Focus on Andrea Sartori – Wines of Cerulli Spinozzi

Cerulli Spinozzi, run by Enrico Cerulli Irelli, is a prestigious historic agricultural estate aiming to nurture tradition whilst embracing a modern approach.

It was originally formed in the early 1900’s through the merger of two properties, that of the Spinozzi family and that of the Cerulli Irelli family. Out of their common love and passion for agriculture was born the company Cerulli Spinozzi.

Though it’s history may date back more than a century, the current winery that produces the amazing wines we can taste today was built in 2003 by two brothers on the Cerulli Irelli side – Francesco and Vincenzo. 2003 was also the year Cerulli Spinozzi partnered up with the Sartori di Verona brand, with the aim of reviving momentum and the value of the 53 hectares of indigenous grapes. It was through their exquisite and rich ruby-coloured Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that the Cerulli Spinozzi estate caught the eye of Sartori, as it demonstrated the family’s dedication to the viticulture perfectly and aligned with Sartori’s goal of extending itself beyond the boundaries of the Veneto region in the name of exploration.

One of Cerulli Spinozzi’s most prized features is its remarkable location. From every angle you can see the Gran Sasso Mountain, which is home to the southernmost glacier in Europe and which, it is said, Napoleon himself found to be a worthy place to rest. A few kilometers away, past the rolling hills of Teramo that lie to the west, you can reach the Adriatic coast, where in ancient times the low sandy beaches were easy landing places for pirates and fishermen, while today they welcome vacationers.

 

2015 Cerulli Spinozzi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo D.O.C

Ideally served with roast meats and game, this flagship 100% Montepulciano wine has a robust structure with good fruit, medium acidity. Read More

Focus on Andrea Sartori – Wines of Casa Vinicola Sartori

Pietro Sartori

In the last part of 1800s, Pietro Sartori’s trattoria was a place that could not be missed for merchants, small industrialists, and businessmen of the area, for whom Pietro could never lack the best Rosso Veronese, as it called back then. It was this inn and its strategic location that would turn Pietro into a wine merchant: the daily pouring over the counter and the direct sales to the public in demi-johns and bottles made it necessary to have a steady supply of wine that was sufficient in both quantity and quality.

Thus, in 1898 grandfather Pietro bought his first vineyard in Negrar, so that the good wine would always be on the tables of his devoted clientele. In those days, horses had to carry people and goods, and Peter rode like a pioneer determined to find opportunities to expand businesses everywhere job opportunities and growth arose, in Verona, in Brescia, on the shores of Lake Garda, and lower Trentino. A flourishing business definitely did not deter him, however, from his desire to have a large family: he had five children and he made them all study, encouraging them to attain a degree, something that was not too common at that time.

Now among the Sartori family, there stood a lawyer, an engineer, a doctor … and Regolo, the sole heir to exhibit, without a doubt, a calling for wine. It would be Regolo, who would take charge of the company after Pietro’s retirement and re-launch the family’s trademark towards the second half of the last century.

Regolo Sartori

Regolo proves himself a worthy son of his father. He believes in the company, has a great passion for wine, and works tirelessly to consolidate and make Sartori even more respected in the market.

The headquarters is always Villa Maria, an investment grandfather Pietro had probably already imagined as the ideal place to raise his family and his company.

A true gentleman devoted exclusively to his profession and his family, Regolo was regarded as a rather talented wine broker with an extraordinary palate. He loved to care for it as a violinist does his hands.

Regolo used to personally prepare his wines for his customers, who, at the end of the “composition” would affix their signatures on the barrel, confirming their approval of the blend.

Today, Sartori reproduces this way of working on a large scale. Sartori = tailoring, in a name, an omen! Just as a tailor styles, Sartori measures, sketches the design, chooses the fabrics and finally creates the suit–the blend, the wine–which will walk down the world’s most prestigious “catwalks” and shine in a glass of Amarone or Soave Classico, the quintessence of Made in Verona, Italy.

After the Second World War, in 1947 Sartori officially starts to produce and market its wines. The company grows, the numbers become significant, and expansion remains a priority for Regolo. He improves the technology, buys new vehicles, and works without ever accepting and using, in his own vocabulary, the word “holiday.”

