Friday, February 15, 2013

Organic Piedmonte wines at an exceptional value

Jay Murrie with Piedmont Wine Imports.

By Dathan Kazsuk | Feb 15, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

I was suppose to do a social networking event in downtown Raleigh on the day of Feb. 7, but when I got an email from my friend and store-owner of Wine 101, Joe O’Keefe, telling me to bring my wife and I to his shop for a wine class hosted by Piedmont Wine Imports’ Jay Murrie – I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.

Wine 101 is a wine and beer shop located in Wake Forest, and we have considered this one of our favorite places to go to hang out with friends, gossip, and enjoy some great beer and wine. Joe is amazingly great with people, unlike a few other shops we’ve been to where it seems the owner goes out of his way to avoid you.

But when Joe has an event, it’s best to pencil that date down on your calendar and be sure you attend. And you know you’ll usually run into a handful of the locals, who seem to call Wine 101 a home away from home, just like we do.

This time, Joe brought in Jay Murrie, co-owner of Piedmont Wine Imports, a company that sells wines from small family wineries out of the Piemonte and Tuscany regions of Italy. It’s also great because Jay and Luc Suér (the other co-owner) only select wines that are natural (none of those nasty chemicals and such that you find in some of the other wines we all drink).

That night Jay selected 5 wines for the class to sample, along with a bonus wine selected by Joe himself. The wine class consisted of around twenty people in the new “beer” room.

Let me start by saying Jay is a great storyteller. Each wine he poured had a story that went along with it, as Jay talked about his travels to Italy visiting each of the winemakers at their small vineyards in the Piemonte region. From binge-drinking, driving on icy roads to having a winemaker prepare a day-long meal for Jay – it was all there in his rather lengthy stories.

The first wine we sampled was the Borgo Moncalvo, bottled by Andrea and Luca Elegir. It was a nice, crisp white wine, which went well with the antipasto plates Joe had available for us to snack on.

From there, I got a little lost with the exact names and order of the wines we sampled. We did have a sheet on our table, but they weren’t matching up with the wines Jay was pouring. But that really didn’t matter, because each one of the organic wines we tried that night were nice wines. 

In the end, we had a great time listening to Jay’s stories and will be back again on March 7 when Piedmont Wine Imports will be back at Wine 101 with a selection of wines from the Tuscany region.

Wines purchased that night: Saccoletto Minerva Vino Rosso and Cascina Barisel Dolcetto. Two nice snags that I can’t wait to open the next time I craft up an Italian meal at home.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Triangle Wine Experience Sip & Sign: Taylor's Wine Shop

By Dathan Kazsuk | Feb 10, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Part 2 of our Sip & Sign adventure took us to Taylor’s wine shop on Six Forks Road. There I talked to wine manager Cory Lyerly about some of the great winemakers gracing the store. Taylor’s was jam-packed with over 60-people sampling wines from not 1, not 2, not even 3, but 4 different winemakers.

Wesley Steffens pours a sample from the
2010 "7" Cabernet Sauvignon.

After talking to Lyerly about the winemakers and their interest in pouring at Taylor’s, I decided it was time to try the wines. Our first stop was with Wesley Steffens, who along with his family, owns Vineyard 7 & 8 in Napa. We tried two wines, a 2010 “7” Cabernet Sauvignon (retail $75) and the 2009 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (retail $120). Both of which were very enjoyable.

Favia Wines Andy Erickson

Next we moved over to visit with winemaker Andy Erickson, who was pouring his Leviathan Red and the wines he crafted with his wife, Favia Wines. Unfortunately I was not able to try the 2010 Leviathan Red (retail $53), but got in samples of all three of the Favia wines. The 2010 Quarzo Syrah (retail $65) and the 2010 Favia Rompecabezas (retail $65) were quite great. I really enjoyed the story about the Quarzo, which got its name from the quartz crystals that can be found in the soil the grapes are grown in.

