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National Hot Dog Day

You might think wine and hot dogs make an odd pairing, but since we love wine and hot dogs, we’re sure this is a winning combination. We’re here to help you pair your favorite hot dog with our favorite wines. These wine pairings go well beyond just National Hot Dog Day, these would work for any summer BBQ as well!

Hot dogs and sausages come in lots of varieties, but one thing they have in common is that they are salty and hearty, so they need a wine with acid. Many wines could work but stick to wines with acidity and a touch of sweetness.

Our choices: Rosé, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Grenache.

Starting with the Rosé:

 

WINE: AIX Rose 2017

VARIETAL: Blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Counoise

TASTING NOTES: This is a smooth, beautifully ripe wine. It is well balanced, with crisp red and orange fruits adding a refreshing background to the spice and acidity. This finely made wine is ready to drink.

PAIRING NOTES: For hot dogs, you want a wine that has acid to cut through the fat and minerality to enhance the salty, savory flavors in the meat. Its fruitiness will pair well with the sweetness in ketchup. It’s also low in alcohol with virtually no tannins, so you can load up your dogs with spicy mustard or peppers and the wine won’t exacerbate the heat.

MadWine PRICE: $17.99

 

WINE: Lone Birch Pinot Gris 2016

VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Gris

TASTING NOTES: From 100% Estate Grown fruit, an enticing bouquet of tropical fruit leads to a well balanced, medium bodied mouthfeel with luscious flavors of pineapple, pear, and white peach.

PAIRING NOTES: If your hot dog is spicy, smokey and grilled with spicy toppings, Pinot Gris is the perfect match because it tames the heat of jalapenos and makes the saltiness of any sausage disappear. While Pinot Gris is made from the same grape as Pinot Grigio, it’s made in a more full-bodied, and ripe style that’s heavy on the palate and cuts through the decadence of sausage to leave your palate refreshed and grease-free.

MadWine PRICE: $9.99

 

 

WINE: Foris ‘Rogue Valley’ Pinot Noir 2016

VARIETAL: 100% Pinot Noir

TASTING NOTES: Foris, organic producers since the early 1970’s brand new vintage of Pinot Noir is fabulous. Soft and supple with layers of Bing cherry fruit, and has nuances of cedar and earth with super smooth tannins.

PAIRING NOTES: Pinot noir creates a great contrast for hot dogs that are smoked with a traditional soft white bun with chili on top. This combination while odd, combines the earthy flavors, fruit notes, and hints of spice that match those found in the hot dog.

MadWine PRICE: $13.99

 

 

WINE: Evodia Garnacha 2015

VARIETAL: Grenache

TASTING NOTES: A great value Garnacha with notes of blackberries, black pepper and mocha and a long lingering finish.

PAIRING NOTES: If your hot dog is steamed, grilled and served in a steamed bun topped with relish, mustard, ketchup and chopped raw onion, this is the wine to pair with. Grenache makes a great hot dog pairing because it is medium-bodied and low in tannin. This wine brings out the tang of condiments while cleansing the palate.

MadWine PRICE: $9.99

So with that, Happy National Hot Dog Day and go out and buy some hot dogs and order some wine today!

Hungary Royal Tokaji

The other week, a small group of wine pros met at Wild Ginger to taste through an exquisite line-up of Hungary’ Royal Tokaji. Tokaji (formerly Tokay) is one of the world’s greatest dessert wines and our tasting more than lived up to expectations!

Our guide was Kimberly Bowden, CSW, CSS (those initials mean she knows her topic) from Wilson Daniels, the importer of Royal Tokaji.

Tokaji’s wines were renowned throughout Europe – among nobility, Czars, and clergy – 400 to 500 years ago. Tokaji was also the first wine region in Europe to be classified.in 1700. Prince Rakoczi initiated the world’s first classification of a wine region by Great First Growth, First Growth, Second Growth and Third Growth.

There are 3 grape varieties permitted in production of Tokaji:

  • Furmint, 70% of plantings, very high levels of tartaric acid, very susceptible to Botrytis
  • Hárslevelú, 25% of plantings, rich in sugars and aromas
  • Muscat de Lunel, 5% of plantings, difficult to grow but important seasoning

The Tisza and Bodrogm rivers create a mist similar to the fog in Sauternes, which encourages development of botrytis cinerea and potentially, noble rot, under the right conditions.

