Archive for March, 2013


Fred Scherrer & His Wines 03-29-13

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 As VINO regulars well know by now, we are HUGE fans of winemaker Fred Scherrer & his wines. Fred epitomizes the concept of artisan, handcrafted & boutique, as he is essentially a one man show.

Interestingly, we have found over the years, it is hard to find a winemaker/winery who excels at 1 grape variety…..much less Fred excelling at 5 or 6! Yes, his are wines to search out for…..AND they do get better with age…..even his Zinfandels.

I find it so remarkable that Fred & his truly superb wines are relatively under the radar screen by most of the wine media. For me these are some of the VERY best wines out of California today……which a tasting of 4 older of his wines recently in VINO, resounding reminded me.

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2006 Scherrer Chardonnay “Helfer Vineyard”

We have been waiting a LONG time for this wine to open up & show its real personality. We thankfully got a brief glimpse on this night. Although still tight, we marveled at the amazing youth it still has from beginning to end. Preceeding this wine in the line-up was the 2006 Greenock Cabernet Sauvignon; 2006 Revolver Wine Co. “The Fury” & the 2006 Leeuwin Estate Chardonnay “Art Series”. ALL 3 were very highly rated wines….BUT on this night got completely dwarfed by this Scherrer Chardonnay. I make it a point to try not to compare wine to wine….but in this case the difference was just so huge. It was NOT even close. I believe there was somewhere between 100 to 125 cases produced, but it is well worth seeking out. I can’t wait to see where it goes in the next 10 years.

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2001 Scherrer Chardonnay “Fort Ross” Reserve

I was SO blown away by these 3 Scherrer wines I immediately sent an email to Fred that night…..AND called him the next morning. In that conversation, I noted that THIS 2001 Chardonnay is the most intense, concentrated wine I remember having from him! Fort Ross is a single vineyard out on the Sonoma Coast which Fred worked with for a few years. He only made 1 barrel (22 to 25 cases) of this particular bottling. 12 years old & still a baby!!!!!……..brilliant…..with superb seamlessness, balance, class AND without any sense of gaudiness, pretention or over done-ness. A SENSATIONAL wine.

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2003 Scherrer Zinfandel “Shale Terrace” 

The nose was glorious! I have never had a Zinfandel that smelled so glorious, compelling & captivating like this before. Just plain gorgeous! On the palate the wine was still so remarkably youthful & vibrant, yet so balanced, delicious & suave. The Shale Terrace botttling, I believe is VERY different in character to his “Old & Mature” bottling, eventhough they both come from the same, “Scherrer Vineyard” in Alexander Valley. Now….THIS wine will also show you why I chased getting Fred’s wine to Hawaii for so many years.

2001 Scherrer Zinfandel “Shale Terrace”

It becamse very obvious, this “Shale Terrace” bottling says something VERY different from his “Old & Mature Vines” bottling we typically see, when tasting this 2001 last night, March 28, 2013. I was completely mesmerized & spellbound. That doesn’t happen too often…..especially with Zinfandel. I kept trying to identify what I was smelling….when a fellow taster, noted peach & peach skins…..and that is truly what it was.  From the cornucopia of different fruit & exotic spice, what jumped out was peach/nectarine/apricot!  The wine was luscious,compelling, exotic, round, incredibly well textured still with a VERY vibrant, youthful & vigorous core. OMG… 12 years old!!!!! True, the alcohol poked out some (14.5), probably because it was tasted amongst a star studded line-up of Old World wines. I have to say, however, it stood out in the crowd. Superb wine!!!! & one I will always remember… was that good!

Over the years, we have found that Fred Scherrer is, without a doubt, one of those VERY special winemakers who makes wines that truly stand out because of purity, elegance, delicious-ness & balance. I am always so perplexed why wine lovers aren’t pounding down the doors to get these wines. I think it is probably because Fred & his wines do not get HIGH scores & accolades. Yet, when one asks wine professionals in the know, his names pops up frequently…..kind of like an insider’s scoop. Another confusing hitch might be caused by the myriad of various bottling & small lots Fred makes in any given vintage, which changes year to year depending on what the vintage brings.

