Archive for White

May
04

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.

2011 CARLISLE “THE DERIVATIVE”

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.

2012 LINNE CALODO “CONTRARIAN”

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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Feb
15

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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Jan
19

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.

 CARLISLE

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

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

DOMAINE D’ALLIANCE

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

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

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

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Jan
11

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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Nov
27

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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Jul
26

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“.

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 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.

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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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Jun
01

A Duo of Italians

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2010 Movia Sauvignon

Movia wines are from Slovenia across the border from Friuli, Italy, & are some of the world’s most idiosyncratic, avant garde wines–extreme & certainly interesting. 

 Movia2The estate dates back to 1700’s, passing into the hands of the Kristančič family with a wedding in 1820. The estate extends over 22 hectares of land, about half of which lie on the Italian side of the Goriška Brda (Collio)”. 

 I have been fortunate to try some of their Ribolla based white wines from 1959 & 1969 (in 2007) & was amazed how they tasted. The latest of their wines we have experienced is this 2010 Sauvignon. It is really different…..and a most interesting drink.

 zbbbbThis vine originates from France and arrived to Slovenia from two different directions. Its path leading through Germany and Austria gave it its German alternate name Muscat Silvaner.   Sauvignon produced in Slovene winegrowing regions develops a strong bouquet with distinct notes of bell peppers, hay and elderflower.”

“Organically farmed….late harvest, hand picked, short vine-to-fermentation times (max. 2h). Primary fermentation in large tanks on natural yeasts obtained from the same pre-harvested grapes (5%). Secondary fermentation completed in barrique barrels on the lees, no racking. No sulphur or any other preservatives used before bottling, thus the wine can complete all its natural processes and become naturally stable, ready to last a human lifetime. Matured 18 months in 220 liter French oak barrels. Aged 4 months in bottles before release”.

 This Sauvignon is way different from anything I have tasted from New Zealand, California or France’s Loire Valley or Bordeaux region.  It is resounding stony, with lots of base notes (as opposed to ethereal one gets from lighter soils, such as sand or limestone).  Furthermore, the abundant floral nuances are much more pungent & not as apparently pretty….at least at first.  I believe the winery refers to this as elderflower.  Still, the wine is very light on its feet AND quite sophisticated in its style.  I would also say this wine is quite mesmerizing not only because of its real idiosyncratic character but more about how it has many different nuances & layering……really done so quietly, which really sneaks up on you.

Granato3 Elisabetta Foradori

Here is yet another Italian producer of very interesting, idiosyncratic wines.  The estate is located in the Dolomites of northern Italy near the Austria border…..”lots of mountains and a fresh climate“.  The topography was greatly influenced by several factors, but none as immediate as the Noce River.  The soil is stony alluvial with lots of pebbles & gravel.  Elisabetta, after taking over the domaine after the sudden passing of her father, has chosen to farm organically AND biodynamically……as she understands the great importance of “being a good farmer” & how that will influence her resulting wines.  In short she is on a mission & her vineyards & wines clearly showcase that.

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 1997 Granato

Granato is one of Foradori’s centerpiece wines.  This remarkable & unique red wine is produced from the indigenous Teroldego grape variety, which for this bottling in usually grown in 3 vineyards–Vigna, Cesura & Regin.  The wine is fermented in large open top wood & aged for 18 to 24 months in barrel.

On this night, we sampled the 1997, which right off the bat, we were soooo surprised at how amazingly youthful it was.  It had a density of color, & a kind of a muddy appearance, without much sheen.  The perfume was unusual….which some tasters noted as a real pomegranate quality.  On the palate, we were all surprised at how graceful & elegant it tasted, having expecting at least some kind of coarse-ness or roughness, by the color & aroma.  Remarkably the wine just kept exuding all kinds of nuance & complexity as the wine opened up with air.  Yes, it was stony with a somewhat surinam cherry (a slight pungent/veg quality) in the background.   The wine was very tasty & I would say compelling, because I just had to keep going back to it, to smell & taste more.  The wine has wonderful depth & vinosity, superb balance & a long finish.  Bravo!!!!!!!!!   I just wish I had more!

Categories : General, Red, White, Wine
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The highly acclaimed Durell Vineyard was “an old cattle ranch at the base of the southwestern hills of Sonoma Valley, which stretches across 3 appellations–Sonoma Valley, Sonoma Coast & Carneros“.  Ed Durell was the original owner (1979) but sold it to the Price family in 1998.

The vineyard is 30 miles away from the Pacific Ocean (west)…..10 miles from the northern reaches of San Francisco Bay (south)…..& to the north a 2400 mountain.

Geologically, the soils are rocky-clay-loam.  Yes, this vineyard is well renown for its rocks….which many of its winemaking fans say creates a distinct stoniness in the resulting wine.

