Update: I have slightly revised a portion of this entry based on feedback I received. While it appeared to be a Snooth event to me it apparently was just being promoted by them which is how I came to be at the event. Also it seems there was more extensive literature provided earlier in the day at a related event but as I was among the first ten through the door at this tasting at 7pm I can reiterate that there was none of this broader literature present by the tasting portion. I also have revised my geographical error. I appreciate the feedback and opportunity to be corrected. After all I’m here to learn and share that learning and personal experience with you. I don’t see my capacity as that of a critic. I do this for personal enjoyment not income or reputation. Thanks.
Last night I went to a Grand Tasting in Manhattan presented by Alto Adige Wines USA. This region is also known as Südtirol. There were tasting tables for Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Schiava, Lagrein, Pinot Nero, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, and ‘other varieties’ which included Moscato, Riesling, Sylvaner and Kerner blends. Kerner was a new wine for me, and hence exciting to try. Named after a German doctor and poet with some poems and songs focusing on wine, it was very tasty. It is a German variety brought here in the 1970s. The Alto Adige region includes the Dolomite Mountains and the Italian Alps and shares bi-cultural and bi-lingual ties with Germany and Austria which informs several of the varieties grown in this part of Italy.
In the two hours the event lasted, I was able to taste through about 25 wines. I think 3 hours is a safe minimum when featuring this many wines. Though I have heard others say 3 is too long. Overall there were around 20 different producers. Each table was split by variety (except for the mixed table) not by producer. I might have preferred it the other way, but I also think this works as it helps you do horizontal comparisons from multiple producers. Here are my picks:
Favorite producers: Franz Haas Winery and Lahnhof.
Lahnof Pinot Bianco Firmalein 2011 – $19
Cantina Valle Isarco Kerner 2011 – $27
Tenuta Lentsch Moscato Giallo 2011 – $19.99
Kaltern Caldaro Lago di Caldaro (Schiava) Pfarrhof 2011 – $18
Nals Margreid Schiava Galea 2011 – $22.99
Castelfeder Pinot Nero Glener 2010 – $21.99
Franz Haas Winery Pinot Nero 2010 – $49.99
Erste + Neue Pinot Grigio Classic 2012 – $15.99
Lahnof Pinot Grigio 2011 – $22
Franz Haas Winery Manna 2010 (blend) – $39.99
There was also a Sauvignon Blanc table and while they had some nice examples it wasn’t high on my priority list as its not a local specialty and I was really going for that experience.
The crowd was a mix of young and old professionals. The music was more of a young New Yorker’s mix. My savvy music ear was able to discern current New York City rock bands the Strokes and TV on the Radio over the din of the room.
There was also a catered table of gourmet cheeses, meats, breads and condiments including some Lagrein cheese (which I paired with some Lagrein wines, of course) and fine prosciutto.
A nice modern touch here was a large projector screen with rotating past tweets about the event. I feel like it was a lost opportunity not having the ability to add live tweets by attendees to the stream.
I also think there could have been more complete printed material on the producers and wines. Or perhaps some sort of master checklist or tasting note sheets to better document favorite new discoveries for when you’re ready to buy. And on that note, where do I buy? My immediate assumption is that that information is online somewhere, but making it easy to find them after the event translates into sales. The producers would have benefited from having this information included in the event materials. If printing all that is costly, at the very least provide a website landing page with links to where you can purchase all of the wines. I looked but couldn’t find one. I feel like this was a big oversight.
There was at least one person, whether a winemaker or rep, at each table that could answer my more technical questions on the wines but there were also several who were just pourers who didn’t know much about what they were pouring at all. I believe some of these were just staff from the wineries themselves that weren’t formally educated in wine in their job capacities and came along to help.
Overall it was a lovely event, I discovered new wines I loved, and I look forward to the next one. Everyone got a nice tote bag and a small printed guide to the event and varieties in general. There was a good crowd and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, myself and my wife included. A fun spin on the event is a contest where you can tweet photos of yourself and friends enjoying the event and win prizes like Alto Adige wines or mountain-climbing classes.