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Roy Hersh

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WTN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Roy Hersh » Thu Apr 06, 2006 3:53 am

A few weeks ago, I attended the 28th Annual Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival and have attended just about every year since 1997. It is one of my favorite annual wine festivals because the theme changes along with the featured country and it is so adeptly organized. Although there are events throughout the week, I normally just go up for Thursday through Saturday for the tastings.

This year France was in the spotlight and there were producers from all of the major regions of the country. I had the opportunity to try the current vintages from some top notch producers and some that I had never heard of. I concentrated on Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhone regions while trying their lineups of current releases and quite a few well-known producers offered some mature vintages as well, which offered a great juxtaposition to the young bottlings.

Fortunately I was able to attend the trade tastings that took place on Thursday and Friday afternoons. These tastings were uncrowded and provided the ability to spend time with the winemakers, owners and/or local reps of the wineries. I enjoyed being able to ask questions and learn about some new wines. In addition to France, there were wineries from dozens of countries. Additionally there was a solid concentration from both Canada and the USA, but also a half dozen Port producers which is always a special treat for me.

There are also Grand Tastings which are open to the public each of the three evenings between 7-10 p.m. and this is more of a large party atmosphere where you can focus on specific producers or just follow the tables in alphabetical order which makes things very easy from a tasting note standpoint. The attendees seemed very eager to learn and asked many great questions but the Grand Tastings are more for trying wines from around the globe.

Now, onto my wine discovery:

I tried a few hundred wines from many countries during the five 3-hour tasting sessions that I attended. There was one particular wine that stood out from all the rest and here are the three reasons why:
The wine came from the Tannat grape
The grapes came from Uruguay, which is a wine producing nation which is not well-known by most wine enthusiasts
This was a dessert style of wine and possibly the most unique one I have ever tried
The Pisano Family Winery in Progreso, Uruguay first produced wine on this estate in 1924. It is located slightly Northeast of Buenos Aires and just about on the same parallel as Santiago, Chile. They produce about a half dozen wines from their own vineyards which encompass about 25 hectares. There are actually more hectares of Uruguayan Tannat vineyards than in Madiran, (Southwestern France) where Tannat is perhaps best known. In fact, Tannat is the “national grape” of Uruguay, having been brought there by Basque immigrants in 1870; and today, it is not found in greater quantity anywhere else in the world.

In close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the sunny and cool micro-climate around the family’s vineyards in Progreso provides great ripening conditions for the grapes with excellent levels of acidity. The winemaking for the vast majority of the wines is handled by Gustavo Pisano.

The 2005 Pisano “Et Xe Oneko, which translates into “from the house of a good family” is produced from low yielding, high density 64 year old vines. In speaking with Daniel Pisano, the head of marketing & sales for the family, he mentioned that his 21 year old nephew Gabriel vinified this particular wine. I asked him to repeat his sentence, as I was not sure that I had heard him correctly when he said, “21 years old.”
The Pisano’s employee a minimalist approach to their vinification process, which would make the most finicky Burgundian producer proud. They hand pick all of the grapes, add very little SO2, do not filter their wines, then manually fill bottles, label them and drive in the corks with small machines. They like to keep things simple which ensures they have time for constant quality inspection.

2005 Pisano Et Xe Oneko – is produced from 100% Tannat grapes which are late harvested about six weeks after all other picking is finished. The alcohol content is 17% and that does not come from fortification, but the natural residual sugar when picked and the nature of the Tannat grape which is normally higher in alcohol than most grapes.

Before I describe the wine, I must be honest and state that I normally do not like wines from the Tannat grape. This is true of Madiran or the Uruguayan Tannat, which makes it even more incredible that this particular wine captured my full attention and won me over..

The Et Xe Oneko shows an inky purplish-black hue that is every bit as dark as any cask sample of Vintage Port I’ve encountered. The nose offers a flamboyant mélange of mocha, espresso beans, black currants and a wild earthy, dusty clay aroma. Taking the easy way out, just blend the finest Pedro Ximenez, Banyuls and Vintage Port and that about sums up what I found here! On the palate this is every bit as much about the texture as the flavors. The viscous, chewy milk chocolate, ultra ripe plums and sweet blackberry preserves are so intense that “complexity” fails to work as a descriptor. Fortunately there is plenty of acid to keep the massive fruit in check but not for long. The finish almost doesn’t as the ripe tannins join the massive fruit in a tsunami wave that literally crushes the palate. The aftertaste was like a berry laden, chocolate malted milk shake and I immediately walked over to one of my Port producer friends and coaxed him back to the Pisano table to try this wine. Although this can be enjoyed now, I would love to revisit this wine after a decade or more in the cellar, to see how well it has aged. 500 cases produced. 93+ points
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Dale Williams » Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:21 pm

Wow, dessert tannat. I'm not a big tannat fan either (at least in its South American expression), but this sounds worth looking for. Thanks.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Saina » Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:46 pm

Great note - as a lover of both Tannat and red desserts I'll certainly be on the lookout for this. You should look out for Château d'Aydie's aptly named wine called "Maydie" which is also a 17% dessert Tannat but from Madiran. Smashing stuff and so intense I nearly died tasting it.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Mike Filigenzi » Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:04 pm

Roy -

Do you know how much of this might have made it into the US? Also, do you know who the importer is?

Sounds very interesting.


