Posts belonging to Category Semillon



Tasting the Unknown Known & the Serious Unserious

in the Petaluma Wind Gap

in the Petaluma Wind Gap

Sometimes things look better from a distance; for example, “industry wine tastings.” We know wine biz doods who do these tastings all the time. Bloggers is different. We are wine industry detritus, effusion, effluence. We had to detail our credentials so we could attend this tasting held in the former Campanille now the newer Republiqué. No problem.

We have not been back to Campanile since we bumped into Liz Taylor and sat next to Hal Linden when this space was the über glam place to dine. liz-movei-starWEBOK, Linden was a popular and funny TV star but Liz… Hollywood royalty.

Return To Terroir bills themselves as “wine importer and wine educators” committed to natural wines and showcasing new young winemakers. But wine is a business and the unwritten goal is to entice brokers and dining room buyers to grab a case or more at deeply discounted wholesale prices. Hot trend plus cheap buys will motivate plenty of biz pros. That gave the tBoW tasting team plenty ’nuff to chew on. Here is what we found and liked.

Prices are suggested/estimated retail.

tBoW crony Jim Ruxin was finishing his early round. He quickly steered us to the international sparklers and white wines where we found some delightful tastes. When the afternoon’s sloshing and spitting and chatting was over, Ruxin was right. The whites showed best.

bullechampnvWEBNV Charles Dufour Bulle de Comptoir #2 Champagne Extra Brut $34: 55% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonay, 10% Pinot Blanc. This is the real stuff. No sulfur, native yeast only, organic cane sugar, 28 y.o. winemaker who looks like Jean Paul Belmondo and his wife is Brigitte Bardot’s granddaughter [ed. merde]. “Funky” say Kris B and Ruxin. Lean, bright acidity. As Sirene Virbila says “farmer fizz.” No. We did not see her although a couple non-survivors from the once star-studded LA Times food and wine critics pool were spotted. This wine was a great start that established the credibility of returntoterroir the wine business committed to sustainable, organic and biodynamic wines and the new wave of young natural winemakers.

riffaultquart09WEB2011 Sebastien Riffault Sancerre Blanc “Les Quarterons” $19: Yung Taster – “this wine has more energy.” tBoW “what is that?” Wine Pro – “a wine that has energy is a nervy wine.” And I cannot make it any more clear. Have you ever had a shiver run up your spine? Like reading these notes? 12%

riffaultakam09WEB2009 Sebastien Riffault Sancerre Blance “Akmenine” $24: YT says Alice Feiring describes the Riffault wines as becoming more like Sauvignon Blanc with age. He must have said something else as that does not make sense. The team liked both Sauvignon Blanc wines. Mr. Riffault is 26 y.o. He “refuses to sacrifice quality for principle.” [ed. the R2T notes actually wrote “principal” which tBoW readers will note in this case is not the correct form of the word . tBoW is available as final editor on tasting notes.] Yeh. I know. 12%

felinepicpoulWEB2012 Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet $unk: Ligurian white wines are usually harmless. This 100% Picpoul was acidic, fresh, bright. Served cold it showed all its charm. Price unknown but we will bet it goes well under $20. Ka-Ching. 12%

hauteselve12WEB2012 Chatueau Haut Selve Graves Blanc $17: Showing a light touch. White Bordeaux wines often get far less attention than the upper crust reds. Solid winemaking. Refreshing with some pedigree. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon and 10% Sauvignon Gris. Sauv Gris? The estate was wiped out by phylloxera in the 19th century, purchased and replanted in 1993. First new winery built in Graves in 20th century blah blah. We liked this wine and would probably buy it. 13%

ansonica12WEB2012 Ansonica Costa dell’Argentario $6: Steal of the tasting. This is beyond cheap. What a terrific wedding or graduation wine. 90% Ansonico and 10% Vermentino. We taste the Vermentino and like it. Top heavy. The flavors sit atop the fleshy body. High hat. More body than the Ligurian or a Verdejo. Appealing summer sipper [ed. more like slugger]

Tasting Interlude: YT (Yung Taster) and WP (Wine Pro) tried to force two Lambrusci on tBoW. Everyone has their own peccadillos. YT urged “This is seriously unserious wine.” [ed. doesn”t that make Lambrusco the Unknown Known of wine?]

One red impressed tBoW.

tire_pe_diemWEB2012 Chateau Tire Pe Diem $10: 100% Merlot certified 100% organic in 2011 after purchasing the run down winery in 1997. They are part of a winemaker group called “containssulfitesbutnottoomuch.” We would by this on the story alone BUT the wine is also lovely. Grown on limestone and clay with native yeasts in cement tanks. No oak. Yay. This wine has energy and is even nervy. U20 and easily my favorite red. Ka Ching. 13%

One new New World winery stood out for three reasons: limited selection, most interesting domestic white wine, and most unlikely wine site – Clear Lake (photo of Lakeville vineyard above).

weichi-semillon_frontWEB2012 Wei Chi Luchsinger Vineyard Semillon $21: I can explain the fuzzy label photo. Wei Chi refers to Before Completion in the I Ching. Winemaker Ross Hallett commented “no wine is ever completed, right?” This wine is made from 15 y.o. vines at 1300 foot elevation, near Clear Lake, California’s meth capitol. This will be his first release. It is strikingly fresh and impressive in that it is a 100% Semillon. Should have asked if he has tasted the Kalin oxidated version. I Ching? More like Ka Ching. 11.4%

A fun tasting that showed many very interesting wines which fulfilled the R2T advertising. Thank you Jean-B going to bat for a blogger.

Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Eva Marie Saint, Esalen, middle aged hippies… I’m alive!

Saddle Peak Lodge is FUN again!

Stunt Road view north above Saddle Peak Lodge

If we want to have a good time dining out we really only ask for three things: great food that is well prepared and somewhat exotic, smart and helpful wait staff, and a fair corkage policy. Saddle Peak Lodge is tucked in one of those pocket canyons behind Calabasas on the backside of Malibu. Driving there is even fun. Sunsets can be quite spectacular as can early mornings too, when the Pacific fog has filled the deepest recesses. (more…)