But in 1952, Regolo dies, and his two young sons, despite the difficulties, assume control of the company. Pierumberto, in the jargon of the family, becomes Foreign Minister and looks after the business side, while Franco assumes the title, Minister of the Interior, or in other words, production and personnel management.

In the 60’s there is a boom. Italy is a land commercially now “won” and the company follows its own calling for export by taking on new countries like Germany, Britain, and the United States, markets for which there is a natural affinity.

The family estates are their “safe” and celebrate the most important grapes for their wines: Amarone, Valpolicella, Soave.

They became a source of great satisfaction thanks, a constant improvement that was, is, and always will be a key feature of Sartori di Verona. In the late 90s, Regolo’s sons, Franco and Pierumberto, loosen up some of their control of the company.

The hand-over coincides with an event of revolutionary scope, not only for company assets but also for the identity of Sartori di Verona: joining the Board of Directors of the Colognola ai Colli winery.

The occasion was historical: two true champions, Pierumberto Sartori and the Director of the Cantina Sociale di Colognola, Giancarlo Lechthaler, had met, studied, visited each other for quite some time, and eventually established a bond of mutual esteem.

There is the appropriate understanding, personal even before commercial, to combine their business strengths: from Cologna, production capacity and from Sartori, distribution and marketing. The goal is to launch a common project with ambitious objectives for growth in producing and distributing high-quality wine throughout the world.

The venture marks the final exit from the stage of the “senior” Sartoris. They decided to abdicate, this time officially, in favour of the young heirs. In fact, the agreement establishes the beginning of a new era at Sartori, one with a renewed awareness based on a number of previously unknown vineyards, sales with exponential growth, accessibility, otherwise impossible, to people, equipment, knowledge, experience, and organizational skills.

Today, Sartori’s success is in large part due to its international efforts, which represent over 80% of its sales in over 50 countries: throughout Europe, in North and South America, in Russia, in South East Asia.

The motto “di Verona” together with the noble presence of Can Grande della Scala that stands out in our logo, attest to our profound and indissoluble bond with the places, history, beauty and elegance of one of the most visited cities in the world. Sartori, as we like to say in the company, has always fought for Verona, focusing exclusively on the classic Veronese wines: Valpolicella, Soave, Bardolino, Bardolino Chiaretto.

Wines elegantly reinterpreted and personalized to meet the tastes of consumers from the four corners of the world, thanks to dedicated wine-making trips, but above all to the precision of our master blender and his international team of winemakers.

The labels on which the company is now focusing on are Regolo Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso DOC and Marani Bianco Veronese IGT (a.k.a. Ferdi in the U.S.), two wines that are extremely representative of the Sartori portfolio.

With these two wines, Sartori stretches the borders of the established rules or discipline, always using Veronese vines and varietals, but doing so with a freer hand in order to create a style and characteristic identity–an identity that the company would, one day, like to see regarded as the direct expression of its elegant style and of its personality as a wine producer.

Since 2003 Sartori has focused heavily on organic practices on all their sites. In conjunction with this, there is a focus on tailoring the best wines and not being swept around on the wings of fashions.


The Wines of Casa Vinicola Sartori

NV Sartori Erfo Prosecco

One of the most elegant and complex presentations of Prosecco.

 

2015 Sartori Marani Bianco Veronese IGT

Garganega; one of Veneto’s traditional grapes. Complex and tropical with an acid studded spine.

 

2012 Sartori Regolo Rosso

Named for the son of the founder, this wine highlights Sartori’s devotion to tailoring stunning wines from the vines and varieties found in Veneto.

 

2009 Corte Brà Amarone della Valpolicella DOC

This is a true classic Amarone from the hill north of Verona. Intensely spiced and perfumed this wine gives way to ripe tannins and dark fruit culminating in a mouth wateringly unctuous flavour bomb of a wine.

 

2013 Sartori Rerum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico DOCG

This sweet representation of the vines north of Verona is a balancing act of red fruit driven sweetness balanced beautifully with acid and delicate tannins.

 

NV Sartori Grappa di Amarone della Valpolicella

Distilled exclusively from the grapes that make the famed Amarone. Aged for 2 years before bottling, it’s round and floral with a palate touched with dried fruits.

Introducing Demeter Zoltán – Legend of Tokaji

A brief history of Zoltén Demeter in his own words.

