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Apr 15, 2009 12:43 PM

Grano wine tasting

Anyone else went last night? Run by billy's best bottles. Roughly twenty five $10 reds were on offer. Good times...

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  1. No. But can you tell us a little more about it? Any stand-outs we should try?

    11 Replies
    1. re: FoodyGirly

      My friend and her guide dog went....apparently it was a fun night.

      1. re: FoodyGirly

        Sure. It was a package deal, the tasting portion was 'free', as long as you paid the $25 +tax/tip ($32 was charged) for the followup dinner (snack/salad/spaghetti and meatballs/biscotti). It was a blind tasting with roughly a hundred people in attendance.

        There were 24 sub-$10 reds present, and people were assigned a table of six old worlds and six new worlds and sampled at will from them. Those who were inclined would move on to another table where the other twelve wines resided. Tasters were asked to rank each wine out of five stars, and at the end to pick their two favourite old world and two of the new worlds.

        Choices were primarily from Italy/Portugal/France and Argentina/S. Africa. At the end, the old world winners were the Flor de Crasto 07 from Portugal (first place) and the Spinelli 07 Sangiovese. Other Portuguese were also well received (i.e. the Foral and the Vila Regia). On the new world side, the 08 Fuzion actually garnered the most votes, and the Obikwa 07 Cab Sauv was second. The Ubunto 06 Shiraz from S. A. and the Trapiche 08 Merlot/Malbec took third.

        Other notables at the tasting included the Cesari Merlot (the ‘primer’ red given to us, also a fave), the Farnese and Citra Montepulcianos, Peller Estates Cab/Merlot, the Mezzomondo Negroamaro (actually one of the most actively disliked choices within the small sample size of twenty or so people I spoke of this with, although I’d already noticed a love/hate response prior to this), the Cono Sur Merlot, and the Yvon Mau Shiraz from France, the Drostdy Hof 08 Merlot from S.A. and the Long Flat Cab/Merlot from Oz.

        My personal taste verged towards the old world choices, and my favourites in order ( I only tried around half of them) were the Flor de Crasto, the Spinelli, and the J.P. Chenet 07 Cab/Syrah (had more complexity than most, had a rich look with some tasty, spicy undertones and was really easy drinking. The wide bottle was distinctive, and this was also a runaway favourite at one of the tables). At dinner, all of the excess bottles were being freely passed around, and my friends at our table were quite pleased with the Spinelli and the Obikwa.

        Overall, with Billy and friends, the wonderful owners at Grano, the endless wine, decent food, the numerous fun revellers and the great value made it a fantastic evening all around.

        1. re: Chester Eleganté

          i meant to post on this earlier but the list just never was near when i had time.

          overall i thought it was a lot of fun but was disappointed that they had two different sections as one area clearly had much better wines. i tended to lean towards the south africans with french running not very far behind and found the portuguese wines to rate quite poorly.

          i guess i don't really run with the pack in my wine tastes as was made quite obvious by several women complaining of "cigar" type notes in one wine which i thoroughly enjoyed. i'm not sure that anything was an absolute standout but i might contribute that to tasters fatigue... however this was a really fun and quick way to figure out a table wine for my home.

          the people were also really wonderful to share a table with and i had a lot of fun as it was quite convivial and the grano people very hospitable.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            Sounds like a great time...and I could have walked! Oh well, next time. So, what is your new table wine of choice, psp, and CE?

            1. re: Yongeman

              hey... don't want to be ignoring your post but as i mentioned above i keep forgetting to have the list near me whenever i'm at a computer.

              some of my tops were the ubunto, spinelli and chenet that chester mentioned. i think the cono sur ranked quite high for me too which surprised me as the label always turns me off, but they've got a viognier now and i won't be able to resist. there was another south african and french though that i don't remember the name of easily and so will have to get back to you on that.

              but nothing has made it to the table quite yet. i will likely be getting one of each of the above mentioned bottles and do my own wine tasting to narrow it down. because of the setting it was a bit difficult to really take notes and often they were of different grape varietals so the up front comparison was easy but otherwise not very definitive.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                My bad, I should've written it of course as the Ubuntu, not the Ubunto. Ubuntu being the African philosophy that stresses collective success over individual achievement, annd the phrase adopted as the rallying cry of last year's Boston Celtics during their spirited championship run. Solid table red, regardless.

                Young man, I'd be down with the choices noted above.

                Hah yes, the princess was stuck at the plebeian table, and deigned to pout upon her plight ;)

                1. re: Chester Eleganté

                  i didn't pout.... much :P well actually i made quick with moving into the second table and getting tastes of as many bottles as i could.

                  i just found my list again and will add the KWV 07 Cabernet and the Drostdy Hof 08 Merlot (the one that was distinctly cigar-esque).

                  chester, i think you found your new team name ;)

                  1. re: Chester Eleganté

                    Thanks to both of you...I'll be trying some of your suggestions asap.

            2. re: Chester Eleganté

              Thanks for the excellent and detailed report, Chester! Sounds like it was a fun evening. I'll watch out for those wines listed. Was it put on by a specific wine agent? How did you hear about it?

              On a different note, just picked up some Marcus James Malbec for about $9.50. Argentina seems to be the new Chile of a few years ago. Haven't tried it yet though.

              1. re: FoodyGirly

                Ya, Billy Munnelly ran it, he seems to put out events like these fairly often.

          2. Went back to Grano recently for a dinner, and it was surprisingly very good across the board. Highlights were the Orrechiette with asparagus, sweet onion, pancetta, and aged brie in a light cream sauce (a superb spring dish), the calamari (expertly fried), a pesto gnocchi (ricotta based, wonderfully light), and some other special ragout pasta. They also had a squid ink pasta on the menu which we regretted not trying. Service for our large group was fun and accomplished throughout. As we left, the kindly lady owner gave us several of their fantastic small pizzas on the house, which was certainly much appreciated. We'll definitely be back.