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Canned Wines,Rosé,White Wine,Wine,Wine Cans

CANNED WINES ~ Licence IV is So, So Much More

So, this arrived… intriguingly delicious Licence IV. Their French wine products have entered my category of “The Future Is Now the Present.” Besides being fun wines, it’s one of greatest environmental reliefs for the planet, from the manufactured products to the shipping, handling, and delivering, so much energy is saved, while enjoying these wines. This is their declaration, “where taking it easy is taken seriously.” I also take all aspects of wine seriously, including how they are impacting sustainability, and cans are a blessing, not a curse.

Hippie Alert! We don’t have to use those dang, dank sheepskin pouches, anymore, people, if you’ve not evolved yet. Try wine that’s canned, and you will understand.

[PHOTO CREDIT: Jo Diaz]

This image is overdone, for present thinkers, I know. But…

Nothing could go wrong with this combination. Limoges (handed down from my great, fraternal grandmother, to an aunt, to me), French lace (made by my maternal grandmother, handed directly down to me), and Licence IV Rosé (from Provence), along with a Melon de Bourgogne, from the Loire region of France.

Tasting Licence IV

  • The Licence IV Rosé is a blend of 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Merlot. It experienced a low fermentation (15 days, after pneumatic pressing and 24 hours of settling, first), creating gentle flavors to come forth in the aromas, and flavors of pink fruit (like watermelon and strawberries), on your palate. It’s a delightful Rosé, just suggesting that Merlot is present, and will be a hit at any party. (Alcohol 14 percent)
  • The Licence IV Blanc… This one is one to write home about… at least it will help you on your way to being a Wine Century Club Member. This is only the second time I’ve tasted the wine grape called “Melon de Bourgogne,” and it’s as delicious as I remembered it. At first you might think you’ve encountered a fruit bomb, but it quickly settles into its delicacy. It’s similar to a Sauvignon Blanc, with its grassiness and tropical lime notes. It’s exciting and off the beaten path to a new adventure in taste for most people. And… it lingers longer. (Alcohol 12 percent)

 

To finish these details ~ prices for four-250 ml cans = $23.99/four pack (very convenient) and $21.99 for a 1-liter bottle.

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

More on Licence IV

The line of French wines, called Licence IV, was founded by French Sommelier Gregory Castells. Remember his company’s motto “where taking it easy is taken seriously…” Licence IV is cleverly named for the permit in France (Licence IV) to serve alcohol. Debuting in 2018, this canned wine came out ready for prime time. It’s meant to be enjoyed at all occasions, really. So, no problem there. The only problems – which still remain – are perception and education. The adoption curve has not yet crested, as it steadily becomes accepted. Not so little, as when I first started advocating for canned wines, but the evolution wheels turn very slowly, and now plenty of beverages (besides wine) seems to be going toward cans. The beverage shelves in a supermarkets almost have a dizzying effect.

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

Finding a Catchy Name

Licence IV is a regulation permit which unites every bar, brasserie, and restaurant in France: the Licence IV placard. It allows cafes, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs to serve alcohol. The official enameled placards can be found bolted to the walls of these establishments throughout France; perhaps even in a window, like this one.

Against All Oligopolies Odds

Bravo! So, here we are… Also to learn is that it’s the morphing of a very clever, and slick company. Got a great concept, got a great image, got a great wine, and a very industrious crew. Just the combination of creativity is so refreshing to see.

Photo Website – Study in Simple and Effective

If you go to their website, there’s so much going on, in the most minute of words. Very efficient and effective, which is why I used “slick” earlier.

Motto: where taking it easy is taken seriously

Origin: Licence IV placard.

Pairs well with: lunch, after the game, with friends, listening to the classics, outside.

Brilliant, just living fun times, forget the menu. Taken the snobbery image of wine into everyday enjoyment… because their French leadership is really down to earth, as is most of France; villages, hamlets, the endless fields of flowers… no waxing poetic, just joie de vivre.

Behind the Curtain Revealed

How Martine Saunier and Gregory Castells got together is a bit of a journey (click on the link to the left, for the longer version). Briefly:

Fine wine importer and wholesaler Martine’s Wines celebrated its five-year anniversary under owners Gregory Castells and Kate Laughlin, by announcing the creation of a California sales team and several notable additions to its portfolio, as the company approaches its 40th year of business. Martine’s Wines was started in 1979 by legendary tastemaker Martine Saunier, who hand-selected Castells and Laughlin to purchase the company in December 2012.

[PHOTO: Property of Licence IV]

Who is Martine, copy from website

Martine Saunier was born in Paris. Although she lived and attended school there, she spent every summer vacation at her aunt’s home in Prissé, near Mâcon. Her aunt owned a winery with approximately 10 acres of vineyards planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

When Martine moved to the United States in 1964, she started to look for some local California wines. In 1965, she drove to Beaulieu Vineyards, knocked on the door and was lucky enough to meet the great André Tchelistcheff. He told her in his good French that if she wanted good Pinot Noir, she had to go to Burgundy to get it! The seed was planted in her mind.

Needless to say, one fascinating connection + another impressive connection = good life happened. To read more…

Final Thoughts

This all took me on a journey that made me realize owners Gregory Castells and Kate Laughlin are the brainchild behind this wine brand, and they are to be celebrated as a company. He’s got a palate for excellence and style, Kate has a passion for management as CEO, and their associates are an assembled, talented team from within. Martine Saunier must be very pleased… her dream is still in full bloom and totally evolving into something quite beautiful… from my perspective.

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Suisun Valley,Wine,Wine Writer,Winemaker,Winery

New Voices are so Refreshing ~ Alex Cook, on Suisun Valley

I’m seasoned in wine, if you don’t know. I wear it as a badge of honor, to have come so far in the past 29 years. I’ve felt everyone of them. So, when I meet a starry-eyed person, right off the boat… Someone who looks around and says, “Dear Lord, don’t ever let me become jaded…” I can relate and the mentor in me kicks in. At the recent Suisun Valley annual members’ dinner, I was introduced to such a young man… Alex Cook.

Excitedly, my friend, colleague found me in the sea of members; for us, lots of new faces. We began  working together in 2003; due to a 10-year grant, from the city of Fairfield and the Solano Irrigation District. It was given to the newly formed Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association – now known as the Suisun Valley Vintners and Growers Association. Roger was the one who pursued and successfully managed to get the marketing grant. The group was off and running.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz]

Diaz Communications came in on their second year. My job was to guide and tell their stories, helping them to develop their image. At the time, it was mostly a group of grape growers, so that was their main focus. “Have our grapes be recognized for their quality,” and I got it; however, I also knew it would be their wines produced – either by them or others – that would get the wine world’s attention. At the time, their grapes were being purchased for a fraction of the price, though; e.g., a vineyard on the Napa side of the county line, $3,000 a ton range on one side of the fence. The Suisun Valley grape side… same contiguous vineyard? For $300 a ton. For me, this was just wrong; same vineyard, same terroir, same everything… I put my super woman cape on. The stories just naturally rolled out, and the valley incredibly just got on with it, right up to today.

So, Roger King at the Annual Meeting

Roger King was so excited… for a guy who’s usually down-right, level headed. He searched for me. Something going on here was really palpable. He wanted me to meet a new talent in the valley. His tension was real. Mentors just get that look. I knew it. It was very much worth, “Jo Diaz… Alex Cook. Alex Cook… Jo Diaz”

In emails, Roger said, “He is a very good, hard working guy that wanted to get a little taste of gettin’ dirty during harvest, likely found the wrong guy in me as I put him to it.”

Roger knows how to make me laugh…

With permission, he forwarded a story that Alex had written. (Alex’s background is at the bottom of his story.) After reading it, I asked permission from both Roger King and Alex Cook, to publish it. The reason I want to publish it, is to establish this young man as being published, and well on his way. I told Roger, in a thank-you for the introduction, “Alex’s story was really compelling… And, quite remarkable… I mean the BEST story I’ve seen written on a Suisun Valley grower and winemaker, ever.”

According to Alex, “I was looking to write something interesting for admittance to the Wine Writers’ Symposium at Meadowood (I had a few samples that I could submit, but nothing about wine, specifically), and Roger came to mind immediately. We had spoken before then a couple of time about his wines, and his vineyards, but really got to know him over the course of a couple of lengthy-ish interviews at his place. The piece secured admission to the Symposium, I started to help Roger out at the tasting room, and as they say, the rest is history!”

[ALL FOLLOWING PHOTO: Alex Cook]

The Mad Vigneron on Mankas Corner

Roger King of Suisun Valley’s King Andrews Vineyards, by Alex Cook

It was a pretty Friday afternoon that I went to interview Roger King at his home, and the site of King Andrew’s Vineyards, out in the belly of Suisun Valley.

