The Berkshire Tasting Panel, an experienced group of sommeliers at hotels and restaurants in The Berkshires, kicked off the “Berkshire Summer Wine Challenge” - a challenge to choose a white, rose or red wine, retailing under $20, "that represents all the Berkshires has to offer…artistry, history, poetry, purity, relaxation and lastly great taste."
The panel members were Sommelier Dan Thomas from the Red Lion Inn, Kollin Kozlowski CSW and Wine Director at Kelly’s, Blanytre’s Sommeliere Christelle Cotar and Front End
Manager of Mezze, Caitlin Harrison.
The judges participated in two roundtable blind tastings where each judge selected a rose or red wine out of a group of over 100 samples. On April 22 at Blantyre in Lenox, the judges revealed their choices and announced the “Quintessential Berkshire Summer Wine”
Here's what the panel had to say about the winning wines, both of which hailed from Spain:
The most surprising choice, our #1 red wine, a Cannanou (Grenache) which the group agreed/guessed was a southern French red, maybe a Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault blend because of its earthy, ripe and mature character. Much to our surprise it was from Sardinia (I guess you could call that “extreme southern France!”). Grenache is a great summer choice, fresh and fruity, with minerality and acid backbone. The same descriptors could be said about Albarino, or even Chacoli for that matter. Ultimately our white wine choice was the Chacoli, produced not far from Rias Baixas, the “green” land of northern Spain. This wine stood out for its purity, lively personality and true sense of terroir.
Here are more details about the wines:
Ameztoi Getariko Txakolina 2012 Gipuzkos Spain: In the north of Spain, bathed by the Cantabric Sea and resting at the foot of the Pyrenees, is the Basque Country, a mild coastal region that produces an almost unpronounceable and obscure white wine, Chacoli. This low alcohol white, made from slightly under ripe native grape varieties, is super intense with mouth-watering crisp acidity, notes of sea air, stony minerality and pure lime.
Sella & Mosca Cannonau Riserva 2009 Sardinia Italy: Known as Cannonau in Sardinia, but to the rest of the world it’s known as Grenache or Garnacha. Sella & Mosca manages to take it up a few notches in complexity. The Mediterranean climate sun bakes the grapes adding notes of tobacco and earth while the two years spent in Slovenian Oak adds a distinct spice note and supple maturity not often found in wines of this price. This Cannonau epitomizes a summer red because it’s versatility, soft and light enough to match with cedar planked salmon but has enough acid backbone to stand up to richer grilled tenderloin.
If you want to try the wines, each BTP member will promote their individual top choices as either a house pour or a featured wine at their respective establishments (see below for a list) throughout the summer, and all of the selected wines will be available for purchase at Kelly’s Package Store in Dalton. You can also purchase the wines by the case, offered as the “Berkshire Tasting Panel’s Summer Selections”.
The Berkshire Tasting Panel Members include:
Christelle Cotar, Wine Director at Blantyre in Lenox
Kollin Kozlowski, Wine Director of Kelly’s Package Store in Dalton
Dan Thomas, Wine Director/Sommelier at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge
Caitlin Harrison, Front of House Manager at Mezze Bistro + Bar in Williamstown
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