Archive for White

At VINO as regulars well know by now, we continually search to find really “good”, interesting wines from along the Mediterranean basin & from afar to bring home & offer our valued guests. Once in a while, we strike GOLD. Yup, this is one of those occasions. The Jackpot!!!!…featuring a quartet of Muscat based white wines. The Muscat grape is very widely planted throughout the world. There are many sub-varieties of this vine and they all produce very different takes, most of which can be quite forgettable. We are fortunate to sample Muscat based wines from around the world. Our task for this tasting was to find four which will show tasters what this grape variety can be, under the right circumstances. Yup, we think these four unforgettable wines are really worth tasting and experiencing. I am pretty jazzed about this one, as we are always looking for really good aromatic white wines, which can create a whole ‘nother dimension to wine & food pairings. Yes, this is yet another tasting that we hope will help affect change.

2015 Botani Moscatel Old Vines”–This is old vine (planted in1946, 1968 and 1975) Moscatel de Alejandría grown on the very steep, rocky (slate & quartz soiled) hillsides of Sierra de Málaga. Yes, yet another dry, aromatic white wine, done with a more masculine, virile touch. We love its uplifting, mesmerizing combination of lime blossom & stony nuances & its striking, dynamic mouthfeel.  “Botani Moscatel was chosen in 2016 by Robert Parker as one of the three best wines of the world with best value for money”.

 

2013 Zind-Humbrect Muscatundeniably the most celebrated Muscat producer in the entire appellation”.  Where the home turf of Alsace is a rather sleeping, relaxing countryside, it is also the home turf to Olivier Humbrecht one of the world’s larger than life superstar winemakers AND his extraordinary white wines. Yes, his wines have incredible concentration levels, but today, done with much more grace & civility than in his younger years. AND, they also have a clearer focus on terroir than amplification & sheer power. The 2013 Turkheim bottling featured fruit from mainly the alluvial Herrenweg vineyard.  It was also a vintage where the acidity levels were naturally higher & the resulting wine that much fresher on the palate.  Definitely a wine that will add interesting & different perspective to this tasting.

 

2014 Les Mille Vignes Muscat Sec–Hear ye, hear ye! Let us introduce you to the wine wizardry of New Age winemaking prodigy Valérie Guérin, the hottest wine phenom in France who has a cult like following for her wines. Her family’s domaine is located in Fitou down in southern France (an exclusively red wine appellation).  “The terroir is an amalgam of strong natural elements: clay, limestone, and schist soils; wild scrubland scented with thyme and lavender, and perhaps the most potent force of all, Tramontagne—a fierce wind that sometimes seems it will never stop blowing”.  She also produces a miniscule amount of white wine, though not labeled as Fitou, this is a most dazzling and unique white wine produced from the Muscat à petit grains. You will be entranced by how she masterfully combines the stoniness of the soils, character of the surrounding wild countryside with the exotic, profuse, mesmerizing perfume of the Muscat grape, as only she can do. I doubt you have ever had a wine like this before.

 

2018 Giovanni Montisci “Modestu”–To end this fabulous tasting, we finish with a VERY rare treat!…..a wine I would easily describe as “otherworldly”, it is so wonderfully unique & noteworthy. It really is the wine which made us jump on a plane for 32 hours of planes & airports to go see. PLUS, many hours of driving the radically, ever turning/winding, narrow roads just to actually get there. Montisci owns & works but 2 hectares of vines….in this case at least 60 years in age, grown in sandy-granite soils at roughly 2200 feet in elevation, in the remote mountains of central Sardegna. Yes, this is old vine Moscato vinified dry (or close to it, with a most interesting & unique, fleshy, viscous texture & lots of swag. It certainly caught my fancy. Thankfully, we were able to get ONE case & after a few of years of trying. No, it is not a fad wine. It is a real standout & redefines what this aromatic grape variety can be!