“My winery was founded in 1996 with the intent to take a full and active part in the recognition and rediscovery of Tokaj terroir and its wines. I obtained the professional basis partly in the Budapest University of Horticulture, partly in the United States, France and Great Britain. I have participated in the life of Tokaj-Hegyalja since 1993, launching and running foreign-owned wineries. In the first years of my venture, I made wine from the family owned a plot in Boda vineyard in Sátoraljaújhely with the traditional tools of our cellar. In the following years, I purchased lands in different parts of Tokaj-Hegyalja: Szerelmi vineyard in Tokaj, Veres, Betsek and Ősz-hegy vineyards in Mád, Hold-völgy and Új-hegy vineyards in Rátka and the Kakas and Lapis vineyards in Bodrogkeresztúr. Today I produce wines from 9 different vineyards in 5 settlements, totalling 7 hectares. Wine fermentation and maturation takes place in the cellar of a historic house built in 1790 in the town of Tokaj. Using up my opportunities I strive to make single vineyard selections each year. I produce wines in 3 categories, which are, Dry, Főbor (principal wine) and Aszú wines, which I am inclined to think are most clearly able to reflect the uniqueness of Tokaj-Hegyalja.Through conscious yield restriction, one can understand the optimal maturity and uncover the diversity and richness of each vineyard. I eagerly try to promote Tokaj’s revised position on the world map of wine.”

 


2015 Veres -Tokaji Furmint

This dry wine is scented with heady white flowers, green apple with a palate to match with the addition of lime.

 

2013 Eszter -Tokaji Cuvée

Ripe stone fruit jump out of the glass. The wine is a beautifully crafted balance between fruit and vineyard. Honeyed and oily with a crisp acidity playing ying to the fruit weights yang.

 

2007 Aszú – Holdvölgy Vineyard Selected

Complex spice and savoury notes from Botrytis rich fruit at harvest. Well integrated and balanced.

Introducing EXOPTO – Bordeaux meets Rioja

Exopto = Tom Puyaubert

When thinking of Rioja, Bordeaux isn’t usually the first connection you make. In the case of EXOPTO you can’t separate the two and that is down to one fact; Tom Puyaubert…

Tom is an enigma when it comes to wine makers in Rioja. In 2000 this Frenchman moved from Bordeaux to Rioja. Initially, his focus wasn’t on wine but barrels. Working for Saury (a top barrel producer from Bordeaux), he was exposed to the highest levels of wine from the region and he fell in love. With a background making wine in both France and USA particularly focused on working in smaller wineries rather than working on a commercial scale.

In a region known for traditional wine making Exopto is pushing boundaries. This acceptance and integration of new technology, winemaking techniques and ideology are the hallmarks of these wines. From hanging the Graciano longer until it’s almost raisin-like to extended ageing in oak of Rioja’s dominant white grape Viura.

2014 Exopto –  Containing 60% Graciano, Rioja’s rarest red grape, this wine is a power house of fruits of the forest, baking spice and dark chocolate.  [READ MORE]

2015 Horizonte de Exopto – Following a more traditional line this Tempranillo matches blackberry and smoke with silky tannins and a mineral lift. [READ MORE]

2015 Bozeto de Exopto –  50% Garnacha, 40% Tempranillo, and 10% Graciano. Punchy currants, cedar and tobacco. [READ MORE]

These are some truly astounding wines.

Puneet in California: Day 5

California Day 5 – Napa to Sonoma Coast

A great drive from Napa to Sonoma Coast through such A.V.A’s as Alexander Valley and Russian River. The drive along the Sonoma Coast is quite awesome, with the eerie mist swirling around you, next to steep drops to the sea. We arrive at Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast, make our way up Timber Cove Road and into Seaview Rd (Flowers is at No.14500 Seaview Rd). As if by magic we pop out of the Ocean Mist. Immediately the sun and temperature hit us.

It’s quite impressive, The vineyard sits on either side of a canyon which is literally the San Andreas fault line. The soils are multiple including a lot of soil similar to Burgundy – Volcanic Schist, but also red iron/clay. The steep hills are not terraced but instead close planted straight down the steep slopes. The whole site is farmed Biodynamically. Every 15th row is a crop of flowers with various functions for the eco system, and multiple cover crops. The site we have come to is the Camp Meeting Ridge site – 35 acres, elevation 1,400 feet. The Sea View Ridge is about 10km south and can be seen in the distance from Camp Meeting Ridge.

