Day Out With Dad

shutterstock_681833038.jpg

Many of you will have experienced the American treasure that is California wine country. I have grown to love and appreciate the people, the places and the wines after moving back to the U.S. thanks to generous clients and new found friends.  Literally the week before the fires I had a rare day out spending one on one time with my father. I was in San Francisco where my parents were on holiday and my dad agreed to drive me to my lunch in Sonoma.  My lunch with Jean Arnold Sessions (a wine legend) in the garden of the El Dorado Hotel was on a beautiful autumn day.  We discussed all things great and good about wine and I shared my new wine love with her, cool climate Viognier. Jean suggested we try the Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa to find some more examples and to see the full range of wines Sonoma has to offer.

The drive is beautiful from Sonoma to Santa Rosa on the incredible Route 12 which leads to Bennett Valley Road. The road is as windy and challenging as any in the world and the geography is stunning, absolutely beautiful and rivals any of the top wine regions, drives like these are precious. I remember thinking, right now nothing else matters than this moment, set all of life's worries aside and take it all in, only in wine country do you get days like these.  As we passed through Glen Ellen to make the left onto Arnold Drive I commented on passing through the historical town and how important it is to this history of California wine. Winding our way through the backroads of Santa Rosa we finally crossed Route 101 and found the Bottle Barn.  Upon entering this incredible wine den I was like a kid in a candy store, so much to see and learn about.  Just as I thought the day could not get any better, another amazing wine experience happened when Jeff Cohn, winemaker and Rhone wine collaborator started chatting with me over the white Rhone varietal section about the beauty and merits of Viognier.  He was thoughtful, insightful and is passionate about his projects and his wines. For me it was another top day in wine country that ended with education and kindness, and a bottle of wine.

Shypoke (3).jpg

I will be forever grateful for the visual postcard recorded in my wine trip memory as we made our way to the Bottle Barn to find those rare Sonoma beauties.  If you have never been to Sonoma or Napa, book your trip today. If you have never tasted the emerging array of Rhone varietals from Sonoma or the Charbonos from Napa, seek them out.  Life is too short to miss the great wine regions of the world, even if wine is not your thing, the natural beauty where these wines come from is always worth the trip.  #winestrong  

How can you help?

                                                         NAPA

  • The Napa Valley Community Foundation: click here.
  • Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership: click here.
  • American Red Cross Wildfire Relief Fund: click here.
  • Napa Humane Society: click here.

                                                     SONOMA

  • Community Foundation of Sonoma: click here.
  • Redwood Empire Food Bank: click here.
  • SHARE Emergency Housing: click here.
  • Sonoma County Animal Services: click here.

                                                   SANTA ROSA

  • Redwood Credit Union Community Fund: click here.
  • You Caring – Tubbs Fire Victims: click here.

                                      OTHER IMPORTANT SOURCES

  • Rebuild North Bay: click here.
  • Salvation Army: click here.

A Matter of Taste: hot Wines of Chile

Chile is one of the world's most exciting wine regions.  Uniquely shaped with wine terroir that varies from West to East, Chile benefits from the cool Humbolt currents off the Pacific Ocean on the West and the varied altitudes of the Andes Mountains on the East creating unique microclimates and variation from North to South. As the only major wine producing country untouched by the nasty phylloxera mite that nearly wiped out wine production in Europe in the 19th Century, Chile can claim to have the most indigenous and pure rootstock in the world.  As a result of the bio-climate the vines and the resulting wines can be called distinctly Chilean. 

We recently tasted through 14 producers and there were certainly some pronounced themes. Of the 14 producers 9 had a Sauvignon Blanc, most of which were unique depending on their proximity to the water. Global demand for “SauvBlanc” is certainly driving production and their unique Chilean expression is offered at a compelling price point. My favorite wines from the tasting were from a small, natural wine Massachusetts distributor, Indie Wineries. I had the pleasure of drinking the varietal Pais produced from 200 year old vines. I had to ask twice to make sure I heard him right. The wines were complex, clean full of life and fresh red and black fruits. There was something for everyone at the tasting and no two wines were alike. 

Cacique Maravilla

Piepno 2016, 100% Pais from Bio Bio in a liter bottle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cot 2015, 33% Malbec, 33% Pais, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would also try the wines from El Viejo Almacen de Sauzal, they too make a 100% Pais as well as a 100% Garnacha, all bio dynamic.

Chile can offer exceptional value, but also exceptional diversity of place making the indigenous varietals sing on their own. All should not be painted with one country brush. Other varietals to look for are Carmenere and Cabernet Franc.

FUN FACT

Did you know Pedro Ximenez, the basis for sticky, toffee, gorgeous fortified wines, also expresses itself as an interesting still wine. We tasted a Pedro Ximenez by Mayu from vines at 600 feet above sea level that was clean, balanced and clearly from a cooler climate given the relative acidity and zing in mouth. Don’t shy away from the still wines that serve as the basis for sweeter wines, they can be a wine adventure in and of themselves.  

GEEK OUT

 

View the gallery below of other wines we enjoyed at Wines of Chile

 

 

rosé, frosé, brosé - summer is here

It's officially summer and that means rosé season. The growth in the category has been off the charts with rosé sales growing at least 10 times faster than overall wine sales. What is this pinkish wine? First things first all grape juice is white, so in order to get red you have to add the skins and to get pink there are three main methods of producing the pretty colors in the bottle, maceration, direct press and saignee. Maceration is the most typical with red grapes macerating for 2 to 20 hours into a lightly colored wine with degrees of color dependent on the varietal and contact time. An extremely short direct press of recently picked red grapes can also make a very light rosé. Saignee is when the juice is "bled" off the skins into a light colored wine. There is a lesser used fourth method, blending, which is just that, chuck a little red wine into a white wine and see what you get, usuallly, not very good wine (unless it's Champagne). At the end of the day rosé is simply the underlying varietal, Grenache, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir etc. turned a little pink.  The pheneological aspects of the grape, combined with the different methods and climates will be reflected in the style, color and nose of the wine.  Fresh, full of life, reminiscent of sunny days and cool nights, rosé says summer like no other wine can.   

