Terra Moretti in San Francisco


Vittorio Moretti , President of Terra Morettia holding company and Marco Sabellico, Senior Editor of Gambero Rosso Vini D'Italia hosted a memorable dinner for Italian wine distributors and wine writers in San Francisco. The dinner was held at the Ristobar in the Marina district, on the eve of the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri grand tasting at the Fort Mason Center. 

Vittorio Moretti serves as the President of the Consorzio Franciacorta and is the owner of Contadi Castaldi and Bellavista (beautiful view)  properties in the province of Brescia, in northern Italy, situated about an hours drive east of the fashion capital of Italy, Milan. Signore Moretti also own Petra winery in Maremma, along the Tuscan coastline near the Tyrrhenian sea. Since the 1970's wines from Maremma have been made from grape varieties not typically used in Tuscan wines and were initially glossed 'Super Tuscan' by members of the Antinori clan. Although the term Super Tuscan has no legally codified meaning,  it has stuck, its use denotes wines of small production, sporting whimsical names, with high quality and lofty prices.   

After being introduced to Mr. Moretti by Sara Pedrali - Brand Ambassador for Terra Moretti, I quickly learned that my 50% Duolingo rating for the Italian language holds little weight in the real world. I spoke just well enough to momentarily convince Signore Moretti I could carry on a conversation, but we both soon realized that any conversation of depth was not possible for us. 

Fortunately for us Marco acted as the interpreter for the evening and served that role splendidly. We also had the good fortune of sitting next to Eleonora Guerini, another Senior Editor of the Vini D'Italia. She was gracious and kind as Bill and I peppered her with questions throughout the evening. 

Before seating, we were offered Contadi Castaldi Saten 2010 Franciacorta, paired with grilled crostone with Swiss chard and burrata cheese.  You could walk in a hand full of specialty wine retailers in the San Francisco area and you would be lucky to find three different labels of Franciacorta wines. Even rarer would be a Saten. Saten is a sparkling wine from Franciacorta that is made using only white grapes, typically Chardonnay, but Pinot Bianco can be used also. Franciacorta Saten is bottled with less pressure so the wines have a softer mouth feel.  The bitterness of the chard and the sweetness of the burrata were good foils for the Saten. Contadi Castaldi's Saten is 100% Chardonnay and after fermentation is aged for seven months in stainless steel and barrique. It's aged for about three years on the lees. Light straw colored it offers up a floral nose with hints of yellow apples, citrus and yeast, with soft persistent bubbles.

The next course featured Star Route Farm of Bolinas grown puntarelle with Oregon Dungeness Crab meat. Paired with Bellavista Teatro Alla Scala 2010 Franciacorta Brut, this was another bitter vs sweet combination prepared by Chef Massimo Covello that worked beautifully. Putarelle is an Italian green that belongs to the chicory family. Composed of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Nero, 30% of the wine is fermented and matured in small white oak casks for at least seven months. Once it's blended with the other wines it spends five years on the lees. A pale yellow color with a tinge of green, the nose showed lovely apple, pear and toasted brioche notes. Vibrant acidity and showing its power, the finish is extremely long. Unfortunately for us this wine is not exported, as all the bottles are reserved for the Teatro Alla Scala in Milan. 

The next pairing was my favorite, house made cavatelli with Full Belly Farm black eye beans, sausage and dill. Cavatelli are inch long rolled pasta shells that look like miniature hot dog buns. The savory earthiness of the dish pared perfectly with the 2012 Petra Quercegobbe, 100% Merlot. A loose translation for Quercegobbe would be hunchback oak. I have a soft spot for Tuscan Merlot and the Petra Quercegobbe did not disappoint. Quercegobbe is fermented in 620 hectoliter oak barrels and is aged in new French barriques for eighteen months. Once bottled it's stored at the winery for another eighteen months before release.  Deep ruby red in color, the nose showed red fruit, herbs, tobacco and anise. Full bodied at 14.5% abv, the wine displays modest power, excellent structure and supple tannins.  The oldest vines next to the winery are less than twenty years old, so Quercegobbi will be one to watch. It's just down the road from Masseto and can be had for a fraction of the price. $53 - $60

There were two offerings for the main course, Stemple Creek Ranch "Prime" New York served with Bolinas broccolini and Rossetti Ranch lamb chops with Green Gulch Farm spinach. The wine paired with these dishes was the tre bicchieri awarded 2012 Petra IGT Toscana. The presentation of the lamb was superb and the execution for the steak was bang on. The Petra is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot.  The wine spends eighteen months in French oak, 30% new and is aged for eighteen months in bottle. Black berries and currants dominate the nose, supported by bold tannins and fresh acids. On the palate a herbaceous, red fruit profile with a delicious medium length finish. It was a wonderful match for the New York steak, but the $100 plus dollar price tag for the Petra would have me looking elsewhere. 