In an effort to better understand what to buy & why, here is the bottom line from my experience with the Scherrer wines…….

1) APPELLATION WINES. With Pinot Noir (& sometimes with Syrah & Cabernet) Fred bottles appellation wines…ie Russian River, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Valley (Alexander Valley with Cab and Russian River with his Syrah). He feels these wines speak of their appellation. These wines typically are more accessible & delicious right out of gates. This by no means reflects on their age-ability.

2) SINGLE VINEYARD. Usually Fred’s single vineyard wines, although pure, elegant & balanced, need some bottle age to really show their peacock tail (which believe me……they will at some point!!) From first hand experience, I can tell you older Scherrer wines are some of the VERY best I have ever had out of California, as the 3 featured above clearly reminded me. The crazy thing for me is that I would readily buy any of one of his single vineyard wines in place of the BIG, MEGA-media rated names, one for one…..much less the 2 (or 3) to 1 ratio these wines are……because of their very FAIR prices.

3) POETICALLY NAMED. which includes Zinfandoodle, Big Brother & once & awhile “Reserve”. While these names speak to Fred of what the wines want to say, it can be confusing to the general public. My advice is, to do some homework, read his website, ’cause these are wines, like the rest of his portfolio, you will not want to miss out on.

There is thankfully so much talk & a move towards In Pursuit of Balance. Fred & his wines have always really been about that AND I believe they clearly showcase that….whether they are Cabernet, Syrah, Zin or Chardonnay or PINK……appellation or single vineyard….young or old. These are absolutely terrific wines, well worth searching our for.

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Forman Wines 03-30-13

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Ric Forman is one of the long time, superstar winemakers out of the Napa Valley.  I believe his career has now spanned 6 decades.  I first tasted his work when he was making the wines at Sterling, starting in 1969.  I can tell you first hand his Cabernet based wines were standouts even then.

After a stint at Newton & many different consulting projects, Ric decide to make his own wines under his own label.

Being a highly revered winemaker in the Napa Valley, Ric finally chose his site atop a knoll, just below & contiguous with Howell Mountain.

Surrounded by solid rock, the lower ampitheater-like section looks to be a former river bed, FULL of white-gray gravel, which had been pushed up through the ages.  This at least partially explains why his Cabernets are so gravelly in character, rather than being another fruit bomb, which we commonly taste throughout the Valley.

I believe it was in the early 2000’s Ric dynamited the parcel up on top, which was made of hard, solid rock, & planted.  Judging by tasting through his various vintages, it seems he included that fruit in the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, as this wine was very different than 2004 & earlier.  I am sure one day, these 2 parcels will be bottled separately, as they result in very different wine profiles, as we have tasted out of barrel.

I have been fortunate to taste many of the Forman Cabernets over the years–young & old.  They are undoubtedly some of the very best out of California!!!  I think it is amazing that where many of Ric’s peers have retired, fallen by the wayside or passed away, Ric is making better wines than ever, whether it is Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon.

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1996 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon

Just the other night, we tasted the 1996.  I bet most tasters in a blind tasting would have guessed this as older Bordeaux because of its VERY gravelly nose & Old World-like character!  We were all amazed at how this 1996 was still so surprisingly youthful, especially in its core.  Yes, it had the opulence & ripeness levels of California, when one really stopped & thought about it at some length, but was still very elegant, classy, stylish & superbly well balanced & textured.

I know all of the tasters were wow-ed, as was I.  This wine clearly reminded me why Ric Forman is one of the true iconic winemakers out of California!!!!!  AND deservedly so……

1995 Forman Cabernet Sauvignon


On yet another night, we tasted the 1995….AND it was absolutely SENSATIONAL!!! Just FULL of gravel, wet stone, graphite character….from smell to taste…….completely permeating thru the long finish. The wine was elegant, highly refined, impeccably balanced & so stunning. WOW!!!!!! Certainly one of the true highlight Californian Cabernets I have had.