A “World Capital of Petite Sirah” banner greets me as I turn off the 121, on the way from Napa, with painted signs for strawberries, eggs, and walnuts, and plenty of enthusiastically-scrawled sandwich boards, with “Now Open for Tasting.” There are more places to try olive oil than typical, and more hand-painted arrows showing the way here and there, too.

Suisun certainly feels a little more like Kansas.

Roger is seated outside when I get there. To this point, we’ve talked twice at some length about his wine and all the work he’s doing for other winemakers from all around California. He’s a tall man with a wide frame, trim, with a round, flat face, and a passing resemblance to a stretched out Anthony Hopkins, but I shudder to imagine what he would say if I told him that.

As I set my things down, grab my pen, and my notebook, he asks, “So what do you want to talk about?” I’m not sure I said a thing before the words “True Grit” come out of his mouth, and we start talking about Mathew.

After five years of purchasing the Petite Verdot that Roger was growing, Matt Rorick (Forlorn Hope Wines), Roger began pondering the idea of recreating Chablis in Suisun Valley. But not that Chablis. Think bigger bottles, with little handles.

Jugged white wines were everywhere in the US, labeled ‘Chablis’, and were made with grapes that would become some darlings of today’s hipster somms: Chenin Blanc, Chasselas, Trousseau Gris (or Grey Riesling), Butschera (or Green Hungarian), and Vermentino. Matt and Roger chased down bud samples from all over California, and after a handful of dead ends and bum deals, Matt brought a plastic bag full of these “buttons” to be grafted onto Roger’s old Merlot and Zin. A couple of years later, Forlorn Hope released a white blend, simply called, “King Andrews,” and the esoteric throwback did plenty well.

In 2017, Rorick had no choice but to stop his arrangement with Roger after getting into some hot water, and with a bizarre vineyard full of grapes that had no market besides this one wine, Roger was frustrated, to say the least.

He asked Matt, whom he still calls a great friend, to tap his network of natural California winemakers, and Martha Stoumen’s name came up. Now this little heritage block of odd grapes with many names now finds its way into bottles under her label with the “Out to the Meadow,” name – her first label from this vineyard was also her first allocated sell-out. As of the end of April, Roger hasn’t seen a dryer season for the vineyard, and has already flood-irrigated twice, by necessity.

Speaking of Roger – His manner of speaking is focused, but sprawling, and to allow him to talk for any amount of time about his vines is to receive a brief masterclass, and a list of about fifteen names of people and places that you should’ve known, but will have to look up later. I’m not sure if I’ve heard him talk about any of his projects (or anybody else’s) without hearing an associated (Brix) number that the grapes were picked at, a pH level, sometimes a TA level too – and this is going back more than fifteen years now.

On the ten acres he farms in Suisun Valley, in addition to the heritage block, he also grows Assyrtiko, Albarino, Grenache Blanc, Tokaji, Palomino, Mencia, Mission, Pedro Ximenez, and old plantings of Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Pointing out to the vines, he tells me, “there’s an old picture of me and a good friend setting up a driving range here, and there was nothin’! A Seventh-Day Adventist lived here before and wanted me to promise not to grow grapes here after buying the place, and I said, ‘Hell No.’”

Halfway into our conversation, small gunshots start to echo from somewhere close by – neither of us mention it. Sitting next to Roger, he strikes me as a kind of homesteader.

And he’s been farming these same plots out his backyard for thirty years. When I asked him where he learned how to do the thing, he said he took a few extension classes at U.C. Davis, under the old Winkler Vine, that he had some help from some local growers, but that he learned, “at least 50 percent” from the guys out in the field. When I asked him about budding in his vineyard, on account of all of his weird white vines, he said he still leaves it to his budders. Although, after a robust discourse, he did say that you know a bud won’t take unless it “‘squeaks,’ like the sound of wood on wood.”

If Roger was French, and Suisun Valley was another place no one had heard of (with perhaps a few more accents on the words), his story would, perhaps, seem more romantic. He packed up and left a high-profile market strategist position in resorts thirty years ago, picked the spot we sat having our interview, imagining he would flip it after a handful of years, and found himself declaring it “Paradise,” not too long after he left that job. “There were a lot fewer cars driving by then, and the only building was an old beat-up deli on Mankas Corner.”

“What was here, in terms of wine, when you started out?” I asked.

“When I first got here, it didn’t exist,” he says. “It was a lot of tomatoes and pears, and that was it,” he said looking out at his vineyard.

But, there was quite the enterprise out here then too that “no one even knew about!” he tells me. Grapes had been grown in Suisun for a bit, with Wooden Valley and the Gomberg Frederickson organization both doing some work to establish the area.

Mario Lanza was a principal grower in the region, and consistently sold fruit from the valley to Ausust Sebastiani, who sourced the fruit for many of their top-of-the-line wines under his name. Chick Lanza, Mario’s son, was the man who petitioned to establish an AVA in Suisun in the early 80s, without too much expectation about what that meant for the region – the system was just being established back then. In ‘83, with papers sprawled out over a kitchen table, Suisun Valley became an American Viticultural Area, the twelfth in California, and an early entry across the country.

But the name, “Suisun Valley,” never made it on the label of Sebastiani’s wines. After Constellation bought out the Lodi-based Turner Road winery where Sebastiani produced a lot of these popular wines, the contracts with Lanza and other Suisun Valley growers dried up. And because no one ever knew this fruit came from Suisun, not many came looking for Suisun Valley wines – not winemakers, and certainly not wine drinkers.

And that was the problem.

The fruit had always been great, and it could be used when it needed to be. But, in the years when winemakers were able to get their fruit from elsewhere, this valley fell by the wayside. It wasn’t until several prominent reviews touted Suisun Valley Syrah and Petite Sirah publicly that anything really started to happen, and guys like Matt Rorick started to show up.

“We don’t make enough wine here to aim for the national market,” Roger tells me. “We’re aiming for the concentric markets of San Francisco and Sacramento, and nobody there even knew we were here until too long ago. People lived in Fairfield half their lives and had no idea there was wine here…but that’s changed.”

Everything seems more or less in proportion – except for the quality of the wine. You’re not going to see Suisun Valley printed on wine lists in New York City now, and you might not any time soon, but the wines are damned sure good enough to be there. It’s one of the few places I’ve heard of where, “the vineyard very well might save the winemaker.”

In Suisun, with a smaller market, and without the economic pressures of growing associated with a place like Napa, you could grow a vineyard full of Green Hungarian, and make your money. “There’s a freedom to it,” Roger says.

In 2010, King was looking at four acres of Syrah he had that weren’t going to amount to what he had hoped (there were four-hundred acres of Syrah down in the state of California when he planted it, and more than 14,000 when he had his first harvest). So, he decided to graft half of it to Grenache Blanc, which he had worked with in Napa years before, and the other half to Albarino.

Matt Rorick had Roger on an acid kick from working together on the Heritage Block, and they both made their first wine with the Albarino from a vineyard in Suisun in 2008. They pressed about a half ton of it, fermented it in barrel, and it “wasn’t very good.”

The next year they split the fruit, and Matt still has his in a barrel becoming a kind of Madeira right now.

But the Albarino prevailed! In 2012, Roger got it right, this time with the fruit from his own vineyard – “I was jumping up and down…it was screaming lemon-lime…it was maybe a bit too brisk for some people, so I don’t go that aggressive anymore…but I loved it” That vineyard, over by Suisun Valley Road, is completely dry-farmed, and has been for fifteen years, he tells me. But, it also sits on the old Suisun Creek channel, and is on rupestris rootstock, which digs down deep for water and gets it. Dry-farming is all about bringing the water up from below, though, he tells me, and the way you do that is cultivation – there is wild grass everywhere.

By contrast, the Heritage block within view of where we were sitting is in a state of near-perpetual-hydration. Roger has to keep that part of the vineyard completely wet year-round because of the boron deeper in the ground. “I have to keep those vines lazy, and getting their water from the surface” he says, “otherwise the boron will burn them from the inside.”

It’s one of a few times that we hit on some of the hotter button winemaking issues of the day – the others being sulfur and sugar. And there’s a consistency to his philosophy – do what you have to.

Even though he’s rubbed elbows with some of the natural scene’s cognoscenti, you’re not going to find the words “organic,” “dry-farmed,” “biodynamic,” or even, “natural” on any of his labels. He openly disavows some of the notions behind these buzzwords of today’s flourishing natural wine community. What is dry-farming in a place where it rains enough to hydrate the vines? In a cellar where every wall is caked in Saccharomyces, what does native fermentation amount to? Biodynamics, you mean witchcraft? Why is more sugar or less sugar in a wine a “natural” quality, I decide how much sugar is in the wine!

