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Showing posts from March, 2009

Organic wine & food matching: Domaine Vigneau-Chevreau Vouvray and artisanal cheeses

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Vouvrayis like the girl with the Scarlett Johansson sweetness, Bette Davis wit, and knockdown Grace Kelly beauty that made all the boys in high school too dumbfounded to ever ask out (except for the dumb jocks, who’d never get a yes).

Vouvray is a thinking man and woman’s white wine because it takes brains to see through the flowery, intoxicatingly perfumed qualities of the Chenin Blanc (the required grape of this AOC), and look into the wine’s soul: the effortlessly acidic spine of the fruit grown in the Loire River Valley’s cold yet maritime moderated climate, and the deep, almost poetic substrata of flavor contributed by the soil (layers of flinty stone and clayish limestone over a plateau of solid limestone – the ultimate grape growing medium).

Earlier this month I ran into one California’s more intelligent, and artistically multiplisitc, winemakers named Larry Brooks (a founder of Acacia, former GM of Chalone, and now proprietor of Campion). I hadn’t seen Brooks in about six year…

Organic wine & food matching: Tres Sabores Porque No and pasta with giblets & mushrooms

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Julie Johnson, winemaker/proprietor of her own Tres Sabores estate, located at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains in the prestigious Rutherford BenchAVA of Napa Valley. Original co-founder of Women for Winesense. Former president of ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers). One of Napa Valley’s pioneers of certified organic grape growing (going back 25 years to her former association with Frog’s Leap Vineyards).

What has Johnson not done? Frankly, I can’t say, as she’s already inspired a generation of women and men devoted, as she is, to producing wines that express the “voice” (i.e. terroir) of vineyards; but even more amazingly, without a drop of self-consciousness, and with a ton of levity.

Perfect example: Johnson’s 2006 Tres Sabores ¿Porqué No?(about $20). The question, why not?, asked because, to Johnson and her cellar crew, it makes perfect sense to blend some of her certified organic estate grown Zinfandel (dominating this bottling) with invigorating if unconventional gr…

Organic wine & food matching: Quivira Sauvignon Blancs & fresh herbed pastas

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“Trying to uncover what a vineyard is trying to say,” says Steven Canter, winemaker of Quivira Vineyards in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley, “is like an archeologist brushing away the sand.”

Plucked by Quivira three years ago from the celebrated Torbreck Vintners in Barossa Valley, Australia, Canter is an American who had come to Sonoma in a roundabout way: first inspired by Kermit Lynch’s earthy, terroir driven imports from France, then wandering the world looking for the vinous meaning of life while picking up jobs as a cellarer in California, Oregon, Italy and South Africa.

The Quivira estate would make a particularly interesting Rubik’s Cube for any winemaker, as it sits on the gravelly, well drained yet fertile loam that has long made Dry Creek Valley a quintessential source of California style Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Planted and replanted over a course of fifty years, according to Canter, “we could see what people were doing in the ‘70s, the ‘80s, the ‘90s, etc.,”…

Southern Oregon Is the Real Deal

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A number of Willamette Valley's most prestigious winemakers -- like Ken Wright (pictured below), Lynn Penner-Ash (left), and Laurent Montalieu -- have been crafting Southern Oregonsourced wines for years.

You may think this has been just for "fun," but au contraire: these vignerons are dead serious about their belief that Southern Oregon is one of the greatest wine regions in the world... especially for Syrah.

To quote Pinot wine god, Ken Wright: Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley Syrah is "more Old World than New World, a delineated Syrah -- graphite, cedar, blueberries, raspberries, and very balanced, never over the top..."

Southern Oregon, in fact, is the real deal. For more details on the terroir and notes on current outstanding releases (Syrahs and Pinot Noirs) from this underrated region, please see this story penned by yours truly for the March 2009 issue of Sommelier Journal, and everything shall be revealed!

Organic wine & food matching: Pierre Morey Meursault & coq au vin blanc

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For Pierre Morey – the former (and legendary) winemaker of Domaine Leflaive, and proprietor of his own Domaine Pierre Morey in Burgundy, France – farming biodynamically (his vineyards Biodyvin certified since 1997) is a matter of stewardship: turning over vineyards from one generation to another at the peak of health and productivity.

Morey is particularly known for his white wines, with family holdings in Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet in Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune, the original home, and center of the universe, as far as any producer of Chardonnay is concerned. But if you are drawing the conclusion that these white wines espouse enormous body, power and concentration of Chardonnay character, let me gently say: it is in the expression of the terroir, rather than grape, that the wines of Domaine Morey excel. As eloquently portrayed in this film, entitled Generations In Harmony:


Domaine Pierre Morey: Generations in Harmony from Wilson Daniels on Vimeo.

You may pay, for instance, abou…