Ric Forman

Categories : Photos, Wine Friends
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Fritz Haag 03-30-13

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Fritz Haag produces truly special wines, which combine power, breed & finesse with remarkable ethereal-ness, grandeur, amazing purity & impeccable balance.  I try to buy them every year I can, as it is always at the top of my list in particular his Brauneberger Juffer & Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr wines.





Here is what a friend wrote, which better explains their sites–“The classified, top locations of Brauneberger Juffer and Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr extend for about 2 km on the steep, left bank of the Mosel opposite the village of Brauneberg.  At present, the estate owns the largest and best portion of the Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenur. In addition, the estate also owns the best parts of the Brauneberger Juffer.  All sites are 100% Riesling.

The terroir is pure, south-facing slate with fine, weathered Devonian slate, which seems almost “greasy” and is constantly regenerated from below. The Juffer vineyard comprises approx. 32 ha and encloses the top location of Juffer Sonnenuhr with approx. 10.5 ha, which is situated around the rocks of the middle section. With a slope of up to 80% and gentle wave troughs in the vertical, a persistent microclimate develops here, which gives the wine its character. Here, on very fine slatey soil – sometimes deep, sometimes on slate rocks – only the Riesling grape grows, which gives the wine great mineral and unmistakable potential“.

At the helm of this illustrious, iconic estate for many years was Wlhelm Haag.  He has crafted some of the world’s most masterful, pedigreed wines.  In fact, over the 35 plus years of tasting wines, the 1976 Fritz Haag Gold Kapsule Auslese “Brauneberger Juffer” is without a doubt one of the most memorable wines I have ever had.

In short it was glorious!…a perfect wine if there ever was one for me.  Full of truly amazing, mesmerizing purity, pedigree & filigree from beginning to end & with the ability to keep opening up more & more with air time…. to the point of being endless.

I thank my best friends Nunzio & Joanne Alioto as well as German wine master Rudi Wiest  for sharing their bottles with me.  I was also fortunate to find this once relatively undiscovered gem in the most unusual places & sites to purchase.  I can, for example, clearly remember a day when Nunzio & I saw a few bottles for sale back in the late 1980’s at a cheese shop in Carmel, California just sitting on a barrel & the remainder in a nearby bin. Needless to say, we bought those.



2010 Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr Long Gold Kapsule Auslese

Today Wilhelm Haag’s son, Oliver runs the estate & from what we have tasted, Fritz Haag still reigns at the top, without skipping a beat, as was displayed by this wine.  The incredible intensity, concentration, filagree & structure of this wine seems so effortless, to the point of being mind boggling & magical.  Why can’t more producers do this?  It seemed, however, quite a shame to drink this so young.  We only opened it because one of the tasters had never had a Fritz Haag wine before, & this was the only one I had handy.  Despite the star studded line-up of wines opened on this particular night, this was without a doubt THE STAR……..BY FAR!  One just has to be patient & wait 30 years or so for it to blossom like the 1976 did.

2001 Fritz Haag Spatlese “Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr” MAGNUM

First of all, I must say, a Magnum of German Riesling is quite impressive to see. …..especially when it has the Fritz Haag name on it. This 11 year old Riesling was gorgeous & glorious. The apparent sweetness had begun to change to a more tactile creaminess on the palate. The minerality is again shining gloriously through with seamless-ness, surreal breed/pedigree & completeness from beginning to end & an utterly amazing long finish. I am always blown away at the wines from this iconic winemaking master & here is another example of why.

 1995 Fritz Haag Long Kapsule Auslese “Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr” 

For me, this was truly the wine of the night (white or red). Majestic, breathtaking, aristocratic. Remarkably, the apparent sweetness has greatly changed into a more tactile creaminess with the 17 years of bottle age….AND, the minerality & magnificent breed is absolutely sensational!!!!!! This is the kind of character, style & pedigree we all dream about sampling.  

