9.07pm, Chicago – Chi Town, The Windy City, The Big Shoulders – downtown, Illinois, USA
Just finished one of the least glamorous – but one of the most important to get right – parts of the job. Yep, it’s the credit card reconciliations. I’ve been able to keep some serious order with hundreds of receipts over the 4 months I’ve been travelling, and so far I have only lost two! I reckon that at one stage, before I got on top of the paperwork, I had about 2 kilograms (4 pounds!) of receipts in envelopes all catalogued. Now they’re sorted, stapled and sticky taped together, and in the post already – or will be tomorrow. An achievement of epic proportion! It’s always a good thing to keep the accountants happy – they keep me out there operating on the road. Thanks to the beanies from me!
Now to today’s business. Things went well today for us in Chi Town. Due to some interesting circumstances involving one large retailer buying out another, we reworked our schedule with our distributor in the state of Illinois – Heritage – to be added in to a prestigious Mediterranean Tasting they were staging today. Heritage are simply lovely folks. Like us they’re family owned, and we’ve built up some extraordianry bonds between their people based here and our folks at the winery. Not to forget our favourite go between who manages the area – Kiwi Dave.
They had a fabulous turnout from the industry – both retail and restaurants – for the tasting tables as well as the seminars from each country exhibiting, so we picked a pretty good show to gatecrash. Lucky for us, and thanks Heritage – especially Patty our brand manager, Danny – for being Danny, Scott, Dave & Jody. We had an interesting set of wines on the day, and our themes provoked a lot of conversation. According to popular opinion, our stars on the day were:
- 2008 Eden Valley Viognier – apricot and elegance
- 2005 Tricentenary Grenache (planted 1889) – most folks don’t realise we have vines of such age in the Barossa, and there was genuine surprise at the depth and length of flavour in a 100% grenache
- 2008 Sangiovese Rose – usually expect sweet and lollyish, not fruit and interesting (and Captain Colourscheme – folks loved the colour being called fuchsia)
- 2001 Reserve Cabernet Shiraz – literally power with elegance; enough said – Kev put a very good wine into that bottle
- 21 Year Old Antique Tawny – magic fortified – go Dr Zimmy, you introduced a lot of folks to a whole new world today.
And talking about a new world, I was introduced to one myself. The world of vintage Greek red wine – no retsina in sight. The featured winery at today’s Mediterranean Tasting was Domaine Skouras, and their winemaker George Skouras hosted a masterclass which presented a vertical tasting of ten vintages of their top red wine, Megas Oenos, 1997 to 2006. Now this wine is a blend of two red varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon and Aghiorghitiko. And I thought we had trouble getting folks to wrap themselves around the word “viognier”! So it makes sense when I’m told that they refer to Aghiorghitiko as “St George”. It also turns out that some of their St George vineyards are up to 70 years old on their own roots – similar to our region – and that Domaine Skouras puts great stock in the quality of the fruit that comes from these dry grown, low yielding older vines. Great stuff, and sounds really familiar. So I thought you might be interested to see the notes from the two wines I tasted:
2006 Megas Oenos: dark berry fruits on the nose with a touch of charry smoky meat and pencil shavingsy oak, followed by some generous fruit solid and even through the length of the palate with teeth hugging tannins – but not overly aggressive.
1997 Megas Oenos: a little bit raspberry & old stonework, barnyardy but not in a nasty way on the nose, with a really “cooled down” palate with slightly sweet dark berry fruit, a bit Pinot like, through to a drying granuley finish.
I was really pleasantly surprised. I’d not seen these sort of things from Greece before – so what a great way to be able to catch up with what’s going on really quickly. Thanks very much to George Skouras and Patty for the chance to see the wines.
Off to hit the sack as we’ve got an early start in the morning – working across the state line in Wisconsin’s capital, Milwaukee – home of Laverne & Shirley for those folk the same age as me who loved that TV show.