Spring is upon us as I slowly start to gravitate towards choosing a
white wine over red some evenings. Today the focus is on one of Italy’s
top whites, Gavi, made from one of Piedmont’s respected producers,
Michele Chiarlo. Gavi, located in the Alessandria province, is situated in the northwestern wine region of Piedmont where it is tucked in the southereastern
corner very close to Liguria and the port of Genova. With its close
proximity to both the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Alps these
varying landscapes are major influences on Gavi’s wine production.
The Winery ~ Michele Chiarlo
This is not Michele Chiarlo’s first appearance on Vino Travels as I have featured them not too long ago talking about sustainability at the forefront at the winery. Michele Chiarlo
is a well-established name in the Piedmont wine region. They were
established in 1956 and own about 270 acres between the areas of Langhe,
Monferrato and Gavi. Their focus is only on indigenous grapes and in
Piedmont there are plenty to work with. They also don’t blend any of
their grapes either.
Today the winery is operated by the 4th
generation of family members that are staying true to tradition, but
also focusing on innovation while expressing their authenticity paying
close attention to the environment with much manual care.
The Grape ~ Cortese
also known as Cortese di Gavi, is named after the town itself and
includes a number of surrounding communes located in the hills. It is
made from the Cortese grape, which is a highly productive, high acid
grape. Its home is in Piedmont where it grows in the mineral rich soils
and high sunshine area where it thrives. Gavi became a DOC in 1974 and
was promoted up to DOCG in 1998. It produces wines that are dry, low
alcohol, crisp, fresh and lively that deliver floral, aromatic wines.
You’ll find notes of peach, pears, lemon/citrus and almonds.
2017 Michele Chiarlo
“Palas” Gavi DOCG – This wine is made from 100% Cortese on white
calcareous soil. The grapes are softly pressed where it spends a
minimum of 3 months in stainless steel. Straw colored with golden
highlights. Mostly citrus on the nose showing lemon and grapefruit with
some green apple and wet stone. Dry, medium bodied with refreshing
acidity. Pineapple and green apple on the palette with some minerality
showing towards the finish. With an SRP at $10-12 a bottle you can beat
the value of this wine. ABV 12.5%
wine paired lovely with a simple grilled chicken caprese topped with
sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of authentic
balsamic vinegar from Modena. It made me crave for warm days on the
patio that lie ahead. Here’s to the warm days of spring and summer
approaching quickly where we can all get back outside for some rays of
This month our Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) friends partnered with the Yakima Valley in Washington state to showcase a variety of wines grown throughout the region and some suggested pairings.
The Region ~ Yakima Valley
Yakima Valley is a land rich in agriculture known for it’s
abundance of fruits and wine grapes. Vines have been in existence in the Yakima
Valley since 1869, originally planted by French winemaker Charles Schanno. The vines originated from the Hudson’s Bay
Trading Company. Modern winemaking in
the Yakima really took off though in the early 20th century by an
attorney of Seattle, William Bridgman, when he planted his own cuttings in 1917
that are still in existence today! Along
with Bridgman, many other families during the earlier decades including Upland
Vineyards, Kiona Vineyards, Red Willow Vineyards and others are what helped lay
the groundwork for what exists today.
Copyright of Yakima Valley Wine country
The Yakima Valley boomed in the 80’s with new wineries and
vineyards popping up throughout the region.
The Yakima Valley appellation (AVA) established in 1983 grows the
largest variety of grapes in Washington state covering over 17,000 acres of
vines. Today there exists over 150
wineries that make up over half of Washington state’s wine production. Through hard work, persistence and
collaboration with Washington State University’s Irrigated Agricultural
Research and Extension Center, the wineries of Yakima Valley have made quite a
name for themselves in not only Washington state’s wine industry, but the wine
industry as a whole.
The Winery ~ Sleeping Dog Wines
Sleeping Dog Wines is located in Benton City, Washington in
the lower Yakima Valley. It’s a small production
winery averaging about 300 cases annually. Larry
Oates, owner and winemaker, started his hobby in winemaking in 1992 and has
been commercially producing since 2002 starting with Merlot, Syrah and Malbec
with his wife Joyce and their “sleeping dog” Jett. Larry’s approach is to allow the grapes to
express themselves. He holds onto the
bottles for about 6-10 years before release as he feels this shows the best
expression of the grapes, hence the name of the vineyards as he believes to “let
the sleeping dogs lie”.
Jett the dog of Sleeping Dog wines ~ Courtesy of Sleeping Dog Wines
Courtesy of Sleeping Dog Wines ~ Larry and Joyce Oates with Stari Grad in Croatia
Due to the limited production of these wines I was fortunate
to have the opportunity to speak with Larry Oates and sample a few of his wines
made from Italian grapes plus a Carmenere. Larry sources the grapes from his neighbor Bob
Buoy at Buoy Vineyards with south facing slopes over the Yakima River. Sleeping Dog’s signature style are robust wines
showing intense berries and I couldn’t agree more, especially with the
Montepulciano and Carmenere.
2012 Sleeping Dog Wines Dolcetto: Made of 94%
Dolcetto and 3% Montepulciano and Merlot respectively, these grapes are grown
in the neighboring vineyard, Buoy Vineyard.
