The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 32 of 148

32  /  the tasting panel  /  january-february 2016 SAN FRAN INSIDER S an Fran Insider's New Year's resolutions don't include plans for a new exercise regime or nutrition overhaul, but exploring emerging wine regions and more of what San Francisco has to offer in the way of elevated beverages and innovative cuisine are top of the list. In 2015, value-added trade tastings took on a greater significance, as many were delivered like master classes, making every moment of vicari- ous immersion worthwhile. Two classes of particular note included a guided tasting on the crus of Soave hosted by Evan Goldstein MS and Giovanni Ponchia, Director of the Soave Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave, and 12 wines from the Gimblett Gravels 2013 Annual Vintage Selection hosted by Warren Gibson and David Strada. Trinity Hill winemaker Warren Gibson brought a snapshot of Gimlett Gravels, the fledging home of Bordeaux varieties in New Zealand's Hawke's Bay. The warm sub-region was created when the river changed course in 1867 and freed up a sizeable track of deep gravel not unlike the Médoc, along with Greywacke soils like those of Mendoza. Expansion in the early 1990s established Syrah and Bordeaux varieties including better Merlot clones, and vineyards are now starting to come into their own, with wines that were described by Chuck Hayward as "dependent upon vin- tage." According to Gibson, 2012 was a challenge for producers but 2011, 2013 and 2014 were favorable with the wines showing purity of fruit and gently muscular tannins. Notable were several 2013 Syrahs including Vidal's Legacy Syrah with clean, St. Joseph–like patchouli spice and black versus red fruit; Te Awa's smoky blue and black fruit precise structure and balance, Trinity Hill Gimblett Red Blend's leather and white peppered still tightly wound and just beginning to give; Mills Reef 2013 Elspeth Cabernet Sauvignon showing delicate floral aromas with well-integrated oak on a medium body and tannins and Villa Maria 2013 Braided Gravels Organic Merlot which was blue-fruited with restrained, silky tannins. Benchmarking the region wouldn't be complete without mention- ing a later tasting of Trinity Hill 2013 Homage Syrah ($100), with clonal mate- rial from the Northern Rhône planted to a hillside vineyard of sandstone and limestone, and showing every bit of the minerality, spice and tannin derived from whole cluster pressing. The definition of cru sites in Soave and the region's unique soils were perfectly illustrated with a dozen wines that represented some of the best quality-for-value whites seen in the market all year long. Goldstein and Ponchia moved at a brisk pace as they toured tasters through 60 crus, the clas- sification of which had been reworked by Ponchia in 2001 and finalized in 2008. "Soave's cru sites are tied to the topog- raphy; there are no proprietary names," he said. "If you have a place name on an original label, you have a cru." The region's ferrous and black basalt soils in the Classico region produce longer aging wines, while limestone sites in the southwest give austere wines marked by floral and citrus. According to Ponchia, Soave is fully planted, so focus on the cru sites and planting density will continue to intensify. The Superiore wines showed particularly well, with Cantina di Soave Rocca Sveva 2013 ($20) offering precise flavors of lemon, lime and menthol; Vincentini Il Casale 2013 ($25) show- ing saline, sur lie character and stony minerality; and Gini Frosca 2013 ($28), with grilled pineapple with a grippy mid-palate from 90-year-old vines. Producers who were visiting the Bay Area also made time for relaxed, infor- mative tastings that indicate education is a priority. On the Radar for 2016 Trinity Hill winemaker Warren Gibson hosted a tasting and luncheon of 12 wines from the Gimblett Gravels 2013 Annual Vintage Selection at Farallon. Giovanni Ponchia (left) Director of the Soave Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave and Evan Goldstein, MS lead a guided tasting on the crus of Soave. PHOTO: WILFRED WONG PHOTO COURTESY OF GIOVANNI PONCHIA by Deborah Parker Wong

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - January 2016