Trade Tasting….self pours, sommeliers, Michael and me.

The Invitation

Evaluate New Zealand’s much anticipated 2009 vintage at the first comprehensive showing in Los Angeles. Recently released reds and whites from previous vintages will also be showcased.

The self-pour format and arrangement of wines by varietal, vintage and region allows you to evaluate the wines at your own pace in a relaxed atmosphere.

As an additional feature this year, a separate line up of select aromatics will be available to taste, including samples of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that are pushing the envelope in terms of style and regionality. Think all New Zealand Sauvignon taste the same? Think again!

Many of these wines are not yet available or new to the USA. Make some discoveries from: Alluviale, Astrolabe, Ata Rangi, Bilancia, Crater Rim, Dry River, Felton Road, Forrest Estate ‘The Doctors’, Framingham, Greys Peak, Greywacke, Jackson Estate, Lawson’s Dry Hills, Mahi & Stoneleigh Rapaura Series.

Nobu, 903 North La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, 1-800-338-7819

Featured Wineries: 3 Stones, Amisfield Wine Company, Ara, Astrolabe, Babich Wines, Bel Echo, Brancott Vineyards, Clos Henri Vineyard, The Crossings, Drylands, Golden Mile, Hunter’s Wines (NZ), Invivo Wines New Zealand, Isabel Estate Vineyard, Kawarau Estates, Kim Crawford, Manu, Matua Valley Wines, Monkey Bay, Mt Difficulty Wines, Mud House Wines, Nautilus Estate, Nobilo, Oyster Bay New Zealand, Palliser Estate Wines of Martinborough, Pencarrow, Quartz Reef, Rippon, Saint Clair Family Estate, Selaks Wines, Spy Valley Wines, Staete Landt Vineyard, Stoneleigh, Terras Vineyards, Te Awa Winery, Villa Maria Estate, Wairau River Wines, Whitehaven Wine Company, Wild Earth Wines, Wither Hills Vineyards Marlborough, Woollaston Estates.

The Event

This past Tuesday I attended the new release tasting of New Zealand wines.  I’ve been to trade/media tastings before, but this was different for its “self-pour” format.

Organized by Tasting Panel magazine and held at the trendy Nobu restaurant in Hollywood, I looked forward to getting out of town for a rare weekday event.  And, though not a huge fan of New Zealand wines, staff writer Michael Perlis agreed to come with and to drive.

The traffic wasn’t too bad until we got off the freeway in Hollywood.  We had fun looking at the Storm Troopers, Spidermans and Willy Wonkas on Hollywood Blvd.  But, soon after, were turned off by the hot black tar repair work that closed off the streets we needed to use to get to the event.

We arrived late but our mood brightened when we had street parking right out front and enough coins for the meter to guarantee at least 90 minutes of uninterrupted tasting.

Greeted by New Zealand brochures, friendly hostesses and the promise of Nobu fare, we entered one of the two areas set up for the event. We had plenty of elbow room but did have to dodge the guest’s expectorating when we needed to lean in our glasses to pour out over the same spittoons.  (I would have liked them to use a second glass for their personal use as there seemed to be an unspoken rule: make room for the expectorator, he/she takes precedence over the pourer-outer.)

Some people had more fun than necessary with the “self-pour” format as the afternoon waned, while others still battled with the (above over-mentioned) habits of others.  Both Mike and I avoided both.  We were somewhat overwhelmed by the number of sommeliers, store and restaurant reps that now and then shared what they liked with us.  And underwhelmed by not having, what Mike called, the wine reps there to tell us what they wanted to about their wines.  This format was more similar to a blind tasting.

The wines I dug: Woollaston Estates Limited 06 Pinot Noir from the Nelson area, Wither Hills Vineyards 05 Pinot Noir, Tarras Vineyards 07 Pinot Noir, Saint Clair Family Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Roaring Meg 08 Pinot Noir from Central Otago, Mud House 08 Pinot Noir Central Otago, Crater Rim 09 Sauvignon Blanc from Waipara and my favorite for its sweet floral nose and held in a blue-hued bottle was Crossings Sauvignon Blanc from Awatere Valley. (There was so much from Marlborough that I spent more time trying areas I was less familiar with: Awatere Valley and Nelson.)

We didn’t spend anytime on the food, but Sushi chefs spent the afternoon keeping guests “rolling” in cut vegetable and tuna rolls.  Mike used chopsticks, I gingerly nabbed a tuna roll just so I could say that I had, indeed, eaten at Nobu.

All in all, we don’t plan on driving out to Hollywood, on a weekday, for a tasting too often.  But we certainly enjoyed the experience, being the only “wine 101 bloggers” in a room of experts.

Next for us is Family Winemakers in Pasadena this upcoming Tuesday.  (Is Tuesday the day for trade/media or something?)  So we have another mid-week trade tasting, but with a 75+ page program, and even more experienced expectorators…we’re more ready than ever now!

Yours, in wine and out,
(Disclosure: Media events are free for media, and my small review here of the wines I liked must be disclosed as such.)

4 thoughts on “Trade Tasting….self pours, sommeliers, Michael and me.

  1. I don't know that I would care for the open format…some don't exercise self control.
    Sounds like you had a good time, though.
    p.s. That's a fetching, slimming black dress, photo.

  2. The open format certainly could be taken advantage of. But, as many were looking for U.S. distributors, "running out" might have been a selling point.

    Yes, the dress, well…I am slim! And, on second look, in need of a tan! Thanks!

  3. Hi Eve, glad to read you enjoyed our 08 Mud House Central Otago Pinot Noir, thanks for the review on the NZ Wine Grower self pour event, as a winery who regularly participates in these events, it's good to hear from the people who actually attend.
    Sasha from Mud House Wines New Zealand.

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