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NOWFE Grand Tasting: 2007

Posted by perle0 on 2007-06-27 00:20:29 (3582 views)

[Editorial]
[New Orleans]
Masquerade Wine boothWith each year, the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience (NOWFE) gets a little bit better. The 2006 session was overshadowed by the recent assault of Katrina, and though it went very well indeed, everyone was wondering...would it be as good as in years past? It was. This year, almost two full years PK (post Katrina), though parts of the city are still decimated, the NOWFE is all about forgetting the setbacks and celebrating the recovery...the parts of the city where visitors go are pretty much back to normal, even if the population is down and some areas are still ghost towns with the occasional FEMA trailer. The restaurants are, for the most part, back up and running full steam. Even the beloved Camellia Grill finally re-opened, exactly the same as before (that's a good thing).

Grand Tasting ballroomUnfortunately, once again I was only able to enjoy the big event of NOWFE: the Grand Tasting. The vintner dinners sounded wonderful, the Royal Street Stroll was undoubtedly delightful as always, and the new Vinola elite tasting event and a special wine dinner charting the history of French cuisine in Louisiana were welcome additions to the usual slate of events. But if you can only attend one thing, that thing should definitely be the Grand Tasting...over 200 wineries pouring hundreds of their most notable wines, food samples from over 40 restaurants, cooking demos, and more, all crammed in to a three-hour event guaranteed to leave you reeling (but very, very happy).

Restaurant Stella! provides samplesI attended the Saturday tasting, held in the afternoon. Like last year, the event was held in the two large ballrooms at the Hilton...a particularly convenient location for those who needed to be able to stumble into the elevators immediately following the event for a long, sobering nap.

As usual, the vast amounts of wine and food available for tasting made it imperative to waste no time. If it's possible for a mere human to try it all, I am in awe of their stamina and devotion.

It was good to see wineries from all over the world, from France to Australia to Chile...and of course, California, Washington, Oregon, and other wine-producing states. I was pleased to see my personal favorite, the dessert wine, reasonably well-represented this year; since they are not to everyone's taste, they sometimes get overlooked in tasting events. But not this one. This year was easy on the Ports (not my favorite anyway), but offered some very nice white stickies, and even a taste of the ubiquitous Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d'Acqui Lambrusco. Banfi Rosa Regale This red sparkling dessert wine is similar to a slightly more bubbly red Moscato d'Asti, sweet and with a low alcohol content that sits well at the end of a meal. It was good to be able to taste that without risking a whole bottle; unlike still red dessert wines, which somehow always seem to taste like cough syrup or jolly ranchers to me, the this particular red was very tasty, the effervescense serving to cut the sweetness for a refreshing, rather than cloying, effect.

Rutherglen Estates Another favorite tasting opportunity for me was the Australian table, where Elderton, Rutherglen Estates, and the Australian Premium Wine Collection wines were presented side-by-side. Among the regular wines, I was most impressed by the Hill of Content Grenache Shiraz, from the Australian Premium Wine Collection. It was flavorful and well-balanced, and at under $20, even affordable. On the dessert side, Australia delighted me with first the Elderton Botrytis Semillon 2005, and even more delicious, the Rutherglen Estates Muscat...sweet, rich, a fine example of a dessert muscat for sure.

A capella singers provide a little entertainmentI was pleased to see the Rhone well-represented by a whole block of tables and plenty of little give-aways, but was not terribly impressed with the wines offered for tasting. They were not the region's best, but they were the ones you'll be most likely to see in a store at a reasonable price. It's always good to find out that a wine is not to your taste without having to shell out for a bottle, and even better to find one that is.

More info about the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience.

 

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