Archive for White


A Trio of Sweeter Wine 08-21-14

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Sweet wine is an interesting topic.

How does one get such ripeness & sweetness in the wines?

One answer is to simply leave the grapes on the vine longer or until they start to raisin.  This is a very tricky line to walk.  As the sugar rises, the acidity lowers.  If you are therefore not careful, you could end up with a cloying or flabby wine.  A simpler way is to stop the fermentation early, so the finished wine has residual sugar.  Another way, would be to dry your grapes, such as they do in Italy, on straw mats.  Yet, another way, is to encourage botrytis cinerea to infect your grapes.  This beneficial mould will essentially get rid of water & thereby concentrate the extract & acids in the grapes.  Or, one could do a combination of the above.  The point being, there is more than one way.

These 3 wines feature very different & interesting approaches & it is a reminder why the resulting wines are so VERY different, especially with age.

Furthermore, I personally don’t talk about sweet wines too much, mainly because the wines are really about super ripeness & sometimes botrytis, especially in their youth & the terroir therefore often gets masked.   It is true, however, after considerable age & the sweetness & the ripe fruitiness has a chance to resolve, the terroir can make an appearance again. Such is the case with this trio of wines.


Chateau de Fargues has been owned by the Lur Saluces family since 1472.  They are the same family which also owned Chateau d”Yquem, which they sold off in 1999.  This estate has 15 hectares of vines planted on a clay-gravel plateau, roughly 4 kilometers southeast of d”Yquem.  Typically their blend is at least 80% Semillon with Sauvignon Blanc AND the yields are often lower than d’Yquem’s.  The grapes are harvested through many vineyard passes (sometimes as many as 12) & are aged for at least 3 years in once used barrels from d’Yquem.  This 1983 had lots of dried fruit nuances, honey, beeswax, stoniness, apricot, earthiness & a real waxy feel to it.  One could see that this wine also had started making the transition from sweetness to a more tactile quality on the palate, which is also part of the resolvement.  I felt, however, with the drying of the fruit, the alcohol & a bitterness poked out in the finish, which makes me better understand why many love to pair these kinds of wines with richer, fattier foods such as bleu cheese, pates & even foie gras.  Thank you Michael for sharing this treat!

1975 MOULIN TOUCHAIS Anjou  02g

Now, this is a VERY unique & interesting wine, which is remarkably still under the radar screen for most wine aficionados.  The appellation is Anjou in France’s Loire Valley & is actually located in the heart of the Coteaux du Layon, which is famous for their late harvest Chenin Blanc based whites.  This 145 acre estate has been in the Touchais family for 8 generations (1787).  My first experience was a 1947, which I tasted in the mid 80’s.  I was blown away how unique & interesting this wine was.  These wines are reputed to live as long as 100 years & the 1947 tasted so surprisingly youthful.  I suspected this 1975 would therefore be an infant, but was still anxious to try it.  The soils are schist, clay & limestone.  The most curious aspect of the Moulin Touchais wines is how they are produced.  (It wasn’t that long ago, no one was allowed in the cellar, & people therefore questioned the authenticity of its longevity).  They say, 20% of the grapes are harvested only 80 days after flowering, when the grapes are essentially unripe with high acid levels.  The other 80% is then harvested 120 days after flowering (dehydrating on the vine).  (Botrytis is rare in this neck of the woods, which at least partially explains the nose, taste & color of the resulting wines).   The wine is fermented in stainless & aged at least 10 years before release.  The 1975 has a surprising freshness with baked apple, quince, mint, apricot, honey nuances.  It was amazingly precise, fine, refined, intrguingly minerally with balanced acidity.  Because of the bottle age, the wine’s once apparent sweetness had changed considerably to a much more tactile sensation.  It was fabulous!!!!  AND so interesting!  Thank you Brent, for sharing.