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May
19

Limestone & Chardonnay

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One of the world’s most famous soil and vine combinations is Chardonnay grown in limestone/calcareous soils. They usually create an incredibly dynamic synergy which creates oenological magic, in a way which creates something so unique and somewhat unrecognizable to most avid New World Chardonnay fans.  Yes, these are wines somehow much more about the soil the vines grow in, rather just flavors & nuances associated with the Chardonnay grape variety itself.  It is the caterpillar that has transformed into a gorgeous, breathtaking butterfly. Something you, after the fact, scratch your head in wonderment. Here are four terrific renditions to better show you what we mean. All four come from Burgundy, France, each with a different composition of limestone influenced soils AND each done by a different winemaker.  How often do opportunities like this come around?

2016 Henri Perrusset Macon Villages–We start off with a “country” style Chardonnay, produced by a father and son team. I say “country” style because of how unpretentious it thankfully is. NO fanfare, NO oak, NO foo-foo. Just downright delicious, earnest, food friendly and gulpable. A true standout in its category. I wish there were more wines made today with these kinds of values.

2014 Maison L’Envoye Bourgogne Blanc “Vieilles Vignes”–What a terrific discovery this 2014 has been. Produced from 45 to 50 year old vines, biodynamically raised down in the Maconnais. It is really a wine about limestone soils and old vines, rather than grape variety and winemaking. We absolutely love its purity, minerality and remarkable etherealness.

2014 Antoine Jobard Bourgogne Blanc–As many of this domaine’s neighbors would attest to, Jobard produces some of the very best Bourgogne Blanc and wines in all of Burgundy. The grapes, for this seemingly unassuming labeled white wine, are a blend of four parcels–Herbeaux, En l’Ormeau, La Monatine, and Sous la Velle—a total of 1.12 hectares. The wine is fermented and aged in barrel with lengthy lees contact–all is done in a very slow, continuous manner. Don’t be deceived by the label and nomenclature, this is a wine to behold, because of its fortitude, mojo, pedigree and vehement structure. Historically, the Jobard wines take a very long time to unwind and strut their stuff. Antoine carries his truly iconic father’s legacy forward, which we can readily see with this wine.

2015 Larue St. Aubin Premier Cru “Murgers des Dents de Chien”–St. Aubin is located just behind the Montrachet and Chevalier slope and just north of Chassagne Montrachet. Domaine Larue is one of the most revered out of St. Aubin and Burgundy, in general because their mastery of growing and masterfully making their Chardonnay based whites that “sing its limestone birth right”. The Premier Cru “Murgers des Dents de Chien” parcel is their showpiece and is but 1.12 hectares in size, planted in 1946, ‘64, ‘72, ‘90 & ‘97. It is barrel fermented and spends ten to twelve months on the lees. The resulting whites have mesmerizing purity/minerality with wonderful vinosity, innate and more “delicate” complexities which are quite stunning.

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Feb
09

A Quartet of Other German White Wines

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Of the top ten standout wines of all time to me, I would say at least four were German Rieslings. Each of these wines displayed such incredible pedigree, filagree and innate breed that was truly mesmerizing, captivating and memorable to me. Germany has produced some of the world’s finest riesling based wines and over the years, but was lucky if they produced two or three vintages out of every decade, that’s how marginal of a growing region it was.   What the German government decided to do then, was create vine crosses, which would ideally feature Riesling’s innate nobility, BUT would ripen earlier. The two most successful were Scheurebe and Müller-Thurgau, each named after the doctor that created them. Since 1988, these conditions have greatly changed because of global warming, we now essentially have a ripe vintage every year in Germany, so now Scheurebe and Müller-Thurgau are now shrinking in popularity and, therefore acreage planted. Over all of the years, both of these grape varieties and Silvaner were considered inferior to the all mighty Riesling and were more often used in less expensive, regional blends and planted mainly for cash flow. I would say there are four noteworthy renditions, which rise above the norm AND provide something unique and wonderfully food friendly. Here is your chance to better understand what these “ugly duckling” grape varieties are capable of. 

2016 Rudolf Fürst Müller-Thurgau “Pur Mineral”–Without a doubt the finest Müller-Thurgau in the world is grown and produced by Paul Fürst, a former “Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” in Franconia, Germany. Paul has .75 hectare planted in red sandstone soils of his home turf in Bürgstadt.   The wine perennially displays riveting purity and class with seamless flow and texture and a very sophisticated air to it. It is also wonderfully food friendly. They deftly show us what this grape variety can truly be.

