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The Honest Pour with John Lenart

Taking you beyond the bottle.

Ep. 43 Armando Castagnedi, Owner Tenuta Sant’Antonio

Often times makers of wines from classic, old world regions create wine in a style that demands aging in order for it to not only appreciate full potential, but in many cases to be even remotely drinkable.  Because of advancements in both farming and wine making, today, creating making a wine that is both age-worthy yet approachable and enjoyable to drink at a young age is a possibility.  Staunch traditionalists sometimes decry these modern styles as varying too far from the style of wine that a specific region is known for. But thank goodness for forward thinking producers like the brothers Castagnedi of  Tenuta Sant’Antonio. These four siblings come from generations of grape growers, yet, have only been making wine for the past few decades. Today, they are making some delicious wines from Valpolicella. Like may producers of the region they produce Valpolicella, Ripasso, and Amarone. Their Amarones are made in the modern style which drink well now, yet will age and improve for decades to come. I sat down with Armando Castagnedi to talk about the complex nature of wine making in Valpolicella, and what makes their modern approach to Amarone so special.

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Armando

Armando Castagnedi with John Lenart

tenuta-sant-antonio-monti-garbi-valpolicella-superiore-ripasso-veneto-italy-108142432015 Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Monti Garbi, Valpolicella Superiore, Ripasso

Aromas of violets, red cherry, a touch of fresh herbs, black pepper and a bit vegetables. On the palate this wine shows a wonderful balance of fresh red berries, nice acidity, herbs, black pepper moderate tannins and a spicy finish.

SRP:  $19

 

 

TSASA2013 Tenuta Sant’Antonio,Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG Selezione Antonio Castagnedi

Aromas of dried red fruits, leather, and hints of red roses. Great silky texture. Fine integrated tannins, moderate fresh acidity. Flavors of plum, licorice, espresso and hints of tobacco. Quite drinkable now but will age gracefully for a decade or more.  Great to pair with food.

SRP: $45

 

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2013 Tenuta Sant’Antonio,Amarone Della Valpolicella DOCG Campo dei Gigli

Complex and elegant nose of mixed dark berries, cedar, and coffee notes. On the palate bold flavors of dried currants, dried mixed berries, fresh herbs, cocoa and cinnamon are balanced by balsamic notes and fine tannins. Wonderful velvety texture.

SRP:  $70

Ep. 42 Darrin Low, Wine Maker, Domaine Anderson

Most trips to northern California wine country end just a short drive from San Francisco in Sonoma or Napa.  But, if you’re a lover of pinot noir or chardonnay and don’t mind a bit more driving through the redwoods, head up to Anderson Valley.  This is one of California’s coolest growing regions, which makes it perfect for the Burgundian varieties. Homey and bucolic, Anderson Valley is the road less traveled, and that’s a shame because there are some brilliant wines coming from this region. Back in 2012, Roederer Estate, which had been producing outstanding sparkling wines from Anderson Valley fruit since 1981, started a still wine project with the release of Domaine Anderson wines. I met with Darrin Low, who grew up in Healdsburg, the talented wine maker at Domaine Anderson, to discuss what makes Anderson Valley unique and of course, to taste some delicious wines.

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DSOw0K0UQAAFvzLDarrin Low, Wine Maker, Domaine Anderson

DAEC2014 Domaine Anderson Estate Chardonnay

Bouquet of white flowers, golden delicious apple, lemon meringue, and a distinct minerality.  Stunning balance. Nothing is too showy in this chardonnay. Clearly California fruit is restrained by great acid, minerality and elegant leesy creaminess. Flavors of yellow apple, Meyer lemon, and slightly under-ripe stone fruit are balance by crisp acid for a long finish. At under $30 you can;t beat this chard.

SRP:  $29

 

 

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2014 Domaine Anderson Estate Pinot Noir

Nose of dark berries, earthiness and hints of baking spices. On the palate this wine presents a moderately full body.  Restrained flavors of dark cherries, blackberry and cocoa are balance by tannins which might be considered a bit bold for pinot noir and bold acidity. Further complexity is added by a wonderful earthiness. All of this combines for a wine that has a lot to offer and will age nicely for the next 10 years.

SRP:  $50

 

 

domaineanderson_pinotnoir_20132013 Domaine Anderson, Pinoli Vineyard, Pinot Noir

Aromas of purple flowers, dark cherry, blackberry and a hint of fresh thyme. This wine is all about elegance and texture. Flavors of juicy, yet restrained, berries are backed by notes of licorice and fennel. Vibrant acidity and fine tannins combine with everything else on the long, complex and elegant finish.

SRP: $65

Ep. 41 Mike Dunn, Wine Maker, Dunn and Retro

While it doesn’t have a huge marketing presence the name Dunn is sure to get the attention of Napa Valley Cabernet lovers. Randy Dunn made his first eponymous Howell Mountain cabernet sauvignon in 1979. Dunn cabernets today aren’t all that different from earlier vintages. They eschew the trendy giant style that garners high scores from critics. This doesn’t mean Dunn wines are thin by any means. The fruit from Howell mountain makes a wine that is tannic for sure, but once you get beyond that (or let the tannins settle with a bit of aging) the fruit is extraordinarily elegant and complex. Today, Mike Dunn makes the wine at Dunn and fosters his father’s vision for this Napa icon.  At the same time Mike has started his own label, Retro. This brand lets Mike explore styles beyond the house style of Dunn with his delicious petite sirah.

