10 or 11 years ago, Cheryle & I met Dino Coro’ & Isabella Zambon & their two beautiful, young children—Jessica & Filippo, as they dined in our Hiroshi Eurasion Tapas restaurant. Every year, they would come back to vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii & make periodic “shopping” trips to Oahu & dine at night either at VINO or Hiroshi’s. They have become such dear friends over the years & we have watched Jessica & Filippo grow up & blossom. They all really warm my heart.
A few years ago, while on a wine trip in Germany, Cheryle really wanted to go to Venice to see the city, but also to see our friends. We discovered that their Osteria Oliva Nera eaterie is generally regarded as the finest restaurant in Venice & we had 2 great meals there. We were also amazed at how many people from Hawaii have dined there too & every year when the Coro’ family came to Honolulu thereafter, their Hawaii friends would get together with them in VINO on a special night. For 2015, after a hiatus of 3 years, the Coro’ family (Isabella, Jessica & Filippo) came back….& January 8th was that special night.
Rather than asking Isabella to cook, VINO Chef Keith Endo came up with a special menu & we came up with the wine pairings. For all who know the Coro’ family, this was their chance to say hello. For those who do not know them, this was a chance to savor some of Chef Keith’s foods AND meet some very special people, (which may come in handy if they ever were to go to Venice in the near future).
Here was the menu—
Crispy English Pea Tortellini–served with charred Kahuku corn & smoked Big Island pork
UOVA–with sage brown butter sauce
WINE: Hofstatter Pinot Bianco
Crispy Pork Porchetta–stuffed with mushrooms & served with charred Spring vegetables, home-made cavatelli & pork jus
WINE: 2006 Friggiali Brunello di Montalcino
Pear Tart–with caramel sauce
Yes, it was a very special night. Thank you to all who came. Also, many thanks to Isabella, Jessica & Filippo. I know Dino was also there amongst us & I thank you for coming. As I have said many times in the past, I am somehow connected to this family beyond what I can explain. They truly warm my heart.
Boy, it is hard to keep this blog current, with all of the wines we fortunately taste. Our VINO restaurant seems to draw in a wine crazy group of friends, who are so bent on sharing. We are sooooo grateful to say the least. Here are some of the highlights–
2008 Coche Dury Meursault Premier Cru “Perrieres”
As avid wine collectors well know, Coche Dury produces TWO of the most celebrated collectible white wines–the Grand Cru Corton Charlemagne & the Meursault Premier Cru–Perrieres. Over the years, I have heard so many insiders say how Perrieres should be a Grand Cru vineyard & these 2 wines certainly support that thought. I am often a skeptic with such clamour but these 2 wines are majestic, glorious wines of remarkable intensity, power, intellect, grandeur & pedigree. The 2005 is a monster, so virile, masculine & with surreal intensity & immensity. What a real shame it was to drink at a mere 9 years of age. The 2008, on the other hand, has a riveting, mesmerizing, clearer purity/transparency, eventhough it too was mega-intense & well structured. I often scratch my head in wonderment of what could be, when I see adjacent parcels of Yves Boyer Martenot on one side & on the other side a parcel sourced to Maison Latour.
Talk about having a wine at an ideal time of its life!!!! Pure mineral, with lots of pedigree, precision, refinement & ethereal-ness. Brilliant! Wow! I know some discount the 2003 vintage in France some, but I must say that this wine really showed me otherwise. Furthermore, where Raveneau’s Les Clos & Blanchots bottlings seem riper & more showy, I typically find his Valmur to be much more ethereal, as was the case here. I prefer to believe producers of this echelon really can show different perspectives on a vineyard because of vintage growing conditions……rather than me choosing a specific vintage I like. Here is a case in point!