02b1989 FREIHERR HEYL ZU HERRNSHEIM  Beerenauslese “Niersteiner Oelberg”

The records show this estate has been around since 1561.  Most of their vineyard holdings have red slate soils–Nierstein (Hipping, Pettenthal & their monopole Brudersberg) & a little in Nackenheim Rothenberg.  This wine was the most gracious of the 3 “stickies” tasted tonight..  NO hard edges whatsoever AND had the most finesse.  I had always previously thought Oelberg was a grosslagen (large collective site), but on a recent map, I noticed it was a single vineyard, past Hipping, down the hillside some.  This wine was rich, lush with tropical fruit character, some botrytis & a distinct stoniness.   One could also see that the once apparent sweetness is changing to a more tactile creaminess on the palate.

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Rustic Mediterranean white wines

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Today’s winetasting VINO was an opportunity to explore…AND hopefully have some fun along the way.

2012 Chateau Feuillet Petite Arvine

013A VERY unique white wine from Valle D’Aosta at high altitudes & hand built stone terraces to hold the soils & vines in place.  I believe that is why they planted vines too….so the roots would help hold the soil in place.  0125

The vines actually 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”.


2011 Maxime Magnon  “La Begou”  012

“Maxime Magnon is part of one of the most revolutionary wine movements in France should give him a justifiable swagger to his step.  Born & raised he Burgundy, because he could not afford land there, he founded his domaine down in Corbieres, amid a rocky, 0126limestone-schist terrain, thankfully already the home to a series of organically farmed, really old vines, from heirloom grape selections.  La Begou is currently his one white wine—primarily a blend of 50 to 60 year old vine Grenache Gris & Grenache Blanc, wild yeast fermented & so VERY unique in character”.


0112011 Vinci  Cotes Catalanes “Coyade

A fabulous new “find”!  75% Maccabeu, 15% Carignan Blanc, 10% Grenache Blanc—40 year old, organically farmed  vines grown in clay limestone & extreme conditions–0127

wild yeast fermented, partly in stainless, though mainly in old demi-muids….& aged for 16 months in 12 year old barrels.




014Gramenon “Tout ‘En Bulles

As VINO regulars well know, we are big fans of the wines from Maxime Francois Laurent & Domaine Gramenon.  He is part of the vanguard who are passionately & dedicatedly looking to grow & produce their wines as naturally as possible. Here is one that is truly unique!!!! 80% Clairette, 20% Viognier, 30 year old, organically farmed vines grown in clay limestone.  The wine finishes its fermentation in the bottle

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DRY German White Wines

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When I mentioned German wines, most people make funny faces in response.  It has become very apparent to me, the words “German wines”, conjure up images of sweet, syrupy wines for many.

There are many things I would love to say about that, but we’ll save that discussion for another day.  I would prefer to instead focus on the thought that ALL wines can be made dry, medium dry, medium sweet, sweet & dessert in style…….depending on what the winemaker wants to do…..whether it is Cabernet, Chardonnay, sparkling, red or white.

While it is true that there are many German wines which are made sweet, there are also many wines vinified DRY.  For many years, VINO regulars have been asking us to do a German wine tasting.

Well, here it is.  We chose to do a DRY white wine tasting first, because it is regarded as the purest form of German white wine.

Great producers believe any flaw in a dry white wine can readily be seen, smelled & tasted in their dry wines.  The growing & selection of grapes is therefore of paramount importance.

In addition, for this tasting, we looked to feature 4 of the VERY best dry wine producers out Germany…..kind of a dream team!!!!  The goal is to show tasters what excellence is.  Wines like these don’t come around too often….just another opportunity to learn!

