Archive for April, 2019

 

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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