A toast to one of the truly GREAT wine estates of the world AND one of the truly special families who work passionately, personally & lovingly to produce this liquid magic.Brauneberger-Juffer-vineyard1

Categories : Wine, Wines Revisted
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a blurb from Winophilia…..03-28-13

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Categories : Food and Wine, Wine
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Light, Delicious Red Wines 03-28-13

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What is currently in fashion, wine wise, is BIG, lavish, opulent, much more forward, red, bordering inkywines…..AND the media spends quite a bit of attention & copy in their publications accordingly.  If you think about it, that’s what really sells copy, after all, which is the real intent.

Even when we do winetastings at VINO, it is the “Big Red” tastings which draw the most attention & therefore attendance.

Well, as much time as we may spend ooohing & awe-ing over the 96 pointers, we need to spend even more time finding & featuring well made, interesting, lighter, much more delicious, food friendly styles of wines.  Here are 5.

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 Marcel Lapierre Raisins Gaulois

Marcel Lapierre was truly one of France’s iconic winemakers who changed the game.  We were greatly saddened by his passing.  Interestingly, Marcel’s wines were not really about fashion, but instead about using the old practices both in the vineyard & the winery.  It was no surprise that he moved into organic & biodynamic practices & harvesting at the last possible moment.  Still….he sought for his wines to be “devoured” & thereby looked for deliciousness in his wines, which surprised many, as his wines, at the same, got more & more interesting & provocative with bottle age.  Being the leader of the “Gang of Four” , his Morgon (Cru Beaujolais) is what he won his awards & incredible acclaim, which resulted in a cult like following.  His Raisins Gaulois bottling, however, is a style I believe he would serve at his dinner.  Often produced from younger vine/declassified Morgon with some AOC Beaujolais blended in, this well priced, ‘counVINO9 004try” styled red wine is all about deliciousness, food friendliness & gulpability!

 2011 Savary Bourgogne “Epineuils”

Domaine Savary is an estate based out of Mailigny, between Paris & Dijon, just north of Chablis.  They produce absolutely pure, riveting, mineral driven Chardonnay based white wines from Chablis, which are truly standout in their own way.   When I was growing up in this industry, I knew other grape varieties, such as Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir were also being grown in this northern Burgundian region, BUT nothing to really write home about.  Many say, because of Global Warming we are now seeing more & more red wines from places that were too marginal in the past like this.  This is Pinot Noir, light, lightly colored, wonderfully minerally & ethereal (because of the high percentage of Kimmeridgian limestone)….which is completely de-stemmed & then fermented in stainless steel. 

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 2008 Kunstler Pinot Noir Trocken

Gunter Kunstler is one of Germany’s true masters of DRY wines, as is showcased in his epic, dry Rieslings from the town of Hochheim (Rheingau) & its highly revered Cru vineyards of Stielweg, Kirchenstuck, Holle & Domdechaney.

As monumental as his Rieslings are, his Pinot Noir is also gaining much notoriety as well.  The 2008, for instance, comes from his Hochheim Reichestal vineyard, with its loose, sandy, loess soils.  Since his vines are older now, the roots have gone down to the deep, sandy-marl below, which seems to add depth, extract & vinosity to his Pinot & its perfume.  While this is not Cru Burgundy, it is a real pretty, lovely, interesting drink, which has a much wider window of opportunity for foods than most New World Pinot Noirs.

  2008 August Kesseler Spatburgunder Trocken VINO9 003

August Kesseler is also from Germany’s Rheingau region, but is based out of Assmannshausen, also doing some work in Lorch & Rudesheim.  His 2008 Pinot Noir (called Spatburgunder in Germany) is very different from Kunstler’s (more underlying savory & meaty nuances), without compromising loveliness, deliciousness & superb refinement.

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 2008 Schnaitmann Lemberger

The Schnaitmann Lemberger is yet another delicious, lighter bodied red wine out of Germany, BUT, this time out of Wurttemberg.  Lemberger is the grape variety (which is also referred to as Frankich in Austria).  Schnaitmann really came on the radar screen after having won the European Pinot Cup 2 years in a row & having been selected as 2007 “Newcomer of The Year” by Gault Millau.  While this 2008 has a real deliciousness, it seems more masculine than most Pinots with darker fruit character & exotic spice, earth & forest floor nuances.

