Contributing editor and contrarian opiner Matt Kramer never fails to surprise Wine Experience attendees with his far-flung wine picks, but he may have outdone himself this year. "No one," he announced, "has ever had all three of the wines together before. They are that unusual, that rare, that extraordinary." With that, he took seminar-goers on a journey from Canada to South Africa to Portugal.
"The only thing Canadians ever give us is a cold front!" exclaimed Kramer by way of introducing the first wine. The crisp, minerally Norman Hardie Chardonnay Prince Edward County 2013 hails from the chilly north shore of Lake Ontario, where "there's nothing between Santa Claus" and the site to temper the climate. Combined with the limestone soil, "Prince Edward County is like Chablis having a long-lost cousin who washed up somewhere in Canada."
Next Kramer proclaimed, "South African Chenin Blanc will change the world's opinion of Chenin Blanc." At De Morgenzon, in the Stellenbosch region, the proprietors play baroque music 24/7 in the vineyards believing it helps the vines' development. ("Maybe the vines like Led Zeppelin, how do you know?") Still, the outcome is a rich, textured Stellenbosch Chenin, The Divas 2013.
"The other stuff is just comic books. This story is astonishing," said Kramer of the third wine. The story began with the last king of Portugal, who built himself a palace so gaudy that "Disneyland is in good taste compared to this." The Buçaco Palace became a hotel, and that's where Kramer discovered the Alexandre de Almeida Buçaco Branco Reservado 2003, "the world's greatest house white," only available on the premises until recently. A blend of three indigenous varieties from two different regions, Bairrada and Dão, the white mingled flavors of herbs, wax and minerals with the fruit.
Though he had taken attendees on a global wine journey in a half-hour, Kramer closed by urging the audience to visit Canada, South Africa and Portugal themselves to make their own eye-opening wine discoveries.