Thursday, February 16, 2012

Moet Hennessy Winemaker Tour in DC

Capital Cooking Contributor

Last week, winemakers from around the globe gathered in D.C. as a part of the Moet Hennessy Winemaker Tour. The group assembled in The Wine Room at Occidental Restaurant to present their wines. Each estate had a table set up with a selection of their best wines, and guests took them all in over the course of the afternoon.

Occidental provided small bites of passed hors d'oeuvres, and attendees also had the options of a variety of cheeses, crackers and oysters to choose from.

Those who fortunate enough to get seats in seminars were in for a real treat. They were able to learn about, and taste, four different wines from the winemakers themselves!

The first seminar was held by Nicolas Auderbert of Cheval des Andes in Argentina. He presented his vineyard to the audience, teaching them about his gorgeous property and love for wine. Did you know that most wines in the world are produced along the same latitudes? Looking at a map, Napa, Virginia, Spain, France and Italy are along the same parameters, as are areas of Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand that produce wine. But it's the weather, soil and care of a winemaker that factor into producing the best wines. At only 35 years of age, Auderbert's love for wine has taken him to over 70 countries. And with wine ratings no lower than 92 for Cheval des Andes, his work is proving fruitful. 

Lookout for: Cheval des Andes 2006 blend (Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot). Rated by Wine Spectator at 96 points, this smooth red has a plum, fig, coffee and cocoa notes.

The second seminar was from Newton Vineyard in Napa, California. Guests who sat in on this presentation learned about the difference between filtered and unfiltered wines. Translated into coffee terms, a coffee filter absorbs much of the color and flavor properties of the coffee itself. A french press, however, produces an unfiltered version that allows every bit of that coffee to stay in your cup. The same is with unfiltered wine, which age similarly to filtered wines. // Lookout for: Newton Unfiltered 2009 Chardonnay. It has more structure than a filtered white. It's rich, creamy and sweet.

Manuel Louzada of Numanthia, smelling one of his varietals.

The last seminar of the afternoon included a vertical tasting and presentation by Manuel Louzada of Numanthia. The Spanish vineyard contains only 11 acres, but every one of its ungrafted vines seems to produce something magical. It's clear to anyone who meets Louzada that he's excited about his craft, and unpretentiously so. He tastes his wines as if for the first time. They're not hard to get enthusiastic about. The Numanthia Termanthia is 100% Tinta de Toro, aged for 20 months in oak. The 2001 tastes of fresh fruit, the 2002 has more minerality and peppery notes, the 2003 tastes like a warmer version of the 2001, and the 2008 is the most elegant of the group. All of the wines have character. They're all wonderful, and they will all age well in a collection. 
Lookout for: any of the Numanthia Termanthias, if you can get your hands on a bottle.

The Moet Hennessy event was filled with wine enthusiasts in and around the D.C. area. Hotel and restaurant representatives were there to taste each participating estate. And if they liked what they tasted, chances are, they're going to do what they can to bring these great wines from around the world a little closer to you.

photos by Alfredo Flores
Occidental Grill & Seafood on Urbanspoon

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