September 2021 | Enthusiast Wine Clubby Caileen Brison
Piquentum 2018 Refosk
From Danch & Granger
On the northern edge of Adriatic, the climate in the interior of Istria can actually be very cold when strong winds known as the “Bura” descend from the north. Even closer to harvest in September, the nights remain cold and help maintain acidity and aroma despite experiencing dry and hot days typical of the Mediterranean. With currently 4.5 ha of vineyards: Malvasia 60%, Teran 20%, Refosco 20%, Dimitri’s goal is to keep competition high, work the land by hand, and get roots digging deeper and deeper into the ferrous rich red and flysch rich white soils that define Istrian Terroir.
Grapes are hand picked and then slowly pressed into tank without temperature control. Since the winery is converted concrete water tank, the temperature is a constant 10-11ºC all year long. Perfect for aging, but this is often too cold to get a native fermentation started. Using fans to draw in the warmer outside air to around 14ºC, all of Dimitri’s wines complete a wild ferment without the use of added yeast, bacteria, enzymes, or any additives. After a long and slow fermentation without stalling fermentation or cold soaks, the wines are bottled unfiltered with just enough sulfur to ensure a safe journey across the Atlantic.
Refosk – also known as Refosco in Italy – is a darker and spice driven wine, but what I love from this expression in Istria is the iron driven expression of the wine. On day one the wine looks dark, bloody, and almost inky in color – coming in at 14.5%, this is not a wine for the faint of heart. On the nose there are beautiful dark black and dark purple tones with a profile of cocoa, sage oil, thyme oil, and salami. Behind the dominant tones of the wine are notes of violets with soft tannins (despite the appearance!) with a sneaky nose of spearmint. On day two and three, the wine becomes more savory with olive and caramel on the finish. The tannins are still there, but the acid is coming through more and more. Overall, I prefer this wine after being open for about 8 hours. For food pairings you can go pretty big here – think grilled steak, balsamic portabella grilled mushrooms, kabobs. Drink now – 2028.
Ghostnote 2019 Wheeler Vineyard Corvina
This wine holds a special place in my heart as I had the opportunity to taste this wine several times from barrel as it evolved. This is a first release from a project by Brad Friedman, formerly of Ridge, Thomas Fogarty, and Big Basin Vineyards, but has since left to pursue Ghostnote. Brad is a good friend of mine, but I can also say without reservation one of the best winemakers in the Santa Cruz Mountains and absolutely a talent to be watched.
This Corvina is so ethereally lovely – on day one the wine is targeted cherry with bright high tones of hoison, lavender oil, and violet oil. Structurally the wine has great acid and an overall silk like texture that is elevated perfectly with the moderate tannin. On day two the wine is essentially unchanged except the lovely addition of hibiscus and fresh rose petals. The evolution of the wine is note worthy as Corvina is light in style here, but has intention in the overall profile. For food pairings I suggest paella, fish tacos, or dishes of the like. Drink 2022 – 2028, 55-58 deg F.
Il Colombaio di Santachiara Selvabianca Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2019
From Vinity Wine Group
Vernaccia from San Gimignano has a long history, and since the Renaissance period has been considered one of Italy’s oldest and most noble wines. Its fame has no doubt been strongly connected to its region of origin, San Gimignano – an ancient Tuscan town famed for its medieval towers.
The Vernaccia wine grape is mentioned as early as 1276 in San Gimignano’s records and in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Its name is thought to originate from the word vernaculum, which means ‘of the place’ and is the etymological root of the English word ‘vernacular’. As might be expected, in light of this fact, there are several grape varieties known as ‘Vernaccia’, which just happened to be the local grape variety used in their respective regions. Although there are several other Vernaccias in the country, such as in Marche and Sardinia, Vernaccia di San Gimignano is unique to this area in Tuscany. It was a wine considered to be fit for a king; Pope Martin IV was said to be especially partial to eels cooked in Vernaccia.
From CaileenThis wine is a super overperformer – on the pop this wine is bright underripe pineapple and granny smith apple skins with banana rind and shortbread. The palate has notes of lees with a soft salinity and a very light linger of apple pie crust. The wine is overall delicate in wine and versatile in style (if you’re going to a party and you don’t know who’s going to be there, just bring this). On day two the wine becomes more savory with an amplification of the mineral driven lees notes, jalapeno flowers, and a softer texture. While the wine is still lovely, I do prefer the freshness and texture on day one. For food pairings I would opt for light, white seafood fare or delicate salads. Drink now – 2024.