Rob Moshein - The Austin Wine Guy

AWG Dives into a Good Time!

October 26, 2011

Ethical Disclosure: I was provided a free VIP ticket, value $100, to attend the Max's Wine Dive Cellar Classic tasting event, courtesy of Max's.

So last Saturday was the Max's Wine Dive "Cellar Classic" tasting. I love the idea, Some 60 plus bottles open for sampling, and nibbles, just for "general admission" PLUS another thirty higher profile wines and fabulous food for the VIP guests.

Max's downstairs really works well for these functions, two huge rooms for "general" and the private VIP lounge.  Flow was always good, no huge lines for food or wine, no crowds. Nice job. Chef JP Lacoste and team really showed off some skills with the food. Tasty, easy to eat, paired well with the wines. Nice touch was the VIP barbecue tent outside, with the "big dog" reds and JP's really great local sourced pork BBQ. Riedel tasting stems for the VIPs another nice, thoughtful touch.

Great to catch up with Greg Steiner, who is working with Max's these days. Always love doing the "wine guy" thing with Greg.

I'll be honest, these events are mostly geared to the general public, so I won't get too picky about the bulk of the wines served. They were exactly that, General public consumption wines. However, there were some standout gems among the Tortoise Creek, J. Lohr, Jordan Chard,  Rosenblum, Newton unfiltered "snooze-a-thon" wines, which the public adores.

Chateau de Sancerre is always a lovely drink, crisp, clean and minerally. Schramsberg Brut Rosé, a domestic sparkling favorite of mine at the price point. Lovely round flavors, with crisp acids and a hint of bread yeast.  Ch. Les Belles Murailles Bordeaux Red 2009, one of the wines we chose for the Today's Bordeaux top wines in New York was a pleasant surprise and still a fresh, lively young drink.  Ch.  Teyssier Puisseguin 2009 St. Emilion was a lovely contrast with more earth, body, tannin in a supple, elegant style.  Biggest surprise was Pallus "Les Pensees" Chinon,  a really interesting, rich, rustic wine of big bold fruit and earthy balance. It really did make one think…

On the VIP side, well what can I say? I sometimes get annoyed at the "label drinking crowd". I thought things were off to a fine start with the André Clouet Brut and Pierre Peters Cuvé de Reserve Brut. Two of my favorite Champagnes. Clean, elegant, tasty and well, just damn good stuff.  But I kept hearing "Ah, Kistler ! nectar of the gods" from the guy next to me. So I tried the "les Noisiettier" Chard. I spat it out. Horrible awful oak, with a cloying palate and acids so far buried they were suffocating. Bleh.  The Nickel and Nickel Searby Chard, not much better. A tad more balance and acids, but still at $40, blech. 

Ate four oysters, a nice portion of home smoked salmon and some pate, and went over to the reds…I kept hearing "ahh the Ken Wright Pinot Noir! amazing!". When I tasted the "Freedom Hill", it was nothing but harsh tannin and acids. At $80? Fuggedaboutit.  Two days later I had a de Monthille Beaue "les Siziers" that would kick its butt around the block all day on Sundays, for less money. Three Leonetti wines poured: Merlot, Sangiovese and Reserve Red. $125, $110, $200 respectively.  My tasting notes from the day say it all. In that order: "I don't get it", "I just don't get it." and "I REALLY REALLY don't get it." I  actually snickered at some guy who was wetting his pants loudly over the Leonetti. Also subprime/overrated: Nickel & Nickel "Kelham" Cabernet, Robert Sinskey POV, Jordan Cabernet (duh).

Now a few great reds were lurking around. Ciacci "Pianrosso" Brunello di Montalcino 2007 was lovely, round, supple and nicely balanced fruit and earth. HUGE surprise was the Chimney Rock "Elevage". Really pleasant, pretty, nice fruit, restrained use of oak and showed really lovely to drink. At $60 it was among the least expensive reds at the VIP side and was one of the BEST! Kudos to the Rock.  Another nice surprise was a wine new to me. Surh Luchtel "Stagecoach" Cabernet Sauvignon. A nice lighter style than most, with an almost Bordeaux touch, except of course for the California signature forward fruit. Pleasant and quite nice and the $45 price tag was even more surprising. Pahlmeyer 2007 Red was, as previously reviewed, quite good and showing even better with some months age on it. In the I hate to admit it category, Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet 2007 was also drinking well, it's biggest downfall being the large scores in the press.

It was a fun time, I really enjoyed myself. The food was very good and there was enough good wine and good conversation

It was well worth the Dive and the event is and should continue to be a Classic.

Rob Moshein

Austin Wine Guy

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Raves, rants, musings, ponderings and wine whines... trends, tasting notes, the Austin Wine Guy Rob Moshein shares his world of wine and thoughts about it with you.

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