Archive for New Discoveries

Feb
17

Big Island Brewhaus

Posted by: | Comments (0)

It is really amazing how craft beers have thankfully caught on in the local restaurant scene, which has created more demand for importers & distributors to bring in a growing array of quality minded beers.

Fortunately, a real standout- Big Island Brewhaus, is local. 

I first met brewmaster/owner Thomas Kerns when he helped open the Fish & Game Brewing Company in the late 1990’s over in Kahana, Maui.  In the mid 2000’s the awards & accolades really starting rolling in & deservedly so and over time, Tom & his beers really developed quite a following.  I was surprised to hear that Tom & his wife Jayne moved to Waimea over on the Big Island, first taking over a Mexican restaurant & finally starting to produce their craft beers again.  In several recent tastings, these beers are really worth searching out for.

Of his impressive portfolio of beers, here are the 3 we really liked.  They are all available only in the 22 ounce bottle. 

In addition to my comments, I have also included some more technical information (noted in Italics)  from Bill “The Beer Guy” Carl (Beer Specialist & Certified Cicerone©) who presented them to us this last go around.

GOLDEN SABBATH

The Golden Sabbath is a Strong Belgian style Golden Ale. Traditionally a Belgian Candy sugar is used in the beer to lighten the body while increasing the alcohol. Tom Kearns prefers to use Hawaiian raised honey instead of the candy sugar to increase the sugar content. The honey may not always be raised on the Big Island but is ALWAYS raised in Hawaii. A blend of Ohia/Lehua, Christmas berry, and Macadamia honey is used in the beer along with Cascade, German Hallertauer, and Czech Saaz hops”. 

This is a very tasty beer, with lots of fruity-spice-floral qualities with the honey nuances popping in and out.  I’ve never had a beer done in this style before, but I really liked how delicious it really is.  Makes you want to drink more and more with each sip.

OVERBOARD IPA

Overboard IPA is a two-time gold medal winner in the American IPA category (the most populous category) during the 2011 & 2013 US Open Beer Championships. The hops in the IPA are Centennial, Cascade, Simcoe, and Amarillo leading to 50 IBUs”.

We love how outgoing and showy this beer is.  The exotic/citrus fruit & spice aromas just seem to jump out of the glass.  It is definitely firm in structure has lots of vigor and personality with a rather brazen, whopping finish.  Definitely a winner!

WHITE MOUNTAIN PORTER

White Mountain Porter incorporates both hand toasted Hawaiian coconut and Big Island grown and roasted coffee from the award winning White Mountain Coffee Co on the Hamakua coast.  Both Cascade and Czech Saaz hops are used in this roasty, lightly sweet, 3 time award winner from the US Open Beer Championships”.

Where the previous two beers are for thirstquenching & gupability, this one makes you stop and think.  Sipping and relaxing.  There is, of course, lots of roasted coffee character with cacao & coconut nuances.  It is darkly colored and has a real soothing yet refreshing creaminess which the bubbles seem to accentuate.  I imagine enjoying this on the lanai on a cool evening, while relaxing and winding down.

Yes, these are very interesting, well made beers.  PLUS, it is another way to support local!!!!!

Categories : General, New Discoveries
Comments (0)
Jan
19

Newly arrived White Wines 01-12-14

Posted by: | Comments (0)

2012 Cambiata Albarino  a240

There has been a 2 to 3 year hiatus of us getting more of this wine.  In reality, the production is just too small, especially in vintages like 2010 & 2011.  Thankfully, we were able to get some 2012.  The grapes come from a wind pounded hillside down in Monterey & we love how winemaker Eric Laumann is able to craft such a pretty, enticing, lush, rounded, wonderfully aromatic, food friendly white wine.  We find these well executed, aromatic, refreshing white wines work their magic with contemporary fusion foods.

 CARLISLE

abbb7Owner/winemaker Mike Officer & his team are one of the TOP producers of Zinfandel out of California.  His are real formidable, highly acclaimed wines, that’s for sure & deservedly so.   He also produces a tiny bit of REALLY interesting white wine.

WHITE WINE “The Derivative” 2011—one of 2 white wines I know of that he produces.  66% Semillon (Monte Rosso—planted in 1886), which is fermented in oak;  24% Muscadelle (Pagani Ranch—planted in 1920) which fermented in stainless steel & 10% Palomino (from Saitone Ranch—118 year old vines), which is fermented in OLD oak, making it a total of 27% new oak.  This wine has vinosity & a unique viscosity.

