Just before I started working for K&L, I went to Vinitaly with Greg, and we did a little wine tour through Austria, the Alto Adige and then to Friuli where we stayed at Volpe Pasini. There are seven rooms inside this 17th century villa. You can go to their website for room rates and availably (www.volpepasini.net). One warning though: There’s a church across the street, and at 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the bell tower goes off!! Not just six or nine bongs, either. A full fifteen minutes of CLANGING and BONGING with no tune or rhythm. Not enjoyable. We did, however, enjoy their wines. Years later we are still enjoying them! 2004 Volpe Pasini Chardonnay ($12.99) This medium-bodied Chardonnay will take you away from the winter blues. Crisp with lots of green apple and minerals, you will also find some tropical fruits on the finish along with high acidity. Try this wine as an aperitif or with mushroom risotto. 2004 Volpe Pasini Sauvignon Zuc di Volpe ($21.99) 100% stainless steel, this Sauvignon on the nose will make you think Bordeaux and New Zealand with classic cut grass and grapefruit. On the palate you will find gooseberry, lime zest, slate with nice length to this dry white. Think tomato and basil salad or shellfish. 2004 Volpe Pasini Ribolla Gialla ($18.99) Ribolla is an indigenous grape, it distinguishes itself for its great liveliness and elegant balance, restrained flavors of golden delicious apples and cantaloupes with good complexity and a long finish. Serve with prosciutto and aged cheeses or white meat dishes. 90 points Wine Spectator. Salute! —Mike Parres
MMVI. The New Year dawns and the first opportunity for 2001 Brunello is at hand. Mike Parres and I will be off in a month to get the scoop on the vintage with a power-tasting trip, lambasting our palates to bring back the best for you. One of the most interesting things about Tuscan wines is that you can have multiple opportunities with any given vintage. If you miss a great year in Burgundy it is over and finished. In Tuscany you can get for instance, 2004 Chianti in the marketplace now followed by 2003 Chianti Classico, 2001 and 2002 Chianti Classico Riserva, the 2000 vintage Brunello di Montalcino and finally the 1999 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. We have already seen the evolution of the 2001 vintage through this series of wines and we’ve had some truly extraordinary wines. The 2001 vintage is not legally for sale until January 1, 2006, and many producers don’t release their wines until late spring or early summer. I’m writing this the 1st of December, so I can’t quote you any prices. But we will start to sell shortly after the beginning of the year on a pre-arrival basis. This year we are going to have first “Tranche” (to borrow from the French) prices and they will be real bargains for those who want to put out their money before the points come out. I’ve tasted many of these wines over the course of the last few years, and I can counsel you on how to prepare yourself. The 2001 vintage is very similar to the 1999 vintage in structure; it is a pure sangiovese vintage, linear, aromatic, balanced, whereas the 1999 vintage was graceful, poised and classic. You could think of a dancer’s or swimmer’s musculature—supple, flowing, powerful yet with poise first. The 2001 is powerful yet not with an exaggerated body builder’s physique. 2001 is classic architecture, symmetry and proportion. In 2001 coiled energy seethes inside. The color suggests density. Aromatics are exponentially amplified. Power oozes from these wines, yet replete with balance, sophistication and a long-lasting finish. Ripe doesn’t describe this vintage. Ripe is a measure of sugar. Like someone reaching his 21st birthday, it tells little of one’s maturity, personality or intelligence. This vintage has matured on the vine, like the instruments in a symphonic orchestra or gemstones with many facets; no one flavor dominates. These wines are a bit cocky. They have swagger, and they demand attention. They will reward cellaring. They will be great. Those of you in and around San Francisco will have a great opportunity to meet and taste with a gaggle (about 10+, tough to get Italians to confirm more than a month ahead of time) of Brunello producers on the evening of Sunday, January 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. $50.00 at our San Francisco store located at 638 4th St. just a block from the train station. Many will have samples of the 2001 vintage as well as their current releases, and it will be an incredible opportunity to meet and learn what these producers are doing. There will be limited space at this tasting so don’t dally! —Greg St.Clair
It is January once again, a time when many folks (myself included) resolve to be better people by making and sticking to a series of New Year’s resolutions. My resolutions this year are modest and I believe completely do-able. In no particular order of importance they are as follows. I will resolve to stretch daily, read the Sunday New York times on a weekly basis, and consume more organically produced food and wine. All of this I believe will make for a more happy, healthy, spiritual and productive me. I will let you know how it goes. On the vinous front, here are a few southern French gems that will help me stick to my resolutions. Did I mention that they are also delicious? 2004 Provence Domaine de l’Attilon (Marselan) Rouge ORGANIC ($8.99) Marselan, a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache, is a new grape variety being developed in the Aude and Bouches du Rhone areas of southern France. Vinified for the first time in 2002, Marselan has quickly become a darling of many French wine professionals and consumers. Domaine de l’Attilon’s organic version of this new cepage is bursting with bright, crunchy black currant and cherry fruit balanced by violet floramatics and a vibrant acidity. This deliciously user friendly red is a wine you can feel good about on all levels, as it delivers delicious enjoyment at a fantastic price! 2004 Domaine Beau Thorey VdT “Patus” (Pic St. Loup) ORGANIC ($8.99) Domaine Beau Thorey is a biodynamically run enterprise located in the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation of Pic Saint Loup. Vigneron Christophe Beau describes Beau Thorey as a “human scale winery” of 10 acres, which is just large enough for he and his team to manage and and work though manual viticulture and vinification. The vines here are comprised of grenache and syrah, along with more esoteric varitetals like carignan, aramon, carignan blanc, oeillade, cinsault and alicante. Beau Thorey’s Patus is composed of 100% grenache from the 2004 vintage. This juicy red is bright and chock full of crunchy cherry, hibiscus flower and red beet. Chill this lovely red much like you would a beaujolais and enjoy with grilled tuna or grilled steak sandwiches. —Mulan Chan
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