Charlie Opines About Wine

In my search for interesting wines to serve to guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I attend many planned and impromptu wine tastings. I am happy to share my experiences with you. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cape Cod Wine 2012

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings  

Wow, it’s great to be home from our winter travels. As we prepare our bed and breakfast for the first guest of the season, we each have our jobs to do. Mine is to find more great wine to serve. Fortunately, another right of spring on Cape Cod is the formal industry wine tastings held by wine wholesalers and distributors. Most wines make it to your favorite retail wine shop or restaurant via one of a dozen or so wholesalers/distributors that have contracts with the winery. All during the year, their sales teams call on my friends at Cellar 55 to introduce them to new releases from their client wineries’ products by bring the  samples to the store. Once a year, select wholesalers bring all their clients to Cape Cod and invite us to easily sample the complete range of wines offered by the numerous wineries. In my role as Wine Steward at the Inn, I am obliged to attend as many of these ‘trade’ tastings as I can and am pleased to be invited. 

So what’s more fun than going to a wine tasting of four or five wines?  How about a tasting of hundreds of wines. That’s what a trade tasting is all about. My first week back from Florida, I went to the M.S.Walker tasting at a hotel in Hyannis. Walker is a major New England distributor of both liquor and wine. They represent over 150 well-known wineries just in North America and 100’s more from around the world. The tasting was held in the hotel’s ballroom from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. At about 4:00, I walk into a huge room with 46 tables of wines, each offering anywhere from four to six wines to sample. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. With over 300 wines, you need a strategy more than stamina, and a wooden leg wouldn’t hurt.

Strategy wise, I start by review of the thick tasting book which identifies the wines offered at each table. I have to admit I look at the selling price; I mean would you rather start with an $8.00 bottle or a $50.00 bottle? Again, this is a tasting and you should not be actually consuming large qualities, but you will be absorbing a fair share and there is only so much time. I also had an assignment from Cellar 55 to find certain varieties of wines to fit into certain price ranges. So a key to my table selection was the variety offered and the price points.

With these guidelines, I charged through many tables of fine wine and some not so fine. I made a few discoveries that I recommended and hope will be on the Cellar’s shelves this summer. I was very impressed with the Kim Crawford Pinot Noir. I have never been a big fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for which Kim Crawford is often held up as the global standard. The Pinot was excellent and I think fits in nicely with the range currently offered by the Cellar.  

Another find was the Matanzas Creek Winery 2007 Bennett Valley Merlot. I was aware of the Santa Rosa winery’s name, but had never tried any of their wines. I have not been drinking a lot of Merlot lately, but this is one that will get me back on the trail of other Sonoma County Merlots. A great thing about a trade tasting is the chance to try some new wineries. 

Another great thing about a spring trade tasting is seeing friends in the hospitality business. The ballroom was packed and I saw dozens of people I have gotten to know over the years, most of which I now only see at such events because when the season starts we are all too busy to connect. Old friends and new wines made for a perfect welcome home. So many wines and so little time. 
Happy Wine-ing
Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts  

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Thanks for reading Cape Cod Wine Time. Wishing you great Wine-ing.