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Posted at 8:00 AM ET, 02/16/2011

Wine and Food Fest's best pours were far from home

By Dave McIntyre
wine and food festival logo_opt.jpg

Making the rounds at this past weekend’s Washington D.C. International Wine and Food Festival, presented by The Washington Post, I had mixed emotions.

There were few, if any, wines from California and Oregon, which made the festival seem incomplete. Local wineries were not well represented either, with just the omnipresent Horton Vineyards (that 2009 Viognier rocks!) and the perennially disappointing Williamsburg Winery pouring. Spanish and South African wines were widely available, and the folks from Cotes du Rhone had the inspiration to hire two attractive women to walk around in slinky red dresses, handing out lapel pins that flash the virtues of Rhone wines.

Lots of people were wearing those pins. I'm sure it was about the wine.

What excited me were the bottles from wine regions that have recently started distribution in the Washington, D.C. area.

I am thrilled that wines from Red Newt Cellars, from the Finger Lakes region of New York state, are finally reaching our market. David Whiting makes some of the best Riesling in the country, and his 2009 Dry Riesling (about $16) from a cool, rainy vintage captures the lime-zest and talc minerality that Riesling can achieve in the Seneca Lake region.

Assistant winemaker Brandon Seager was also pouring a single-vineyard Riesling from Sawmill Creek Vineyards that showed great focus and length, though he said this wine may not be in the D.C. region yet. (Red Newt wines are distributed by Potomac Selections.)

I was also impressed by wines from Croatia and Slovenia at the festival. The husband-and-wife team of Tom and Kathleen Kuker, of King George, Va., are devoting their retirement to importing wines from the Balkans. The whites were stellar, including an enticing 2009 Grasevina (the Croatian name for Welschriesling) from Enjingi winery, farmed organically. It is crisp and refreshing and should sell for about $14.

Even more exciting were two whites from Pullus in Slovenia: The 2008 Pinot Grigio was redolent of apricot and peach, a great contrast to the typical bland Italian pinot grigio. The 2009 Pullus Sauvignon Blanc was even better, showing some of the grassy edginess of the grape and loads of passion-fruit flavor. Both wines should retail for about $15.

Such discoveries make festivals like this weekend’s more than just a wine tasting -- they can be an adventure.

By Dave McIntyre  | February 16, 2011; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Wine  | Tags:  Dave McIntyre  
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Comments

Dave,

We are very excited to have more of our region's wineries expand distribution into the Washington DC area and beyond. I am glad you were able to stop by our pavilion and we look forward to returning again soon. Cheers to Riesling!

Morgen McLaughlin
President, Finger Lakes Wine Country

Posted by: flwinelady | February 16, 2011 9:45 AM | Report abuse

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