Archive for White

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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Image result for weingut von buhl

Reichsrat von Buhl Winery

MONDAY, JULY 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m.

With the emergence of the Hawaii Regional Cuisine movement back in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s here in Hawaii, the local food scene greatly changed.  Furthermore with specific chefs like Roy Yamaguchi & Alan Wong (just to name 2) their foods created a very exciting, “out of the box”, dynamic fusion of Asian inspired with more classical European techniques & preparations.  As this was unfolding, Hawaii was truly the vanguard in pairing wines with more Asian influenced foods & German Riesling was a major component of the “revolution”.

It really was about understanding, appreciating & embracing that this style of cooking was VERY different from the richer, more savory recipes & approaches of classical fare.  Far more frequently, now, one encounters more saltiness.  (Hoisin, oyster sauce, sesame oil & soy sauce were overtly salty).  Far more frequently Euro-Asian foods had a fair amount of sweetness (hoisin, oyster sauce, sesame oil are sweet).  We also would encounter heat in dishes/recipes (from ginger, chili pepper, wasabi, curry & the like).

What these components clashed with in wines, was overt oakiness, high alcohol & bitterness (which were components that earlier had worked well with fat rich cream & butter sauces).  This was therefore a BIG change.  Would diners embrace such a big change?

Thirty or so years later, the sommelier community for the most part has swung in to better understanding & appreciating the needed change.  The general public, however, is slowly adjusting, but most still have a hankering for oak laden, smooth Chardonnay & ultra-ripe, opulent, deeply flavored Cabernet Sauvignon.   Furthermore, the popularity of these wines are fueled frequently & continuously by high ratings & accolades by the major media, so tasters think they must be good & collectible.  Even when they are offered at such exorbitant prices, the demand is still high & the waiting lists long.

We should also mention that while we look to the German wine category when pairing wines with Euro-Asian foods, NOT all German wines are created equal.  Each one should in fact be different based upon the vineyard of origin, the climate of that particular vintages & of course the skill of the winemaker.

Like so many other winegrowing/producing regions, there are vineyards in Germany which truly standout head & heels over others in terms of quality and/or having something truly special & unique.  There also seems to one winemaker who emerges in an appellation who is also head over heels above his peers in terms of an “out of the box” vision, mastery of skills & the passion & drive to make it all happen.

Reichsrat von Buhl is one of those historic, iconic estates that have quite an impressive stable of iconic vineyard holdings, today all organically farmed.  Located in the Pfalz region of Germany, Von Buhl is one of the serious minded wineries who helped usher Germany onto the world class wine stage…..AND has been doing so for over 150 years.  “Reichsrat von Buhl has belonged to the circle of the most prestigious wineries in Germany.  Since it was founded in 1849, Reichsrat von Buhl has made its wines in a terroir-dominated, timeless style that has never been oriented to fashion, but always to the grapes’ origins in the best soils of Deidesheimer and Forster“.  We are honored that Von Buhl winemaker Richard Grosche is coming to Hawaii to share his wines & his insights into each wine.

This night is a culinary orchestration by Managing Partner Ivy Nagayama of top level talent–winemaker Richard Grosche & a selection of Reichsrat von Buhl wines paired with the foods of Albert Balbas (Executive Chef DK Steakhouse); Masa Hattori (Corporate Sushi Chef, DK Restaurants); Cherie Pascal (Corporate Pastry Chef, DK Restaurants).

Here is the menu & pairings.

Appetizer (by Sansei Corporate Head Sushi Chef Masa Hattori) 

NEW ZEALAND ORA KING SALMON CARPACCIO– with Upcountry Maui kale, sweet Maui Onions and harusame noodle salad, Asian mustard vinaigrette, ogo, pickled red cabbage, and Mari’s Garden micro greens

WINE:   2017 Von Buhl Riesling Medium-dry “Jazz”–German Riesling can come in many different styles.  This particular wine is halbtrocken (medium dry)–rich enough to handle the King salmon…….lush & crisp enough to handle the salmon’s oiliness & ever so slight hint of sweetness, in fact just enough to counter the mustard vinaigrette & pickled red cabbage.


Second Course (by d.k Steak House Executive Chef Albert Balbas)

AIR CURED WAGYU BRESAOLAwith Mari’s Garden baby arugula pesto, toasted pine nuts, EVOO & chili pepper water

WINE:   2017 Von Buhl Dry Rosé–yes, a PINK wine–Pinot Noir–tasty, remarkably light, weightless that freshens the palate between bites of the salty, savory bresaola & the tangy accompanying refreshing salad.

