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Report from the World Wine Market Tasting: Disappointed

And I thought Rhone Rangers was a little rough this year....

I was sorely disappointed by my first visit to the World Wine Market Tasting today at Fort Mason, and would be even more upset had I actually paid the $45 going rate for a ticket. While having a press pass prevented me from feeling ripped off, I certainly couldn't avoid feeling like I had stumbled into a convention for desperate third rate international wineries looking for distributors in the US.

Now that's a little harsh, I know, but there was a lot of awful wine being poured today, and more than a few of them had "Looking for Distribution" signs on their tables. Additionally there was also a lot of wine NOT being poured. For an event that billed itself as representing the international flavors of wine, where were Spain, Italy, that little country called France, and uh, how about some US producers, too ? In retrospect I see that the conspicuous absence of almost all the decent small producers of wine from Sonoma and Napa (with the notable exceptions of Von Strasser and Rosenblum who both seemed a little lost and despondent amidst the sea of mediocrity) was a sign of something.

So was there anything good there ? A few, though even some of the award winners I found lacking. However, as most of the wines were on the low end of the price scale, the decent ones represent some great values.

Notable Red Wines:
2002 Rosenblum Feather Footman Jingu Shiraz. $22. Score: 9
2002 Rosenblum Holbrook Mitchell Trio Blend. $34. Score: 9
2002 Don Crostobal "1492" Sangiovese, Cosecha, Argentina. $10. Score: 8.5
1999 Leonetti Amarone Della Valpolicella, Italy. $??. Score: 8.5
2000 Von Strasser "Sori Bricco" Meritage, Napa. $55. Score: 8.5/9

Notable White Wines
2002 Le Vaglie Verdiccio, Santa Barbara, Italy. $12. Score: 8.5/9
2003 Groote Post Sauvignon Blanc, South Africa. $12. Score: 8.5/9
2001 Hunters Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand. $16. Score: 8.5
2002 Huber "Ven der Terassen" Reisling, Germany. $23. Score: 8/8.5

And that was about it. I tasted probably 40 to 50 other wines, most of which were not really worth mentioning. Oh well, the worst day wine tasting is still better than a lot of other things.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud