May
19

A Taste of Piemonte

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The region of Piemonte in northwest Italy is the home to Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most prestigious red wines and is also the home to one of the world’s finest truffles. No other region provides similar characteristics for red wines or truffles. I often ask myself what makes the soil so special and where does that intriguing pungency and savoriness come from? While the Nebbiolo grape variety produces red wine royalty, there are other indigenous grapes which can produce something unique and special too. Perhaps not as grand, but certainly still worth experiencing. We asked VINO Chef Keith Endo to create Piemontese inspired foods to work with some of our most unique and interesting red Piemontese “country” wines.  Each is from small, family owned estates, who produce classically styled wines in homage to what their forefathers produced.  Wines like this are getting harder and harder to come by.

 

WINE: Cantine Valpane “Rosa Ruske”Cantine Valpane was founded in 1899. The estate is located in a more remote niche of Monferrato where untamed forest and fields play a imporatnt role is producing a very unique set of wines. The Rosa Ruske bottling is their most unique red , one produced from the nearly forgotten ruché grape variety. (Today, I am told it is the moscatellina grape variety).  In either case, this wildly rustic, very aromatic red wine combines the pungent, savory core of what Piemonte is about with floral/wild rose aromatics of the ruché grape variety.

Homemade Tajarin Pastabraised oxtail, grilled Ali’i mushrooms, Swiss chard & mudica bread crumbs

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WINE: Tenuta La Pergola “Il Goccetto”“The little nip” is a country-styled Piemontese red, meant for immediate consumption with regional foods. This family has been producing their own estate wines since 1903.  In this particular vintage, “Il Goccetto” is 100% Brachetto, a grape variety rarely produced on its own as a stand alone red wine. We absolutely love its wild, exotic fragrance of rose petals and wild strawberries, with a pungent, musk scented, savory core. These aromatic red wines create such a different dynamic with foods like this.

Risotto alla Piemontesecarnaroli rice , grilled baby portabella mushrooms, red wine & truffle

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WINE: Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato “Rosso Pietro”We are continually amazed with each taste of this wine as we don’t run into old style Barbera like this stylistically too often. It might be because in many cases, Barbera is more often grown where and when Nebbiolo cannot ripen to perfection, kind of like an after thought. Valpane produces meaty, masculine, musk scented, savory Barbera, which still has very lively, stony fruit in a delicious, provocative style. What a real treat!

Red Wine Braised Veal Cheekscreamy polenta, roasted root vegetables & espelette pepper

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DESSERT

WINE: Filippo Gallino “Birbet”Where the top Piemontese red wines have a strongly pungent, savory, musk scented core at its best, this 100% Bracchetto produced in the Roero region innately offers a slightly sparkling red wine, which is instead so remarkably light, fruity, ethereal & wonderfully refreshing & delicious.  Having this wine at the end of meal is like having a sorbet to finish–completely upbeat & uplifting.

Meringatahazelnut meringue, warm caramel sauce, macerated fruits, whipped cream and chocolate gelato

 

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May
12

Foie Gras & Wine

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Foie Gras (fattened duck or goose liver) is a French delicacy.  Its decadent richness, bordering buttery is world renown & has become an iconic luxury dining offering.  The leading purveyor in the U.S. is Hudson Valley.  Historically, sommeliers & gourmets paired foie gras specialties with top end Sauternes, mano e mano.  True decadence.  The richness, unctuality & visceral mouthfeel of the wine could keep up with the foie gras & the wine’s innate sweetness would freshen & refresh the palate between bites.

At VINO, we chose to do something different on this night just to shake the bushes some.

