Monday, March 25, 2013

Snooth PVA: A World of Wine In N.Y.C.

By Eric Guido

I have just returned from a rollercoaster ride of a tasting weekend. The Snooth People’s Voice Wine Awards managed to take me from Italy, to Spain, to Austria, to Brazil and even South Africa. It was a massive event with focus group tastings, guest speakers, cooking demos, food & wine pairings and a group of some of the best wine bloggers from around the country. It will take many days to sort through the massive amount of pictures, tasting notes and overall impressions that I collected over the last few days. All of those impressions will find their way into these pages.

However, until that time, I thought it would be great to go over a few of the highlights of my weekend. In the world of wine tasting, you always have the ones you love, the ones you like and the ones that fall flat, but I can tell you that this weekend opened my eyes to large number of excellent wines. What’s more, the people that made it happen, the bloggers that shared my experience (which you should be following, see below), and the foods—oh the food. So I’ve attempted to put something of a scrapbook together for you here. Enjoy.

The Aurora Carnaval Moscato Rose
We started early Saturday with the wines of Brasil. My overall impression of this up-and-coming region was good, however the tasting was marked by an unusually large amount of corked bottles. I certainly enjoyed a number of the red wines, but the show stealer (and great for the upcoming spring) was the NV Aurora Carnaval Moscato Rosé, a spicy floral and fruity rosé with soothing bubbles, ripe fruits and spicy inner floral tones on the palate. At $14.99, this would be a great way to sip through your summer BBQs.

Costilla al Vino Tinto
Ribera del Duero braised short ribs
With Brazil behind us, we made our way to Salinas Restaurant for a tasting of wines from Ribera Del Duero. This was an eye-opening tasting for me, as I admittedly have not spent enough time exploring this region of Spain. The wines were ripe and juicy, but not over the top. They were great with food, yet could easily be sipped for your enjoyment, and I can’t wait to compile my notes and present them.

Chef Luis Bollo

Then there was the food. Salinas Restaurant presented us with a four-course meal prepared by Chef Luis Bollo. It was fantastic with the warm, soothing Caldo de Temporada (Galician style Pumpkin-Chicken soup) and the Costilla al Vino Tinto (Ribera del Duero braised short ribs). The setting was comfortable, yet uplifting, with skylights and a warming fireplace. I can’t wait to go back and spend some time perusing the menu.

The afternoon found us tasting through the white wines of Italy, a region that I have the most experience with. However, on this day, nothing truly wowed me from this lineup of wines. No matter, because right afterwards we were brought to Snooth’s Grand Tasting, featuring the finalists from the People’s Voice Wine Awards. It was amazing with some of the best wines from around the world.

Chipotle-Rubbed Swordfish
with a Papaya-Fennel Slaw
Many of my favorite wines were present along with cuisine from a number of local and, not so local, chefs. We even enjoyed a cooking demo from Chefs Vidyadhara Shetty and Keith Griffin of the Cayman Islands, preparing a Chipotle-Rubbed Swordfish with a Papaya-Fennel Slaw. The crowd was massive and there was a feel-good aura to the entire event, which I seldom find at tastings.

Some of the highlights from my evening included a great performance from the Australian wines of Yalumba, a Masciarelli Merlot, and the Villa Ghemme Montepulciano d’Abbruzo, as well as the young yet spellbinding ’09 Burlotto Barolo Monvigliero. My detailed notes will follow in the weeks to come.

At this point, you’d think there’s nothing much to top what we had already tasted, but you’d be wrong.

Aldo Sohm talks rocks, dirt
and Gruner Veltliner.
With Sunday came an early morning tasting of the wines of Austria. The tasting was magnificent with a great presentation Aldo Sohm, on terroir, and so many stunning wines that I was floored. As I continued to work through them, it seemed as if they just kept getting better and better. My experience with Austrian wine has been limited, and this tasting left me as a fan, with a new love in life, Gruner Veltliner. One of the highlights of this tasting was the 2011 Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner Lamm # 1, a completely seductive white wine that was stunning for it’s richness, yet balanced and laced with minerals and tart citrus. It’s a wine that will find its way into my cellar.

Smoked Ostrich
Lunch brought us to my alma mater, The Institute of Culinary Education, for a paring of South African food and wine. One of the highlights of this tasting was to find the 2009 Glenelly Lady May in the lineup, a wine that I became familiar with from a tasting late last year. Different vintage, but same amazing performance. The Lady May is a Bordeaux blend from South Africa that truly proves that the possibilities are endless in this region. It’s a wine that could be decanted and enjoyed now, or better yet, placed in the cellar for years.

With only a few hours left to our day, we made our way to a tasting of the wines of Rioja. It’s amazing to me that I don’t have more of these wines in my cellar, because each time I have a chance to taste both young and aged Rioja, I swoon over them. It’s a region of remarkable beauty and ancient cellars that are filled to the brim with treasures waiting to be released.

The '85 Conde de Valdemar Gran
Reserva.  A perfectly aged bottle.
This tasting put a number of vintages in front of us, but what was truly stunning were the wines from 1994 and 1985. They were so intense, still fruity and young, yet they showed all the depth of aged wine, along with price tags that are surprisingly easy to swallow. Our last wine of the weekend, the 1985 Conde de Valdemar Gran Reserva, was so beautiful that I couldn’t help myself from drinking it down—and going for a second glass.

What a weekend! But that’s not all; the people that I shared it with were such a big part of the experience. I had the honor of tasting with, and have been humbled by, some of the most talented and interesting wine writers and artists. Their links are all below, and I urge you to check them out. It’s amazing what resources are out there for wine and food lovers; you just need to look.

The Wine Hub: Wine Exploration Starts Here
Wine Julia - A focus on Oregon wine & so much more
Wine Harlots - On wine and all things that inspirer her
Richard Jennings on Wine - A truly epic wine taster and writer
Seema Gunda of the Serious Eats Amateur Taste-Along.
Wine Folly - Wine tips, maps and tools.  An amazing resource for wine lovers.
Wine by Benito - Food, wine and great perspectives, a blog after my own heart.
Reverse Wine Snob - Down to earth, looking for great wines that are good values.
Makers Table - Food, Wine and the pleasures of the table.
Brunello Bob - Love Sangiovese? This is the blog for you.
Vineyard Adventures - Wine, food, Travel and Tours.  A beautiful site to dig into.
Vines Sleuth - "the wine blog for casual wine drinkers" but so much more.
Vindugle - Wine Education and Consulting
Wannabe Wino - Totally down to earth with a great selection of reviews
Hip Tastes - A totally hip website about wine, food, travel and music, as well as a published wine 
Vine Spot - appreciation, education and the enjoyment of wine.
Avvinare - An amazing, experienced palate with perspectives on food and wine. 
Jameson Fink - Wine without worry


  1. Eric,

    Thank you for the link! It's always interesting to see how the weekend transpired from another perspective. Aldo and the Gruners (sounds like a band name, eh?) were definitely a highlight for me.



    1. Very funny, he kind of had an old-musician look to him as well.

  2. What a weekend Snooth shared with us!
    It was fantastic meeting you and so many of the others as well tasting and learning alongside you. You were definitely an inspiration.
    Hope to taste together soon and visit more.

    1. I'd say the same, I was very impressed by the different talents in the room and as I checked out the different websites and blogs, I was really blown away.

  3. Great Recap Eric! I also was very impressed by both the Gruner tasting and the Ribera del Duero tasting and lunch. I look forward to staying in touch.


    1. And if you're ever in town, make sure to reach out and we can organize something.

  4. Thanks Eric, was very nice to meet you!

    -Jon @ The Reverse Wine Snob