Archive for Wine Friends

Feb
05

Wine Speak–Page 3 “Day One”

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It started when I was asked to do a ABC wine class for tasting room/restaurant servers in Paso Robles by Amanda Wittstrom Higgins at Ancient Peaks winery.  I said sure.  Can we do more?  In 2 weeks time we were able to assemble our “dream team” of TOP professionals who could foster interesting insight, wisdom & experiences dialogue that would hopefully create more questions & dialogue.  And, if we included some from  “outside” the region this would help nurture cammaderie & create collaboration.

The first panel–“New World Syrah” was held on January 9, 2018.

The premise for me is I believe Syrah is one of the world’s top 3 red grape varieties AND so grossly under appreciated.  I believe as a wine community, we need to help raise awareness. 

I remember the first time I had the Cote Rotie from Gentaz Dervieux & thinking how the hell can God & man grow & produce a wine like this…..something way beyond a grape variety & winemaking.  This beckons the question, how can we in the New World move forward with that thought.  NOT to be French, but to move the taster similarly to what I had experienced.

Amanda & I were hoping through collaboration & sharing of ideas, insight & experiences with vine material, growing & producing, this can help those of the New World to move forward with this varietal.  We then thought, who would be our dream team to inspire people.  While I originally thought one panel would be enough, we decided to change & do a few panels, so we could better foster more discussions….from different perspectives.

DAY ONE, Panel One–“New World Syrah” 

We settled on featuring 4 panelists for this one.    

–Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars (Washington state), who I think is one of the VERY best from that area right now. In addition, FYI, Greg was the former wine director for the Wolfgang Puck restaurants AND Emeril Lagasse restaurants.  He was also President of the Court of Master Sommeliers—America Chapter for 5 years.  His wines deftly display his knowledge, vast experience & passion. 

–Bruce Neyers of Neyers Vineyards is one of the wine yodas.  I have known Bruce for 40 or so years.  I first met Bruce back in the 1970’s when he ran Joseph Phelps—a time when they were one of the first to champion Syrah (& Riesling) in California AND created Insignia, a Cabernet blend, with the 1974 vintage.  In addition, in1992 he took over as National Sales Manager for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants (the premium game changing importer of true artisan standout French wines, such as Chave in Hermitage, Gentaz Dervieux & Robert Jasmin, Rene Rostaing in Cote Rotie & Clape, Verset & Allemand in Cornas amongst others).  Because he goes to France 3 to 4 times a year to visit them he clearly understands what they do & how, as he is REALLY good friends with each.  Bruce therefore because of 40+ years in California wine industry & 25 years dealing with the top producers of France is the ideal man to translate the New World & the Old World in these kinds of wines.

–Andy Peay of Peay Vineyards.  We asked Andy to come & give us insight into “cool” climate grown Syrah.  The Peay estate vineyard is located in the far northwestern corner of the Sonoma Coast, four miles from the ocean & reputed to be one of the coolest sites in the world for the Syrah grape variety.  It’s hard to imagine such an extreme, inhospitable site like theirs could ripen quality grapes every vintage. 

–Serge Carlei from Carlei Wines out of Victoria, Australia.  Although Serge is renown for Chardonnay & Pinot Noir, he also produces some very interesting Syrah in a much more civil style.  In addition, Serge has some very interesting views, insights & experiences on the whole organic/biodynamic grape growing subject.

 DAY ONE, Panel Two–“Cabernet Sauvignon”

Fortunately, all three of the panelists from the previous session also grow & produce superb Cabernet Sauvignon based wines too.  So, with this session we switch grape varieties, but continue the dialogue, sharing & insights to address this grape variety from different perspectives & 3 different parts of the New World.

Panelists:

–Serge Carlei  Carlei Wines (Victoria, Australia)

–Bruce Neyers Neyers Winery (Napa Valley, California)

–Greg Harrington of Gramercy Cellars (Walla Walla, Washington)

I loved how Bruce Neyers shared memories of the 70’s & 80’s in Napa Valley (& his work at Joseph Phelps); his work since 1992 with the producers from the Kermit Lynch portfolio & how he & his team continually evolve & transition because of his experiences.  And, Serge Carlei, for his “under the radar” region & very practical AND very personal organic/biodynamic regime in the vineyards & why.  And Greg Harrington for his wonderful insight into what’s happening in Washington state, wine production wise AND his incredible understanding & insights in a very practical, worldly manner.  Wow!  What a day!

