Archive for June, 2019

Our comrade in wine, maestro Keith, kindly hosted another BYOB winetasting at his home.  This tasting’s theme was Gamay Noir.  It was a Sunday night.  The tasting started around 8:30pm & the line-up was quite diverse & so interesting.

The first thing I would say tasters soon discovered was that not all Beaujolais are created the same.  Seems obvious, right?  But, I often hear people note, “yes, I would pair that dish with a Beaujolais“.  Tasting this line up, however, clearly showed how a wine produced from the same grape variety can differ, whether from site, soil, vintage growing conditions, harvest times, winemaker’s preference & execution & so many other factors.

Wines tasted–2015 Evening Land Gamay Noir “Seven Springs”; 2017 Dupeuble Beaujolais Rosé; 2017 Nicole Chanrion “”Perle de Gamay”; Jean Foillard Beaujolais Villages; 2016 Robert-Denogent Beaujolais Villages “Cuvée Jules Chauvet”; 2015 Julien Sunier “Wild Soul”; 2015 Anne Sophie Dubois Fleurie “Clepsydre”; 2015 Chignard Juliénas “Beauvernay”; 2016 Mommessin St Amour; 2015 Jean-Paul Brun “Domaine de Terres Dorées” St Amour; Ganevat “Cuvée Madelon Nature”; 2017 Nicole Chanrion Côte de Brouilly “Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes”; 2006 Nicole Chanrion Côte de Brouilly “Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes”; 2014 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly; 2017 Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon “Vieilles Vignes”; 2015 Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon “Vieilles Vignes”; 2009 Jean Foillard Morgon “3.14”.










The highlights for me included–

2017 Dupeuble Beaujolais Rosé–a very tasty, mineral laden, vivacious, perky roséBoy, has this estate greatly improved their pink wine over the past decade or so!  Quite the turnaround.  This family run estate has doing their thing for over 500 years.  Today, the vines are farmed organically & biodynamically.  Really ideal for the fast approaching Summer months.  Thank you Ann for sharing.  2017 Nicole Chanrion “”Perle de Gamay”–My first taste of this particular white wine.  Produced from .27HA of Gamay Noir (planted in the 1970’s)–fermented in stainless steel & aged for 10 months.  Tasters loved its wonderful purity, deliciousness & softness.  Its a very pretty, lighter, easy drinking white wine.  Thank you Chris for sharing.  2016 Robert-Denogent Beaujolais Villages “Cuvée Jules Chauvet”–Jean-Jacques Robert was the first of his family to create such a fanfare for their wines.  His, are many stellar, white wine bottlings from very special & unique, old vine parcels in the Mâconnais.  I would say, these old vine white wines are more in quality company with the Côte de Beaune Crus rather than with his neighbors.  A few years back, Robert leased a 1.14 hectare parcel (20 & 70 year old vines) from Benedicte Chauvet, niece of iconic, wine game changing Jules Chauvet.  This 2016 was delicious, intriguing, vinous, savory & really good.  One of the more popular wines of the evening among the tasters.  Thank you Ann for sharing.  Ganevat Vin de France “Cuvée Madelon Nature”–This was one of the wine highlights of the night.  Because of the extreme challenges they have recently been experiencing, Jean-François teamed up his sister Anne to create some very interesting Vin de France designated wines.  Cuvée Madelon Nature is 50 to 60% old vine, organically grown Gamay Noir from the Morgon cru & the remainder produced from indigenous vines from Jura.  This bottle was very compelling–vinous, savory, full of character with mojo & structure in its core.  Quite a group favorite.  Thank you Jacob for sharing.  Both the 2017 AND the 2006  Nicole Chanrion Côte de Brouilly “Domaine de la Voûte des Crozes” were served.  (Unfortunately, the 2006 was off.  It would have been nice to taste a set of wines, 11 years apart).  Chanrion owns & farms 6.5 hectares of vineyards in the lower part of the Côte de Brouilly.  She is a very driven, visionary, totally committed, true vigneron.  Her 2017 Côte de Brouilly has a dark, sinister, very savory nature which is nonetheless done with style, refinement & balance.  Although the 2006 bottle was corked, I fortunately had a different bottle a couple of weeks or so ago.  Tasting that bottle, I was amazed how the gunflinty, savory, musky, dead leaves character moved in the forefront & the fruit smells nearly non-existent.   Furthermore, on the palate the 2006 was way more rounded, seamless & harmonious.  I wondered, who says Beaujolais doesn’t get better with some age?  The 2014 Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly comes from vineyards higher in elevation up the Côte.  The granite is very black in color & one gets a more dark shade in the wine with spice, gunflint, a real savoriness & therefore a much more masculine wine style in comparison to the Chanrion bottlings.  Thank you Brent for sharing.  One of the other standout (pair) were the  2017 & 2015 Jean-Paul Thévenet Morgon “Vieilles Vignes”.  I thought BOTH wines were REALLY good.  Both had a wonderful transparency, a very compelling vinous, earth laden character with superb texture, seamlessness & class.  I was really quite surprised because previously I had found this domaine’s wines good, but normally underwhelming in comparison to the other “Gang of Four’s” wines.  2009 Jean Foillard Morgon “3.14”–I was so thankful someone brought this bottling AND one that had some bottle age at that.  Jean Foillard, over the years, has produced some of the real standout wines from the Beaujolais appellation.  His “3.14” is his crown jewel, produced from his 100 year old vines.  The 2009 is what I would refer to as a “suped up” version–a supercharger, complete with mag wheels.  It is gorgeous & quite decadent for a Beaujolais with real vinosity, generous amplitude & depth.  Thank you Keith for sharing.

As a side note, sadly, the 2015 Jean-Paul Brun “Domaine de Terres Dorées” St Amour for this night’s tasting was oxidized, probably heat stressed.  Thankfully a few days later, Matt allowed me to try some of his 2016 Jean-Paul Brun “Domaine de Terres Dorées” Côte de Brouilly.  I thought this wine was MUCH better & quite an interesting drink.  The wine was actually brought & tasted with a candidate in preparation for an upcoming blind tasting examination he will be doing.  Jean-Paul is not typically a proponent of carbonic maceration in his Beaujolais.  The taster continued– “this wine had class, vinosity & was really good winemaking“.  That’s a really fair assessment.  I think that was, after all, the point of the wine.

I would also like to add, that we also tasted on that day a 2017 Chignard Fleurie “Les Moriers”.  I thought this wine was wonderful–gorgeous fruit, vinosity, a savory core & absolutely delicious.  For me this is a Beaujolais “banker”.  Old vines of Fleurie designated vines which actually juts into the Moulin-a-Vent appellation, done carbonic & aged in old oak.  Just for fun, we then opened a bottle of the 2011 Chignard Fleurie “Les Moriers” to compare.  The obvious fruit had changed with bottle age.  The 2011 was now vehemently about savoriness, stones & vinosity.  The edges were rounded & the wine was so very harmonious & I thought superb.  It was like comparing a caterpillar & a butterfly, the difference was so incredible.  Who says Beaujolais doesn’t blossom with age?

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Italian Aromatic White Wines

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We have had a real fascination with aromatic wines which combine aromatics with minerality. They offer such dynamic, mesmerizing pairings with foods, on a very different level/dimension than other wines. This concept is much more than a trend. With the way fusion foods and cooking styles are changing in so many different directions, we have to continually search out and find appropriate wines for pairings. Aromatic white wines is a niche well worth checking out. The main challenge is finding GOOD ones. Yes, they are really surprisingly hard to come by. Here are four really worth trying which should show you what they can be. How often do opportunities like this come around!


2015 Château Feuillet Moscato Bianco “Valle D’Aosta”–A dry, quite masculine, sturdy “mountain grown” white wine, fragrant of stony soils and the Moscato grape variety. Yes, quite unique and mesmerizing.  “The vines sit in a very shallow sandy soil, but their feet wriggle into crevices in the solid granite bedrock. Any rain is quickly dried out by cleansing winds. And the vineyards are planted on an ancient riverbed, roughly 3000 feet in elevation, where over the millennia the Dora Baltea River has cut through the mountain, creating the current river valley and leaving behind mineral deposits that the wines happily lap up. The trump card, however, may be the exposition of the vineyards, which in combination with the chilly climate, high altitude, and drastic diurnal temperature shifts provides the magic charm sought by vignerons everywhere: extremely long hours of gentle sunlight”.

2015 Vignai da Duline Malvasia Istriana Chioma Integrale–Planted in limestone-red clay soils back in 1960. Wild yeast fermented, this wine is then aged for 7 to 8 months in 50% 11HL barrels (5 years old) & 50% in 2.5HL barrels (5 to 15 years old).  Kermit Lynch—“I found gold from those beautiful Friuli hills—finesse, touch, and class. Delicious AND interesting”.


2013 Kante Malvasia–Kante was an early proponent of “orange” wines, but today is in a “zone” of producing wines of great purity, precision and sophistication. Pure genius and a true vigneron. There is no doubt he is considered one of the true, contemporary winemaking stars of Italy. This wine remains on the lees for six months then aged for twelve months in OLD barrels.  “In this near-perfect combination of climate and terreno, Edi Kante produces wines that are poised, solid, fresh, and brimming with the character of both the chosen grape and the stark limestone soil of Carso at nearly 3000 feet in elevation”.


2016 Caravaglio Malvasia Bianco “Salina”–we poured this last wine BLIND.  As one taster surprisingly noted–this wine had a riper, more sundrenched mouthfeel.  Yet another noted, that this wine had a salinity to its taste (& smell).  This was the intent–to show how different an aromatic Italian white can be from a warmer growing area.  In this case the home turf is the island of Salina, which is located just north of Sicily.  This site is warmer & more sundrenched than the other 3 wines & therefore has a different mouthfeel.  In addition, this wine also has a salinity character both in the nose as well as on the palate.  Is it because the vineyards overlook the sea?  In any case. this wine would work best with a whole different set of dishes & styles of cooking.

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Fred Scherrer Wine Dinner
Tuesday June 4th, 2019 @ 6:00 p.m.


roasted fennel potato hash,  chive truffle butter

2015 Chardonnay “Scherrer Vineyard”





polenta, haricot verts,
Gouveia’s Portuguese sausage, thyme jus

2017 Scherrer Dry Rosé





Mari’s Garden arugula, currant tomatoes, Hamakua Ali’i mushrooms sautéed with pancetta, red wine vinaigrette and
local OK Farms sunny side up egg

2014 Scherrer Pinot Noir “Sonoma County”





(All natural without hormones, antibiotics, or steroids)
roasted root vegetables, foie gras peppercorn demi-glaze, fingerling potatoes

2015 Scherrer Cabernet Sauvignon “Alexander Valley”





vanilla cheesecake with Graham cracker crust, “Bananas Foster” topping, almond pralines, candied citrus zest and house made white chocolate ice cream

Kudos to Ivy Nagayama & her team at DK Steakhouse.  What a great showing!  And, thank you to Fred Scherrer for coming to share your wines & your expertise.



Another Look at What Syrah Can Be

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For our VINO tastings, in general, we try to show participants a glimpse of the whole world of wines, something beyond just California and the New World and to create opportunities, which both professionals and non-professionals would not normally have access to…this is one of those tastings.

Over the years, while growing up in this industry, I was always taught Syrah was one of the world’s top five “noble” grape varieties. It was capable of making truly memorable red wines with that offered something extra. Along the way, something got lost in the transition from the old days to today. I would say Australian renditions muddied the waters some because of their BIG, opulent, over blown, often over ripe bottlings. These certainly created quite the sensation and headline news at one time because of their all universe high scores from the major wine writers. Syrah, however, doesn’t have to be loud, bold or swashbuckling. I prefer those that are transparent, refined, sultry, gamey, earthy and full of soul. I am hoping this tasting of four examples, served BLIND, will help you better understand what I am trying to describe. Hopefully, then they will help create a benchmark or two of what Syrah wines can be. 

2017 Lionel Faury Syrah “Collines Rhodaniennes”— Faury fashions more classical, blue collar styled wines–earnest, traditionally grounded, masculine & forthright.  This “Collines Rhodaniennes” bottling comes from parcels on plateaus at higher elevations than St Joseph, granitic soils. 80% destemmed. 6 months in demi-muids (10 to 20 years old).