 

2015 Hans Wirsching Silvaner DRY Erste Lage “Iphöfer Kalb”–Also from Franconia, Germany is the house of Hans Wirsching, a 14 generation run family winery, who is also a former “Gault Millau Winery of the Year”. We learned quite some time ago, while the Silvaner grape variety is certainly NOT of Grand Cru quality, it has a remarkable pliability which makes it work magic with a wide range of foods. Well, this is one of the very finest examples of what this grape variety can be. FYI—the Erste Lage designation is Germany’s attempt at establishing a Grand Cru/Premier Cru hierarchy.

 

2014 Hans Wirsching Scheurebe Kabinett DRY “Iphöfer”–For me, it should get a 100 point score for how incredibly food friendly it is and quietly so.   This comes from another truly iconic estate and this for me, is their crown jewel. It is not because it has Grand Cru potential, but much more about how incredibly tasty and wonderfully food friendly it typically is. I really think this wine should be on most top end restaurants’ winelist for that very reason.

 

2017 Müller-Catoir Scheurebe DRY–This is the same Scheurebe grape variety BUT ramped up a few notches. Müller-Catoir is regarded as one of the top German wine estates for at least two decades. While they get high praise and accolades for their Riesling bottlings, they also have been considered the master of the Scheurebe grape variety for some time. I remember eating at Emeril’s Restaurant in New Orleans and being served Müller-Catoir Scheurebe Spätlese by their wine director blind paired with a duck course. It had the exotic fruit and spiciness of gewurztraminer but much more civilized, earth driven and focused. The pairing proved to be one of the most memorable of all time for me. Fast forwarding to today, here is a DRY version from 2017, exotically aromatic and lots of potential with contemporary fusion fowl, foie gras and meat dishes. At least, it is an opportunity to taste this seldomly seen discovery.

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Feb
01

A Quartet of Pinot Blanc

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What is Pinot Blanc? Most avid wine scholars would say it is a mutation of Pinot Noir. Others would disagree. I looked it up and here is an excerpt–“the white-berried mutation of Pinot, part of the vast family of vaguely Burgundian vines. The main characteristic of wines made from Pinot Blanc is a certain roundness of flavour, verging on apparent sweetness sometimes because the acidity is relatively low. They are gentler rather than demandingly appealing, having even fewer distinguishing marks than Chardonnay and generally rather less body”.

Over the years, rarely have I encountered a Pinot Blanc which really caught my attention. Having said that, here are four really worth checking out. Their success certainly has something to do with soils, climate, terroir AND the respective, respectful champion who made it happen. Yes, wines like this just don’t happen. It really takes a champion.

2016 Wolfberger Pinot Blanc–Here is an example of the softer, prettier side of what Pinot Blanc can be, from Alsace, France and a family who has been at their craft for over 100 years.

 

2017 Cantina Terlan Pinot Bianco “Tradition”–This is a Pinot Bianco much more about minerality than the grape itself. When we opened VINO, this was a wine we just had to have on the list. Cantina Terlan is from the Alto Adige, located at high elevations in northeast Italy. The soil is rocky with a myriad of soil types because of glacerial movement and erosion over the years.

 

2014 Fürst Weissburgunder “Pur Mineral”–This a VERY pure, effortlessly light, VERY sophisticated, mineral driven example of what this grape can be. The grapes from vines grown in limestone/gravel soils of Volkacher Karthäuser in Germany and crafted by the “2003 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year”.

 

2014 Guillemot Savigny- lès-Beaune “Dessus Les Gollardes”–A very unique white wine from Burgundy, France, made from 70% 55 year old vine Pinot Blanc & 30% Chardonnay from vines grown in the limestone, clay, gravel soils. ½ fermented in stainless steel and ½ in old demi-muids, then aged for 15 months in old demi muids.