Here are 9 our favorite rosés, perfect for any summer day, from the Rhone to California, there is something for everyone. 

Les Lauzeraies $13

From the famed Tavel appellation from the Rhone. They only make one wine, rosé, and its base is usually Grenache and Cinsault in a fuller bodied style. Deep pink colors and a beautiful regional bottle make it extra special. Tavel can age too taking on intersting hues and complexity.

 

Chateau Lauzade Cote de Provence $15

From the heart of Provence and rose, Bandol, this wine screams South of France and you could drink it all day, but don't. Lovely lychee and red fruits on the palate with a floral nose, it is the benchmark from which all other rosé should be compared. 

Honestly the bottle is so damn pretty, you just want to buy it and tip it on its side to view the lovely etched rose before you tuck in. The perfect pressie rose and the juice is pretty good too.  

 

 

AIX $18

Out of magnum, this is a pure party wine and who doesn't love to drink wine with the name of one of the prettiest places in Provence, AIX. Pretty place, pretty wine. 

 

Georgio my Georgio. Fun to speak to and spend time with, Georgio Rivetti is a tireless ambassador for all things Piemonte and Tuscany making wines with style and a modern interpretation on ancient varietals. His rosé is no different. Full bodied, yet light in the glass. Like his Vermentino it is complex, expressive, approachable and sleek. A unique combination of Sangiovese and Prugnolo Gentile. 

 

Chapel Down Sparkling English Rose $19

A rosé by any other name is but a rosé. In the case of English Sparkling wine however, this is not any other rosé. A complex fruity nose gives way to a well balanced rasberry and strawberry effervescent journey through the rolling hills of Kent, England. A distincitve, light bodied bubbly that will bring joy to any summer picnic. 

Minuty $19

My go to. It is various rosés petals in a glass, balanced like strawberries and cream in summer. The flavors work, the acidity is low and for the money, this wine hits well above its weight. Widely available in its distinctive bottle, buy by the case for entertaining all summer long. 

 

Of all the wines on the list, this will be high on impossible to find, unless you reach out directly or contact Sonoma. I fell in love with the story of the Wrotham Clone and when I was able to enjoy the sparkling recently in California I was over the moon. A rare clone that makes distinctive Pinot Noir on the fuller side with the fruit to match this is a fun one. 

 

Garrus $91

The top of the Sacha Lichine portfolio from Chateau D'Esclans, Garrus is a bone dry, elegant rosé, that drinks like no other rosé I have had before. Integrated, lean, sophisticated, this is a grown up rose for grown up budgets but worth the experience if you can find it. Other wines in Sasha's magical rosé stable are the well loved blend, Whispering Angel, two other rosés from the D'Esclans' terroir include Les Clans and Whispering Rock.  

 

FUN FACT

A Matter of Taste: Australia Up Close

Australia is on a mission to lose the perception of wines from Australia being either Yellow Tail or big, jammy, Shiraz based fruit bombs. Australia is willing to experiment and work with their natural gifts and is producing wines of distinction and variation. The messaging is starting to resonate and given Austraila would cover almost three quarters of the US, it is a large country with wines that reflect the various climates produced by dedicated regional ambassadors. 

The venue was Capo Restaurant in South Boston 

The venue was Capo Restaurant in South Boston 

We started our day at Australia Up-Close with a seminar of 10 Grenache based wines from various regions in Australia.  What stood out to me most was the impact older vines had on the wine. They were distinctly leaner, graceful in style and subtle and with less pronounced fruit, tannins and alcohol. There was talk from the panel that old vine Grenache can often express itself with characteristics of Pinot Noir and even the Master Sommelier in the room attested to the cloak and dagger elements of Grenache in blind tastings against the Pinots from Burgundy or Sonoma. From the seminar, I found the Ochota Barrels “Fugazi” McLaren Vale 2016 to be fascinatingly complex and expressive. It brought Amaro to mind with its medicinal undertones and diverse flavors. At the high end of the spectrum, the 2014 Yangarra “High Sands” McLaren Value Grenache was also a joy to drink though. Anyone thinking Australia Grenache, “no thanks” should take the time to look into their regional composition and the vines that produced the wine. We drank from hot Barossa to the cool Clare Valley and each wine was uniquely it’s own in style.

For the walk around tasting it was as big of an Australian tasting as I can remember in my 10 years of professional wine tasting. Wines Australia pulled out all the stops and Boston was one of five major cities they had traveled to, each with a unique seminar. There were 31 tables to tap into at the trade tasting. Australia may have a history of wine branding mastery, and while Penfolds, d”Arenberg, Jacobs Creek and Peter Lehman may be common names at the local wine store, the list of producers was impressive as were the wines. We spent most of our time focused on smaller producers, unique varietals or the top wines on offer and found something for everyone. From the first and only Assyrtiko from Jim Barry to a Monduse, Shiraz, Cabernet Franc Blend from Brown Brothers we were pleasantly surprised by the range and quality. 

Some of our favorites included:

Sparkling.jpeg
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Pictured Left 

Pictured Left