Categories : New Discoveries, Red, Wine
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A Different perspective on Red Burgundy

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Burgundy is a specific, geographically delimited area of France.  It starts in the north with & around Chablis….heads south….to the Cote d’Or (further broken down to the Cote de Nuits & Cote de Beaune in the south)…..down to Cote Chalonnaise….the Maconnais….& finally Beaujolais….with some other, smaller ones in between.

For the most part, Chardonnay & Pinot Noir are the star grape varieties, which can produce something VERY special in the very finest pockets of the region’s Kimmeridgian limestone soils.

The resulting wines are really like no other.  Here is recent staff training we did to show our staff how different red Burgundies can be.

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 2011 Domaine Savary Bourgogne “Epineuil”

Here is a Burgundian Pinot Noir, grown in Kimmeridgian limestone soils up north, in the VERY cool growing confines near Chablis.  It wasn’t that long ago, good, interesting RED wines from this area were hard to come by.  Now, this by NO means, is Grand Cru in character or profile (nor is it intended to be), but is instead an absolutely delicious, remarkably light, pretty, VERY ethereal Pinot, ideal for Hawaii’s warm weather & local Island foods.

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 2010 Regis Bouvier Bourgogne “En Montre Cul”

Regis Bouvier is a small, essentially one man run Domaine.  One of his most popular wines is his “En Montre Cul”  bottling which comes from steep, more sandy hillsides near the city of Dijon.  Because of how fast this city has grown & expanded, once well respected vineyards have sadly been swallowed up in the name of progress & building.   Bouvier’s cuvee has a real satin quality to it (as opposed to the precise-ness of limestone driven wines)….sheer, highly refined & amazingly light & pretty.  Yes, this is one of our “go to wines” every year for pure enjoyment, gulpability AND great value.

2006 Lucien Boillot Gevrey Chambertin Premier Cr “Les Cherbaudes”

abbbbbb 003Gevrey Chambertin is one of the more northerly villages, as one heads south traveling the Cote d’Or & historically is said to produce very masculine Pinot Noir, which can be readily seen in the really impressive line-up of Grand Crus found within its boundaries.  Les Cherbaudes is a Premier Cru (which in my opinion is typically one of Boillot’s finest Premier Cru holdings).  It lies next to Chapelle Chambertin & across the road from Mazis Chambertin & Chambertin Clos de Beze…..all Grand Cru.  As old timers will say, this village is sitting on some pretty special soil.  Boillot is reputed to produce more traditional styled red Burgundy, which takes years of bottle age to open up & show its glory.  This 2006 has lots of stuffing & character, but is still young & closed.  My recommendation–be patient & wait before opening your cellared bottles of 2006.

 Pinot Tasting 003 2006 Robert Chevillon Nuits St Georges

From Gevrey Chambertin heading south, Nuits St Georges is one of the last villages of the Cote de Nuits before entering into the Cote de Beaune.  This is the home of Robert Chevillon, who happens to be one of our favorite Pinot Noir producers in the world!  Chevillon wines are always so impeccably balanced, refined & classy, eventhough they have a distinct rustic edge & underlying, sublime masculinity to their wines.  While 2006 did not receive rave reviews by the Press, I adore this wine’s purity & precision…AND I think with some bottle age, this will turn into a gloriously perfumed/ethereal, delicately nuanced Pinot which will remind some of us old timers, of the way it was…PRE-Parker!

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2008 Domaine Roulot Auxey Duresses Premier Cru

Auxey Duresses is a village located in the Cote de Beaune surrounded on three sides by the villages of St Romaine to the northwest, Monthelie to the northeast & Meursault to the east-south.  In the old days, their red wines were often sold off as Pommard or Volnay, which gives you an idea of its perceived quality & lukewarm reputation in the early days.  Still, because of its higher elevation & very chalky, limestone soils, eventhough the resulting red wines can be quite lean, hard & much lighter than those from the Cote de Nuits, they do offer real value for the dollar….AND actually GREAT VALUE in the hands of very skilled winemakers like Jean Marc Roulot.