 

We walk onto the back deck of the house for the tasting, and what an incredible view.

 

 

2016 Sonoma Coast Rosé
Provencal style  – light onion skin, well balanced, light red and raspberry fruits, gentle vanilla touch of spice – very good.

 

2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
9-11 months oak – hints of wet stone and shortbread – citrus and stone fruits – some hazelnut and light toast – delicious.

 

2014 Camp Meeting Ridge Chardonnay
19 months oak – 1,000 cases per year – more fatty creme brûlée – second half shows the classic sea salt mineral oyster shell aspect – exceptional.

 

2015 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Distinct mossy character – clean red fruit ripe and integrated tannins – seamless – strong pinot noir typicity.

 

2014 Camp Meeting Ridge Pinot Noir
Beautiful warm brown earth notes, exceptional fragrance and perfumed notes – which takes this into Premier Cru + territory.

 

2014 Seaview Ridge Pinot noir
Meatier – took a while for the nose to open up, also more acidity – bigger all round – concentrated red fruits. Will please those Otago Pinot lovers. (The vineyard is higher elevation and iron rich).

 

That evening I revisit the 2013 Hirsch Chardonnay – clearly a cult wine here, almost the younger protegé of Flowers (although the two vineyards are not connected in any way). It is expensive – but quite possibly even more Burgundian in style than Flowers. It is not quite as fatty as flowers and the palate broadens out as you taste – with more mineral and saline elements. Anyway, I managed to finish a bottle of it, and then thought I saw the coming of the New Messiah as the sun set over the Pacific – so it must be quite good.
 
THE END OF THIS CALIFORNIA WINE EXPERIENCE

 

Sweets, Aperitifs and Digestifs!

A perfect meal always has that touch of a little extra…

An aperitif to set the tone, digestif or dessert wine to take the final notes to a whole ‘nother level… In the eyes of Dhall & Nash the elements that make a wine list great are; The Wine, internationally known and critically acclaimed, of optimal drinking age and referenced on internationally acclaimed lists.

Aperitif – Fernando de Castilla Oloroso Antique

With a history dating back to 1837 and every drop being agged for at least 20 years this Sherry is a highly sought after treat.  Following the ancient traditions of the region, this sherry is unfined and meticulously nurtured. It’s so good it’s been a staple on the list at The Ritz for years.   “The NV Antique Oloroso is open and expressive in the nose, with a predominant note of hazelnuts and varnished wood, a sweet touch of spices, brandy filled chocolates and orange rind. The perfectly balanced palate shows intense, clean, pure flavors and great length. 5,000 bottles produced yearly. Drink 2013-2016” –Luis Gutierrez 95 pt (Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate)

Digestif – Chambers Rutherglen Grand Muscat

Set in the spiritual home of fortified wines in Australia – Chambers is one the big dogs. This nuanced Muscat is dark spicy and richly sweet; think espresso, candied orange zest and cherry pie. This rare treat is sought by somms the world over. From Rockpool, Sydney to The Grand Hotel Stockholm this wine is revered.  “Deep mahogany. Dried fig and black tea on the nose, then concentrated mocha and molasses flavours, enlivened by candied orange zest. Full, rich and sweet, but surprisingly drinkable, with terrific intensity and length.” – JOE CZERWINSKI 97 pt (Wine Enthusiast)

Noble Wines- 1998 Château d’Yquem Sauternes

This is the pinnacle of dessert-style wines, d’Yquem needs little introduction.  Thomas Jefferson purchased 250 bottles of the 1784 vintage stating Sauternes, This is the best white wine of France and the best of it is made by Monsieur de Lur-Saluces. The wine’s balance of acidity and sugar means its ageing potential is amazing, Robert Parker scored the 1811 vintage 100 points in 1996, well over a century since the grapes were harvested.  The ‘98 is elegant and refined; sweet aromas of creme brulee, pineapples, apricots, and white flowers. Medium to full-bodied with a firm nutty complex finish. No amazing restaurant can be without this wine for ages.  “Pale gold. Knockout aromas of creme brulee, coconut, vanilla bean, honey and orange peel. Lush and seductively silky in the mouth; its creamy, seamless texture makes it seem deceptively accessible today but sound acid structure should keep it going for 20 years or more. Not hugely sweet or tropical but very complex and fine. Firm, hazelnutty finish offers great length…” – 95 pt Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar

Puneet in California: Day 4

California Day 4 – St Helena to Geyserville

 
The day begins at Coppola – Dhall and Nash’s first winery from California.
It’s busy – memorabilia meets wine. But similar to Bogle, literally behind all the glitz is a 2 million bottle a year operation – Coppola is now the 12th largest wine producer in America, and of course privately owned by Francis Ford Coppola. His aura is everywhere, from his wines and film memorabilia to his favourite dishes on the restaurant menu.

