Michael Corso Selections – One of America’s Top Boutique Importers
As I sat to begin the composing of this catalogue I received an invitation to a Monday afternoon tasting that promised to “impress even the most long-time Francophile”. And when an event is tagged with that type of lead-in, well, this old boy is sure to be in attendance. The wines were described with all the vernacular needed to get my pleasure meters topping out, so I planned to leave my day completely open and looked forward to meeting this man.
Now before I discuss my experiences with these wines, for those who may not know my long and jaded-palate background, let’s visit the past for a moment. Your author of these pages, moi, yours truly, began in the wine business more than 25 years ago, way back in the mid-1980s. I’ve spent many years tasting literally thousands of wines and I have collected so many pages and now computers full of notes that my family and friends constantly encourage me to author my own books on the subject of wine.
So long have I been in this arena in fact that I recall the early days of this business of professional wine critiquing when the now most powerful palate on the planet, Mr. Robert Parker, aka The Wine Advocate would host regular tastings at a quaint wine shop in Baltimore, a shop by the name of Pinehurst. I had the pleasure of attending one of those casual affairs; a tasting that would be impossible these days now that “the man” is so powerful and in demand.
From those days, I recall professional meetings with Mr. Parker during my years as a wine importer in the 1990s. I never lost sight of my desire to remain as a professional in the wine business and as I continued to hone my tasting skills, so, too, did Mr. Parker. These professional meetings with Mr. Parker, as he would review my personal selections from the South of France, wines from the Languedoc and the Roussillon, lead to my being included in an article Parker wrote on these wines that began with the triumphant phrase, “If your wine shop does not stock these wines, CHANGE SHOPS, these wines are too good to ignore…”. Parker had indeed stamped many of my selections with his coveted seal of approval and my career in the wine business took flight.
So you may now understand my faith and belief in my own palate. Today, at the age of 42, with more than 25 years and thousands, perhaps countless of bottles under my belt – shall we say palate – I very often feel no need to justify my writings with the opinions of other critics. And with that point being made, I can tell you now that as I sat and tasted through the wonderfully balanced and classically flavored wines being offered by Michael Corso this past January 19th, I found myself equally impressed by our mutual feelings on the current state of professional wine reviewers in this country today.
Some may claim that it’s a conflict of interest for a review to be published by a retailer; that a retailer has a vested interest in scoring a wine at or above a certain level in hopes of making a buck on that particular wine. To that cynical opinion I and Mr. Corso have but 1 rebuttal: if that’s the way you feel about your wine merchant, DON’T BUY WINE FROM THAT MERCHANT; put another way, IF YOU DON’T TRUST YOUR MERCHANT, WHY ARE YOU SHOPPING WITH HIM IN THE 1ST PLACE?
Each and every wine I review is reviewed solely by me – another point Mr. Corso and I discussed. That can no longer be claimed by the vast majority of professional wine magazines. The Wine Advocate now employs nearly a 1/2 dozen different reviewers tasked with covering every part of the wine world Parker no longer has time and / or desire to cover. And if you try to calibrate your poor palate with each of these reviewers, good luck dear reader; it can not be done. Then there is the monster known as The Wine Spectator. A dozen PLUS reviewers. You’ll never figure that one out; I certainly haven’t. Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar? That’s probably my single favorite publication today. I’ve known Tanzer since 1994 and Josh has consumed wine with me, personally, many times, at my home and my wine shop, since the late 1990s. But there again, we are approaching a 1/2 dozen consulting authors contributing to the reviews. Calibrating therein is a bit easier, but you still must know who is authoring the prose.
But when you read these pages, the reviews written my me, they are 100% my personal feelings based on 25+ years of tastings and travels. And I write and score based on what I would say to my wife, my family and my closest friends should I have this wine in front of them.
My first goal is to have my work discovered and to become the next great wine critic; I am not writing a review to sell a bottle of wine.
And when Mr. Corso and I shared our mutually agreeing thoughts on wine reviews and wine in general, I could not wait to bring to you his wines…
And my thoughts…
Here’s the first of many I plan to share with you from his portfolio:
2005 Domaine Raspail – Ay Gigondas
Raspail – Ay
70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre Dry Red Table Wine
Gigondas, Southern Rhone, Rhone, France
Review by Cepage Noir
E*Newsletter Winter 2009
“An Outstanding wine worth your serious attention that will impress and offer memorable drinking experiences.” CN
Drink: 2008 – 2018+
“Beautiful deep ruby purple, bordering on opaque in color. The perfection of the vintage is evident immediately in the color of this immaculate wine. First words from my pen, upon engaging the aromatics: Stunning, just a stunning nose. All the power, all the red currant, red raspberry and all the classic, perfumed, nearly pastille, yet polished and refined fruit one expects from a world class estate harvested in a perfect vintage. This has that perfectly proportioned and well structured body that carries the deeply perfumed and decadently sweet flavors through to a harmonious finish. There seems to be absolutely no tannins here as they are swallowed up by the palate soothing fruit and absolutely sexy finish. What a wine!”
— Cepage Noir
Review by Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar
International Wine Cellar Issue Jan / Feb 2008
“Dark ruby. Spicy raspberry and dark cherry aromas with a dusty herb overtone. Chewy, deep cassis and blackberry flavors are firmed by youthful tannins, which give the finish power and grip. Leaves sweet, liqueur-like fruit in its wake. More brooding than last year’s showing, but no less impressively concentrated or sweet. This is ideal for the cellar.”
— Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar