While the Philadelphia Eagles Stadium would not bring to most the thought of wine (beer, soft pretzels Cheesesteaks, or tailgating perhaps?), Lincoln Financial Field was in fact this year’s venue for the 11th annual Philadelphia Wine Festival 2012. Sponsored by Philadelphia Magazine , PA Wine & Spirits Stores & Lexus. As always, proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia (CHOP).
This was the 1st time the Festival was held here, specifically on the “Club Level”. There was no shortage of Lexus vehicles to dazzle the eyes, as they were strategically placed inside & outside along with a VIP Lexus suite with all manner of goodies to enjoy. CHOP had set up a very impressive silent auction table the length of which reminded me that a football field is 100 yards long. People were very generous with their checkbooks as helping a sick child is at the top of everyone’s “To Do” list.
The layout for the wine tables was different than in past years, actually quite so. Instead of the usual big square block with row after row inside, the room itself dictated a more efficient and I think, relaxing approach. A long sweeping arc of tables with two isles allowed patrons to begin anywhere they liked and end up where they started from. And to further make things easy, the Domestic wines where on the right & Imported ones on the left.
Favorites & wines of interest:
Beaulieu Vineyard George Latour Reserve 2008 $111 WS 93 Deep dark cherry, earth, pencil, lots of oak and cherry flavors, long finish, approachable tannins.<a
Bodega Frontaura Tinta de Toro Reserva 2005 $36 WS 91 Classic Tempranillo, from century old vines, while the Crianza was more approachable, this Reserva had the licorice, coffee & wild berry, plus a distinct addition of oak. The tannins allowed for and require some more cellar time.
Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Reserva 2006 $30 In general I prefer these elegant Tuscan wines over brethren Chianti & this is a perfect example. Blackberry, dark cherry, accompany a little leather, mint & structured tannins.
Bodega Los Cerrillo Finca El Peral Riserva 2008 $17 Earthy, deep rich fruit, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Merlot. Nice wine for the price.
Woody Nook Killdog Creek Shiraz 2006 $26 Good unusual, in addition to the big fruit & hint of bubblegum, this wine has a distinct earthiness usually found in the Rhone region, not Margaret River, Australia. Well done!
Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2009 $15 WS 90 Lovely expression,100% Marsanne but perhaps a splash of Roussanne (?), almond, licorice, peach, this is a great value, a summer white for me.
Cave de Tain Crozes-Hermitage 2007 $15 WS 89 Meaty, stinky, hint of raspberry, but more dried fruit, this is easy drinking right now.
Cave de Tain Hermitage Gambert de Loche 2003 $66 WS 92 Nice earthy, game notes, stone, chocolate, ample blackberry & dark fruit support a nice smooth backbone. here’s a perfectly aged Hermitage for your pleasure.
Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa Valley 2009 $50 this is the wine featured in the movie Bottle Shock about the Judgment of Paris wine tasting in 1976. Beautifully balanced, lemon, Florida citrus & a slight minerality with the oak always there in the background. A subdued California Chard. & I mean that in the best possible way. Elegant.
Chateau Montelena Riesling Potter Valley 2011 $23 Well the Pa. Wine & Spirits stores have some pull, as this wine is not yet released from the winery. Peach, apricot, huge orange flavors with the same biting acidity you find in balanced Sauterne. It’s dry but with just a hint of sweetness. I like my Rieslings to taste like a petrol can, but this is a pleasant exception.
Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel Calistoga 2009 $30 Zinfandel & kissing cousin Primitivo, nice earth, little game (Primitivo attribute),ripe dark cherry, vanilla, smooth tannins and nice acidity make this a balanced twist on Big Calif. Zin. Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009 $49 Wonderful Cherry, plum ,nutmeg & a subtle mesquite like spiciness to the oak meld with tannins that budge, again balance is the word for this lovely Cab.
Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $134 Darker cherry & plum fruit, lead pencil. surprising I found this to be softer & more approachable than the Napa Cab., but will reap rewards with cellaring. This & the chardonnay are must try Calif. wines.
Clarendon Hills Brookman Vineyard Merlot 2005 $45 Big, huge right bank nose, green pepper, meat, sour black cherry, mineral, super long finish. A crime, I needed an hour with this wine, and want a case, instead 1 min of bliss had to suffice. A favorite of the evening.
Etude Pinot Noir Carneros 2007 $50 Rich cherry and a smokiness highlight this very nice Medium bodied Pinot.