DOMAINE D’ALLIANCE

Here is one of the rising star, new producers of Sauternes. It hasn’t been easy for this relatively, new start up winery. Making a world-class Sauternes takes a lot of sacrifice, especially when you only 7 hectares of vineyards & your last job was an Atlantic fisherman. Still, everyone understands the awe-inspiring brilliance this winery deftly displays through their wines. Their biggest challenge is the unpredictability of Mother Nature & from therefore then trying to manage your limited cash flow. An extreme case is the 2011 vintage. A couple of their small batches could noy qualify under the Sauternes appellation. What to do? Here is the brilliant, magic answer in two different “looks”.   abbb2

–2011 Domaine de L’Alliance “Declinaison”–A DRY, botrytis affected Semillon, aged in 350 liter barrels (new & 1 year old). TOTALLY exotic & interesting, way beyond anything you might have previously had.

2011 Domaine de L’Alliance “Sauve des Eaux”–Again botrytis affected grapes, but done in a Moelleux style & aged in 2 to 3 year old barrels. Just another REAL eye opener!!!!

Comments (0)
Jan
14

NEW ARRIVALS 01-11-14

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Here are some wines you might want to check out!

DOMAINE LA TOUR VIEILLE–Here is truly standout domaine from the Catalan region of southern France. 

The vibrant little seaport town of Collioure is nestled on the Mediterranean coast, just north of the Spanish border, in the area known as French Catalonia. In 1981, Vincent Cantié and Christine Campadieu took over two small, family-owned domaines where they had grown up, in Collioure and Banyuls, respectively. Together, they farm vineyards planted on steep, schist terraces overlooking the sea, where they are constantly exposed to the fierce and wily wind known as “La Tramontagne.” This constant wind not only ensures naturally low yields, but also keeps the grapes free of mildew with little need for pesticides or copper sulfate. Their vineyards are so steep that cultivation must be by hand, and extensive irrigation canals and walls (all made from the schist rock) are their only prevention against soil erosion, although there is almost no soil left to recede! These canals snake down the hillsides, separating the parcels. At harvest, the grapes are carried up and down the mountain in baskets. This method of farming, while extremely challenging, preserves the traditions of their ancestors“.

We are HUGE fans of their Collioure still RED wines as well as their Banyul fortified wines.

They have several single vineyard bottlings of Collioure, and several cuvées of Banyuls, from Christine’s family’s holdings. Banyuls, neighbor of Collioure, sits only two kilometers from the Spanish border; it is famous for its fortified wines. Tour Vieille also produces a wide range of practically extinct late harvest and extended elevage white and red wines, the ultimate meditation wines at the end of a meal. The heart, soul, and hard work that go into crafting these wines make their labor of love all the more delicious“.

Today, we tried THREE incredibly unique & interesting wines from this estate.

abbb1abbb

Rancio Sec “Cap de Creus”—produced from Grenache & Carignane (15% potential alcohol)—maceration & partly direct press.  Aged in old oak where it develops a rancio character.

–“Memoire d’Automnes”—Grenache Gris & Grenache Blanc—late harvest…at least 4 years in barrel—developing an oxidative/flor like character AND ending up as a dry wine with the rancio/flor nose.

Banyuls “Vin de Meditation”—Grenache-Carignane, aged in a solera system….the starter being 1952.  Quite an impressive wine!!!!

SPARKLING WINES

On this day, we tasted 2 very interesting & unique sparkling wines.  Both also offer stellar quality & tremendous value.  The challenge is learning how to sell them.  As I mentioned though, if one can sell a Californian or Italian bubbly on the floor, then why can’t one sell one of these, especially since the quality is so high?  Is it just because the names are not recognizable?  In my mind, quality should be first & foremost.

Punta Crena Spumante Brut—this one comes from Liguria, Italy.  The Ruffino family have been growing & producing their Punta Crena wines for over 500 years, mostly on the steep, rocky terraces of Liguria, a mere 1200 meters away from the Sea.  You would think, if their wines were not good, interesting, they would not have been able endure 500 years of selling their wines.  Who would buy them?  AND, if the wines were of low quality, they would have lost their exalted reputation along time ago, right?