Foie Gras Torchonserved with crostini, caramelized pineapple, garnished with apples bits

 wine pairing:  2013 Domaine de Durban Muscat de Beaumes de Venise–a very iconic, standout late harvest, fortified white wine, grown France’s southern Rhone Valley.  “The domaine and its vineyards sit atop a picturesque plateau in the Vaucluse, sheltered by the Dentelles de Montmirail, just above of the village of Beaumes-de-Venise. The scenic views put one at pause considering the timelessness—wine has been a part of the culture here for millennia”.  The higher altitude, the plentitude of sun exposure, the constant pounding mistral winds & the clay-limestone strewn hillsides create a very unique niche for producing this sweet, though brilliantly fresh vin doux naturale, which is quite a revelation for the appellation & its wines.  “The Leydiers are particularly proud of their Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise as they are among the last to craft it in the traditional style. Leydier’s old-fashioned vinification keeps the spirits as low as possible, so that they may hold on to the bright freshness in the grapes. One can find more powerful Muscats, but none as tasty and fine”.  The youthful 2013 still has the hutzpah & decadence for the torchon, but still with enough zest & nerve for the pineapple & apple garnishes.  (Sweet wines like this can lose their apparent sweetness with considerable bottle age, as it transforms into a more tactile, visceral feel).  Definitely an interesting pairing.

 

Pan Seared “A” Grade Foie GrasPort wine reduction, quail egg & duck prosciutto

 wine pairing:  2016 Domaine La Tour Vieille Banyuls “Rimage”–Banyuls is a wine appellation in southern France, right on the Mediterranean, 2 miles from the Spanish border.  The impossibly steep, daunting, sun baked, wind pounded hillsides of schist have to be terraced to help keep the soil in place & also make the slopes workable.  The Banyuls wines are fortified vin doux naturale.  While some renditions can be very rustic, rugged, bordering coarse, we have taken quite a liking to the more civil, wine-like bottlings from Domaine La Tour Vieille.  Their “Rimage” bottling is old vine Grenache with a dollop of Carignane.  While Grenache can typically offer wonderfully ripe, lush, round fruit, this estate’s Grenache terroir also innately adds an intriguing, very savory, masculinity to its core, which I am sure is at least partially from the challenging schist driven hillsides.  The wine is then buttressed with roughly 10% Carignane which helps with savoriness, structure & frame.  The best way to sum up describing this wine…..”A delicious, savory Mediterranean red wine, which happens to be fortified“.   We typically enjoy this wine well chilled.  It certainly proved to be an interesting pairing to say the least.

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Helen Keplinger

Thursday, April 18, 2019

There is no doubt that Helen Keplinger is one of the New Age winemaking stars of the California wine scene.  Besides consulting for a portfolio of various wine projects, she & her husband DJ have their own label, Keplinger, which is garnering big scores & praise from the media, including a “Winemaker of the Year” recognition from Food & Wine Magazine.  She is making her first trip to Hawaii & doing a special dinner with Ivy Nagayama, Managing Partner/Corporate Director of Operations of DK restaurants & the culinary team of DK Steakhouse.

Here was the menu for the night.

APPETIZER

FENNEL POLLEN SEARED BRISTOL BAY SCALLOPS–with herbed cauliflower puree, confit of Hamakua King Oyster mushrooms, roasted fennel butter

2014 KEPLINGER ELDORADO WHITE–(Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne)

 

 

INTERMEZZO

TRUFFLED AHI WITH JALAPEÑO AND MICRO CILANTRO

 

 

DEMI ENTREE

KIAWE SMOKED “TAJIMA” AUSTRALIAN WAGYU SHORT RIBS–with roasted kohlrabi, twice cooked fingerling potatoes, thyme jus, and crispy shallots

 2013 KEPLINGER “SUMO” RED–(Petite Sirah, Syrah & Viognier)

 

 

INTERMEZZO

LA GELATERIA LEMONGRASS SORBET WITH MARI’S GARDEN MICRO MINT

 

 

MAIN ENTRÉE

21-DAY DRY AGED KING NATURAL STRIP LOIN–with summer truffle and gruyere cheese gratin, red wine peppercorn jus, bay leaf gremolata, shaved asparagus

