A Series of Wine Thoughts From My Time in Minnesota | Catavino
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A Series of Wine Thoughts From My Time in Minnesota

Ok, jetlag is done, culture shock is mitigated, and my life is starting to get back to its crazy usual self. I’ve inoculated my system with some fresh Iberian wines and assorted tapas. So what happened in Minnesota you may ask? Well a lot. One wedding, one 60th birthday party and at least 4 wine filled dinners. So rather than give you a play by play, I’ll bullet point some of the highlights and ask you a few questions, or rather, state some observations from the visit.

Jason Kallsen, the man behind the World Class Wines Blog, invited me to talk about blogging and Iberian wine on the second night I was in town! Thankfully, it was a great success. Held at the cafe across the street (space purposes) from SoloVino in St.Paul, we talked about wine, blogging and the intersection of the two. Take away thoughts? Well, I was shocked by how few of the “wine geeks” in attendance actually read blogs. While about half had read a blog, very few actually frequented them. If anyone who attended has anything to say about this, please chime in!

I tasted wines twice with old buddies/wine geeks. First night, I tried two Pinot Noirs, one of which was a Bergstrom 2002 PN that was beautiful, seductive, and well worth it. The other, as a result of my desire to carry over wines that were unique and different, was a Kosta Brown RRV 2005 that was undrinkable, or at the least, not a wine that I would ever purposefully go out and buy. Hot, thick, clunky, this was a wine that was better distilled than consumed. Oh, and at 14.7% alcohol?! Give me a break. Dinner was fabulous however, with lamb ribs roasted for 6 hours like pork ribs and served with mint, black current sauce and one other fun one that I can’t remember! We finished with was a Seebrich 2001 Niersteiner Hipping Auslese that had a nose of petrol, amazing acidity and had more sex appeal than I could have hoped for. Incredible! This came from my cellar back in MN and is a wine that I’m happy to say, I have one more of.

The following night, I stopped by another friend’s house where we had a stunning Chinon, a couple of Bordeaux’s and a 1997 Ferrari Carano Tesor. I thought this wine would have been hitting its peak and moving on, and I was happy to find that out I was wrong. Full, fresh, with amazing structure and acidity, this treat still has a few years ahead of it. Great wine! As to the others, I know my friend can tell us in the comments what Bordeaux’s we tried, though I can tell you that they paired very well with the lamb chops we savored straight from the grill!

Ok so on to the last big tasting night. This one was the most carefree with more wine consumed than I can probably remember. The goal: grill steaks, make a salad, eat some cheeses, and taste a ton of wine. Mission accomplished in the following order:

  • Next we tried some random wines including this gem: Concha y Toro Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 – Intense dark, inky flavor, insanely dark. At first a big hit of green pepper that starts to blow off, though tons of cassis, and black pepper. Tight in the mouth with an intensity that is very rich. Tannins are starting to fade though the acidity is very rich and still a bit sharp. Rich and full, though a bit out of balance, The acidity needs to chill out to come to fruition.
  • A Bordeaux that was fading and a 1989 Tondonia white just to show people something different, all led to the 2001 Chaves Hermitage, a wine that was far from ready but for me showed why I’m in this world of wine! Beautiful, succulent, with raspberry notes and bacon fat. Dense and ready to drink in another 20 years. Sadly, we had to keep going and an overripe Australian failed us afterwords with its awkward and sickly sweet fruit, clinging to a 15%+ body. UGH.
  • I’m sure there were a few others, though I will say a highlight was throwing the ones we didn’t like over the deck to the hostas down below. It was the finish that really was fun: a 2003 LBV from our new client, Quevedo, and a 2000 Forrest Estate Chenin Blanc Botrytised from New Zealand that seriously was AMAZING. Who knew how incrediblet his would be, and I wish I still had a case sitting in my cellar right now. If you can find it, buy it!

Needless to say, the meal was fun and a great success. I even had a chance to end it with a cigar with my dad, not bad at all.

From there on out, it was the wedding, which while a great time, was not a wine lover’s paradise. Busch light was the beer of choice, a drink that I find offensive to claim is fit for human consumption; however, with a few bottles of strategically placed Hop Devil to add to the bastardly brew, it became considerably more palatable in the end.

So now, I’m back, dealing with the evil phone company of Vodafone (more to come very shortly), preparing for the EWBC, and answering more emails than I thought possible. We have a lot of wines on deck to taste right now and then a harvest to figure out. So far things look good, though some areas are suffering from small yields. We’ll keep you covered though.

Till Soon,

Ryan Opaz