Saturday, May 12, 2012

Schiava Is Good

This heartwarming wine from Bolzano in the South Tyrol is made by Heinrich and Elda Mayr from their small parcel of old Schiava vines. It's a bit Burgundian, but perhaps more reminiscent of a full-bodied Morgon, with a sweeter fragrance, as well as  brighter and more spicy in flavor.

I brought a bottle of this 2009 Elda Rosso with me recently to the Sardinian restaurant La Ciccia and it was friendly with almost every dish I ordered. But it was most insane with the baby octopus stew with the mild, pulsing heat of the pepperoncino calabrese of the tomato sauce. I was happy drinking a full, luscious Vermentino di Sardegna with it, yet the Schiava was a revelation. Another delicious aspect of the dish would have escaped me were it not for this brilliant wine.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

April Recap... plus the usual drivel

I thought I'd take time to shamelessly promote what our modest little wine shop has forced upon you during this past month of April. Hard to believe that a full third of the year is already history.

Here are but a handful of items worthy of note:
  • A quick trip to Jura and Burgundy confirmed as always the greatness of producers we love. In Burgundy that would be Michel Lafarge, Frederic Mugnier, Ghislaine Barthod, Jean-Marie Fourrier, Christophe Perrot-Minot, Leroy, Thierry Matrot, Nicolas Rossignol, and really much more.
  • But then for ardent Burgundy fans you really don't need me to tell you these venerable names. Our claim to fame is knowing equally brilliant producers that are unheralded, yet whose wines are worthy rivals to the best of them. And so last month I've brought to your attention Denis Jeandeau, Chateau de Beru, Meix Foulot, Pierre Gelin, Montchovet, Francois Feuillet/David Duband, Marc Roy, Lou Dumont, Harmand-Geoffory. From one long-time Burgundy nut to another, if you fancy yourself a true Burgundy fan, you would at least try these wines and see for yourself why I'm so bullish and why you don't have to always spend a gazillion bucks for great Burgundy.
  • In Jura, I continue to scour this strange but beautiful frontier, which I liken to  Middle Earth, for some of the most wonderful wine discoveries of this century. Why this ancient winegrowing region has escaped many of us is puzzling. One thing to know about the Jura is that it has one of the most powerful terroirs known to man. Yes. The wines are intense and complex, though seemingly light and modest in alcohol. Nearly all wines are capable of aging for decades, even centuries. Why just the other day Decanter announced a 240 year-old Vin Jaune up for auction! We stock the greatest producers in Jura like Jacques Puffeney, Michel Gahier, Domaine Montbourgeau, Philippe Bornard, and Domaine de la Tournelle. And we are the only wine store in the West Coast to sell Domaine de l'Octavin and Jean-Marc Brignot!
  • From our California backyard we offered some of our greatest finds recently. For example, we recently offered the debut vintage of Los Pilares from San Diego County (yes, that San Diego) and it sold out within a day or two, and it's not even a Cab or Pinot! Other terrific California producers we touted include: Donkey and Goat, A Tribute to Grace, Anglim, La Clarine Farm, Peay/Cep, Qupe, and Grant Eddie.
  • Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, and Mourvedre grow terrific in California's more Mediterranean terroirs and so I've been in hot pursuit of California wines other than Cabs or Pinots. Even the San Francisco Chronicle acknowledged our enthusiasm by inviting me to return to their tasting panel for its all-important Grenache report last February.
  • Of course, we can't resist bringing awesome Cabs and Pinots, particularly those from small producers making balanced wines at reasonable prices. Some of our favorites offered in the last month or so include Corison, Leviathan, Fisticuffs, Banshee, Dominus Napanook, and Georg Rafael--elusive California wines to find.
  • If you're in the neighborhood then our weekend tastings are for you. We always pour our new wine discoveries. Keep on discovering new tastes and flavors, that's the best thing about wine.
  • To this end we always love to host wine dinners. Last month we held a wine dinner at a local eatery featuring the fantastic wines of the Northern Rhone. An event that sold out in just two days! We poured 8 different wines from the region's best producers like J.L. Chave, Yves Cuilleron, Georges Vernay, Emmanuel Darnaud, Pierre Gonon, Franck Balthazar, and Stephane Ogier.
  • I'm delighted to report there's a lot to look forward to again this month. We've already received a ton of new wines and I can't wait to offer them to you! Plus, of course pre-arrivals of gems that are coming soon.
It may take a little while for me to write up about these exciting new wines but you'll know about them in the coming days. Vineyard Gate is not run by an army of staff, it's strictly a two-person outfit, Amy--my wife--and I.

Almost everyday we meet with local producers, distributors, and importers to taste, discover, and discuss about new wines. And we somehow find the time to parachute down Europe's vineyards once or twice a year. I feel that the only way to be honest and sincere about wines we recommend to you is to know them first-hand.

Thank you all for your continuing support. My only request is for you to help us spread the good news about Vineyard Gate! Please tell your fellow wine friends about us.