 

Emily and Amy meet me and we taste some wines from the large range…

14 Votre Sante Chardonnay – Large mid palate – cream and then more cream.

 

15 Rosso & Bianco Cabernet Sauvignon – A hint of eucalyptus, some stalk but not displeasing.

 

13 Elanor – Petite Syrah / Zinfandel – Lovely aromatics – blue black fruit and spice.

 

13 Archimedes – 80% Cabernet Sauvignon / 10% Cabernet Franc / 10% Merlot from Alexander Valley. 21 months in new French oak. Lovely tannins – a sign of good Cabernet here – not too soft – still grainy but ripe and integrated.

 

15 Diamond Claret – I find the eucalyptus again – red fruit – more aggressive tannin.

 

Excited to be hosting Emily in New Zealand again sometime between June and August, and also to have their consent to start trading Coppola in Australia.

 

In the afternoon we visit Spottswoode – what a joy.
10,000 cases a year produced vinified off of 28 blocks in one site in St Helena. We meet MaryPat and also the owner Beth. Beth’s mother and father had upped sticks and moved to St Helena from Southern California in 1972. Beth’s father was a Doctor and wanted to have a house for his five children somewhere rural where he could work a tractor. In 1972 The valley was much more rural and still not focused on wine growing – many other crops were grown including walnuts and prunes. In1975, Beth’s father died unexpectedly aged just 44. Beth’s mother Mary was left with 5 children and a ship to run – For a few years, Mary sold their fruit to prominent vineyards to survive. In 1978, Mary’s friends the Duckhorn family and the Schafer family told her that the Estate Cabernet was just too good, and they encouraged to bottle under Spotswoode and join them in a similar adventure. Following this their early winemaker Tony Soter (now in Oregon and with high acclaim) encouraged the estate to go organic in 1985. As you can imagine, this was quite a big step at that time. People who went organic were seen as crazy.

 

I tasted the wines as Beth regaled this story to me,

2016 Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc
Fermented 60% stainless steel / 35% new and used oak and 5% concrete
Bloody nice – a rockiness to the wine that I really like together with a ‘leesy’ texture and good acid

 

2014 Lydenhurst Cabernet Sauvignon
Before the estate was owned by the Spotswoode family, it was owned by the Lyndenhurst family 100+ years ago. 20 months French oak (40% new) 90% cabernet sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 2%merlot
Oh so yummy and approachable.blueberries, blackcurrants, cassis, leather, fireplace ash, ripe powdery tannins (now when I taste a good cabernet, the tannins are ripe and integrated with a fresh palate – no coarseness whatsoever, regardless of youth) – just exceptional – nothing at all like this in New Zealand.

 

2014 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
100% French oak (60% new) – aged 20 months 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot
Oh wow! First of all, cellar this! great tannins, oh so fresh, beautiful fruit – incredible integration between fruit and secondary characters – as if they are one – jeepers this is so good.

 

Later that night, we are gifted with a bottle of 2013 Duckhorn Cabernet Sauvignon. Can a day get any better! We get Taj to sleep – room service! The special of the house truffle chicken – 2 hour cook time. I crack open the Duckhorn – all I can say is – yes it is that good!
Tomorrow we head to Spring Mountain to visit Schweiger – and to the West Coast and visit Flowers

Puneet in California: Day 3

California Day 3 – Clarksburg to St Helena

 
A crackerjack day. I thought I was walking into the hangars for the new Boeing 777 – But no – it was the Bogle Barrel room – 7-8 rooms – each larger than an aircraft hanger – approximately 1 kilometre long. You could not see from one end to the other – the horizon was in the way. 12,000 barrels per year – Thousands upon thousands of Barrel ferments – each vineyard – vinified separately – incredible. The rooms are specially designed to cope with the massive CO2 emissions during ferment, as well as the massive temperature rise of so many fermenting barrels. The attention to detail is impressive. Anthocyanin and tannin count, mass spectrometers for acids. No sugar or acid additions. The guy doing the lees stirring looked more like a guy off of an Ebert building site –  but then no wonder – he had to traverse barrel mountains like girders on a skyscraper. This new winery was established in 2009 – it really does incorporate all of the modern technology and is a sight to behold – the wines, for example, are gravity fed with minimal intervention… The walkway for the tall tanks is the highest elevation in Clarksburg. The American flag together with the Bogle flag flies proudly from the centre of the winery. The Bogle wines truly do over deliver for the cost.