2016 Jean-Paul Jamet SyrahCollines Rhodaniennes–Finally, some Jamet Syrah is making its way to the Islands! This estate is certainly in the groove of producing top caliber Syrah.  While their Cote Rotie wines are certainly “trophy”-esque, we find superb value in their Collines Rhodaniennes bottling.  The 2016 is a blend of three parcels:– young-vine Côte Rôtie; mica schist terroir on a plateau next to the domaine and outside of the Côte Rôtie appellation AND the 3rd from a plateau above Condrieu. Grapes are 90% de-stemmed and aged 11 months in older barrique (10-20 years old).

2016 Betton Crozes Hermitage “Espiègle”–100% Syrah from La Roche de Glun—alluvial soils with large quartz stones. Crushed by foot, wild yeast fermentation. One year in six year old (white Burgundy) barrels and bottled unfiltered and unfined.  This is an example of a more contemporary styled, fruit forward Syrah to compare with the others.

2015 Kermit Lynch/Louis Barruol Crozes Hermitage “Tenay”–The Louis Barruol-Kermit Lynch collaboration is the combination of two world class talents.  Louis has the insight & right connections/network to search out interesting parcels of Syrah (really focusing on the Petite Serine vine), crafting the wine & then blending the resulting wines with super palate Kermit Lynch.  A blend of two barrels from the lieu dit of Tenay, 30 to 50 year old heirloom/heritage vines.  The Tenay parcel is located on an upper slope just north of hermitage.  We loved the extra dimensions the old vine Serine innately has.

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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What Carignane based wines can be

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Carignane can make very interesting, savory, tasty and wonderfully food friendly red wines and I am always on the look out for wines produced from this grape. When it is good, it can be smoking. Unfortunately, it can also produce very nonchalant renditions. Here is your chance to try FOUR tasty, really unique and interesting examples, each from a true vigneron of the region, just to show tasters what can be! To me a vigneron is a master of his craft who creates magic like few others can.  

2013 Neyers Carignan “Evangelho Vineyard” (California)–Undoubtedly one of our favorites out of California. These vines are around 139 years old age, own rooted, grown in predominately sand soils. Then foot stomped and done with Old World sensibilities. We are so thankful this old vine vineyard has not yet been ripped out or replanted.

2013 Domaine Neferis Selian Premier Cru “Reserve” (Tunisia)–we first tasted this wine at SommCon 2018 at a Carignane tasting conducted by  Geoff Labitzki MW & Brian Lynch.  I marveled at this wine because it was tasty, interesting, rustic, savory with a hearty personality & really delivering at a surprisingly reasonable price.  Tunisia is located in North Africa, across the Mediterranean from Italy and southern France. This is old vine Carignane, well worth checking out.  

2016 Les Milles Vignes Fitou “Denis Royal” (Southern France)–From one of the hottest winemakers in southern France, this cuvee is 80% (75 year old) Carignane 10% Grenache & 10% Mourvedre—such a spellbinding, old vine, wonderfully textured standout.  Their vineyards in the rugged terrain of Fitou is a composite of clay, limestone, marl & schist.  Furthermore, these sites are fiercely & relently pounded by the region’s infamous, ferocious Tramontagne wind, which just adds to the unforgiving growing conditions.  It is without a doubt work driven by passion.  The reins have been completely turned over to (daughter) Valérie Guerin, who in turned, along with her wines are currently one of the “wine darlings” of Paris wine scene.

2013 Domaine Vinci “Rafalot” (Southern France)–Absolutely wild, wooly, unabashed funkster, probably because of the extreme low, if at all, use of sulfur. The wine nonetheless moves me because it does have a good dose of soul, hidden amongst the funk.  Domaine Vinci is located in the heart of Roussillon–a hodge-podge of remote, non-contiguous parcels, totaling only about 6 hectares.  The “Rafalot” bottling comes from a parcel of 100 year Carignane vines grown in clay limestone.  The whole clusters are gently foot stomped with minimal, if any sulfur used during the winemaking process.  It is aged for 18 months in demi-muids & 12 year old barrels.  This is something very unique & different.

Categories : General, Red, Wine, Wine Thoughts
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