A Photo Review of the 2012 Boston Wine Expo

Sunday, January 22, 2012

I just got back from the 2012 Boston Wine Expo so I thought I'd post some pictures and thoughts for those who weren't there this year.

Compared to prior years the two big changes I noticed were the layout and the mix of vendors. Rather than long aisles of tables, vendors were situated in clusters. Intermingled within these clusters were lifestyle vendors and - in a welcome addition - more food than I've seen at prior Expos.

Where else to start off before noon on a Sunday but Chateauneuf-du-Pape? I don't recall seeing them last year but they seemed to be back with a concerted collective effort. I was pleasantly surprised to see them pouring wines from the highly anticipated (if young) 2010 vintage.

First taste was from one of my favorite producers: The 2010 Le Vieux Donjon Chateuneuf-du-Pape. They're one of the few wineries in Chateuneuf who retains a "One Estate, One Wine" model (rather than offering multiple bottlings at various price points. 75% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, and 5% Cinsault. It was showing very well in its young with its signature round brambly flavors.

Next was the 2010 Pierre Usseglio mon Aieul Chateuneuf-du-Pape. Although their entry level bottling (which runs for around $30 retail) is a blend, the mon Aieul (around $100) is 100% Grenache and more tannic than the Donjon. I asked the rep from Alain Junguenet selections for his thoughts on '07, '09 and '10 CdP. He agreed that '07 was a big ripe vintage, that '09 was tighter and needs more time, and that '10 was a "balanced" vintage. I'm looking forward to these '10s coming to market.
Remember the interspersed food and lifestyle vendors I mentioned? Here's a display from Wilson Farm from Lexington, MA - a great place to visit if you're in the Boston area.
I'd recently read on 1WineDude.com about how people should stop hating on Pinotage. A few years back I was intrigued to try some Pinotage after reading that it commonly has coffee aromas and flavors. That sounded great to me but a few I tried had no such markers and instead smelled like quirky burnt rubber. This one did deliver the coffee though. Perhaps the name - Barista - was effective in subliminally programming me to expect some mocha.
Here's an interesting new wine - the 2010 The Show Pinot Noir from Chile. The Show has been a trusty ~$10 wine for many so I was intrigued to try a Pinot Noir with the same label. Not bad says this California Pinot Noir enthusiast. 85-88 for me as I give a barrel tasting-esque range given the expo format is hard to do critical tasting within.

Similar to prior years half the tables were manned by winemakers/owners and the other half had random people pouring who didn't know anything about the wines. I had a nice visit with the principals from Inman Family pouring their highly regarded Pinot Noir. I thought the 2007 Inman Family Thorn Ridge Ranch Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was quite nice. They say they're patient in releasing their wines (some 2010 CA Pinot Noirs are already hitting the market). I like the approach of releasing wines when they're showing their best - with a little age on them - but I understand the interest wineries have in selling through vintages and paying the bills.
Mixing things up a bit, we went over to a trade tasting at Morton's Seaport location hosted by Massachusetts-based Panther Distributing. They were pouring a diverse collection of wines from around the world. First up were wines from Sada Estate, poured by winemaker Davide Sada himself. An excellent 2010 Vermentino, an every day 2010 Integolo, and an elegant 2007 Carpoli Super Tuscan were highlights of the table.
A new producer for me, from Washington, was Bergevin Lane Vineyards. Their earthy, fruity Syrahs were impressive - especially the 2008 Bergevin Lane "The Princess" Syrah.
Oregon was also an area of emphasis at the Panther tasting. The 2008 Vista Hills Treehouse Pinot Noir was delightful and a bargain at just over $20 retail.

Another Oregon Pinot that impressed me was the 2008 Adea Deano's Pinot. Very nice around $30.
From there we went over to the Grand Cru Lounge which changed venues this year. Last year's Grand Cru Lounge was in a nice room with tons of windows, but the vendors were split up onto two levels and you had to go outside to get to the Lounge. This year it was accessible from the Seaport Hotel without going outside and the space was unified.

First stop: Winderlea pouring their 2009 Winderlea Legacy Dundee Hills Pinot Noir. Unique bottle shape, cool label, and a very nice wine. We got to talking and I mentioned I was a wine blogger. They're looking forward to the 2012 Wine Blogger's Conference coming to Portland this year. Me too!
An interesting addition to the Grand Cru Lounge I didn't notice last year was a table pouring a bunch of high end California wines. Darioush, Heitz, Cakebread - stuff like that. I tasted some 2008 Littorai Chardonnay that was gorgeous - clean and lemony yet rich. I've gotta track down some of their Pinot Noir.
The food in the Grand Cru Lounge was pretty good. Especially these Spicy Tuna Tartare "Ice Cream" Cones from Union Bar & Grill. Fantastic.
There were some nice red Burgs being poured. I tasted a few from Joseph Drouhin in the $40-$80 range. It's always interesting to hear 2009 red Burgundy described as being "really fruit forward". Compared to domestic Pinot Noir (especially California and even Oregon) even a thin domestic vintage offers way more fruit in my experience. It's tough to see the virtues of wines like these in a walk-around tasting I think, but this 2009 from Joseph Drouhin was quite nice at around $80:
I've wanted to try Merry Edwards' Pinot Noir for a long time and the 2009 Merry Edwards Klopp Ranch Pinot Noir ($57) was outstanding. Classic Russian River Pinot. The winery rep suggested that if I liked the Klopp I'd probably like the more affordable RRV appellation bottling at $42. They also make a Sonoma Coast Pinot that sells for $38.

Speaking of Pinot Noir, I was thrilled to see Trifecta pouring their 2008 Nyarady Family Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. I discovered Trifecta at last year's Grand Cru Lounge and loved their 2007 Pinot Noir. The 2008 follows beautifully in its footsteps.
Those familiar with Trifecta probably think of them primarily as a Cabernet Sauvignon producer. Their Cabs are fantastic (around $100). But I was pleased to learn they're giving Pinot Noir a go as well (around $50). Trifecta is owned by Massachusetts based Pablo and Lynanne Nyarady - two of the most delightful and interesting people I've met. Definitely check out their wines if you're looking for something special you may not have heard of before. They'll be pouring at the Nantucket Wine Festival and Newport Mansions Wine Festival as well this year.
What a nice day - capped with a Patriots win and a trip to the Super Bowl.

Question of the Day: Did you attend this year? If so, what did you notice?

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