Roger filters his wines now, and fines the whites too, but he doesn’t anything add funny to them; just 40 ppm sulfur at crush and a bit more at bottle, and that’s it. He proudly deems his sparkling Albarino, “natural,” but he is markedly specific about when he uses the word. He does want to make a Pet-Nat out of just about everything though – the Chenin he’s farming for someone, make it a Pet Nat, his white Zin, “Now that I think about it, I should have made it a Pet Nat.” Leaning towards bubbles is just fine by me.

One of his most exciting wines now is a wild red blend called “Six Pac” that screams classic California sunshine – the fruit is bright and lush and plentiful, with present tannin, and lots of lift to match. A blend of Merlot, Trousseau Noir, Cabernet, Petite Sirah, Grenache, and Vermentino, it’s got a Bordeaux thing going on on the nose, with lots of dark fruit and a touch of herb-y green, but then on the palate the acid comes in strong and refreshes mightily.

His white Zinfandel is a light rusty-pink, and is dry as can be – some of his colleagues say the wine doesn’t have fruit, but it’s all early strawberries and herbs, and it’s delicious. And, of course, his Albarino, and his Pet Nat of Albarino are dueling for trademark wine. If you’re in Napa, take a trip out to the cellar door country of Suisun and try some, you’ll leave with more than you bargained for.

Now, he’s waiting for his first harvest of some Mencia he grafted to complement the Albarino that’s been growing in popularity over the years, and has planted a little Palomino, Pedro Ximenez, and Mission in another corner of his ten acres – it’s for a guy that found some of his grandfather’s old Sherry recipes.

Earlier, when I had asked him what he thought was going to happen in the state as the climate changes more, he said he didn’t know. The coast is gonna get colder, and the inland areas are going to get a hell of a lot warmer, the thing is, we don’t know where that line of demarcation is going to be. There aren’t many folks growing grapes in the way that Roger does, mostly because they can’t or they’re not willing to, “We’re all hung up on seven grapes!”

And one does wonder where this is going if we don’t start to try some new things – Bordeaux has got a few more wine grapes in its repertoire now, and so does Suisun Valley. Let’s hope some of Roger’s neighbors take his lead before too long. Talking in the just-dark at the end of April, he tells me, “We’re four months from harvest,” after all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alex Cook is currently employed as the sourcing coordinator at Dry Farm Wines, in Napa Valley, where he expedites the details required to import wines, from world-wide, wine regions. He is also responsible for COLAs, FDA registrations, samples, deliveries, etc.); and, writing copy for the company’s magazine called A Matter of Taste. He calls it, “mostly technical pieces about wine, with some lifestyle elements included.” Alex is a recent transplant to the Bay Area, having left a job in New York, as a wine manager at Freemans Restaurant, in the Lower East Side of New York City. While in New York, he was the beverage purchaser and restaurant managed for ABC Kitchen | Jean-Georges Restaurants.

According to Alex Cook, “I have a burgeoning passion about wine that’s led me to where I am at Dry Farm Wines, to helping Roger King, at King Andrews Vineyard, in Suisun Valley, during harvest and some cellar work, and will see him heading overseas to source wine in the not-so-distant future

When Covid began, Alex moved back to his childhood home, in Northern Virginia, then moved to Napa, securing his job at Dry Farm Wines.

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Cabernet Sauvignon,Petite Sirah,Sauvignon Blanc,Wine

Robert Pepi + Steve Kreps = Collaboration Made in Heaven by Angels

[PHOTO: Robert Pepi]

Let’s start with nonpareil Robert Pepi and bring in (also) his nonpareil partner Steve Kreps.

Robert Pepi and Steve Kreps

Friends + Different Wine Interests Intersect

Creation of Two Angels & Samuel Charles Wines

When friends work together in Napa Valley, like winemaker Bob Pepi (Eponymous Wines) and wine salesman Steve Kreps (Quintessential Wines) did, each with a different wine acumen, it can blossom into amiable creations of new, delicious wines. Two Angels is just that, as are the Samuel Charles wines.

The wines have tasted beautifully and are extraordinary for their prices, every time. Getting samples of these wines for a few years, I hadn’t yet connected the dots, between the two people or wines in this union. The understanding of it began, during an interview with Robert Pepi.

[PHOTO: Steve Kreps, Sr.]

So, now let’s take the other half of this story, Steve Kreps. Quoting Wine Enthusiast Magazine on this one:

“When Steve and Dennis Kreps founded Quintessential Wines in 2002, they intentionally built their business around what was then a mold-breaking concept: Their vision was to represent wineries all over world, not just from one or two countries, as was common for many successful importers at the time. Many contemporaries were skeptical of their business model, but the Krepses persisted.

“When we saw the wine business becoming more and more corporate, we identified a need to help family-owned wineries compete, grow and flourish in the U.S. market,” says Dennis.

It’s important to note, Steve Kreps, Jr. has also joined Quintessential Wines.

 

HISTORY ~ Finding Their Terroir Digs

The Two Angels and Samuel Charles wine brands are in the Quintessential Wines‘ portfolio. This company is owned by Bob’s longtime friend Steve Kreps. They’ve known each other since the mid-80s, when Steve was brokering Robert Pepi Winery sales. It was Steve, who helped build the Robert Pepi Winery brand, way back when, according to Bob.

Bob Pepi’s father sold the winery, because Bob wasn’t ready to own the company. Instead, Bob went off to pursue his own wine business interests as a serious winemaking consultant, and then the creator of his own Eponymous wines. (He jokes about the Eponymous name, since it is what it is…)

Even when Robert Pepi left the family winery, Bob and Steve remained friends.

Timeline

  • Steve Kreps moved from sales to partnering with the Rothschilds and others in Caravelle Wine Selections, a wine import and sales company headquartered in Connecticut.   Three years later, he turned his attention to Napa when his son Dennis and he launched Quintessential.
  • Bob Pepi and Steve began talking about importing wines. Bob told Steve “when you’re ready to import something from South America, I’ve got an Argentinian wine that I’m pretty proud of, that I’ve been making.”
  • This was Quintessential’s first import wine, and they quickly picked up brands from all over the world.

 

 

TWO ANGELS and SAMUEL CHARLES

For our interview, I knew ahead of time what Bob was going to bring for samples. They were in a range of old, new, and some I didn’t even realize. This segment and the YouTube video are dedicated to Two Angels and Samuel Charles.

 

FIRST, TWO ANGELS

Fun trivia about how the artwork took shape for these wine bottle. I’m quoting Lorraine Raguseo, who works for Quintessential Wines, because her story is so adorable.

“Steve named Two Angels after what his wife called his two sons, when they were little.  Steve said that they never were ‘angels,’ but he didn’t want to put devils on the label.”

Family humor is the best, for anyone who’s had to raise boys, especially. (They’re a handful, if you don’t know.)

Bob Pepi begins his discussion on these wines by talking about his vision for the Two Angels wine brand, starting with the Petite Sirah.

Two Angels Petite Sirah 2019 ~ The first wine he made for Quintessential. The philosophy for this Petite Sirah – especially as a variety – isn’t always easy to tame, but Robert Pepi is committed to it.. With Petite, Bob searches for clean, bright fruit. He also wants to keep it true to its varietal character, as with all wines he enjoys making. Please keep in mind that he also is quite famous for his Pinot Noirs. In modern times, Pinot Noir winemakers have come to also treat Petite Sirah like it’s a Pinot Noir, with a delicacy it deserves to make it outstanding.

  • Right now, we’re getting Petite Sirah from the Red Hills appellation in Lake County
  • Minimal handling
  • Small fermentation vats
  • Cold soaking and get the wine up to 75 degrees to extract some color and flavor
  • Pressing at a low brix
  • Some oak for structure, but of a softer structure… with a focus on true elegance
  • Small lots
  • Creates a wine with the tannins a little bit easier to swallow (with a brief acknowledgement in the video that he pulled off a great pun)

Bob Pepi crafts the wine to taste really varietally correct ~ blueberry, chocolate, and a bit of spice, silky on the mid palate, and an elegant, lingering body on the finish. One sip and you know you just experienced a rare treat. The Petite comes from a vineyard in Lake County and is quite a delicious Petite.

Two Angels Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ~ This wine comes from a high valley appellation in Lake county. It’s grown in a vineyard that’s at 2,027 feet of elevation. Lake County has a reputation for doing well with the Rhone varieties, Petite Sirah, and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as any other regions in California.

For educational purposes, it’s extremely important to plant what will do well, not only to match the foods of a region, but also what would do well in their terroir.

Bob Pepi is a winemaker who understanding the impact on wine with all of its unique facets, I learned as I listened. He’s a great teacher, besides being a great winemaker. The video is very instructional. How that happens in his winemaking is that Pepi stylistically crafts very thoughtful wines… not in the commodity category, but in the category of enjoyment. This creates “a moment” with each wine; the lifestyle including some of the finer things life brings to humanity. His partnership with Quintessential Wines is a perfect fit.

