Archive for New Releases
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.
As VINO regulars well know, we have been HUGE fans of winemaker Van Williamson over the years & his tenure at Edmeades Winery. He made some superbly vinous, beasty, yet well textured, surprisingly balanced Zin behemoths which displayed the raw character of some interesting Old Vine Mendocino vineyards, such as Ciapusci, Zeni, Piffero & Eaglepoint Ranch, just to name a few. From 1994 to 2007, it really was an era of Van Williamson in all his glory.
What a fabulous winetasting we had this past Saturday on the Island of Maui. Here were some of the highlights/new releases.
2010 Au Bon Climat Chardonnays
I have been a fan of Au Bon Climat wines for many, many years. Owner/winemaker Jim Clendenen championed the Santa Barbara appellation & helped usher its wines on to the world stage.
The highly acclaimed Durell Vineyard was “an old cattle ranch at the base of the southwestern hills of Sonoma Valley, which stretches across 3 appellations–Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast & Carneros“. Ed Durell was the original owner (1979) but sold it to the Price family in 1998.
The vineyard is 30 miles away from the Pacific Ocean (west)…..10 miles from the northern reaches of San Francisco Bay (south)…..& to the north a 2400 mountain.
Geologically, the soils are rocky-clay-loam. Yes, this vineyard is well renown for its rocks….which many of its winemaking fans say creates a distinct stoniness in the resulting wine.
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.
In case you didn’t know, my partner DK & I have 8 restaurants here in Hawaii. 5 of them feature contemporary Asian foods. Because of that, we went out & created THREE German white wines which would better work with our foods. One is dry…..one is medium dry & the other slightly sweet, fruity & lower in alcohol. Each one is from a different winegrowing region & features a different star winemaker. For me, it really is like a “dream” team.
Bruce & Barbara Neyers purchased their 40 acre ConnValley vineyard in 1988. The estate ranges from 400 feet to 1000 feet elevation & has several soil profiles. They first planted Merlot in the basalt (compacted volcanic ash) soils. They first planted cabernet in 1996. The high slope parcel was only recently dynamited & then also planted to Cabernet (where in 2005 their AME bottling was produced from). The vineyard is farmed organically & sustainably. Their other superstar vineyard source, is Il Novillero.
2010 Chardonnay ‘El Novillero’ –
Because of our VINO restaurant, we are always on the look out for interesting, really good Italian wines. It is harder than you would think. Recently we had the opportunity to sample THREE really good Italian RED wines, which I thought you might be interested in.
The first is the 2006 Siro Pacenti Brunello di Montalcino. Without a doubt, Siro Pacenti is one of the standout producers of this highly revered Tuscan appellation, albeit very modern in his approach to winemaking. Thankfully, however, his Brunello di Montalcinos still taste Italian.
I am sure many avid wine aficionados have read alot about the 2009 Bordeaux wines. The main issue for me is the price. I am not saying they are not good wines, I am saying for the top echelon chateaux, I just can’t afford them.
In addition, when buying wines for a restaurant. especially nowadays, I am always looking instead for wines which over deliver for the dollar. To me…….Value will never be out of style. Please understand, I am NOT saying cheap……….VALUE.
Having said that, here are two Bordelais chateaux which fit the bill.
We were first introduced to Winemaking Partner Paul Wilkins by Chad Melville a few years back at the Hospice de Rhone wine festival in Paso Robles. Of all of the many, many wines being poured that day, Chad strongly suggested we taste Alta Maria’s Grenache & Syrah wines. He was right! They were awesome.
The bad news though was in that particular vintage (2004 I believe), Paul only produced 1 barrel (roughly 25 cases) of Grenache & 3 barrels (roughly 75 cases) of Syrah. Nonetheless we were thankfully able to get a tiny bit of each in addition to a few cass of their red wine blend as well as a little Pinot Noir. We were absolutely thrilled & thankful.