Next up was a cheese plate featuring items from Andante Dairy in Petaluma, Ca. Cavatini, Melange and Contralto cheeses were paired with Bellavista Vittorio Moretti 2008 Franciacorta. Cavatini is made from pasteurized goat's milk, is white and has a grey-white colored rind. Melange is a blend of goat's and cow's milk and resembles Brie in flavor and texture. For our group the Contralto cheese was substituted for a cow's milk triple cream cheese. The 2008 Franciacorta rests for a minimum of seven years on the lees and is composed of 58% Chardonnay and 42% Pinot Noir. Citrus and yellow apples on the nose are complemented by yeast, baked apples and caramel on the palate, ending with a long creamy finish. $120 - $130

Dessert was a delicious panettone paired with a magnums of Bellavista Vittorio Moretti Meraviglioso. The Panettone, a yeast leavened sweet bread assembled with eggs and butter for extra richness was sublime.  If your'e ever in the Marina District of San Francisco and you're looking for a good place for dessert put the Ristobar, 2300 Chestnut Street at the top of your list. Meraviglioso (wonderful) is a blend of six vintages 1984, 1988, 1991, 1995,2001 and 2002, and is only bottled in magnums. Priced at $1,100 dollars and up a bottle, Meraviglioso is ultra- premium and very rare Franciacorta, with only 5000 bottles produced. We were honored to be offered the opportunity to taste it. Initial notes of apple and pear on the nose are complimented by secondary notes of yeast and brioche. Complex and muscular, Meraviglioso finishes long, it's built for the long haul. 

A special thanks to Vittorio Moretti, Ristobar owner Gary Rulli, Chef Massimo Covello and their staff for hosting a wonderful food and wine event. While we tasted the upper tier of Terra Moretti Wines, the group offers a wide range of high quality sparkling and still wines at modest prices. Franciacorta wines are currently being aggressively promoted in the United State, so we should be seeing more examples of these wonderful wines on retailer shelves in the future. 





VinoWeek Episode 31 - Supermarket Champagne

                                                         Supermarket Champagne Deals

How low can supermarket Champagne prices go in the UK and what will be the net aftereffect? Joyce Lin puts together a guide to help understand Champagne labels.

Can you train your palate to get more out of the wines you drink? Rachel Signer asks some industry professionals that very question.  Bill and I have a few suggestions as well on how to sharpen your palate and taste wine like a pro.

What's the big deal about ageing wine? When is the best time to drink that special bottle you've been saving? Nova McCune Cadamatre offers up thoughts on the subject; To Age Or Not To Age? That Is The Question.

Here's our feel good story of the week. Ashley Trout a winemaker in Washington has started a non-profit winery, Vital Wines. Aimed at helping vineyard workers that do not have health coverage, it's a good step in a positive direction.

The press rollout has started for the latest hi-fi wine gadget. It's called the Kuvee. 

Ever wonder how wine gets to the states at sometimes staggeringly low prices? Bruce Schneider and Charles Bieler are working to clean up the tarnished image of bulk wine through their new wine company, Gotham Project.

Wine of the week:  2013 the Pundit Syrah Columbia Valley

The winemaker triad of Chateau Ste. Michelle's Bob Berteau, and Rhone Valley's Phillipe Cambie and Michel Gassier are the team behind Tenet Wines. The Pundit is 94% Syrah, 3% Grenache, 2% Mourvedre, and 1% Viognier ( cofermented with the syrah). The wine spends twelve months in oak barrels, 61% neutral French oak, 23% new French oak and 16% new American oak. The color in the glass is an opaque black-purple, going ruby towards the edges. The nose offers up black cherry, cocoa, vanilla and spice. In the mouth it's rich and sappy with no rough edges, black plum jam, vanilla spice and a long satisfying finish. An excellent buy at $20. 14.3% abv This wine was #34 on the Wine Spectator'stop 100 of 2015, so if you want some you should source it out immediately. 

