Showing posts with label Nebbiolo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nebbiolo. Show all posts

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bonny Doon Wine With The Grapes Of Italy And Spain


Winemaking is a tough enough profession, but a winemaker who can make world-class puns at the drop of a hat while doing the Sunday New York Times crossword and microblogging on Twitter is a man to be admired.

Besides the Rhône-varietal wines Randall Grahm is known for, he also likes to dabble in some other grape nationalities, too.  He has done some interesting things with Riesling, and the two wines featured here show his work with Spanish and Italian grape varieties grown in the Bonny Doon Ca’ del Solo estate vineyard.  They were provided to me for review.


Bonny Doon Nebbiolo 2009

Grahm’s love affair with the grape of Barolo has either come to an end or reached a hiatus, as far as growing it is concerned.  The ‘09 vintage of Bonny Doon Nebbiolo is the last from the biodynamic Ca’ del Solo Vineyard in Monterey - at least for a while.

Grahm thinks Nebbiolo is “one of the true genius grape varieties."  He says, "there is a remarkable soulfulness to the best examples of the variety, and this particular one, I submit, stands among the very best.”

In previous vintages, Grahm's Nebbiolo grapes were partially air-dried to concentrate ripeness. He says the finale year for the vineyard provided a warmer growing season, so air-drying was not employed.  All the grapes used here are estate-grown Nebbiolo.  Alcohol kicks in at 14.4% abv, and only 508 cases were made, for Bonny Doon’s DEWN wine club members.  Sealed under a screwcap, it goes for $45.

The wine has a medium-dark tint in the glass and smells quite brightly of red plums and blueberries.  The fairly noticeable whiff of a fresh pack of Kools - my dad’s brand when I was growing up - provides an interesting angle to the bouquet.  On the palate, a youthful fruit expression is up front when first poured.  Then, over the course of an evening, its mood turns darker and a bit more savory.  With so much going on, it’s a great wine to contemplate.  It’s also a great wine to accompany a meal.  The tannins are firm enough for your grandma’s meatballs, but not at all harsh.


Bonny Doon Sparkling Albariño, Central Coast 2010

This 100% Albariño sparkler uses grapes from Jespersen Vineyard (84%) and Ca’ del Solo (16%.)  It comes under a crown cap closure, requiring a churchkey like a beer or soda might.  You should remove the cap very slowly, since the contents are under pressure and the bubbles like to free themselves quickly when they have the chance.  Alcohol content is quite low - 12.5% abv - and only 617 cases were produced.  It’s also available only to Bonny Doon’s wine club members.

Those bubbles - when they are freed - are quite large on top of the pale golden liquid.  The nose smells a bit of toast, but more of fruit.  A zesty lemon-lime component frames the aroma of peaches quite nicely.  The refreshing acidity is a delight, and flavors of citrus linger on the finish.  Grahm suggests you try this with Korean barbecue, and that’s a great idea.  It should also make a nice pairing with any number of other dishes, or sipped on its own as a toasting vehicle.  $32


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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Arthur Earl Winery, Los Olivos


Arthur Earl Winery makes wine in Buellton, CA, and they pour it in their tasting room in Los Olivos.  Arthur White (pictured) and Earl Brockelsby are the names behind the names.  They have no vineyards, so they buy all the grapes used in producing their wines.  Fruit from Santa Barbara County, the Santa Ynez Valley, Paso Robles and other parts of the Central Coast find their way into Arthur Earl bottles.

The tasting room is on the main street in Los Olivos, but it is tucked away a bit.  A serviceable room that seems much larger than it needs to be, the Arthur Earl storefront is staffed by people who love not just AE wine, but wine in general.  The pourers are equipped with pairing suggestions for dishes at restaurants in town.  One small business helping others.

And small is the word for the Arthur Earl production.  They usually only produce 100 to 300 cases of each varietal per year.  If you find one you really like, you’d better jump on it.  It may not be there on your next visit.

Arthur Earl Viognier, Vogelzang Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley 2008
From Santa Barbara County’s Happy Canyon AVA, it spends four months in neutral oak barrels, giving a surprisingly oaky overlay to the peach fruit.  $24

Rosé of Mourvedre, Vogelzang Vineyard, Santa Barbara County 2010
This pinky is dark in the glass with a funky nose of strawberries and green leaves.  The lovely taste is as complex and dark as you’d expect in a rosé made from this grape.  $25

Grenache, Vogelzang Vineyard, SBC, 2007
Very lovely strawberry aromas and flavors, with great acidity and nice tannins.  It’s great with Greek food.  $29.50

Nebbiolo, Stolpman Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley, 2006
Aromas of roses and cherries gives such a great start to this extremely pleasant wine.  It’s quite acidic, of course, and a really nice match with tomato sauce - it changes the taste of both the wine and the food.  $29.50