 

Third Course (by Sansei Corporate Head Sushi Chef Masa Hattori) 

EAST-ASIAN CREAMY SESAME CHAZUKE RISOTTO–Kaua‘i shrimp, edamame and shiitake shinjo fish cake, wasabi furikake crusted Hokkaido scallop, salmon roe, takikomi multigrain rice, shiso leaf, and cilantro

WINE:  2016 Von Buhl “Armand” Riesling Kabinett–ever so slightly sweet with a crisp refreshing acidity which works wonders with Sushi Chef Masa’s incredible subtle, yet complex creation.

 

Entree (by d.k Steak House Executive Chef Albert Balbas) 

KALAMATA BUTTER ROASTED FRESH ISLAND OPAKAPAKA–with saffron clam jus and vine ripened tomato concasse

WINE: 2016 Von Buhl Deidesheimer Dry Riesling–Deidesheim is historically the home turf to some of Germany’s brilliant Rieslings.  This rendition is dry, minerally & palate cleansing which totally accents this dish accordingly.  It will show why Rieslings are sommelier’s favorites across the country when pairing with contemporary fusion foods.   Real magic.

 

 

Dessert  (DK Restaurants Pastry Chef Cherie Pascua) 

BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE TART —with whipped cream, housemade Kona Coffee Ice cream, shortbread crust, almond praline, and dark rum Crème Anglaise

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Jul
07

“Cru” level Santa Barbaran Chardonnay

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It’s hard to believe that I have been doing wines professionally for over forty years. Yup. Back in the 70’s, here in Hawaii, we had a really hard time convincing people to give “boutique” California wines a chance. Thankfully, the Paris Wine Exhibition helped change that challenge and made it somewhat easier. Subsequently, I recall the 1978 ZD Chardonnay “Santa Barbara” bottling which really caught my fancy and started the intrigue of what this more southern appellation had to offer.

Now fast forward to today, we have to really encourage guests to try Old World wines! It flip flopped somewhere along the way and for my palate, the Santa Barbara appellation is home to TWO of the finest Chardonnay vineyards in all of California.  

Bien Nacido is quite a large vineyard, located in the sandy loam soils of the Santa Maria Valley. Over the years, I have really taken a liking to four of its blocks for Chardonnay— I block, J block, K block & W block. All were first planted in 1973 and on its own roots.

The Sanford & Benedict vineyard is located in the Santa Rita Hills appellation further south and the old vine parcels were planted somewhere between 1971 & 1973, again on its own roots in calcium rich clay soils with fracture shale and chert. While many other vineyard designated Chardonnays may get higher scores and more accolades, I am still steadfast in believing these two would be considered Grand Cru, if there was ever such a thing in California. And, they certainly have stood the test of time.

On this night, we will try two sets of wine, one set from each of these iconic vineyards and featuring four Top Gun winemakers. We will serve the wines BLIND just for fun!  Here is your chance to see for yourself, first hand, if there is something special in the dirt. How often do opportunities like this come around?

2017 Ojai Chardonnay “Bien Nacido Vineyard” —I could honestly say, this bottling from this winemaker is one of the very best Chardonnays produced in all of California.  It is certainly NOT showy, snazzy or flamboyant.  In fact, because of this stylistic winemaking preference, on this night, some of the tasters noted this wine was rather simple in smell & to their taste.  For me, I relish that this wine is very much about mineral character & vinosity.  I also loved how seamless, well textured & well balanced it really is & how wonderfully long the finish is.  Interestingly, when owner/winemaker Adam Tolmach split from his founding partnership at Au Bon Climat & started his Ojai project, he used to seemingly use at least 33% new oak when aging his Chardonnays.  In comparison, this bottling comes from I block—planted in 1973 on its own roots & spends 11 months in old oak.  This is a very youthful bottling, in fact, just released.  Still I think this wine is superb & is yet another standout wine from a venerable winemaking master.

2015 Tyler ChardonnayW Block-Bien Nacido Vineyard–owner/winemaker Justin Willett has meteorically risen to the top echelon of the Californian wine scene.  His wines are precise, wonderfully transparent, seamless & remarkably textured & balanced.  Along the way, the Tyler fast momentum was further fueled by his ability to get better & better grapes from such iconic regional vineyards such as “Sanford & Benedict” & W Block Chardonnay, Q Block & N Block Pinot Noir from the Bien Nacido vineyard.  While many others have waited in a long line, & for a long time, Willett somehow rose through the ranks & now gets such top drawer grapes.  His parcel in W block, was planted in 1973 & on its own roots. This parcel uniquely is on a dried up riverbed, more rock/shale than sandy loam & I have been an avid fan for quite sometime.  This was a standout & one of the real favorites of this group. The wine is aged for 10 months in oak, 18% new oak.

