Wine Express is a local wine tasting/retailing company. They host regular tastings at Silo Point in Baltimore. For a reasonable cost in an awesome setting, you can taste a number of wines and discuss both with the host (Rita Blackwell) and the other participants.
It’s a great concept, and they execute it well.
A couple of comments on that execution, then I’ll run down the wines. The setting is outstanding. Silo Point is a spectacular building, and the tastings are hosted in a warm space on the 19th floor. The view is spectacular, and the space is large enough for the group, with plenty of seating options.
The folks running the tasting do a very nice job keeping things moving… I never waited more than a minute or so to get a pour of the next wine, and the wines were served at appropriate temperatures in appropriate glassware. Everyone had some knowledge of the wines, and had clearly tasted them. From a service perspective, the tasting is very well done.
Rita Blackwell, as the host, engages every guest. She’s got an uncanny ability to recall people, she remembers small details that matter. Clearly, she’s about service first. That said, she provides background and educates in a manner that everyone can appreciate, from novice to the experienced oenophile.
Most striking is the diversity of the group. I was really happy to see a varied group; instead of the wine tasting of your old perception (a bunch of wealthy white people over 40 with their pinkies in the air), this was a racially diverse group ranging from 20′s to 70′s. Everyone was friendly, and we had a great time talking wine with each other.
Wine is fun, and this tasting made fun the focus. I’m looking forward to attending more.
Now for the wines. The tasting was “California Dreamin’”, and while the theme was one of summer, the wines really reminded me of Thanksgiving, a great variety of food friendly and crowd pleasers. All of these wines would pair with the rich/diverse foods on your Thanksgiving table, and would make everyone happy.
Kali’s Heart Chardonnay (Monterey County)
A bit sweetish, unoaked, but retained the California fruit/richness. Good drinking, would be a crowd pleaser. Grew on me.
Qupe Marsanne (Santa Ynez Valley)
Great wine! Food friendly, crisp minerality and acid. Very old world, would have guessed it was from the Northern Rhone. Extremely food friendly, made my mouth water. My favorite of the tasting.
Paraiso Riesling (Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey)
Probably my least favorite, but still pretty darn good wine. There’s a hint of risidual sugar, but nice fruit, and some crispness on the finish. Another very food friendly wine, and a good turkey wine.
Fappiano Pinot Noir (Russian River, Sonoma)
Another easy drinker, and another crowd pleaser. Funk and fruit, enough complexity to pique my interest, and plenty of fruit to keep the family happy. Yet another match for roasted poultry.
Ancient Peaks Zinfandel (Paso Robles)
A peppery nose belies the huge fruit on the palate. Offsetting that fruit was a ton of acidity, another one to make your mouth water between bites of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry; but flexible enough to stand up to some meat off the grill.
Paradiso Syrah (Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey)
Another big fruit wine. I think they were trying for a Northern Rhone style, but ended up closer to an Aussie Shiraz. Along with the fruit, there is some beef jerky and spice; another wine you could put on your Thanksgiving table. Probably my least favorite of the tasting, but still pretty good stuff.
You can find Wine Express on the web here.
They’re also on Facebook.