 

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Feb
05

Wine Speak–Page 2 “The Place”

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I am most thankful for how the communities of Atascadero & Paso Robles just jumped in to support the Wine Speak event.  It really is what made this event & moment in time so special.  Thank you to ALL who made this happen in such a special way.  

The Carlton Hotel of Atascadero for being such an integral & gracious host.    

The town of Atascadero for letting us use their town hall, because of the size of attendance. 

 

 

The Pavillon

The people.  

 

The amazing event guru, Amanda Wittstrom Higgins & her Ancient Peaks team.

Again, thank you ALL!

 

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Feb
05

Wine Speak–Page 1 “The Mission”

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“Wine Speak” was a gathering of top wine professionals & wine lovers this past January (9, 10 & 11) in Paso Robles/Atascadero, California. 

Our goal was to create an opportunity for the wine community to get together for a time of sharing, learning and camaraderie.

By featuring a diverse range of topics, wines, regions and panelists, we wanted to kickstart dialogue and conversations that will move the central coast forward. Simply put, Wine Speak is all about sparking innovation through collaboration. 

We are so honored that leading wine authorities from near and far signed up to steer this inaugural event. We thank the many winemakers, sommeliers and hospitality professionals that attended AND the whole community of the area for just jumping in to create the collaborative magic I believe this event had.

Furthermore, this was ultimately a unique chance to make friends and build relationships in the name of our wine community.

Thank you to all who joined us.  

Sincerely,
Chuck Furuya (Co-Founder) and Amanda Wittstrom Higgins (Co-Founder Mainland)

 

 

 

 

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Jan
18

A Dinner with Fred Scherrer

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We are HUGE fans of Fred Scherrer & his wines!!!!!

Here is where it starts.

 

Here is the dinner we did with him on Friday, January 5th, 2018

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My wife Cheryle & I decided to go to Greece, which had been number one on her bucket list for quite some time.  We really didn’t have a strict, detailed itinerary planned other than 2 days in Athens, 6 days on the island of Crete & 3 days on the island of Santorini.  AND, we did not plan out any winery visits ahead of time.  We would just go, have fun & a relaxing time.  After 2 days in Athens & doing walking tours at such landmarks as the Acropolis, we left the big city & flew to Crete, specifically Chaniá first. 

In Chaniá, Salis Restaurant was THE eatery recommended to us, mainly because of how fresh their seafood is & the fact that it is open air & located right on the water & cooled by the fresh ocean breezes.  In addition, they have quite the reputation for their wine program.

We ended up going there to dine 3 times in 2 days.  The food was fresh & good, the winelist well selected & the sommelier–Grigorios Rappos–was quite the professional–very helpful, very knowledgeable and really charming &. gracious. Grigorios was kind enough to let us try a bunch of Greek wines.  If you are visiting Chaniá, this is definitely a restaurant well worth seeking out.

To top off our enjoyment at this restaurant, on the 3rd visit there we met Afshin Molavi (who happened to be the owner of Salis) & we hung out until 10:30pm (7 hours), during which time he popped open many, terrific wines to share.  Afshin is really passionate & knowledgeable about wine….& it was quite the night of talking story & just hanging out.  

He offered to take us to his winery the next morning–Manousakis.  I had no idea of what to expect & was blown away with the vision of this project & its remarkable vineyard.  Thank you to Afshin for sharing!

The Manousakis estate & its wines labeled under the Nostros label, is the dream of Theodore Manousakis (Afshin’s father-in-law), as a way to give back something to his homeland of Crete. 

I was in awe of how breathtaking this property is–25 hectares planted (half in 1993)–located in a rugged, vertically remote (up to roughly 2500 feet in elevation) wild, mountain side, wind pounded & with a breathtaking view.  The soils were extreme & iron rich planted on various nooks & crannies along the mountain contour.  The vines include–Syrah, Grenache, Roussanne, Mourvedre with Greek grapes varieties such as Romeiko, Vidiano & even a little Assyrtiko.  The rest of the wild countryside has all kinds of wild shrub, wild herbs–thyme, sage, rosemary, lavender & lots of bay leaf (a nuance very pronounced in their red wines).

The wines were very well made, had style, polish, wonderful texture & balance.  The 2 most interesting were the Mourvedre (1 hectare) & the Syrah (roughly 3 hectares).  Both were quite masculine with a warm & real savory generosity.

In short I was really blown away with the vineyard, the vision & passion behind their mission.  This is a winery to watch out for.