2001 Francois Jobard Meursault Premier Cru “Charmes”
I am & have been an avid fan of the Meursault wines from Francois Jobard. I am finding more & more, that the numbers of believers like me are dwindling. This style of old fashion winemaking is just not en vogue. I am sorry for Francois & his son Antoine, for the undeserved under appreciation, but selfishly, it means more for me & at far better pricing. I guess I am shooting myself in the foot for even writing about this calamity, but I cannot help myself. Every time I am fortunate to have an older bottle, & after 2 1/2 hours of breathing, I am just completely taken by wines like this. The Jobard Charmes & especially his Genevrieres bottling, in my humble opinion, deserve Grand Cru status, just as the Coche Dury Meursault Perrieres does. Charmes seems finer, more delicate & the Genevrieres more stately with more grandeur. I suggest you use a big glass, so you can swirl & swirl to coax out the magnificance. It really is worth it.
Our New Year’s Eve winetasting in VINO, included 3 top echelon “grower” Champagne. (A friend brought the 4th, just to share). The recoltant manipulant (grower) category of Champagne seems to be really catching on & growing across the country. Here are 3 certainly worth checking out!
100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru Village of Oger. Surprisingly powerful, penetrating!
80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, actually from a single parcel in Rilly la-Montagne. No ML, 10 months in OLD barrels. 50 months sur latte. One of the true standout “grower” Champagnes.
Jacques Selosse Blanc de Blancs Initial “Grand Cru”
Jacques Selosse Blanc de Blancs Exquise “Grand Cru”
100% Chardonnay from the villages of Avize, Cramant & Oger. Typically for the Initial bottling Selosse uses the lower slope vines of the 3 villages AND blends 3 different vintages. Then for the Exquise bottling, he will add a little more dosage , so there is a hint of sweetness (typically around 24 grams per liter). On this night the Initial tasted stark, pure & minerally (to the point of being more Burgundy-like than Champagne like). It was exciting tasting the Exquise, which I do not think is imported into the U.S. or perhaps in very minute quantities, side by side. It gives one a very different perspective.
This was yet another BYOB dinner in our VINO restaurant, where our guests brought in some eye popping wines! We are so lucky to have so many regulars who come to the BYOB dinner with an attitude to share something special & to enjoy with the group. The night’s foray of wines, therefore, included a 1993 Tempier Bandol “La Tourtine”; 2001 Ogier Cote Rotie; 1993 Ceretto Barbaresco “Faset”; 1990 Shafer “Hillside Select”; 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia; 1995 Chateau Calon Segor; 1983 Chateau Lynch Bages; 1996 Chateau Pichon Lalande; 1995 Noel Verset Cornas & 2000 Chave Hermitage, just to name a few red wines, AND 2009 Blanc de Lynch Bages; 2001 Kunstler Riesling Spatlese “Hochheimer Holle” Trocken & Chateau d’Epire Savennieres just to name 3 white wines. Yes, it was quite the night.
To end the evening, 4 bottles of sweet wines were opened & shared.
2001 Gunderloch Riesling Spatlese “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–The town of Nackenheim is located in Germany’s Rheinhessen region, right on the Rhein river. Rothenberg, a steep hillside of red slate soils, is considered the finest site of the town & shares the hillside with other Crus, such as the Pettenthal & Hipping vineyards of the adjacent Niersteiner appellation. I believe Gunderloch owns the biggest parcel & I say, thank goodness for that. Fritz & Agnes Hasselbach have steadily brought their domaine & vineyards to high acclaim through their tireless efforts in the vineyards, winemaking & personal, grass roots marketing. I am always so thrilled to see this really special couple (& now their son/winemaker, Johannes) receive all of the acclaim & accolades for their truly superb wines. I vividly remember, when this wine was released, thinking “oh my goodness, too much extract, too showy & over the top”, after all the grapes were harvested somewhere between 95 & 100 degrees Oechsle with a total acidity at around 8 grams per liter. I felt the ripeness took away from the minerality & transparency of the wine. That may have been true then, but having this wine 13 years later was a true revelation. It really was now all about red slate & profound minerality. I also loved how seamless, complete, well textured & especially how long it was on the palate. I thought it was a standout & certainly one of my favorite wines of the night!!!! That is saying alot, when one stops to think about all of the other star studded wines opened during the night.