 2015 KEPLINGER CALDERA RED–(Mourvedre, Grenache & Counoise)

 

 

DESSERT CREATED BY PASTRY CHEF CHERIE PASCUA

DECADENT CHOCOLATE S’MORES BAR–with layers of graham crackers, brownies, chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow & strawberry ice cream

Apr
18

Sparkling Wine & VINO Food

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Most people think of sparkling wines when it is time to celebrate festive times. Furthermore, we also find them to be quite amazing with foods. We have asked VINO Chef Keith Endo to pair foods to a quartet of our favorite non-Champagne bubblies. Yes, this will be–pure enjoyment–on an early Sunday night, so one can go home and sleep early. Let’s get together and hang out.

 

WINE: Flor ProseccoItalian Prosecco has grown to be one of the top wine imports into the U.S.. sadly, that means there is a growing number of mediocre renditions coming in. here is one whose intent is to be delicious, light, crisp, flirtatious & completely refreshing. It comes from the iconic restaurant family of Bastianich. We wanted to show how food friendly good ones can also be.

Charred Cabbage–braised vegetable/chicken jus

 

 

WINE: Breton Vouvray Brut “Dilettante”Vouvray is located in France’s Loire Valley and is the home to the world’s finest Chenin Blanc based wines. The best are wonderfully alive, exciting and a burst of synergy between the Chenin Blanc grape variety and limestone soils it is grown in. Catherine Breton takes this wine to another level through the “traditional” (Champagne) method, adding fine bubbles and much more excitement and pizazz to an already bright eyed and bushy tailed wine. There really is no wine like it. While we think Vouvray and shellfish are made for each other, this wine takes that idea to another level.

Seafood Sausageroasted, fresh herbed fingerling potato bits, braised leeks, corn relish & truffle butter

 

 

WINE: Scammacca del Murgo Brut RoséThe wines of Mt Etna, down in Sicily are exploding in popularity among the sommelier community, both in the U.S. and across the world. There really is magic created between the native Nerello Mascalese grape variety and the volcanic soils of Etna. The Scammacca family have been toiling their vineyards in the shadow of this active volcano for well over 100 years. Their masculine, stony bubbly is 100% Nerello Mascalese, aged for three years on the fine lees, ala metodo classico. What a real treat!  Nerello Mascalese is  a grape variety typically used to produce hearty, masculine, savory red wines.  In this case, however, it is used to produce this very refined, yeasty, completely refreshing sparkling pink wine.  In short, masculine, savory, crisp & completely refreshing….is why we paired this wine with this dish.

Braised Spanish Octopussquid ink linguine tossed with braised celery, onions and fennel with espelette pepper

 

 

WINE: Elvio Tintero Moscato d’Asti “Sori Gramella”Moscato d’Asti is a very special, unique wine, which has a razor edged tetter totter between sweet & sour, in a very uplifting, airy manner. At its best, there is really no other wine like it. This is one of our absolute favorites!

Pineapple Panna Cottamango sorbet & grilled Moroccan spiced apple bits

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Apr
10

Savory Red Wines

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Here is your chance to try FOUR really unique and interesting Italian red wines, each from a true vigneron of the region! To me a vigneron is a master of his craft who works with a code, discipline, skill, passion and dedication for his craft. This honor is for a select few who embrace and masterfully work through a grape, a vine, a vineyard and create magic like few others can. We love how savory and food friendly each is, without any sense of heaviness or gaudiness. What an opportunity!

2015 Renzo Castella Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba “Rivolia”–For most Piemonte wineries, Dolcetto is often an after thought, planted when Nebbiolo or Barbera couldn’t be. In comparison, Renzo Castella proudly is a Dolcetto specialist—50 year old organically farmed vines in the Diano d’Alba appellation with its largely sandstone dominated soils. We were absolutely captivated with this charming, classy, delicious rendition. WOW! 