 

We drive for an hour and twenty minutes into Napa. We arrive at HdV. After Bogle, we are not sure if we have driven into someone’s back yard by accident – which happens to have a couple of tanks and barrels in the back. Little did I know what a sensational tasting was in store. Guillaume the assistant winemaker is busy racking a couple of barrels, and James the Manager meets me. Other than the two of them there is Stephane the chief winemaker – and of course, Aubert…he may not be there but his presence is every where. The first thing that James tells me is that Aubert is an extremely humble person. For him a winery is a winery – no time for flash ‘add ons’ – everything is about the vineyard and the wine expression – we sit in the tiny room adjacent to the winery. I’ve already noticed that they love their Fuders’ – several big barrels in dark dingy corners of the room. Theo Gisen told me that Fuder’s were German – Aubert de Villaine believes that they are Burgundian…

 

The Hyde vineyard is in Carneros. It is 150 acres in total supply several of the greatest wineries in Napa and Sonoma. 23 acres are specifically for HdV. The first vines were established in 1978, and although not certified – Organic practices are 100% employed. The vineyard contains a shallow alluvial soil and then hits heavy clay. Larry Hyde has helped the natural drainage by building larger drainage channels throughout the vineyard to alleviate any high water issues. This has created the phenomenon that is the Hyde Vineyards.

 

We proceed to taste a truly exceptional lineup:

 

2014 De la Guerra Chardonnay
20% fermented in concrete egg – no new oak, The vineyard was planted at the north end of the Hyde vineyards in 2010. Only 250 cases are produced annually with 80 cases for export. I can’t believe the vines are so young – James simply smiles. He does that a lot over the course of the tasting – the knowing smile of someone who knows that you are experiencing a sensory euphoria. The mealy taste I know so well comes through, the balance a mid palate of cream texture, a rounded wine and grace and length – exceptional – and this is the quaffer.

 

Guillaume tells me that 2013 was a great year, but 2014 was an incredible Chardonnay year, possibly the best ever in Napa. An early Spring leads to an early bud burst for Chardonnay and a very long ripening period. Concerns about a drop off in acidity towards the end of ripening due to the length of the season did not eventuate, creating amazing flavour profiles in the Chardonnay. On top of this, there was an Earthquake on August 24th.

 

2014 HdV Chardonnay
Wow – 20% Malo, 20% new oak, 11 months in barrel, 4 months in tank, 1 year in bottle. The wine has lilts and phases – The bouquet is truly aromatic – Guillaume says that all wines are aromatic if you pick at the right time – early stone fruit, through the classic mid palate roundness and cream, constant hints of gunpowder flint (from a purposeful slight reduction technique during the 4 months in tank, through to a beautiful minerality and salinity, with lingering finish. You can taste the vineyard. Superb.

 

2013 Ysabel Pinot Noir from the Van de Camp Vineyards in Sonoma (150 cases produced)
Elevation is high for this vineyard at 1700 feet. Aubert had been resistant to make pinot noir in California for a long time. Rightly so, he did not want to make anything which might detract from the almighty DRC. However, this vineyard changed his mind. It’s not in the Hyde vineyard stable in Carneros, but from the oldest and highest vineyard in Sonoma (planted in the early 1960’s)
The wine is beautiful and rustic with a textural richness. The aromatics sing (something in common with all HdV wines).

 

The Ygnacia we did not try but this is planted from much younger vines planted in 2010 from 7 ‘secret’ sites around the region. The wine shows violets and bright fruit and is as different to Ysabel as one can get. Both are worthy enough for Aubert.