NEXT, SAMUEL CHARLES WINES

Four years later, after establishing the Two Angels wines, Bob and Steve stumbled upon some Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Oak Knoll District. This region is famous for creating a cooler (than the rest of Napa Valley) terroir, due to its influences from San Pablo Bay; perfect for Robert Pepi’s style of creating a more sophisticated wine.

This was the impetus for their Robert Pepi + Steve Kreps = Collaboration Made in Heaven by Angels, Cabernet Sauvignon.

Since then, they’ve expanded to having the following Samuel Charles wines:

From the Website:

“Like the Stag, a large male deer indigenous to Europe but now found as far away as Argentina and New Zealand, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc have taken root in vineyards across most of the New World. The symbol best represents the melding old world varietals and basic winemaking techniques with New World technology and innovation. These wines are truly the ‘best of both worlds.’”

Their 2019 Samuel Charles, Oak Knoll District, Cabernet Sauvignon is what I’ve tasted, and it’s a more elegant Cabernet that’s very palate pleasing. It’s known to have a structure and weight comparable to other top Cabs coming from Napa Valley. Really well-balanced and a bit on the softer side (I think it’s because Bob Pepi is really well known for his Pinot Noirs), it’s really scrumptious.

This wine was crafted in a supple way, so the tannins aren’t harsh. It makes it easy to enjoy now. For a Cabernet, it’s silky, and as flavors of black currant, a bit of spice, and a lingering vanilla finish. Some Cabernet Sauvignons are perfect for your Filet Mignon. But, what if you’d like to have a Cabernet that presents itself in a softly, elegant style? Something that would pair well with Wagyu beef, for instance? In France, that with be with a Margaux wine. For us here? … I’d easily purchase a Samuel Charles wine.

For those of us in California, The Samuel Charles Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted in that Left Bank style. Remember, Bob Pepi is quite well-known for his Pinot Noirs. Just as he can tame the tannins in a Petite Sirah (commonly known for it big flavors), the next in line wine with a more substantial body, is Cabernet Sauvignon.

Bob Pepi and Steve Kreps make these wines a class act!

Thank you to Wine Business Daily for featuring wine-blog.org as a featured contributor to their wine blog news as “Wine industry publicist Jo Diaz’s musings.”

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California,Costa Rica,India,Israel,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Business Innovation,Wine Culture,Wine Distribution,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine Event,Wine Exports,Wine Making,Wine Marketing,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

When I think of Extraordinary Wine Careers, I think of the affable Kerry Damskey

Kerry Damskey, of Terroirs, Inc.

[PHOTO: property of Damskey, Inc. All rights reserved.]

Indiana Jones of Wine… Making Gold from Dust!

I personally love adventure. I love travel. I love being brave to the point of fearlessness; even sometimes in what I love writing. This is evidenced by my first wine-blog dare: Everyone Has a Palate, published on February 2006. I had only just written my first blog post on December 29, 2005 ~ two weeks later I was on a tear. This was during a time when only known wine critics were defining what we should or shouldn’t like. When trying some of these wines, I didn’t always agree. That’s when I realized my palate was far different from some well-known authorities; so, I (dared) to take it on. I haven’t stopped daring, and neither has…

KERRY DAMSKEY

It’s the adventurous that get jobs done, which can be challenging. Still, there’s no growth without it. I’m not alone in my thinking and I learned that the first day Jose Diaz and I interviewed Kerry Damskey. Jose’s my technical partner; I interview and write, while Jose captures the moments digitally and edits the videos. On YouTube, you can find the six videos devoted to Kerry Damskey’s life highlights; however, not in the details for whom this man really is, so more follows after these videos.

Today, it’s about

…how Kerry Damskey got from here to there in his thinking and daring, and in his extraordinary paths to the world being his oyster. Another person I can visualize, in a similar category, is Michel Rolland; still, it’s impossible to compare the two gentlemen. While Michel is known for working on styles based on Bordeaux characteristics, Kerry’s work is not only on styles of varieties, but also on breaking boundaries in uncharted territories. Next, he works on how to achieve that character in god-forsaken areas, with absolutely no pre-defined, distinct differentiation yet to have been established. This is why Kerry’s been called a “Wandering Winemaker” and the “Indiana Jones of Winemaking.” San Francisco based wine writer Gerald D. Boyd referred to Kerry Damskey this ways, and it’s clearly due to his venturesome instincts and known implementations that have worked.

In an interview with Wine Business Monthly, as a Winemaker of the Month:

Kerry Damskey: “One of the most important questions I ask potential clients is how they plan to market their wine. It is critical to think about sales and distribution as well as creating great wine; and Wine Business Monthly is full of useful and relevant information about this aspect of our business.”

Last week, Orange County Fair Commercial Wine Competition officials drove from Southern California to Geyserville, to present Damskey with a Double Gold award for his Terroirs client 3 Corners. The 3 Corners [ONE VISION | ONE WINEMAKER | THREE TERROIRS] wine is made exclusively for the Costa Rica market. It represents Terroirs’ three geographical regions of the globe: Israel, California, and Costa Rica.]

Kerry Damskey is a wealth of knowledge and a forerunner in the “how-to,” breaking winemaking boundaries in India, Israel, China, Bulgaria, and Costa Rico while maintaining his family-owned Palmeri Winery, in Sonoma County, California. When asked to describe Palmeri‘s wine style, Kerry says, “they’re an expression of our family’s dedication – verging on obsession for small-lot wines driven by mountain terroir, native yeast fermentation, and attention to detail.” Palmeri is only available as Direct to Consumer, and the majority of Kerry’s domestic clients follow this model in selling their wines.

[PHOTO of the Damskey family trifecta comprising Terroirs, Inc. Left to right: Drew Damskey, Daisy Damskey, and Kerry Damskey]

Kerry Damskey’s Credentials

Damskey holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Winemaking, from the University of California, Davis:

  • Graduated from the Intensive Program for Small Business, at the Stanford University School of Business
  • Candidate with the Institute of the Masters of Wine
  • Three-time winner of the Sonoma County Wine Sweepstakes award, and has received innumerable other awards for his wines, both the United States and abroad

In their own words: All work performed by Terroirs is done under the direction of Kerry Damskey. With his team, Kerry works with wineries to develop a next level approach to marketing strategies and communications. Through careful and constant marketplace evaluation, Terrors, Inc. helps clients reach out to early adopters, while maintaining brand integrity. Damskey leads his extraordinarily qualified team, to assist national and international clients in nascent wine regions, to gain a solid market-share. Accomplished through strategic vineyard and facility development, Terroirs draws upon supplier relationships in India, Asia, Europe, and Costa Rica.

 

Kerry Damskey Lectures Include “How To”

COLLABORATING: We work through custom growing and winemaking techniques with wineries and growers, to identify exclusive swatches of land holding the promise of world-class wines. When working with growers, we collaborate with our clients, by stewarding each vintage through the winemaking season. The aim is to guide our growers and oenologists in the creation of premium wines, reflecting the geological and climatic environment of their grapes.

STRATEGIZING: With our leadership and exceptional organizational skills, we provide a full range of strategic consulting services. This includes working with clients’ team to assure that their vineyards, wine production, and their wines are environmentally friendly reflecting the sensibilities and appropriateness for the site, the people, and the vision.

COORDINATING Operations Management: Terroirs works with clients to bring all the elements of vineyard and winery operations into alignment with the company’s goals. Strategies include implementing targeted business plans, operating policies, and staff development.

CLASSIFYING Winery Start Up and Expansion: A pioneer in developing vineyards, Terroirs builds wineries and implements site-appropriate wine styles. Clients have ranged from California to Rhode Island; as well as, India, Israel, Costa Rica, Bulgaria, and China.

EVALUATING with Due Diligence: A potential winery or vineyard acquisition needs assistance in the development of a purchase proposals. Our team is very adept and seasoned in this aspect of our work and provide how-to, in an educational setting.

 

Thank you to Wine Industry Insight for aggregating this story.

Also, thank you to Wine Business Monthly‘s Daily aggregation.

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Ecology,Editorial,Education,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Marketing

Open Letter to the Wine Producers of the World

My musing again; and, this is mostly directed at USA’s wine industry leaders…

I was just reminded, by my friend and colleague Dr. Michael Apstein (Boston Globe), about the weight of wine bottles these days. And this isn’t new news. It’s been going on for years and it’s an American thing. Competition makes companies think that they’ve got to be bigger, better, and the best in every single way, including their bottle’s weight. Come on, guys! Having a heavy bottle doesn’t make you a heavy weight-in sustainability… I don’t care what your certificates on the wall have to say about your winery being sustainable. The devil’s in the details.

