Summer in a Can: Tiamo Organic Canned Wines

I consider myself a very savvy bevvie-on-the-go person. I’m renowned for being able to carry an always cool Rosé wherever I go. When I heard about the new Tiamo organic wine [made with off the beaten path grapes, Montepulciano and Grillo] in a can, I was onboard. I paired them with the beach, popcorn and long walks on the Asbury Park boardwalk. Not only wonderfully incognito and convenient, they taste really good!

Brand: Tiamo wines are one of the many labels of the pioneering, British husband and wife team of Mel and Janie Master, their son Charlie along with the Sager family. Renowned for bringing great value wines to the US, Mel was responsible for introducing and promoting the wines of Georges Duboeuf in the US. Through the years, the duo has consistently brought fantastic value wines to the US, along with setting up their own wineries [Jordan Winery, Les Jamelles, Tortoise Creek].

In addition to the cans, Tiamo Wines also produces bottled, organic Barbera, Chianti, Pinot Grigio and Prosecco from Italy. All the grapes are sourced from small growers and cooperatives.

Tiamo Organic Rosé Terre di Chieti IGT 2016

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from organically farmed, hillside vineyards with chalky soils in the coastal region of Abruzzo, in and around the village of Chieti, central Italy.

Tasting Notes: Pink with coral highlights in colour, with aromas of candied cherry, strawberry and wildflowers. Fresh cherry and strawberry flavours are accented by a streak of light minerality. Citrus zest lingers on the crisp, dry finish. Refreshing, easy drinking perfect with all summer activities.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Picnics, BBQ, boating, the perfect all-purpose wine, great as an aperitif or with seafood, pasta and cheese.

100% Montepulciano
Terre di Chieti IGT
12% Alcohol
$19.99 for a 4 pack [SRP]

Tiamo Organic White Terre Siciliane IGT 2016

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from organically farmed, hillside vineyards with limestone and sandy soils in Sicily.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with aromas of grapefruit, honeysuckle and fresh summer herbs. Light apricot and pear flavours are given tiny drop of honey and complimented by grapefruit and citrus zest on the zippy finish. A friendly, sunny sip.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Perfect with sunsets, sitting on docks, ball games and as an aperitif or with seafood, pasta or cheese.

100% Grillo
Terre Siciliane IGT
12% Alcohol
$19.99 for a 4 pack [SRP]

Sample submitted for review purpose.

A Glass of Chianti Colli Senesi with Daniele Rosti of Campochiarenti

I was introduced to Daniele Rosti and his expressive wines by John Fodera via the wonderful world of Twitter. When John saw my tweets from the Chianti Lovers event in Florence, he advised that I go to the Campochiarenti table and meet his good friend, winemaker Daniele Rosti. Elegent and refined, just like his wines, it was a delight to speak with Daniele about his family estate. For all of those interested in the day-to-day trials and rewards of cultivating grapes, his Twitter account, @campochiarenti is a must follow.

The knowledgable and friendly Daniele Rosti of Campochiarenti.

Estate: Located in the Chianti Colli Senesi region in the Tuscan hills, the Campochiarenti estate traces its history back to the end of the 10th century when the church of Saint Nicholas along with its monastery was built. About a thousand years the later, the Rosti family purchased the 50 hectare [123 acre] estate and revitalized the vineyards and buildings. Today 14 hectares [34 acres] of the estate are organically farmed vineyards, with vines between 10 and 40 years in age. Chianti Colli Senesi and Vernaccia di San Gimignano are the main wines produced by the estate, so it follows that Sangiovese and Vernaccia di San Gimignano are the main grapes grown. However, there are quite a range of other varietals cultivated, such as Ancellotta, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malvasia Nera, Merlot, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero and Pinot Grigio, which allows Daniele to create terroir driven wines outside of the typical framework of the region.

Philosophy: “Quality grows in the vineyard.”