 

2017 Baron Widmann Vernatsch Südtiroler”–Grown at roughly 2000 feet elevation in the mountains of northeast Italy. 100% Sciava from one of the most revered vineyard-ists in all of Italy.  “Light colored, delicious and very drinkable table wines (sort of like a cross between Beaujolais and Bourgeuil and as mouthwatering and savory as that description suggests). This is a wine to be drunk and not discussed”. 

2010 La Viarte Schiopettino di Prepotto “Colli Orientali”–Schiopettino is an indigenous grape variety of northeast Italy, high in the hills.  It seems to excel in the Prepotto enclave.  Interestingly, Schiopettino seems to be fastly rising in recognition among the sommelier community across the country. This grape variety is easier to grow than many of its peers, while still delivering a wonderful savoriness, especially in the core, without pondering weight, richness or high alcohol levels. It definitely has a rightful place at the dinner table.

2017 Vigneti Vecchio Etna “Sciare Vive”–Mostly Nerello Mascalese—50 to 130 year old vines—grown in the volcanic soils of Etna at 2000 feet elevation and only six months aging in 500 liter oak. Yet, another red wine all about savoriness and mojo, while still being wonderfully transparent, surprisingly refined and delicious.

 

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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I attended a tasting of Grenache based red wines the other night.  Tasting a wine on its own is one perspective.  Tasting side by side with others I found provides much more & different perspectives.  I in fact found it quite enlightening.  I could say the same about this night’s tasting, as we continue to explore indigenous grape varieties and wines from around the Mediterranean basin.  Yes, still quite a fascinating and enlightening journey. 

2016 Azienda Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi–When I was growing up in this industry, Verdicchio was considered one of Italy’s finest indigenous white wine grape varieties, especially those from the Marches region & its Castelli di Jesi sub appellation.  We start off with a café styled rendition–dry, crisp, vividly fresh and invigorating white wine served in cafés of the fishing villages along Italy’s eastern coast and its Adriatic Sea. Yes, a “country” styled white wine to be enjoyed with food, which gives us all a glimpse of what typicity offers in this region, its rolling light grey, sandy tufo soils and its most respected grape variety.

2016 Maestracci Calvi “E Prove”–Since early on, I was also taught that the Vermentino (which the French sometimes refer to as Rolle) grape variety was capable of producing top flight white wines.  This was later buttressed when I tasted the Clos Nicrosi bottling from Corsica, sometime in the 1980’s.  I remember thinking, how the heck could man & God grow & create something otherworldly like this.  Sadly he passed away & I have not had a wine like that since.  It was also the inspiration for my obsession to visit Corsica. After thirty plus years of being at the very top of my bucket list of wine destinations, Cheryle and I now plan to visit Corsica. In digging around for advice, my wine yoda, Bruce Neyers, commented we should for sure hook up with Camille-Anaïs Raoust of Maestracci, “must see”, he emphasized. “Maestracci is located high in the foothills of Monte Grossu mountain, inland from Calvi & the granite plateau of Reginu.” This wine smells of the sun baked rocks and wild countryside which I am hoping to see, walk and smell first hand. Thanks Yoda!

2016 Casale del Giglio Biancolella “Faro della Guardia”–I have had a real fascination for the Biancolella grape variety since my first taste of a rendition from the island of Ischia (off the Amalfi coast) back in the early 1990’s. Biancolella is found primarily in Italy’s Campania region, but was introduced to the Island of Ponza during the 18th century. Cultivation of the grape in the Lazio region is authorized exclusively on the Island of Ponza, where it grows at the base of a sheer sea cliff surmounted by the imposing lighthouse which rises 400 or so feet above sea level. The deepest part of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the trench known as ‘La Fossa del Tirreno’, lies some eleven miles to the southwest of the lighthouse rock”.  I think Biancolella grown in limestone/marine soils can create oenological synergy & magic.

