There are certain wine and spirit distributors that are known for representing a lot of producers of, well, plonk, and keeping strangle holds on their regions that prevent higher quality products to be available for the consumer.
Henry Wine Group is absolutely not one of these kinds of distributors.
Per their website, Henry Wine Group focuses on “authenticity and integrity of product”, and I think this is borne out by what I tasted recently.
Every two years, HWG hosts its Taste The World event at the Beverly Hills Hotel, providing wine buyers for restaurants and retail stores, as well as members of the press, the opportunity to sample from a wide variety of the wines and spirits they represent and distribute.
Eve already reported on the spirits here.
For wineries, there was so much to choose from, as all these wineries and/or importers were represented:
Acre Wines / Adelshem Vineyard / Amavi Cellars / Ancient Peaks Winery / Andis Wines / Andrew Murray Vineyards / Banville Wine Merchants / Bespoke Collection / Blue Rock Vineyard / Bodegas Arzuaga / Bodegas Borsao / Bonded Winery No. 9 / Cain Vineyard & Winery / Calera / Claiborne & Churchill / Clos Bellane / Clos LaChance / Coravin / Craft + Estate / Curious Cork Imports / Dark Star Imports / Dashe Cellars / District 3 / Domaine Select Wine & Spirits / Dutton Estate / Elizabeth Spencer Wines / Eighty Four Wines / Fabio Viviani Wines / Fine Estates from Spain / Hand Picked Selections / Head High Wines / Henriot, Inc. / Heron Wines / Highway 12 Vineyards & Winery / Indigenous Selections / Joullian Vineyards / Laely Wine / Lafond Winery / Left Coast Cellars / Lola Kay / Long Meadow Ranch Winery / Lumen Wines / Luna Vineyards / Lynmar Estate / MacRostie Winery and Vineyards / Madness and Cures / Martian Ranch & Vineyards / Medlock Ames / Mettler Family Vineyards / Michael Pozzan Winery / Milbrandt Vineyards / Mindego Ridge / Negociants USA / Nuclear Wine Company / Pali Wine Company / Paolo Scavino / Pepper Bridge / Quinta Vale d. Maria / Red Car Wine Company / Riverbench Vineyard and Winery / Round Pond Estate / Rubissow / San Francisco Wine Exchange / San Lorenzo Winery / Santa Barbara Winery / Saucelito Canyon / Selby Winery / Shafer Vineyards / Sinor-LaVallee / Small Vines / Staete Landt Wine Co. / Stemmler Winery / Stewart Cellars / Taft Street Winery / Thomas Fogarty Wines / Three Sticks Winery / Tierra Divina Vineyards / Titus Vineyards / Vias Imports Ltd. / Vintage Wine Estates / Volker Eisele Family Estate / Warner Henry Offerings / White Hart / Winesellers, Ltd. / ZD Wines
Admittedly, for the first few minutes I wandered around a little shell-shocked, trying to figure out where to start. Then I locked eyes with Andrew Murray of Andrew Murray Vineyards and I was “off to the races”. Andrew’s wines were some of my first Rhones and I am always very fond of them. Especially liked the 2015 Esperance Rose [100% Cinsault] and the 2013 Esperance red blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. I also lucked out that he had brought his Toasted Slope Syrah as well.
After that, in semi-alphabetical order, here are some of the other standouts for me:
Amavi Cellars is based in Walla Walla. Their Estate Walla Walla Valley 2013 Syrah was delicious.
Ancient Peaks Winery and Sinor LaVallee – I always enjoy seeing winemaker Mike Sinor at these events. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there but his wife Cheri LaVallee Sinor was, who I would have recognized sooner if I had bothered reading her nametag. [See below for another nametag faux pas on my part.] Anyway, here’s what I liked from Ancient Peaks and Sinor LaVallee –
Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Ancient Peaks Renegade 2013 [93% Syrah, 4% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot]
Ancient Peaks Oyster Ridge 2012 – always my favorite from Ancient Peaks, this year’s blend was 68% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Petite Sirah, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec.
Sinor LaVallee Syrah SLO County 2014
Sinor LaVallee Syrah Black Label 2013
Dashe Cellars – Michael and Anne Dashe are known for their stylish zinfandels [Todd Brothers Ranch Old Vines is always a favorite]. Anne was pouring the 2013 of this along with other wines, including a few from Dashe’s Les Enfants Terrible series [a Grenache and two Zins] made in a semi-carbonic maceration method using whole clusters and berries. Fun wines. And for once I didn’t wait until the end to taste the late harvest Zin; I always plan to and never make my way back. Glad I didn’t wait – delicious.
District 3 – nice lineup of affordable wines from the Sonoma Coast. Really likes the 2014 Chardonnay.
Joullian Vineyards – from Carmel Valley. Enjoyed the 2015 Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Sias Cuvee Zinfandel.
Lumen – and now for my second nametag blunder of the day. I didn’t not realize that Lumen is famed winemaker Lane Tanner’s current project, and I didn’t recognize her immediately. When I finally noticed her nametag, I asked “Are you that Lane Tanner?” Duh. Anyway, loved the 2014 Grenache and the 2013 Sierra Madre Vineyard Pinot Noir. An added treat was tasting the 1990 Lane Tanner Pinot Noir from the same vineyard.
Lynmar Estate – I’ve reported on winemaker Shane Finley’s other projects but had never tasted the Lynmar wines. Really liked the 2013 Estate RRV Chardonnay.
Mindego Ridge Vineyard – winemaker Ehren Jordan [formerly of Turley and now his own Failla label] brings his genius to this Santa Cruz mountain label. The 2014 Chardonnay was outstanding.
San Lorenzo Winery – Peter Seghesio’s project. Excellent 2014 RRV Chardonnay under the Journeyman label as well as an outstanding 2014 Zinfandel from the San Lorenzo Vineyard.
Shafer Vineyards / Eighty Four Wines – Doug Shafer himself was there pouring some truly outstanding wines. Loved everything I tasted: 2013 Merlot, 2013 One Point Five, 2013 Relentless as well as the 2012 Malbec and 2010 Petite Sirah under the Eighty Four Wines label. An added bonus was the 2005 Hillside Select. Wow!
Big thanks to HWG for hosting this. Always a great event.
Michael Perlis has been pursuing his passion for wine for more than 25 years. He has had the good fortune of having numerous mentors to show him the way, as well as a wonderful wife who encourages him and shares his interest. After a couple of decades of learning about wine, attending events, visiting wineries and vineyards, and tasting as much wine as he possibly could, he had the amazing luck to meet Eve Bushman. Now, as Contributing Editor for Eve’s Wine 101, he does his best to bring as much information as possible about wine to Eve’s Wine 101 faithful readers. Michael is also Vice President of Eve Bushman Consulting (fka Eve’s Wine 101 Consulting) http://evebushmanconsulting.com/ and President of MCP Financial. Michael can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com