Royal Tokaji uses indigenous yeasts and grapes, traditional winemaking methods and ages wines in a 13th century underground cellar. They hand-harvest non-Botrytis bunches to ferment into dry base wine in stainless steel. About three weeks later, they hand-harvest harvest shriveled aszú berries berry by berry then grind the berries into a paste and add it to the partially fermented base wine. After stirring for two or more days, the wine is transferred to gönci, 140-liter or 37-gallon barrels and moved to the 13th century cellar for the second fermentation which may take a few months to a few years due to high sugar levels and cool cellars. The wine is so rare because each vine yields one glass of wine.

Royal Tokaji is one of the region’s elite producers with holdings in all of the region’s top crus. It was founded by British wine authority Hugh Johnson, among other investors, in 1990 after the fall of communism.

We were lucky to taste these rare wines. They are sensational and complex with notes of blood orange, citrus peel. As the Wine Advocate’s Neal Martin writes, “The delineation is astonishing on the nose, unfurling with entrancing scents of orange blossom, freshly sliced apricots, almond, and quince – all beautifully focused.” I might add, on the palate, stewed mandarin orange, honey, and quince. In addition to sweeter wines, we tasted a terrific, crisp dry Furmint and an elegant, mildly sweet late harvest Tokaji.

Stoller Vineyards

Stoller at Sunset Photo credit Lenny Rede

The Stoller’s established the property in 1943 and the vineyard fifty years later. Using 100% estate fruit, they control every step of the process, from pruning to bottling and everything in between. The result is award-winning wines that are balanced, complex, and consistently exceptional.

These are some of our favorite Oregon wines. What Melissa does is consistently create balanced wines that show off a purity of fruit and finesse too often lacking in today’s wine world.

Stoller Rose Photo credit Lenny Rede

“I strive to make wine that exemplifies the uniqueness of the vineyard and reflect the vintage with balance and elegance. Our Pinot Noir characteristically expresses a combination of red to darker fruits, spice, and fine-grain tannins. The volcanic soil, elevation, exposure, and weather of our Dundee Hills site all combine to create the perfect conditions for growing cool-climate wine grapes.” – Melissa Burr

Melissa Burr was raised in the Willamette Valley. After completing her Bachelor of Science degree, Melissa intended to practice naturopathic medicine before discovering her true passion was in wine. She studied winemaking and fermentation science at OSU and interned during harvest for several local wineries before becoming production winemaker for Cooper Mountain. In 2003, Melissa joined Stoller Family Estate as the winery’s first dedicated winemaker.

In her 14-year tenor with Stoller, Melissa has worked in concert with the vineyard team to oversee the site’s continued refinement. She has helped grow production from 1,000 cases to 60,000 while acting as a steward of Stoller’s legacy.

I recently visited the winery and was as usual blown away by the wines!

Visit them if you get the chance, and tell them Lenny sent you.

if you can’t here is a little video of what you are missing.

#OregonWineMonth

 

 

Master Sommelier Larry Stone and Lingua Franca Wines

lin·gua fran·ca noun: “a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different.”

Lingua Franca Vineyard LSV

The headline for this article could read: “Local Boy Does Good!” Larry Stone is one of the most influential people in the wine industry. (Period). One of the first Americans to pass the Master Sommelier exam (#9 in 1988), the only American ever to win France’s Grand Prix de Sopexa competition (better known as the “Best Sommelier in the World”). Wine director for Charlie Trotters. Founder (With Robert De Niro and Robin Williams) of the legendary Rubicon in San Francisco. Dean of Wine Studies at the International Culinary Center.

In 2006, he left the restaurant business to become the Gérant of the Niebaum-Coppola winery, now Inglenook. He worked with Augustine Huneeus at Quintessa, started his own Napa property Sirita and he also ran a négociant firm, Deux Chapeaux, with Daniel Johnnes. In 2010, Stone became president of Evening Land Vineyards, where he collaborated with Burgundian winemaker Dominique Lafon. Today, Evening Land is in the capable hands of Stone’s Protégé Rajat Parr.

In 2012, Stone started a new winery next door – Lingua Franca.

Larry Stone tasting at Esquin

Stone brought together a team led by Dominique Lafon. Who is Burgundy’s best-known winemaker, his name is attached to one of its most famous Domaines -Comte Lafon. The Comtes Lafon domaine, contains well over three hectares of premier cru vineyard as well a piece of burgundy’s grand cru Le Montrachet. Lafon Montrachet sells for thousands of dollars a bottle. He has been rightly called “the Wizard of Burgundy.”

