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A WHALE of a Wine Event in New Bedford

IMG_0974This past weekend the Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE (or WHALE) held heir annual Wine Festival and Auction on the State Pier in New Bedford, MA.  Generally we would not even have known about this, as we are more in the Providence area, but blogger Fred Thurber sent us the info.  A lot of the wines were provided by Kristian from Crush Fine Wine, also in New Bedford.  I had stopped in at Crush the day before to meet Kristian, and I have to agree with Fred’s assessment of the store.  I really liked it, as it brings a very relaxed feel with an eclectic assortment of wines.  You’ll find something you’ve never seen before.  We’ll have to do a follow up on Crush with a lot more detail some time soon.

But this is about the WHALE event, and we really didn’t know what to expect.  Fortunately

Merlot Cupcakes from Cravings

Merlot Cupcakes from Cravings

we were able to park right on the pier, so that was convenient.  When you walk over toward the warehouse the unmistakable odor of fish permeates the air.  Most of the fleet appeared to be in for the long weekend, as the area directly in front of us was crowded with boats.  Having grown up in New Bedford and the immediate area this was very familiar to us.  Still, we were hoping rather desperately that the smell would not carry over into the event space.

It did not.  Inside a large warehouse they had set up a long series of tables which accommodated a broad assortment of wines, much more food than we expected, a silent auction and a few other odds and ends.  It was actually quite elegant considering the space we were in.  You picked up a glass and a tasting plate upon entering, and the addition of the plate was a nice touch.  Throughout the evening the crowd was reasonable and the tables always approachable.  We dove in, and found more than a few good wines and some notable bites.  We’ll give you some of the highlights:

IMG_0966

Great chocolate cupcake from Emma Jean’s

Food: there was seafood, and that was expected.  The Black Whale, which is almost right next door, was serving up crab cakes and lobster sandwiches.  Fairly staple food but still well done and quite tasty.  A large table of Wellfleet oysters was kept stocked all night, and I found cause to visit on more than one occasion.  Cork served up a very tasty bite, crispy crostini with sour cherry, goat cheese and lavendar honey drizzle.  These hit every spot on your palate in sequence.  Cheri absolutely loved them.  Desserts were plentiful and delicious, with the chocolate cupcake at Emma Jean’s, the Merlot cupcake from Cravings Cafe & Cakery and the Cranberry Nut Bread from Cravings standing out.  There were many others.

Wine: over all the quality was good, with several standouts.  As usual there were also several disappointments, but that is always the case.  Here are a few of the good ones:

Bartolomeo Prosecco – we started the night with this, a crisp Prosecco that brings very pure green apple flavors.  This is dry, and excellent.  About $18.

2012 Chakana Malbec Estate Selection – from Mendoza, this Malbec is a dark purple/red IMG_0962with beautiful dark fruits that carry though the long finish.  It doesn’t tail off into the slightly funky earthy finish that a lot of Malbecs present.  This is really good, and about $25-$30.

2012 La Fluer d’Amelie Bordeaux – the 2012 vintage is not heralded as stellar in Bordeaux, certainly when compared to the blockbuster 2009 and 2010 vintages, yet this wine is really quite good.  It presents a classic Bordeaux aroma and flavor profile, with nice subtle oak nuances.  If it were $15-$20 I’d say it was a great buy.  Since it caries a $15 suggested retail it is then, by our definition, a great buy!

2012 Oveja Negra Cabernet Franc/Carmenere – this was a pleasant surprise, and really impressed with rich, deep flavors.  Spice was evident along with the fruit.  Really just a lovely wine and a screaming buy at $10 to $12 or so.

2009 Vall Llach Embruix – it has been a few years since we’ve had a bottle of Embruix, and IMG_0971it is just as good as I remember.  Vall Llach makes great wine in the Priorat, and this is their more entry level offering.  It’s big, full bodied and rich, with a great balance between the fruit and the oak.  A blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carinena it is a definite buy at about $23.

2007 Senorio de P. Pecina Rioja Crianza – if you like classic Rioja you will love this wine.  It is sourced all from Rioja Alta, or the higher altitude and hilly area of Rioja, and is 100% Tempranillo.  From old vines the wine is aged in 50% French and 50% new American oak, and delivers the timeless Rioja palate of fruit with leather and tobacco notes.  It really drinks like a good Reserva.  Very good and about $20.

2009 Jones of Washington Estate Syrah – the Jones family for many years sold grapes toIMG_0973 producers, and now they make their own.  This is 100% organic and presents beautiful fruit.  The oak is nicely integrated, and the typical spice is there.  The finish is long and the fruit caries through beautifully.  This is really nice, exceptionally smooth and was Cheri’s favorite of the evening.  Probably just under $20 and a buy there.

2013 Felines Jourdan Picpoul De Pinet – from the Languedoc, something different, and very good.  Some of the vineyards which source this Picpoul are right on the Mediterranean, and they actually flood for several weeks every year.  This gives the wine a salinity that you really pick up in the mid palate, and combined with the clean fruit it makes for a very pleasing wine.  It also absolutely screams for seafood, and I went back with some oysters later to test that theory.  It was a match made in heaven.  Really good and about $10-$12.  Try something different here.

So there’s a few, and there were more we could have included.  Overall I would call it a successful evening, and the crowds seemed to be enjoying themselves.  It benefited elegant restromsWHALE, which is doing good things in preservation in downtown New Bedford.  This was fun, and we’re adding it to our list of annual wine events we like to attend.  Another detail worth mentioning (surprisingly) were the portable toilets, which were the really good kind and make a difference at something like this.  Not something you usually consider, but definitely something you appreciate!

We’ll do a follow up on Crush soon, as that is an interesting wine shop worth a visit.  We also have to thank  blogger Frederick Thurber for tuning us into this event.

A votre sante!

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