Archive for July, 2015


Iberian wine “finds”

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Here are some interesting wines we recently tasted.

0123Vinho Verde Branco–no frills packaging & finished with a screw cap.  VERY value driven wine from Portugal, which is certainly apropos for hot weather sipping.  PLUS, the price point is crazy good!  (I wonder how, considering the cost of the screw cap, label, bottle, box, shipping, tax, etc????  The wine is fresh, FIZZY, lower in alcohol (& therefore has residual sugar/sweetness), tasty &  VERY refreshing.  There is a star fruit pungency (later as it warmed up–an almost cactus/almost stagnant flower vase water smell)  with a lime zest edge.  Still, it over delivers for the dollar on the palate.  85% loureiro, 7.5 trajadura, 7.5% arinto.

Fulget Albarino0124I really thought the Albarino category was supposed to explode in popularity years ago.  I am still waiting.  I think at least part of the problem is the scarcity of really tasty, interesting options.  Over the years, there are in fact only 2 from Spain, which I buy.  I almost dread when someone today, asks me to taste an albarino.  Such was the case for this tasting.  Interestingly, I initially preferred a Portuguese alvarinho & another alvarinho blend, which preceeded this wine.  It has some of the perfume & minerality I typically hope for, but I initially found it hard & not too delicious with some bitterness in the finish.  After, however, tasting some red wines & coming back to this wine, I appreciated it more.  This is the one of 3 albarino’s from the house of Major I preferred.

129Rol de Coisas Antigas Bairrada Tinto–quite masculine, dusty, earthy, rustic with juicy, ripe fruit, good weight…..certainly much more intriguing & interesting than so many of the correct, rather soul-less wines we often run across.  35% baga, 25% castelao, 10% alfronchera, 10% tricadeira, 5% bastardo, 5% souzao, 10% tinta prinheira.

Conceito Bastardo130–surprisingly light in color, with wonderful perfume–floral, red fruit, earth, exotic spice, rustic edges, masculine & musky….yet surprisingly delicious & seamless on the palate.  100% Bastardo.

131Casa da Passarella Dao Tinto–such a pretty, intriguing nose & perfume.  Lots of red fruit with spice, earth, rusticity & musky.  Masculine yet suave, seamless with surprising refinement.  Quite a value!  20% tinto roriz, 40% touriga nacionale, 20% alfrocheira, 20% jaen (aged 8 months ijn French oak)

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A Tasting with Young Sommeliers

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This was yet another opportunity to get together with some of the Islands’ top, young sommeliers, for all to share insights, wines & experiences. It is always a fabulous time, to say the least.

2009 & 1999 Scherrer Zinfandel “Old & Mature Vines”1a141a13we started this blind tasting with a pair of Scherrer Zinfandels.  Why?  First of all, I was looking to reiterate right out of the gates, the concept of what a “good” wine is.  I think the Scherrer Zins are some of the VERY best out of California.  Furthermore, stylistically, they are very unique–much more elegant & suave (a style REALLY catching on right now…..tagging along the “In Pursuit of Balance” theme seen with Pinot Noir) without taking away from the vinosity & spice associated with this grape variety.  In addition, we chose to pour an old & a younger one….actually 10 years apart.  Quite a fascinating comparison.  As one taster pointed out, the 1999 had much more intricacy & I felt it also showed more vinosity.  In both cases the wines were stellar.

alex1Birichino Malvasia Bianca–with this wine, I just wanted to again reiterate to younger wine professionals the growing importance “aromatic” grape varieties can play on the “pairing with fusion foods” front.  This wine can work with an amazingly wide array of fusion foods.

2008 Au Bon Climat “Hildegard”a127here was another opportunity to take tasters out of their “comfort zone” & reiterate what a “good wine” could be.  It had mesmerizing minerality, wonderful intensity & concentration, flowed very evenly, seamlessly & completely on the palate & was not over oaked, bitter or alcoholic.  Furthermore, since many less experienced tasters are more familiar with New World wines (& their profiles), I thought it would be fun to show them a New World wine which was more Old World in profile & style.  Furthermore, this wine is only 13.5 degrees in alcohol, naturally, AND the generous amounts of new oak used in its winemaking, to me, is necessary to really frame it.  I think tasters were really shocked to see this was Californian.  Hopefully, this will be a spring board for tasters to imagine the possibilities.

2012 Dupeuble Beaujolais–This family has been at this for over 500 years!  And, while the “trophy” wines get the acclaim & accolades, I think it is at least equally important that we celebrate & appreciate authentic, typical, incredibly food friendly “country” styled wines like this.  I therefore believe we need to develop a separate rating scale for these kinds of wines with the criteria being–deliciousness, typicity, lightness, food friendliness & gulpability.  if that were the case this wine would be a 100 pointer!  Furthermore, I am hoping others will learn to relish the authencity, artisanal, more sustainable approach this family passionately delivers year after year.  I would hate to see these kinds wines on some “endangered” category of wines.

a1252012 Maxime Magnon “La Demarrante”–I poured this wine to remind all of the huge puka that exists between Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon.  It is wines like this that could deftly create a step ladder between the 2.  Maxime was born & raised in Burgundy.  Given how pricey the land is in his neck of the woods, however, he settled down in Corbieres of southern France & has chosen to work with patches of old vine Carignane instead.  Furthermore, this is a winery & winemaker/owner who truly champions sustainability both in the vineyard as well as the winery….to the point of being regarded as radical in his early days.  Having worked stints with Didier Barral in Faugeres & Jean Foillard in Morgon, one can readily see both influences in Magnon & his winemaking, which captures the rusticity of the remote, wild countryside where the vines grown, done with purity, deliciousness, food friendliness & gulpability.

