Friday, October 19, 2007

Diamond in the Rough

Had a great time at the annual Diamond in the Rough sale at its new location -- the Kahn's on Keystone. It was a little difficult to maneuver with tasting stations and food set up on both the main store floor and in the new banquet room on the 2nd floor, but all-in-all it seemed to go well. True to its name, there was a lot of rough, and a few gems. At least, we think we found a few. There were some deals -- and some oddities -- and we managed to order three cases. With the number of cases available printed for most lots this year, it gave us a better idea of what we might get. However, we also put our order in late in the evening, so who knows. We tasted mainly reds and mainly cabs, shirazs, and Italians. We ended up with a slightly high end Chianti which I actually liked. (We surmised that most people drink too much cheap, crappy chianti and don't think of it as quite a lovely wine.)

Our take? Great deals on:
Rufus Stone McClaren Shiraz 2000

Carmen Reserve Shiraz/Cabernet

Cecchi Villa Cerna Chianti Resva 2001

BTW, for those who wanted to know, Arthur Black took 3rd with only 4 points separating the first four positions. He is on track to be one of the youngest master sommeliers in the United States when he takes (and passes) his exam next year.
Update: Several people have emailed (and one commenter noted) to remind me that Jim doesn't fill orders first come/first serve. They'll even split cases as need be if orders exceed availability.


Don said...

We were there too and also ordered a case of the Carmen you ordered. We ordered a case of the Barbera as well. You're right about the "roughs", which is what I found most of the reds to be.

As for your order going in late, it shouldn't matter according to what Jim told us. He said it wasn't a matter of "first in gets it"... if more people happen to order than the number of cases available they'll simply split the cases even among those who want it.

braingir said...

Ugh, I hate that. They've said that in the past, and luckily, I think we've almost always gotten a full case of everything we ordered. (I usually go with someone and we split.)

We have a real system for working the tables -- pre-mark the book, then systematically work our way through, marking ones we like together, ones either of us *really* like, then ones we both really like and want to put on the buy list.

After we're done, we strategize over our buy list, talk about any that either of us *really* liked and want to lobby for, and/or retaste any we have questions on or are quibbling over.

This year, it was very easy -- only three made the buy list and we had no arguments. There were another three or four wines one or the other of us felt strongly about, but nothing worth making a strong lobbying effort. It helps when you shop with someone who has a similar palate.

Half the fun of Diamond in the Rough is just finding the few of the evening that are pretty good.

CorrND said...

Jim mentioned to us that they were expecting around 500 cases to be ordered!

We tasted with a similar system braingirl, though we also set a dollar limit before we walked in the door that led to a long negotiation period at the end and lot's of retasting (not that there's anything wrong with that...). The Carmen you guys ordered was on our list too but didn't make the final cut.

braingirl said...

Yes! Setting a budget is important -- and hey, that's half the fun.

The others on our list were:

Newton Forrest Cornerstone 2001 (I liked)
Gotim Mencia Jovin (DZ liked)
Dehesa La Granja Tempranillo (DZ liked)
Atlas Peak Cab 1996 (weird, but I liked, my friend wisely talked me out of it.)
Wither Hills Pinot (DZ liked, I thought it was all grapefruit at the end.)
Gabbiano Alleanza -- both liked but didn't make cut
Maccario Barbera D'asti -- didn't make the cut
Three Thieves Cab -- didn't make the cut, we didn't need it

Anonymous said...

> (We surmised that most people drink too much cheap, crappy chianti and don't think of it as quite a lovely wine.)

It's changing, but that's still a problem with the stereotype of most Italian wines - that it can all be boiled down to that thin watery stuff packaged in a straw-covered bottle. True Chianti (especially Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva) are incredible wines that pair well with many different foods. And not all are outrageously expensive.

Also try a Barbera, Dolcetto or Lagrein from a northern Italian region, a Primitivo from Puglia, an Aglianico from Campania or a Nero D'Avola from Sicily. There seem to be just as many blends (reds and whites) and so many are still such great values. Spanish wines are giving them a good run for their money, though.