Archive for New Discoveries
Santorini is an ancient, very picturesque Greek island, with remarkable blue waters & breathtaking, panoramic views.
This is also the home of one of Greece’s finest white wines, which is produced from the indigenous Assyrtiko grape variety.
The vines are planted in volcanic soils, which have very little clay, resulting in wines of a distinct minerality. Furthermore, these soils, interestingly, are inhospitable to the phylloxera louse, which is why there is still a remarkable amount of VERY old vines scattered throughout the wild countryside.
Several years back, I met Mark Tarlov, a movie executive/producer, who was launching a very comprehensive new wine project named Evening Land Vineyards. I remember being flat out astounded at how complex & multi layered this project really was, after hearing Mark unfold the portfolio. The grapes were coming from incredible pedigreed parcels out on the true Sonoma Coast (having purchased the Occidental Vineyard of Kistler fame, located on iconic Taylor Lane); Oregon, where they exclusively leased the highly revered Seven Springs Vineyard; AND some unique & interesting parcels from Burgundy, France which superstar winemaker (& their consultant) Dominique Lafon sourced. In addition, they cleared the land & planted a “dream” vineyard way beyond the Santa Rita Hills appellation western most boundary on a hillside teaming with silaceous clay soils & completely naked to a relentless, pounding sea wind.
Last Night at DK Steakhouse, we did yet another winetasting with the staff. being it is Summer time, we decided to show them some really interesting white wines from around the Mediterranean basin. Here were some of the standouts.
20% Grenache Blanc, 20% Grenache Gris, 20% Macabeo, 30%Vermentino, 10% Roussanne
Our “friend” Grant brought a couple of interesting beers for us to sample the other night. He is a real beer “freek” & really has a passion for interesting beers from around the world. Here is what he graciously shared with us.
Ithaca Beer Co. Excelsior Brute
Here is a beer project, founded in 1998 whose goal was to feature “the spirit of the Finger Lakes” via beer rather than wine. On this night, we sampled their Brute, which is a Golden Sour Ale, produced from American barley, wheat, corn & local hops….fermented in oak (in this case for 4 months) with Brettanomyces & then finished with 3 different Champagne yeast.
Cheryle & I had a sampling of some interesting Greek wines at the starchefs.com’s “Chef’s Congress” last October, which really perked our interest. Finally…..some are making their way to our Islands. Here are a few of the highlights we tasted today.
2011 Domaine Douloufakis Dafnios
Produced exclusively from the Vidiano grape variety, which is organically farmed on the southern Isle of Crete at roughly 1800 feet elevation. Very pretty, well made, fascinating perfume, good balance with lots of life & vigor. This wine has an innate bitterness in the finish, so one needs to be thoughtful on what foods to pair with it.
What is currently in fashion, wine wise, is BIG, lavish, opulent, much more forward, red, bordering inkywines…..AND the media spends quite a bit of attention & copy in their publications accordingly. If you think about it, that’s what really sells copy, after all, which is the real intent.
Even when we do winetastings at VINO, it is the “Big Red” tastings which draw the most attention & therefore attendance.
Well, as much time as we may spend ooohing & awe-ing over the 96 pointers, we need to spend even more time finding & featuring well made, interesting, lighter, much more delicious, food friendly styles of wines. Here are 5.
As a consumer, it is so easy to get lost in the world of Burgundy wines. Unlike the Californian single vineyard model which most of today’s wine enthusiasts are more familar with, Burgundy can get quite confusing because of the extreme vineyard/parcel fragmentation over the centuries, mainly due to the country’s inheritance laws.
Even for the wine professional……..keeping track of who owns what….or who it is share cropped with/for (metayage)….or who the grapes were purchased from….is a daunting task. AND, with every generation of the family, this complex matrix inevitably changes.
There is NO easy, quick fix answer.
Because of our VINO restaurant, we are always searching for tasty, interesting, food friendly Mediterranean white wines which will work with our foods. Easier said than done. Here are 4 of our recent “finds”.
This is Vermentino grown in the rugged, unhospitable, remote terrain of Cap Corse on the isle of Corsica. Cap Corse, a largely isolated and thinly populated peninsula at the top of Corsica, sits like a finger pointing up at Genova, its former colonial ruler. The Genovese landed on the Cap in the 14th century and from there soon conquered the entire island. Little has changed at the domaine since it began, and it is still Michel who works the vines and makes the wines on his own as he has done for nearly six decades.
Why was I so excited about James being here & doing a tasting with him?
First of all, James works for several top caliber sites in the Central Coast of California….such as Bien Nacido, Solomon Hills, & French Camp vineyards, as well as overseeing his very own vineyard—Rancho Ontiveros. He is therefore a wealth of knowledge on what’s happening in vineyards & with clones & farming.
Secondly, James & his winemaking partner, Paul Wilkins, have THREE top caliber wine labels together….Alta Maria, Native9 & Autonom. Each is some of the very best out of California today.
Yesterday we had an unreal opportunity to try some VERY interesting beers at a tasting held at Pint & Jigger, hosted by Grant Curlow & Erin Suzuki. There was a wide range of fabulous beers the two of them had brought back from their trip to Colorado & the American Brew Fest. It was a REAL treat. Let me begin by saying…..I am by NO means a beer professional nor am I knowledgeable. Hopefully, though, my commentary on these beers will inspire you to go out & try some inetersting craft beers yourself. You will see it will open a whole new door for learning.