Best wines of the past year to be featured at tasting
May 16, 2001
This is a very special month for me. May is the first anniversary of our monthly wine tastings.
We have drunk many good wines and, admittedly, some not as good but that is what wine tastings are all about. You taste. You learn. You learn the difference between cabernet sauvignon and merlot, between pinot noir and red zinfandel. You learn that "cheap" doesn't mean good and in many cases neither does "expensive."
Originally, our May 24 tasting was going to be a selection of good wines that sell for under $20. We're going to hold that one until later in the summer. For our first anniversary, we are going to taste the best wines we served during the first year. Much thought went into this. There were consultations with several who had attended all or most of the tastings. This is the list we've selected. The best of the best from Year One.
In addition there will be one none of you have ever tasted before. In this column last week I praised a stunning New Zealand sauvignon blanc named Cloudy Bay. I called it probably the best sauvignon blanc I have ever tasted. It is in woefully short supply but I searched my personal cellar and found enough bottles for the tasting. Believe me, giving them up is a sacrifice but it will be my bonus treat for those in attendance, the wine of the evening. Its 1998 vintage earned a rating of 92 from the leading national wine magazine.
In addition, we will serve the lovely Seaview Sparkling Wine at the start of the evening for your enjoyment. This Australian champagne-like wine was a hit several months ago and we are bringing it back for the pleasure of early arrivals.
Now the list of the best of the best, the wines that made the first year so memorable.
Rosemount Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra District of Australia. This is a big powerful wine, packed with flavor yet smooth and well balanced. It is without a doubt the best cabernet served this year and if you missed it the first time around you will add it to your list of favorites after the May tasting.
Karly's Warrior Fire Red Zinfandel. We're cheating a little bit here. The Karly's we served at a previous tasting was Karly's Buck's 10 Point, the No. 2 zinfandel produced by this stunning California winery. Since then we have discovered the Warrior Fire, their top wine, and it is so unbelievable we stepped up a class for this tasting. Warrior Fire is on the wine list at Northwood Country Club and according to manager George Constance it sells and sells and sells. It should. It's my personal favorite.
One of our major discoveries during the first year was the Greg Norman wines that are now among the most popular in Meridian. We cannot hold this anniversary tasting without including the Greg Norman red wine, a blend of cabernet and merlot. It was No. 56 on the 1999 list of the world's best wines with a rating of 91. A lovely wine.
Columbia Crest Merlot from the state of Washington is included. We did not taste any of the truly great Merlots during the year but this one combines excellent flavor with the velvety finish that ladies particularly like. At a price of less than $15 it deserves inclusion on our Best Wines of Year One list for its combination of quality and price.
Monsanto Chianti is a sleeper. There are better known Italian chiantis such as Ruffino or the Antinoris, but when we tasted the wines of Italy the tasters named the Monsanto as the best wine of the evening. Yes, its label is so garishly colorful you wonder the first time how good the wine inside is going to be. Taste it and you'll never wonder that again.
Landmark Overlook won the chardonnay evening going away. This wine is consistently outstanding, year in and year out. On the list of the 100 best wines of 1999, The Wine Spectator ranked it as the 20th best wine produced that year, regardless of type or country of origin. It was given a rating of 92, the same as Cloudy Bay, and friends that is very, very high.
Despite the quality of the wines to be served, we will keep the price per place at the usual $20 each. But again because of the quality of the wines and the resulting expense, we must insist on payment in advance. These eight wines must be purchased by myself in advance and I buy enough for the tasting, but at this investment level none to spare.
Make your reservation by phone if you wish at 482-0930 but your check should be made out to Wines Unlimited. Send it to Post Office Box 5223, Meridian, MS. 39302. Seating will be limited.
Now some further news …
Our tasting group has become noticed by the wine industry. You'll remember the Riedel tasting in March, put on by the Riedel Company, makers of the world's finest wine glasses.
Now I am pleased to announce we have been contacted by the state distributor of fine Australian wines. Patrick O'Byrne from Tasmania Australia, the Ambassador for the Australian Premium Wine Collection is coming to America in June and, while in Mississippi, will contact a tasting of his country's wines here in Meridian for Wines Unlimited.
The date is June 14 at Northwood. Normally, our tastings are the last Thursday of each month (except for this month when we set it for May 24 because of the Memorial Day holiday), but the opportunity to host and hear Mr. O'Byrne is something we cannot miss. The O'Byrne family has been bottling some their country's finest wines for 100 years and he is one of the most respected figures in the Australian wine industry. This is a rare opportunity for Meridian and local wine lovers.
Until we receive his list of wines, we can't set the price but we will keep it reasonable. Make your reservation now because we expect a large crowd.
Stan Torgerson, a longtime Meridian resident, has written a wine column for several years.