Winemaking: The Chianti Colli Senesi wines are a blend of 85% Sangiovese along with a blend of 15% of grapes that are a “typical variety of Tuscany” [Caniolo Collina, Colorino, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo, Foglia Tonda]. Traditional fermentation in concrete tanks with long maceration on the skins, aged 9 months in large oak barrels in addition to a minimum of 4 months in the bottle.

Campochiarenti Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2015
Although young, this already has a complex, espressive character. Silky layers of red fruit, earth and anise, culminating in the distinctive salt and pepper spice, dry finish. Complex yet so versatile, this can pair with just about every dish.
14% Alcohol
€12.50 [From the Campochiarenti website, not currently available in the US.]

Campochiarenti Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2011
Genteel and refined, with cherry, blackberry, plum, tobacco and a hint of floral. The distinctive salty spice of the estate’s terroir lingers between each sip. Soft tannins provide the backbone, whilst it is a powerful wine, it is elegant. At 6 years old, the colour is still ruby red and the fruit level is very high, Daniele says that this has yet to reach its peak, and will continue drinking well 5-10 years more.
14% Alcohol
€16.30 [From the Campochiarenti website, not currently available in the US.]

Media event sponsored by Consorzio del Chianti.

Walla Walla Meets Wairau: The Expressive Single Vineyard Wines of Hillersden

Hillersden is located in the Upper Wairau Valley in Marlborough, New Zealand. The estate takes its name from the now long forgotten settler’s town of Hillersden, which was one of the country’s largest sheep stations. Owned today by the Forlong family, the winery is known for being the first family owned, single estate, wine label in the Upper Wairau Valley. Passionately committed to sustainability, solar energy, irrigation technologies, innovation in frost management and repurposing vineyard waste for productivity are just a few of the many methods and approaches they utilize in creating a fully sustainable vineyard. The entire family is dedicated to the honoring the rich history of the land and “creating a new legacy and home for the modern wine lover”. The 3 sons now each have a role in managing the estate, from creating the label art to marketing and vineyard and farm guidance.

I had the pleasure of a guided tasting with their passionate and friendly winemaker, Adam Kubrock. Adam began his wine journey crafting single vineyard Syrah and red wines in Walla Walla, Washington State. Enamored with the cool climate winegrowing in Marlborough, he spent the past 6 years at Indevin, New Zealand Wineries and Mahi “learning the heart and soul of Marlborough wine”.

Winemaker Adam Kubrock.

Hillersden Single Vineyard Legacy Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, aged on light lees.

Tasting Notes: Light on its feet with sweet apple, peach and honeysuckle flavours balanced by bright acidity and an herbaceous streak. Fun, perky fizz carries thru to the clean mineral finish. Refreshing and light, a fun change of pace from Prosecco or Cava.
13% Alcohol
$18 [average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Wairau Valley Marlborough 2016

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, aged on fine lees to give the wine a refined texture to compliment the exuberant flavours. The wine was blended from 4 different vineyard parcels each contributing their own character.

Tasting Notes: Radiating with aromas of lemon, yellow apple, lime and grass. Apple, apricot, lemon and herbs are given a quick shake of white pepper, accenting the crisp, refreshing finish. A gorgeous balance of intense fruit and savoury elements.
13% Alcohol
$15 [average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Riesling Wairau Valley Marlborough 2015

Winemaking: Sheep chew the leaves to open the grapes up to the sun, grapes were picked young as they were not looking for the bell pepper flavours. Fermented in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Subtle petrol notes are ensconced with bright citrus, apple and honeysuckle flavours. The zippy, flinty mineral driven finish completes the refreshing character. Light, lively and changeable, it will disappear from your glass rather swiftly.
12% Alcohol
$15 [average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Pinot Gris Wairau Valley Marlborough 2016

Winemaking: Fermented in stainless steel, aged on light lees to build a refined texture and full palate.

Tasting Notes: Juicy and fresh, with vivid apple, pear and nectarine flavours. Cinnamon and ginger dusted pear linger tantalizingly between each summery sip.
13.5% Alcohol
$15[average price]

Hillersden Single Vineyard Pinot Noir Marlborough 2014

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from high elevation terraced vineyards, wild fermented and aged just shy of 10 months in 25% new oak. Only 300 cases produced.