2016 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard” –I have been a HUGE fan of the wines from Au Bon Climat since way back when.  Their wines have always been thankfully done with Old World sensibilities & the resulting wines showcase elegance, minerality, superb texture & balance.  For me, the crown jewel of their portfolio is their Sanford & Benedict bottling–typically with Chardonnay & sometimes with Pinot Noir.  Over the years, winemaker/owner Jim Clendenen would get grapes from different parcels from the vineyard as politics seemed to always affect who gets what in different vintages.  Still, while this is truly one of the most revered single vineyards, I would also say that Au Bon Climat produces the most stirring & memorable of what this site wants to say.  His current parcel is old vine—planted in 1971/73 on its own roots. The wine is aged in barrel for 18 months in oak, 80% of which is new.  While 80% is a lot of brand new oak to use, this wine somehow magically does NOT seem so oaky.  In fact, the Tyler (18% new oak) & the Chanin (25% new oak) seem WAY oakier!!!  This is another absolutely stellar bottling!

2013 Chanin Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard”–winemaker/owner Gavin Chanin is another of the New Age winemaking phenoms rising in the industry & supported by quite a slew of high scores & recognition.  Gavin worked for several vintages under the tutelage of winemakers Jim Adelman, Jim Clendenen (Au Bon Climat) & Bob Lindquist (Qupe).  Because their joint winemaking facility is located in the Bien Nacido vineyard itself, Gavin would understand which of that vineyard parcels of their home turf have something interesting to say.  It’s then no surprised he worked diligently to get some grapes from the old vines of the iconic W Block to work with.  In addition, because of Au Bon Climat’s “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard” (& the “Los Alamos Vineyard”)bottling, Chanin would also have gained a lot of insight into these vineyards as well.  The 2013 comes from the old vines—planted in 1971/73 on its own roots & is aged for 15 months in oak, 25% new. The Chanin rendition seems much more apparently oaky & forward than that from Au Bon Climat right upon release.  Given this particular wine is now 6 years old & therefore has had time to harmonize & round out, the wine has acquired some grandeur & swag, since we last had it.  Still, very masculine & quite showy in style with slight tannins in the finished, it has come a long ways & one just has to be patient to see how it will evolve to.  Some of the tasters really loved this wine!

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Jun
15

Italian Aromatic White Wines

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We have had a real fascination with aromatic wines which combine aromatics with minerality. They offer such dynamic, mesmerizing pairings with foods, on a very different level/dimension than other wines. This concept is much more than a trend. With the way fusion foods and cooking styles are changing in so many different directions, we have to continually search out and find appropriate wines for pairings. Aromatic white wines is a niche well worth checking out. The main challenge is finding GOOD ones. Yes, they are really surprisingly hard to come by. Here are four really worth trying which should show you what they can be. How often do opportunities like this come around!

 

2015 Château Feuillet Moscato Bianco “Valle D’Aosta”–A dry, quite masculine, sturdy “mountain grown” white wine, fragrant of stony soils and the Moscato grape variety. Yes, quite unique and mesmerizing.  “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, roughly 3000 feet in elevation, 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”.

2015 Vignai da Duline Malvasia Istriana Chioma Integrale–Planted in limestone-red clay soils back in 1960. Wild yeast fermented, this wine is then aged for 7 to 8 months in 50% 11HL barrels (5 years old) & 50% in 2.5HL barrels (5 to 15 years old).  Kermit Lynch—“I found gold from those beautiful Friuli hills—finesse, touch, and class. Delicious AND interesting”.

 

2013 Kante Malvasia–Kante was an early proponent of “orange” wines, but today is in a “zone” of producing wines of great purity, precision and sophistication. Pure genius and a true vigneron. There is no doubt he is considered one of the true, contemporary winemaking stars of Italy. This wine remains on the lees for six months then aged for twelve months in OLD barrels.  “In this near-perfect combination of climate and terreno, Edi Kante produces wines that are poised, solid, fresh, and brimming with the character of both the chosen grape and the stark limestone soil of Carso at nearly 3000 feet in elevation”.

 

2016 Caravaglio Malvasia Bianco “Salina”–we poured this last wine BLIND.  As one taster surprisingly noted–this wine had a riper, more sundrenched mouthfeel.  Yet another noted, that this wine had a salinity to its taste (& smell).  This was the intent–to show how different an aromatic Italian white can be from a warmer growing area.  In this case the home turf is the island of Salina, which is located just north of Sicily.  This site is warmer & more sundrenched than the other 3 wines & therefore has a different mouthfeel.  In addition, this wine also has a salinity character both in the nose as well as on the palate.  Is it because the vineyards overlook the sea?  In any case. this wine would work best with a whole different set of dishes & styles of cooking.

