An Exceptional Food And Wine Experience

Last week I wrote about Hawaii Food and Wine Festival. This week I’m doing it again. But this is the real story; last week was a mere preview.

My problem is that there were soooooo many great food and wine experiences that I need more than the space on this page to mention all of them. So here are tidbits of just the best stuff!

Every year we have the world’s best wines, and this year proved it again. The Colgin tasting was sick (youthful parlance for fabulous)! Each of the three estates expressed themselves so differently, but all at such a high level. I’m talking California First Growth level. My favorite of the dozen was the 1999 Colgin Cariad Red, which was simply stunning. If I had blind tasted it, I would have sworn it was a first growth and from a fantastic vintage. The complexity was off the charts, the texture was velvety and the length just kept going. This is one of the great California wines I have had all year. I cannot say with all certainty that it is peaking but, man, was it delicious.

The Masters of Chardonnay tasting was nothing short of excellence. I am always blown away at how Burgundy is such a great study in terroir; each vineyard gives Chardonnay its own expression. And each winemaker has their own style of eking out each vineyard’s profile. Most attendees had never heard of Comtesse de Cherisey before this tasting, and now the word is out for this top-notch producer. Domaine Roulot and Coche-Dury already are well known to collectors and aficionados, but the Cherisey wines were real standouts. Vintage-wise, the 2009s are holding true to their opulence and ripe and honeyed character — real slutty wines. But, for me, the 2010s really were energetic. They have a nerve and acidity that strike a wonderful chord for my palate. They also will be longer-lived than the 2009s. Roulot’s 2009 Meursault Charmes was gorgeous, like a model, everything in the right place and beautiful. The 2011s from Coche-Dury were like they were from another planet. The “regular” AOC Meursault tasted more like a Premier Cru. The Puligny-Montrachet Encegnieres approached the same energy level as most Grand Crus. This wine was perhaps the most powerful of all the wines in this class. It retains its Puligny Montrachet richness with extra minerality and mouth-staining finish. The Corton Charlemagne was in another class. Yes, it was tight and reticent, but when you put it on your mouth, you can taste all the pieces built for aging gracefully: acid, fruit, minerality and verve — a baby, but what a lovely and promising one.

The Favorites of the Master Sommelier was chock full of greatness: 2010 Raveneau Blanchots Grand Cru was a reference standard for the great minerality of Chablis. The 2010 Arnaud Ente Puligny-Montrachet Premier Cru “Les Referts” was maybe the biggest surprise in the room, as this tiny Burgundian domain rarely is seen outside the top restaurants in the world. It had a more than impressive amplitude of flavor and stylish texture. I heard more than a few “wows” from the guests.

But among the Penfolds Grange, Quintarelli Amarone, Conterno Barolo, Flaccianello and more, one wine stood out: 1998 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf du Pape. This beautifully aged wonder stole my palate with its complexity of flavors: raspberries, cured meats, warm river stones, savory herbs and more. It made me want to have a slow fire-roasted leg of lamb slathered in herbs and olive oil.

There was so much more, but I’ve run out of space: vintages of Krug, 2000 Chateau Gombaude-Guillot from Pomerol, 2010 Grace Family … Next year you will have to come.

Recommendation: 2011 Maison l’Envoye Gamay “Cote de Py” ($16) This is Gamay in its refined and most gulpable expression. It smells of sweet cherries and raspberries, pears and apple Jolly Ranchers. It is fruity but dry, with soft tannin and a delectable finish. It is one of those few reds that work with salads (especially with cheeses), but also is strong enough to pair with red-sauce pastas, pizzas and roasted fowl. You can find this at Fujioka’s Wine Times.

Roberto Viernes is a master sommelier.
Twitter: @Pinotpusher