Tasting Notes: Light and elegant, with layers of blackberry, plum, cherry and raspberry spread across a floral core, accompanied by bright acidity and silky tannins. Traces of earth and baking spice linger on the fruit and floral finish.
13.5% Alcohol
$21 [average price]

 

 

Media event hosted by New Zealand Wine.

 

 

Vino and Vinyl, A Brooklyn Pop Up Dinner with Robert Mondavi Wines

I was delighted to attend a pop-up wine dinner held in a historical, stunningly renovated brownstone in Brooklyn, featuring up and coming wine maker Joe Harden, of Robert Mondavi winery and innovative chef Theo Friedman. The event was a sensory pleasing showcase of the modern approach Joe is applying to the historic Mondavi vision.

Emmy award winner, James Beard award recipient, author and television personality Ted Allen hosted the evening. Incredibly knowledgeable in both food and wine (and also the history of Brooklyn and its brownstones), Allen brought a graciousness and warmth to the entire event.

The stunning dining room.

The legacy of Robert Mondavi is that of a man who put the Napa Valley wine region on the map. For over 40 years he pioneered sustainable viticulture and crafting high quality, approachable wines that express the terroir of Napa Valley. Today, Joe Harden is carrying forward his iconic vision.

A former professional basketball player, Harden grew up making wine with his father in a 30 acre Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard. After obtaining a degree on oenology, he completed his training under renowned Mondavi winemaker Genevieve Janssens, learning the entire process from field to bottle in the To Kalon vineyard in Oakville, Napa Valley. Harden’s wine philosophy is to make the best quality wine that is balanced and food friendly. For a detailed account of Joe’s journey, click here.

Winemaker Joe Harden detailing the history and vision in each glass.

Chef Theo Friedman of Theory Kitchen [a traveling, pop-up kitchen], has trained at The Musket Room, Gotham Bar and Grill and other prominent NYC restaurants. At only 24 years old, Friedman has been creating pop-up dining experiences since 2010; establishing a cult following of passionate eaters, providing him with the opportunity to cook in kitchens and pop-up spaces across the country. As I was the only vegetarian attending the event, he was kind enough to go out of his way to create an entire meat-free menu for me. To read more of about his fascinating career, visit theorykitchen.co

Chef Theo Friedman describing his spectacular dishes.

To begin the evening, we enjoyed two very different Fume Blancs [Robert Mondavi is actually the man responsible for the name Fume Blanc], both hailing from the legendary To Kalon [ancient Greek for “the highest beauty”] vineyard in Oakville. To Kalon is “ recognized as one of the finest first-growth vineyards of the world” and Joe Harden is a “ firm believer in the power of To Kalon”. Predominantly Bordeaux grapes are grown at To Kalon [Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, Syrah], these 2 Fume Blancs are the only white wines coming from this historic vineyard.

Robert Mondavi Winery ‘Oakville’ Fumé Blanc Oakville 2014

Winemaking: Grapes came from the To Kalon vineyard, specifically from the young vibrant up and coming Sauvignon blocks that aren’t quite up to the caliber of the reserve wine. Hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. 91% of the wine was fermented in 60 gallon French oak barrels, then barrel aged [8% new oak] on its lees for 8 months with hand stirring [bâtonnage] to integrate the flavours and develop its creamy texture.

Tasting Notes: Bright and fresh with citrus, herbs and a trace of floral accented by a streak of clean minerality, finishing crisp and fruity. Easy drinking, fantastic sipping on its own or easily paired with a wide variety of dishes. [It was wonderful with crispy maitakes with cured egg yolk and parsley ranch.]

79% Sauvignon Blanc, 21% Sémillon
14.5% Alcohol
$34 [average price]

Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Napa Valley 2014

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from the iconic, dry farmed, Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in the 1960’s in To Kalon vineyard. Hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. Almost all of the juice was fermented in French oak [42% new], and then aged on its lees for 9 months and hand stirred [bâtonnage] twice weekly, for a creamy texture and to enhance the volume and length. A small amount of Sémillon was added to increase richness and body. Additionally, 2 egg shaped cement fermentation vessels were utilized to explore the purity of fruit that this process is known for, and added to the final blend.

