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Wines of the Week

They're Scary Good

Prisoner Eternally Silenced Pinot Noir California 2017 ($55)--  The first Pinot from The Prisoner company offers aromas of dark cherry, cranberry and cloves.  Richly textured and round on the palate with a hint of pine.  The distinctive bottle makes for a excellent gift idea.  WW 92

Brumont Petit Torus Madiran 2015 ($13) -- The Madiran area lies in the Gascony region of southwest France, and their signature red grape is Tannat.  This blend also includes a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, for added dimension and complexity.  The nose of warm earth and black plum is followed by sensations of subtle blackberry that’s very light on the palate with a subtle finish.  WW 86-87

L’enclos des Braves Gaillac 2016 ($12) -- Located in southwest France not far from Toulouse, Gaillac may be one of France’s oldest viticultural areas.  We’re way off the beaten track here, with this rich red blend being composed of 70% Duras and 30% Braucol, also known as Fer.  Very straightforward notes of red cherry and smoke.  Not very complex but a pleasant alternative to heavier reds.  WW 86

Ferraton Per & Fils Crozes-Hermitage “La Matiniere” 2015 ($26) – It means “early bird,” which is apparently a private joke in the Ferraton family.  Composed of 100% Syrah, it delivers a fully charged palate of red berries and currants, along with smoke, cedar and spice…and maybe a bit of raspberry.  WW 91


Tasting Like a Pro

As a wine journalist, and as someone who evaluates wines I believe many people would enjoy, it’s my solemn duty to sample widely, tasting and evaluating as many wines as possible.  It is, as you might imagine, a pleasant responsibility.  I’m required to swirl and sip the bottles sent to me by wineries and their public relations firms, and I’m also forced (forced, I say) to attend wine events where dozens, even hundreds, of wines are poured for appreciative and critical members of the trade, as well as everyday aficionados.

Over the weekend of March 7-8, my wife Debi and I made our way to Miami to attend a major event staged by well-known wine critic James Suckling.  It was held in the Design District, and offered two floors of tables offering a vast array of Italian wines from every region in the country as well as the outlying islands.

Then, the very next night, we journeyed to the Boca Bacchanal, an annual wine and food blast that benefits the area’s historical society and museum.  The difference was that this event offered not only generous pours of wines from all over, but small bites provided by the area’s restaurants, so there was an opportunity for a bit of wine and food pairing practice.

There’s a certain…well, protocol…to sampling through events of this type.  First of all, the individual tables have small buckets on them. These are for dumping any sample you don’t finish, and also for spitting.  The spitting part is important, because even though you may receive only an ounce or two of each sample, they add up fast.  If you don’t spit, you might wind up going home in an Uber or an ambulance.  And by the way, this spitting thing is a subtle, reserved, decorous action.  It’s not polite to go for distance.

There are many chances for wine lovers to attend events like these, since most are open to the public (for a fee).  The Italian tasting sponsored by James Suckling was held in three cities.  Wine Spectator magazine also does “Grand Tour” events offering tastings of hundreds of wines in several cities every year.  And then there’s the Wine Experience, a three-day program of grand tastings and seminars held in New York every October.  We never miss it.

So watch for these events because they’ll give you an excellent opportunity to do what every wine lover should do:  sample widely.  Like these new recommendations.

Prisoner Eternally Silenced Pinot Noir California 2017 ($55)--  The first Pinot from The Prisoner company offers aromas of dark cherry, cranberry and cloves.  Richly textured and round on the palate with a hint of pine.  The distinctive bottle makes for a excellent gift idea.  WW 92

Brumont Petit Torus Madiran 2015 ($13) -- The Madiran area lies in the Gascony region of southwest France, and their signature red grape is Tannat.  This blend also includes a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, for added dimension and complexity.  The nose of warm earth and black plum is followed by sensations of subtle blackberry that’s very light on the palate with a subtle finish.  WW 86-87

L’enclos des Braves Gaillac 2016 ($12) -- Located in southwest France not far from Toulouse, Gaillac may be one of France’s oldest viticultural areas.  We’re way off the beaten track here, with this rich red blend being composed of 70% Duras and 30% Braucol, also known as Fer.  Very straightforward notes of red cherry and smoke.  Not very complex but a pleasant alternative to heavier reds.  WW 86

Ferraton Per & Fils Crozes-Hermitage “La Matiniere” 2015 ($26) – It means “early bird,” which is apparently a private joke in the Ferraton family.  Composed of 100% Syrah, it delivers a fully charged palate of red berries and currants, along with smoke, cedar and spice…and maybe a bit of raspberry.  WW 91