2001 Vieux Telegraphe Chateauneuf-du-Pape “La Craua124–over the years, I have had both hits & misses with the Grenache grape variety.  Having said that, there are 2 wineries which perennially produce “tour de force” red wines, predominately Grenache.  Vieux Telegraphe is, for me, at the top of the list…..& therefore, this 2001 will provide yet another benchmark for other Grenache based red wines to be measured by.  Furthermore, here was an opportunity to remind tasters of that thought AND, at the same time, show yet another example of a wine which can help fill the void between Pinot & Cabernet.

2008 Follin-Arbelet Aloxe Cortona123it really is getting harder & harder to keep up with all of the new hot shots popping up in Burgundy.  Furthermore with the ever increasing price tag of top caliber red Burgundy, professional wine buyers also need to consider the quality versus price deliverance of each wine.  Here was, therefore, an opportunity to show tasters a more traditionally styled red Burgundy, which over delivers for the price tag.  Plus, while the 2008 vintage was only lukewarmly received, I love the purity, elegance & refinement of wines like this.

1996 Francois Jobard Blagny “La piece sous la bois”a131–Here was an opportunity to remind tasters how pure, more much feminine, ethereal & refined the Pinots from the Cote de Beaune can be……especially with some bottle age.  Francois Jobard produces very traditional styled Burgundies.  His son Antoine took over the domaine, I believe with the 2007 vintage.  Sadly, this Pinot parcel has been replanted with Chardonnay.  Yes, the end of an era.

a1262004 Cherisey Meursault Premier Cru “La Genellotte”–I wanted to again remind tasters of old style white Burgundy.  Cherisey in located in the hamlet of Blagny, up at a higher elevation between the villages of Meursault & Puligny Montrachet.  The grapes are therefore usually harvested 1 to 2 weeks later than the other, lower elevation vineyards of Meursault & Puligny Montrachet.  Furthermore, because of the higher percentage of marl to the limestone & the more traditional winemaking, the resulting wines are much more stony in character & more masculine in style.  Being 11 years in age, I was surprised how youthful this wine showed, but it certainly is quite a stand out!  I am so glad some things don’t change.

2006 Ramonet Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru “Ruchottes”a129–This was certainly done in a more flamboyant, en vogue style than the Cherisey & therefore attracted much more attention from the tasters.  Classy, seamless, refined, suave, sophisticated, it was really eye catching (despite all of the fanfare of 2006 & its challenges in this area).  Thank you to Sean for sharing this wine!

Categories : Wine, Wine Thoughts
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Dal Forno Romano & Quintarelli are the 2 iconic winemaking legends of Italy’s Veneto region, up in the northeast.  As I once read somewhere, they produce “monster” Amarone red wines, which are not only very hard to get, but they are also quite pricey.

Interestingly, both producers also produce small amounts of insanely unctuous dessert styled passito wines when the conditions are right, which are even harder to get!

1997 Dal Forno Romano Nettare  0402

While Dal Forno produces a RED passito wine, named Vigna Seré (produced from mainly Corvina with some Rondinella, Coatina & Oseleta blended in & then aged for 36 months in new barrique), which he refers to as his crowning jewel…every now & then he also produces a white passito from mainly Gargenega with smaller amounts of Turbiana & Trebbiano Toscano blended in & then aged in barrique for 30 to 40 months.  The 1997 is a decadently unctuous, thick elixir with all kinds of crazy, idiosyncratic nuances from white chocolate, vanilla bean creme brulee to marzipan, honey & beeswax.  It really is as decadent as can be, & still so amazingly youthful.  I cannot even begin to think what this wine will be like when it has a chance to resolve itself, not only in the residual sugar/sweetness front, but also what is preserved & hidden underneath, just waiting to emerge once the sweetness resolves.

2003 Quintarelli Amabile del Cerè  0401

The rarest of all the Quintarelli wines—the current vintage is 2003 and the previous vintage was the 1990. It is named after a lost barrel that was hidden under food stores and undiscovered during a Nazi raid of the property during WWII. The barrel was discovered years later and the wine had aged beautifully“.

Just as Dal Forno & Quintarelli go head to head with their Amarone & Valpolicella wines, the battle continues with their passito wines. Amabile del Cerè is also mainly Gargenega with some Trebbiano Toscano & a smidgeon of Sauvignon Bianco, Chardonnay & Saorin.  Typically, there is 30 to 40% noble rot & the wine spends 5 to 6 years in French oak.  Yes, this is another amazing, completely decadent, rich, unctuous white wine.

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