Tasting Notes: Fresh pear, herbs and bright acidity fuse with soft, creamy lemon, whilst citrus zest and a streak of minerality comprise the lengthy finish. Elegant and rich, yet super easy drinking. [A perfect companion with the creamy, bright, chilled California avocado and English pea soup.]

98% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Sémillon
14.5% Alcohol
$52 [average price]

Robert Mondavi Winery ‘Maestro’ Napa Valley 2014

Winemaking: Maestro was created in commemoration of Mr. Mondavi. Upon the opening of the To Kalon cellar in 2000, Mr. Mondavi hired the Napa Valley Orchestra to perform, halfway though he grabbed the conductor’s baton and started conducting the orchestra. This led to a front page picture and headline calling him “The Maestro of Napa Valley”. Conceived as a free spirit, it’s a wine that allows the winemaker to explore and experiment, its not restricted by style or grape. The 2013 vintage is a red blend, whereas 2014 is mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, as it had a beautiful harvest that year. The 2014 was crafted to be approachable, soft yet dense, and to pair really well with food.

Grapes were sourced from the Wappo Hill vineyard in Stag’s Leap, along with To Kalon vineyard. Hand harvested and sorted in the gravity flow cellar. The clusters were destemmed directly into French oak tanks for cold soak, fermentation and extended maceration, a total of 24 days of wine to skin contact, serving to maximize the extraction of varietal character and complexity while keeping the tannins fleshy and supple. Next the wine was drained and pressed into 28% new French-oak barrels for malolactic fermentation, then aged for 21 months.

Tasting Notes: Vibrant, concentrated jammy fruit [think blueberry, plum, black cherry] vanilla and baking spice supported by velvety tannins. A dessert-like finish, with pink peppercorn dusted Grenache, coffee and toasted oak lingering decadently between each sip. [ A fantastic foil to the wonderfully fresh, pungent ramp pasta.]

73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot
15% Alcohol
$46 [average price]

Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve To Kalon Vineyard Napa Valley 2014

Winemaking: The reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine that met a lot to Mr. Mondavi, “a wine he hung his hat on”. He crafted it with the intention that it be “enjoy with food and friends and family”. Today it is known as a reflection of his philosophy on winemaking, creating wines that are powerful yet gentle. [Joe provided us with my favourite quote of the evening, stating that Mr. Mondavi said: “I want my reserve Cab to be as soft as a baby’s bottom and have the power of the voice of Pavarotti”. The “First Growth” grapes form the finest blocks in To Kalon vineyard provides the wine with natural structure, acidity and power.

Hand harvested grapes spent 34 days fermenting and extended maceration in French oak tanks. The wine was then pressed and underwent malolactic fermentation in 100% new French oak barrels. The final blend spent 21 months in oak barrels, and was bottled in August 2016. Consistently being tasted to monitor its development, it is looking as though the wine will be released this October.

Indeed, my favourite wine of the evening, it is exudes elegance and power, well structured and perfectly balanced.

Tasting Notes: Food friendly acidity and well integrated oak accent fresh, ripe berries, crushed pink peppercorn and herbaceous elements. Silky smooth tannins, vanilla, chocolate and a trace of menthol linger on the lengthy, plush finish. Elegance along with a strapping, robust gentility in every sip. [Wonderful with grilled portabello covered in cocoa and malt glaze.]

93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot
14.5% Alcohol
Currently not released [$165 Suggested Retail Price]

Robert Mondavi Winery Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis Napa Valley 2002

Winemaking: With the dry climate in Napa Valley, the humid conditions necessary for botrytis or noble rot [the concentrating of sugars and flavour by allowing the grapes to shrivel or raisin] to develop need to be created. Following the regular harvest, select grapes are left on the vines for noble rot. Sprinklers are used at night in order to increase the humidity, with harvest taking place in November. Grapes were sourced from the Wappo Hill vineyard in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District AVA. Fermented for 2 months in French oak barrels [13% new], then aged on its lees and hand stirred once a month for 19 months.