He also brought on board winemaker Thomas Savre, who worked with stone and Lafon at Evening Land after working at luminary Burgundian properties as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Dujac, and Maison Nicolas Potel. To manage the vineyards he brought on local viticulturist Mimi Casteel. Mimi is the daughter of Ted Casteel and Pat Dudley, co-founders of Bethel Heights Vineyard. She brings with her a lifetime of living and working in the valley and her families well known reputation for Sustainable and Biodynamic farming.

Stone was in negotiations with Evening Land’s neighbors to purchase the land adjacent to the famed Seven Springs Vineyard, even before he left the project. After he left Evening Land the Janzen family approached him with a deal to buy the land. He sold his stake in Sirita Winery, auctioned off his personal wine collection and convinced a few friends to invest.

They cleared the land – removing fruit and Christmas Trees – planted a vineyard and built a winery, designed by Lafon and Savre. Across the road from Seven Springs it is also adjacent Domaine Serene’s Jerusalem Hill Vineyard, Argyle Winery’s Lone Star Vineyard and Domaine Drouhin’s Roserock Vineyard.

A perfect vineyard sight, a remarkably capable team and an astute understanding of the wine business. It is not surprising these wines are already creating a buzz. Lingua Franca is being poured at high-profile Paris restaurants Vitus, Taillevent and Spoon. Impressive for a new minted American Pinot Noir.

The entire first vintage from Lingua Franca received 90 plus point scores from Wine Spectator! With The Tongue N’ Cheek making it in the

Lingua Franca Avni Pinot Noir Eola-Amity Hills 2015 $36.99 btl

Refined and precise, featuring a structure that’s elegantly complex, with raspberry and cinnamon aromas and sleek cherry and mineral flavors. Drink now through 2022. 772 cases made.

92 Points Wine Spectator

He told me, “We are not trying to make ‘burgundy’, although that is of course an influence. We are making wines of very little intervention, wines of place”. Stone describes it as “exploring Oregon with the mind of Burgundy.” The name Lingua Franca represents the concept of universal language, of bringing people of different worlds to common ground – shared conversation, shared enjoyment. Lingua franca could be described as a conversation between Oregon terroir and years of traditional Burgundian winemaking.

If you were to make a list of what you would need to make a great wine, every box would be checked off on the list.

Not bad for the son of refugees.

His mother was a cheesemaker, and his father was a produce buyer at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Stone was always enamored with food and even making his own wine at age 14. At the UW, Stone was a National Merit Scholar who studied abroad in Montpellier, France, and Vienna. He pursued a doctorate in comparative literature, earning a Fulbright Scholarship to University of Tübingen in Germany.He never finished his dissertation.

He was one of Seattle’s very first Sommeliers’ at a restaurant called the Red Cabbage. Later working at the Four Seasons Olympic before heading to Chicago and Charlie Trotter’s.

Local boy does good, and then some.

 

By Lenny Rede

Leonard Redé is the marketing person here at Esquin Wine and Spirits. An instructor in the Wine Technology Program at South Seattle, he wrote the curriculum for the Associate of Arts Degree in Food and Wine Pairing Sommelier Studies. A classically trained chef and pastry chef he was nominated for educator of the year while Chef Instructor at the world renowned Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He garnered international attention at his award winning restaurant Sapphire kitchen and bar. A restaurateur, wine steward, chef and educator with over 30 years of industry experience he has a unique blend of culinary and wine expertise. He loves to share his passion for all things gastronomic and he’ll gladly help you navigate the world of wine and is always quick with a wine pairing or recipe.

Arnie’s Lunch with a Burgundy Legend

It’s not every day that you get to sit down and break bread with a legendary Burgundy producer.

Yet that is precisely what happened when I was invited to lunch recently with Laurent Drouhin of Burgundy’s renowned Maison Joseph Drouhin at Seattle’s Virginia Inn by Pike Place Market.

Founded in Beaune in 1880, Maison Joseph Drouhin’s cellars have spread from the historical Cellars of the Dukes of Burgundy and the Kings of France in Beaune (12th-18th centuries) to the Moulin de Vaudon, an 18th Century watermill in Chablis.

The Joseph Drouhin Domaine was assembled parcel by parcel over the years and comprises today 73 hectares (182.5 acres) of vineyards in Côte de Nuits, Côte de Beaune, Côte Chalonnaise and Chablis. It is one of the most important domains in Burgundy, with more than two thirds of the vineyards classified as Premier and Grand Crus.

 

Laurent Drouhin who, along with his sister Véronique and brothers Frédéric and Philippe, are the latest fourth generation to run the venerable grower and negociant house in the village of Beaune.

