The 3RD Annual Portfolio Wine Tasting was held this past Monday, May 16, 2011 in historical Downtown Los Angeles inside of the chic’, boutique-style O HOTEL. This year’s Port4lio tasting was organized by three California based importers; Vinos Unico, Blue Danube Wine Company and Return to Terroir, who all import wines from across the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, Portugal, France, and Central-Eastern Europe with a focus on Austria, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovenia. This impressive international experience can best be described as taking a trip around the world’s most exclusive wine vineyards all in a days’ worth, under one roof.
My first stop was in France, okay not real France but it sure felt like it thanks to Return To Terroir Wine Importers & Educators. Return To Terroir Importers work with small family-owned winery’s from France, making it possible for thirsty Californians to have access to unique and authentic hand crafted wines that are the precise expression of their terroir. One wine in particular that stood out to me and I found too irresistible not to mention was the Frederic Lambert Vin Jaune 2003, Cotes du Jura. The Frederic Lambert Vin Jaune 200 is an organic 100 % Sauvignon wine. It is aged for a minimum of 6 years and made in an oxidative manner. It gets its character from being matured in a barrel under a film of yeast, known as deep golden in color. It was nutty and spicy, with aromas of golden raisins, curry, nuts and ginger.
My next stop was Spain at the Bodegas Corral/ Don Jacobo and Bodegas Riojananas tasting table, two wineries each with over 100 years of wine making tradition. I absolutely fell in love with the Don Jacobo Red Reserva wine and learned from my new Spanish friend Javier Martinez Blanco, the director for Don Jacobo wines, that this red wine is developed harmoniously during slow maturation in cask and bottle. It was a very well structured and palatable wine. Here’s a fun fact for you, the word Rioja doesn’t stand for “reds” as one would think. In actuality, it stands for the Ebro River Rioja that runs through the village of La Rioja, Espana. Don Jacobo Wine was just one of many guest invited to make an appearance at this year’s Port4lio tasting by the Vinos Unico Importers. Vinos Unico imports wines from small producers in Spain, Portugal, and South America. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with the founder/ President of Vinos Unico, Luis Moya. Luis is a gentleman that truly embodies a passion for vino and I really love it when I meet people who talk with such passion about what they do for a living. Aside from his love for wine, Luis Moya is passionate about giving thirsty Californians, hand-picked, premium, crème de la crepe wine for wine connoisseur and the younger generation of wine enthusiast to enjoy.
Up next is Portugal. I had the joy of being introduced to wines from Portugal which was something very new for me. I’ll have to admit that when I think of wine, Portugal has never been a region to come to mind. My Portugal wine experience was a bitter/sweet one. I was bitter that I had been missing out on the marvelous wine that Portugal has to offer, yet sweet that I had the chance today to broaden my pallet and knowledge of Portugal and the perfection of wine that comes from that region. I was fortunate enough to taste the new releases from Vino Verde and Prova Regia Arinto white wine and Fronteira Douro red wine and from Adega Granadeiro I tasted the popular Tapada Do Barão Tinto as well as the newly-arrived Tapada Do Barão Branco and Tapada Do Barão Tinto Reserva.
Last but certainly not least is Slovenia. One wine in particular, by the name of Kabaj Rebula was noteworthy and is a must try when you get the chance. Rebula has been grown at the Kabaj vineyard since the 13th century. It translates into “re-boil”, a reference towards the wine going through secondary fermentation. This spicy, distinctive white has aromas reminiscent of red wine including cherry, and pepper. Thanks to The Blue Danube Wine Company, Californians now have the opportunity to indulge in Slovenian wines such as Kabaj Rebula. The Blue Danube Wine Company was founded in 2002 and specializes in the import of fine Central European wines to the U.S. market. The company focuses on wines from Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia.
Wine tastings are always such a pleasant and educational experience, but it is not often that one may attend such a tasting like the one that Vinos Unico, Return to Terroir and The Blue Danube Wine Company successfully put together at this year’s tasting. The 3RD Annual Port4lio tasting was not only a satisfying, diverse and educational experience, but the importers truly delivered an event with such international presence. It was a tasting experience that truly took its attendees on a mini tour around the world from France to Spain to Portugal to Slovenia all in one day, under one downtown Los Angeles establishment, which is a trip I look forward to taking again at next year’s annual Port4lio tasting.