Thank you Afshin for sharing!  I am so thankful to have found a new, special wine friend on the other side of the world.  Congratulations on all of your amazing projects.  Wow.

CAMBIATA

I believe I first met Eric Laumann during his tenure at Bonny Doon.  He has since launched his own label, Cambiata.  For me, these are tasty, interesting wines at quite reasonable price points.  Here is what his website aptly says—

Cambiata is not your average California winery. We are a little more unconventional and iconoclastic than our compatriots around the Golden State. I launched Cambiata in 2002 after making wines for other people for nearly two decades. My intention was to make distinctive wines that go beyond the Franco triumvirate of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone. Today, we are vinifying a handful of compelling wines from some of California’s scarcest grape varieties including Albariño, Tannat and Dornfelder. We also make limited quantities of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands.”

From what I can best make out, Eric was working for a large vineyard owner down in Monterey, making wines for them under various labels, including Poppy.  Through his knowledge of the vineyards & his relationship with them, he was able to find some interesting parcels to work with AND even have some parcels planted for him. 

I first tasted his very own Cambiata wine, an Albariño, based upon a recommendation from fellow Master Sommelier, Peter Granoff, at his Ferry Plaza Wine merchant store some years back.  I was instantly quite taken by the wine because of its lovely, enticing aromatics & its vivacious, refreshing personality.

2015 Cambiata Albariño—the 2015 marks the 11th vintage of this wine.  Not only is it hard to find such wonderfully perfumed, well made, tasty, delicious & buoyant white wines, the very reasonable pricing makes it a no brainer to work with on our wines by the glass list.  If our staff can serve a Sauvignon Blanc, why can’t it instead be this wine?  Same kind of mouthfeel & crisp refreshingness, BUT with more wonderfully dynamic aromatics which create a much more interesting food pairing.  Wines like this are hard to come by, especially when one considers there were only 205 cases produced of the 2015.

2012 Cambiata Tannat—this was the second eye catching wine for me—a BIG, bold, provocative BLACK wine, which greatly overdelivers for the dollar.  I admit I was quite leery of tasting the 2004 back then.  My previous experience with the Tannat based red wines of southwest France was dark, gnarly, highly tannic, higher acidic red wines, which they said would finally open up after 20 to 30 years of cellar time.  Who could wait?  And, who would want to wait?  Well, the 2004 was in fact a bold, wildly rustic, full flavored beast, which was still however quite an interesting drink & far more interesting than many of the Zins & Petite Sirahs I was tasting at the time.  I loved its intriguing, provocative, soulful core!….& how well textured it actually was!  I haven’t unfortunately had the pleasure of having too many vintages since.  I happened to reach out to Eric a short time ago & he sent me some of his new releases to try.  OMG!!!!  Here is what he had to say about his 2012—

We planted our small Tannat vineyard in the rocky and well drained soils of the Santa Lucia Mountains. The cool growing conditions allows us to harvest grapes that are fully ripe yet still possessing an appropriate amount of food worthy acidity.  Tannat has an incredible ability to absorb oxygen. Technically speaking, the wine is full of procyanidin‐type tannins, which slow the aging and development process to a crawl. While today’s technology has given winemakers aggressive tools to introduce oxygen, at Cambiata we do it the old‐fashion way – extended barrel aging. For our 2012 Tannat it took 28 months before the wine had reached an appropriate balance between fruit and tannin that allowed us to put it into bottle.   We fermented the black juice in small open‐top fermenters and pumped over twice a day during fermentation. The wine was then pressed straight to 60 gallon barrels (100% French, 40% new). Our 2012 Tannat is incredibly deep and concentrated with notes of earth, blackberries, saddle leather and licorice. On the palate it is thick and chewy with bold, well‐integrated tannins. Big wine. Good wine”, well worth trying!!!!!!