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I attended a tasting of Grenache based red wines the other night.  Tasting a wine on its own is one perspective.  Tasting side by side with others I found provides much more & different perspectives.  I in fact found it quite enlightening.  I could say the same about this night’s tasting, as we continue to explore indigenous grape varieties and wines from around the Mediterranean basin.  Yes, still quite a fascinating and enlightening journey. 

2016 Azienda Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi–When I was growing up in this industry, Verdicchio was considered one of Italy’s finest indigenous white wine grape varieties, especially those from the Marches region & its Castelli di Jesi sub appellation.  We start off with a café styled rendition–dry, crisp, vividly fresh and invigorating white wine served in cafés of the fishing villages along Italy’s eastern coast and its Adriatic Sea. Yes, a “country” styled white wine to be enjoyed with food, which gives us all a glimpse of what typicity offers in this region, its rolling light grey, sandy tufo soils and its most respected grape variety.

2016 Maestracci Calvi “E Prove”–Since early on, I was also taught that the Vermentino (which the French sometimes refer to as Rolle) grape variety was capable of producing top flight white wines.  This was later buttressed when I tasted the Clos Nicrosi bottling from Corsica, sometime in the 1980’s.  I remember thinking, how the heck could man & God grow & create something otherworldly like this.  Sadly he passed away & I have not had a wine like that since.  It was also the inspiration for my obsession to visit Corsica. After thirty plus years of being at the very top of my bucket list of wine destinations, Cheryle and I now plan to visit Corsica. In digging around for advice, my wine yoda, Bruce Neyers, commented we should for sure hook up with Camille-Anaïs Raoust of Maestracci, “must see”, he emphasized. “Maestracci is located high in the foothills of Monte Grossu mountain, inland from Calvi & the granite plateau of Reginu.” This wine smells of the sun baked rocks and wild countryside which I am hoping to see, walk and smell first hand. Thanks Yoda!

2016 Casale del Giglio Biancolella “Faro della Guardia”–I have had a real fascination for the Biancolella grape variety since my first taste of a rendition from the island of Ischia (off the Amalfi coast) back in the early 1990’s. Biancolella is found primarily in Italy’s Campania region, but was introduced to the Island of Ponza during the 18th century. Cultivation of the grape in the Lazio region is authorized exclusively on the Island of Ponza, where it grows at the base of a sheer sea cliff surmounted by the imposing lighthouse which rises 400 or so feet above sea level. The deepest part of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the trench known as ‘La Fossa del Tirreno’, lies some eleven miles to the southwest of the lighthouse rock”.  I think Biancolella grown in limestone/marine soils can create oenological synergy & magic.

2016 Vigneti Vecchio Sicilia Bianco “Sciare Vive”–There is a real fascination, bordering obsession with the wines and potential of the Etna appellation down in Sicily. Here is the latest—small family run operation on the north facing slope–1.5 hectares at 1600 to 2800 on the slopes of Mt Etna—volcanic-clay-limestone soils, forty to one hundred year old vines. 90% Carricante, 10% indigenous varieties (Minnella, Inzolia, Grecanico, Catarratto)—fermented in old 500 liters barrels with seven months on the lees.  This white wine has a coppery hue, quite masculine & muscular with exotic (not tropical) fruit–persimmon for instance, dried pit fruit, a distinct pungency–stones, smoked spice, base & leesy notes to its core, with a unique viscosity & a stony finish.

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Jan
21

Salinity in wines?

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Growing up in this industry, I was always reminded of the French concept of terroir. They, in fact, have had centuries of finding those special parcels of land which manifested something special in the resulting wines. This concept spread throughout the wine world and many still refer to the concept of terroir. Somewhere along the line, tasters noted “minerality” in their tasting notes. The question has now become is minerality associated with terroir? Scientists are now publicly saying, there is NO conclusive proof that minerals, essences, etc, can be transmitted through the root system, through the plant and make their way into the grapes themselves. How can that be? (I really think that what some people call “minerality” may in fact not be soil driven). I would also say, there are in fact some wines which are VERY soil driven. A French Chablis is a perfect example. To take that a step further, I find there are wines which have salinity to them. I am sure some would question—from the soil or from the surroundings? Which brings us to this blind tasting opportunity. FOUR wines, served BLIND. We wanted to see if salinity can be detected in a finished wine.

