Archive for June, 2019


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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