These are definitely some of the most interesting indigenous wines from all of Italy.  This sparkler is produced from the Mataossu grape variety.  Where it once was so widely planted, the true Mataossu, today, is grown by only 1 family ….in 1 village (Varigotti).  They have several patches….this particular one is of red, rocky clay…a soil also found in Provence, France.  In both cases, it results In a very interesting terroir character. I don’t exactly know why the Ruffino decided to make this one bubbly….but that they did, via the method champenoise.  What a fabulous combination—a rare, indigenous grape variety, grown in challenging soils, held in place by the vines’ roots & the ancient,  hand built terraces & made bubbly.  The wine smells of the sea, the sun baked rocks & wild shrub surrounding the vineyard—delicious, refreshing, food friendly AND bubbly.  Definitely gets my vote for BEST VALUE!  abbb5

Nicole Chanrion Brut Effervescence—Here is yet another VERY unique sparkling wine.  This one comes from Beaujolais down in southern Bungundy. It is 100% Gamay Noir, also produced via method champenoise.  Within the Beaujolais appellation, over the centuries 10 villages were deemed as being Cru (the highest of quality).  Chanrion is located on the Cote de Brouilly, an abrupt volcanic mastiff jutting out in an otherwise series of gently rolling hills.  One of the two leading producers of this appellation is Nicole Chanrion.  To me in addition to brilliance in crafting wines, Nicole seems to have quite an artistic edge to her as well.  For me, then, it was no surprise when I was told of her now producing a sparkling wine.  The grapes are direct pressed, so there is no pink hue evident whatsoever.  I love how rounder & so delicious this bubbly really is.  Makes total sense given Nicole is making the wine.  Well worth checking out!!!!

 

Comments (0)
Jan
11

Interesting White Wines

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Another fabulous tasting get together at our VINO restaurant featuring 4 interesting 2012 white wines.

acc22012 Chateau Feuillett Petite Arvine

Petite Arvine is a highly regarded grape variety best showcased from the Valais region of Switzerland.  This 100% rendition hails from a very unique parcel located in Italy’s Valle d’Aosta.

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, 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”.

 2012 Manni Nössing Müller Thurgau “Sass Regais”  acc1

 “Manni Nössing is located in Alto Adige—or Südtirol of northeast Italy, specifically in the town of Bressanone (a.k.a. Brixen), less than twenty miles south of the Austrian border, amid the towering peaks of the Dolomites. Manni’s vineyards benefit from the mountain climate and steep slopes of glacial deposit that make up the Valle Isarco, the narrow valley to the northeast of Bolzano that is known for its fresh, aromatic whites.  His Müller Thurgau perfectly exemplifies the house style of precision, freshness, class, and minerality”.

 2012 Virgona Salina Bianco

Salina is a small Island located somewhere between Sicily & the southern tip of southern Italy. We were thrilled to get some of the 2011 & are even more excited with the fabulous 2012.  They say, this wine is produced from the Inzolia & Cataratto grape varieties, but I would wager there is also a smidgeon of Malvasia blended in as well.  Even more intriguing is how smells & character from the sun baked stones & wild shrub from the surrounding countryside find its way into the wine in addition to a saline edge which must come from the nearby ocean somehow.  

2012 Domaine Skouras Moschofilero

Here is an absolutely terrific Greek white wine produced from the Moschofilero grape variety, grown at between 1000 & 2000 feet elevation in a very unique volcanic soil.  Because the grape vine malady, phylloxera does NOT like this soil, these vines are still on its own roots.  In addition to wine’s wonderful perfume, it also has a very unique texture/viscosity, which is why it is being served last in  this line-up.

Categories : New Discoveries, White, Wine
Comments (0)
Dec
20

A Taste of 3 Austrian Wines

Posted by: | Comments (0)

Just the other day we tasted 3 interesting Austrian wines you might want to consider.  The first 2 come from Heidi Schrock.  The 10 acre estate vineyard is located in the village of Rust (Burgenland), which is roughly 5 miles from the Hungarian border.  The ampitheater of rolling, sandy, southfacing hillsides (with some clay & calcareous) near Lake Neusiedel traditionally result in rich, viscous wines. 

2012 Gelber Muskateller  w-1

This grape variety is believed to be the same as the Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains, & comprises 95%, of this wine, with the remaining 5% being Muscat Ottonel. Fermented in stainless, there is 3 grams per liter residual sugar, 5 total acidity & finished off at 13.5 alcohol.  As expected this wine has very perfumed, “crazy kine” fruity aromatics–lychee immediately comes to mind with lots of ripe pears & a distinct wet stone minerality.  The has lots of viscosity, bordering unctuous with a liveliness in the middle & finish.

