Selections for May 2017

Like wood-fired pizza?

2015 ‘SAIMUUN’ VERMENTINO – Toscana, Italy

Last night I visited Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur with my San Anselmo-inhabiting foodie daughter.  Mary is the one teaching me breadmaking, who does that and many other baked creations professionally at Outerlands Restaurant in San Francisco’s Outer Sunset ‘hood.  We were visiting Picco for her birthday dinner - her pick – and on the very short wines-by-the-glass list was a “pick” of my own:  This wine, destined for your club two days thence.

Why would a little Marin County pizzeria, however thoughtful, feature this particular wine from halfway across the world?  Because nearby McEvoy Ranch is its conduit to the U.S.   This Marin County winery (there are but few) produces beautiful Pinot Noir and olive oil and enjoys the input of an Italian consulting winemaker.  That connection has McEvoy importing Vermentino from Italy!

Vermentino has become a fave for many of you.  TWS has shown examples from several different producers, all to good effect.  The grape happens on the island of Sardinia and – in this case – western Tuscany.  From this place on the mainland it generates a bit more body.  While remaining clean and fresh, this Tuscan type delivers a richness one finds in muskmelons.  Grilled fish, white-sauced pastas, and good pizza are the fare to pair!    

Have you heard of this place?

2015 DOMAINES ANDRÉ AUBERT ‘Le Devoy’ – Grignan-les-Adhemar, Rhone Valley, France

While the Southern Rhone is more known for its Grenache-based reds there is also a good amount of dry rosé and white wine produced here.  Cotes du Rhone Blanc, Lirac Blanc, Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc and others provide a richer though rarely-oaked experience.  A far more rare visitor to our shores is Grignan-les-Adhemar.  This Rhone satellite is on the northern frontier of the southern part.  It used to be called “Coteaux de Tricastin” but a nuclear power plant using the same name had a nasty little accident so the wine region made a marketing-induced name adjustment.  Too bad they didn’t choose a more pronounceable new name!

This is a blend of all the prominent white Rhone varieties:  Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Marsanne, Clairette, and Bourboulenc.  I smell canned pears and fresh green herbs such as oregano.  I taste peaches and, perhaps, ruit cocktail.  I also feel the nice “resistance” or bitterness of vitamin or aspirin; a kind of “calcium” effect.  This wine indulges with its sunny Provencal fruit and mildly “upsets” the tongue, encouraging a food pairing such as grilled halibut with mango salsa.  Pork chops with an occasional drip of aged balsamic might also do the trick.

Drink your Rhone whites young.  They won’t thank you for long-term cellaring.  At their best, they indulge with fresh stone fruits and a citric tinge and – most significantly – more body than, say, a Pinot Grigio or Albariño.  We hope this excellent example inspires some great meals!