VinoWeek Episode 30 - Breaking Traditions

Bill and I consider what may become of the tipping tradition in America's restaurants. The ever widening wage gap between front of the house restaurant employees and back of the house workers, pending government mandated wage increases and uncertainty of the direction in which current immigration policy may head, makes operating a restaurant, risky business indeed. Is restaurateur Danny Meyer a maverick altruist or does he have a crystal ball, has seen the future and is preparing for the changes. 

Richard Jennings a Silicon Valley based wine blogger took over a year off from blogging and on his return has hit it out of the park, with a comprehensive review of 230 grocery store Chardonnays. He didn't just pick up his free samples at the UPS depot. He did the hard work, trekking to local Lucky, Safeway and Costco stores to purchase bottles. Yes, he spent $4,000 of his own hard earned cash to complete the project.  If you shop for Chardonnay at the grocery store this is a must read. But wait, there's more. He's currently working on a grocery store Cabernet project. You can follow his progress on Cellartracker, Facebook and Twitter.

If you're a cheese lover Tia Keenan wants to introduce us to some of the wonderful products that are made here in the United States as well as from abroad.

Former owner of now defunct wine retailer Premier Cru looks to be headed to court again. This time the claimant will be Wells Fargo, who is looking to reclaim the 2016 ZO6 Corvette he purchased this year shortly before he declared bankruptcy. 

Wine of the week: 2012 Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo Salento IGT

Primitivo is a clone of a Croatian grape called Crljenak Kastelanski ( tsril/ yeh/ nak- kah/ steh/ lahn/ skee. Practice this pronunciation and you can wow your friends at your next gathering. You could also use it on that overbearing wine snob at your next mixer to get them to back off. Simplified, Primitivo is Italian Zinfandel. The Tormaresca Estate is operated under the umbrella of the Antinori Family. Winemaker Renzo Cotarella has the best of everything at his disposal all with the goal of showing the world, the best that the region of Puglia, in southern Italy has to offer. The flagship wine for Tormaresca is their 100% Negroamaro based Masseria Maime. Don't miss an opportunity to try it.  

Topped with a real cork, Torcicoda is 100% Primitivo and is fermented in stainless steel, then aged in French and Hungarian oak barrels for ten months. The wine rest in bottle another eight months until release. In the glass the wine is a deep ruby to violet colorand the nose shows black plums, black cherries, brown sugar and vanilla. In the mouth the flavors turn to red cherry jam and cocoa with hints of licorice and baking spice. Full bodied with ample well rounded tannins it finishes with good length. Drawing a comparison between Torcicoda and Sonoma Zinfandels, I'd say that this Primitivo is a more feminine representation of the Zinfandel grape, showing less alcohol, more savory flavors and elegance. I tasted the 2013 version alongside the 2012 and the former underperformed, so I suggest you confine your search to the 2012 version. Another reminder that vintage does matter.  14.5 % abv $17 - $20

VinoWeek Episode 29 - The Legacy of Peter Mondavi Senior

Last week one of Napa Valley's legendary winemakers passed. Peter Mondavi Sr. was an innovator and was most proud of not having to sell out to corporate interest, he steadfastly worked to keep Charles Krug Winery in family hands. We send out our thoughts and prayers to the family.

Open that bottle night has come and gone. Held on the last Saturday of every February and started by wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher,  it's celebrated as a reason to open up that bottle that you've been saving for a special occasion. If you participated in the event share with us what you had.

New research presented by the Wine Market Council shows that millennials have overtaken baby boomers and Gen Xers with regards to wine drinking rates.  

Talia Jane sent off a blog post to her boss, Jeremy Stoppleman CEO of Yelp, detailing how difficult it was to work for his company due to the inadequate compensation package she was receiving. Now she's wondering why she's unemployed and is asking for handouts. Stephanie Williams a millennial herself offers her take on Talia's dilemma. 