2012 Rose Biscaya

I haven’t yet been able to find out what grape varieties make up this blend.  I was told there were 8?….which tells me there must be some white grapes included.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel & some old wood.  It has 3.8 grams per liter of residual sugar and 6.6 total acidity.  This is NOT a light ethereal PINK wine.  It, too, has viscosity with a distinct textural edge going on.  It however is NOT heavy at all….BUT I would look to pair with lighter meats, charcuterie & even stews.  W-2

2006 Wallner Namenlos

Namenlos means Nameless & comes fro the Sudburgenland, one of the smallest growing areas (500 hectares) & coolest.  They are known for their genuine, typical, earthy Blaufrankisch red wines, which are hearty, extroverted yet delicious.  This cuvee is produced from vines which average 40 years in age & aged in old oak.

Comments (0)
Nov
27

Assyrtiko from Greece

Posted by: | Comments (0)

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. 

There are only a few producers still making wines, but thankfully many still follow the traditional “koulara” style of training the vines, the only place in the world that I know of which does so.  san4san3OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 These “vine baskets” (kourloura) are purposely grown into this shape, hand woven as they grow, to survive the extreme growing conditions–surreal heat, strong, pounding winds & general lack of water.  Because there is no phylloxera, these OLD vines’ roots burrow deep in the volcanic/pumice soils in search of water & therefore pick up all kinds of trace elements, which just add to the resulting wines’ minerality.

Of the 3 main white grape varieties ( Assyrtiko, Athiri & Aidani), Assyrtiko is the standout with innate racy acidity & assertive & pronounced minerality. 

Of the Island’s 10 or so remaining wineries, the Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko is, by reputation, the star.  santo1

Domaine Sigalas was founded in 1991,  Their vineyards are considered the oldest continuously cultivated vineyards in the world (over 3000 years)“.

This wine is 100% Assyrtiko, grown volcanic, black lava & pumice soils which have some sand, very little clay & is VERY poor in any organic matter.  The fermentation is done in stainless steel at cool temperatures.

 Here is what I wrote after a recent tasting of the 2012. 

Took a while to open up aromatically. I had to keep coming back to try this wine over & over again to better understand it. It, however, was worth it as I find this to be a fascinating white wine. On the palate, it displayed a assertive-ness, bordering coarse-ness/rugged-ness, which reminded me of an Italian Nebbiolo vinified white, I had with the 1991 vintage–stony, masculine, red wine-ish character (viscosity & innate bitterness). When I came back to it after a bout with the red wine line-up, I enjoyed it more, as the bitterness was NOT as evident (after having the red wines). One would need to be quite specific in pairing foods with this fascinating wine, I believe.”

To that, I would add……..the more I have it, the more & more I like it.  It REALLY is tasty & unique.

Comments (0)
Jun
21

A New Oregon Pinot Noir Project

Posted by: | Comments (0)

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.

With at least 4 winemakers on payroll, ELV unveiled a very comprehensive list of various color coded labels, where each color designated a different level of quality on a Burgundian like model.  In short, this wine project was a game changer.

Roughly 2 years ago, Mark Tarlov left ELV  to venture on his own taking with him the true vision & passion of producing top echelon, game changing Pinot Noir, somewhere in the U.S..

It is no surprise than he has again resurfaced in Oregon, THIS time, however, teaming up with Mike Etzel Jr (his father of Beaux Freres) AND consultant/superstar French winemaker Louis-Michel Liger-Belair of Comtes Liger-Belair, one of Burgundy’s top estates.

This is really the ground level beginning of this wine project & at this point I  am not really sure of the hows & whens….BUT one thing is for sure, with so many roosters in the hen house, I am sure it will evolve! 

We had a chance to sit down with Mark Tarlov to “talk story” and to taste through 4 of his 2012’s.

This projects as it stands today, actually has TWO labels–Two Messengers…..& Chapter 24From my perspective, in the Burgundian model, Two Messages would be “Village” level wine….and Chapter 24 would be (Premier/Grand) Cru level.

I am told Louis Michel suggested to work with several vineyard sources to produce the Two Messengers’ wines & Mike Etzel Jr was the perfect guy to get the job done right.

zzzz1111 001 2012 Two Messengers Pinot Noir

This wine projects essentially works with 2 kinds of soils, sedimentary and volcanic.  This bottling in this vintage was 50/50 of each, done with whole berries & aged in 25% new oak. 

