Azalea Inn sips and sups at a Wine Portfolio Tasting

Rocket Bar WineMy favorite “Wine Chic”, Lori Mohr, sales rep for Ultimate Distributors here in Savannah, invited me to their Fifth Annual Portfolio Tasting, an extravaganza of importers and Vineyards that Ultimate (and Lori) represent. The party started at 1 pm but duty kept me at the inn until after 2 – but don’t worry about me – I didn’t miss a sip!  Twenty-four tables of wines were spread about the tasting room representing all corners of the earth and because I don’t believe in spitting (I am a girl, after all!), I had to carefully plan where I would tantalize my taste buds.  I immediately eliminated any wine I have in our private collection, or any wine I have tasted previously, and planned an attack by white then red.  

This well-devised plan failed after only a few white wines.  (I love reds, and there were SOOOO many to choose from that I was compelled to amend my strategy.)  But I digress – let me tell you about the white I felt worthy of stealing a mouthful of my personally ascribed allotment: Vintage 59 Imports Natter Sancerre (2008).  I’m not going to say much – go get a bottle and tell me if you agree!  There were two more whites worthy of mention, however, Emmolo’s Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and Peterson Winery’s Timbercrest Farms Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc.

But my passion is Reds and several of my favorites were there: Clayhouse’s Adobe Red, importer Terra Verus’ L’Aroc Pario Rosso, Amizetta’s Complexity, W.H. Smith’s Maritime Pinot Noir, Bliss Family Vineyards’ California Zinfandel, Low Country Imports’ Vin Dillon Pinot Noir and, finally, TOG’s (The Other Guys) impressive collection: Hey Mambo Red (love it), and Plungerhead Lodi Zin and Plungerhead Dry Creek Zin.  Sticking to the plan I chose to merely nod in passing – I did, after all, have a long way to go before I finished!  Oh, wait. I actually did indulge in a few sips at one of my favorites: Four Vines. Such an incredible impressive array of wines, (not one of which I would turn down), and the opportunity to speak with winemaker and visionary, Christian Tietje, was too enticing to pass up.  Then I broke another rule and tasted wines I have in my portfolio.  Well, it seemed only polite, I told myself, to actually drink his wines while engaging in conversation.  If you know me, the names of his heralded wines beg one to take the dare and taste:  Anarchy, Loco, Heretic, Biker and Maverick, as well as the Sophisticate.  If you don’t know me, well, consider this an introduction.

I sipped my way through Spain at two different tables: Ole Importers and Spanish Wines, Inc. importer.  The young man at Ole asked a few questions on my preferences, and then poured to suit what I believed I like… and lead me in another direction … which is okay, is it not, to have one’s palate opened to new sensations?  My favorite was Paradigma 2007, followed by Brozal Red 2008.  The table for Spanish Wines was manned by Josh Hackler, a 26-year-old entrepreneur who fell in love with Spain on a family vacation at age 14.  He returned in 2005 to Oviedo on Spain’s northern coast as part of his study abroad program through U. South Carolina, and began to map out his vision – a long-term commitment to the customer, not the individual winemaker – and wine that is affordable.  My favorite at this table was the Elios Priorat, a red blend, which Josh says “walks on the meterosxual side of Priorat – it’s as though the poor soils of Priorat got a makeover in a Calvin Klein suit.”

The winner that night? Jonata (pronounced as Honata), a California winery.  Not just because they are committed to sustainability as a way of life.  Not just because they are a new breed of producers growing grapes in untraditional soil composition (I get a bit fuzzy here, but I believe he said sand!) enriched by a revolving group of livestock (chickens, pigs, sheep, goats and turkeys) that leave the proper nutrients behind once they have “lived” in an area for a while.  Let me just say the wines are elegant, remarkably complex, and stunning, a word that pops up over and over if you do any research on this winemaker.  Treat yourself to the 2006 Jonata Desafio.

Amidst all this tasting and eating (I did eat some nibbles), I rubbed elbows with a few old friends, and made some new ones.  The fun new friend of the evening was a gentleman that I knew only as Dennis – who assured me he did the hair of the (Hollywood) stars – and began touching my hair and pushing it around on my head – he loved the color, but thought I should go for a bit more length.  We finally ended up peeking into the girl’s room and finding it empty, we slipped inside where he dolloped some soap (yep) onto his palms and used it to restyle my hair, easily taking 10 years off my looks with a few tweaks and teases!  Was he Really a stylist to the stars… or had I been conned into having soap rubbed through my hair?  I tell you another time.