Four Seasons Vineyard Management and Ridge Vineyards have been fined $42,300 for housing violations related to a migrant farm worker facility in Healdsburg, Ca.  

Here's a link for some quick updates on the Premier Cru bankruptcy and scandal. Zachary Sussman pens an excellent post on the subject of wine futures, detailing how they work and sometimes why they don't.  

Do we need another law aimed at dealing with drunk drivers? Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego believes we do and has introduced a bill that would require more training for restaurant and bar workers to recognize patrons that have had too much to drink. 

Kerin O'Keefe tells a story about one of the most exciting white wines coming out of northern Italy.

Wine of the week: 2011 Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 

Volpaia is a hilltop walled village north of Radda in central Tuscany. Raffaelo Stianti purchased the estate in 1966 and when his daughter Giovanella married in 1972, the estate became the young couples wedding present. All of the estate owned vineyards are organically farmed and certified, 114 acres in total, situated with southern hillside exposures at 1,300 to 2,130 ft. The nose shows black plums and cherries, floral aromas of lavender, with trailing hints of sage and cedar. Elegant with crisp acidity and good structure it's full bodied at 14.5 % alc. On the palate it has beautiful juicy black fruit, with silky tannins and a persistent finish.  $25 

Thanks for listening and please tell a friend. Cheers!

VinoWeek Episode 28 - Diageo's Exodus Continues

Chalone Vineyards has changed hands again. The new owner Bill Foley plans to put new emphasis on promoting the brand.

Dorthy Gaiter interviews Michael Mondavi about the Mondavi clan, then and now. The way things have turned out may not be as patriarch Robert Mondavi had envisioned, but if he were here he'd probably be pleased. 

Tim Carl writes about the evolving taste in California wine country. Could this be a glimpse into the near future?

Batya Ungar-Sargon wonders 'Why aren't there more Black Americans making wine?'

From the files of people behaving badly, Italian police have discovered a counterfeit Champagne operation in the province of Padua.

Wine of the week: 2012 Boundary Breaks Vineyard Riesling - Ovid Line North

This riesling hails from the Finger Lakes Region of New York on the east side of Seneca Lake. It's composed of two riesling clones Geisenheim 110 and 239 and was harvested at 21 brix. Fermented and aged in stainless steel for six months, it's finished with residual sugar of 3.2 % and 11.6 % abv. It has a shy nose with a pleasant leesy aroma. Leesy is a term for the aroma you get from wine that is held in a container on its lees (dead yeast cells) for an extended period.  Where this wine really struts its stuff is on the palate. You'll find juicy white peach and pear flavors. It's off dry with that characteristic lemon, lime, tongue tingling acidity on the finish. A real crowd pleaser for sure.   575 cases $20

VinoWeek Episode 27 - How to Improve Your Wine Experiences

Rachel Signer has a list of ten things every woman should know about wine, but her list could apply to guys as well. 

Michelle Locke offers up nine hacks to help you drink better wine by drinking it better. In the podcast Bill and I offer up a few ways to enhance your wine drinking experience as well.

Is the age of the Sommelier coming to an end? Some high profile somms are looking for a different experience and are moving into the retail arena. 

Upscale wine merchant Premier Cru of Berkeley, California has finally folded amidst a plethora of accusations and lawsuits. The FBI is now actively involved and handling former customer and vendor complaints. 

Napa County officials are flexing their muscles and threatening to shut down a winery in Calistoga that does not have their permits to do business in order.  

We talked about this story on a prior podcast.  Look who's saying 'My Bad'. Here's proof that Maureen Downey is smart and one tough cookie. 

Wine of the week:

2014 Tenshen Santa Barbara County White Wine

This is the best full bodied aromatic white I've tasted this year. It's a Rhone blend of Viognier, Rousanne, Grenache Blanc and Chardonnay. The wine is aged for five months in 80% neutral oak, 20% stainless steel. The aroma offers up orange blossoms, tangerine, kumquat and it's delightfully tropical. On the palate it's full bodied, rich and savory. When you swallow, it taste like more, with flavorful waves of apricot and yellow peaches. It's delicious!  Wines of this quality, at this price point do not remain on the market for long. Run to your favorite retailer and secure some before it's gone. 14.7 % abv $18 - $20 

Thanks for listening and please tell a friend about us. Cheers!