Like the rest of their wines, this 2012 was lovely & elegant with surprising buoyancy, minerality & ethereal-ness as it flowed along & down the palate.

Furthermore, unlike many of the New Age winemakers seeking to produce lower alcohol wines, this one finished at  13.5% yet still had lushness, superb texture & interesting-ness…..with a wonderful tension between fruit & acid.

(FYI–the 2011 is a different schtick…..it is a barrel selection from Patricia Green)

zzzz1111 002

 

2012 Two Messengers Pinot Noir “Flood” is produced from vineyards which have the sedimentary rock & provides a fabulous comparison to the other Pinots.

zzzz1111 003

 2012 Two Messengers Pinot Noir “Fire” is produced from vineyards which have volvanic based soils.  Each of these 3 pinots finished at 13.5 alcohol & saw 25% new oak.  Lovely Pinots!

 

 

 

zzzz1111 004

 2012 Chapter 24 Pinot Noir “Shea Vineyard” is the flagship wine.   The 2012 is from a hilltop of 777 from the iconic Shea Vineyard.  13 % alcohol, 75% new oak.  I thought this was an amazing wine!  A Game-changer!  I can’t wait to try a finished bottle!  Kudos to Mark Tarlov & his team.  This wine should be released next Spring, so keep an eye out for it.

Comments (0)

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.

2011 DOMAINE LA TOUR VIEILLE Collioure Blanc “Les Canadells”  zzzz1111 009

20% Grenache Blanc, 20% Grenache Gris, 20% Macabeo, 30%Vermentino, 10% Roussanne

The vibrant little seaport town of Collioure is nestled on the Mediterranean coast, just north of the Spanish border, in the area known as French Catalonia. In 1981, Vincent Cantié and Christine Campadieu took over two small, family-owned domaines where they had grown up, in Collioure and Banyuls, respectively. Together, they farm vineyards planted on steep, schist terraces overlooking the sea, where they are constantly exposed to the fierce and wily wind known as “La Tramontagne.” Their vineyards are so steep that cultivation must be by hand, and extensive irrigation canals and walls (all made from the schist rock) are their only prevention against soil erosion, although there is almost no soil left to recede! These canals snake down the hillsides, separating the parcels. At harvest, the grapes are carried up and down the mountain in baskets. This method of farming, while extremely challenging, preserves the traditions of their ancestors. The heart, soul, and hard work that go into crafting these wines make their labor of love all the more delicious“.

 2010 Masseria Falvo Bianco del Polino “Donna Filomena”

zzzz1111 008

73% Guarnaccia Bianco, 27% Traminer

A fabulous NEW discovery for us from Calabria in southern Italy–organically grown at 1200 feet elevation in the Polino National Park….in soils—clay, limestone & red earth.

 zzzz1111 007

2010 Cantina Valenti Etna Bianco “Enrico IV”

100% Carricante…. A fabulous NEW discovery for us from Sicily  The grapes for Valenti come from vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna, between 700 and 1000 metres above sea level.

 

zzzz1111 0102011 Punta Crena Mataossu “Vigneto Reine”

100% Mataossu…from 81 year old vines.  The 2011 just arrived to Hawaii….all 2 cases.

The tiny village of Varigotti sits on the Mediterranean, just a few rows of houses and restaurants on a pristine beach, with its back against steep hills. Climb up into the hills and you will discover neatly terraced vineyards on the slopes and in hidden clearings further up on the peaks. The Ruffino family has been tending these vineyards for over 500 years, hardly changing a thing as they pass their knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next. These unpretentious people are firmly rooted in Varigotti, and the wines they craft are infused with local tradition and character.  Ask Paolo if the family follows organic methods in the vineyards and he’ll laugh. We’re not “organic,” he says as if you had asked about some crazy new technology. We just do everything the same way our ancestors have for hundreds of years. They even build their stone terraces by hand, using the method established here three thousand years ago. The vineyards of Punta Crena (which is named for a large promontory jutting into the sea at the edge of the village) are all within 1200 meters of the water and enjoy sea breezes that help keep the grapes healthy and happy“.

2010 Gioielli Blanc “Cap Corse”  zzzz1111 012

100% Vermentino fermented in stainless steel & cement.