1983 Chateau Suduiraut–this is an estate with 92 hectares of vineyards located in the Pregnac commune of Sauternes, adjacent to the iconic Chateau d’ Yquem. The sandy-gravelly soils & the atumnal mists from the convergence of the Ciron & Garonne rivers help to encouage the growth of botrytis cinerea, a beneficial “noble rot” to produce a standout Sauternes (designated as Premier Cru in the 1855 official classification). While 1983 was a a very well received vintage by the media, I believe this wine should be put away in the cellar for considerable more time, so it has a chance to resolve itself more. It really was a waste to open it.
1983 Chateau Rieussec–This highly revered Premier Cru was purchased by the Domaines Barons de Rothschild (also the owners of Chateau Lafite) in 1984. The 93 hectares, located in the Fargues commune of Sauternes, borders Chateau d”Yquem to the west. Like the Suduiraut listed above, I felt it was a real waste to open & drink this wine at such an early age. It really does need much more time to resolve itself–quite closed, with too many rough edges, bitterness & alcohol poking out.
1994 Gunderloch Beerenauslese Gold Kapsule “Nackenheimer Rothenberg”–I am sure Mike brought this wine, because Fritz & Agnes Hasselbach, owners of Gunderloch, were in attendance. I also thank you, because I was fortunate enough to also be in attendance to enjoy this monumental wine! In speaking with Fritz, they produced TWO BA’s in 1994, this being designated as Gold Kapsule, because it was harvested at well over 200 oechsle (3 separate passes through the vineyard), with 10 to 11 grams of total acidity & finished at 8 degrees alcohol. This wine was certainly unctuous, BUT NOT over the top so. The wine’s once apparent sweetness has really evolved with the 20 years of bottle age, & there is so much more tactile elements developing rather then pure sweetness. Plus, I love how, because of this evolvement, the stoniness & terroir is once again resurfacing to the forefront. This was truly a magnificent wine. Thank you Mike for sharing!!!!
Subject: World’s Top 50 Most Expensive Wines?
Again, one of our goals for 2014 is feature more & more good wines……those which others can be compared to. This will help, tasters create a solid base to work from as their tasting adventures continue. It is not as easy as one would think. Here are 4 standouts from the superb 2007 vintage! Yes, just another really good opportunity to learn! Wines like this just don’t happen along!
Back in the late 80’s, 9 artisan producers from Beaujolais caught my eye. Please keep in mind, this was still a time when Beaujolais wine was not taken seriously. I find it truly remarkable that despite the fact that many years have passed, & I have tasted & found so many new wines, from all parts of the world, my list of tasty, interesting, artisan Beaujolais has NOT changed! This is one of those standouts…….from the Cru village of Fleurie. Now 7 years old, the wine has evolved in the bottle & offers us new dimension, which has emerged with age. A must to try!!!!
Albino Rocca has been one of our all time favorite Barbaresco producers. We, in fact, visited him in 2007, walked his vineyard with him & tasted some of his “library” wines to get a better idea of how special his vineyard, Brich Ronchi is & how truly talented Angelo was as a winemaker. It was one real eye opening visit, believe me. We were subsequently very saddened to hear of his untimely passing. We taste his benchmark 2007 on this night as a tribute to his incredible winemaking gift & his fierce passion for his craft.
There is no doubt, Meo Camuzet is one of the iconic, contemporary producers of Burgundy’s modern era. Here is your chance to taste one of his Premier Cru wines from the 2007 vintage. One really needs to be patient with this wine. It really does need some time.
When you see this panoramic, truly breathtaking vineyard you will be awe struck. There are very few majestic, magnificent sites like this in the wine world. Thankfully, the resulting wines are equally majestic & breathtaking. There is a reason why Theo Haart was selected as “2007 Gault Millau Winemaker of the Year” & here is your chance to see why.
Again, one of our goals for 2014 is feature more & more good wines……those which others can be compared to. This will help, tasters create a solid base to work from as their tasting adventures continue. It is not as easy as one would think. Here are 4 standouts from the Mediterranean basin. These are some of the most interesting & provocative rustic reds we have run across. I think soulful is a really good word to use here. If you want to better understand what we mean when we say soulful, then you should come & try these wines. Yes, just another really good opportunity to learn! Wines like this just don’t happen along!
Corsica’s star is rising on the American wine scene. Sommeliers & wine professionals across the country are jumping onto the Corsican bandwagon on the fast track. The rugged & very remote countryside produces some equally rugged, masculine red wines, of which the very finest are crafted from indigenous grape varieties. Certainly leading the charge is Abbatucci. Genius!!!! AND, a true champion of tradition & authenticity—in their wines & especially their environment.. Here is their Ajaccio (southwestern Corsica) which is produced from the Sciaccarellu & Niellucciu grape varieties, which are biodynamically farmed. A must to try!!!!
2007 D’Aupilhac “Le Carignan”
The family has been working this special tract in Montpeyroux down in southern France since the 1800’s, although the vineyard itself dates back to Roman times. (The Romans were true experts on where to plant their vines!) The neighbors across the way include Daumas Gassac & Grange des Peres (talk about an unreal neighborhood!!!). The ancient Carignane vines were planted on severe terraced hillsides with all kinds of crazy, extreme soils, which, at least partially, explains the completely wild & rustic character of this standout French “country” red. You never had something like this before!
2008 Guido Porro Barolo “Santa Caterina”
Here is our chance to show tasters a Barolo as it was made BEFORE roto fermenters & all of the other modern technology which is used to make modern/contemporary renditions. Yes, this is a winery who is dedicated to traditional methods both in the vineyards & in the cellar. The Caterina monopole vineyard is located at roughly 1200 feet elevation in the limestone heavy soils of Serralunga d’Alba. The region is most noted for producing long lived, full bodied Barolo. I therefore smile that the Porro version is much more elegant & refined, yet masculine, traditional & truly authentic in its core!!!!
2008 Tempier Bandol “La Tourtine”
Tempier has to be the most storybook wine of all. Their wines & estate is iconic, steeped in tradition, history & regional culture. It is hard for me to separate the wine from the family & its history. There is really nothing else like Domaine Tempier. The La Tourtine bottling usually is dominately Mourvedre, with some Grenache & Cinsault for finer details. I find the resulting wine has wonderful structure, more refinement & needs bottle age to really strut its stuff. Here is your chance to taste one of their treasures yourself & experience the magic of Domaine Tempier & its wines.
Slacker Stereotype 2012
Slacker The Professional 2012
A “side” project of Matt Trevisan of Linne Calodo featuring blends he crafts from grapes from the Slacker & Oakdale ranches. Still, masterfully blended….BUT at a different price point.
Gramercy Cellars Syrah Columbia Valley 2012
Gramercy Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Lower East 2012
Stellar, highly acclaimed Washington State wines from Master Sommelier Greg Harrington. Warren was right…it is time to really Look at the New Age generation forming there, just as we have seen in the past from Paso Robles, Santa Barbara & Anderson Valley.
Anthill Farms Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2012
Drew Pinot Noir Fog Eater 2012
TWO superb Pinots….from New Age winemakers, in pursuit of true balance & deliciousness.
Maison L’Envoye Attache Pinot Noir 2012
Mark Tarlov teams up with Mike Etzel Jr & consultant Louis Michel Liger Belair from Burgundy for this lovely Oregonian Pinot
Drew Pinot Gris Filligreen 2013
Melville Estate Viognier Verna’s 2012
Linne Calodo Contrarian 2013
We continually look for top caliber AROMATIC white wines, as we think there really is a HUGE opportunity to pair with contemporary fusion foods. Here are 3 superb examples.
Rivers-Marie Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2012
Melville Estate Chardonnay 2013
Tyler Chardonnay Dierburg 2012
These 3 producers exemplify a New Age of what California Chardonnay can be.
Quenard Chignin Blanc 2013–A dry, amazingly light & crisp white from savoie, France & the foothills of the French Alps.
Domaine Maestracci E Prove Blanc 2012–Yet, another example of why I am so revved up about Corsica & its wines.
Reverdy Sancerre Cuvee Ortus 2009
Champalou Vouvray Clos Portail 2011
SPECIAL bottlings (produced in only certain vintages) from TWO of my all time favorite Loire Valley wines
When I was growing up in this industry, I was taught there was only 5 nobble grape varieties—Chardonnay & Riesling for whites AND Syrah, Cabernet/Merlot & Pinot Noir for reds. That was the inspiration for this tasting. 3 “noble” reds….each epitomizing “classical” & each being a standout for their appellation. Yes, these are benchmarks for others to be measured by….another set of stellar example of what “good” wines can be. Just another really good opportunity to learn!
