Friday, February 21, 2020

A Tasting with Winemaker Robbie Meyer of Murrieta's Well

A few years ago I had the opportunity to try for the first time some wines from Murietta’s Well based in Livermore, CA.  Last fall I attended a virtual tasting organized by Snooth and was led by Murietta’s Well’s winemaker, Robbie Meyer.  This is the second time I have been impressed by the quality of their wines and am thrilled to share them with you today. 

The Winery ~ Murietta’s Well 
Murrieta’s Well has been producing grapes since the late 1800’s and their original vine cuttings hail from the renown French wineries, Chateau d’Yquem and Chateau Margeaux.  The winery changed hands in 1940 when it was sold to the Wente family that still remains today.  The grapes are grown on 100 estate acres among a few different soils and terrain.  The wines produced are made in small batches that are expressive of the plots of land from which they are grown. 

The Wine District ~ Livermore Valley 
The Livermore wine appellation of California is located about an hour drive from San Francisco.  The area’s history in the wine industry was commercially developed in the 1840’s by Robert Livermore.  With about 4,000 acres of land dedicated to vines the area boasts over 50 wineries with reputable long-standing producers like Wente, Concannon and Wetmore.  With gravel soils being the key component to many of the acres it “reduces the vines’ vigor and increases flavor concentration in the grapes.”  The climate of the Livermore Valley is influenced by the Pacific Ocean with cooling breezes on summer days along with the morning fog rolling through the hills.
livermore valley wine country wineries
Photo courtesy of Livermore Valley Wine Country
The Wines 
2018 Murietta’s Well Dry Orange Muscat – My favorite of the tasting.  Crafted in a dry style to be versatile with a number of foods before it reaches too much sweetness on the palette.  The color of this wine is so inviting in the glass.  A beautiful display of aromatics displaying enticing floral notes, orange blossom with some spice.  Medium-bodied, refreshing acidity, citrus, orange, white flowers with a touch of spice. Robbie recommends pairing it with seafood. ABV 14.5% SRP $38 

2018 Murietta’s well Dry Rose – A newer wine to Murrieta’s Well this dry rose’ is made from a blend of 25% grenache, 42% counoise and 33% mourvedre.  As Robbie describes this wine and I couldn’t agree more that as a rose’ “it’s clean, lively and refreshing with substance”.  This wine shows wild strawberries, stone fruit with some herbal nuances.  Recommended by Robbie to pair with butternut squash risotto, grilled salmon.  ABV 13.5% SRP $32 

2017 Murietta’s Well The Spur – A blend of 64% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot, 14% syrah and 9% petite verdot.  Robbie’s goal with this is to show sophistication.  Drawn in by the luscious black fruits including blackberries and plums.  Layer upon layer with licorice and spice combined with good acidity.  ABV 14.5% SRP $35 

2016 Murietta’s Well Merlot – Made of 95% merlot with 5% cabernet sauvignon.  Full-bodied with nice structure.  Lush flavors of black cherry, vanilla with hints of chocolate.  Recommendation of turkey piadina, pork or steak.  ABV 14% SRP $48 
Murrieta's Well Livermore Valley wine
Have you visited the Livermore Valley wine area?  If so, I’d love to hear about your journey through wine country.

*Information sourced from Livermore Valley Wine Country & Murrieta's Well.  These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

A Journey Through Barbaresco with a Visit to Paitin

I’ve taken too long of a break writing about the wines of Piedmont.  Not on purpose, but when you’re writing about Italian wines there are just so many to try and discover and I’ve been pulled this way and that.  The wine region of Piedmont definitely holds a special place in my heart and I’ve always been very impressed from many kinds of wines produced there.   

I’ve only visited this region one, sad to say, and it was back in October 2009 when I traveled northern Italy with my parents.  We had so many great visits at wineries and the food there is to die for.  Along my travels I stopped in at one winery, Paitin, within the Barbaresco wine region and had a personal tasting with Giovanni Pasquero-Elia, son of Secondo Pasquero-Elia whom founded the wine estate.  They both manage it today along with Giovanni’s brother, Silvano, and Giovanni’s son, Luca.  
Giovanni Pasquero Elia of Paitin winery Barbaresco
Giovanni Pasquero Elia & myself in 2009
The Land 
Barbaresco is one of the great wine appellations of Italy located within the Piedmont region in north-western Italy.  It is famed for their quality nebbiolo based wines amongst others.  You’ll find the Barbaresco appellation in the southern part of Piedmont as you start to approach the Ligurian Alps.  It’s situated on the right bank of the Tanaro River just east of the prominent town of Alba. 