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2006 A & P DeVillaine Mercurey “Les Montots”

 One of the world’s most famous figures of wine over the years is Aubert DeVillaine.  As Managing Director of Domaine de la Romanee Conti, he has led this iconic, world class winery into the various, new eras  & changing global markets without skipping  a beat.  While most would say he was lucky to inherit 50% of this illustrious Domaine, I say HE defined DRC….not the other way around….AND in the most challenging of times & on a HIGHLY scrutinized stage.  From all of this grandeur, it is so wonderful that he & his wife chose to make their home in the Cote Chalonnaise to the south.   In this region, the vein of Kimmeridgian limestone seemingly starts to peter out & one sees a myriad of different soils found in various pockets throughout the appellation.  He planted this parcel (within the Mercurey appellation) on limestone-clay soils  in 1974 using Nuits St Georges vine cuttings.  Light in color, here is yet another absolutely pretty, pure, honest, refined, nuanced, delicious Pinot of sheer elegance.

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  2009 Marcel Lapierre Morgon

We ended the tasting with a CRU Beaujolais, which is in the southern region of Burgundy.  Here the soil has changed from limestone to granite….& from Pinot Noir to Gamay Noir (which they have now genetically proven is a mutation of Pinot Noir).  We chose the Morgon from the iconic Marcel Lapierre, who has defined what true Beaujolais can be, through his wines. Using the practices of ole’ both viticulturally & in vinification, Lapierre produces wines which are provocative & delicious in their youth yet quite amazingly ageworthy.  I have had some old Lapierre Morgon & can vouch first hand how sensational they can be after significant bottle age.  For the tasters however,  the goal really was to show how VERY different a wine can be when grown in granitic soils (versus limestone)–much more intriguing, masculine & sultry in nature without compromising Burgundy’s innate lightness on the palate & pedigree.  I just wish I had an older Lapierre wine I could have shown as well.

Categories : Red, Wine
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As VINO regulars well know, our 2 favorite Chianti wines year in & year out are produced by Fontodi & Felsina Berardenga.  A few weeks ago we were treated to some of Fontodi’s wines, which finally came to the Islands (at least legally) after 30 years of trying.  The wines made the wait seem worth it.

We were also able to get tiny amounts of Felsina Berardenga wines a few years back. 

This iconic Chianti estate is located in the southeastern corner of Tuscany, on the edge bordering Colli Senesi.  Their estate is comprised of many parcels, all roughly between 320 to 450 meter elevation with a complex matrix of rocky quartz, calcareous alberese, sandstone & small pebbles soils.

The winemaking is under the supervision of superstar consultant Franco Bernabei, who unlike many of his peers looks to make worldly ITALIAN wine, instead of internationalized wines.

It was a HUGE surprise that at today’s Trade Wine-tasting, we were able to try TWO 1995 Chianti Classico Riservas from Felsina.

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 1995 Chianti Classico Riserva

A stunning, gorgeous, aristocratic Tuscan “Queen”.  Nuances of autumn leaves, sandal/cherry wood, dried cherries…..wonderful intensity…..harmonious, classy, seamless-ness & elegance AND fabulous purity & sophistication.  It is like drinking a wine at the perfect time of its life.

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   1995 Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia”

Rancia is a single vineyard, 6.25 hectares in size, 400 to 420 meters elevation.  This bottling is 100% Sangiovese (their own slections) aged for 17 months in 1 & 2 year old barrique.  We found this wine to be glorious with so many layers of complexities, character & pedigree.  For those wanting to taste a benchmark Chianti, here it is!!!!

Categories : Red, Wine, Wines Revisted
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New Releases 03-18-13

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What a fabulous winetasting we had this past Saturday on the Island of Maui.  Here were some of the highlights/new releases.