2013 Bregeon “Gorges”–This is an absolute “must to try”, as there really is no other wine like it. This is the Muscadet grape variety–50 year old vines, grown in gabbro (a unique blue-green metamorphic rock) soils in close proximity to France’s Atlantic coast. VERY naturally minded both in the vineyard & winemaking, this special, gifted winemaker aged the wine for at least 2 years on the lees for texture, stability (without having to use so much sulfur) & real & “quiet” complexity.

2014 Lavantureux Chablis–100% Chardonnay grown in Kimmeridgian limestone soils in northern Burgundy, where there is NO ocean nearby. This is as naked, pure, absolutely riveting & food friendly as Chardonnay gets.  How does it get its salinity?

2016 Caravaglio Salina Bianco–The Caravaglio family have worked their land in the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily for over 500 years. They are in fact credited for first planting the Malvasia, Corinto Nero & other local grapes on both the Lipari & Salina islands. This 2016 Malvasia Secco combines a wonderful, exotic, perfume with minerality, structure & a touch of salinity.

2017 Sigalas Assyrtiko–Paris Sigalas is the iconic winemaking superstar of Greece. His home turf is in Oia, on the island of Santorini. This is a very unique winegrowing niche—flat, mercilessly sun baked vineyards with light weighted pumice soils, lack of much rainfall & gusting, often pounding coastal winds (certainly very warm during the day). The island has, in response to these severe conditions, developed a unique koulara style of training their vines to protect the grapes. This wine alone is worth coming to this tasting, it is that good–masculine, savory, profoundly stony, structured with salinity, especially in the after taste & a slight piquant bitterness in the finish.

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Yes, at VINO, we really work hard to find and feature wines from the Mediterranean basin, especially those based on indigenous grape varieties. I recently read that one person said there were 511 different grape vairieties in Italy alone and another said there were under 2000. The point is—there are many. They somehow work well with our style of cooking. I would say their innate savory nuances has at least something to do with it. In this tasting, we look to feature wines from four different islands. Yes, in these cases it does make a difference in the resulting wines. Indigenous grape varieties grown on islands……..how often do opportunities to taste such a line up like this come around?

 

 

 

 

2014 Portelli Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Sicily)–A 5TH generation of this family is now running the domaine. Their home is in southern Sicily where they toil in vineyards comprised of mainly clay and limestone. This bottling is 70% Calabrese and 30% Frappato —“a joyful drink—luscious & charming with firm structure—country wrapped in suede.”

.2014 Giacometti Patrimonio “Cru des Agriate” (Corsica)–A wine grown in a very remote (4 ½ hours of rugged 4 wheeling to get there), wild “countryside on the northern end of the Island of Corsica. 97% Niellucciu, 3% Grenache, we love its real & distinct savoriness and while very masculine in character, it thankfully has mesmerizing transparency & an even kiel.

2017 Sigalas Assyrtiko (Santorini)–Paris Sigalas is the iconic winemaking superstar of Greece. His home turf is in Oia, on the island of Santorini. This is a very unique winegrowing niche—flat, mercilessly sun baked vineyards with light weighted pumice soils, lack of much rainfall and gusting, often pounding coastal winds (certainly very warm during the day). The island has, in response to these severe conditions, developed a unique koulara style of training their vines to protect the grapes. This wine is all about mesmerizing minerality with a touch of salinity, a very masculine personality & a slight piquant bitterness to the finish.

2016 Caravaglio Salina Bianco (Salina)–The Caravaglio family have worked their land in the Aeolian Islands, off the coast of Sicily for over 500 years. Their family is in fact credited for first planting the Malvasia, Corinto Nero and other local grapes on both the Lipari and Salina islands. This 2016 combines a wonderful, exotic, perfume with strong minerality, structure and a touch of salinity.

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One of our VINO family…….you know what I mean, Vern?…….asked the other night if we would be open to doing a dinner geared for German Riesling. So, I asked VINO Chef Keith, if he would do something out of the box like this, so we can make it happen.   As you will recall, Chef Keith has been with us twenty plus years and used to be the Executive Chef for Sansei Kapalua and Sansei Honolulu. So, this is that night! Chef Keith has created a menu with German Riesling in mind.

I would also like to mention that one of my all time favorite winemakers in the world, Bert Selbach, has retired after the 2015 vintage. So, we took this as an opportunity to showcase three of his last wines, each from a GREAT vineyard.