Cambiata Pinot Noir Estate 2015—surprise, surprise, now a Pinot Noir!!  Why?  Because he is working with a very old vine parcel!  Yes, don’t expect any of that snazzy, flamboyant, showiness one associates with Dijon clones here.  This a very pretty, natural beauty who needs no make up to be what it is—pure, delicious, refined & quietly captivating.  At $16 a bottle, it is also quite a steal for the price that’s for sure!!!!  “The grapes come from the oldest Pinot Noir planting in Santa Lucia Highlands, planted 1973. Because the vineyard is old and somewhat virus led, the morphology is inconsistent and fairly unique vine to vine. I make the wine because it has the flavors I remember from Pinot’s we made in the 1980s. (1983 was my first professional harvest.) With everyone moving like lemmings to Dijon clones, this selection stands out as a viable option for a unique, old school experience. This is why I include the wine in the Cambiata portfolio. I always want people to drink different, I’m not out to follow the crowd and this selection gives us a moment to reflect and reevaluate what we’re doing with Pinot Noir and with our bulldozers.  It’s a hillside vineyard about halfway up the ridge. The grapes are certified sustainable (SIP) but I don’t put it on the label because as a one person operation I don’t have time to do everything. Soil is typical SLH decomposed granite. No stems. I do a bit of thermo maceration to enhance and stabilize color as well as denature esterases giving the wine (particularly when young) some carbonic macerated character.  Oak is 30% new, French/American 75/25. I think a bit of American oak adds complexity. I don’t leave it for too long in oak, about 5 months”.

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Over the many years I have been in the wine industry, one of the most influential wine “minds” I have run across is Bruce Neyers.  In short, he is a wine “yoda”.

When I first met Bruce, back in the late 1970’s, he was the GM of Joseph Phelps winery in the Napa Valley.  At that time, Phelps was truly one of the standout, vanguard wineries out of not only Napa Valley, but out of all of California.  In the 70’s they excelled with Riesling and were one of the first to really strive to grow and produce top quality Syrah.  They also launched a Cabernet based red wine blend they named “Insignia”, I believe in 1974, which helped kick start a whole new category of Californian red wines, later named as Meritage.  This category would allow Californian wineries to blend Bordeaux grape varieties, just as was commonly done in Bordeaux, France, in an effort to produce better and more worldly wines AND be called a Meritage rather than just a “Red Table Wine”.  (Meritage therefore then created  a new genre of Super red wines, which would later include Opus One and Dominus, just to name 2).

Yes, Bruce was a busy man and the Joseph Phelps winery was certainly a “game changer”.

The whole Joseph Phelps era of his career would have been enough of a legacy for most.

Bruce, on the other hand, had other ideas.  With the 1992 vintage, Bruce and Barbara Neyers bought the Neyers label from Joseph Phelps and launched their own namesake winery and label.  The first wine I tasted from this new project was the 1992 Neyers Merlot which I still consider one of the finest “game changing” red wines I have had out of the valley.

Subsequently, with the 1995 vintage, Neyers released a stellar & highly rated Chardonnay which was crafted by new winemaker Ehren Jordan, a disciple of superstar consultant Helen Turley (who also happened to be their winemaking consultant).

Also in 1992, Bruce became the National Sales Manager for Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants, one of the real pioneers and most world renown of importing true artisan, boutique wines from France (and now Italy) into the U.S..  Part of his responsibilities included taking 2 to 4 trips to France a year to visit wineries, their vineyards and taste wines from a who’s who list of French artisan winemaking superstars.  As one would imagine, this also really greatly encouraged Bruce out of his Napa Valley “box” and therefore grow and produce better and better wines each year because of what he saw and learned from his wine friends in France.

Today, because of his considerable experience—40 plus years in California and 25 years of working with the very best artisan producers of France, Neyers is therefore still producing some of the very best wines out of California, but under the watchful eye and mastery of winemaker Tadeo Borchardt.  I am still in awe of how they look to use fruit from heirloom/heritage grape vines,  farm sustainably so passionately and fervently and craft their wines without addition of yeast, nutrients or any enhancers, just as they do in their home garden AND just as they do at many of the standout domaines he works with in France.

Having said all of that and wishing I could or had said even more, I would also add, that considering staunch principles, beliefs and resulting high quality of wines done the ‘right” way, they are also way underpriced, especially when one considers what’s in the bottle.

On August 2, 2017, we did a dinner at VINO with Bruce & Barbara Neyers, which was one of the most memorable of all time for me personally.  It was just another chance for us to work with the wine “yoda”.  with each experience, I am always in awe with the additional knowledge & insight I walk away with.  Thank you to Bruce & Barbara for sharing.

 

Aug
13

MauiWines “Ulupalakua Ranch”

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One of the big, happening banners being waved in our local food and wine industry is to BUY LOCAL and rightfully so.  A profound question/statement once asked by a friend is how can we buy 10% more local food product.  He noted that could translate into 100’s of millions of dollars that stay in our State economy.  If we do it well, he further added this could also help move us towards self-sustainability as a State.  It could also help a farmer actually make it, financially.   All, good things.

