Greg and I just got back from our visit to Italy, and I’m still waiting for my notes and luggage to catch up with me. In future articles (in this corner of the Italian page) you will be able to read about our GREAT finds this year! 2004 Ermacora Merlot ($14.99) This Merlot is just delicious, ripe chocolaty dark fruits, soft and fleshy in the mouth with smooth, fine grain tannins, dense but easy on the palate. A pleasure to drink, more Pomerol in style than Californian. Lamb and this wine were meant for each other! 2004 Ermacora Pinot Grigio ($14.99) 2 Glasses Gambero Rosso. Simply sensational! Perfect balance of acidity and tremendous aromatics, loaded with pear, apple, citrus and tropical fruit in an elegant, concentrated and superbly balanced wine. This wine will work well for your springtime entertaining. 2004 Ermacora Tocai Friulano ($14.99) 2 Glasses Gambero Rosso. If there was any one varietal that showed better in Friui in the glorious vintage, it is the often misunderstood Tocai Friulano. The wonderful balance, coupled with a depth of concentration you don’t see often in Tocai is followed by hints of tarragon and layers of mineral. Balanced with delicate acidity and scintillating aromas of bitter almonds, apple and ripe pear highlighted by a very long finish, this is the perfect accompaniment to fish or crab. 2004 Ermacora Pinot Bianco ($14.99) 2 Blue Glasses Gambero Rosso. This is the wine Ermacora is known for most in Italy. It has tremendous focus and concentration, rich and creamy, with custard like flavors and hints of apples and bergamot. It is majestic on the palate, with balance, complexity and character. Age this wine for 2-3 years, and you won’t believe the incredible wine it will evolve into! Perfect for halibut, swordfish or cocktailing. Salute! —Mike Parres
As I write this, I am getting ready to depart for Burgundy for my annual trip to evaluate the vintage. As you read it, I have just returned from that trip. Such are the time lags of writing for the newsletter a full month in advance. But, in the last month, I have had the chance to taste about one hundred 2004 red Burgundies, and I want to give you a report on what I have seen. It is not a vintage that is easy to generalize about. The thing I like the most about the 2004s is their sense of place. It is a vintage where the terroir shows through extremely clearly. For those of us who love Burgundy, that is a very good thing to see. The vintage started out a difficult one, and the skill of the grower was critical. A cool damp spring resulted in problems with powdery mildew, so controlling it quickly was critical. One grower lost all of their fruit in the lower portion of Clos Vougeot, where the dampness can be a problem, due to a well-known neighbor, who refused to intervene at all, and had terrible powdery mildew that escaped to affect others’ vines. A cool summer led to many worried growers. But fair weather and the North wind in September performed a miracle, ripened the fruit, and led to a good vintage. Some of the wines are very much like the 2000s, with supple fruit and charming forward character. Others are more like the classic 2001s, with higher acidity and more structure. Even within a single producer’s portfolio, the character of the wines is not uniform, so dealing with a merchant you know, like K&L, is an important thing to do in this vintage. But overall, I like the vintage a great deal, and the recent improvement in the dollar should result in some lower prices than we saw for the 2003 vintage. I’ll have more to report next month, and a complete version of our vintage report will be available online and in the stores by the end of the month. Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg
I am declaring a sauvignon blanc revolution!!! The world-class grape is consistently overshadowed by that thing we call chardonnay, and I, for one, am not going to stand for it anymore!!! Here in the Loire Valley you can find some of the world’s best sauvignon blancs, from racey, sharp-edged wines to rich and succulent ones. If I was to pick one place (in the wine world, that is... let’s face it, Hawaii is pretty nice), to be surrounded by everything I needed, it would be here. Take, for instance, the region of Quincy, second in France to receive AOC status in 1936, just behind Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Quincy is only allowed to produce white wines. Growing in these soils of clay, sand and chalk come wines that are typically harvested a full week earlier than those in Sancerre, with softer acidity levels and a bit more richness. The 2002 Silice de Quincy, Quincy ($24.99) is a powerful, textured wine coming from 100-year-old vines that are farmed following the biodynamic model. Bright citrus fruits and stone are just the tip of the iceberg of the complexity this wine has. Jim Barr would say it is a must have and give it 27 kitties. You want something a little more quaffable? Then step into the 2004 Adèle Rouzé Quincy ($14.99), a fresh, zippy expression of the sauvignon grape. Filled with gooseberries and a wet mineral edge, this would be great with that fish you just caught (or pointed to and asked you fish monger to wrap up), which you then simply threw on a hot grill, with some of those herbs from the garden, along with early spring vegetables, also grilled, that are placed atop of a goat cheese crostini. Jim Barr would give this, I’m sure, at least 17 wagging dogs. I have to leave you know, I just made myself hungry. BUT, there are more Loire Valley wines out there that need our help. Don’t just stop at Quincy. What about the Menetou? They, too, could be a strong force in our revolution!!! —Eric Story
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