Friday, February 13, 2009

James Wright, Winemonger Of Austrian Wines Visits/ Tastes Cleveland Park On " New " Producers / Releases Gruners, Rieslings, St. Laurents, Zweigelts +

     It was great to see James Wright ( regional manager ,,, Tel : ( 800 ) 608-8230 ) of Winemonger Imports/Wholesale & Retail here at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits Friday afternoon, February 13th, 2009. He brought quite the selection with Mike Martin and I to taste of three Austrian reds and I believe four or five Austrian whites.

     I had lost track with James several years ago. I had heard from Kate Whitmore that he was helping her sell her portfolio of excellent German wines ( Kerlin Imports ) up in New York which included HANS LANG among others. Funny, when we mentioned Kate James said yesterday that he had just received an email from her recently. He added quickly that he had sold a whole lot of the HANS LANG liters of Mosel, tricking dry Riesling in New York.

     Kate moved to Germany or is it Austria with her husband and son and has decided that it is is just too difficult to continue her business in these times and so for the moment at least Kerlin Imports is no more.

     I met Kate years ago when we were both at Magruder's just before Chevy Chase circle ( just up the street from where we are here in Cleveland Park , 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington D.C. 20008  Tel : 202-363-4265 ) and she made quite an impression on me. At the time I was working wholesale selling wines from Wines Limited.

     Anyway, James came with his Austrian wines and both Mike Martin and I sampled them. My general impression was one of outstanding quality. I liked them all, both the three reds and the four or five whites. 

     They reminded me of wines that were made in a traditional manner to accent and complement the foods of their region. That pleased me greatly. They did not seem at all to be wines made to corner a market or made with catchy labels simply to sell more bottles/ more cases. I call that real wine made with more than simply sales as the ultimate goal. These are the kinds of wines that Mike and I like to sell.

     I liked that James brought us the wines made from indigenous grapes : the reds made from Zweigelt, St. Laurent and Blaufrankisch. They were the FELLER-ARTINGER 2007 Zweigelt ( $19.99 ), the SCHUSTER St Laurent 2007 ( $22.99 ) and the MORIC Blaufrankisch 2006 ($31.49 ). All three reds are from Burgenland. I will include more detailed comments on all three this weekend.

     The whites were primarily all made from the indigenous Gruner Veltliner grape that has taken the U.S. by a storm for the last ten years or so. James also added at the end one really flavorful, dry Riesling.

     The three Gruner Veltliners (  you will become a " crooner with gruner " ! )  were :  1)  ERBEN-ERBENAUER ( a full liter bottle size ) 2007 ( $13.49 ) from Wenviertel  ,  then  2)  JOHANN DONABAUM " Johann " 2007 ( $21.99 ) from the Wachau , then the  3 )  GRITSCH-MAURITIUSHOF  ' Singerriedel Smaragd " 2007 ( $47.99 ) , also from the Wachau .

      For the Riesling we enjoyed the MALAT " Steinbuhel 2007 ( $36.49) from the Kremstal.

     I believe I have all this correctly. I will check my notes and make any necessary changes tomorrow.

     Here are the pictures that I took. As you can see I like to take pictures of the entire event/tasting as to capture as best I can the moment. I also like to take pictures of the actual wines so that you may see them outside the bottle for color and clarity. Visually they are so inspiring and we often pass over that to quickly get right to the taste. That's a big mistake. 

     It's like quickly getting by the first kiss to the rest and not enjoying first the kiss. The article in the Washington Post newspaper this morning ( Valentine's Day, Saturday February 14th, 2009 ) talked about how much we learn about each other from kissing. The same can be said from looking at the color of the wine and then lingering, too for awhile on the bouquet of the wine. Of course I cannot capture the bouquet here with pictures. I have to use words to evoke these Austrian wines marvelous, compelling, attractive smells. As I said I will do more of this tomorrow, Sunday when I am back at home and not here at work. 

     Thanks for coming by James. Great to see you and both catch-up a bit with you as well as taste your new WINE MONGER selections.

     I forgot to talk about your music background James. I am intrigued that you gave up your harpsichord for a guitar and was it drums? I met you I believe back when you did a stint at Rodman's. Actually I believe that it was before that. It was great to hear about all the travelling you do for wine : that you go to Austria each year is it? You also said that you travelled to Europe once five times in one year and that it was too much. I would have loved the chance. Anyway, our conversation yesterday makes me eager to chat more with you. Until then, Cheers, and Happy Valentine's Day to One and to All !    TONY

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