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Jan
24

A Quartet of Austrian Grüner Veltliner

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What is Grüner Veltliner? It is a top echelon grape variety that is capable of producing world-class white wine and most famously grown and produced in Austria.   We really don’t see too many on the local retail store shelves or on winelists of top restaurants here. Still, when one travels the world and big cities such as New York, top renditions are certainly included and often highlighted on their wine lists. As one top wine writer noted in her blog…

“Today, no self-respecting restaurant wine list, whether in New York or Hong Kong, can afford to be without at least one example of this, Austria’s signature white wine grape. I would submit that this is only partly because of Grüner Veltliner’s undoubted inherent character and quality. Another reason Grüner Veltliner has impinged on the consciousness of the wine world recently is that the quality of all Austrian wines has become so excitingly and consistently high that no fine wine enthusiast can afford to ignore them”.

This is your chance to taste and experience what all of the hoop-la is all about first hand.

In general Grüner Veltliner produces very refreshing, tangy wines with a certain white pepper, dill, even gherkin character. The wines are spicy and interesting and in general this is because of the grape’s own intrinsic qualities because the great majority of them, unlike Chardonnays, see no new oak. They are generally fermented in stainless steel and aged either in tanks or very old, large casks”.

Having said all of that, here are four really worth checking out. Their success certainly has something to do with soils, climate, terroir AND the respective, respectful champion who made it happen. Yes, wines like this just don’t happen. It really takes a champion.

 

2016 Nigl Grüner Veltliner “Freiheit”“Weingut Nigl is tucked deep in the Krems Valley. Martin Nigl’s Freheit is sourced from 4 different vineyards in the hills above the city of Krems. The soils here are primarily löss and the temperature is moderated by its steep elevation. The name Freiheit means “freedom” and is believed to be some of the first privately owned vineyard land in the valley not controlled by the Church or a feudal estate. Fermentation and elevage occur in stainless steel and is bottled at night when the cellars of the coolest has Martin feels this helps preserve the freshness of the wines”.

 

2017 Bründlmayer Grüner Veltliner “Kamptal Terrassen”–One of the most revered wineries out of Austria. “Wine & Spirits Magazine–“the best Austrian winemaker of the last 25 years—says it all. ,” Willi Bründlmayer farms 75 hectares of an impressive collection of grand cru vineyards around Langenlois. Some of the most geologically diverse terroirs in Europe are here, in the heart of the Kamptal. The Danube and Kamp rivers and the wooded hills of the Waldviertel forest create a climate with large diurnal temperature swings, essential to a long growing season. These rocky, terraced vineyards are not the steep, jagged terraces of the Kremstal or the Wachau; these are larger wider terraces, each creating its own micro climate”.

 

 

 

2010 Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner Federspiel–Another of the most revered wine houses in Austria and actually one of the oldest wine estates in Austria, whose history goes back almost 2000 years to the Roman empire. Their wines epitomize the steep, rocky hillsides of the Wachau. Biodynamically farmed and obsessively fawned over to produce. “In some ways this gentle wonder is the essence of Nikolaihof”. – Terry Theise

 

2013 Hirsch Grüner Veltliner “Niederösterreich“Among my Kamptal producers, ‘Hannes Hirsch is the one with the least fixed identity. Or perhaps his identity is not to have an identity, his wine style is not to have a “style” and he doesn’t wish to be pigeonholed. He falls somewhere in the nexus among Bründlmayer’s and Gobelsburg’s glossy gleam and Hiedler’s juicy sensuality, but there’s no point you can affix him to. I suspect he likes it that way, as my friend is the best kind of lone wolf and contrarian.” writes Terry Theise”.

 

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Until quite recently, the Malvasia grape variety was reputed as the most widely planted white grape in the world. That’s so interesting, as how many eye catching ones have you recalled ever running across? We, at VINO, are and have been intrigued at finding really good ones, as they can work such unique magic and dynamics when paired with the right kind of foods. Yes, it can be quite the experience, which is why we keep searching and will keep on. Here are four that will show you what this much maligned grape variety is capable of. I think these are wines you will remember for a long time, if you attend this tasting. They are that unique.

2014 Palmina Malvasia “Larner Vineyard”–This was one of the first compelling Malvasia driven white wine bottlings we have had out of California, although a much earlier vintage. The grapes come from the highly revered Larner Vineyard located in the Ballard Lane niche of the Santa Barbara wine country and if my memory serves me correctly, I recall there were only two or so rows of this vine planted there. We love this wine’s wonderfully exotic, mesmerizing perfume done with such purity, minerality, seamlessness and uplifting personality. It beckons Mediterranean inspired seafood and vegetable dishes.