 

2014 Californio Syrah
Oh my God moment! Maybe I do love Syrah after all! 350 cases produced. Some production was lost in the 2013 Earthquake. Violets, all the way through blue fruits to cocoa powder, spice box, and powerful with terrific length – ‘off the charts’ good. selected from 2 blocks in Hyde and 3 clones.

 

2013 Belle Cousine
I now find out the Pamela Hyde (Aubert’s wife) is actually Larry Hyde’s cousin. Larry and Pamela are the same age and grew up together – hence Belle Cousine. 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. Red and blue fruits, aromatics bursting, fresh yet rich – will age to plush no doubt. Guillaume stresses that whilst many neighbours add acid, their natural acidity helps the wines to age incredibly. The wine reminds me of the Dominus we had recently – then I am told the Merlot is the same clone. These guys have taken a slice of California with a touch of Pomerol and the result is magnificent.

 

Then I fall off of my seat – the last wine.
2015 Vinehill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Yountville.
This vineyard is owned by the Phillips family and is used for the top Harlan wines. It dates back to the 1880’s.  The wine is clean as a whistle, cassis, blue and red fruits, graphite all the way through – beyond good! Only 2 barrels made and already sold to Aubert’s friends and the most wealthy wine collectors in the World for an undisclosed price. It was a ‘you had to be there’ moment.

 

Tomorrow – Coppola, Spotswoode and possibly Schweiger – a strong tip from James at HdV for incredible Cabernet at very reasonable price.

Great and Rare Red’s from the Old World and the New

This superb selection of reds will take you around the world, both old and new.

From the old world finery of Chateau Brane-Cantenac to cult Oregon heroes Cristom. In the eyes of Dhall & Nash the elements that make a wine list great are; The Wine, internationally known and critically acclaimed, of optimal drinking age and referenced on internationally acclaimed lists.

2009 Mountford Estate The Rise – This sought after rarity is one of the best wines to come out of Waipara. Found loitering in cellars around the world but must notably on the list at the Michelin-starred Musket Room, helmed by Kiwi expat “Musket” Matt Lambert. Garnet hued, lingering red and blackberries balanced with mineral salinity and warm earth. Good enough for Raymond Chan to give it  18.5/20…

2010 Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas Les Terres Brulées  – This slice of the Northern Rhone on the West-Bank produces some of the finest cold climate Syrah on Earth.  Wines from this pioneer of Organic viticulture can be found at the likes of the esteemed 21 Club Nyc. Inky Red and perfumed with red fruit, currants and wafts of pipe tobacco. This wine is rich, concentrated, spicy and finishes with surprising elegance.

2005  Chateau Brane Cantenac, Margaux – With 250 years of dedication this second growth is no slouch. Under Henri Lurton these wines just go from strength even popping up at the likes of Central (5th best restaurant in the world 2017). Bright crimson, balanced and elegant a true old world beauty. “… full-bodied opulence and beautifully textured, lush richness, make for a brilliant wine…” – Robert Parker 95pts

2008 Col d’Orcia Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva – Brunello at it best, Francesco Marone Cinzano. Dark and brooding, touched with red fruit and spice, nuanced sauntering tannins and notes of vanilla from the slovenian oak. This famous Tuscan wine pops up amongst the staunchly Spanish list at Atiro so it definitely worth hunting down.

2012 Clarendon Hills Astralis – 98+ pts Robert Parker… The combination of old vines and a unique slice of South Australia give life to this expressive Shiraz. From Brae in Victoria the Geranium in Copenhagen this imitable drop deserves it’s renown.  Purple-black – hedonistically perfumed crushed rock and heady Asian spices buttressed against silky smooth tannins balanced with a youthful intensity whilst showing the concentration and elegance of a wine twice its age.

2013 Cristom ‘Eileen Vineyard’ Pinot Noir – Californian pedigree matched with Oregon’s terroir is the backbone of this cult Pinot.  Tom Gerrie and Steve Doerner have found the perfect balance between these ideals.  Elegant and floral balanced with damson plums and red cherries, this wine sings of youth and vigour.

Puneet in California: Days 1 & 2

California – Day 1 – Sacramento

 It turns out that Sacramento, 90 miles North East of San Francisco is the ‘farm to fork’ capital of America. The city boasts some 1.5 million acres of farm land surrounding the region – many of which are artisanal producers, and the restaurants are proud to source prolifically local.