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.  Since the beginning he has paid little attention to the outside world, uninterested in the new technologies and fads that have afflicted so many other domaines. His wines have a timeless sense of place, much as the one who makes them, a wise, gentle, true artisan who lives for his métier. This is a dry, very masculine styled white wine, as sun drenched, stony & earthy as its surroundings with the vigor & fortitude it needed to withstand the challenges of its origins. One can smell & taste the sun baked rocks & the wild shrub & herbs which grow nearby Nothing shy or demure here! Still, it is remarkable how this wine can pair up with more hearty, rustic seafood preparations & fishes like swordfish. This is a very fascinating, unique wine, that’s for sure.

Comments (0)
May
23

A Pair of Interesting Beers

Posted by: | Comments (0)

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.

zbababa 004

 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.

I am not sure Sour beers are for everyone…..nor those using Brettanomyces for that matter.  The vivacious tartness is however quite refreshing & uplifting & the Brett adds real uniqueness & interesting-ness to the beer, just as one sees in some of the traditional, regional, rustic “country” wines of the Mediterranean basin.

I am not so sure I would buy such a beer again (I am admittedly a winer, not a full on beer enthusiast) ….BUT it sure was fun to try!

zbababa 005

Drie Fonteinen Schaerbeekse Kriek   (bottled 10/17/08)

Now here is a beer I would buy, eventhough it must be hard to get & I am sure pricey….it is that good!

Drie Fonteinen is located in Beersel, Belgium near Brussels, founded in 1887.  They specialize in some of the very finest, classic lambic beers.  Schaerbeekse Kriek is a sour & dry, Belgian lambic beer, spontaneously fermented with an increasingly rare (at least in terms of supply), wild, small, firm fleshed, sour Morello cherry (the best include the pits as well).

I REALLY liked this sour beer!  It had something extra besides fruitiness & the unique character.  Soul….would be a good way of putting it.  It additionally has compelling aromatics (where the fruit aromas are not overdone), great flow & balance on the palate & a long, long finish.  Certainly one of the best beers I’ve had!

Categories : General, New Discoveries
Comments (0)
May
13

Tasted some interesting Greek wines today

Posted by: | Comments (0)

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.

zzzzzzz 007

 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.

zzzzzzz 003 2012 Domaine Sigalas (Santorini) Assyrtiko

Took a while to open up aromatically.  I had to keep coming back to try this wine over & over again to better understand it.  It, however, was worth it as I find this to be a fascinating white wine.  On the palate, it displayed a assertive-ness, bordering coarse-ness/rugged-ness, which reminded me of an Italian Nebbiolo vinified white, I had with the 1991 vintage–stony, masculine, red wine-ish character (viscosity &  innate bitterness).  When I came back to it after a bout with the red wine line-up, I enjoyed it more, as the bitterness was NOT as evident (after having the red wines).  One would need to be quite specific in pairing foods with this fascinating wine, I believe.  I have since been told these are 60 plus year old vines grown in black lava, volcanic ash, pomice & sandy soils & fermented in stainless steel.

zzzzzzz 004

 2011 Domaine Douloufakis Malvasia “Femina”

Here is another really good wine from this domaine & the isle of Crete.  As one would expect from a Malvasia….yes…it is very aromatic & perfumed/bordering pine needle in nuance.  The wine has a wonderful roundness & surprisingly refinement & balance.  They apparently do some pre-fermentation skin contact for flavor (at cool temperatures) & some ageing in old oak.  One could have alot of fun with this wine & Mediterranean foods.

zzzzzzz 006 2009 Alexakis Winery Kotsifali-Syrah

Also from the isle of Crete, this is a rustic, sultry, deeply flavored, sumptuous, tannic blend of 60% Kotsifali & 40% Syrah….a blend of the old & the new.

zzzzzzz 001

 2009 Domaine Karydas Xinomavro Naoussa

I was quite intrigued by this very contemporary, more modern style of Naoussa.  It had a dark/sinister edge, quite masculine, musky & forest floor-y.  Still, I think this wine will have a surprisingly broader appeal, as the 16 months in French oak (30% new) tamed the innate rusticity some & framed it quite well from beginning to end.

 zzzzzzz 0022008 Domaine Skouras Synoro

Yes…this is VERY modern wine, to the point, I am not sure many tasters would guess this to be Greek in a blind tasting.  At the same time, it would have broad appeal for those weaning away from New World wines.  The blend is 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Merlot & 20% Xinomavro grown in rocky clay soils at roughly 2000 feet elevation.  The wine spends 13 months in French barrique…30% new & 4 months on fine lees.  A style similar in profile to what the Italians are doing with Super-Tuscans….BUT…at a fraction of the price.

Comments (0)

DK Restaurants