This fact is so expensive to the world of sustainability… maybe not as unconscionable as ripping out a rain forests; but, it’s an overall contributor, and we all know about the 80-20 rule. You leaders need to be even more proactive. That would be a great story to tell, “Vintners Have Reversed the Weight of Their Bottles” ~ subtitled “In an effort to create a more verdant and sustainable world for their children and grandchildren.”

Americans are so marketing competitive, think Mad Men… That was a segment of time, beginning future unsustainability.

The US is the world’s major offender.

FROM the UN Environment Programme:

UN Environment’s Global Resources Outlook 2019, prepared by the International Resource Panel, examines the trends in natural resources and their corresponding consumption patterns since the 1970s. Its main findings:

  • The extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food contribute half of total global greenhouse gas emissions and over 90 per cent of biodiversity loss and water stress
  • Resource extraction has more than tripled since 1970, including a fivefold increase in the use of non-metallic minerals and a 45 per cent increase in fossil fuel use
  • By 2060, global material use could double to 190 billion tonnes (from 92 billion), while greenhouse gas emissions could increase by 43 per cent

Scientifically, we’ve crossed into a very unique time, when we’re now completely and utterly responsible for humanity’s destiny. Are you one of the good guys?

Need proof of this? I dare you to watch Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet – Netflix. David Attenborough and scientist Johan Rockström (Stockholm University) examine Earth’s biodiversity collapse and how this crisis can still be averted.

Dr. Johan Rockström is a professor in environmental science, with an emphasis on water resources and global Sustainability.

[PHOTO CREDIT: Photo credit: M. Axelsson/Azote]

There’s hope, but the window for opportunity is narrowing. By 2030, according to Dr. Rockstöm, if we haven’t all joined in the effort to avoid irreversible damage, scientists can’t even begin to predict what will happen next. There’s no scientific evidence, yet, to predict the potential chaotic times ahead… But common sense should tell us that it won’t be pretty.

THOUGHT: I do believe science fiction will be able, however, to continue with their horrific scenes. Remember George Orwell’s book “1984”, for an example of what sounding ridiculous and now is what it is?

Here’s another element… The weight of a case of wine used to be 36 pounds.  I’ve watched the process go from 36 pounds in a case to now as much as 54 pounds.

POINT OF INTEREST: A test of being able to carry a case of wine, when I was at Mondavi Winery, was to scooch down, pick up a 36 pound case, rise up (without faltering), while still carrying the case with arms outreached. In other words, if someone bought a case of wine, I seriously had to call someone else to carry that case. There was no way I could do this… all 118 pounds of me… never mind the 54 pounds it’s now sometimes become.

This item isn’t mentioned for workers comp issues; it’s to demonstrate how heavy boxes really have become. Those cases of wine being transported have created even more environmental issues, in the transportation department.

From Jancis Robinson’s Website:

12 December 2019 [by Richard Smart] This article is so important that we are republishing it free so that as many people as possible get the message. Consumers as well as producers really need to rethink the issue of wine packaging. And producers can take so many measures to reduce their carbon footprint. A new organisation is designed to help them.

Not specifically written about wine bottle weight, but rather transportation costs [of these heavier bottles]. This statement caught my eye, in the Conclusion section:

While the wine industry is not a major contributor to increasing CO2 emissions and climate change, it is still a significant source. The major task is to replace glass bottles, and help reduce transport costs. Most wine is not consumed locally. Some of it is shipped halfway around the world, and bulk shipping to market and local bottling helps reduce the carbon footprint.

All of this needs to be a subject of conversation with your marketing departments. You hired them, listen to them, if you haven’t yet. It’s going to be their world by the next decade. Don’t be like my poor, dear grandfather, who said to me in a moment of helplessness before he passed, “I’m sorry for the world I’m leaving you.”

Find solutions now, because…

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Cabernet Sauvignon,Castello di Meleto,Chardonnay,Napa,Sauvignon Blanc,Tuscany,Video by Diaz Communications,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Making,Wine Marketing,Wine Samples,Wine tasting,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery,Wines

Robert (Bob) Pepi: Series Devoted to Decades in Wine

SIGNIFICANT ROOTS

Reshaping one’s life is very empowering. Travel does it to us. As you know, America is such a melting pot, and having that opportunity to visit one’s native DNA land is very special. [Native Americans were the first people to migrate here, crossing the Bering Strait as early as 30,000 years ago.] So, we’ve all got a lot to explore. In my travels, I’ve certainly loved connecting with my maternal grandparents DNA: Peter (Pierre) and Abby (Ouellette) Bernier, while my being in France. [Bernier rhymes with Viognier.] They both began as children in immigrant families, during the Industrial Revolution; first by way of Canada and then down to Maine. When I finally got to France, I felt the power of their (and then my) heritage. Just by being there, it felt like I had returned to my grandparents’ home in Maine (USA). [There’s a town in France called “Maine,” if you didn’t know; point of interest.]

Roots are shaped, and the following is such a story.

 

[PHOTO: France, Moulin a Vent Beaujolais countryside. Jo Diaz]

ROBERT (BOB) PEPI CONNECTS WITH HIS PAST

For Bob Pepi, his family roots originate in Tuscany; and he, understandably, has also felt that DNA connection. Tuscan winemaking is a way of life, with passionate, cultural traditions that can fill books, all equally intriguing and culminating right into wine – like the “after parties.” For example, this Tuscan tradition:

WIKIPEDIA: The Palio di Siena (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpaːljo di ˈsjɛːna]; known locally simply as Il Palio) is a horse race that is held twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August, in Siena, Italy. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards.

[PHOTO credit: mikhail mandrygin]

The Robert Pepi Winery: Early Years – Building A Winery

In my wine adventures, I had heard the Robert (Bob) Pepi name, for years. I hadn’t met the man yet; but, jumped at an offered opportunity.

Like the terroir they walk upon, Bob and his family have enjoyed deep roots and some pretty amazing days. As he remembers in his beginning of living in Napa Valley, it was more farming and pre-Bordeaux varieties. (All in the video, a click away, below.)

The Robert Pepi Winery: Early Years – Building A Winery

THE SERIES IS BUILDING

Each segment delves into the unfolding of life, along Bob Pepi’s Napa Valley decades. It started when Napa was on country time. You know, when kids would come in when the streetlights went on. Throughout the video series, Bob marks opportunities presenting themselves, in sleepy Napa Valley, right into today’s winemaking, which includes consultancy.

[PHOTO credit: Jose Diaz, all rights reserved]

It was a morning meeting, when Jose Diaz and I met Bob Pepi at Pestoni Estate Winery, in Rutherford. The day was beautiful; the sun moving in and out, breezes flowing, butterflies and bees landing in lavender. In this natural, Napa garden, Bob’s thoughts just flowed. He’s a great storyteller, with his time frames moving right along through his current brands.

I knew ahead of time what Bob was going to be bringing for samples, and there was a range of old, new, and did I realize?

  • Two Angels Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ~ $16.99
  • Two Angels Petite Sirah 2019 ~ $26.99
  • Geyser Peak Walking Tree Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ~ $24.99
  • Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc 2019 ~ $13.99
  • Atlas Peak Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ~ $79.99
  • Atlas Peak AVA Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ~ $49.99
  • Eponymous Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ~ $59.99
  • Samuel Charles Oak Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ~ $79.99

From the samples to be tasted, one sees a wide range of styles and prices. There’s no ego here, just the ability to deliver whatever the brand owner (including his own brand) wants delivered. Bob is self-effacing, to say the least. He’s gracious and very polite. The successful execution of being into all prices of wines for not only himself, but also for clients of his life’s passion is very evident.

[PHOTO credit: Jo Diaz, all rights reserved, of a Tuscan landscape in Gaiole, Tuscany at Castello di Meleto]

I had to find a photo of my own, while in Tuscany, to bring it all back to DNA.

NEXT IN THIS SERIES TO DATE 

The Robert Pepi Story: Consulting

The Robert Pepi Story: Eponymous Wines

Thank you to Wine Business Daily for featuring wine-blog.org as a featured contributor to their wine blog news as “Wine industry publicist Jo Diaz’s musings.”

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Marketing,PR Advice,Wine,Wine Marketing

Wine Business Monthly’s September Issue ~ How companies grow their business online

[PHOTO: Purchased. All rights reserved.]

I was shocked, as I looked at the number comparisons between how small companies and mid-to-large wine companies participate, with their online promotions. I didn’t anticipate the disparities.

It’s in the September 2021 issue, of Wine Business Monthly’s “technology & business” section. I’ve made my passion and living by advocating for others, so one particular segment really caught my attention. It was the charts called, “How often do you use the following tools to promote your winery online?” The marketing activity habits are so fascinating, between the “Small Wineries” and the “Mid and Large Wineries.”

The larger the companies have much different views from the mom and pop side, with their on-line publicity use. The chart at the bottom of this story illustrates it clearly, if you’re looking toward growth, or even pulling back.