2016 Vigneti Vecchio Sicilia Bianco “Sciare Vive”–There is a real fascination, bordering obsession with the wines and potential of the Etna appellation down in Sicily. Here is the latest—small family run operation on the north facing slope–1.5 hectares at 1600 to 2800 on the slopes of Mt Etna—volcanic-clay-limestone soils, forty to one hundred year old vines. 90% Carricante, 10% indigenous varieties (Minnella, Inzolia, Grecanico, Catarratto)—fermented in old 500 liters barrels with seven months on the lees.  This white wine has a coppery hue, quite masculine & muscular with exotic (not tropical) fruit–persimmon for instance, dried pit fruit, a distinct pungency–stones, smoked spice, base & leesy notes to its core, with a unique viscosity & a stony finish.

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People continually ask why we carry the wines we do. Yes, there is always an opportunity to carry & showcase the latest, the most happening wine find, the rage amongst all of the wine professionals across the country. Sommeliers/wine buyers scramble to make sure they are the first to carry & offer the next “it” wine. Our question is, isn’t there also an opportunity to feature more classical wines? Those that are typical of a grape variety, a region, the soils & climate in which they are grown? Hopefully, renditions produced by small, artisan estates handed down through the generations. Here is your chance to try FOUR really unique and interesting French Beaujolais, each from a true vigneron of the region! To me a vigneron is a master of his craft who works with a code, discipline, skill, passion and dedication for their craft. This “honor” is for a select few who embrace and masterfully work through a grape, a vine, a vineyard and create magic like few others can. They also carry the torch of what their forefathers entrusted. Furthermore, we just love how savory and food friendly each is, without any sense of heaviness or gaudiness. What an opportunity!

2017 Dupeuble Beaujolais Rosé–Pink wines are currently sizzling hot in the marketplace. Finally! This is one of our favorites because it is a truly authentic, artisan rendition. This family has been farming & nurturing their estate vineyard for over 500 years after all! Their wines are so wonderfully delicious, charming, completely gulpable & satisfying. Three to seventy year old vines, organically and biodynamically farmed, direct pressed, wild yeast fermented and aged in stainless steel with NO malolactic. We wanted to start this tasting of Beaujolais right & here is the lead off batter.

2013 Guy Breton Beaujolais Villages “Marylou”–Guy Breton is one of the founding members of the iconic “Gang of Four”, a band of like minded vignerons looking to grow and produce wines as their forefathers did AND in as natural a way as they could. Breton’s wines tend to be the lightest in color, the lowest in tannins and alcohol of the gang. The half hectare parcel of fifty year old vines used for this bottling is but 500 meters from his Cru Morgon plot. It definitely has a rightful place at the dinner table.   We feature this wine so one can see the difference low sulfur use can have….AND…with a little bottle age. 

2015 Marcel Lapierre Morgon–Marcel Lapierre is reverently considered the leader of the “Gang of Four”. Following the teaching of legendary Jules Chauvet in search of producing “natural wine”, Lapierre and his contemporaries “changed the game” and now generations subsequently are questioning how to grow and produce wines more and more than ever. He certainly was a founding forefather. We were sad to hear of Marcel’s passing at the end of 2010, right after his last grapes were harvested. The family continues with his philosophies and practices. This is his much heralded 2015, just to show the legacy continues.

Nicole Chanrion Brut “Effervescence”–Nicole Chanrion is a vehement vigneron, completely respected and revered for her mastery of skills, passion and incredible dedication. A vigneron is an honor, a code, a reverence. Her 6.5 hectare site lies in “the Côte-de-Brouilly appellation, which sits on the hillsides of Mont Brouilly, a prehistoric volcano that left blue schist stones and volcanic rock along its slopes” and her Côte-de-Brouilly reds are some of the very best, not only out of this Cru, but one could easily also say out of Beaujolais. One of her daring side projects is produce a sparkling wine—using fifty year old vines of Gamay Noir—vinified méthode Champenoise with 18 months on the lees. Since they’ve now proven that Gamay Noir is a descendent of Pinot Noir, this is a VERY interesting and unique bubbly which captures the stoniness of her granitic soils, the vinosity of her old vines and the precision, purity, detail, exuberant jovialty and feistiness of Nicole Chanrion herself.