Moscato, Carrari Vineyard, SBC 2006
This is a sweet wine, but not necessarily a dessert wine.  Six percent residual sugar certainly makes for a sweet taste, but it’s not at all cloying.  In fact, the nose is rather herbal and the acidity is nice.  It’s not dessert, but it pairs well with dessert. Keep it in mind for the holidays.  Only 12.9% abv.  $16 (375 ml)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Palmina Wines of Santa Barbara County


It has always struck me that Palmina wines are made specifically to pair with food - so much so that they might seem a little less than impressive at first sniff or taste.  Their wines are made to pair with food, meaning they are made to complement the food, not show it up.  The full expression of their wines really doesn’t occur until they have been matched with food.  Steve Clifton states on the website, “Palmina is a Californian celebration of the rich, wonderful lifestyle and attitude toward food, wine, friends and family that exists in Italy

Clifton is one of the more focused of the “Cal-Italia” winemakers in the Golden State.  He and his wife, Chrystal, specialize in making wine from Italian grape varieties grown in Santa Barbara County.  They do not, he admits, try to emulate the Italian versions of those grapes.  They do try to allow their sense of place in the Central Coast to shine through.  All the while, they keep in mind the Italian perspective that wine isn’t merely a beverage, but one of the things which helps give life its meaning.  Wine is “an extension of the plate” at Palmina.

The wines of Palmina are notable for their acidity, a must when pairing wine with food.  Their flavors are delicious without overwhelming the palate.  The food is the star in Clifton’s philosophy, wine is the supporting actor.

I had the pleasure of experiencing quite a full tasting of Palmina wines at the Wine Warehouse tasting event on April 24, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.  I don’t usually have food at large wine tasting events, but this time I found myself drifting over to an appetizer station between samples.

The Palmina whites are great sippers on their own, but the minerality and acidity found in their Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Arneis and Malvasia Bianca almost make a food pairing mandatory.  The Malvasia Bianca, from the Santa Ynez Valley’s Larner Vineyard, is the one Palmina white that displays a nose and palate that might compete with food.  The floral element in this one is enormous and beautiful.

The Botasea Rosato di Palmina is a beautiful pink blend of Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo.  It is not produced in the saignée method, where juice is bled off in the process of making a red wine.  All the fruit for this rosé was picked especially to make this wine.  It’s nice and dry, with a light cherry flavor that could beckon spring on its own.

As for the reds, Palmina’s Dolcetto is light and breezy, the Barbera offers a light touch of smoke and the Nebbiolo is lightweight yet tannic.  Alisos is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot.  It was the first wine made by Palmina, in 1997.  The wine is produced by allowing some of the Sangiovese grapes to dry and become raisins.  They are then vinified and blended with the previously vinified wine.

If you find you really need a wine that packs its own punch, Palmina’s Undici has a big nose of smoke and chocolate-covered cherries.  The Sangiovese fruit comes from the Honea Vineyard, and there are traces of Malvasia Bianca in the mix.  The Nebbiolo from the Sisquoc Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley offers a huge expression of fresh cherries and an array of spices that would fill a spice rack.  TheStolpman Vineyard Nebbiolo has great grip and a palate based in cherry and layered with a host of other delicacies.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

COLLINE NOVARESI NEBBIOLO 2007 AT IL BUCO


Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo

Italian food calls for Italian wine, and that's a rule I try not break - ever.  Fortunately, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Il Buco, has a wine list with a whole page of Italian wines that never disappoint.
Colline Novaresi D.O.C. is in Piedmont, in extreme northwestern Italy.  The Nebbiolo grapes used in this wine are farmed biodynamically in Fontechiara vineyards.  The wine is 100% Nebbiolo and has a 13.5% abv number.  It shows a deep and beautiful red color in the glass, quite dark in fact.  When you pick up the glass, that's when the fun begins.
One whiff and I was sold.  This Nebbiolo has such a rich aroma I just sat and smelled it for quite some time.  A floral smell leaps out first, and is quickly joined by notes of tar.  Finally, I start to sense the fruit and realized it was there all along.  It makes me think of black plums that have been trampled into the earth underneath the tree where they fell.
Then, on the first sip, I expect it to be a bit tannic.  It's not, though.  It's very smooth, and the fruit really shines through.  Blackberry and black cherry flavors are almost candied.  There's licorice, too.  The flavors keep reminding me of Port.  The wine is so juicy and complex I can only marvel at it.  By now, I expect the finish to be lengthy - and it is.  The flavors linger through a moment of reflection and the next bite of farfalle with sauage and peas.  It's one of my favorite dishes at Il Buco in Beverly Hills, but this time it takes a back seat to the wine.
By the way, Il Buco has this Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo for eight dollars by the glass.  With a nose and a palate like this, it's one of the better bargains I've encountered recently.