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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by wrcstl » Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:41 pm

I tried a few hundred wines from many countries during the five 3-hour tasting sessions that I attended. There was one particular wine that stood out from all the rest and here are the three reasons why:
The wine came from the Tannat grape


OK Roy, let's see; assuming a few hundred wines are 300 wines and over five sessions you tasted 60 wines per session or one wine every 3 minutes. I want to know if this was the first wine or the 60th tasted. This puts you in the RP league :D
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Bob Henrick » Fri Apr 07, 2006 6:22 pm

wrcstl wrote:This puts you in the RP league Very Happy


Very very funny Walt. I was not going to reply in this thread since it is nearly impossible that that I might find the wine in Kentucky, but you drew a good laugh and that is worth a few words anytime. Thanks!
Last edited by Bob Henrick on Sat Dec 15, 2007 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Roy Hersh » Sat Apr 08, 2006 2:21 am

Let's put it this way Walt. I have judged for many years now with Bucko and we go through 130-150 wines in a day. That is an 8 hour day with an hour off for lunch. You do the math. BTW, it is not a one day event either!

I have had lots of experience (not a brag ... just da facts m'aam) in assessing LARGE quantities of wine. I took specific notes on 108 Ports in 5 hours. Most people would have died drinking 20. I know how to spit and this is not something to be proud of, it is just very matter of fact. I am a big guy and don't get buzzed too easily. What can I tell you? :D


Replies to others. Supposedly this producer is brought into the USA, but no one I know has seen it here in the USA. I hooked up with an importer/retailer (nationally known) to see if he could bring these in for the USA. Hopefully it will work for them so WE can all get to buy a couple of bottles of this nectar.

Like I said, I don't like Tannat normally. This dessert style on the other hand is the cat's meow. Not the greatest wine you will ever try .. but I guarantee you that you'll win first prize by stumping all your friends in a blind tasting contest. They'd never guess this one!
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Thomas » Sat Apr 08, 2006 5:58 pm

Roy, sounds truly interesting--sounded so, until you mentioned we can't get it yet in the USA. Keep us posted if you find out more.
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Since we can't get it here-

by John DeFiore » Sun Apr 09, 2006 1:42 pm

Anybody up for a trip to Uruguay? Been meaning to go back to South America, now here's the excuse. Probably best to wait until fall, though.

Regards,

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Re: Since we can't get it here-

by Robin Garr » Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:31 pm

John DeFiore wrote:Anybody up for a trip to Uruguay?


I've heard it's one of the undiscovered jewels of the Americas, sort of the South's equivalent of Costa Rica, peaceful and middle-class and a great place to visit.
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Roy Hersh

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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Roy Hersh » Sun Apr 09, 2006 8:07 pm

BTW, I found out who the USA importer is and I have a good friend who works for them. So I sent an email to see if they carry this particular wine. Will post the results of that inquiry ... here.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Roy Hersh » Mon Apr 10, 2006 3:52 am

It turns out that Winebow gave up this line 3 years ago.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:25 am

Thought forumites might like to re-read this thread after my post this week on the Pisano EtXe.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Clinton Macsherry » Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:08 pm

Roy Hersh wrote:It turns out that Winebow gave up this line 3 years ago.


I don't know for sure who imports, but here in the mid-Atlantic, the various Total Wine retailers carry (and promote) this producer's Tannat-Merlot blend and Torrontes. Could be mistaken, but I think Total Wines has an import tentacle.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by James Roscoe » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:40 pm

Clinton Macsherry wrote:
Roy Hersh wrote:It turns out that Winebow gave up this line 3 years ago.


I don't know for sure who imports, but here in the mid-Atlantic, the various Total Wine retailers carry (and promote) this producer's Tannat-Merlot blend and Torrontes. Could be mistaken, but I think Total Wines has an import tentacle.

They carry this dessert wine too Clinton. It is indeed, fabulous!
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by James Roscoe » Sat Dec 15, 2007 5:45 pm

I scored a bottle of this wine today at my local BAWS for $24.99. It was the last bottle in the store. The store is, in fact, a Total Wine outpost in Maryland. Due to leagal issues it goes by the name of Corridor. I am feeling like the cat that caught the canary on this one. Thanks to Roy for alerting me to it and to Clinton for reminding me that Total Wine carries this stuff!
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Alejandro Audisio » Sun Dec 16, 2007 9:52 pm

Roy, thanks for the heads up on this. Ive just emailed my Pisano sales rep to see if I can get my hands on a case or two of this.
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Re: TN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Bernard Roth » Sun Dec 16, 2007 10:08 pm

I had a delightful LH Tannat from Uruguay about 3 years ago. I picked it up at Garziano's Wine Market next to their Bird Road Parrilla. I wish I could recall the producer. It was excellent, worth buying again.
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Re: WTN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Mike B. » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:12 pm

Thought I'd resurrect this thread after opening a bottle of the '05 Et Xe Oneko on Saturday.

I opened it about four hours before dinner in the hopes the tannins might soften. I took a small sample at the time, whoa those were some big tannins, but the wine was delicious.

Fast forward to dessert of an assortment of chocolates from Bernard Callebaut. The tannins were still very much front and centre. It was almost like drinking a young vintage port. The colour was impenetrable purple-black. On the nose and palate it displayed coffee, black berries and black currants. The wine meshed perfectly with the dark chocolates, especially the ones with coffee cream or hazel nuts.

I'm going to pick up a few more bottles to set aside. This is great stuff at a relatively low price ($32 for 375 mL).
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Re: WTN: A FABULOUS “NEW” WINE DISCOVERY

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:01 pm

Great, good update Mike B. I would like to think 5 yrs minimum in the cellar for this one eh.

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Callebaut

by David M. Bueker » Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:56 am

Forget the wine, I am jealous of the chocolates. Bernard Callebaut makes my favorite chocolates in the whole world. Delicious stuff, especially the almond creme filled - to die for.
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