Categories : General, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Mar
27

Interesting Sparkling Wine

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While Champagne is the traditional bubbly most will look to pop, we think there is a growing opportunity to try sparkling wines from “other” wine growing regions, ones that are more affordable in price. The really good ones are somewhat hard to find, but they are certainly worth the effort when you take your first sip. Here are four such wines, each really good in their own right and I suggest you jump on the bandwagon now & beat the crowds, the inevitable long wait lists and escalating prices.

Gregoletto Prosecco “Sui Lieviti”True, authentic, artisan Prosecco, unlike the more generic, commercial minded, mass produced versions more commonly found in the market.  In fact, every bottle may taste different—vino vivente—living wine. Yes, this is your chance to sample the real stuff! The family can be traced back to the late 1600’s/early 1700’s.   “All of the family’s work from the vines to the bottling is done by hand—artisinally, carefully, and patiently—based on oral traditions passed down over the centuries. Many of their secrets are closely guarded. The sui lieviti bottlings represent the history of this region before the Champagne method was invented. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle slowly and a fine sediment forms in the bottom of the bottle”.   Former “SLO Foods Winemaker of the Year”.

Scammacca del Murgo Brut Rosé “Metodo Classico”  (Sicily)100% Nerello Mascalese grown on Mount Etna & its volcanic soils.  Primary fermentation in stainless, secondary fermentation in bottle.  Aged on fine lees in bottle for 3 years.  Dosage—5 g/l.

Nicole Chanrion Brut “Effervescence”Nicole Chanrion is a true vigneron, in every sense of the meaning, think of the difference between a samurai and a swordsman from their perspective.  She is total hands on and lives it, not only talks about it.  Her Beaujolais red wines are standout and iconic because of their quality, personal touch and soulfulness.  Every now and then she produces this wine—100% Gamay Noir (a proven descendent of Pinot Noir) from 50 year old vines, grown in schist and porphyry soils, vinified methode champenoise in stainless steel, 18 months on the lees, hand riddled two times a day and bottled with only 3g/l dosage.  Yes, it is definitely one worth checking out!

Raventos I Blanc Brut Rosé “De Nit”This is as good as Spanish Cava gets and is thankfully a very different take on what sparkling wine can be. This family has owned their vineyards since 1497.  Yes, you read that right, 1497, just 5 years after Christopher Columbus set out to find America!  Located in the Anoia River Valley, biodynamically farmed– 48% Xarel-lo, 32% Parrellada, 15% Macabeu & 5% of still Mourvedre—18 months on the lees.

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What can Syrah be?

Let me just say some of the true standout red wines I have experienced over the years have been Syrah based and I really can’t say that about too many other grape varieties, that have that kind of potential.   In addition, I must say that I believe that Syrah seems to building more & more momentum, especially recently & when I visited some of the top wine stores in Seattle & Los Angeles recently, I was happy to see so many Syrah based red wines, especially from France, that were available on the shelves.  Moving forward, just to give us a better, growing base towards understanding what Syrah can be, we put together this sampling.

2015 Faury St Joseph–Faury makes some of our favorite Syrah based red wines out of France’s northern Rhone Valley.  We get so lost in the purity, stoniness, vinosity AND the lavender, violets, green peppercorn, masculine, savory rusticity of their wines.  Yes, this is a standout producer of more classical styled Syrah. The vines are located around the winery on very steep hillsides. 60 to 70% de-stemmed. Foot stomped. Aged for twelve months in 24 to 35 hectoliter, 600 liter and 228 liter barrels, no more than 10% new in the rotation.  This wine really started off the night by deftly setting the tone.