Vino101 Episode 28 - A Visit to Quivira

Let's get the admissions out of the way first. I'm a big fan of Hugh Chappelle, the winemaker at Quivira Vineyards. I don't think Doug Allan the Brand Manager for the estate was aware of that when we first made contact to request a visit. Big thanks to Doug for setting up the interview with Hugh, allowing us to learn more about the wines made at Quivira. Having enjoyed so many wonderful cool climate West Sonoma County Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs that Hugh has made at other properties, I was excited to discover what he was up to in Dry Creek Valley.

Sixteen miles long and two miles wide, Dry Creek Valley is home to a large concentration of old vine Zinfandel vineyards. That's what originally brought us to the area as we are ramping up for the upcoming Zinfandel Experience 2016 coming to San Francisco. Fortunately for us Hugh makes more than just Zinfandel. We covered a variety of topics as we tasted through a number of Quivira Estate grown wines.

Sauvignon Blanc is the signature grape of Dry Creek Valley and currently Sauvignon Blanc is the most planted white grape in the valley. Quivira's Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is all estate fruit with low sulfide input, wild yeast driven, with phase picked grapes that are Demeter Certified. In the interview Hugh reveals he drinks more Sauvignon Blanc than anything else and once you try theirs it's easy to see why. The Quivira Estate Vineyards are Demeter Certified Biodynamic and Organic but they don't fly that flag very high. The owners Peter and Terry Kight seem devoted to sustainable farming, comfortable with letting the wines speak for themselves, without leaning on certifications to sell their products.

It was a very rainy day in December, so instead of walking through the vineyards we conducted the first part of the interview in the production area where the sound quality was not that great, but the content is awesome.  It's a working winery so there's lots of background noise we were unable to filter out. Hugh enjoys working with smaller family run wineries where he "can taste every barrel and every vat". The highlight for me was tasting the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc out of Acacia barrels. Whether you're a novice or a wine geek there's something for everyone in this podcast. Thanks to Hugh and his crew for making this podcast possible.

The 2014 Quivira Rose is 62% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 15% Mourvedre, 8% Counoise. This may be the only Demeter certified rose in California. The grapes are farmed specifically for Rose i.e. - zero saignée.  Treated like white wine the grapes are given a cold soak and pressed before fermenting. Aromas of strawberries and cranberries are echoed on the palate as well. It's light bodied, clean, crisp and dry. $22 / 13.3 abv /  900 cases

The 2014 Fig Tree Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyard is situated next to the intersection of Dry Creek River and Wine Creek and gets its name from an old fig tree that sits on the estate. Phase picked and 70% fermented in stainless steel, 30% in a mix of Acacia and French oak. The aromatics of lemon, lime zest, fresh cut grass, melon and tropical fruit jump out of the glass. As fantastic as the nose is, where this Sauvignon Blanc departs from the pack is in its texture. In the mouth it's medium bodied, minus the acidic bite that you sometimes get with less well made Sauvignon Blanc. It's rich and round with flavors of citrus and tropical fruit with just the right amount of acidity. Is there a hint of fig in there? With the organic farming, phase picking and multi layered barreling program, a lot of care goes into crafting this wine. It's an outstanding effort.  $24 / 13.5% abv / 2,384 cases

The 2013 Grenache is 100% Grenache and is grown on the estate. The grapes were picked in three passes and fermented with native yeast, using 15 - 20 percent whole cluster, then aged 6 to 9 months in 60 to 130 gallon barrels. Once the blends are assembled the wine is moved into 600 and 900 gallon foudre to finish maturing. This is a Grenache made by a former Pinot Noir winemaker so Hugh's style is readily apparent in this offering.  In the glass you'll find aromas of strawberry and red cherries with hints of lavender. On the palate the wine is full bodied, fresh and vibrant, showing beautiful balance and texture, with lovely spice notes on the finish.  $32 / 14.7 abv / 744 cases

The 2013 Black Boar Zinfandel is 83% Zinfandel, 12% Petite Sirah, 5% Carignan. The grapes are sourced from ridge top vineyards, Anderson Ranch in the Lytton Springs area, Goat Trek Ranch and Wine Creek Ranch on the valley floor. Opaque with aromas of black fruit. licorice and spice. On the palate it's full bodied, concentrated and richly styled. Black berry and black cherry in the fore with subtle hints of spice in the background. If you're a big Zinfandel lover you'll want round up a few bottles. Drinking well now, but this one is age worthy. It's already sold out at the winery  but you can use wine-searcher.com to find a source.  $38 / 14.8% abv / 830 cases

Thanks for listening and enjoy the podcast. Cheers!