 

2017 Birichino Malvasia Bianca “Pétulant Naturel”–As far as I know, this is only the 2nd commercial vintage of this wonderful discovery produced from Monterey grown Malvasia grapes and fermented dry. They add more unfermented juice to the wine causing a refermentation. This is a very unusual take off on an ancient sparkling wine method, which some say pre-dates Champagne. This wine is meant to be enjoyed, especially well chilled–a thirstquencher, completely refreshing fizzy, food friendly quaffer, not some serious trophy wine.

 

 

2016 Caravaglio Malvasia Secco “Salina”–We just wanted to show tasters a completely different slant on what this grape variety can be. This one is grown on the island of Salina, located just north of Sicily. The soils are mostly volcanic in origin, so the wine has a strong sense of stoniness. The vineyards gaze upon the sea, it is so close, which I would say is partially why the finished wine has salinity…..all with the lime blossom and crazy aromatic perfume of the Malvasia grape variety in its core. There are only eight or nine producers of wine on this small island. This family has been doing their thing for over 500 years.

 

2015 Vignai da Duline Malvasia Istriana “Chroma Integral–One of the most profound renditions of this grape variety and grown high up in the hills of Friuli, by an uber-naturally minded couple. Yes, they live au naturale as a lifestyle. This is the most intriguing of their highly sought after, though very limited wine portfolio. AND in 2015 they hit the sweet spot, I am a believer!   Here is your chance to try it.

 

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I was really quite taken by this Spanish white wine because of how different it is from those done in stainless steel with NO malolactic fermentation, resulting in pure, fresh, riveting white wines so commonly seen in the marketplace, especially in the Albariño/Rías Baixas category.  Furthermore, it is also thankfully vey different from other renditions which seek more ripeness levels/longer hang time, BUT are often  quite alcoholic with a bitterness to the finish. Yes, this rendition is thankfully & respectfully very different from the “pack”, on either side.  We love its innate minerality, sublime texture/viscosity, salinity & “quiet” vinosity.  I liked it more & more after each taste, to the point where I thought it was a true standout!  Yes, a whole ‘nother level on what Spanish Albariño (or any other white wine) could be.

Atalier is a project between winemaking phenom Raúl Pérez & his long time friend/collaborator Rodri Méndez of the Forjas del Salnés estate in the Val do Salnés subzone (which is generally regarded as the ancestral Spanish home to Albariño).  Rodri, for this project, garnered grapes from 3 different parcels, each in predominately sandy soils & each less than 1 kilometer from the sea.  These ancient, ungrafted, pre-phylloxera (150 to 160 years old) vines are heirloom treasures & provide the true character & soul of this wine.

A consideration when trying to better understand this wine is how it came to be.  Many Albariño (& white wine grape varieties in general) producers, harvest early (to retain acidity & what they say/think is “minerality” & result in lower alcohol levels in the finished wine).   Unlike their counterparts of the appellation, these grapes are left on the vines for up to 2 to 3 weeks longer, depending on the weather, giving them much more hang time & physiological development without any raisining or over ripeness.  This allows the grapes to have less malic acidity to deal with, gives the juice more complexity, weight & viscosity, while still finishing at roughly around 13% alcohol naturally.

Secondly, in many other cases, a wine’s freshness & refreshingness can be maintained/maximized by long, cool fermentations, especially in stainless steel tanks.  Think about how many fresh, exuberant, vivacious white wines are on the store shelves today.  (Absolutely nothing wrong with that by the way.)

Raúl Pérez, in comparison, ferments & ages this wine in large, neutral oak foudres, which in my opinion, frames the wine & gives it more texture, roundness & mouthfeel amongst other sought after attributes….WITHOUT the wine being oaky to the smell or taste.

While many others do similar approaches, somehow, there is a special magic to this wine, one I find so compelling.  It really is an example of what can be–physiological maturity, minerality, vinosity, balance, texture, character all at roughly 13 degrees alcohol.  It is one of those wines that makes me think of what it possible & hopefully others will be inspired too & use it as a springboard moving forward.