The Virginia Inn is a Pike Market institution offering classic French bistro fare so, naturally, I ordered the Boeuf Bourgignon. It arrived at a perfect time because we finished whites and were starting on the reds. It was old school and excellent!

 

 

Laurent guided us through a tasting of 11 wines; 5 white and 6 red:

 

White Wine

2015 Drouhin Vaudon Chablis $21.99

Nice mineral notes result from the region’s poor pebbly soils of Kimmeridgian limestone. Good value here. Fresh apple, lemon and stony flavors that play off the lively acidity. Stays juicy and long on the finish.

2015 Pouilly Vinzelles $19.99

“Clean and focused, this white evokes lemon, oak spice and mineral flavors. Has plenty of tension and builds to a long aftertaste of citrus and mineral.”

90 points Wine Spectator

2015 Chassagne-Montrachet $65.99

“Notes of petrol, resin and essence of pear and white peach can be found on the nicely layered nose. The rich, full-bodied and very generously proportioned medium weight flavors possess lovely mid-palate concentration while delivering good length on the relatively powerful finish. This is not especially complex at present though there is better aging potential here and this may surprise to the upside.” Burghound

 

2015 Meursault $55.99

“A ripe but classic nose of hazelnut and fresh white orchard fruit aromas is trimmed in a hint of matchstick. The rich, full and naturally sweet middle weight flavors also possess fine depth and length for a villages level wine. This is seductively delicious if a bit less energetic but richer and one that should repay 4 to 6 years of cellar time.” Burghound

2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Chardonnay $31.99

“Pale yellow-gold. Intense, mineral-inflected orchard and pit fruit, lavender and buttered toast aromas are complicated by oyster shell, fennel and vanilla nuances. Concentrated yet nervy and light on its feet, offering palate-staining, oak-kissed pear nectar, Meyer lemon and candied ginger flavors underscored by a vein of smoky minerality. Shows superb energy and power on the floral-tinged finish, which hangs on with serious, mineral-driven tenacity.”

Josh Raynolds, Vinous

 

Red Wines

 

2015 Chorey-lès-Beaume $27.99

“Bright, full red. Cool aromas of cherry, licorice and menthol. Juicy red berry flavors are accented by a hint of licorice. The tannins are firm but not dry, with the persistent finish displaying attractive perfumed lift. This makes the Rully seem a bit rustic by comparison.” Stephan Tanzer, Vinous

2015 Savigny-lès-Beaune $37.99

This is Chorey’s more muscular brother with richer, darker fruit. Laurent said that they declassify some premier crus here, as they do with other village appellations. 18 months in French oak barriques.

2015 Gevrey Chambertin $61.99

“Captivating aromas and flavors of pure cherry, mineral, tobacco and spice mark this supple red. Beautifully balanced, this remains long on the finish, driven by succulent acidity. Best from 2020 through 2033.” Wine Spectator

 

2011 Beaune Clos de Mouches 1er Cru $114.99

The 2011 Beaune Clos des Mouches impresses for its intensity. Green pears, exotic flowers, mint, citrus and crushed rocks are all very much alive in the glass. The flavors are beautifully defined in a salivating, crystalline wine full of personality. Clos des Mouches remains one of the undiscovered jewels of Burgundy in its price range. The 2011 is likely to enjoy broad drinking window that will last several decades. Antonio Galloni, Vinous

 

2015 Drouhin Oregon Roserock Zéphirine Pinot Noir $31.99

“Brilliant red. Vibrant, spice-accented red fruit liqueur, floral pastille and incense aromas, along with an intense mineral topnote. Stains the palate with sweet raspberry and spicecake flavors that show impressive depth as well as delicacy and nervy cut. Silky, seamless and precise, finishing with outstanding energy and velvety, slow-building tannins that harmonize smoothly with the deep fruit.”

Josh Raynolds, Vinous

 

Arnie Millan is Esquin’s European Buyer and Resident Expert on all things Burgundy.

 

 

 

The Man they call Bubbles by Lenny Rede

When talking about South African wine there is always one name that comes up – Graham Beck. It all started in 1983 when the entrepreneur Graham Beck bought the farm Madeba close to Robertson in order to produce wine and raise horses. They planted grapes in the limestone rich soil and in 1990 they hired Peter Ferreira as winemaker. Within a few years they were already garnering acclaim on the international wines scene. In 1994 Nelson Mandela enjoyed the Graham Beck Brut for his inauguration. Exactly 14 years later Barack Obama celebrates his presidential win with Graham Beck Brut.