VinoWeek Episode 26 - Culinary Schools, Wine Parings and More

Happy New Year! 

Thirty-one cases of the world's most expensive wine have disappeared from a northern port in France while awaiting shipment to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario in Canada. 

Lettie Teague pens a piece titled 'An Insider's Guide to Weird Wine Words'. It's a good primer for explaining some of the jargon used by people in the wine business to describe wine characteristics and flaws.

If you ever wondered why some food and wine pairing work and others don't, this article by Bill St. John will help you understand the key elements of pairing wine with food.

The Culinary Academy is closing all sixteen of its schools in the U. S. Steve Heimoff comes up with a few reasons for the closure and we come up with a few of our own. 

Guy Fieri is attempting to dissolve his popular chain of Johnny Garlic's restaurants. The problem is his partner doesn't want dissolution; he wants to purchase Guy's shares of the chain. We'll watch as this one plays out in the court system.

Bill Swindell reports for the Press Democrat on the upward trend of tap rooms opening in Sonoma County. 

Levi Dalton provides a detailed accounting of why sommeliers may be facing a difficult year in 2016

Wines of the Week:  

Bele Casel Asolo Prosecco Superiore Extra Brut  

Imported by Chambers & Chambers of San Francisco this is not your average supermarket brand Prosecco. To start with it has pedigree. Coming from the Asolo Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, one of the two areas in the Prosecco growing region that has the D.O.C.G. designation. The difference between a D.O.C. and a D.O.C.G. Prosecco is that the latter comes from the hillier regions of the growing zone and is subject to stricter quality controls and because of the terrain is more likely to be farmed by hand. Bele Casel is a small family owned farm and use no chemicals at their 100% organically farmed twelve hectare site in the Asolo region, in the province of Treviso, north of Venice. 

In the glass the wine shows a light straw color with aromas of white peach and green apples. On the palate green apple and lemon, bright acidity with a clean refreshingly dry finish - elegance personified. This is our house bubbly for the month of January.  Serve with oysters on the half shell, ceviche, salads, fried calamari and light seafood dishes.   11.5 % abv $12 - $14 

2012 Kaiken Ultra Malbec/ Mendoza

Hand harvested 100% Malbec, raised in one, two and three year old French oak barrels for one year - In the glass a deep violet color, the nose shows black fruits, cocoa and vanilla. On the palate blackberries, chocolate and vanilla, full bodied with firm but round tannins. Rich, showy and superbly balanced with good length on the finish. Enjoy this one with fondues, strongly flavored cheeses and grilled steaks. A ridiculously great value at $14 - $16. Readily available at the moment, be forewarned wines of this quality, at this price point get snatched up quickly. 


Shone Farms 2012 Estate Pinot Noir

Made by Santa Rosa Junior College Students under supervision of winemaker Chris Wills this Pinot delivers cherry cranberry and earthy mushroom flavors.  Smooth and satiny on the pallet.   

From the Winemaker: Pinot Noir was hand harvested in the middle of the night to ensure cool fruit and then placed into small bins and transported by forklift to the cellar door before dawn. The morning fruit was hand sorted by SRJC Wine Studies students then destemmed and gently placed into an open top fermenter. The must cold soaked for three days and was then inoculated and allowed to ferment to dryness. The fermentation cap of grape skins was hand punched down three times per day to extract color, flavor, and body components. The must was pressed to dryness, settled and racked to medium-toast French barrels where it aged for 16 months.

As always thanks for listening and tell a friend about us. Cheers!

VinoWeek Episode 25 - Lawsuits, Fake Wine and Saber Fun!

