Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sinskey Is My Homeboy...

This photo is about more than a goofy tag line. It is a mock-up of a t-shirt I was going to have made to give to my girl, who is a #1 fan of the Vin Gris, a gorgeous rose of Pinot Noir made by Sinskey. It's flat out sexy wine, from its flute-shaped bottle to its pale, pink-tangerine hue. It just makes any summer night one to remember. Rob Sinskey is an icon to me; a man who blazes the path of organic wine grape growing and is now engrossed in bio-dynamics. His emphasis is deliciousness and balance, in that order. How can one not look up to a guy who ripped out all his Chardonnay to plant Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer?

I happened to be fortunate enough to score an invite by Rob and Maria Sinskey to Hearth, the ultimate homey, comfort food mecca in New York City, this past Tuesday evening. The name of the event was Rob Sinskey's Electric P No Acid Test, a comparative tasting of Pinot Noir with great food in three flights containing four wines per flight, all wines from the 2005 vintage. In each quad grouping, there would be two Burgundies, one "cult" (this notion of cult wines makes me throw up a bit in my mouth) domestic Pinot and one made by Sinskey. As Rob explained, he didn't want anyone to necessarily score or rank the wines, but rather get the input of this talented group on terroir and acidity. We were left to the task of figuring out where each one was from. Over-generalizing, the end result was the "culty" wines stuck out like the steroid-sized behemoths they are, the Sinskey wines were ripe, balanced and juicy and the Burgundies were comme ci, comme ca, a hard statement to make for a hard-core Burg-nut. Some (Gouges Nuits St. Georges Clos Porrets St. Georges and Vincent Girardin Volnay les Caillerets) being sultry and wide open while others were shut down and locked up.

With a little bit of self-congratulation, I must admit that I went 12 for 12 in identifying the place of origin, even recognizing the Sinskey wines apart from the big-boy New World Pinots. In years past, a tasting like this with a roomful of gifted sommeliers and winemakers would have made me nervous to give my opinion out loud, lest I screw up. I knew they would go back to their respective restaurants and wineries saying, "Man, I just went to this event with a guy from 56 Degree Wine and jeez, was he clueless!" But maybe I've garnered enough experience (or I just don't give a damn!) to be more comfortable in these situations. So much so, that I began to get a bit cocky, leaning toward Rob at one point saying, "Congratulations, on Wine #1 in the second flight. It's delicious!" Luckily, it was his Vandal Vineyard Pinot and it was magnificent. Just so I don't leave you with the impression that I can identify any wine with a sniff and a swirl, my Burgundy trip blind tastings in January probably left me batting about .200 in terms of guessing the place. And I had the benefit of knowing they were all Burgundies. Straddling the Mendoza line is as bad in baseball as it is in wine.

Back to the drawing board...

JCB the 4th

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