Let me tell you a short parable, about how to have the growth. It involves the extraordinary Robert Mondavi, as disclosed in his book: Robert Mondavi, Harvests of Joy (My passion for Excellence. How the Good Life became Great Business.)

Briefly, Robert’s life took a sharp turn, when he was in his 50’s. He was a marketer, who understood his audience, by looking at what was popular, what worked, and what didn’t, marketing and sales side was his side of his family’s business; his brother Peter was on the winemaking side. Robert didn’t disclose that he and his first wife Marjorie Declusin Mondavi were saving money they had earned in the family business. Who tells their siblings what they’re saving, right? Robert Mondavi and Marge were invited to the White House, to dine with John and Jackie Kennedy, during those magical, Camelot days.

The Easter when he announced, with such great joy he and Marge were going to the White House to dine, Marge was wearing the mink stole that they had bought for the occasion… let’s just say all hell broke loose. Peter sadly assumed the worst from his older brother, but Robert stated they had been saving… not necessarily for this moment, but they had the ability to go in great style. And they did.

The sad separation and then the liberating rebirth…

Okay, so how does this relate? Robert Mondavi knew it takes money to make money. When he was evicted from the Charles Krug Winery, he got friends together and started the iconic Robert Mondavi Winery. Apparent to me today is this: the Robert-Mondavi-legacy-man is our wine industry’s equivalent to the political industry’s Teddy Roosevelt. They both understood continued legacy; for Robert, The CIA at Copia and his UC Davis’ contributions: Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, which ultimately benefits mankind. That takes an extraordinary set-up. (Also an easy comparison; I just got back from Yellowstone.)

 

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz. All rights reserved.]

Robert thought really big. It’s apparent through his generous inclusiveness, and now his true legacy. It’s not just about growing it, harvesting it, and then just putting it by the side of the road, when looking to grow a business. It’s getting someone to be that cheerleader. Every company needs one, honestly, if they want to grow, stay alive, and pass things on today. It’s how companies grow their business online… right there in the numbers ~ how much time is spent in cheerleading.

[PHOTO: Purchased. All rights reserved.]

All interesting revelation. You can even see where the advocates should go after their jobs. It all depends on the growth all parties want to share.

Here’s the thing, keep all of this in mind as you evaluate these numbers. Robert – like some of the people I know in the wine business – worked very hard and with such passion. It’s shown in these numbers, for how much effort he put into running a small winery into his medium business, and then into the conglomerate it became. If mega growth is your ultimate goal here’s your prototype of what you should be doing… Which seems to mostly be the American way. For those of you with a roadside stand, that’s a lot of fun, too, isn’t it?

[PHOTO: Purchased. All rights reserved.]

How to for Small Companies, based on these figures

For this one, I now realize I have to take my own advice here. Seems like I’m just like the rest of the pack… I really detest blowing my own horn. It seems so egocentric. But, you know what? Who else is going to blow it? I’m not going to hire a publicist. Whoever has heard of a publicist having a publicist? My fail, and l know it well, is to take care of our Diaz Communications Facebook page, and to get some things onto our Instagram page. Hey, do we even have an Instagram page? Yes. I just had to check. We have a pitiful three posts. Good Lord!

I’ve got work to do. You’ve got work to do. This is the new normal. If you can’t afford to have a cheerleader, buy yourself a uniform and get started. Seems like a half hour a day devoted to your own news is well worth the time to create it. Think of is as your diary, because that’s what it really is, if you ever need an alibi.

[PHOTO: Wine Business Monthly. All rights reserved.]

 

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California,Carignan,Food & Wine,Grenache,Petite Sirah,Red Wine,Rosé,Sonoma County,Sonoma Valley,Wine

Mathis Wine ~ Sonoma Valley Lineup

Big picture, for some big wines; not over the top wines, just big in flavor, style, and design.

MATHIS WINES

 

Wines submitted for review

  • Sonoma Valley Grenache 2017, Mathis Vineyard – field blend ($32.00) 
  • Sonoma Valley Überblend 2017, Mathis Vineyard – Petite Sirah dominant red blend ($35.00)
  • Sonoma Valley Rosé de Grenache 2020, Mathis Vineyard – 100% estate Grenache ($22.50)
  • Sonoma Valley Rosé de Grenache 2019, Mathis Vineyard – 100% estate Grenache ($22.50)

The Journey Begins

Heading back to some Sonoma County California wines, from wines primarily of the world, it was a fun fun reminder of my own backyard. Wines from Peter Mathis, Peter is a new winemaker for me, but he’s not new to making wine, most certainly. When Peter Mathis began his odyssey to create and own his own label, he was on his right path. From his Website:

I’m Peter Mathis. I made wine at Ravenswood for more than 20 years. Mathis Vineyard, in the hills above Sonoma Valley, is my “old school” project. Here I cleared the land nearly twenty years ago and planted mostly Grenache, with some Carignane, Petite Sirah and Alicante Bouschet.

I grow it. I make it.

That’s his mantra… Now, if you also taste it, you might know what I wrote above, as to “flavor, style, and design.”

As he’s written on his Website, “Grenache is my passion.”

When I tasted the Grenache, it was just the right time. My last samples series took seven weeks of my time; it was one of my own odysseys, too. I’ve a busy life and I’m not into speed tasting, anymore. Like the first sip and glass itself, the wine in the bottle can continue to be savored as it morphs, without throwing it all back in one day. Every drop, until my focus changes.

Sometimes I combine business with pleasure. I was at a committee meeting recently. After photographing this image, I then tasted and took notes. The final step was leaving the bottle with our hosts. This time was spent with winemaker Mick Schroeter and fine artist Linda Schroeter. Mick had just arrived and spotted the bottle on the table. I told him he could have the rest of it. It was on the table for anyone to try, until we left it. (The committee has wine loving people and it’s what we do.)

He picked it up to get it into a cooler place and raised his eyebrows. The wine was just right. I had taken great care bringing it into 100-degree weather, only to be outside in a beautiful garden setting. He remarked, “We’re having beef for dinner,” and his smile said he was really looked forward to it.

My experience is that winemakers love tasting others’ wines. It’s a joy to give them wine. The level of appreciation is an honor to see and feel… It’s akin to returning to my joy from years ago, working for WBLM in Portland, Maine; from the days of photographing all those rock stars backstage, who were on tour. Today’s joy is witnessing wine’s own rock stars (terroir) in action.

MATHIS VINEYARD PHOTO

[PHOTO: by and of Mathis Vineyard: All rights reserved]

The Mathis Vineyard

All of Peter’s wines come from his small 7.5 acre vineyard, just north of Sonoma Plaza and downhill from Monte Rosso, as well as several other well-known Moon Mountain vineyards. Peter cleared the land, planted his vineyard, and continues to farm it… all by himself.

Quoting from Peter Mathis’ Website:

The Mathis Vineyard is 7.5 acres of glorious south facing slopes with low vigor volcanic soils – it’s heaven for red wine grapes. My neighbors fell to their knees in laughter when I planted it to my beloved Grenache – ha! –everyone thought I would plant Cabernet. But I was following the dream (cue theme from Sound of Music) that had been in my head since 1988. In what proved to be an exceptionally brutal winter, I cleared the land myself in ’97/’98 and got to planting in ’99 and 2000.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz ~ All rights reserved]

  • Sonoma Valley Grenache 2017, Mathis Vineyard – field blend ($32.00) 
  • Sonoma Valley Überblend 2017, Mathis Vineyard – Petite Sirah dominant red blend ($35.00)

Overall these wines just rocked it. One after the other, slowly. By the fourth one – the Uber, I felt like southern Burgundy has some influence on the crafting of this one. Mostly Petite Sirah, in the blend, the earthiness was self evident. I love French wine styles for what they are, and this one markedly delivered the terroir of what I would expect from a French wine. Great style and exuberance. Little did I know that Peter also has a love of French wines. As I’m writing reviews, I go back and forth with the company’s Website and feel upon this:

FROM HIS WEBSITE: Like in the south of France, the Mathis isn’t pure Grenache; Petite Sirah, Carignane and Alicante Bouschet are part of the field blend, and contribute structural, spice and fruit components. The actual blend varies from year to year, the Grenache typically making up about 85% – check out the tech sheet for exact vintage composition.

Let’s go to Southern French-styled wines, with the Mathis Grenache wines. The photo following is a black truffle dish, a spot of lemon, with a garlic, butter sauce, served on a baguette. Served with a rose of this style… most appropriate.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz ~ All rights reserved]

Rose? Easy, I’m in. Refreshing as a white, with a bit more complexity… A nice segue, before hitting the Reds full force. There were two vintages. The difference between the two were within a minuscule that I realized their most important factor… consistency. Just as in Provence, the Southern region of France’s most famous for its rosés, this wine is of that Provençal style. Aromas of strawberries and lemon with the 2020, and a bit more intense with the 2019… oh, those drippingly delicious white peaches. Animated wines, both. Very clean finishes. Delightful and so food friendly…

The Passion of Mathis ~ Grenache

NOTES FROM uber tasting – My first impression of UBER ~ Burgundy’s earthiness got into heart and soul, and explained it all to my palate’s memories of France. Amazing how we can connect aromas and flavors to places we’ve been and things we’ve seen/experienced. It never fails to ignite something within that one never wants to forget. Mr. Mathis, you’ve achieved your life’s goal with Grenache. Thanks for letting me enjoy them.