Roughly ten percent of the bottles in convicted wine counterfeiter Rudy Kurnaiwan's wine cellar were deemed fakes and were sent to Creedmore, Texas to be destroyed. There's a video of the process, but allegations of fake wine being sold at high end auctions continues to persist. Wine sleuth Maureen Downey and wine expert Gil Lempert-Schwarz are headed to court as Schwarz has asked the court to order Downey to stop defaming him. Unfortunately, there appears to be more than enough fake wine to go around. Caveat emptor!

New York wine retailer Empire Wine's ongoing lawsuit against the New York State Liquor Authority has taken a turn in favor of the NYSLA, after Governor Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have limited the state's power.  

Bill Swindell reports for the Press Democrat on the legal problems facing Truett-Hurst. As shares for the company hover at low penny stock levels, it's a sobering reminder of how difficult the wine business can be.

E J Gallo increases its footprint in Napa Valley with the purchase of The Ranch Winery in St. Helena

John Fox, owner of Premier Cru, a wine retailer in Berkeley, California, amid numerous lawsuits and claims of running a Ponzi scheme, has closed his retail shops' doors and elected to continue business through online sales only. All of the bad press of late must have made it very uncomfortable for him and his staff to conduct business face to face with the public. If you have made purchases and would like to pick your wine up, you can still do so by making an appointment. 

This video may be as close as you can get to Champagne without visiting in person.

You left your saber at home, but you still want to show off to your friends. The guys at VinePair show that there's more than one way to open a bottle of bubbly.  

Wine of the Week:

2012 Clos de los Siete

2012 Clos de los Siete

2012 Clos de los Siete

 57% Malbec, 18% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Syrah and 2% Petit Verdot -  Opaque in the glass, aromas of black fruit, cocoa and spice, good concentration, smooth tannins and a long finish. Made by rock star winemaker Michel Rolland who collaborates with seven French partners at five different wineries in Argentina. An excellent value at $14 to $16. Break out the roasted meats and steaks.






Thanks for listening and tell a friend. Cheers!

Colors of Soave Master Class

In September I had the pleasure of attending a Colors of Soave Master Class hosted by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and Giovanni Ponchia, at Nostra Spaghetteria in San Francisco. Having attended last year's Soave class I was keen on seeing what was to be learned at Soave 2.0. Evan ever the professional did not disappoint. This class focused on the soils and site differences in the Soave region. Having worked at several wineries in Northern Italy, Giovanni serves as an enologist and marketing ambassador for the Soave Consorzio Tutela. The Soave Consorzio's mission is to promote Soave wines.

In San Francisco there are typically only a few handful of days where the mercury approaches ninety plus and this was one of them. I could not think of a better way to spend a sizzling afternoon than sipping the wonderful Cru Soaves that were on hand. 

The Soave region twelve miles due east of Verona, in north eastern Italy,  with the hills of Valpolicella flanking its left shoulder and Cru vineyard names like Castelcerino, Casette Foscarin and Salvarenza leading the charge for quality, is making a legitimate call for being recognized as a top producer of white wines. When one talks of Cru Soave it's important to note you are referring to the hills of Soave and not the alluvial flatlands. These hillside vineyards range in elevation from 125 to 1,100 feet.    

Evan noted that Garganega based wines like Soave are very nuanced, and  "if you're looking for a wine of place, Soave can be a fire hydrant directly out of the terroir into your mouth".  The class started with a historical perspective of the Soave region and an explanation of the various types of soil that can be found throughout the region.  How the different soil types impacted the style of wines produced became very clear as we tasted the wines. In general one could say the calcareous limestone based soils yielded more linear, citric, floral and austere wines. I think these wines would age more quickly. Conversely wines from grapes grown in the volcanic red and black basalt soils were richer, thicker, oilier with more texture.   

We started with 2014 Latium Soave DOC "Campo le Calle". From alluvial based soil, 100% Garganega, 30 year old vines, 15 to 25% of the grapes are dried for 15 to 20 days. Pale gold color, aroma of hawthorn, fresh cut grass and citrus. On palate citrus and lemon with zippy acidity.  14% abv $20

2013 Vicentini Agostino Soave Superiore DOCG "Il Casale" is 100% Garganega from calcareous alluvial based soils from the hills of Colognola. Raised in stainless steel vats only, grassy lemon-lime aromas and flavors with a delicate acidity and finish.  13% abv $25

