The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2012

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Page 47 of 128

At Home with Kelly Fleming Kelly Fleming at her estate vineyard in Calistoga. "My second crop is rocks," she says of the stone-laden soils. "I am a farmer and I have the hands to prove it," says Kelly Fleming, extending her arms to exhibit the proof. "My mother was a great gar- dener: She made roses bloom and grew a little vegetable garden where I grew up, near Portland, Oregon." On her glorious estate winery in Calistoga, which took five years to construct, Fleming is finally feeling at home. "I am at ease with myself and my story," she tells THE TASTING PANEL, referring to her own identity that she is creating apart from ex-husband Paul Fleming, founder of national chains P. F. Chang's and Fleming's Steakhouse. With positive reception from the trade for her high-end wines and the addition of her children as partners in her business, Fleming admits, "I am not a proven story like their father, but the fact that my son and daughter believe in me and are working at the winery is everything to me." —Meridith May Kelly Fleming's nickname is Big Pour, a moniker she was graced with when visiting Domaine de la Romaneé-Conti. "I let the winemaking keep pouring: He did, and I drank up." The 2009 Big Pour Napa Valley Red ($60), a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon and 16% Merlot, is Fleming's "other label," from sourced fruit as opposed to the 100% estate Kelly Fleming label. In fact, the Merlot is Andy Beckstoffer fruit. The wine is big, lush, rich and creamy with vanilla/blackberry and savory/graphite characteristics. Kelly Fleming 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($90) speaks of masterful tannins from vines that you'd assume were older than their nine years. Peppered and in-your-face, this red has a haunting quality: shadows and soul. TerraVino Presents Castello Vicchiomaggio B orn in Rome but with 15 years of experience in the U.S. market, Pasadena, CA–based Valerio Chiarotti is now heading up his own import and distribution firm, TerraVino. His book currently boasts 200 SKUs, ranging from rare finds from Sicily and Basilicata, to icons from Tuscany and Piedmont. In June, Chiarotti hosted Castello Vicchiomaggio owner and winemaker John Matta for an intimate dinner at Beverly Hills restaurant Scarpetta. The Matta family's Tuscan estate and 16th-century villa (now a hotel) is located in Greve, in the heart of Chianti Classico. Purchased and restored by Matta's father in the mid-1960s, the property's foundations are Etruscan and records show that winemaking there dates back as far as 956 AD. Matta presented four wines now being imported and distributed by TerraVino. The 2010 Ripa delle Mandorle (SRP $15) is a lively Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend with bright, juicy flavors. The estate's 2010 Chianti Classico San Jacopo (SRP $17) is made to drink young, with crisp, racy cherry notes. By contrast, the more restrained 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva Agostino Petri (SRP $25) showed beautiful balance between acid structure and full, rounded fruit tones. An extraordinary value in Chianti Classico, it was a knock-out with Scarpetta's bone-marrow agnolotti. The impressively styled Supertuscan 2008 Ripa delle More (SRP$38) delivers ripe, mouth- filling blackberry flavors—hence the vineyard's name, Hill of the Blackberries—and showed its best with Conant's sublime spiced duck breast. Although not available here, Matta generously shared a wine that had just attained Gambero Rosso's coveted Tre Bicchiere: Castello Vicchiomaggio FSM (his father's initials), one of the most intense and deliriously delicious expressions of Merlot we've tasted. Only 3,400 bottles are produced. Vicchiomaggio is surely a high point in TerraVino's book, but with Chiarotti's keen palate and inside connections to Italian wine, we can't wait to see what else is in store. —David Gadd TerraVino founder and CEO Valerio Chiarotti (left) with Castello Vicchomaggio owner/winemaker John Matta and Scarpetta Sommelier Sean Jemai. august 2012 / the tasting panel / 47 PHOTO: DAVID GADD PHOTO: COURTESY OF KELLY FLEMING PHOTO: COURTESY OF KELLY FLEMING

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