1232012 Hans Wirsching Scheurebe DRY

The Scheurebe grape variety was an attempt to have a grape variety which had Riesling-esque nobility but would ripen earlier.  It was created by Dr Scheu in the 1916, when he crossed the Riesling grape variety with what is now believed to be a wild grape variety.  While it has had its moments over the years in production, I would say, most thought of it as a secondary grape variety, used for bigger production.  Part of it can be attributed to its seemingly lack of acidity & its real citrus like flavors.  To date, for me, the finest Scheurebe’s are undoubtedly produced by Hans Wirsching of the Franconia region.  Their estate vineyard sites are high in gypsum content.  The 2012 was harvested at 88 degree oechsle & 5.9 total acidity.  Wirsching Scheurebe has some “quietly” exotic fruit, along with the minerality….with a little more roundness, which would appeal to a wider spectrum of wine drinkers, without taking away from its wonderfully friendliness.  Well worth checking out to say the least!124

2012 CF Wines Muller Thurgau DRY 

Next in the line-up is the CF Muller Thurgau, which is a wine crafted for DK Restaurants by Paul Furst of Franconia, Germany.  The Muller Thurgau grape variety was created in 1882 by DR Muller… crossing Riesling with what is now believed to be the Madeleine Royale grape variety.  This resulting grape variety  was one of the other Riesling crosses which caught quite a few eyes for its potential. The finest is undoubtedly produced from Paul Furst, under his family’s label Rudolf Furst.  Their estate has but ¾’s of a hectare (red sandstone soils) planted to this grape variety.  One cannot help but be amazed at how ethereal & effortlessly light in weight it is, which is further enhanced by the innate minerality from the red sandstone the vines grow in.

1222012 Donnhoff Riesling DRY “Estate

Here is a DRY Riesling from one of Germany’s true iconic Masters—Helmut Donnhoff of the Nahe region. Sourced mostly from Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg (90%) the rest comes from his Niederhausen Hermannshöhle & Leistenberg vineyards—both steep,, rocky hillsides which has lots of porphyry rock soilsWonderfully pure, captivating & remarkably food friendly!!!!

 2011 Gunderloch Riesling DRY  “Rothenberg” GG  121

The Rothenberg Cru is a gentle, red slate soiled slope rising from the Rhein River, which produces some undeniably powerful, masculine Rieslings.  The 2011 GG was harvested at 95 degrees oechsle & 5 total acidity.  Despite the power & immense concentration, I marvel how unboastfully this wine comes across.  In the 90’s these GG styled wines from this estate were MEGA-intense, tight fisted & unyielding.  What a change!!!!  Truly masterful.  This estate is really in the “zone” right now.


Categories : New Releases, White, Wine
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Two VERY interesting White Wines

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It’s NOT that often we run across white wines from California, which have the weight of Chardonnay, with unique-ness & interesting-ness, especially on such a high level as these 2 display.  You should, therefore, take a serious look at these 2.


Winemaker/owner Mike Officer has made quite a name for himself through his big, full throttle red wines, many of which comes from really old vineyard sites.  If you look at the scores & ratings his wines perennially get, you will be astounded, as he seems to do it below the radar screen.  Curently he produces but 2 white wines.  The 2011 Derivative is 66% Semillon (from Monte Rosso vineyard, which was planted in 1886) on a steep, rocky Mayacamas hillside, on the Sonoma side, fermented in 37% new oak; 24% Muscadelle (from Pagani Ranch, planted in 1920) fermented in stainless steel & 10% Palomino (from Saitone Ranch, 118 year old vines) fermented in old oak.  Yes, it is safe to say, this is an Old Vine cuvee!  Leave it to someone like Mike Officer to have the discipline & dedication to collect & produce a wine like this.


As you may know, we are avid fans of the great potential Paso Robles has for making interesting wines.  A lot can be attributed to the limestone/silaceous soils of the westside. These poor soils not only help to slow down sugar ripeness, but also help to deftly create buoyancy in the finished wines.   While many of the region are looking to Viognier, Roussanne & Marsanne to produce whites, we have seen even more potential for interesting-ness so far from grape varieties such as Grenache Blanc, Picpoul & Vermentino.  I think most aficionados would agree one of the 2 leading the charge of moving Paso Robles onto the world stage is Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo.  Here is his one 2012 white wine.