Owner/winemaker Bert Selbach is a direct descendent of the iconic Prüm family, whose roots go back to the 1600’s.  Bert’s parents, Anna Prüm, the youngest of the Mathias Prüm children and her husband Dr. F. Weins, used her inheritance to establish the Dr. F. Weins-Prüm estate in 1911.  Their vineyard holding included parcels in the some of the finest vineyards of the Mosel River region (& all of Germany)–Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Graacher Himmelreich, Graacher Domprobst, Ürziger Würzgarten & Erdener Prälat, each with some very old vines.

We loved Bert’s winemaking, as his wines masterfully showcased the pedigree, purity & character of each site in the finished wine, all done with supreme elegance, transparency, precision & deliciousness–young or older.  These were truly one of kind, unforgettable, timeless masterpieces for me.

Sadly, 2015 was Bert’s last vintage (at least that we know of).   He is retiring with no heirs to take over.  We have heard he has sold his parcels to his first cousin, Manfred Prüm (& daughter Katharina) of Joh. Jos. Prüm who live next door.  For wine collector’s around the world, this is a joyous thing as Joh. Jos. Prüm, having been named 1996 “Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & produces some of the most collectible white wines in the world.  For me, this is the end of an era.  There has never been wines like those from Bert Selbach & Dr F Weins Prüm.  Aloha my friend.  A toast to you & your future!

Here is the menu–

KOJI CURED TAKO–mizuna salad, ginger sesame vinaigrette and house made tsukemono 

wine:  2014 Dr F Weins Prüm Kabinett Feinherb “Graacher Himmelreich”

What a fantastic, seemingly simple dish!  Curing the tako with koji gave it terrific taste & umami with a slightly salty edge.  the mizuna innately has a burst of heat & bitterness, which was tempered from the slightly sweet, sour, tangy ginger sesame vinaigrette & the vinegary crunch of the house made tsukemono.  This Riesling, at 9 degrees alcohol was slightly sweeter than medium dry, which helped calm done the sweet-sour-slight heat of the Asian components, while the riveting minerality & crisp acidity kept the palate fresh & alive between bites.

 

MISO CHILEAN SEA BASS–smoked wilted tatsoi, choi sum, squid ink pasta, fukujinsuke & roasted garlic butter

wine:  2011 Dr F Weins Prüm Kabinett “Ürziger Würzgarten”

I remember some time back, my uncle proudly served us his miso butterfish specialty, which he took great pains to prepare for us.  After the dish was served, he halted the show, jumped up & told us to wait while he scurried off to pick some of his very unique/unusual limes off of the tree on the side of his house.  These limes looked much more like green-yellow oranges, especially in size.  After he sliced them, he proceeded to squeeze the wonderfully aromatic, unusually, slightly sweet juice with its surprisingly subdued though high pitched, ‘lime” acidity onto each of our miso butterfish.  He then said, now try it.  In short, it was electric!!!  A pairing unlike anything I had had before AND the his squeezed unique lime juice made the miso taste like something so very different & completely wow-za.  This was a HUGE, eye opening experience for me & was the inspiration for this pairing.  The Chilean sea bass was marinated with the different misos for 30 hours, baked & then torched at the last minute, making it somewhat sweet, salty, slightly charred/caramelized with lots of umami & interesting.  Interestingly the 2011 Dr F Weins Prüm Kabinett “Ürziger Würzgarten”, amongst all of its riveting minerality, rather lean focus (compared to other vintages I had been fortunate to taste) also had very citrus-y acidity with a lime like lift to the finish.  Hence the pairing.

SAKE BRAISED PORK BELLY NITSUKE–grilled bok choy, roasted Japanese taro, Chinese five spice demi & house-made kim chee daikon

wine: 2015 Dr F Weins Prüm Spätlese “Wehlener Sonnenuhr”

While nitsuke is usually a preparation for fish, Chef Keith chose to instead use the sake, shoyu, sugar to braise his pork belly, to soften the meat, while at the same time making it slightly sweet & lightly salty.  In addition, he sprinkled a little shichimi on the meat to give a slight edge of heat, which would heighten & accent it some.  We therefore chose to pair with a Spätlese from one of Germany’s finest single vineyards & its profoundly slate driven soils & therefore resulting minerality in the finished wine.  This wine also helped balance out the slight heat from the kim chee daikon.  Quite interesting.

DESSERT

Green Macha Tiramisu–sweet azuke beans with shichimi & vanilla ice cream

 

 

 

I also included pictures of each of these incredible vineyards to add dimension towards a better understanding & appreciation of the wines presented tonight.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.  From left to right–Graacher Himmelreich, Ürziger Würzgarten & Wehlener Sonnenuhr.