“Along the steep, narrow valley that traces the northern Rhône, the appellation of Saint-Joseph takes its place among the great wines of France, and Domaine Faury is one of the region’s most artisanal producers. The steep slopes of the northern Rhône present a challenging terrain where farming is only feasible through terracing. On these terraced slopes, the Faurys’ vines take full advantage of the southern and southeastern sun exposure, benefitting from optimum ripening. A combination of the predominately granitic soil, partial de-stemming (in about 70% of the grapes), soft crushing of the grapes with a pneumatic press, and temperature controlled fermentation offer a liveliness and freshness that one does not often find in wines from the northern Rhône. There’s a real attention to detail here, and nothing is done in haste. Every method used encourages the grape towards greatness with the ultimate respect for its fragility. Pigeage, the punching of the cap, is not carried out with tools, but gently by foot – not just poetic but also pragmatic. Unlike many other vignerons in the region, the Faurys have a strong aversion to new oak. Though the reds definitely see time in barrels, there is a rotation between new and old alike, along with a variety of sizes, ranging from the smaller barriques to the larger 600-liter demi-muids. Unfined and only lightly filtered before bottling, these wines are loaded with classic flavors and show a remarkable rustic elegance”. Classic, wonderfully captivating northern Rhone Valley Syrah–explosive, expressive Syrah perfume (of hillside grown….NOT just tooty fruity, varietally correct)….masculine, sultry, musky, floral, peppery, gamey….done without a heavy hand. Gorgeous is a good word here.
2000 Chateau Gombaude Guillot “Pomerol”
In the heart of the Pomerol plateau, on the Right Bank of Bordeaux, are the vineyards of Château Gombaude-Guillot Though the estate is already certified organic, they are now pursuing the more stringent requirements of biodynamics. As a recently discovered jewel in the crown of Bordeaux, Pomerol does not have an official classification system, yet the standards set for the vignerons here are high. The château’s vineyards are comprised of glacial gravel deposits and clay, and vineyard work is focused around soil health, low yields, and maximizing ripeness. Cover crops are planted between vineyard rows to encourage microbiological activity in the soil. No chemical or synthetic herbicides or fungicides are used, and Claire, the current proprietor, is also careful not to eliminate vineyard pests entirely, citing their importance to the vineyard’s ecosystem. The vines average forty years of age and give naturally low yields. The wines of Gombaude-Guillot are classic reflections of Pomerol: rich and supple, with a deep gravel mineral structure. This vin de garde has all of the grace and finesse for which the appellation is known, without any of the highbrow pretention or price. The legendary 2000 is 85% Merlot & 15% Cabernet Franc aged in Allier oak (50% new). This 2000, eventhough from a highly lauded, ripe vintage, is done more in a style I grew up with. NO fruit bombs here! Yes, this wine is certainly more about the soil than about grape variety, winemaking or oak use. I really appreciate its finesse & more classical, sublime soil driven intricacies.
Domaine Maume’s wines are deep, profound Pinot Noir experiences. They are wines of mystery – constantly changing and evolving, both in barrel and in bottle, like the Burgundies of the past. They are bottled from barrel by gravity without any pumping, fining or filtration. The secret to Maume’s success is his rigid adherence to selection massale cuttings in his replanting of the family’s vineyards. By isolating vines with the healthiest grapes, they replant only the best. Most of their vines are quite old, too, averaging 50 years of age across all parcels. Maume does not believe in using new clones but is a strong believer in the diversity of old Pinot stock. Maume’s “En Pallud” is a particularly well-suited lieu-dit just south of the village on the slope, below the premier cru Les Corbeaux and at the same elevation and exposure as the grand crus. The Maumes have a sizeable parcel here of 65 year-old vines, produced in 2007 with NO stems & only a tiny bit of new oak. A great bottle from Maume takes you about as deep into the Burgundian soul as you can get. I was saddened to hear that this domaine recently sold to a larger company.