Turns out those limestone soils in Robertson were perfect for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, perfect for making South Africa’ homage to Champagne – Cap Classique. Pieter says, “Chardonnay here in Robertson tends to be more forgiving, and more diverse – it’s different limestone than the limestone of Champagne. Robertson gives Graham Beck MCC its backbone of minerality.”   

This remarkably gifted and passionate vintner has undoubtedly had a life-long love affair with all things bubbly. Affectionately known as “Mr Bubbles”,

eats, drinks and breathes bubbles! Pieter has been with the team from the very first vintage and has been instrumental in cementing Graham Beck as one of the world’s leading producers of premium Méthode Cap Classique style sparkling. Cap Classique is made in the method as Champagne, formally known as Methode method Champenoise.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Pieter and taste through his wines with him. What defines a truly outstanding Cap Classique? “It’s when you ask for that second bottle! A truly ‘world class’ Cap Classique is the result of favorable vintage conditions and reflects stricter fruit selection and the utmost care in the cellar in the pursuit of even greater excellence. That’s the academic response, but most importantly to us producers it’s the reaction from the consumer,” explains Pieter.

“Graham Beck Wines and the many other top local Cap Classique producers are proving that South Africa has got what it takes in the bubbly stakes. We’ve developed a uniquely home grown, ‘New World’ style, while remaining true to the essence, technique and tradition of fine fizz,” says Mr Bubbles.

This month we are featuring his Brut Rose. “The Graham Beck Brut Rosé has all the hallmarks of a traditional and carefully crafted bubbly, with the added appeal of being flirtatious and fun. Elegant and structured, it truly is a sparkling wine for all seasons. Made from the traditional Méthode Cap Classique base wines of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, its unique silver-pink hue is obtained by an enzymatic reaction during the transport of the Pinot Noir fruit to the cellar. The fine, lively mousse is brisk on the palate, showing hints of oyster shell, fresh lavender and subtle hints of berry and cherry.”

GRAHAM BECK BRUT ROSE NV  

“Full bodied and loaded with pinot noir goodness in this toasty, zesty bubbly. Lovely cherry and strawberry notes and clean, crisp finish. Graham Beck is a master of sparkling wines, in my opinion, these are his best. Highly recommended.” – Natalie MacLean

Tim Atkin Master of Wine 2017: 93 points

Brut Rosé NV 90 points Decanter

Brut Rosé NV 90 points International Wine Review

Brut Rosé 92 points, Tanzer

Brut NV 90 points, Robert Parker

Brut NV 90 points, Decanter

This is consistently one of the best sparkling wines in the market and at these prices? it is a no brainer!

Cheers! Lenny

 

Wine of the Day – Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15

Chateau Mayne Vieil is a single vineyard (47 hectars) in Fronsac on a hill of clay loam with a moderate slope at an altitude of nearly 40 meters. The vineyard is planted with 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. The village of Fronsac lies due north of Pomerol about 15 minutes from the famous chateaus of Le Pin and Cheval Blanc.


Mayne-Vieil is not some newcomer – from 1500 to 1809 Mayne-Vieil belonged to the DePaty family. The squire DePaty, Lord of Mayne-Vieil, built the winery in the 17th century. It was eventually replaced in the 18th century by the fortified house with an elegant chartreuse that currently stands on the grounds today.


Mayne-Vieil was then purchased by the Fontemoing family; a group of renowned vintners from Libourne. In 1918, Louis SEZE acquired the property. His son Roger, an agronomist who succeeded him in the early 1950’s, expanded the vineyards to make a contiguous and beautiful plateau. His children Bertrand and Marie-Christine Sèze succeeded Roger SEZE in the 1980’s.

Château Mayne-Vieil cuvée Alienor Fronsac ’15 $14.99 btl / save $10
“Château Mayne-Vieil Cuvée Alienor is a selection of old Merlot vines. This is the luxury cuvée from vineyards in the Seze family since 1918. With its perfumed fruits and firm tannins, it is serious as well as sumptuous. It has weight and a dry texture that will soften into the blackberry fruits and generous structure. This wine, with its still firm texture, needs to age, so drink from 2022.” 
93 pts Wine Enthusiast

This wine shows tremendous density and character. Although drinkable now this wine has the potential to lay down for years and at this price you can afford to buy a case to lay down. I find this wine utterly charming, if you have more questions – Arnie has actually visited the property and knows first hand the quality of this wine and the property.  

