The Saturday Grand Tasting on Memorial Day weekend was a wine and dining circus. Although inside the New Orleans Convention Center, the layout and lighting gave it a giant tent-like feel, microphones blared tasting notes and cooking demonstrations from every angle, and a low, steady roar of the crowd (or was it lions and tigers?) carried on throughout. I enjoyed a fast-paced tasting tour, although the crowds slowed me considerably, preventing the volume I would have preferred. Several vendors ran out of product completely, and even packed up and left their areas, as early as halfway through the event. But these are the risks when attempting serious tasting in a large crowd. Standout wines included:

  1. Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva 2010 - Bright red berries with a rustic, dry finish. $17
  2. Chateau De Chantegrive Graves Blanc 2011 - Refreshing and light Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend, with honeysuckle. $22
  3. Clarksburg Wine Company Petite Sirah 2011 - Thick and inky, with dark berries, subtle spices, and a vanilla hint. $26
  4. Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir 2014 - Earthy, raspberry and spice. $22
  5. Canard Vineyard Adam's Blend 2012 - (link to 2011 notes) The second Canard wine that has caught my attention in as many months. Mostly Cabernet Franc, with red fruit to spare, woody, and chocolate notes. $65

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