From Peter Mathis’ Website about Grenache.

“Like no other grape, Grenache is a heady, frolicking mix of fruit and spice.  It’s not a wine that causes one’s brow to furrow contemplatively; it’s all about laughter and the celebration of life, of eating and drinking lustily. Don’t think, just drink – that’s the ticket!”

 

So here are with both red wine samples:

  • Sonoma Valley Grenache 2017, Mathis Vineyard – field blend ($32.00) 
  • Sonoma Valley Überblend 2017, Mathis Vineyard – Petite Sirah dominant red blend ($35.00)

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz ~ All rights reserved. Another truffle dish, presented at Chez Bruno; Lorgues, France.] ~ It was an all truffle, prix-fixe dinner I’m remembering. These wines deserve something very special to go with them, to delight your palate, too. I can’t help but upload this black truffle memory, with a heartier wine like Grenache. The Grenache I had was perfectly paired with this tasty, combination-seamless dish. Perhaps you’ll also go for it!

The Grenache is a part of Peter Mathis’ field blend… how old-school clever.

Field Blend: I found the finest clones available (super small berries with great color and a more tannic spine than the typical Grenache found in the U.S) that had just been imported to the country.  Rather than follow a recipe from 6000 miles away, I chose what I thought would make the best blenders based on my direct experience in California, adding Petite Sirah, Carignane and Alicante Bouschet in a field blend to add complexity and a spice factor.

I fell in love with Peter Mathis’ UBER blend. A very appropriate name… Someone recently asked, “What does uber really mean?” I said, “something that is immense, the most of, just the biggest.” It was a perfect night to ask, as we sipped away on its deliciousness. And I wrote down:

Heart and Soul… Wine is the Heart and music is the Soul…

Music is the universal language placed inside the soul… So, yin yang

Loved these wines.

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Cabernet Sauvignon,Chile,South America,Sustainability,Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine-Blog

Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Vina Concha t Toro

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, all rights reserved]

This is the sixth wine, and last in this series about Sustainable Chilean Wines, but definitely not the least. In fact, this one is the most recognizable to me…

  1. Intro – Chilean Wines that Collectively Underline Chile’s Historic Commitments.
  2. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Maquis Gran Reserva
  3. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Koyle Family Vineyards
  4. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Tarapacá
  5. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viñedos Emiliana Coyam
  6. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viu Manent
  7. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Concha y Toto

The sixth wine in a series of Chilean Sustainable Wines… Concha y Toro. I have a lot of history of enjoying this wine. My first sample came in 2013. Over the years, this wine has remained extremely consistent with deliciousness and quality. Each new vintage I continue to treasure.

My greatest joy came in Puerto Rico, when I was looking for wine in the neighborhood grocery store. In a sea of Spanish wine imports, there it was… recognizable and a comfort wine. Nothing was going to be hit or miss for me on the Isla de Encanta. I suppose I missed having other delicious Spanish wine treasures, but I didn’t care. I was on vacation, and I just wanted to sip, savor, and enjoy the surf.

When I have of bottle of wine from this Chilean producer, I’m sure of its quality and affordability. As my favorite wine shop owner used to say, it’s a lot of quality for the price.

 

Sustainability Efforts ~ Wines of Chile

Sustainable 365

The Wines of Chile Sustainable 365 program brought delectable samples to my door, from South America. The beginning of their terroir defined… From the Vinos de Chile Website:

“The Sustainability Code of the Chilean Winemaking Industry is a voluntary standard that guides winemaking companies in the challenge to work sustainably based on requirements in three complementary areas: vineyard, winery-bottling plant, and the social sector.

“It is an initiative that is open to all Chilean vineyards, regardless of whether they are a member or not of Wines of Chile or the R+D Consortium, and the aim is to position Chilean wine rather than individual companies. It has successfully been consolidated as a relevant initiative for the Chilean wine sector, and it has begun to form part of the image of Chilean wine.”

 

[PHOTO: Purchased: all rights reserved.

Colchagua Valley Snapshots

FROM: VINOS de CHILE

Located in the southern half of the Rapel Valley, the Colchagua Valley has evolved over the last twenty years from being a calm stretch of farmland to becoming one of the largest and most active wine-producing regions in the country. The relatively low altitude of the coastal hills allows the Pacific breeze to mingle with the Andean winds, which cools the valley and prolongs the maturation period of the region. This is advantageous for the preservation of acidity in the grapes, and helps to generate red wines with excellent coloring, great freshness, and very good keeping qualities. The large majority of wine produced here is red, with a particular propensity for the production of Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Although, the newer plantations close to the coast have also proven to be a region with great potential for cool-climate white wines

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz: all rights reserved]

Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Series

From their text to me:

Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Ribeiras Cabernet Sauvignon, 2019 / SRP $17

In 2021, powerhouse Concha y Toro received B Corporation Certification, which recognizes companies around the world that meet the highest standards of environmental management, governance and social performance. The Serie Ribeiras line of wines are single vineyard wines offered at super competitive prices. Fruit for this wine comes from the Palo Santo Vineyard, D.O. Marchigüe, Colchagua Valley, on the banks of the Tinguiririca River. The unctuous wine, aged in French oak and foudres, is 94.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, with Syrah and Carmenere rounding out the blend.

Sustainability Pillar: B Corporation-certified with metrics including: 100% drip irrigation, 97% of waste reused/ recycled, 24% reduction of waste over 2018, 83% of energy comes from renewable sources.

Carbon Footprint has also been a focus for Concha y Toro, who have been working with international scientific organizations, to develop a detailed roadmap, which identifies costs and pegs them to reduction levels and targets. This methodology has been shared with Wines of Chile and in June 2021 several companies will sign a document in to commit to specific reductions – a first in the wine world.

 

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

 Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Ribeiras

Cabernet Sauvignon

Concha y Toro is in more than 140 countries. Imagine… The world loves their wines’ consistent great flavors and affordability. Honestly, if you love Cabernet, I don’t know what’s not to love! But, as I always like to remind… this is my palate. You’ll just have to try for yourself.

When I swirled, sniffed, and then tasted this sample, a familiar note of cocoa and a hint of tobacco returned, like an old friend visiting for another fun-filled adventure. With the Concha y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Ribeiras Cabernet Sauvignon, its classic Cab’s bold flavors were followed by the blackberries and singular focus of their wine.

I’m taking this one all the way back to Chile, for what dish to enjoy with it. This is traditional Chilean Cazuela de Vacuno or Cazuela de Carne; a beef soup with potato, corn, pumpkin, carrot, bell pepper, onion and rice, cut parsley, and bread slices on the side.

 

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

About Concha y Toro ~ From Their Website

Concha y Toro’s history begins in 1883 with our founder’s -Melchor Concha y Toro- dream to create the best wines. A tradition persevered over time, inspiring us to work with passion and excellence in our brands.

Concha y Toro is today the most admired wine brand in the world. Our wines deliver rewarding and unique experiences to our consumers around the world. We are present in over 130 countries.

Our brands -such as Casillero del Diablo, Marques de Casa Concha, and Don Melchor- have conquered their outstanding quality and maintain an undisputed leadership position in the competitive world of wine.

This is part of our history.

1883 – Concha y Toro’s beginning

Melchor Concha y Toro -a prominent Chilean lawyer, politician, and businessman- decides to bet on Pirque’s winemaking potential. To do so, he brings in French vines from the Bordeaux region; he invests in winemaking machinery and builds a subway vault to store his wines. From this visionary gesture, Concha y Toro was born.

1993 – From Chile to the world

Wine production is becoming more and more relevant, as well as the acquisition of new land. The transition from a family business to a corporation makes Viña Concha y Toro an influential player in the emerging national market. Our first export was to Holland in 1933.

1996 – A Wine Legend is born

Legend has it that the best wines were kept in a locked cellar because they frequently went missing. It was then that Melchor Concha y Toro spread the rumor that the Devil himself lived in his cellar… The word spread, and in a short, fear took hold of everyone. Today, the legend is still alive. Casillero del Diablo is the second most influential wine brand worldwide and first in Latin America.

1976 – Marques de Casa Concha

Melchor Concha y Toro was the seventh Marquis of Casa Concha. In honor of this noble title, which dates back to 1718, Marques de Casa Concha was launched, its first wine being a Cabernet Sauvignon – 1972 vintage – from the renowned Puente Alto vineyard.

