The SOMM Journal

May 2014

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20 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2014 { wine briefs } S o m e s a y t h e r e ' s m a g i c i n C a r i ñ e n a' s S t o n e S o i l s . By royal proclamation in 1415, King Ferdinand I of Aragon decreed his preference for wines from Cariñena over all others. He obviously knew magic when he tasted it. O t h e r S p u t i t i n w r i t i n g . V i n o s d e C a r i ñ e n a . C r a f t e d i n s t o n e . 14Carinena_8.375x10.875ad_SJ1.indd 1 4/22/14 12:11 AM A FORMER ACTOR WHO STILL ENJOYS DELIVERING a lively performance, author Oz Clarke joined forces with winemakers Ted Lemon of Burn Cottage and Mike Weersing of Pyramid Valley Vineyards for a master class, held at Epic Roast House, that deconstructed the wines of New Zealand's top performing and newly- emerging regions. Citing lack of tradition as one of strongest points in their favor, Clarke was quick to factor the role and the intention of the winemakers into his analysis: "Terroir has to include people to mean something otherwise it's simply potential." Using years of research, he was drawn to New Zealand wines in 1984, Clarke put four flights of wines—Sauvignon Blancs, Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and red blends/Syrahs—into context by contrasting growing conditions and styles. He characterized North Canterbury on the west coast of Southern Island as "the wettest place on the planet," a region buffeted by cold winds known as "Southern Busters" and warmed by the "Devil's Breath" from the north. By com- parison, he cast the Continental growing conditions in Central Otago, which is shielded from rain by the Southern Apennines, as far less extreme. Both Lemon and Weersing are Americans who were drawn to New Zealand. Lemon founded Littorai Wines in Sonoma in 1993, and Weersing is a Bay Area native who owns Pyramid Valley Vineyards in North Canterbury. Weersing's Greywacke 2013 Sauvignon Blanc is grown in Marlborough on soils of the same name. "Greywacke was formed by compressed alluvial soils and has a blocky, fractured mineral struc- ture with a large shrink- swell capacity," said Weersing, who is a soil expert. Almost limpid, the wine was brimming with classic tropical fruits, pineapple and acidity that Clarke described as "zingy" with a whisper of menthol on the finish. Lemon's Burn Cottage 2012 Pinot Noir, from sites in the Cromwell basin of Central Otago, was blue-violet, with cool, dark, lean fruit, crisp acid and notes of star anise, green herb and earth. Weersing's pioneering efforts on the remote, eroding hillsides in North Canterbury include Pyramid Valley Loin's Tooth '11 Chardonnay. Grown biodynamically on clay-limestone soils, the amphora-aged wine shows apple blos- som and ample white fruits with a riper, fleshier mid palate and crisp finish that is reminiscent of the southern-most parts of Burgundy. Weersing noted that in 1982 winemakers began believing that they could ripen Pinot Noir on the South Island and 1998 marked the emergence of Pinot culture in New Zealand. —Deborah Parker Wong On a cool mid-March evening in Los Angeles, Jonathan Mitchell, GM of WEST Restaurant & Lounge situated on the penthouse level of Hotel Angeleno, paused mid-stride to ask a waiter to check on an order of oysters he had requested for Shane Finley, proprietor/ winemaker of Shane Wines, who was in town for the evening's event featuring his wines. "Jonathan's been one of my biggest supporters," said Finley. "He was the first person to buy my wines in L.A., so it's a special honor to be here." Special because this was Mitchell's first winemaker event of 2014, and the well- known GM-about-town always brings an affluent, wine-hungry crowd. The evening flowed like a well-oiled machine, palpable with excitement for the menu. Buttermilk-fried game hen was paired with Shane Rosé, a wine of pure fruit and supple body. Next, spiced jumbo shrimp met with the 2012 "La Reine" Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir and before dessert a Moroccan spiced lamb was paired with the 2011 "The Unknown" Sonoma County Syrah. Finley's wines showed 100 percent class—balanced with elegant fruit character backed by superb structure. And it's no wonder given his pedigree. Finely has spent time in French cellars and made wine for Copain Wines, Paul Hobbs, Kosta Brown and currently Lynmar Estate in the Russian River Valley. Get on his list now at —Jonthan Cristaldi PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG PHOTOS: JONATHAN CRISTALDI Left to right: Burn Cottage winemaker Ted Lemon, David Strada of New Zealand Winegrowers US, Mike Weersing of Pyramid Valley Vineyards and author Oz Clarke. Oz Clarke Deconstructs New Zealand Jonathan Mitchell, GM of Los Angeles restaurant WEST, and winemaker Shane Finley. Shane Finley Goes WEST Somm Journal June/July.indd 20 5/9/14 12:08 PM

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