I planted Grenache Blanc and Picpoul in 2007.  My older Contrarians were Roussanne Viognier blends, but I felt like they lacked the acidity to be refreshing on a hot day.  Basket pressed whole cluster for 48 hours with some skin soaking contact.  pressed into a concrete 2000L tank.  Native fermentation, co-fermented as the different picks come in.  I can only handle 1-2 tons at a time for pressing, but I make so little of this white that I can take my time.  I leave it on lees  til 1 month prior to bottling then clarify by racking.  Unfliltered, unfined. No barrel for this vintage. Viognier for this vintage is from Denner.  I use the Viognier to just slightly round out the acidity. I’m planting a half acre of Vio on the new piece to either use in this blend or with the reds”.

Categories : New Discoveries, White, Wine
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Didier & Catherine Champalou

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Here is a note I received from Bruce Neyers & Kermit Lynch about one of our favorite wines, which I thought you might find interesting.

Recently, I had a chance to talk to Kermit about Didier and Catherine Champalou. We visited them last month with my traveling group, and as many of you have already heard the 2013 vintage in Vouvray was a disaster. Domaine Champalou lost almost 70% of their 2013 crop to a combination of hail, coulure and rain, and Kermit was interested to hear how they were dealing with this enormous economic setback. They were fine, I told him, and indeed despite an economic disaster that seems almost biblical, they were upbeat, enthusiastic and welcoming. Strong people. Kermit thought about it, and sent me the following note, which he entitled ‘From the Pencil of Kermit Lynch’……..”  Bruce Neyers


Dear Clients,

When the classic Vouvrays of René Loyau were no longer available, I went to Charles Joguet for new leads. (As recounted in Adventures on the Wine Route, I’d originally found Loyau thanks to Joguet.) We visited a bunch of good addresses and afterwards I narrowed it down to working with Domaine Foreau or Domaine Champalou.

            I’ll never forget Foreau’s deep cave, funky as could be with a marvelous smoky smell that surely seasoned the aroma of his Vouvrays.

            The Champalous, Didier and Catherine, were much younger than Foreau, and just launching their domaine. Their cave was pristine, and so were their wines.

            I chose Champalou, but regretted not picking up Foreau as well. In those days, it seemed too much to try marketing two Vouvrays, because the appellation did not have much of a reputation back then—sweet and sterile describes the biggest proportion of them.

            Didier and Catherine are modest and proud. They don’t seek the limelight, don’t seek riches. No, pride in their creations motivates them.

            Their style is what the French call discret: reserved, restrained, the opposite of bombastic or blatant. The perfumes are there for the taking, but won’t give anyone a bloody nose. The bouquet evolves as the bottle grows emptier—it’s an aromatic voyage.

            The other remarkable quality, almost unique in Vouvray, is the textural pleasure on the palate. No matter which bottling, one enjoys an elegant texture, which derives from the winemaker’s touch. Think of Lassalle, Meyer-Fonné, or Abbatucci, for example. All show the same sort of touch, the same luxurious textures.

            I feel the wine market is turning its back on Vouvray as it did in the 1970’s, and for the same reasons—too much enologically correct mediocre plonk. Where is the winemaker, the touch? But we have a gem in the Champalou family, so in line with what we look for, so impeccable in terms of their work and their character……………..”

Yours for fine wine, Kermit Lynch

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Newly arrived White Wines 01-12-14

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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.


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.


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!!!!

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Interesting White Wines

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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
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Assyrtiko from Greece

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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.

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2 Unique, Old World White Wines

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 2009 Radikon Slatnik

 One of the most radical, “on the edge” winemakers in the world is Stanko Radikon.  Based out of Oslavia across the border from Italy’s Friuli region in the northwest, the Radikon wines are as eccenrtic as they get.