Along those lines, I was recently reminded of yet another opportunity to support local.  The Kauai/Oahu Chapter of the Chaine des Rottiseurs (a very celebrated international food and wine society) held a dinner at VINO recently spearheaded by current Bailli, Kathryn Nicholson who requested to pair our foods with the wines from MauiWine, Ulupalakua Vineyards.  The group had apparently visited the Maui based winery & vineyard late last year & decided to do a dinner featuring their wines.

I was astounded to find that this Maui based winery has been around for 42 years!  And, despite the challenges of so many obstacles seemingly endlessly popping up, this winery has strongly and almost stubbornly persevered.  When one considers, for example, that their estate grown vines do not typically have a true dormancy period (sleep time in vine language) that would be like me staying up 24 hours a day.  I need sleep and rest and so do the vines.  That is just one of the countless challenges MauiWine and its unbelievable leader, Paula Hegele have worked through for 42 years!    

They currently have 6 grape varieties planted—Syrah, Malbec & Grenache for red wine & Viognier, Chenin Blanc & Gewürztraminer for white wine.

Each of the first five wines listed were featured at this group’s VINO dinner.  I watched in fascination as these connoisseurs ooo-ed, awed and nodded their heads in approval with each taste of wine.  We knew that if any of these wines were not good, we certainly would have heard about it & quickly.  Winery spokesperson, Joe Hegele was there to color commentate the experience & answer any & all questions.  I would readily say, people left appreciating & enjoying a whole new niche of wine they had not considered before.

A couple of weeks later, I and two other VINO teammates were on Maui visiting our newly opened, sister restaurant, Shearwater Tavern, in Kihei.  In the late morning, the Tavern chef team took us up to visit one of their core farms who supply their produce—Maui Nui Farms up in Kula.  It was a very insightful experience to say the least & we were clearly reminded how hard these farmers work & we walked away with an even greater respect for what & how they do & of course their product.

We decided to then go to Maui Wine because we were so close to the vineyard & winery.  

Their 23 acre vineyard of various parcels is located roughly at 1800 feet elevation with rich volcanic soils and an absolutely breathtaking, panoramic view of Maui’s southwest shore, including Molokini Island.  One gets a strong sense of place while visiting the vineyard that’s for sure. 

On this visit, the wine which caught the eye of VINO General Manager, Ann Taketa, was the very pretty, delicious, uplifting, pink sparkling wine, which they label as “Lokelani”.  The grapes come from California, but the wine is aged on the lees (part of the process of how the French make Champagne) and then bottled right there on their Ulupalakua site.  We were all so mesmerized looking through the green colored bottles and its floating lees, as it would slowly mature and increase its complexity during the lengthy process.

Ann was so impressed, she is looking to feature Lokelani by the glass at VINO, just as Managing Partner, Ivy Nagayama is looking to also do at both Sansei Waikiki and DK Steakhouse.

Yes, just another way to support local!  You can help too, by checking out their wines.

 

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Jul
31

2015 Nichon Semillon

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In all of these years of being in the wine industry, I cannot recall having a Semillon which really stood out.

Well that all changed when we tasted the 2015 Nichon Semillon a few weeks back.  This 100 case lot of 80% Semillon & 20% Sauvignon Blanc is yet another remarkable, totally ingenious wine project of superstar Master Sommelier Richard Betts.  The 60 plus, own rooted vines are planted in the deeply sandy soils of Vine Vale, within Australia’s Barossa Valley.  Betts writes to us–“way beyond organic or biodynamic to a style that we refer to as feral. Yup, it’s wild and full of wildlife (read: gigantic spiders, etc.) The vines are pruned, the grapes are picked and other than this, nothing else occurs – no plowing, no water, no pesticides, no herbicides, did we say no plowing?  whole cluster BASKET pressed…Barrel fermented in second use french barrique. (We get used chardonnay barrels and ferment and age in here.) then aged entirely in second use French oak for 12 months. There is NO malo, no fining, no filtration.  Did we say no plowing?

 

Here was yet another get together of “Young Sommeliers”–to taste wines, in this case from the Mediterranean basin, BLIND.  Again, not to identify anything except if it is a “good” wine or not…..how much would one pay for it….AND finally, what kinds of foods would you recommend for each.

In addition, the offerings of this category available locally have been noticeably getting less & less.  Yes, getting quite restrictive.  So, here was a chance to share one’s stash.  Here we go!