But my favorite of the three was Erickson’s flagship wine, the 2009 Favia Cerro Sur (retail $150). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this wine was layered perfectly. It was also given 94-points by Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Next we moved to Valeri Bure, who was showing off three of his wines from Bure Family Wines. And for you NHL fans out there, Bure has played a decade in the NHL with teams such as the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and the Montreal Canadiens. Oh, and for any of you Full House fans out there, Bure is married to actress Candace Cameron (who played DJ Tanner on the show).

Valeri Bure poured 3 different wines

He poured a Chardonnay, which again, not being a big fan of that grape, didn’t care for. But the next two wines he poured were amazing. The 2010 Bure Nuit Blanche (retail $53) was a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon, tasting similar to some great whites coming out of New Zealand. The second was the 2010 Duration Red (retail $195). This was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Only 100 cases of this wine were released, and if I wanted to dropped $200 on a bottle of wine, this would be it.

The final winemaker, we didn’t get a chance to visit with because we were running behind and had to make it to our final destination. The final winemaker was Ray Signorello with Signorello Estates who poured for the people there three wines: A Cabernet Sauvignon (retail $90), a 2010 Hope’s Cuvee Chardonnay (retail $70) and a 2010 Edge North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (retail $21).

Our next and final destination for the evening was Uncorked – and you can read about that in part 3 of my 3-part series.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Triangle Wine Experience Sip & Sign: Ridgewood Wine and Beer Company

100.7 The River's Kitty Kinnin along with Anderson's
Conn Valley owner and winemaker, Todd Anderson.

By Dathan Kazsuk | Feb 9, 2013
Twitter: @TriangleAT | Facebook: Triangle Around Town | Instagram: @trianglearoundtown

Being a fan of California wines like I am, it came to no surprise that I mapped out a course of local Raleigh wine shops to visit during Frankie Lemmon School's annual Triangle Wine Experience's sip & sign event.

The concept is easy: various California wine makers poured samples of their wines to local oenophiles, with proceeds going to the school. It’s was a win-win situation for everyone.

My first stop was the Ridgewood Wine and Beer Company. Located inside the Ridgewood Shopping Center, this beer and wine shop had Sonoma’s Arista Winery, and  Saint Helena’s Anderson’s Conn Valley Vineyards. The shop is ran by 3 knowledgeable owners: Ryan Elliott, Jason Kaczor and Patrick King. 

It was at Ridgewood where I met the eccentric Todd Anderson. Todd’s been in the wine business for over 31-years, bringing to the forefront his Conn Valley wines, as well as the much sought after, but hardy ever obtained Ghost Horse wines.

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of Ghost Horse Vineyards, and maybe that’s because as Anderson states, “It’s made in low volumes and the only way you can get it is by knowing me.” 

Well, I know you now … can I try some?

It didn’t take long for Anderson to ask his local distributor to go out to the car and grab a bottle of Ghost Horse Vineyards vintage Cabernet Sauvignon. I went into shock when he poured a generous sample for my wife and I and told us this sells for $2,000 a bottle.

But back to the wines Anderson was pouring for the crowd who wasn’t lucky enough to indulge in a sip of wine that equals out to roughly $80 an ounce. 

Some of the Conn Valley wines we sampled.

First was a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc, which Anderson mentioned, is only sold in the state of North Carolina. I thought that was pretty neat that he devoted a wine just to our state, which he admits he enjoys a lot.

Next we tried a Chardonnay, which, not being a big fan of chardonnay, I wasn’t too thrilled with this wine – but that’s not to say it isn’t good, just not my cup of tea.

We then sampled the 2010 Prologue Cabernet Sauvignon … which we both enjoyed. Eventually we ended the tasting with a sample of his 2010 Conn Valley Right Bank. Again, a great wine, and available at Ridgewood for $71.00 a bottle.

Anderson has a very to-the-point look at the wine world in general, letting people know that he doesn’t give a (expletive) about the soil or the process in which people make their wine, as he humbly puts it, “I don’t care what it has in it, let’s have fun and get into the socializing with wine!”

Here are some little known facts about Todd I learned that day:

  • He’s friends with Randall Miller, the writer/director for the 2008 wine flick, Bottle Shock, which starred Bill Pullman, Alan Rickman and Chris Pine.
  • He once sold a vintage case of his Ghost Horse wine to some North Carolina residents for $12,000.