2016 Christelle Betton Crozes Hermitage “Espiègle–what a comparison this wine proved to be, as it represents a style of northern Rhone Valley Syrah we seem to be encountering more & more.  The 2016 was quite striking on first whiff–forward & captivating–which I think a wide spectrum of tasters would enjoy right out of the gates.  In the mouth, the wine had ample, generous fruit–a cornucopia of black fruit, pepper, violets, lavender, a dash of smoke & raw meat nuances, with a round, quite delicious mouth experience.  100% Syrah. Soils are alluvial with large quartz stones. Foot crushed, wild yeast fermented and aged in old French (white Burgundy) barrels.  Though quite good, I believe we get more quality for the dollar AND character from the other 3 wines of this tasting.

2016 Kermit Lynch/Louis Barruol Crozes Hermitage “Tenay” —interesting to taste 2 Crozes Hermitages side by side, even more so because this wine was actually served BLIND, just for the fun of it all.  I found this wine had much more true northern character, vinosity, savage, rusticity & mojo, at a little less cost.  This is a collaborative wine project between Louis Barruol & superstar wine importer/super palate Kermit Lynch.  Louis Barruol’s family has been working in the Rhone Valley for 14 generations & has the “insider’s information”, network & relationships to find interesting vineyard sources, such as this one–2 barrels worth–from the lieu dit, Tenay”, 30 to 50 year old Serine vines grown in granite soils.  the vineyard is located on an up slope just north of Hermitage.

2016 Clape “Vin des Amis”–There is no doubt, the name Clape is synomous with world-class Syrah. We were really sad to hear of patriarch, Auguste’s recent passing. He was certainly regarded as one of the true giants/champions of the Syrah grape variety. Vin des Amis is produced from younger Cornas vines and the core from a one hectare parcel right outside the appellation with round river stones. Stems, six months in cement and six months in large oak foudres.   On first whiff, I immediately thought–wow, this is the kind of Syrah I grew up on–wild, rustic, olives, green peppercorns, meat/gamy/ floral, vinous & old style, very different than that of the Christelle Betton listed above.  Certainly not a style for everyone, but you can count me in on this one.  One of the tasters commented he actually preferred the 2015 bottling, because it was seemingly riper, rounder, deeper, better texture & flow on the palate.  To that I would say, on this level of winemaker & vineyard site, every vintage & its growing/climatic conditions results in a different insight into what the vineyard wants to say.  And, I appreciate that.

Thank you to all who came……AND brought & shared some “extra credit” Syrahs of their own after the tasting.

Categories : Wine
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Mar
20

A Dinner with Fred Scherrer

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We are so excited and honored Fred is coming to VINO! He is one of our absolute favorite winemakers out of California and is essentially a one man show, a true artisan.  Fred is a true vigneron! NO foo-foo, bells and whistles or fanfare from him or his wines!   His wines are always so elegant, refined, classy, well-balanced and without a doubt, some of our favorite. This is your chance to taste his wines and to meet him in person. Although it is well known that Scherrer excels at masterfully crafting some of the very best Zinfandel, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir out of California.  (At one of the Kapalua Wine & Food Festival events, I remember tasting his 2002 Chardonnay “Scherrer Vineyard”, which at that point was 10 years old.  It was the finest, most memorable Chardonnay I had had.  On the same day, we later tried his 1999 Pinot Noir “Hirsch Vineyard” & it was the finest California Pinot Noir I had had.  BOTH in one day! I could also tell many stories about my encounters with his Zinfandel “Old & Mature” bottlings over the years too).  Having said that, I feel his best kept secrets are his undeniable mastery with Syrah & dry rosé.  So on this night we decided to show a whole different “look” to Scherrer wines—featuring THREE—most fans, even the most avid, might not be familiar with! This will reinterate what a real winemaking master he truly is!) PLUS, they work better with our style of cooking.

