Gray days are rare in Dallas in August but it's nice that the predicted rains have held off. Parking at the hotel where Pioneer Wine always holds their annual portfolio tasting is always a bitch. (Though as #4 tells me, valet is available, but my low-rent brain never thinks that way.) So I wasn't parked in a muddy field and that's a good thing.
Portfolio tastings are always fun, a big room filled with great wines and great friends I've met through the now fifteen years in the wine biz. Champagne from Billecart-Salmon filled the first table and the day brightened immediately. The wines were crisp with a bone dry elegance. The Rose is mostly chardonnay which gives it its legendary austerity softened by the final addition of Pinot Noir. Fruit is barely detectable in most red Pinot Noir I've tasted from Champagne. It's always amazing how much more fruit is apparent when it's diluted in the white base wine. The 1999 reserve was the standout with its undercurrents of tart red berries.
One of my favorite wines I've tasted in a long time is Cartology from Alheit Vineyards from South Africa. An elegant austere blend of Chenin Blanc and Semillon (a new combination for me!) The lean Chenin greets the palate and is lengthened and complicated by the richness of the Semillon. The bright acids of the Chenin hold the complex stone and orchard fruits in suspension through the long finish. A bit pricey, but spectacular.
For me that was the star of the show. (Although the room was filled with great wines.) That and a few old friends.