I believe this vineyard is the source for many unqiue Chardonnays, more so than other grape varieties.  The wines have a thickness/viscosity, a very tropical quality & innate bitterness, which really needs to be managed both in the vineyard & in thye winery, if you one strives for a bigger window for food friendliness. For me the true benchmark Chardonnay from this vineyard to date was the 2006 Patz & Hall.

2 days ago, we were fortunate to taste TWO versions of Durell Chardonnay.  There was certainluy nothing shy or demure about either.

2011 Loring Chardonnay “Durell Vineyard”   VINO7 001

Star winemaker, Brian Loring, wanted to make a buttery, toasty, oaky goddess from this vineyard in 2011.  The wine was whole clsuter pressed, barrel fermented, full malolactic & spent 10 months in equal amounts of French & Americak oak (of which 50% was new).  Yes, it has that tropical aromatics, is rich, lush, ripe & showy.

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2011 Witching Stick Chardonnay “Durell Vineyard”

Here is the first commercial Chardonnay release from Van Williamson.  Where Van typically works with Anderson Valley/Mendocino fruit, in 2011 he was able to get some Wente clone from Durell.  The crop was small, with low vigor & small berries.  The 2011 was wild yeast fermented (NO SO2 at pressing), whole cluster pressed & saw 50% new French oak.  To me…….a glorious fruit bomb.

Here is what the Vanimal had to say–“This wine has it all in spades. The first aroma is that of wet granite stones after a rainfall, next comes nectarines mixed with butterscotch candies and creme brulee, then the scent of spiced apple pie ala mode. No, I do not have a sweet tooth!  The most remarkable thing about the flavors is the weight and texture on the palate. So much cream and viscosity that you wonder how a white wine could have so much body. Then, all that weight disappears and finishes light and crisp due to the high minerality. The oak mingles with spiciness from the grapes creating a nice spiced vanillin theme throughout the wines evolution in the glass.

The low acidity and high PH associated with the vineyard results in a lot of manipulation in most cellars. But the natural high phenolic level in the fruit and the unique amount of minerals on the palate allows the wine structure to hold up without acidulation. The wine has an apparent taste of tartness without actually having much acidity. Not adding acid to a Chardonnay with 3.92 PH is hard for most professionally trained winemakers. I am glad I left everything alone and allowed the wine to make a loud statement “.

 

Categories : New Releases, White, Wine
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Jan
13

Mediterranean-esque White Wines 01-10-13

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Because of our VINO restaurant, we are always searching for tasty, interesting, food friendly Mediterranean white wines which will work with our foods.  Easier said than done.  Here are 4 of our recent “finds”.

2010VINO9 001 Domaine de Gioielli Cap Corse Blanc

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. 

2011 Virgona Salina Bianco  VINO9 004

An absolutely delicious, riveting, completely refreshing white wine (a blend of the Insolia & Cataratto grape varieties, although I believe because of the aromatics, there is also a smidgeon of Malvasia as well) from the Isle of  Salina, which is located between Sicily & the tip of southern Italy.  Yes, the aromatics & perfume is captivating AND uplifting, which is why I think it can work with a wide spectrum of seafood & vegetable dishes in a similar way to how basil or thyme lift foods.  There is also a pungent underbrush character too, which reminds me of bushes & shrub I smelled in an October walk through Hermitage hill…which I believe the locals noted was hawthorne.  The fruit is pungent with earth tones too, but still very lively, light on its feet & very crisp & refreshing.  We have been waiting for this wine for quite some time! 

VINO9 003

2011 Pedres Vermentino di Gallura “Thilibas”

Here is a dry, crisp, invigorating white wine from the picturesque Isle of Sardegna which works wonders with VINO’s seafood dishes because of its lemony, citrus-y edge. 

Vermentino di Gallura is a white DOCG wine produced in Sardinia, and more specifically in Gallura, territory that extends into the remote, barren, hostile north-eastern part of the island“.

VINO9 002

 

2011 Gramenon Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc “Vie on y est”

This is Viognier grown in clay-limestone soils (with gravel, galets & sand intermixed) in the northeastern stretches of France’s southern Rhone Valley…..done in a risky, uber non-interventionalist winemaking style.  The wine therefore does not taste or smell so overtly varietal….instead is more about wet stones, more pungent fruit qualities (versus tropical or exotic), masculine in personality, rustic yet still surprsingly light on its feet.

Domaine Gramenon is the authentic embodiment of the philosophies that the Laurent (family) espouse. They do not merely champion organic farming, but they incorporate the concept of sustainability into their daily lives by growing their own food and raising their own animals. The domaine bottles an AOC Vinsobres and a myriad of parcels of Côtes-du-Rhône located around the domaine. Though Michèle and Maxime continue to test the confines of the appellation, the cellars are unsurprisingly old-fashioned. The Laurents use gravity-fed cuves and age their wines in oak demi-muids and foudres. That they take such gutsy risks as bottling old-vine fruit with so little sulfur, without fining or filtration, only demonstrates the lengths they will go to in order to highlight the freshness, purity, and intoxicating aromas of their small, rare production“.

 

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