I love getting invited to a good wine and spirits tasting, but sometimes the venue can be a trifle overwhelming. Not this time. Here, as my duty to Hobnob, I ventured to sample a selection of fantastic wines, plus sipped a lilac gin cocktail, and had a wee taste of some extraordinary spirits meant to be savored neat. I share with you the crème de la crème, which should be stocked in your bar asap, in case of a surprise guest drop in. A good host is always prepared!
photo at the top of this post: I’m holding a glass of the Partida Elegante, a tequila worth investing in. (see more details below) Right, the tasting took place in Il Gattopardo’s private party room, which was situated between two buildings, with light streaming in from a wall of windows and skylight. Genius idea, to take over a space in the middle and create something special.
SPAIN Started with a lively Spanish white, 2017 Viña Pomal Blanco, a blend of 70% Viura, 30% Malvasia from the Rioja Alta region. My tasting notes: Unusual, light, oaky. A little strange but good for summer with grilled white meats or fish. Great served nice and cold. About $16. vinapomal.com
CALIFORNIA From California’s Long Meadow Ranch, 2018 Anderson Valley Rosé of Pinot Noir. This is a wonderful sip for the pure-hearted-pinot noir lovers out there. 2018 was a colder and slower season in Anderson Valley, producing wines with an elegant delicacy. The slow maturation and perfect conditions for Pinot Noir allowed it to retain a freshness while developing a complexity of flavors. Feels like a true rosé with lots of body and depth, a little on the heavy side. About $25. longmeadowranch.com
FRANCE Onto France, Chateau Malescasse 2014, produced the perfect red wine for summer. It was light and round, but still retained a wonderful complexity and was a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 54% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. This table was my favorite for wine, especially due to the charms and in-depth knowledge provided by Brian Aladesuyi (seen in photo above). Tasting notes: Ruby red with an intense nose of blackcurrant, blackberry and raspberry. Subtle undertones of roasted mocha give it great elegance and added complexity. chateau-malescasse.com
FRANCE One of the best rosés I have ever experienced, Commanderie de Peyrassol’s 2018 Chateau Peyrassol Rosé was perfection in a bottle. The grapes (Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache, Ugni Blanc and Rolle) are picked when the temperature is coolest then vinified at the peak of their freshness. Tasting notes: It has a beautiful, dense palate, delicate and lively, and is notable for its balance and full body, punctuated by a long, fruity finish. It radiates freshness with subtle nose of citrus, peach, apricot and fine floral notes. About $26. www.peyrassol.com
ITALY Some bubbly from Italy. From Wilson Daniels, Bisol Cortizze Prosecco Superiore DOCG was very round and full-bodied with slightly sweet strawberry notes. Tasting notes: an elegant bouquet, scents of wildflowers, pleasantly fruity with notes of apples, pears and peaches. Flavor is savory, full and balanced; its sweetness is contained and accompanied by an intense and elegant fruitiness. About $40. wilsondaniels.com
ITALY For prosecco created in a more champagne style, the Empson Ferghettina Brut DOGC has a wheaty, more astringent feel. A blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir, great for those hot days when you want something light. About $40. empsonusa.com
CANADA I couldn’t help but be curious eyeing this bottle of gin with extraordinary hue. Empress 1908 gin’s story begins with inspiration in Victoria, British Columbia’s iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel, whose tea service was something of a marvel. In creating the mix of botanicals, it was discovered that pea blossom used in the hotel’s tea blends, resulted in adding the eye-catching purple hue. The gin’s other seven botanicals blend to create a balanced mix: tea, juniper, rose, coriander seed, grapefruit peel, ginger root, and cinnamon bark. So next time you want to serve a G & T, surprise your guests with something as beautiful as it is delicious. At the tasting they used Fevertree tonic, giving the drink a more lilac tone, and garnished with a grapefruit wedge. About $40. empressgin.com
KENTUCKY Moving into the category of neat sipping are three remarkable spirits, a rye, rum, and tequila—a trifecta of sipping pleasure. I started with the 2-year old Kentucky Peerless Straight Rye which was smoooooth, with tones of maple, brown sugar and light citrus notes. The rye is non-chill filtered—meaning it sustains elements that add to it’s complexity and is made with only sweet mash, which definitely captures a wonderful sweetness. This rye has been family-produced since 1897, so they know what they’re doing. About $125. kentuckypeerless.com
VENEZUELA This rum is at the top of my list of the tasting, and should be cherished and savored among only your best and favorite friends. Diplomático Single Vintage 2004 is the result of that year’s finest production, chosen by the maestros roneros for its distinction and separated. Tasting notes: the nose has vanilla, coffee and chocolate aromas. The taste is quite rich, balanced, and on the sweet side. If you like to support companies who like to be ecologically sound, this distillery has implemented programs to turn their residual water into organic fertilizer, they recycle 100% of their solid waste, and contribute to the eco-system by helping to clean beaches and plant trees. Now don’t you feel good about your decision to buy this extraordinary rum? Worth every penny, sells for about $250 a bottle. rondiplomatico.com
MEXICO The third sipper extraordinaire is a tequila made with the finest blue agave situated on the edges of a volcano. Partida Elegante is an extra añejo which has aged for at least 40 months. I am a tequila aficianado, and this one really does stand out from the others with its smoothness and elegance. Tasting notes: aromas of toasted oak, dark chocolate, coffee and ripe banana. The palate entry is slightly toasty, peppery and spicy and morphs into different flavors of agave, vanilla, caramel, bourbon, butter, maple, almonds, hazelnuts, black pepper, citrus flowers and more. A truly wonderful experience. About $375. partidatequila.com
To cherish this excellent tequila, Partida recommends drinking it from a wine glass, as shown here with the reposado.