2002 is the last year the Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis was made since the conditions haven’t been right. Joe stated that they are hoping this year they will have the opportunity for a 2017 vintage.

Tasting Notes: Fresh and vibrant with a bright acidity balancing the sweetness. Honey drizzled orange, lemon and apples fuse into lingering buttery croissant and candied orange notes. Sweet and vibrant, delicious on its own or a wonderful pairing with all types of deserts, from rich cheeses to decadent chocolate. [A great pairing with mild to stinky cheeses, dried apricot and clove preserve, and roasted nuts.]

100% Sauvignon Blanc
12% Alcohol
$100 [average price]

A superb finish to the evening.

Media event hosted by Robert Monday Winery.

Exploring the Diverse, Vibrant Personalities of New Zealand Pinot Noir

I was delighted to attend the Made in New Zealand Pinot Noir Seminar held at Pier A Harbor House in NYC last month. The seminar was an extension of Pinot Noir NZ 2017 held in Wellington New Zealand. The 3 day event, as described by The Drinks Business Magazine: “New Zealand’s entire wine industry gathered alongside a host of international sommeliers, buyers and writers to debate all things Pinot, letting their hair down in the process, in true Kiwi fashion. It was the sixth time that the Pinot Noir NZ event had been held, hosted every four years, with 115 New Zealand wineries showcased this year representing seven regions.”

From left to right, Joe Czerwinski, Brett Feore and Michael Henley.

Hosted by New Zealand Wine, the NYC event was under the direction of David Strada, the marketing manager for New Zealand Wines USA. The distinguished panel of presenters were Joe Czerwinski, managing editor of Wine Enthusiast, Brett Feore, sommelier and wine director at the New Zealand influenced Muskat Room in NYC, Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier and wine director at Mandarin Oriental in NYC, and Michael Henley, CEO of Trinity Hill Wines.

With such an esteemed panel, the tasting was an engaging, informative journey through the different personalities of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Here are my impressions from the seminar:

Wine regions of New Zealand. Courtesy of New Zealand Wine.

  • There is a wide range of style and diversity within New Zealand Pinot Noir. There are 10 growing regions, each displaying distinctive, regional character ranging from fresh and bright, graceful and subtle, to bold and tannic. For example, the hillside areas in Marlborough are known to have red fruits, fresh acidity, good structure and tannic backbone. Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir, with its cool climate, along with water and wind issues, tend to the more savory and earth side, with spice and supple tannins.
  • The average vine age is 15 years. Pinot Noir is a relatively new adventure in New Zealand winemaking. As Joe Czerwinski stated, “While there is a maturity being seen in both the wines and winemakers, winemakers are still figuring things out”.
  • Committed to protecting the land, nearly 100% of wines produced are certified sustainable, with many also being certified organic and biodynamic.
  • The majority of wineries take their name from the dominant feature of the land that they cultivate.
  • As seen also with many Italian winemakers, there is a drive to move away from oak to allow the fruit to come thru. Wine with oak aging generally has a low percentage of new oak.
  • Alcohol levels have to be within .5 % of what is stated on the label. For those of us familiar with the fun “11%-14%” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ alcohol level commonly seen on Italian and French labels, the accuracy is striking.

All of the wines below are 100% Pinot Noir. Prices listed are the average online cost.

Trinity Hill Pinot Noir Hawke’s Bay 2015

Winemaking Notes: No new oak was used in order to let the fruit express itself; the structure comes from the abundant fruit, not oak.

Tasting Notes: Bright aromas of cherry, raspberry, wild flowers and clean minerals. Fresh and fruity with a streak of granite minerality, silky tannins compliment the fruity, dry finish. Accessible and fun, fantastic on its own or a great companion at the table.
13% Alcohol
$15

Te Kairanga ‘John Martin’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2015 Continue reading