 

 

Jul
07

BYOB Chardonnay Tasting

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On this night, tasters, mainly our VINO staff, brought an assortment of Chardonnays just to try side by side.  Since it was a group tasting, we asked everyone to add in their 2 cents, so we could all learn together as group, from the wines & each other’s comments.  Thank you Keith for hosting this wonderful learning opportunity.

Here is the list of wines everyone brought–

2010 Ridge Chardonnay “Monte Bello”; 2015 Ballard Lane Chardonnay: 2015 Foxen Chardonnay “Bien Nacido Vineyard–UU Block”; 2014 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Santa Barbara”; 2007 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard”; 2013 Jean-Paul Brun Beaujolais Blanc; 2015 Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon Mâcon Chardonnay “Clos de la Crochette”; 2016 William  Fèvre Chablis “Champs Royaux”; 2104 Savary Chablis “Vieilles Vignes”; 2010 Jean-Paul & Benoît Droin Chablis Premier Cru “Vaillons”; 2012 Robert Denogent Pouilly Fuissé “Vieilles Vignes–La Croix”; 2004 Cherisey Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru “La Genellotte”; 1996 François Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Genevrières”.  Yes, lots of highly rated wines!  Thank you all for sharing.

Here are some of my highlights.

The 2010 Ridge Chardonnay “Monte Bello” (roughly $80 a bottle retail–92 to 94 point ratings)–showed lots of blatant, toasty oak/hazelnut (with apparent American oak pungency) notes right out of the gates.  Well made, good flow, structure, stony, surprisingly light on its feet (in comparison to what the nose forewarned), oak framed with prominent alcohol in the finish (more than the 14.4% shown on the label).  A question mark purchase for me after seeing the price.  2015 Foxen Chardonnay “Bien Nacido Vineyard–UU Block” (roughly $40 retail–rated 90 points)–reminiscent of the region’s old guard & therefore balance & mineral driven, more so than expensive oak,  flashiness & alcohol.  This wine showed a better finish & therefore was much more palatable than the previous 2.  Surprisingly elegant, though forward with well integrated oak & high lemon like acidity (almost too much so for some tasters).  It is also a peculiar combination of stony, fresh steamed rice nuanced & an old fashion pungency (the latter I sometimes get from Santa Maria Valley old vine clone 4).  Interestingly, the 2014 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Santa Barbara” (roughly $22 retail–88 points)–was much more seamless from beginning to end, classy, better textured & more complete than the previous 3 wines.  Tasting these wines side by side was really eye opening & made me appreciate the Au Bon Climat winemaking even that much more.  While it wasn’t grand or anything of the sorts, it displayed sublime minerality, grace, deliciousness & real value.  2007 Au Bon Climat Chardonnay “Sanford & Benedict Vineyard” (roughly $35 retail–88 points)–there is no doubt this was by far the most compelling of the Californian Chardonnays we sampled on this night.  By far!  The wine had mesmerizing vinosity, minerality & mojo, like one would expect from a Cru bottling with superb texture, seamlessness, balance & class. We hear more & more rumblings of how ABC has seen their best days or their production is way too high to make top echelon wines.  This bottling clearly shows otherwise……AND, at 11 years old.  What a wine!  Thank you Erica & Jamm for sharing.

We then segued into Chardonnays from Burgundy, France.  While on paper the list looked impressive & interesting, I scratched my head in wonderment as I felt some of them greatly under delivered.  Still, tasting these wines side by side turned out to be quite the learning experience–which made some wines really shine & others not.  (We didn’t do the tasting blind, in order to make the experience less intimidating for the new attendees).

