Thursday, October 7, 2010

Doug Reichel Wine Seminars: Good Wine, Good Food and Good Company

Reds Rule the Wine Horizon was the first time I’d attended a wine tasting organized by Doug Reichel Wine Marketing Inc., but it won’t be the last. I really enjoyed the quiet, friendly atmosphere and the knowledgeable presentation of an interesting assortment of wines.

Doug Reichel and Luis Manino, the Export Manager for Bodega Melipal, put a personal face on the wine, providing a connection between the wine producer and the consumer. Doug has visited all the wineries, and his daughter has worked at Cape Jaffa, so we were able to move beyond the anonymity of the liquor stores and put a face to the wines.

About 30 of us gathered in a side room at TCU Place last Friday evening to take a leisurely stroll through a series of nine wines from around the world, starting with the Melipal Malbec Rose, which is light, but flavourful – the perfect wine for sipping while you visit with a friend. Melipal only makes a limited amount of this wine, so I made haste to the liquor store on Saturday to buy two bottles.

Doug Reichel introduced each of the wines, and I was particularly interested to learn more about the grape varietals. Three of the wines were the signature grapes for their regions. Pinotage is the trademark wine of South Africa and is a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage. Monastrell (or Mourvedre) is the signature grape of the Mediterranean. Malbec is the flagship wine of Argentina.

I enjoyed sitting around a table and comparing reactions to the different wines. One of my favourites was the Italian Perbruno 2006 from I Giusti & Zanza, which is made with 100% Syrah and matured in French oak barrels for 12 months. The winemaker named it for his father, Bruno. It was a smooth, velvety wine. Luis Manino noted how the flavour lingered and had a “nice butter cream finish.”

Luis introduced the Melipal Malbec and the Melipal Malbec Reserve. He made a point of noting that they are two distinct wines. One is not necessarily better than the other; they’re just different. I had told Luis point blank when I met him that I didn’t like Malbec wines, and he was really hoping he could change my mind. I’m afraid he didn’t. They were good wines, but not my personal taste. All became clear when Luis and some of the others at the table discussed how the Malbec would go well with a thick, juicy steak. When I told Luis that I have been a vegetarian for 27 years, he breathed a sigh of relief and said it was no wonder that I didn’t like Malbec wines.

Luis also pointed out that it is easier to convert a white wine drinker into a red wine drinker than it is to get someone who already has a preference for a certain kind of red wine to change their preference. That certainly proved to be the case at our table. One woman, who normally only drinks white wine, enjoyed several of the red wines we tasted. My tastes didn’t change.

The final wine we tasted was the Luzon Dulce. This is a dessert wine made with 60 % Monastrell grapes and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. The grapes are picked a month later than the normal harvest when they have already begun to shrivel, so the sugar is very concentrated. It is then aged for 8 months in oak barrels. It was sweet but not cloying, with a depth which is sometimes lacking in dessert wines.

I had a really good evening. I enjoyed talking with friends. There was no rush. We could see how the wine tasted accompanied by bread or cheese. We had privacy, and we had knowledgeable people to help us learn more about the wine.

Doug Reichel Wine Marketing Inc. has an informative website with videotaped interviews and information about each of the wineries. You can also sign up for an electronic newsletter.

See Also:
     Bodega Melipal: Malbec Wines from Argentina
     Caligiore: The Best Organic Wine in Argentina
     Reds Rule the Wine Horizon

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