By Denman Moody
Steve and Allison Triarsi Lewis are two well-known and well-respected Houstonians: she as an anchor and reporter at CBS News Houston, and he as a money manager for an array of Houston’s most wealthy.
Steve has had more than a passing interest in wine, and over the years has raised hundreds ofthousands of dollars for charitable purposes through his leadership positions in wine programs such as “I Have A Dream Houston” and others as a celebrity auctioneer.
While having fun for a day helping his friend and Napa Valley winemaker Steve Reynolds with the 2008 harvest, the idea came to him to do something special with his own wine, and he and Allison have done just that.
I have written for years that one no longer needs to own a vineyard or a winery to produce great wines — just a first class vineyard source and a top winemaker. Here, both criteria are almost transcended with a perfect, cool-climate vineyard source in Carneros and master winemaker Reynolds of Reynolds Family Wines (my favorite being Reynolds Persistence, a Napa Cabernet blend).
In Lewis’s case, since the vineyards in Carneros are just right for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and these are the two food-friendly wines Lewis has focused on, these are his two wines. They are each top-of-the-line with only 150 cases of each made.
The Chardonnay is $35 and the Pinot Noir $50, and it would be difficult to find wines in this price range to equal either. And now, for some excitement! The name of each wine is Decimus, which is Latin for a tenth. Tithe Wines, the name of Lewis’s wine company, comes from the fact that 10 percent of all proceeds will go to Living Waters International (www.water.cc), a world leader in implementing participatory, community-based water solutions in developing countries. Thus, turning wine into water!
These two beautiful wines will be released this month, and will be available in limited supply locally and at tithewines.com.
Winning Wines for 2012
J Cuvee 20 non-vintage — 25th anniversary selection from the winery of Tom Jordan’s daughter Judy. Crisp and lively with intense fruit flavors and excellent balancing acidity. Perfect with smoked salmon, sour cream, capers and a squirt of fresh lemon juice on a little toastie! $30
Los Vascos Chardonnay Les Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) Casblanca Valley 2011 — It’s ironic that Chile, which has not been affected by Phylloxera, has as its best-value Chardonnay a wine made from a mid-19th century stock of pre-Phylloxera vines from France. Unrivaled at the $10 price point, this Chardonnay, along with the Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon mentioned later, are actually supervised by owner Baron Eric de Rothschild of Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in Bordeaux. Excellent depth of flavors with exotic fruit, depth and a long, pleasing finish. $10
Patz & Hall Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard Carneros 2009 — This whole-cluster pressed wine was fermented with wild yeasts and aged with 40 percent new Burgundian oak and bottled without filtration. The resulting wine from this spectacular vintage exhibits a rich texture with depth and complexity andperfectly integrated oak nuances. Great fruit and minerality, combined with excellent acidity makes this a fabulous food wine. $55
Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Les Domaines Baron de Rothschild (Lafite) Colchagua Valley 2010 — The acquisition of 50 percent of Los Vascos by Lafite in 1988 was the result of an exhaustive search of more than 100 Chilean wineries. Just released, this unrivaled $10 Cabernet exhibits blackberries and black cherries and has great balance of all components. As good as Los Vascos has been in the past, the 2011 Chardonnay and 2010 Cabernet have catapulted it to a new level. $10
Gerard Bertrand Minervois 2008 —Although a beautiful French wine area, the wines from here have just recently begun to strut their stuff. This 50 percent Syrah-50 percent Carignan was all hand picked, destemmed and vinified separtately by varietal, followed by partial carbonic maceration. Aged in oak for 8 months and followed by light fining. The wine has lovely black fruit flavors and is both rich and elegant. A bargain at $11.99.
Bella Zinfandel Big River Ranch Alexander Valley 2008 — The 48-acre Big River Ranch includes 15 acres of old-vine Zin planted in 1906, from which this wine is produced. The slightly cooler climate from this elevated vineyard provides perfect ripening for the grapes. One of my favorite Zins to pair with meat pizzas or pork with your favorite fruit sauce. $38
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Jenkins Ranch Sonoma Coast 2009 — This vineyard was planted in 2001 byrenowned viticulturist Charlie Chenoweth. As the vines age, the resulting wines just get better and better. This is the best one I’ve tasted, with an extra dimension of depth and character. Rich and ripe fruit flavors abound, matched with tender tannins. $55