EnRoute Les Pommiers Pinot Noir RRV 2009 $60 WS 92 Nice bright cherry and berry with a vanilla coating, a tartness balances both along with the caraway seed that adds to the spicy finish. A lot of thought went into this lovely Russian River Pinot. A new venture from the Far Niente/Nickel & Nickel/Dolce owners.
Iron Horse Ocean Reserve 2006 $39 WS 87 $4 from every bottle goes to protect areas from overfishing. Light straw color, a hint of sweetness on the nose, wonderful earth, lemon, & citrus, with a great mouthwatering finish.
Melville Terraces Pinot Noir 2009 $45 Poopy diaper, soap, ripe cherry, has an appealing tanginess from the acidity, typical of Burgundy, a surprising style for Santa Rita Hills. This & the Siduri were my favorite Pinot’s.
Samsara Verna’s Vineyard Syrah 2009 $27 Floral, game, nice peppery spice add to the cherry preserves flavors.
Ponzi Chardonnay Reserve 2008 $30 WS 89 Shows what geography can do to a varietal. It’s cooler growing climate give this so much complexity, with tarter fruit but still ripe enough & licorice notes that keep the subtle oak treatment in check.
Ponzi Reserve Pinot Noir 2009 $60 This was richer than the 2006 I’ve had the pleasure of drinking, with darker cherry & raspberry on the nose & even blueberry or blackberry flavors match the acidity, Perfect introduction to a true “Reserve” Oregon Pinot Noir.
Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch Chardonnay 2009 $49 Peppermint, Vanilla, hint of mineral on nose, with lemon, peach and apricot, lots of flavors for a Chard. Very nice.
Shafer One Point Five 2008 $75 This is one of the best values in premium California Cabernet, you can spend two or three times as much & not get this kind of quality. 2% Petite Verdot. Big cherry & Pencil, tannins are predominate in this infant but with a good decant they are manageable.
Siduri Keefer Ranch Pinot Noir 2010 WS 94 $48 In my humble opinion this is as good as RRV Pinot Noir can get! Everyone has their favorites & this wine consistently excels. Medium color, with Lipton tea, dark cherry, raspberry & violets. Well balanced and very drinkable for it’s age.
Novy Oley Late Harvest Viognier RRV 2010 $21 Sister winery of Siduri specializing in Syrah & other varietals. A steal of a dessert wine! Big spicy nose with apricot, orange and every bit of acidity it needs to be a balanced dessert wine. Gorgeous.
La Bellanotte Armonico Bianco 2009 $14 Fruiliano (No you can’t say Tocai), Malvasia Bianca & Chardonnay. Aromatic of course, pineapple nuttiness, pear, mouthwatering acidity. Great summer white.
St Clair Wairau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011 $28 A surprising stinkiness, gooseberry, grapefruit, wet stones, one of the neatest S.B. I’ve had. Co-favorite white of the evening.
St Clair Pioneer Block 4 Sawcut Pinot Noir 2008 $30 Another balanced Pinot, but this time from New Zealand. Sherry, little earth, mixes well with the vanilla. Ready to drink now.
Montes Folly Syrah 2006 $90 WS 94 A single vineyard wine, dark in color, a big & extracted , candied & gamey nose, blackberry, plum, & enough oak to build a house. Integrated tannins. Heck of a Syrah.
First Drop 2% Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009 $30 Are you a fan of Australian Shiraz? Do you like big, in your face, fruit forward wines? Are you not afraid to say it? If you answered yes to any of the above run don’t walk to your local wine store & beg to get some of this! Signature Aussie/ Barossa style, Bazooka, earth, deep dark fruit, & don’t forget that spiciness. Also give the $18 “Mothers Milk” a try.
Vincent Girardin Meursault Narvaux 1er Cru 2009 WS 91 $47 I like both new world & old world wines, it depends what the occasion is. This is Old world thru & thru. So much mineral I had to look in the bottle for pieces of Chalk or blackboard. Lemon & apple peek out from the mineral in a nice finish. Co-favorite white.
Sauzet Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru 2009 $56 More balanced than the Meursault, less mineral, more fruit, apple ,pear, a little yeasty ,with great acidity. An outstanding white.
Sauzet Puligny Montrachet Hameau De Blagny 1er cru 2008 $80 I spit almost everything, this was an exception. Almost lush in character with citrus, pear, nutmeg, mineral is there. I found this quite drinkable now.
All in all another great Philly WineFest, the PLCB picked some great wines, Philly Mag did a wonderful job organizing the whole event, & the people from CHOP out did themselves with this year’s auction. Now if I could just have the keys to one of the Lexus’ ….