Piedmont is a wine region quite unique in that much of the land has site specific vineyards that each craft very terroir driven wines.  Piedmont boasts a high number of single vineyard wines that display these particular characteristics.   It’s said that some time ago the best parcels of land were determined by where the snow melted the fastest as that showed the level of exposure to the sun for the grapes to grow. 
The wine today I’m sharing is labeled Sori Paitin.  Both terms, sori and bricco, are important that it tells a lot about where the grapes have been grown.  Bricco relates to the best vineyard sites set high up on the hill.  Sori represents an area that receives an ample amount of sunshine. 
Neive commune of Barbaresco wine region

The Winery 
The Paitin winery was established in 1893, but the family had been growing grapes since 1796 going back 8 generations within the family.  Paitin is located within the district of the Langhe, or Langa, and in one of the major communes within Barbaresco called Neive.  The winery became certified organic in 2019 and although they practice some methods of biodynamics they are not certified at this time.   
Paitin di Pasquero Elia in Neive Barbaresco
The Wine 
2003 Paitin di Pasquero Elia Barbaresco Sori Paitin – This wine is grown in one of the “cru” vineyards of Nieve, Serraboella.  The Serraboella cru has been within the family for a long time since the family purchased it back in 1796. Paitin’s website defines this cru as producing “dark and vibrant, profound and long running, tense and elegant” wines.  Its vines are situated on west to southwest slopes.  The first vintage of this wine was released in 1893.  The nebbiolo grapes macerate for about 3-6 weeks and spend about 2 years in both Austrian and Slavonian oak.  Aromas of ripe fruit along with spice.  A dense structure displaying flavors of cherries, baking spice with hints of tobacco.  Firm tannins that became more elegant upon aeration. ABV 14% SRP $50 

The Pairing 
I always believe in saving wines like these for celebrations and any wine I bring back from Italy always brings back fond memories upon opening it.  I enjoyed it on Christmas Day with my family and we reminisced about our tasting with Giovanni.  It was thoroughly enjoyed with a pairing of roast prime rib.  It was still drinking particularly well at almost 20 years of age and is a perfect accompaniment to roast meat.  
Food pairing with Paitin Barbaresco

Friday, February 7, 2020

Garlic Buttered Shrimp over Polenta with the Wines of Savoie #WinePW

One of the most exciting aspects learning about wine for me is trying new wines, new wineries and new wine regions.  With a focus on Italian wine I don’t break outside the mold too often unless the opportunity presents itself, which I welcome with open arms.  This month’s feature of the Wine Pairing Weekend group of food and wine lovers brings you to the wine region of Savoie in southeastern France.  Let’s dig in! 

The Wine Region ~ Savoie, France  
Savoie is quite a mountainous region in France in the French Alps.  It’s located right on the border with Switzerland.  As you can imagine it’s rather known for its skiing.  In 2019 Conde Nast also named this region one of the “Best Wine Regions to Visit in 2019”.   The wines here are made from small winegrowers and unfortunately not much of the wine is exported so to get the opportunity to try these wines are a treat.   
Map of Savoie France
Copyright of Vin de Savoie
The Wineries 
Domaine Jean Vullien & Fils is owned and operated as the name states by Jean Vullien and his two sons, David and Olivier.  The vineyards span 69 acres amongst the hills of the Combe de Savoie.  The family practices sustainability at their estate.  Even they have been producing wine for 40 years the Vullien name is best known for providing vines to growers within France since 1890. 

Royal Seyssel has an interesting back story to its origins.  It’s had a great reputation since 1901 until it was purchased by a large negociant from Burgundy back in 1990 and closed its doors in 2007.  The Lamberts came in and partnered with the great grandson of the original founder, Olivier Varichon, and restablished Royal Seyssel.     

The Grapes 
The wines I’m sharing today are mostly grapes native or primarily found in the Savoie region.  Jacquere is a white grape that is used to produce more then 50% of Savoie’s wines.   It’s a high yielding grape that produces wines that are refreshing and crisp with high acidity showing flavors of citrus, green apple, pears and some minerality. 

Molette and altesse below are blended together in the sparkling wine.  Molette is native to Savoie and provides great acidity.  The Altesse, a grape grown in Savoie for producing sparkling wines.  According to Kermit Lynch it is “remarkable for their aromatic finesse, elegance, and great aging potential.” 
Savoie wine region in France
Copyright of Benson Marketing Group
The Wines 
2018 Domaine Jean Vullien & Fils JacquereThis wine is made 100% of jacquere on about 5 acres os land in the Montmelian cru.  Fermented at low temperatures spending 2 weeks in stainless steel.  Straw colored with golden hues.  A floral nose of pineapple and green apple.  A light, delicate wine, crisp up front showing more tropical and stone fruits near the finish.  I was pleasantly surprised by this new to me grape and at a great price point.  ABV 12% SRP $14 
2018 Domaine Jean Vullien & Fils Jacquere
The Pairing: I paired this wine with a garlic butter shrimp dish served over polenta with chopped tomatoes and green beans.  Although this isn’t a typical dish of the Savoie region I thought the jacquere seemed to pair naturally with the dish.  The complemented each other well. 

Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal – Made from 70% molette and 30% altesse.  This wine spends 10 months on the lees and comes from a single vintage, but is not labeled as such.  It’s a dry, crisp sparkling wine that had a nice finesse to the mousse.  Showing notes of citrus and apple.  For me it’s all about the softness of the bubbles so I found this wine rather enjoyable.  SRP $21.

Savoie food and wine pairings are abundant amongst this group of fabulous food and wine writers.  Chat with us live on Twitter at 11am EST Saturday at #winepw.

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.