Their story continues in their timeline, and I recommend if you are researching, visit this page for further details on their Website.

Welcome, especially if you’re also learning about Chilean wines. This story is part of a series, composed from the following:

  • Research on other sites and wine books
  • My own 29 years of being in the wine business
    • 57 units in a wine-sales and marketing degree program
    • Traveling to international wine regions
  • Vina Concho y Toro’s Website

And lastly, this YouTube video gives us a great overview. I hope you have enjoyed this series of learning with me.

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Biodynamic,Chile,Colchagua Valley,Malbec,Mediterrean Climate,Organic,Sustainability,Wine,Wines of Chile

Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viu Manent

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz, all rights reserved]

The fifth in a series about Sustainable Chilean Wines…

  1. Intro – Chilean Wines that Collectively Underline Chile’s Historic Commitments.
  2. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Maquis Gran Reserva
  3. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Koyle Family Vineyards
  4. Chilean Wine Lineup ~ Viña Tarapacá
  5. Viñedos Emiliana Coyam
  6. Now – Viu Manent

 

Sustainability Efforts ~ Wines of Chile

Sustainable 365

The Wines of Chile Sustainable 365 program brought delectable samples to my door, from South America. The beginning of their terroir defined…

“Credit for Chile’s elevated sense of agricultural ‘health-consciousness’ can largely be attributed to one man: Claude Gay. In 1830, this French-born botanist, after carrying out some of the first investigations into Chilean flora, fauna, geology and geography, advocated in favor of creating a government agency to improve agriculture and protect the country from the perils of imported plant diseases. The government obliged and by 1850, records confirmed checks made on upward of 40,000 vines and 70+ varieties of Vitis vinifera. If you have ever traveled to Chile, it won’t have escaped you that its airports are far more vigilant about inspecting for fruit, veggie and animal products, with long lines of weary travelers waiting to pay fines of close to $200 for that undeclared packet of trail mix. Blame Claude Gay!

 

[PHOTO: Purchased: all rights reserved.

Colchagua Valley Snapshots

FROM: Wine-Searcher

Colchagua is a little cooler than its northerly cousin Maipo, but still maintains a consistently Mediterranean climate. As with most areas of Chile, the Pacific Ocean offers a natural cooling influence – a saving grace at a latitude of 34°S, which is closer to the Equator than any European vineyard. The degree of cooling provided by the ocean varies from east to west in the Colchagua Valley, demonstrated by the distribution of red and white grape varieties. As a general rule, white-wine varieties benefit from cooler climates, while the reds prefer drier, warmer conditions. The dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Malbec and Merlot plantings in the warmer east is mirrored by that of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the ocean-cooled west.

FROM: Winebow

Colchagua is a large and varied wine region located in the southern portion of Chile’s broader Central Valley. It spans almost the entire width of the country, but most of its vineyards are found in warmer pockets nestled against the foothills of the Cordillera and near the interior Tinguiririca River…It is a fascinating region, and one that produces great wines at phenomenal value.

FROM: Meiningers ~ Wine Business International

While the international trade defines Colchagua as the source of Chile’s most classic wines, local producers prefer to talk about its diversity. The Colchagua Valley, with the second-largest vineyard surface in the country, is where some of the wine industry’s best-known figures are based, but is also home to small and diverse producers that are beginning to be recognised in their own right.

[PHOTO: Jo Diaz: all rights reserved]

Viu Manent

From their text to me:

Viu Mament Secreto de Viu Manent Malbec, 2019 / SRP $15

Family-owned since 1935, Colchagua Valley-based Viu Manent is one of the most respected wineries in Chile. The family have fun with the line of “Secreto” wines – a stated grape variety leavened with a “secret blend” (15%) of other grapes. The Malbec grapes come from vines that are around 19 years old. Fresh and fruity, the final blend offers a refined mix of red berries and violets on the palate.

Sustainability Pillar: Installation of four solar plants that generate 460 kilowatts at peak, implementation of a biodiversity protection program as Central Chile is home to more than 50% of the various species of floral and vertebrates in the country, and recycling (such as using old barrels in promotions or by local artists).

ADD PHOTO HERE WINE

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

Viu Manent Secreto de Viu Manent

From their text to me:

Viu Manent Secreto Malbec, 2019 ~ de Viu Manent / SRP $15

Family-owned since 1935, Colchagua Valley-based Viu Manent is one of the most respected wineries in Chile. The family has fun with the line of “Secreto” wines – a stated grape variety leavened with a secret blend of other grapes, by 15 percent. The Malbec grapes come from vines that are about 19 years old. Fresh and fruity, the final blend offers a refined mix of red berries and violets on the palate.

Sustainability Pillar: Installation of four solar plants that generate 460 kilowatts at peak, implementation of a biodiversity protection program as Central Chile is home to more than 50% of the various species of floral and vertebrates in the country, and recycling (such as using old barrels in promotions or by local artists).

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

Secreto de Viu Manent Malbec, 2019 / SRP $15

The Secreto de Viu Manent Malbec is 85 percent Malbec, with another 15 percent of other grapes – the blend of which is their closely guarded secreto…

I tasted this wine second in the series, because I’m very familiar with Argentina’s Malbec, so I wanted to see how they would compare, and could wait any longer to find out.

Now I’m going to tell you my own little “secreto.” I have what is called a “super palate.” This is not a blessing. In many regards it’s a curse. I have more taste buds than the average person. So, when I taste, there’s always a first flavor dominating. Then I go through more sipping and picking up more. This is why I do NOT open every single bottle as it arrives. To do so and then taste each one, one after the other, means that before long my palate would be on overload-tired; and, who on God’s green earth wants to have so much wine left over that it has to be dumped out? (Especially when you’re paying for and also have a “sustainable” headset.) It happens in wineries, but it doesn’t happen in my house. One wine bottle at a time allows for me to dig deeper on so many levels. This one lasted a few days, and this is what allows me to continue enjoying and judging its ability to hold. This wine was a super holder, hardly breaking down from day-to-day, and yet the tannins were soft. (The secreto is in the blend, I’m betting.) It had the staying power anyone would want, especially anyone who knows that tomorrow is another day, and another taste is waiting!)

I found this wine to be very sophisticated and very smooth.  It was a bit smoky and rich, with a wonderful finish. It just felt ready to enjoy right now with its full-bodied flavors of ripe plums and black cherries. I could see lamb with this one, for those who love lamb. I’ve tasted lamb many times. While it wasn’t a favorite for me, I understand its robust flavors that are mostly pastoral… since most lamb is free ranging its days in meadows and on hillsides, versus other more manufactured options for meat.

[PHOTO purchased: all rights reserved]

 

About Viu Manent ~ From Their Website

Viu Manent is a Chilean winery owned by the Viu family. It was founded in 1935 when the Catalonian immigrant Miguel Viu-García and his two sons Agustín and Miguel Viu-Manent founded Bodegas Viu in Santiago de Chile. They bottled and sold wine on the local market under the “Vinos Viu” brand. Viu Manent is a Chilean winery that belongs to the Viu family since 1935. The winery, in the hands of the third generation since 2000 and led by Jose Miguel Viu, continues down the same long road, guided by the union that comes when blood ties are joined with a passion for wine.

What exactly is one’s own? … “That which identifies us and by which we can recognize ourselves.”

We love our property, our family and our traditions. We love our work, which we see as the motor that can propel us toward fulfilling our dreams. We believe in transcendence, in putting our heart into things and that the only way to do something is to do it to the best of our abilities.

We have a strong bond with wine; we love its living essence and its sensitivity. We believe that Chile is a privileged territory for the production of wines and that Colchagua is a magical valley where the soil, climate and grapes seem to be blessed.

We believe in attention to detail and in respecting the environment.
We believe that history and tradition provide us with knowledge and experience, while innovation and modernity help us to advance toward our goal.

We believe in teamwork and in the talented, professional and committed people who work with us.
We are committed to transmitting this philosophy into our daily mission…

Which is:

To produce outstanding wines that are consistent in quality. Our hallmark lies in our attention to detail and the special concern for quality that both the family and our highly committed and professional team give to the wines of Viu Manent.

Through experience and innovative spirit, our team is able to achieve the ultimate expression of both Colchagua and Chile in outstanding quality wines with a style of their own, which are able to satisfy the most demanding pallets of consumers around the world, thus contributing to the prestige of Chilean wine.

[PHOTO: Website of Viu Manent, all rights reserved.]

Welcome, especially if you’re also learning about Chilean wines. This story is part of a series, composed from the following:

  • Research on other sites and wine books
  • My own 29 years of being in the wine business
    • 57 units in a wine-sales and marketing degree program
    • Traveling to international wine regions
  • Viu Manent’s Website

Finally, this YouTube video is a great resource.