The first wine– 2016 Marquliani Sciaccarellu Rosé–is one of our favorite pink wines in the world!  We are always amazed at how effortlessly light, airy, ethereal, minerally it really is.  90% is the indigenous Sciaccarellu grape variety with 10% Syrah blended in, all grown in Costa Serena–on the east side of Corsica.  Direct pressed.  Importer Kermit Lynch says it best–“Drinking her rosé is like drinking a cloud. There’s an absolute weightlessness to it. Nothing is left on the palate but perfume.”   Our friend Keith, in comparison, brought 2015 Ameztoi Txakolina Rosé “Rubentis”–a very delicious, thirstquenching frothy Spanish pink-ster.  Thank you, Keith.  The 2015 is a blend of the indigenous 50% Hondarribi Beltza & 50% Hondarribi Zuri grape varieties.  While the wine is not as fresh, zesty & alive as having it there, it still is wonderfully delicious, uplifting & gulpable.  Keith asked me why I poured this wine after the much finer, more complex Marquiliani.  Because the Tzxakolina was lower in alcohol at 10.5 versus 12.5.

We poured the 2015 Gregoletto Verdiso “Colli Trevigiani” next as a reminder of the Italian white wines of old–dry, straw mat/goza smells, stoney, light to medium in body with a distinct bitter almond finish.  Today, the indigenous Verdiso grape variety is not seen too much any more on its own.  It is mainly relegated to a blender, which adds backbone & to shore up the middle to Prosecco bottlings.  Gregoletto is quite renown for his sui lieviti (on the lees) Prosecco bottlings (which appear clouded, somewhat murky) AND also for championing the Verdiso grape variety.  (Incidently, I just discovered that Gregoletto was once named “FIVI Winemaker of the Year”. quite the honor).

The 2015 Ciu Ciu Pecorino “Merlettaie” is a very masculine, brazen, virile, strong willed, macho white wine produced from the indigenous Pecorino grape variety which in this case is  grown on the sun baked, bare & steep slopes of the Piceno Apennines.   The intent for this flight was to show tasters white wines which have mojo as opposed to those from cooler, higher altitude vineyards up in the north, which can be much more minerally, ethereal & lighter in weight.  We followed that with the 2013 Clos Ste Magdeleine Cassis “Bel-Arme”.  Clos Ste Magdeleine is without a doubt one of the real iconic wine estates of southern France.  Its stellar white wine masterpiece, Cassis, will be forever the definitive pairing with regional Provencal bouillabaisse.  A few year back they started producing this deluxe cuvee–“Bel Arme”–65% Marsanne, 15% Clairette, 15% Ugni Blanc, 5% Bourboulenc–from the vines planted on the terraced slope, below the Cap Canaille.  The wine is fermented in concrete, sees malolactic & aged on its lees in concrete   Thank you Keith for sharing.    As VINO regulars well know, I am always on the look out for really “good” aromatic white wines.  They are just really hard to come by.  Our latest query is the 2014 Riofavara Moscato di Noto “Mizzica”–a fully dry, masculine, rugged white wine from the southern tip of Sicily & its chalk-limestone soils.  We have been checking out this wine for a bit, but have yet to pull the trigger.

The next wine–2014 Occhipinti Terre Sicilano “SP68”–60% Moscato di Alexandria, 40% Albanello, grown in red sand, chalk, limestone at nearly 1000 feet elevation.  Wild yeast fermented & aged for 6 months in concrete.  This is currently one of the most happening white wines out of Italy & Arianna Occhipinti is truly hotter than hot.  I liked the wine, especially its   savoriness & am really glad we had the chance to try it.  Once was enough.  The 2015 Sigalas Assyrtiko is a VERY masculine, hearty, sun drenched, savory white wine from the Greek island of Santorini.  If I closed my eyes, I would think this is actually a red wine because of its viscosity & abundant tannins.  I often wonder when tasting this wine if Assyrtiko, the name of the grape variety, was derived from the word assertive, because assertive, it really is!  The 2014 Coenobium is a very unique wine–a blend of Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Verdicchio–produced by consultant winemaker, Giampiero Bea.  These “orange” styled wines are NOT for everyone by any means.  This wine, however, has a huge following among the avant guard sommelier community in the big cities across the country.  Most other people, however, would not know what to make of its “oxidative quality that blankets layers of minerals, faint nuttiness & acidity“.  (I would add a real savoriness).  Definitely an acquired taste.  For me, just too much.

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