The 2016 William Fèvre Chablis “Champs Royaux” was a real surprise, as it perennially receives media high praise, is surprisingly reasonably priced & has wide appeal.  The 2016 features a pretty floral, seashell & mineral scented nose with a delicious, rounder than expected mouthfeel.  In comparison, the 2104 Savary Chablis “Vieilles Vignes” was a Chablis of wonderful, sheer etherealness & mesmerizing, pristine purity.  The finesse, vinosity, delicate intricacies carry through on the palate, done with great class & truly remarkable lightness/airiness.  WOW!  The 2012 Robert Denogent Pouilly Fuissé “Vieilles Vignes–La Croix” also showed exceptionally well on this night.  Much richer, seemingly riper & therefore more showy than the preceeding Chablis born wines, this La Croix vineyard (but 2 hectares of 80 year old vines) bottling had prominent & captivating vinosity & character done with superb texture, balance & class.  Stellar!  I distinctly remember the 2004 Cherisey Meursault-Blagny Premier Cru “La Genellotte” upon its release, mostly because how much I loved this newly discovered domaine for me & its wines.  Theirs was very reminiscent of the old style of artisan white Burgundy I grew up with.  It was vehemently masculine, virile & seemingly like a chiseled block of rock……with a resounding oak thread framing it.  I remember thinking, “I wish I could taste this wine again when it is 20 years old!”  On this night, it was but 14 years of age & I was quite stunned at how beautiful, seamless & stunning it truly evolved to be in the bottle with age.   I understand & appreciate that it is a VERY unique style & therefore VERY different from the more highly acclaimed domaines such as Coche Dury, Ente & Roulot.  And, I am most thankful for the difference, because it is so good, artisan & unique.  (Thank you Cheryle for sharing!)   The shining star of the evening for me was the 1996 François Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Genevrières” (thank you VERY much Jamm & Erica for sharing).  I also remember having this wine upon release.  It was unbelievably tight fisted & hard.  (I think this style has held them back from gaining the true acclaim they profoundly deserve).  I also remember thinking, I can’t wait to try this wine again when it is 25 years old.  Here it was  23 years old…..in all its glory.  For me, this was having a grand wine at an ideal point of its life.  (I should also mention, that in the early days, I thought their Premier Cru Charmes parcel was their showpiece.  While it still is so very impressive, I find their Genevrières to be worthy of Grand Cru level quality & this wine clearly shows why).

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May
27

What Sauvignon Blanc Can Be

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from a winetasting at VINO………

Here is a chance to check out first hand what Old World Sauvignon Blanc can be.  Yes, for us, these are some of the very best!  How often does one get such an opportunity? 

2014 Denis Jamain Reuilly “Les Pierres Plates”–This is a wonderfully pure, remarkably light and ethereal Sauvignon Blanc—to me, one that is quite unique and riveting. Certainly, a VERY interesting way to start this tasting.  “Reuilly is located in Sauvignon Blanc territory (central Loire Valley vineyards), an ancient winemaking village that today has only about 300 acres in vines.  Our bottling, Pierres Plates, is from a specific vineyard with Chablis-like soil full of chalk, fossils and sea shells.  Try to imagine Sancerre grown at Chablis.  The fruit is lively, with white flower perfumes, citrus and minerality.  It has finesse and precision”.     

2015 Régis Minet Pouilly Fume “Vieilles Vignes”–Quintessential Sauvignon Blanc in all its glory and certainly one others can be measured by.  “His vineyards sit at 750 feet, surrounded by hills on the far east of the Loire River, and centered proudly on the prized limestone and clay of the Kimmeridgian chain. The scattered flint in these vineyards imbues the wines with a character quite distinctive from the neighboring village of Sancerre. In the eloquent words of KLWM Store Manager, Steve Waters, “You couldn’t ask for a cleaner, fresher, flintier, or truer expression of Sauvignon Blanc. Its mouth-watering acidity, depth of flavor, and fleshy texture will have you racing back for more.”

2014 Diploi Sauvignon Blanc Voglar–What a unique, standout white wine.  It is a wine all about chiseled rock & displays that kind of profile.  “Peter Dipoli represents one of the wine world’s pure talents, a pioneer in Alto Adige who is producing wines on a level beyond what anyone thought possible in this mountainous region. After much research and study, Peter determined that the steep, high-altitude (1500 to 2000 feet) slopes near Bolzano are ideal for the production of complex, age-worthy Sauvignon Blanc. His in-depth study of terroir seems to have paid off, as the Voglar bottling—a pure Sauvignon Blanc grown in limestone soils on near-vertical slopes, fermented and aged in acacia casks—is characterized by gorgeous exotic fruit with abundant minerality

2009 Hippolyte Reverdy Sancerre “Ortus”–Hippolyte Reverdy perennially produces some of our favorite Sauvignon Blanc.  We are enamored how remarkably light, ethereal & minerally the resulting wine typically is.  Yes, I have frequently been, over the years, distracted by neighboring wines which are initially more prolific & eye catching, but, I always somehow make my way back to this producer & his wines.  “Reverdy’s world renown importer into the U.S., Kermit Lynch, says–Reverdy has “become the benchmark domaine of our day. One of the things I love about it is that it leaves on the lips, not the palate, not the throat, but on your lips, a fresh little lemony whisper which makes it a fabulous complement to simple fish dishesThe Ortus bottling is produced only in exceptional vintages—so far—2003, 2005 and 2009. This special wine is aged in 400 liter barrels where it undergoes malolactic and sees lees stirring daily. It is then aged in old barrels for an additional year and then released after an additional year of aging in bottle. This is the crown jewel of this venerable estate”.

Categories : General, White, Wine
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