Yes, I spent an afternoon tasting wines for a Terlano wine dinner with the chef and wine guys from Old Vine Cafe.  And it was “work”.

I love the questions I get from friends and acquaintances about what it is like to work in the wine business.  They are always so curious about what we do, especially on the import, sales and distribution side of the business. Although we push our fair share of paper, and spend a certain amount of time working at our desks, we spend a majority of our time in the field selling wine to restaurants and wine shops.  This is the best part!

When we are preparing for an event like the Old Vine Cafe Terlano wine dinner on June 24, the chef will usually want to sit down with his wine staff and taste through the wines well ahead of time.  This is especially true with Chef Mark McDonald.  He considers the progression of the dinner, the story we want to tell about the winery, and then he carefully selects the wines we will pour with input from his sommeliers, Kelsey Fernandez and Mario Miranda.  It’s not as easy as it might sound- but it is definitely an enjoyable process.

We tasted through 13 of Terlano’s wines, which was as much an exercise in understanding the winery as it was a lesson in Alto Adige.  All the wines, both white and red, have a strict, linear minerality that races through the flavors like a backbone.

Terlano’s terrior includes many high altitude vineyards, incredible sun-exposure, and as indigenous red volcanic “porphyry” soil, studded with quartz.  This gives the wines another layer of complexity, full of iron, lean acidity and full-bodied, developed fruit.

As we tasted the team made notes.  They were struck by the Terlano Pinot Grigio‘s beautiful bitter finish, which combined with its pronounced and elegant acidity, make it a perfect wine for a dish including arugula, fried leeks, and possibly based in prosciutto.  I can almost taste this dish coming together.

The Vorberg Pinot Bianco has a gorgeous range of ripe fruit- from fresh white peaches to pineapple.  The conversation following was peppered with the words, “meyer lemons” “soft shell crab” and “sea bass”.  Is your stomach rumbling yet?

I am probably most excited to see what Chef Mark comes up with for the Lagrein Gries– a deep, purple-red wine with a wild, beastly nose.  This is one of Terlano’s most traditional wines- a rustic, powerful expression of the Lagrein grape  We threw around a  few ideas, mostly involving braised pork shanks, bacon, goat and lamb.  OK, if you weren’t hungry before reading this, you must be now.

Limited space is still available for this dinner, Sunday June 24 at 6:30PM. To make a reservation please contact Chef Mark McDonald: 714-545-1411.

Hope to see you there!