 

My first wine of the trip – I pick up the menu – ‘eenie, meeni, minie, mo’ – my finger lands in the Cabernet section – lucky! A glass of the 2014 Quilt Cabernet Sauvignon at USD$26.  A good start – blueberries, velvety, simple, not a million miles from our Cupcake ‘Red Velvet’, although with more power and structure.

 

It wasn’t till a few moments later as I tucked into my ‘Grange Burger’ (medium rare) – that I realised quite how amazing my choice of meal was – Sacramento immediately vindicated its ‘farm to fork’ status to me. Tomorrow I visit Jody Bogle.
 

California – Day 2 – Clarksburg

Bogle is in Clarksburg. Clarksburg is a small picturesque farm community of 300 and dates back to the gold rush. The soils are heavy clay on a flood plain, protected by levees. The river was a prime trade route in the late 1800’s and the first half of the 20th Century – there is an old time worn picture of a thousand ducks all heaped on each other being barged down the river towards the coastal cities. At the entrance to the tasting venue is Jody Bogle’s grandfathers 1918 Ford Model T Truck. It’s not the only old truck you see as you drive around this agricultural heartland. The place really is beautiful; splendid trees, along babbling streams, brooks and rivers – hills in the distance and exceptionally fertile soils. In fact Dana the winemaker tells me that Vigour is the issue here. The vines themselves are big and bushy – no issues with fungal disease in this dry, breezy environment.(The Delta Breeze keeps the area on average 5-8 degrees Celsius lower than surrounding regions including Napa) environment.

 

We meet Jody, all smiles and warmth in the beautiful garden behind the tasting barn. Jody gladly informs us that Dhall and Nash are now Bogle’s leading importer in the World having just muscled ahead of Japan. We get to tasting:

 

2012 Bogle Blanc de Blancs – a lovely creamy mid palate – would you expect anything else!
2015 Bogle Reserve Chardonnay – 100% oak aged / 100% malo / 24 months on lees / batonage for every barrel every 2-4 weeks. 80% American Oak / 20% French Oak.

 

We spent some time discussing the American Oak – one of Bogle’s secret weapons. They use an American Oak called World Cooperage from a Cooper called ‘1912’ – The oak is heavily fired to its smoke point.
We also talk about the Batch selection for the Reserve wines. Every vineyard is vinified separately, and the best barrels selected for the Reserves. Winemakers Dana and Eric make the first cut and the final selection is done by a larger team including the family. The family work with their own vineyards and growers in 9 A.V.A’s;

 

Clarksburg – Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Petite Sirah
Mendocino – Petite Sirah, Pinot noir, Zinfandel
Russian River Valley – Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc
Sonoma – Cabernet Sauvignon
Oakley – Old Vine Zinfandel, Old Vine Mourvèdre
Lodi – Old Vine Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah
El Dorado County – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
Amador County – Old Vine Zinfandel
Monterey – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc

 

 We continue to taste;

 

2014 Bogle Viognier – Perfumed, fragrant – tangerines, hint of cream – a must have.

 

2015 Russian River Pinot Noir – Toasted characters mix with light spice and earth (I must confess my pinot noir radar has been off recently – the nose felt a little closed but it could have been me.)

 

2012 Bogle Sonoma Reserve Merlot – Very plush indeed – but still with enjoyable graininess from the tannins – very nice.

 

2014 Reserve Zinfandel – Amador County (Amador and El Dorado are in the foothills and completely dry farmed and certified sustainable). Juniper, concentrated and rounded – a must have.

 

2014 Malbec – Monterey – plush again – some cedar notes.

 

2014 Reserve Petite Sirah – Toasted, spicy plum.

 

2013 Phantom – Zin, Mourvèdre blend 2-3 years in oak – tannins – less fruit secondary characters – more coarse.

 

2014 Petite Verdot – El Dorado County – Possibly one of the most unique wines I’ve tasted and could only be from America – Chargrilled flavours, spice box like the mix rub for your deep south pork ribs – a must.

 

2014 Reverence – Bordeaux Blend – Michael was asking about the Reserve Cabernet – well this has become the Reverence – blended with other Bordeaux varieties – well balanced  and elegant – must have

 

Tomorrow I visit the Bogle winery to meet the two brothers Warren and Ryan, and also Chief winemaker Eric and to see the legendary barrel room. I also head over to Carneros and meet James at HdV

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