Sunday, November 7, 2010

Random Thoughts and Tasting Notes: 2010 Decatur Wine Festival

Autumn is my favorite time of year. The changing leaves, cool weather, and thoughts of the holidays put me in a good mood, and, of course, there are fun festivals. No, I'm not talking about harvest festivals. My favorite by far has to be the Decatur Wine Festival.

This year's Wine Fest was particularly good, likely because the weather was cooler than in years past, when the red wines at tables in the full sun tended to get overheated and taste more like mulled wine than how the distributors intended. As Hubby noted, we all reached cellar temperature this year, and I ended up wearing my gloves toward the end of the day. However, the temperature of the wines ended up being about perfect, and we only tasted at one table where the wines were too warm (and it wasn't over the MARTA station).

Of course I didn't try all of the hundreds of wines that were poured. One very helpful addition this year was a featured wine or two for each table. This gave the experience some structure. After getting some snacks, Hubby and I started at Table 26, Pasternak/Black Tower. I tried the featured Trumpeter Torrontes and found it to be less floral and more fruity than I had expected. It started with stone fruit and went into citrus with a good mineral backbone. A few other solo wines that I liked:

Duboeuf Cru Beaujolais (W.J. Deutsch table): light bodied, with dry, delicate fruit

Concannon Conservancy Petite Syrah (Sustainable; Wine Group/Sebastiani Table): grapey nose, but not a fruit bomb, moderate tannins

Steele Lake County Merlot (Also the Wine Group/Sebastiani Table): not a fruit bomb like a lot of Merlots. Nice fruit, but also hints of cedar.

Shooting Star Zinfandel (Pacific Southern Table): toward the end of the day, so my notes simply said, "very nice"

Val de Salis Marselan (first Catamarca Table): made from a grape that's a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache Noir, this gorgeous red had overtones of butter.

Yellow + Blue Malbec (Organic; first Quality Table): this one made me curious to try more box wine. Definitely not my mother-in-law's Franzia!

Santa Julia Organica Bonarda (also Organic and at the first Quality Table): drinks well on its own, but would love some food.

The festival website noted that the focus was on organic and sustainably grown wines, and there were a few, but one change that excited me was the number of sparkling wines being poured this year. Some of the better ones:

Taltarini Brut Tache (Empire – a whole table of sparkling wine and champagne!): light peach color, yum. Per the website, it's from Victoria and Tasmania, and the blend is, "52% Chardonnay, 41% Pinot Noir, and 7% Pinot Meunier" with a dash of red wine liqueur.

Valdivieso Extra Brut (New World Wines table): a very reasonable sparkler from Chile made with the same process as champagne, this one would probably hold its own in a blind tasting.

Fontallada Brut Cava (Compass Wine Group): this Spanish sparkler had nice hints of almond

What would a wine festival be without cool wine toys and displays? Compass Wine Group at Table 20 had a gorgeous decanter, from which they poured the Martius Selection Red. I went to look up the blend online but couldn't find anything about it. It was very smooth with dark fruit. The Iberian Pig also had a nice display (and their yummy dates wrapped in bacon).

Finally, let's talk about good wines with interesting labels. Of course this one at the New World Wines table caught our attention:

The Sexy Rosé was actually one of the better ones I've had. Not too dry or too sweet, it hits the palate just right with plum notes to smooth out the berry.

Of course, if you're gonna have Sexy, you'd better have Naked Grapes:

Not to be confused with the Naked winery in Washington or the Naked Grape winery in Canada, this one had a great Pinot Noir that wasn't earthy but still had great fruit and body (no pun intended). The Cabernet Sauvignon was also very good.

Hubby and I had ended up skipping lunch in anticipation of stuffing ourselves at the festival, but this turned out to be an epic fail on our part. It's not the restaurants' fault – all the food we tried was great – but there was less of it than we remembered from years past. Particular highlights were the Crab and Prosecco Cream Sauce tossed with Gemelli pasta from Capozzi's, who won the award for favorite food, the sushi from Sushi Avenue, the pumpkin ravioli from Saba, and the Orange and Tomato Soup from Mercantile. Farmstead 303 and The Marlay House also had good stuff, Caroline Barbecue and Apple-Rhubarb Crumble, respectively.

Okay, so now that I've put all that in a list, it sounds like we ate a lot, but remember, these were all samples. We ended up at The Square Pub for after-festival snacks. The nachos with grilled chicken and fixins were good, and we're curious to try the rest of the menu.

And okay, I'll admit it, my post-festival libations were decidedly non-vintage:

For my Decatur News Online article on the Wine Fest, click here.

1 comment:


congratulations for your blog.

do you know where I can find rare decanters, kind of like the one showed in your blog?
thank your very much
Francisco Artolozaga