“They were delicious, more for drinking then collecting I thought, although the Cuvée Alienor is a big serious wine that is 100% Merlot. At our dinner, Bertrand brought out two old bottles. They were still excellent and we were stunned to learn one was from 1949 and the other from 1959. Incredible. ” Arnie Millan

Check out Arnie’s notes here

Give us a call if you would like us  set you aside some. 

Cheers!  lenny@esquin.com

Tasting Barolo with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti

“Born in 1934, Renato Ratti was a larger-than-life figure in Barolo who did much to shape the modern framework of the appellation. He started his career working for Cinzano in Brazil and moved back to Italy in 1965. He immediately founded a winery in the Abbazia di San Martino di Marcenasco. He produced his first vintage of Barolo that same year. Renato Ratti was one of the first to map the vineyards of Barolo and he penned the region’s most elaborate vintage chart. Mostly importantly, he created the Albeisa growers’ association with its distinctly branded bottle in 1973. Renato Ratti died in 1988 and the estate is run by his similarly active and engaged son Pietro. Pietro Ratti completed construction on the new winery in 2005.” Monica Larner, Wine Advocate 

“Quality, research, passion, respect for our history and our land with a window ever open on the future, are the underlying principles of our philosophy and the expression of our wines.” Pietro Ratti, 2003

Our wine Buyer Jeff recently had the opportunity to have lunch with Pietro Ratti, son of Renato Ratti.

I recently attended a lunch with Renato Ratti an old and brilliant winery in Piedmont established in 1965 by my Fathers host Pietro Ratti at Carmines IL Terrazzo in pioneer square. Renato Rati is hailed as the bench mark of the classic La Morra Barolo Let’s jump in and see what I found, shall we.

#1 we started with the 2015 Barbera d’Asti DOCG. WOW! I really like this wine with its black cherry spice and bight acidity. There is a great energy to this wine with layers and perfect balance not to mention lots of fruit.

#2 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo ‘Ochetti’ DOC. If you can’t afford Barolo then don’t miss this wine. Grown above the Tanaro River @ 800 feet with a southwester exposure ideal for Nebbiolo.  The wine has delicate lasting red fruit aromas and is filled with classic strawberry and raspberry followed by pleasant savory and earthly notes.

#3 2013 Marcenasco, Barolo, DOCG. Marcenasco is the site were Renato created La Morra’s first single vineyard in 1965 and historical documents show that the cultivation of Nebbiolo dates back to the 12th century. Today, the Marcenasco a blend of vineyards in the Annunziata subzone. A combination that yields a Barolo of structure and elegance, with those classic markers of dark red fruits rich and full- bodied. 93 WA

#4 2014 Rocche dell’ Annunizata, Barolo DOCG. The Rocche dell ’Annunizata vineyard on a steep hillside is considered one of the most important in all of Barolo. Pietro considers the site a “grand cru” of La Morra for its supreme elegance and aromatics imparted by the rare soil of blue marl with steaks of white sand. This is a slow ripening site which makes for a very complex wine of red fruits darker in color and denser in body. 95 WA

# 5 Conca, Barolo, DOCG 2014. The small Conca vineyard is in one of the oldest sub-zones in Barolo. It is less than two acres and is in the hollow of the Abbey of Annunizata where Benedictine Monks made wine as far back as the 12th century. The name Conca in Italian means basin or dell and the vineyard is a shell-shaped basin sitting with a southwest exposure. The wine is more elegant and dialed back. 94 WA 

“The pedigree of origin of a determined sub-zone and the delimitation of its area, the classification of the characteristics pertaining to the various vintages and the process of bottle refinement to both propitiate and maintain distinction, smoothness, elegance and longevity, are three crucial moments to be lived in the first person, concepts that I consider both as matters of substance and style.” – Renato Ratti, 1971

This is something that isn’t seen every year here in Seattle the distributor gets very little so if you would like some contact me Jeff@esquin.Com or call (206) 682-7374 ask for Jeff. There are no guarantees on this particular wines availability.

Thanks for reading.

Jeff Fournier, Esquin Buyer

Fire Water and Punch

  Pisco is at its simplest, is Brandy from Latin America.  Pisco is Aguardiente, the word comes from the Latin “Agua” for “water” and “Ardiente” meaning “fiery” – Fire Water.  Simliar to Brandy, which is short for Brandywine, from the Dutch expression for “burnt wine” or distilled wine.