Seafood Salad - rock shrimp, cuttle fish, italian butter beans, celery, cherry tomato, walu walu onion, lemon vinaigrette, chili oil

Seafood Salad - rock shrimp, cuttle fish, italian butter beans, celery, cherry tomato, walu walu onion, lemon vinaigrette, chili oil

2013 Cantina di Soave Superiore Rocca Sveva DOCG Classico "Castelcerino"  80% Garganega 20% Trebbiano di Soave - A cooperative of 2,200 growers Cantina di Soave produces roughly one out of every two bottles of Soave sold. Rocca Sveva represents the high end of their portfolio.  The grapes are pergola trained therefore they are handpicked. Stratified calcareous rock soils, grapes from the top 100 best growers, the wine spends nine months in the tank before bottling. Gravity only, no pumps are used to move the wine. Light golden yellow color, with mineral, melon , pear and honey notes, bright and crisp   13% abv $20

2014 Marcato Soave DOC Classico "Monte Tenda" 80% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano di Soave from 11 year old vines, fermented and aged in stainless steel for 6-8 months. Light gold color, aroma of white flowers and yellow apples. On palate lemon citrus flavors with a light finish.  12.5 abv $18

2014 Cantina del Castello Soave Classico DOC "Pressoni" 80% Garganega 20% Trebbiano di Soave, clay-basaltic soil, raised in stainless steel, three months "sur lie", aged four months in the bottle before release.  A very engaging tropical nose of melons, papaya and peaches. More weight on the palate than the previous wines, vibrant acidity with a long finish. I'm still trying to find some of this for my wine stash, delicious.  13% abv $17

   Sous Vide Chicken Thigh - onion mashed potato, wild mushrooms, lemon zest

   Sous Vide Chicken Thigh - onion mashed potato, wild mushrooms, lemon zest

2012 Monte Tondo Soave DOC Classico "Casette Foscarin" 90% Garganega, 10% Trebbiano di Soave Operated by the 2nd and 3rd generation Magnabosco family harvested from 25 year old vines, tufaceous and basaltic soil. After primary fermentation aged in barriques and 5hl tonneau for about six months. Aged one year in bottle before release. An international style Soave for sure, with a vanilla, coconut and tropical fruit nose. Full bodied on the palate with a pleasing oily sensation, and a richly flavored, savory finish. This one will be hard to locate on retail, you're more likely to find it on restaurant wine lists. Don't hesitate to buy if you find it.  13.5% abv $29

2013 Gini Soave DOC Classico "La Frosca" 100% Garganega grown in basaltic rock and limestone, the Gini Brothers craft beautiful wines. Traditionalist the vines are trained by pergola rooted in basaltic rock and limestone. No sulfur additions in the winery with the wine spending at least 8 months on the yeast in stainless steel and barrique. A delicate green apple, pear and mineral nose. The extended oak aging seems to have only added a delightful depth and textural component to the wine while allowing the fruit to remain at center stage. On the palate persistent minerality and acidity, a tongue tingler. Very impressive now, this will be a good one to purchase and enjoy over the next decade.  Yes Soave can and does age well.  13% abv $25 

A wonderful lineup of Cru Soaves

A wonderful lineup of Cru Soaves

2014 Cantina di Monteforte Soave DOC Classico "Vicario" Cantina di Monteforte is a cooperative with around 600 growers.  100% Garganega, basaltic soils, partially barrel fermented, vibrant peach, pineapple profile, medium bodied with good concentration12.5% abv $12 At twelve bucks this a no brainer case buy. 

2014 I Stefanini Soave Superiore DOCG Classico "Monte di Fice"  100% Garganega grown in grey and black volcanic soils, fermented in stainless steel and resting on the lees for 9 months. A deep golden color, tropical aromas, mango, peach, medium bodied with low acidity.  13%abv $27

2014 Franchetto Soave DOC "La Capelina"  red basaltic based soils, 100% Garganega, straw color, white flowers and citrus aromas, juicy white peach fruit in the mouth, finishes crisp and mineral with good length.  12.5% abv $12

A tip of the hat to Limeng Stroh at Full Circle Wine Solutions, the staff at Nostra, Evan and Giovanni for putting together a fantastic event.  If you want some basic knowledge of the Soave region and wines, please review our previous podcast on Soave. Cheers!