Another client of Buoy Vineyards was going to purchase the grapes from
this small block, but it didn’t pan out so Larry decided to work with the
grapes. American oak chips are used
during the primary fermentation. The
wine is aged in stainless steel with French and Hungarian oak staves. The Montepulciano and Merlot grapes were
blended in 1 month prior to bottling. Garnet
in color this wine shows aromas of red cherry in addition to showing up on the
palette. Dry, medium bodied with good
acidity and smooth tannin, the wine is balanced showing a hint of vanilla. Only 51 cases are produced. ABV 14.1% ABV SRP $28
2014 Sleeping Dog Wines Montepulciano: According to
Larry this was the first Montepulciano planted in Washington. The vines were planted in 2006. Made from 100% Montepulciano also grown in
the Buoy Vineyard. American oak beans
were used during primary fermentation.
This wine was also aged in stainless steel with French and Hungarian oak
staves. Dark ruby red in color. An intense nose of dark fruits. Blackberry, black cherry and plums on the
palette. A hearty wine with high acidity. Only 106 cases produced. Luckily I received 2 bottles of this wine so
I’d like to see how this wine does with time in the bottle as it seems to have
aging potential. ABV 14.4% SRP $34
2015 Sleeping Dog Wines Carmenere: These vines were
planted in 2006 along with the Montepulciano.
Made from 100% Carmenere. Similar
to the Montepulciano, American oak beans were used during primary fermentation
and it was aged in stainless steel with French and Hungarian oak staves. Dark ruby with a hint of purple. Green bell pepper and white pepper on the
nose. A full-bodied wine with good
acidity with moderate tannin. Full of flavor
with a lengthy finish. Only 81 cases
produced. ABV 13.9% SRP $35
The pairing: Life has been a little crazy as of late so I did take the lazy route this week, but who doesn’t love pizza and wine? To be honest it was a fun weekday night sampling these wines with some delicious sausage and ricotta pizza. My pairing of the three was the Dolcetto.
Join my fellow food and wines lovers as they share some great pairings highlighting these wines of the Yakima Valley. Catch us live on Twitter at #WinePW this Saturday @ 11am EST.
Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “Yakima Valley’s Sin Banderas Rhone Roses Compliment Dishes with Asian Flair” and “Mediterranean-Inspired Dishes Paired with Yakima Valley Wines from Dineen Vineyards”
Linda at My Full Wine Glass invites us to “Meet Kerry Shiels: A Yakima Valley winemaker with Vision”
Terri of Our Good Life shares 2 posts “Fortuity…Taking Advantage of Life’s Great Wines!”, and “Two Mountain Rose and Fennel Wild Mushroom Tarts”
This month our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group
(#ItalianFWT) is exploring Italian grapes around the world. Always an intriguing search and fun
experimentation to see what other states or countries around the world are
growing Italian grapes and why they choose these particular grapes to grow in
their particular place in the world. The
winery I sampled wines from, Remy Wines, holds a particular place in my heart
as my first born son’s name is Remy. He
was a big fan seeing his name on the bottle!
Remy Wines is located in the Pacific Northwest of the US in
Oregon. The vineyards are located in the
Dundee Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley.
The owner and winemaker, Remy Drabkin, had a lifelong dream and passion
to work in the wine industry starting at the young age of 8. By the age of 14 she had worked her first
harvest and by age 17 she was already studying winemaking abroad.
Being a native to McMinnville, Oregon where the winery is
located, Remy holds strong roots to the area.
She began Remy Wines in 2006 and over the years has added a couple
tasting rooms including baR (pronounced R Bar) in 2011 and her latest tasting
room added in 2017 at the family’s Lone Madrone Vineyards site in Dundee. Although Remy’s winery is small production,
she prides herself on innovation as she works with Italian grapes that are very
outside the norm for Oregon’s wine country.
Her focus is on Lagrein, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and
Barbera. She also has another label
called Three Wives Label that she experiments with from vintage to vintage
playing with blends.
2017 Remy Wines Jubilee Dolcetto: These grapes are grown in the Jubilee
Vineyards in the Northern part of the Eola-Amit Hills AVA in the Willamette
Valley. Dolcetto is a grape
widely grown throughout the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. The Jubilee Dolcetto is barrel aged 16 months
in neutral oak. Ruby in color with
aromas of black licorice and blackberries.
This wine was dry and balanced with juicy acidity showing blackberries
on the palette. The subtle tannins showed on the finish with a hint of vanilla
finishing with nice length. Only 206
cases are produced. SRP $35
Chicken, broccoli and sun-dried tomato over brown rice
2017 Remy Wines Estate Lagrein: These grapes are
grown at the family vineyard in Dundee Hills.
Lagrein is such a fantastic red grape that is native to the Alto Adige
region of northeastern Italy. It’s a
beautiful area surrounded by Dolomite Mountains. Remy was the first to bottle Lagrein in Oregon. Deep in color with purple hues. A hefty wine with jammy fruit, notes of
chocolate and a hint of herbs with chewy tannins. I wish I had opened this when I grilled some
rib eyes a couple weeks ago. The Estate
Lagrein is aged 2 years in 50% new American oak. Only 125 cases were produced. SRP $58
Join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers on Twitter this Saturday @ 11am EST at #ItalianFWT as we share many other Italian grapes around the world.