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 2010 Au Bon Climat Chardonnays

I have been a fan of Au Bon Climat wines for many, many years.  Owner/winemaker Jim Clendenen championed the Santa Barbara appellation & helped usher its wines on to the world stage.

His wines have always pushed the envelope & stylistically lied somewhere between California & Burgundy….AND in a much more elegant, refined, BALANCED manner.  It wasn’t that long ago when the Au Bon Climat wines were considered as “lacking”….. when to me his wines were about purity, refinement & balance.  I am so glad that today, the trends are changing & there are more & more winemakers who seek “In Pursuit of Balance”, which is what Clendenen & his wines have always been about!  Having said that, these two 2010’s are some of the VERY best Chardonnays I have ever had from this iconic winemaker & winery.  The 2010 Los Alamos Vineyard was where Au Bon Climat really started in 1982.  Of the 500 acres, this bottling comes from the wind pounded hilltop…. is barrel fermented (75% new oak), & sees 1 year sur lie.  It is really a pretty, classy, tasty & delicious, amazingly priced Chardonnay.  2010 “Nuits Blanches” is Au Bon Climat’s flagship Chardonnay….or as they say at their winery, the Grand Cru of their portfolio.  The 2010 is a monumental wine….WOW….which is produced from 56% Bien Nacido “K” Block (planted in 1973 on its own roots); & 44% Dijon clones (76 & 96) from Jim’s own Le Bon Climat vineyard across the river.  The wine spent 18 months in 100% new Francois Freres barrels.  Put this one away in the cellar for at least 14 years (The 2004, for instance is still a baby & needs considerable more time). 

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2011 Maestracci Rose “E Prove”

This DRY, masculine, hearty, rustic Rose comes from the rugged Island of Corsica, off the tip of southern France.  This winery, located in the granite soiled high elevation foothills of Monte Grossa, inland from Calvi, where the days are 100 degrees AND the sea winds  really cool the nights down into the 50’s/60’s.  The cepage is 50% each of two indigenious, RED grape varieties–Nieullucio & Sciaccarellu….direct pressed (no saignee here)….& fermented in stainless steel with NO ML.  This kind of full flavored PINK wine is well suited for more hearty, vegetable, braised foods.

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2011 Neyers Pinot Noir “Placida Vineyard”

As I have mentioned to my wine friends over the past 15 or so years, Neyers has been consistantly producing some of the VERY best wines out of California.  It started with the SENSATIONAL 1992 Merlot……then the GAME CHANGING 1993 Chardonnay….and now with new age winemaker Tadeo Bouchardt the winery is in FULL swing, churning out standout after standout.  Here is their latest adventure….Russian River Pinot Noir….Joseph Swan selection…done with 20% stems & aged in 40% new oak….at least technically.  For me, this is absolutely delicious, round, pretty, lovely, graceful, classy Pinot……which one glass of……will never be enough!!!



2010 Drew Family Pinot Noirs

Jason Drew is another one of those new age winemaking phenoms crafting SENSATIONAL wines year in & year out.  His wines epitomize loveliness & deliciousness.  The 2010 Pinot Noir “Talfryn & Calder” is a blend of 3 Anderson Valley bench vineyards– 48% Balo (clones 777 & 828); 12% Wiley (own rooted Pommard & 777) & 40% Valenti (667), 1400 feet elevation, 6 miles from the ocean.  1/3 wild yeast fermented, 30% whole cluster, 11 months in French oak (15% new).  309 cases produced…of this lovely, lovely Pinot!!!  The 2010 Pinot Noir “Weir Vineyard” (a scant 98 case production) comes from a steep southeast sloping vineyard right outside the Anderson Valley proper at 850 feet elevation.  I remember this vineyard was originally planted for Burt Williams (the iconic founding winemaker of his namesake Williams & Selyem winery).  The 15 acres is planted to 2A, Rochioli & old DRC selections.  The 2010 was wild yeast fermented, 30% stem inclusion & spent 11 months in French oak (25% new).  While the “Talfryn & Caulder” smells & tastes California, Weir in on the way to Burgundy in terms of earthy, rustic character & firmer structure, while still having deliciousness & balance.

