Michael Mondavi Honored
And Some Recent Winning Wine Recommendations
Michael Mondavi has been named “Person of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine. After being winemaker and later president of the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery, he successfully took the winery public in 1993 and was instrumental in the sale to Constellation Brands in 2004, at which time he, his wife Isabel and their children Rob and Dina started Folio Fine Wine Partners.
Some of the world-class wines Folio Partners imports include Ornellaia, Marchesi di Frescobaldi, Bruno Giacosa, Dalforno Romano, Luce della Vite and the incomparable Massetto, not to mention the production of the Michael Mondavi Estate wines. Congratulations to Michael!
SOME VERY SIGNIFICANT WINE ESTATES:
Benovia Winery — A hidden gem in the Russian River Valley. The following are all recommended: Chardonnay La Pommeraie 2013 $48; Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2013 $40; Pinot Noir Martaella Vineyard Russian River Valley 2013 $48; and Pinot Noir Cohn Vineyard Russian River Valley 2013 $70.
Donum — A picturesque, 187-acre vineyard in Sonoma Valley owned by Anne Moller-Racke, who came from Germany in 1981 to work and eventually run the iconic, family-owned, Buena Vista Winery. From the first-class stable of wines, two recently tasted winners are the exhilarating, fresh, bright and luscious Chardonnay Carneros 2014 $50, and the deep, ruby-colored, sweet-cherry (from perfectly ripe grapes) Pinot Noir Carneros 2013. Rich and spicy with supple tannins and a lengthy finish. $72
Cuvaison — Great improvement since Steve Rogstad took over as winemaker, as well as the brilliant purchase of the Brandlin Estate Vineyards. Three Estate Wines tasted and recommended: Cuvaison Chardonnay Carneros 2012 $26; Cuvaison Pinot Noir Carneros 2012 $39; and Brandlin Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012 $65
Chappellet and Sonoma-Loeb — Most oenophiles are familiar with the iconic Chappellett Winery, but not necessarily with Sonoma-Loeb, made by Chappellet and the winemaker at Chappelet since 1990, Phillip Corallo-Titus. Two excellent wines from this winery: Envoy Chardonnay 2014— opulent and complex. $38; and Pinot Noir Dutton Ranch Russian River Valley 2014— “intense and hedonistic.” $40
WINNING GERMAN WINES
Seemingly forgotten are the lovely, fragrant and enticing wines of Germany, which at one time in the distant past, brought some of the highest prices in the world. The following are recommended and stood out at a tasting of wines from Winesellers Ltd. Notice the bargain prices: Dr. Heyden Oppenheimer Riesling Kabinett 2014 $13; Dr. H. Thanisch Riesling Kabinett 2012 $14; George Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Paterberg Riesling Kabinett 2012 $15; Dr. Fischer Ockfener Bockstein Riesling QBA 2013 $16; George Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Hipping Riesling Spatlese 2012 $18; and Bollig-Lehnert Piesporter Goldtropfchen Riesling Spatlese 2014 $20. The first four are suggested for hors d’oeuvres and light seafood dishes, and the final two (Spatlese, which means late picking), are semi-sweet and are recommended for spicy Asian cuisine, and seafood and chicken if you have a sweet tooth.
RECENTLY TASTED AND RECOMMENDED RED WINES:
EVODIA Old Vine Garnacha 2014 — A superb find from Eric Solomon Selections. Cherry and spice from vines planted at 2.400’ on slate soils. One of the best reds under $10 on my radar. $9.99
Sterling Meritage Vintner’s Collection 2013 — Rich and satisfying with a hint of chocolate-covered raspberries and a vanilla note on the finish. Amazing at this price. $12
Purple Heart Napa Valley Red Wine 2013 — A wine made by Vietnam veteran Ray Courson, who has crafted more than 50 wines over the years with scores of 90 or above. This is certainly one of them and an incredible find. Beautiful Napa blend with 84% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. A $30-$40 Napa red for $19.99
Fulcrum Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2013 — Winemaker David Rossi is, as harvest nears, “…tasting fruit, cracking the seeds between his teeth, making visual assessment of skin color and texture, and getting a sense of what the quality and flavors of the final wine will be.” Almost purple-black, like the svelte, classy bottle and label, dark cherry and spice with notable complexity and depth. $57
La Jota Cabernet Franc Howell Mountain 2012 — La Jota was established as a winery on Howell Mountain in 1898. This gorgeous offering is sourced from a 1.9-acre Estate Vineyard which was planted 40 years ago! Naturally producing only 1 ½ tons per acre, these old timers have produced a fabulous, rich, powerful wine with intensity, flavor and balance. One of the best two Cab Francs from California I have tasted — the other being one made by Paul Hobbs for Constant Winery several years ago. $75 l