Archive for Wines Revisted
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.
3 epic, rustic red wines from the 2007 vintage (7 yars old)—2 from Italy & 1 from Spain. Each should really ring your bell. It is VERY important for us at VINO to continually feature top caliber wines from the Mediterranean basin. Yes, it is our passion….BUT….it makes sense with the kind of foods Chef Keith creates. How does the lay person sift through all of the labels & marketing jargon to better determine what to buy? Here are 3. Yes, just another opportunity to learn!
When I was growing up in this industry, we were always taught…..there were only 5 noble grape varieties—Chardonnay & Riesling for white wines….AND Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon & Pinot Noir for red wines. Back then, many of our favorite Pinot based wines were light in color, elusive, more fragile & all about refinement, purity, finesse, nuance & seductive-ness. (Of course there were exceptions, but not like today!) As I have mentioned in past VINO tastings…we look in 2014….to show participants….our version of what is good wine…..examples which can serve as benchmarks, which subsequent wines tasted can be judged by. On this night, we will be featuring THREE examples of what we mean….1 each from California, Germany & Burgundy. We are, by no means saying this is all that Pinot can & should be. It is more about understanding where we came from….so we can ask better questions moving forward. Hopefully, this tasting will be insightful. Just another learning opportunity. To make things even more fun,we will serve them BLIND!
After we finished our New Age Kaiseki @ Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas, we did a Blind Tasting with the “guest sommeliers” who poured wines for the dinner. Our goal was to show this new generations of wine professionals what our teachers from England referred to as bankers–typical, “spot on” wines.
Again, I don’t think we as an industry spend enough time teaching people what is good wine. Hopefully we accomplished that on this night, in a small way.
1995 Felsina Chianti Classico “Riserva”
1997 was a VERY highly lauded vintage in Italy, which many people believe one of the best vintages ever. On this night we tried 3 standouts (16 years old), side by side. They are just now opening up again. Just another opportunity to learn.
1997 Terreno Chianti Classico Riserva
a very elegant, classy, highly refined 90% Sangiovese Riserva by superstar consultant Franco Bernabei. “The estate consits of 150 hectares of oak, chestnut trees, vineyards (30 hectares) & olive groves on an amazing terrain. The soil is of the galestro type with large amounts of stone at roughly 1000 feet elevation“. the 1997 had 10% of “other” red grape varieties (Cabernet, Merlot & Canaiolo Nero). Yes, this wine has really opened up again–classy, stylish with forest floor, cedar, stony nuances. This is a very pretty Chianti, which is NOT overdone or internationalized.
Certainly one of the highly regarded estates of Chianti, with vineyard holdings just over 65 hectares at between 1000 & 1700 feet in elevation….with calcareous clay, pebble rich soils. The 2006 was rated 92 points by The Wine Advocate. It certainly displays the dried cherry/red fruit & autumn leaves nuances, one would expect from Tuscan Sangiovese with the pedigree & character would one expect from such a top estate. We were also glad to see the 2006 open up again, eventhough only slightly. The big question is…….is this wine worth $42 retail?
CABERNET SAUVIGNON–’07 Duckhorn; ’98 Hess; ’99 Artesa; ’97 Chateau St Jean “Reserve”; ’01 Philip Togni; ’06 Groth “Reserve”; ’08 Groth “Reserve”; ’96 Heitz “Martha’s Vineyard”; ’05 Palmaz; ’03 Caymus “Special Selection”; ’07 Caymus “Napa Valley”; Ardente “Atlas Peak”; ’97 Livingston Moffett; ’06 Ghost Block; ’05 Flora Springs “Out of Sight Vineyard”; ’03 Flora Springs “Out of Sight Vineyard”….PLUS–’83 Chateau Lynch Bages; ’03 Chateau La Gomerie; ’09 Kistler Chardonnay “Dutton Ranch” & ’09 Kosta Browne Pinot Noir “Sonoma Coast”.
There is always quite a bit of discussion on BYOB policies in restaurants, & rightfully so. As with all such potentially controversial topics…..for me……they just raise questions.
Why do I have to choose a side? Choosing a side can create polarization. I am looking for just the opposite–synergy.
Can’t there be a median? Can’t we look to meet somewhere in the middle? AND…then grow that common ground?
One such effort is what we call the BYOB dinner…..where we come up with a menu (often based upon a wine theme)….complete with wine style recommendations & then invite our regular customers. We set a price (& ask our regulars to leave a little extra gratuity for the staff).
Yes, it was a crazy kind of tasting last night in VINO, which was spearheaded by2 of the regulars. Interestingly, we all share a real appreciation for Napa Valley’s Ric Forman and his wines. (There is another post on this site with a picture or 2 of the vineyard itself).
Here was the “lead off batter”…..showcasing the same graphite/pencil lead/gravel character typically found in Forman’s red wines & therefore found in the bevy of Cabernets tasted later. This one has a little more plumpness in the middle. We were so impressed how remarkably youthful this wine still is.
As VINO regulars well know by now, we are HUGE fans of winemaker Fred Scherrer & his wines. Fred epitomizes the concept of artisan, handcrafted & boutique, as he is essentially a one man show.
Interestingly, we have found over the years, it is hard to find a winemaker/winery who excels at 1 grape variety…..much less Fred excelling at 5 or 6! Yes, his are wines to search out for…..AND they do get better with age…..even his Zinfandels.