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2010 Anthill Farms Syrah “Sonoma Coast”

This dynamic, winemaking trio & their wines are on fire right now.  The best way I can describe this wine is to say this is a Sonoma Coast Syrah crafted by a Pinot specialist.  The 2010 is a blend of Peters (877, Chapoutier, 470…& 3% Viognier) & Campbell Ranch (clone 877)….wild yeast fermented, 28 day fermentation..2/3’s whole cluster & then aged in OLD French oak.  It has lots of dark character & flavors….& is meaty, earthy, peppery, yet, very elegant, seamless, suave & classy.  Kudos, guys!!!!

Categories : New Releases, Wine
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Old Friends 03-10-13

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Local Grinds

From Emme’s Island Moments TV Special–“Local Grinds”

Chefs Russell Siu, Jean Marie Josselin, Alan Wong, Emme Tomimbang & Roy Yamaguchi

Renato Ratti (Barolo)

th[3]Nobu & Roy

                                                  Chefs Roy YamaCelestinoguchi & Nobu Matsuhisa

Chef Celestino Drago


chuck & VanAken

Chef Norman Van Aken



Richard Ha & Alan Wong

Superstar Farmer, Richard Ha & Chef Alan Wong



Fred & Larry

 Winemaker Fred Scherrer & Superstar Master Sommelier Larry Stone

WOPN group shot

 Gary Burk (Costa de Oro), Nunzio Alioto (Master Sommelier & my best friend), Justin Willett (Tyler/Lieu Dit); Chef DK Kodama, Rich Molino & James Ontiveros (Native9/Alta Maria/Autonom)



Categories : Photos, Wine Friends
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Roasted Dungeness Crab & Wine 03-10-13

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VINO Roasted Crab  So….what kind of white wine would we serve with VINO’s simply roasted dungeness crab?  (There is chile flakes & therefore some heat).


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 2010 Cantina Terlan Pinot Bianco

One amazing pairing is this dry, riveting, “bright eyed & bushy” tailed Pinot Bianco from hills of Italy’s Alto Adige.  These kinds of wonderfully aromatic white wines, especially those with such crip, refreshing acidity works wonders.

Terlano is a growers’ cooperative (founded in 1893) up in the alpine peaks of south Tyrol, which is the northernmost province of Italy.  The soil here is red porphyry (volcanic origin), rich in quartz & feldspar, with a topsoil of coarse silaceous stone & sand.

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2009 Fritz Haag Riesling “Estate”

One of the truly GREAT white wine producers of the world is Wilhelm Haag.  Fortunately for us who truly love this estate & its wines, as Wilhelm slowly eases out of the day to day production, it is now being taken over by his son Oliver.  We are excited from what we have seen & tasted so far.

Based in the village of Brauneberg along Germany’s Mosel River, Fritz Haag owns prized (& legendary) parcels in both Juffer & Juffer Sonnenuhr, along with smaller pieces in other vineyards.

Although it does not say on the bottle, this wine in taste I think lies somewhere between feinherb & halbtrocken in style.  This is further butressed in the wine with high levels of tartaric (ripe acidity) which more than keeps this wine alive & kicking on the palate……AND the wine’s innate uplifting & riveting minerality…….which serves as the perfect palate cleanser between each bite of crab.

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  2011 Virgona Salina Bianco

Here is yet another, intriguing wine pairing consideration.  This wonderfully perfumed/aromatic, crisp & fresh white wine comes from the Island of Salina, which lies somewhere between Sicily & the southern tip of Italy.

Interestingly, this wine has an innate salinity, both in smell & in taste which works well with the crab.  The stony, underbrush nuances work well with the green onion & cilantro garnishes.  Most importantly, though, the wine’s delicate, exotic aromatics helps squelch the dish’s slight heat from the chili flakes.

 I only wish there were white wines out there like this!


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