On Monday was the Grateful Palate tasting held by Martin Scott at a room upstairs at Carnegie Hall. Under the watchful eyes of large portraits of Leonard Bernstein, winemakers and salesmen poured samples accompanied by print material that contained quotes like “Shut the fuck up and drink it.” That was part of the promo material for Punk Bubbles Rose Sparkling, which was actually pretty good. 100 percent pinot noir and 14 percent alcohol (!)
The alcohol question. David Hickinbotham, the genial winemaker for Paringa, one of the Grateful Palates brands — and brands are important here — had a pithy rejoinder for the inevitable high-alcohol remark regarding a showing of many wines where 14 percent was the low end. (The Chateau Chateau Island Ebenezer Grenache was 18.3 percent.)
He said,” There’s just as many bad low-alcohol wine as there are high alcohol wines.” Can’t argue with that. Then he added, “It’s all about balance.”
Here’s a video of him speaking of his sparkling shiraz, which was also pretty good and the baby of the group at 12.5 percent.
Other wines were called Bitch (a good grenache with a Cotes du Rhone profile) Evil, F.U, ($560 for a three-pack, wholesale!), Suxx, Pig Jug. Most of the wines were referred to as “projects” as in, “This is our cabernet project.”
On the whole, these are high-scoring wines; there was swag: whips with an EVIL tag, T-shirts, toothbrushes printed with “Lips that touch wine will always touch mine,” but the tasting — thank god it was small — was so confusing. The wines were listed alphabetically, but there weren’t displayed that way, so you had to keep leafing through the book to find the place to put your notes. And the people behind the tables couldn’t help you because the book did not have page numbers! The tables had dark blue table cloths, so you couldn’t see the color of the wine. One guy behind the table knew the prices of the wine. Twice when I asked, I got the answer, “I’m just the winemaker.” You’re here to sell it, aren’t you? Couldn’t you at least have had the price list sitting on the table? Since it was a separate package and not in the tasting book.
The whole thing exhausted me.
Let me check through two sets of papers to find again what I liked: Green Lion 2006 Merlot from Napa (don’t ask) price unavailable. Mod Pinot Gris, juicy with a lime finish. r Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 and 2007 from the Barossa Valley. The ’06 is almost gone; the ’07 has a dusty juicy, black jack gum flavor with a long finish, an accomplishment at 14.7 percent because the heat usually kills the back of the palate. The 2007 Suxx, 100 percent shiraz, also had enough fruit to stand up to its 15.9 percent alcohol. Ripe on the nose with black asphalt aromas, rocks and tar, black fruit, plum and some spicy black pepper.