Furthermore, I was also really amazed after tasting it, & seeing the price tag, which I find even more utterly remarkable!  Bravo!!!!!

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Oct
06

Sandy soils

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My fascination with how sandy soils can affect a wine is continually growing.

Yesterday we tasted 2 white wines side by side, which created even more questions & discussions about this topic.  While I completely understand & embrace there is never just one answer to any question or topic of discussion, tasting these 2 wines did provide an additional perspective on the subject.

The 2 wines tasted were both from the Cheverny area of France’s Loire Valley & a small family owned producer named Domaine du Salvard. 

Domaine du Salvard has been a working domaine since 1898, through five hardworking generations of the Delaille family. Today, all forty-two hectares of vineyards are farmed by the capable brother team of Emmanuel and Thierry Delaille, with help from their father Gilbert. To our delight, they have carried on the traditions established by their ancestors, producing a true, classic Cheverny that is both simple and elegant. The Delaille brothers have focused their attention on growing fresh, lively Sauvignon Blanc, deeply rooted in the sand, clay, and limestone plains of northeastern Touraine“.

“Until finally achieving A.O.C. status in 1993, Cheverny was widely regarded as one of the best V.D.Q.S. (Vin de Qualité Superieur) of the Loire.  Iconic French (& now Italian) wine importer, Kermit Lynch started importing their wines into the U.S. with the 1992 vintage.  I believe I have been following & buying the wines since, because of the tremendous value (quality for dollar) that their wines innately offer.

In the early stages of understanding this wine, I recall Kermit noting that this Sauvignon Blanc was grown in more Vouvray like soils than those commonly found in Loire’s Central Vineyards (Sancerre, Pouilly Fume, Quincy, Reuilly & Menetou Salon).  I thought, how curious.  Vouvray excels with Chenin Blanc & Sauvignon Blanc excels in the Central Vineyards?

I have since more completely shown that the Central Vineyards is a collision of many different soil types–gravel, marl,/flint, limestone, sandstone, clay & sand, just to name a few, & every vineyard seems to have a different combination.  Salvard’s Cheverny parcels, in comparison, is predominately an interplay of varying percentages of sand, clay & limestone, so is quite different in character from those of the Central Vineyards.

Today, Domaine du Salvard produces at least 2 different Sauvignon Blanc based white wines which are available in the U.S. through importer Kermit Lynch–Vin de Pays du Val de Loire Sauvignon Blanc “Unique” AND a Cheverny Blanc.  These were the 2 bottlings we tried yesterday.

The 2017 Salvard Vin de Pays du Val de Loire Sauvignon Blanc “Unique”–is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, 22 year old vines grown in clay-sand soils & at a lower price point.  (In fact, a truly SENSATIONAL VALUE price point).  It was faintly colored.  (If one glanced quickly, they might have thought it was a glass of water.)  The nose, however, contrastingly just explodes out of the glass–obviously though delicately minerally with a little “green” thing going on in the backdrop.  It was wonderfully dry, pure & remarkably light & ethereal on the palate.  I found it to be deliciously compelling & wonderfully gulpable because of its weightlessness, airiness & softer, more pliable structure.  Then when I looked at the price tag, I was blown away at how cheap it was.  (I guess having a name like it has does not exude images of grandeur or trophy mindedness).  In any case, I’ll still take value every time.

The 2018 Salvard Cheverny , by comparison, is Sauvignon Blanc with up to 15% Chardonnay permitted to be blended in & is grown in chalk, limestone, sand soils.  It too, is light colored & the nose is even more striking in perfume with the mineral scents more assertive, more rocky & more profound.  Yes, this wine, even in the taste was more obviously character driven, but still with acidity & a finish much more gentle & rounder than one normally gets from other cool climate renditions such as those from New Zealand.  The VERY reasonable price tag also makes this is no brainer for wine lovers to run to the store & buy all that you can, it is such a terrific value!

Just to be clear, I can’t really say for certain that sand was the difference maker between these 2 wines, I can only speculate.

