Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Walking into the Tsunami - TasteCamp East 2009 Day One

Continuing on with my notes on TasteCamp East 2009…

I already wrote about how geeky this past weekend was. Gloriously geeky. Yesterday, Erika and I were chatting (tweeting?) and she mentioned that everyone was writing about the “whirlwind” of a weekend we just had. I had a better name for it.


The ebb of the tide started as we piled into vans to go to Raphael Winery. There was the naturally awkward moment of being in an enclosed space with people you do not really know, where you feel like you have to make conversation. Luckily enough, I consider myself to be a reasonably good talker in awkward situations. It also helped that the damn van driver did not shut up from the moment we entered the van until the moment we paid the fare. Driving for a taxi service in Long Island wine country must be lonely in the off-season, without the weekend warriors.

The wave really began to crest as we stood around the bar, talking, doing some light warm-up tasting with the Raphael Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé. There were plenty of people to meet, lots of schmoozing to do.

Then we really got into the mess. The Long Island Merlot Alliance had set up a walk around tasting of Merlot from five wineries: Clovis Point, Pelligrini Vineyards, Raphael, Sherwood House Vineyards, and Wölffer Estate Vineyards. Their stated goal is “the members of the Long Island Merlot Alliance believe that this place (Long Island) is one of the few in the world that provides the best opportunity for growing and producing great wines substantially comprised of the Merlot grape.” These guys really believed in their Merlot. I cannot blame their passion.

However, overall I could not say that I really believed in their Merlot the way they do. For my tastes the majority of the Merlot was astringent with fruit that dried up before any finish. When I stuck my nose in a few of the wines they reminded me of canned lima beans. Not something I really wanted to find in a Merlot or any wine.

That being said, I tasted some delicious Merlots. My favorites were the Pellegrini Vineyards Merlot 1997 and the Clovis Point Vintner’s Select Merlot 2004.

In addition, the Long Island Merlot Alliance members yearly pool two barrels of their wines to create Merlliance (mer – LEE – ans). I found these wines to be tasty! My favorite was the 2006, with a smoky nose with bright cherry and a taste that was smooth and balanced. I also liked the 2005 and the 2004.

After the tasting we sat down for a fantastic dinner, my compliments to Raphael Winery and their Chef.

And the story of the Tsunami continues…
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