Most nations in Latin America claim proprietorship of Pisco and that has lead too many arguments, from the halls of academia to the tables of tabernia. Peru claims the beverage got it’s name from the Peruvian town of Pisco. Chilean linguist Rodolfo Lenz said that the word pisco was used all along the Pacific coast of the Americas from Arauco to Guatemala, and that the word would be of Quechua origin meaning “bird”. Most convincing (to me) is Chilean linguist Mario Ferreccio Podesta’s theory, that the etymology to which pisco was originally a word for a mud container, much like amphora.

The Spaniards introduced distillation almost as soon as they arrived.  In the Viceroyalty of New Spain vineyards were introduced by missionaries wherever they could get Vitis Vinerfera to grow. and the late 1500’s there were vineyards producing wine commercially from modern day growing regions like Chile in the south to California in the North . So significant and threatening to the Spanish mercantilist that in 1595 the Spanish Crown banned the establishment of new vineyards in the Americas to protect the exports of its native wine industry.

By the 17th century Pisco was being exported including back to Spain and Portugal for fortification of wines. By the 18th century Pisco represented almost 90% of the grape beverage produced. During the California Gold Rush Pisco became a hit in San Francisco.

Pisco is made in an alembic Pot Still, just like Spanish Brandy or Cognac. It is distilled to between 60 and 80 proof with some Gran Pisco coming in at 86 proof or more. There are eight approved grape varietals, Muscat is by far the most popular grape because of its aromatics followed by Torontel and Pedro Ximenex. Pisco must be aged for a minimum of three months in vessels of “glass, stainless steel or any other material which does not alter its physical, chemical or organic properties”.

Peruvian Pisco must be made in the country’s five official D.O. (Denomination of Origin) departments—Lima, Ica, Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna (only in the valleys of Locumba Locumba, Sama and Caplina). Chilean Pisco must be made in the country’s two official D.O. (Denomination of Origin) regions—Atacama and Coquimbo. The right to use an appellation of origin for pisco is hotly contested between Peru and Chile. Peru claims the exclusive right to use the term “pisco” only for products from Peru. Chile, regards the term “pisco” as generic, and it argues the spirit is simply a type of alcoholic beverage made from grapes.

The Bank Exchange and Duncan Nicol, circa 1893.

Pisco Punch was made famous by Duncan Nicol at the Bank Exchange Saloon in San Francisco. Nicol was the last owner of the Bank Exchange when it closed its doors permanently in 1919 because of the Volstead Act.

Duncan Nicol invented a pisco punch recipe using: pisco brandy, pineapple, lime juice, sugar, gum arabic and distilled water.

Simple Pisco Punch
2 ounces pisco
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounce pineapple Juice
1 ounce simple syrup

Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 15 seconds. Double strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

 

One bank Exchange regular said, “It tastes like lemonade but comes back with the kick of a roped steer.” Others said “it makes a gnat fight an elephant.” Harold Ross, founder of The New Yorker magazine wrote in 1937: “In the old days in San Francisco there was a famous drink called Pisco Punch, made from Pisco, a Peruvian brandy… pisco punch used to taste like lemonade but had a kick like vodka, or worse.”

Pisco found many fans during its heyday. In Rudyard Kipling’s 1889 epic From Sea to Sea, he immortalized Pisco Punch as being “compounded of the shavings of cherub’s wings, the glory of a tropical dawn, the red clouds of sunset and the fragments of lost epics by dead masters.”

Pisco has found fans in a new generation of Mixologist and imbibers. The clean nature of the bandy makes a nice base for cocktails. Here is a modern update on Punch from me.

Lenny’s Pisco Parlor Punch
3 ounce Barsol Pisco
1 ounce Lime Juice
½ ounce Lemon Juice
1 ounce Small Hands Pineapple Gum Syrup
½ ounce Velvet Falernum

Shake with ice and double strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a cherry or pineapple or both.

 

Velvet Falernum is a longtime staple item of resorts and bars in Barbados, and today for its use in Tropical, Tiki and Caribbean drinks such as the Rum Swizzle, Mai Tai and Zombie. Made from an infusion of spices and lime juice into sugar cane syrup and Barbados Rum.

Small Hands Gum Syrup is about as close as you can get to Duncan’s original.

Bodega San Isidro dates back to the 1800’s. However, the most remote documents retrieved from the local town archives date back to 1919. In 2005 Bodega San Isidro became the top exporter of Pisco of Peru, being the first company ever to export one solid 20’ container of Pisco in Peru’s history. BarSol specializes in piscos produced with Quebranta, Italia and Torontel Grapes. They are produced in both styles, a) straight pisco and b) Mosto Verde Pisco. An “Acholado” pisco is also made, from a blend of piscos from the 3 single grape varietals.

