Event Report: Fall 2010 Wine Riot

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Me (middle) with Wine Riot founders Morgan First (left) and Tyler Balliet (right)
Just back from the Second Glass Wine Riot and I'm pleased to report the event continues to grow and impress as it matures.  This is at least their third time in the South End of Boston at the  Cyclorama and each time it seems to be even more orderly and well-run.  It's certainly a credit to event founders Morgan First and Tyler Balliet who recently landed on Inc's 30 under 30 list for their innovative work connecting Millenials with wine through events like Wine Riot.

I mentioned their mobile application (m.secondglass.com) earlier this week as an impressive addition, and it worked well for me during the event on my iPhone.  The wines near the top of the list surprised me a bit.  The list was dominated by white and sparkling wines, and I usually expect big, bold reds to be most noticeable in format like this.  Perhaps it had to do with the crowd at the Wine Riot.  Take note gentlemen: I'd estimate it as a 4:1 ratio of ladies to gentlemen and the crowd was very young.  Alas, I'm a married man (and not so young anymore) so the most I'm interested in is getting those lovely young ladies to follow me on Twitter or read this wine blog.
Diana Magner and Lindsay Douglas with crowd-favorite
Lambrusco, Si Soave Italia
Oh yeah, back to the wine.  Where was I?  The crowd favorite of the event was a Lambrusco - a fruity red sparkling wine from Italy - specifically a 2009 Giorgio & Gianni Lambrusco which retails for just $6.99.  I don't think I've had a Lambrusco since a bottle of Riunite about 15 years ago.  It tasted like fruit juice.  But you know what?  It's tasty stuff and I wouldn't mind having some around to pour for guests who don't normally drink wine.

A wine I tasted at the event that caught my attention was the Educated Guess Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.  I've tasted that wine a half-dozen times and each time I've had a favorable impression.  Great $20 Napa Cab - highly recommended.  I'm thinking it might be the Belle Glos Meiomi of Napa Cabs.

Brett Vankoski and Kevin Mehra, 90+ Cellars
The 90+ Cellars Tasting Lounge was in full effect and their presence at the event was quite noticeable.  They're another Boston-based wine company that's grown around the same time as the Wine Riot focusing on delivering premium wines at a discount.  They had a line-up of 5 wines they were pouring for guests to vote on to determine which should be labeled and offered as a 90+ Cellars/Wine Riot wine.

Their portfolio has expanded of late to include a diverse range of wines from all over the world (their first wines were primarily domestic) and a Chateauneuf-du-Pape was one of the 5 wines up for consideration.  I hear they're working on a Barolo as well.  The star of the 90+ Cellars area was an "under the counter" Oakville Napa Cab you might be able to find on retailer shelves for between $20 and $25 if you look hard enough.  The original label sold for over $65 and it shows - very nice stuff if you can find it.

Brian Blomerth, Triumvir
An intriguing new discovery for me at this year's event was Triumvir.  They're a small producer of Russian River Pinot Noir from the same Amber Ridge vineyard that well-regarded producers Siduri and Kosta Browne have sourced fruit from.  The only wine they've submitted for rating to Wine Spectator (their 2007) garnered 92 points.  Only one barrel was produced so attendees were uniquely privileged to try their wines. They use the custom crush facility Crush Pad to produce their wines which as I learned from Brian Blomerth from Triumvir has relocated from San Francisco to Napa.  Adding to the intrigue, the guys from Triumvir are from the East Coast.  Definitely a producer to watch.

I felt the food offered at the event was quite compelling and affordable.  I had a chance to try a slice of The Swellesley from Upper Crust Pizzeria ($3) which included chorizo - a hard to find commodity in the Boston area.  A pair of pulled pork sliders from Red Bones ($5) satisfied as well.  I appreciate the food offered at this event as it provides a nice break from the wine tasting which can become a blur after a few tables even if you're spitting everything.

The Second Glass is eyeing replicating the Wine Riot in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC in the coming year.  Stay tuned for developments on that front.  All in all, another good time at the Second Glass Wine Riot.  I'd encourage you to check 'em out next time they come around in your area.

As a matter of disclosure I should mention I attended the event with a press pass, and the folks at the Second Glass gave away a pair of tickets to the event on this site earlier in the week.  I'd like to thank them for their support.


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