Boston Wine Expo Notes and Post Mortem

Well, Enobytes has represented itself at the Boston Wine Expo. Historically, the Expo has been a hedonistic event of Bacchanalian proportion, and this year was no different. We have learned that attendance at such an event requires a great deal of focus, as the volatile nature of the evaluations (read: alcoholic) tends to cause one’s attention to stray from the task at-hand. Regardless, these events truly give the attendee a wide exposure to the world of wine and food, and the 2007 Expo surely did not disappoint.

To the credit of the representatives (read: winery reps and sales folk), this two-day event is truly taxing on the legs, feet, and patience, and they all seem to have come through with admirable aplomb. The reps were charming, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic, and we wonder how they can tolerate this madness day-after-day!

Sadly, though, this editor suffered the common affliction of palate fatigue and cerebral fog despite disciplined ejection spitting and regular intake of water and snacks. All that stated, we at Enobytes’ East-Coast bureau made Herculean efforts to provide you, the reader and consumer, with useful information about a small section of the world of wine and food.

Our mission this year was to focus on three themes:

– Wineries with Crazy Names
– Bistro wines
– The United Nations of Sauvignon Blanc
Wineries with Crazy Names: Yes, the objective is obvious – they included:

– Barefoot winery
– Toasted Head
– Gnarly Head
– Red Bicyclette
– Hook and Ladder

– Red Bicyclette is actually created by one of the BIG wine houses (Gallo), and comes from the vast sea of grapes in southern France. Despite the fact that a good deal of Vin Ordinaire also makes its way from there, Red Bicyclettes are fun bistro wines. The Syrah was simply red, juicy and quaffable. That’s what we were looking for in the bistro category.

– Toasted Head – Good wines, Lots of American Oak – if that’s what you like.

– Barefoot Winery – A bulk producer from grapes grown elsewhere – Lot’s of fun, nothing to think about, but accurate and simple wines.

– Gnarly Head – Only a red, and it was plump and ripe, but really laden with new oak.

– Hook and Ladder – These guys have STYLE! Polished, subtle, elegant wines, not a lot of oak, so when you choose the Chardonnay, you get PURE, rich chardonnay. The Pinot Noir was ripe and structured, the Gewurztraminer was subtle, spicy, and dry, and Tillerman Red was an interesting blend, quite dry with medium tannin (it had some Sangiovese to add to the austerity).

Bistro Wines

Wines that are simply ‘enjoyable’, and affordable. Wines that you don’t have to think about, but rather serve as a glorious way to wash down your food among good company.

The Syrah from Red Bicyclette seemed to do well in this area as a nice, cheap, by-the-glass selection that you just order more and more of (even better, the wine to go in a carafe at your table), and, when it came to Cotes du Rhone, etc, Oliver Hillaire and Domaine JP Lafond(Roc Epine) were the most gracious, patient, and enthusiastic. Their wines were both rich, ripe, red, earthy wines, that weren’t too tannic, and simply spoke of juicy, ripe, rich, red, yumminess.

Another notable thank you also goes to Enrico and Ermino Di Giulio of Cantine Borgo di Colloredo, whose delightful array of unique Italian whites were light, charming, and floral, in particular their Falanghina, made from the grape of the same name.

The United Nations of Sauvignon Blanc

This was intended to be survey of the same grape varietal from various locations. For this effort, we were only able to focus on one grape, and that was Sauvignon Blanc. Countries compared were:

– France (Mouton Cadet)
– USA (Sterling Vineyards)
– Australia (various)
– New Zealand (Brancott)
– Argentina (various)
– Chile (various)

What we were reminded of was that the essence of the grape is key and consistent, while the region and winemaking style create the character.

This exploration resulted in a BREAKING DISCOVERY: Wines from geographically opposite parts of the world can be virtually identical! Seriously, folks, a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was tasted, with a floral, mineral, grapefruity character and my immediate thought was ‘this is JUST like a French Sancerre’.

Thirty minutes later, a Sancerre was tasted, and I couldn’t help but exclaim to the owner (my enthusiasm was somewhat lubricated, by this time) – ‘I just tasted a Sauvignon Blanc from Brancott (Marlborough, NZ), and these are remarkably similar!’ The Sancerre shipper replied candidly ‘yes, you’re right – however, the Brancott has a more pronounced grapefruit character up front’.

Guess what? He was right! Note that if you locate these two countries on a globe (not a map), you will find that they are ALMOST EXACTLY OPPOSITE EACH OTHER ON THE PLANET (within 10 degrees lat/long) – how neat is that!

The bottom line is, the grape can express itself the same way anywhere on the planet. The art is in the hands of the producer, and the soul is in the soil.

At any rate, our West Coast Bureau has already reported on the other varieties of wares and displays, that included glassware, cigars, cheese, packaged foods, travel companies, and automobiles (no joyrides for the attendees, though!). Indeed, we are looking forward to next year’s event, and all of the events in between.

Until then, A Voitre Sante – that’s ‘Oogy Wawa’ in Zulu

~John McReynolds


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  1. VinRaptor April 17, 2007 at 12:42 PM - Reply

    Votre (No “I”, despite its Gallic roots)
    …Be Well; Carpe Vinum!

  2. John McReynolds April 23, 2007 at 9:39 PM - Reply

    Many thanks for the correction by our well studied reader (apologies to the community for any lingual offense)!
    …A Votre Sante!

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