 

 

 

 

Tasting with Loire Valley Superstar Bertrand Sourdais of Domaine de Pallus By Arnie Millan

I had the good fortune last week to be invited to lunch with Bertrand Sourdais, the dynamic 5th generation winemaker and owner of Domaine de Pallus in Chinon, smack dab in the middle of the Loire Valley. He pulls double duty as a partner and winemaker of two wineries in Spain’s Ribero del Duero region.

Bertrand Sourdais

“Thrilling, brilliant” are adjectives that have applied to the wines crafted by Bertrand Sourdais. Although his family estate is in Chinon in the Loire Valley, he made his international reputation with a Spanish wine, the 2002 Dominio de Atauta “Llanos del Almendro,” from Spain’s Ribera del Duero. In a celebrated blind tasting organized by two Europe’s most respected wine critics, Bertrand’s 2002 Atauta tied with the 1994 Vega Sicilia’s Unico, beating out the 2000 Château Latour; this was a shocking result as it was Bertrand’s first commercial vintage as winemaker.

Check out this Video of the vineyards!

Just after graduating from Enology school in Bordeaux, Bertrand apprenticed at Mouton-Rothschild, Santa Rita in Chile and Alvaro Palacios in Priorat. Bertrand took his first post as winemaker at Atauta in Ribero del Duero. After he left Atauta, Bertrand started Bodegas Antidoto and Dominio de ES, both in Ribera del Duero.

At lunch, Bertrand revealed that he was fired by the new owners of Atauta back in 2008. Even though he did not elaborate, the firing must have been a dramatic turning point in his life and, thirteen years on, you can still see it in his eyes. It still hurts. Yet I believe that the firing ignited a passionate determination to work only for himself with a fierce drive to succeed.

ANTIDOTO RIBERA DEL DUERO 2014 92 WA

So he founded a new winery, with partner David Hernando, an agronomist, called Antidoto. Antidoto means antidote and it was just the perfect cure for Bertrand’s Atauta blues. It was no coincidence that they located Antidoto in the Soto de San Esteban zone in the Soria province, just a stone’s throw from Atauta!

Duero Vines

At the same time, Bertrand’s father wanted to retire and to turn the estate in Chinon over to Bertrand. Bertrand was eager to take the reins of his family estate in addition to his commitment in Ribera del Duero. Bertrand told me he drives 8 hours each way from Pallus to Antidoto and back. That determined dedication is impressive and I think it is fueled by his traumatic firing from Atauta nearly ten years ago. Those wounds are still raw to this day.

Chinon is a prestigious appellation, mostly for Cabernet Franc, located in the center of the Loire Valley. It produces some of France’s meatiest Cabernet Francs which are sometimes compared to Bordeaux. As this is Bertrand’s home, his family estate, Domaine de Pallus, takes pride of place over his Spanish estates.

 

Bertrand farms his vineyards organically, using biodynamic treatments. Yields are kept low, sometimes too low (under 1 ton/acre!).

Below are the wines we tasted with Bertrand.

Pallus 2014 Les Pensées de Pallus: Les Pensées boasts a dark ruby color with aromas of dried herbs, anise and rosemary. On the palate, there is medium-to-full bodied fruit of tart black plum, black currant, black tea and bright acidity leading to a vibrant mineral finish. In stock at Esquin.

We also tasted, for the first time:

Pallus 2016 Les Messanges: Bertrand’s entry level Chinon, the. This is delightful fruity wine of elegance and balance. Available soon.

Antidoto 2015 Ribera del Duero: this is 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo) produced from grapes from the Soto de San Esteban zone in the Soria province, the cooler part of Ribera del Duero. Just released, this is a serious wine that can age. Available soon.

Pallus 2017 Messanges Chinon Rosé: A dry, crisp Cabernet Franc rosé perfect for Spring and Summer drinking. Fire up the outdoor grill! Available soon.

Antidoto 2017 Roselito Ribera del Duero: This complex Rosé is produced from 80% Tinto Fino and 20% Albillo Mayor, a little known local white grape indigenous to Ribera del Duero. Available soon.

Click for a Fact Sheet with more information on Bertrand Sourdais

arnie@esquin.com

Arnie Millan is Esquin’s European Buyer. In July, 2014, Arnie was featured in the Seattle Times as “The Finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

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