The other night, our friend, Dr Chris, surprised us all by bringing in a selection of some interesting wines from the Isle of Corsica. As VINO regulars well know, I have a real hankering for Corsica, as I have wanted to visit there for well over 25 years, ever since I tasted my first glass of Luigi Clos Nicrosi. The wine had such interesting flavors, viscosity & unique character. I am sad the wine is no longer produced. Well, the importer, Kermit Lynch, has uncovered several other interesting producers over the past few years & is now importing them into the U.S.. Thank you Chris for a wonderful tasting AND including the map, pictured to the right, which gave everyone a better picture of where each of the wines come from.
Michel Angeli is the man behind this winery, which is located in Cap Corse at the northern tip of the Island. As the map will show you, this region actually looks like a finger pointing north. The soil is mainly schist-clay & Michel had first planted Vermentinu & Codivarta & later Niellucciu (he got from Patrimonio) & Aleatico he got from Elba. 1952 was his first harvest. This particular bottling is typically around 50% Niellucciu, 25% each of Aleatico & Merlot, which he ferments in 100% stainless steel. Yes, it is rustic in smell & taste, is quite masculine in character, but flows on the palate surprisingly well from beginning to end. Merlot makes a surprising appearance, given Michel’s appreciation of native grape varieties, but as expected, it really seems to round out the edges in this case. (By the way, we have also purchased some of his rare Rappu wine, which is Aleatico, dried out on straw mats for 10 days, pressed, fermented in concrete (a touch of residual sugar, 16% alcohol) & then aged in old oak barrels for 7 years.
2011 Canarelli “Corse Figari”
Canarelli comes from the southern tip of Corsica. The vineyards lie inland from the sea, along a plateau, on granitic-alluvial soils rich in minerals & is both organically & biodynamically farmed. The climate is greatly moderated by the winds gusting off the Gulf of Figari. The 2011 Rouge is 80% Niellucciu, 15% Syrah & 5% Sciaccarellu, 100% destemmed & aged in large foudres for 14 to 18 months. One could readily detect the Syrah in the nose & taste. Eventhough people say this is a rustic style, I think it would be an easier wean into Corsican red wines for the Californian palate than any of the other reds we tasted on this night. (On another note, they also have indigenous grape varieties such as Carcahjolu Nera, Biancu Gentile, Paga Debiti, Barbarosa & Minustellu planted & featured in some of their other bottlings).
Yves left his family domaine to create his own, which specialized in a single terroir–“E Croce” E Croce faces the Gulf of St Florent & features a chalky soil, which lies upon a thick bedrock of pure schist. This is essentially another 1 man show. This bottling is 90% Niellucciu & 10% Grenache, which was fermented in stainless steel & aged for 12 months before release. One could detect on first smell & taste there is some Grenache in the blend. (We tasted the wines with NO knowledge of the soils the vines grew in nor the grape varieties used). Leccia’s wines are more refined, elegant & quite classy. They are really a pleasure to drink.
Antoine Arena Patrimonio
Arena is certainly one of the most revered producers of the Island. His vineyards are located in the Patrimonio appellation. Within Patrimonio he organically farms several parcels. Carco (2 hectares, planted in 1987) is mainly Niellucciu in chalky-clay-limestone soils. Morta Maio (2 hectares, planted in 2001) on clay-limestone soils. Of the 3 tasted on this night, I much preferred the 2010 Carco, which had a complete-ness, balance & soul. This wine surprised me, as I usually find Arena wines too much for my palate. Yes, it was rustic, perhaps too much so for many tasters, but it really had something to say, in a VERY unique way.
Although, this wine was NOT tasted on this night (mainly because we have not been able to get for the past couple of vintages), I just have to mention it here, because it is so damn good! I remember Kermit Lynch once saying–“Drinking her rose is like drinking a cloud. There is an absolute weightlessness to it. Nothing is left on the palate but perfume“. Marquiliani is located on the island’s eastern coast (Costa Serena)….in the village of Aghione, high altitude, & therefore, cooler nights. The terraced vineyards are a mix of schist, granite & gravel with silt. The rose is typically 90% Sciaccarellu & 10% Syrah, direct pressed, fermented in stainless steel with NO malolactic.