One of the regular services the wine writer Dean Tudor provides for the readers of his blog Gothic Epicures VinCuisine is a category of posts that review the trade events he attends. It’s all very post-modern, since he’s attended the event reviewed to review the wines, or whatever is being sampled. Dean (who is a friend) has a standard system of rating the events, like he does wine, and I have always admired its efficiency. Because wine tasting events rely largely on the availability of winemakers, their frequency tends to follow a pattern of feast or famine, depending on what’s happening in the vineyards and cellars in each of the world’s hemispheres. This can cause some chaos, when events are stacked on top of each other and sometimes interesting events get lost in the GFR editorial shuffle as our content production system is not always so efficient. One reason for our (sometimes) inefficiency is that, apart from being interesting and educational, most trade wine tastings are social events and a chance to catch-up with colleagues in food and wine journalism or wine trade professionals, whether they’re selling (agents and marketers) or buying (sommeliers and restaurateurs). Anyway, here are some pictures and a few notes from three interesting (and even fun) events I attended in the last few weeks.
Taste Ontario! February 26, Royal Ontario Museum
The story of the trade and media tasting put on by VQA Wines of Ontario and Wine Country Ontario is size. Hundreds of producers filled up a very big room full of hundreds of trade and media. Jamie and I attended together. We had a meeting beforehand and got there with a bit more than an hour left in the show. We started in one corner, where we spied our friends at Malivoire and Hidden Bench and never moved. We never had the chance. Everyone was there. No one was going to miss the show, and while there was lots of serious tasting going on around us, but we spent most of our time catching up with people we knew and vowing to make up by tasting in our local cellars and at the Cuvée show in Niagara later this month.
Wine Australia Winter Trade Tasting and Seminar, February 27, George Brown College
This event marked the return to Toronto of Wine Australia’s Mark Davidson, who we last saw on GFR pouring Grenache with smoked meat last summer. Davidson led a packed seminar before the main trade event at one of the new (at least to me) wine labs at George Brown in the building that houses The Chef’s House on the main floor. The room is amazing, decked out with all manner of AV equipment and spitting sinks built into the bars that serve as desks. The theme of Davidson’s seminar was ‘Sustainable Australia’ and it revolved around three flights of four wines each:
- Organics and Biodynamics;
- Water Management; and
- Alternative Varieties.
While Davidson had many points to make about the advancement of sustainable wine making in a country where many wine regions are susceptible to drought, the theme turned out to be a great way to show-off a wonderfully diverse array of Australian reds and whites. So did the show, which was well attended by the fine dining trade. I will be looking at the Australian section of the wine list at the city’s finer establishments for interesting and well priced things like Graciano, or Vermentino in the months to come.
Benvenuto Brunello, March 5, The Carlu
The best line of Michael Godel’s seminar at Benvenuto Brunello, which showcased the release of the 2013 vintage through ten wines, was from Cinelli Colombini‘s Violante Gardini. (See Jamie’s GFR interview with her and her counterpart from Fanti, Luca Vitiello here.) She said, “It’s impossible to find a bad Brunello, so you have to decide what you prefer.” Brunello is such tightly regulated wine, in terms of what the enologi of the DOCG are permitted to do that there’s a more or less guarantee of quality, so most variance, Godel and the winemakers from each winery argued, has more to do with terroir and degrees of intervention in the fields and cellars. Anyway, it was a fantastic seminar, not least because Gardini is absolutely right, there is no bad Brunello. Of course the seminar was packed and had a waiting list, and the walk-around seminar was equally busy, with thirsty sommeliers and journalists lined-up a few deep at each table. I elbowed my way into a few, but then gave up as I had deadlines to make and content to produce. As with the other two, I just hope I get invited again.