And, I am also reminded of what I have experienced with the 2015 Sucette Grenache, very old vines grown in very dominately sandy soils down in Vine Vale, Australia……the legendary Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines of Château Rayas of France’s southern Rhone Valley…….& even the differences that can be found with sand or more clay soil grown Frappato in Sicily’s Vittoria region.

Makes me appreciate & want to explore more the sand oriented vineyards of the California’s Santa Maria Valley, westside Santa Rita Hills, Contra Costa, Lodi, to name just a few; the Carignano del Sulcis appellation of southern Sardegna & even the more sandy vineyards near Dijon, just north of Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits.

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Oct
05

Not all Italian Wines are Created Equal

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The other night a guest in VINO, asked if I would recommend and serve a bottle of Italian white wine for their dinner and I had to think about it for some time.   Italy offers very diverse soils, vineyard aspects and micro climates from the north down to Sicily AND with each region having their own selection of indigenous vines. As you can imagine, this can create quite a comprehensive matrix of potential selections to choose from. So, to start you down the road of discovering and better understanding the diversity of Italian white wines, we will serve TWO sets of white wines—one from an island in south Italy just above Sicily and the other set from the high altitudes of the mountainous northeast corner of Italy. Yes, this will be quite the contrast AND quite the learning opportunity. 

Salina is part of the Aeolian Islands, just north of Sicily. As with Sicily, the climate is warm, which is thankfully cooled by the strong sea breezes. The soils are volcanic in origin and the sea very nearby, which influence the smell and taste of each wine significantly.

2017 Virgona Salina Bianco–Mostly produced from the Inzolia and Cataratto grape varieties (indigenous to Sicily).  I would also say, there is a dollop of Malvasia, too.  This rendition is really about minerality, salinity & more delicate aromatics. 

2016 Caravaglio Malvasia Secco “Salina Bianco”–This Salina Bianco is produced mainly from the Malvasia grape variety & showcases a much more aromatic, uplifting character, alongside the innate stoniness and salinity with a bitter almond finish.

 

Alto Adige is located in the northeast mountains of Italy, bordered by Switzerland and Austria, with Germany just north. There are all kinds of vineyard aspects/altitudes to be found within this winegrowing region, but the finest white wines seem to come from the heart of Bolzano. The high altitudes and crazy collection of volcanic and glacieral soils, which is then compounded by the wide diversity of different vines planted, potentially create a myriad of very different, dazzling, riveting white wines. 

2017 Cantina Terlan Pinot BiancoAlto Adige–An absolutely riveting, uplifting white wine, which provides an unforgettable wine experience. Once you have a sip, you will remember it forever.

2017 Valle Isarco Kerner “Eisacktal Südtirol–Kerner is a more aromatic grape variety which is a much more aromatic white wine, uplifting because of its perfume/minerality collaboration.

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Sep
06

Duroc Pork Tomahawk 09-05-19

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One of tonight’s VINO specials was a Duroc Pork Tomahawk, which everyone seemed to really love.

Earlier this afternoon, he & I were speaking about an upcoming dinner we will be doing in early November with Greek wines.   We spoke of flavor components that would pair with the selected wines.  He then tried a glass of Skouras Moschofilero & quietly went to work on creating a marinate for the pork tomahawk he intended to feature this evening.

VINO Chef Keith marinated the pork in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onions, dried oregano, fresh parsley, salt & pepper……& then grilled it with a dash of freshly squeezed lemon.  He then plated it with vegetable-harissa couscous, Kalamata olives, pepperoncinis & baby arugula lightly tossed with a lemon vinaigrette & fresh cracked pepper.  I thought it was excellent & exactly what we were looking for.

Along with this creation, we also offered the 2017 Skouras Moschofilero as a wine special tonight as well.  The wine’s innate, exotic aromatics totally connected with the oregano & harissa, the innate, elevated viscosity held its own to the pork & the very upbeat acidity blended in well & actually synergized with the fresh squeezed lemon & lemon vinaigrette.  All modesty aside, this really was a VERY interesting, quite memorable pairing.  Plus, it was a combination that most would not even consider.

For me, this is really a fun part of working in a restaurant.

Thanks Keith for the evening’s magical moment.

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