, a real treat. Radikon made its presence felt with 2002 Ribolla Giallas , chardonnays, and Tocai Friulanos, about as wild a white as you will encounter from Friuli, Italy. Then I hit the Lunea-Papin table, where aged muscadets were on display, such as the brilliant 1989 and 1990 vintages.

Silvio Messana stood behind his Chiantis, well dressed and pouring juicy smooth rossos and chiantis to my delight. Next to Silvio I met Eric Texier from the Rhone valley. Apart from a fab CDP white and a stellar Cote-Rotie, his 2004 Brezeme stood out as a lovely example of an unpretentious syrah.

On to Roagna for some Barolo and Barbaresco. Boy do these babies need bottle age! Olga Raffault put out a 1990 Chinon, a cab franc that has serious aging potential. I said hello to old friends (wines) Domaine de Pepiere, Domaine du Closel, Terres Dorees, and Michel Tete, Francois Chidaine, Catherine and Pierre Breton, and Thierry Puzelat, all go to favorites over the past few years.

I came away from the tasting with a sense of happiness, that so many dedicated vintners are creating such great wines, and how fortunate we are to be able to taste the fruits of the earth, in an age when working with nature is not practiced or valued nearly enough.