Here is what Michael Tulipan of the Organic Wine Journal noted on his blog–

Radikon’s land hugs the side of a hill in Oslavia, nestled between the town of Gorizia and the Slovenian border. To the north are the Julian Alps, which help block the cold continental winter winds that could damage the vines, and to the south, less than twenty miles away, is the Adriatic Sea. The sun-soaked vineyard faces south and southeast, unfolding beneath a winery that looks like a cantina out of the old west. A true natural winemaker, Stanko has gone past what is considered organic, eschewing all chemical treatments since 1995, even when it means losing grapes. He also stopped adding sulfites in 2002. Due to the vertical nature of the land, most tasks have to be done by hand and the vines are trimmed to produce fewer bunches, generally four to five per vine, resulting in more concentrated juice. radikon2

Like most Friuli wineries, Radikon is a family affair. Stanko’s son Sasa is an enthusiastic guide as he takes us through the cellar, stopping to taste wines at different stages of the aging process. Where many winemakers would be content to bottle their wine, Sasa emphasizes theirs has time to go. I ask, “How long?” He answers, “Until my father feels it is ready.”

Radikon wines are notable for several reasons, especially the amount of time invested in them and the natural methods employed. Once de-stemmed, grapes experience an extra long maceration on the skins in cone-shaped vats. Starting in 1995 Stanko tried anywhere from seven days to nine months before settling on about four months in 2005. During this period, the grapes are stirred three or four times a day then go through a double extraction, the first caused by water and the second by alcohol. The wines are aged a minimum of three years in large oak casks, followed by at least another year in the bottle before being released.

In the interim, the wines receive no added sulfites and they are not filtered before being bottled. The end result is an amazingly complex and profound wine that can age for years, even a decade or more. While not adding sulfites can make wines less stable, according to Stanko the long maceration results in substances being extracted from the grapes that protect the wine and allow it to age, creating wines, that are in his words, “totally genuine.”

Four wines make up the Radikon line, Jakot (a reverse play on the now verboten Tocai), Ribolla Gialla, Oslavje (a blend of chardonnay, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc) and Merlot. While best known for its whites, which are characterized by rich gold to copper hues, cloudiness, deep aromas and complexity, Radikon’s sole red, merlot, is a true expression of the grape and not to be missed“.


 2001 JL Chave Hermitage Blanc

The iconic Chave family have been producing wines from the Hermitage hill for at least 14 generations.  Theri wines, both red & white, have been some of the most prestigious, hard to get & expensive over that time period.  There is no doubt they are some of the most unique & noteworthy wines of the world.  AAA1

I am one of those people who believes great wines are made in the vineyard & Hermitage has proven itself over the centuries as being one of the world’s GREAT sites.  I was always under the assumption the soil was mainly decomposing granite.  While many of the very special parcels are in fact comprised of granitic soils, it really is not the only act in town.  After spending a day with Gerard back in the 80’s and more recently his son, Jean Louis, walking the hill, I was amazed at the myriad of soils, which comprise the hill, which were over the years smashed up upon each other by glaciers.   Hermitage rocksHermitage white soilHermitage white stones

The Chave family have at last count 37 different parcels featuring all kinds of different soils to work their magic with.  Here are 3 of their parcels just to show how diverse each can be.

It really took me a long time for me to understand Chave’s Hermitage Blanc.  It really is unlike any other wine.  The 2001 has a striking nose–powerful, deep, profound, REAL stony, masculine, oily/viscous, with great structure & power….STILL.  I was amazed at how youthful it still is.   There is an unusual acaia-hawthorne-lanolin smell which I don’t recall ever smelling in any other white wine I have had.  I was awed by the depth, layering & verve of this truly big, yet UN-heavy white wine.  It really is worth the hassle & expense of finding an aged one to try.  It really is one of theworld’s unique & iconic white wines.

Categories : White, Wine
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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”

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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.

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