This weekend, February 15 and 16, the Boston Wine Expo will take over the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. Prepare to be overwhelmed.
This is, after all, the largest consumer wine expo in the country. Its Celebrity Chef Stages will showcase an all-star lineup that includes Barbara Lynch (No. 9 Park; Sportello; Menton), Ming Tsai (Blue Ginger; Blue Dragon), Jody Adams (Trade; Rialto) and Michael Schlow (Alta Strada; Via Matta; Tico) to name a few. And the exhibition will highlight 1,800-plus international wine bottlings, so you'll hard-pressed to not find something worth sipping.
On the other hand, a little guidance wouldn't hurt. We decided to go straight to the source: Jim Carmody, president of the Boston Guild of Oenophilists (the organization that presents the annual expo) and vice president and general manager of the Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center. We asked him to choose the six booths that Expo attendees absolutely have to make sure they visit - and to tell us why.
It was a difficult assignment. "This is like asking, 'Which child do you love best?'" said Carmody. But he made a game go of it. So take note, smart sippers, and plot your visits accordingly. (For tickets to the Boston Wine Expo, $95-$145, head here.)
Booth 616 - Alain Juguenet Selections:
Carmody's tasting notes: "Alain Junguenet is 'Mr. Chateaneuf-du-Pape.' He has assembled a large number of grower/producer Chateaneuf Du Pape bottlings, many of them very fine. The Rhone Valley has been producing consistent quality wine for centuries using Grenache and Syrah grapes, among others. The world has fallen in love with the flavors and profiles these wines present. There are many ‘must taste’ wines at this pavilion and personal preference will be the judge."
Booth 770 - Boisset Family Estates:
Carmody's tasting notes: "There are a few very good wines at this table, such as the Raymond Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, but the DeLoach Pinot Noir may be one of my personal favorites. I gravitate towards pinot noir as a superb accompaniment to food. The wines tend to be more fragrant and elegant."
Booth 276 - Chateau D’Esclans:
Carmody's tasting notes: "Owned and operated by Sacha Lichine, Sacha is son of the renowned importer Alexis Lichine who is responsible in large part for introducing French wine to Americans. Sacha now lives in Boston. Sacha Lichine Blend #8 is well worth the search. It is a meritage of Grenache, Syrah and Merlot."
Booth 560 - Clos du Va:
Carmody's tasting notes: "Founded by Bernard Portet, the son of a Bordeaux cellar master, Bernard took several years seeking the best combination of soil and climate for his wines. Clos du Val produces one of the most elegant cabernets in California. It seldom gets the recognition it deserves."
Booth 541 - Martin Codax:
Carmody's tasting notes: "I am a huge fan of Albarino, a grape of antiquity that until a few years ago was rarely seen outside of Galicia in the northwest corner of Spain. It’s a refreshing crisp white that may prevent you from ever drinking chardonnay again."
Booth 557 - Wines of Santa Barbara:
Carmody's tasting notes: "Clos Pepe Pinot Noir from the Santa Rita Hills. Santa Barbara makes several exceptional pinot noirs and a few will be poured at this booth. Their whites are terrific too."