This past Saturday I attended the DC International Wine and Food Festival, held at the Ronald Reagan building. It was a last minute game time decision — I was getting over a nasty head cold. The event was packed, and I was not at 100%. So the following are some high points, not in any way a comprehensive report on the entire event.
Like I said it was very crowded and tough at times to get to the tables. Despite the title of the event, there was little food beyond crackers and bread to be seen. The wines were organized by region. For the most part none of the local wines were very impressive. Kluge Estate, in Charlottesville, VA had a Albemarle Simply Red 2004 that was a good everyday wine, and my wife Gabriele liked their Kluge SP 2004, a sparkling wine made with 100% chardonnay.
The California town of Lodi was well represented, and our favorite was Vino Con Brio, a small, family owned vineyard. They had a Matzin Estate Old Vine Zinfandel 2005 that was very flavorful with an almost creamy finish, tasty and different at around $25 price point. They also had a Matzin Late Harvest Zinfandel 2005 that was a very tasty halfway point between zinfandel and port for about the same price per 375ml.
We stopped at the South African area because I didn’t know much about Pinotage, a Western Cape varietal that is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. It produces soft, jammy reds that could make for solid, inexpensive weekday wines, along the lines of a Cab-Shiraz Australian blend. Sebeka had both a Cabernet-Pinotage and a Shiraz Pinotage around $10.
The French Cotes du Rhone region had an area, and I gravitated towards a bottle I know pretty well — the Cotes du Rhone from E. Guigal, a major producer. The 2004 is a very solid wine at a great $11 price, and they were pouring the 2005. I told the lady behind the table I already was a fan, and she said she’d been told that the 2005 was even better. Then I made the mistake of saying No, it’s not.
Whoops — she mumbled something about maybe it needed more time in the glass, and then wouldn’t talk to me anymore.
So it was off to the Oregon area, the high point of the afternoon. Every vinemaker seemed to have energy and passion to burn, and were incredibly welcoming. Some of the energy could be explained by the fact many were there to find local distribution deals, but they clearly loved what they did for a living. Most of course were Pinot Noir. Winners were the Coelho 2005 Paciencia Pinot, the 2006 Willamette Valley 2006 Estate Pinot Noir, and the Sokol Blosser Meditrina IV Release, a blend of Oregon Pinot, Wash State Syrah and California Zinfandel.
After all that tasting, it was time to head home on the Metro. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
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