A Few Thoughts from the Skurnik Tasting

Just a few photos and thoughts from the gigantic and always impressive Skurnik Portfolio tasting in New York

An incredible tasting of Skurnik Wines portfolio today. Always great to see New York well represented by Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard. And the Reserve Dry Riesling is one of my favorites. The 2016 shows a richer side of FLX Riesling, placing this bottle closer to a halb-trocken in style. Rich yellow peach nose, sweet hint of orchard fruit in the mid and a ripe citrus finish. Hints of spice and ginger developing - but I am certain there will be more with time. The 2016 HJW Riesling was surely showing young but the ripe notes of orange and apricot on the nose, were followed by a power and minerality of the mid. This will need a few years to blossom - but the long tart finish and the beautiful fruit will make this wine hard to put away. I really enjoy the chance to chat with the team as well. I was glad to meet with Jenny and Theresa as well as to see Oskar Bynke. Cannot wait to catch up in the FLX this July, perhaps with a glass or…three? 

Another standout from the portfolio - the Mullineux Family Wines from Swartland, South Africa impressed with the mineral character of both the whites and the reds. My personal favorite was the “Schist” Syrah, which showed both the cooler climate nature, with lovely red fruit and savory herbs, as well as the power and the mineral quality. It was a pleasure to meet Nicola Tipping and discuss the region and its history with her. Oh… and then there was the incredible dessert wine - from chenin died on straw mats… that was simply stunning. 

I was really glad to meet Louisa D. Spencer of Farnum Hill Cider. I am starting to drink and appreciate cider more, and these were outstanding. Talking to Louisa about the cider and it emergence in the market was quite enlightening. While the sparkling and the semi-dry ciders were delicious - the Extra Dry showed the complexity I was looking for - refreshing and bright, it showed excellent sour/sweet notes and the earthy, complex aromatics that added to the experience. With a long tart finish - this cider could stand up to any meal. My favorite was the Kingston Black extra dry cider. Yeasty, with a hint of smoke and cantaloupe. Wine-like middle of bright acid and tropical fruit. Really excellent. I hope to get the chance to visit NH and Poverty Lane Orchards in the near future. 

It was a true pleasure to taste with Melissa Madden of Good Life Farm-Kite & String Cider The lineup showed the passion of the team as well an interest in innovative approaches. I really enjoyed the Cazenovia for its pure, bright citrus notes and a tropical, ripe core of fruit in the mid. If refreshing sparkler is what you seek - this one is it. The “Rose” was a unique one indeed - a cider with 18% fresh Riesling juice and 10% Marechal Foch. Notes of peaches and strawberries mixed together with citrus and a lovely rich but light mid. plush, happy summer sipper. The Northern Spy was delicious, with the floral and tropical touches over a riper, richer mid. Lightly sweet, with lemon curd and roses, it finishes with a prickle of citrus and a softer finish. The Ice cider was stunning - deep apricot and rich honey tones with a bright mid showing sweet and sour fruit. Excellent indeed.

How can anyone not fall in love with traditional Rioja? the 2013 Vina Real Reserva surely needs time but what a beauty! Juicy sweet cherry, with tart red berries, showing some oak at this point but a few years in the cellar would help it integrate nicely. The 2010 Gran Reserva Imperial is a powerhouse built for decades. muscular, tannic and filled with cool ripe fruit. Will be stunning - if one has the patience.

I was delighted to get the chance to meet and speak to Rafael Momene about these beautiful wines. While most people recognize the “890” and the “904” - we spoke about the over-performing underdog - the Reserva Vina Ardanza. Its amazing power to age and ridiculously affordable price. Both, the 2000 and the 2008 Vina Ardanza did not disappoint. The 2000 showed secondary notes, clearly more ready to drink, soft, plush wine with great fruit and power. The 2008 was lighter, more cherry-forward and more elegant but with a good sweet core of fruit. 2004 was an excellent vintage in Rioja, and this Gran Reserva “890” is a great example of the vintage. Rich, plush tannins, bright acidity acting as a foil to the powerful fruit and oak. this is a classic in the making.

I have been enjoying the wines of Paolo Scavino for years now, especially thanks to Eric Guido’s influence and generosity. It was great to meet Elisa Scavino and speak about the wines and the vintage. The Langhe Nebiolo from the 2016 vintage was an immediate standout - more serious that one would expect, with rich chewy fruit and a great balance… hmm I think i need a few of these while the big boys are aging. If I had to choose just one of the three 2014 Baroli…I would take all three. the floral rustic Monvigliero, the riper, richer Ambrogio…or the powerhouse of the Carobric… how does one choose? The 2011’s are coming into their own and the Scavino was a good example - savory herbs, classic cherry fruit and bright core. delicious.

I was excited to try the new vintage of the Azienda Agricola Sottimano wines. I am a big fan of these wines - from the Dolcetto and to the big boy Barbaresco. It was a pleasure to meet Elena in person, and talk about these wines. Today, I was surprised by the Barbera ‘Pairolero’ - with its bright fruit, sexy savory mid and long finish. The Cotta and the Pajore were the unsurprising stars. The elegant and floral Pajore, with the earthy, savory and powerful Cotta… hard to choose just one…and why would I?

Another first for me - meeting Silvia in person and discussing the power of the amazing Altare wines. Big, bright fruit, with a balance and acidity to support it was a common note. The 2014 Barolos showed class and structure that will reward patience. The ripe power of the Arborina was balanced by the acidity and structure. The 2012 Cerretta showed elegance and lovely bright fruit.

My “how have I not tried this yet?” Moment at the tasting came courtesy of Onabay Vineyards, and especially their Cabernet Franc wines. Both Cabernet Franc wines were absolute stars, showing power and concentration rare in the cool climate wines of Long Island, but without any loss of character. Though rounder and plusher, the wines showed excellent acidity and structure. The 2013 Night Heron was a real standout - more classically built, with tobacco leaf over the red fruit. Young for its age, it showed great aging potential. Merlot can really shine in LI, and the 2013 Great Blue Heron is another excellent example of that. Mid of sour cherry, serious wine with a good grip to it. well structured without any under-ripe notes. The wine should age well short term and be an excellent companion for a hearty steak. It was a pleasure to speak to both John Leo and Brad Anderson about the vines and the challenges of LI wine-making. Very excited to try more!

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