 

first course

Nature’s Natural Beef Carpaccio–topped with a savory winter salad

 WINE: 2017 Scherrer Dry Rosé–after years of working with different grape varieties, (including Zinfandel, Pinot Noir & even Pinotage) & combinations of grape varieties, Fred has since the 2011 vintage has really settled in his sweet spot for making pink wine–blending Syrah & Grenache, gently direct pressed, barrel fermented in old oak; on the lees for 5 to 6 months & NO malolactic.  It is without a doubt one of the finest rosé wines out of California today & the 2017 one of his finest ever.   “As a pink wine, Syrah and Grenache are more similar than they are when vinified as red wines. Here, they are James Taylor and Carly Simon in harmony, their vocal range and overtones being rather similar. The grape varieties for this wine divide to conquer. The Syrah provides more plummy tones and texture while the Grenache brings acidic focus and soaring high perfume in the places Syrah does not go naturally. Yet the majority of tones are quite similar and they blend perfectly. This wine is essentially a carbon-copy of the past two vintages, which I consider to be precisely in the pocket of my intentions“.

 

second course

“Coq au Vin Stew”classic red wine braised organic chicken stew with pasta

WINE: 2013 Scherrer “Huntsman”–a whole different side to Fred Scherrer winemaking………blending.  His Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir & Zinfandel are, after all, single varietal.  “Imagine Country singers Johnny Cash and June Carter here as red wine forms of Syrah and Grenache–combining the interplay and harmony are haunting, compelling and undeniably satisfying.  In difficult vintages, they bring complementary strengths where needed most by each other. In very favorable vintages, such as 2013 here, they build strength upon strength without overdoing it in any one spot. What a perfect varietal blend partnership!  This wine is a synthesis of sites where wildlife and viticulture meet at the edge of civilization. From both the far eastern and western edges of Sonoma County, the wine speaks of more of this general wildness than of a specific variety or site.  A red wine that spans much of the breadth and diversity of Sonoma County. It is a great opportunity to have both early and late season varieties become ripe at the same time within a reasonably short distance. This allows the powerful option of co-fermentation: a chance to commingle diverse components as they are extracted, truly stabilizing and creating something that could not otherwise be obtained.  Here is a great example where blending two very different things become intertwined as a balanced, unified entity“.

 

 

entrée

Grilled Marinated Nature’s Natural Steakroasted fennel, charred root vegetables, Provencal potato au gratin and peppercorn demi

WINE: 2009 Scherrer Syrah “Sasha”–With the 2001 vintage, my long time friends Jeff Figone, Nunzio Alioto MS & I purchased some Syrah grapes from the Eaglepoint Ranch.  The vineyard is located at 900 to 1400 feet above the town of Ukiah in Mendocino.  The grapes came from rows between what Wells Gutherie (Copain) & Van Williamson (Edmeades) was getting.  We then asked Fred Scherrer to craft it for us.  It was a dream come true, as the wine far surpassed anyone’s expectations.  In fact, all kidding aside, it was the finest Californian Syrah we had had, up to that point.  (It today, is still glorious at its age).  The best way I could describe it, was a “mountain grown” Syrah, crafted by a Pinot Noir maestro–so elegant, graceful, suave, civil, savory, wonderfully textured & balanced.  It certainly updated my view on what Californian Syrah could be.  I could use similar descriptors to describe this 2009 Syrah “Sasha”, which is why we wanted to showcase it for this dinner.  “I have been working with Syrah since 1992My love of cooler climate Syrah is no secret. I have focused on a couple of sites in the western Sonoma County (most significantly, Calypso) to work with on an ongoing basis. Knowing that some vintages we may receive serious winter storm system before perfect textural ripeness in these vineyards – in 2009 I hedged my bets by contracting for small bit of earlier ripening Russian River Valley Syrah nearby“.

 

Dessert

Strawberry Tiramisuchocolate gelato

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