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Mike Dunn, Wine Maker, Dunn and Retro

 

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2011 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

An alluring nose of fresh red fruit and floral notes. On the palate this wine shows brilliant finesse. Silky tannins integrate with pretty fruit and great acidity. Drink this wine while you wait for the bigger vintages of 2012 and 2013 to age.

SRP:  $130

 

1240959x2012 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

A bit of a shy nose showing darker fruit aromas and forward minerality. Grippy tannins reveal layered flavors of blackberry, black currant, licorice, and a distinct earthiness. A long complex finish speaks volumes about this wine. A true classic. This wine will age brilliantly for decades.

SRP:  $135

 

1292510x2013 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

If 2012 was a classic, I’m not sure what words you can use to classify this tour de force of Howell Mountain cabernet sauvignon. Deep in color. Complex aromas of rich dark berries, floral notes, and graphite. Flavors of ripe, luxurious dark fruit intermingle with bright acidity and bold tannins. Great minerality and a hint of animal funkiness complete this brilliant bottling.

SRP:  $145

 

1138654x2012 Retro, Elevation, Old Vine Petite Sirah, Howell Mountain

Aromas of plum, dark berries, sweet baking spices and leather. On the palate this wine has great texture showing flavors of blackberry, blueberry, cocoa and cola notes. Bold acidity and tannins will let this wine age nicely for years to come, but it drinks great now.

SRP:  $45

Ep. 40 Alberto Frea, Brand Ambassador, Fontanafredda

Back in the 1980’s and earlier one wouldn’t think of drinking a Barolo that was less than 20 years old.  Nebbiolo, the grape used to make Barolo, is a late ripening variety which in some years never reached full ripeness. Even in good years the tannins in nebbilolo took decades to mellow to the point of being palatable. Wait a few decades however, and Barolo would release the delicate, floral beauty hidden below its rough exterior. Over the years, global warming, combined with modern vinification techniques allow consumers to drink many Barolo bottlings upon release.

Fontanafredda recently celebrated its 160th year. While its history runs deep, today it makes wines which combine the modern style of Barolo while maintaining the sense of place it has developed over the past century and a half. I sat down with Alberto Frea, Brand Ambassador of Fontanafredda, to talk about this history and terroir, and what it is that makes their wines so special.

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John Lenart with Alberto Frea, Brand Ambassador, Fontanafredda

 

BAROLO-DOCGweb2013 Fontanafredda Barolo D.O.C.G.

 Very pretty and delicate garnet color. Earthy aromas combine with violet,  fresh red berries and herbs in a complex nose. Flavors of cherry, strawberry and pomegranate  are backed by eucalyptus notes finishing with velvety but strong tannin and great acidity.

SPR:  $38

 

 

 

994242012 Fontanafredda Serralunga d’ Alba Barolo

Amazing aroma. Fresh roses, red berries, leather, cocoa burst from the glass, Muscular tannins lead the way to flavors of red cherries, and spices. Hints of oak show through but should integrate with a few years of age. Great weight and acidity.

SRP:  $45

 

 

FFMGA12013 Fontanafredda Barolo Proprietà in Fontanafredda MGA

Barolo has a new designation, “MGA” or menzioni geografiche aggiuntive, which basically means grown on a site known for exceptional quality. Essentially a grand cru.

The pretty color of this wine announces its elegance. Fresh nose of complex aromas headlined by fresh cherry, earthiness, and violets. Well integrated flavors of berries, licorice and a distinct minerality are given backbone by youthful tannins which will mellow with a few years of age and mouth watering acidity. You’ll be thrilled with this wine if you have the patience to  give it five to eight years of cellaring.

SRP:  $100

Ep. 39 Norman Hardie, Owner and Wine Maker, Norman Hardie Winery

When you think about beverages from Canada you probably think about beer and ice wine. Well, if you look around, you can find some world class wines. The region responsible for producing many of these wines is Ontario. Norman Hardie is just one of the wine makers producing outstanding wine here. After making wine in Burgundy, New Zealand, South Africa, and California Hardie found that the type of soil that made the wines he loves most is a combination of clay and limestone. When he found the perfect site on a hillside in Prince Edward County in 2003 he set off on his own, planting cool climate varieties there. Today, Hardie’s wines stay true to his vision; low intervention, low alcohol, high minerality, and expressing a true sense of place.

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Profile_Norm_Hardie-1280x720Norman Hardie, Owner and Wine Maker, Norman Hardie Winery

norman-hardie-niagara-chardonnay2013 Norman Hardie Niagara Chardonnay

Bright yellow with a touch green. Impressively youthful with a wine of this age. Nose of apple and stone fruit. Good structure and pronounced limestone minerality on the palate.  Linear, bright acidity and highly complex.

SRP:  $32

norman-hardie-niagara-chardonnay 2014 Norman Hardie County Chardonnay

A somewhat perfumed nose for chardonnay with a good minerality. Great balance and weight.Citrus notes combine with green apple on the palate. Just a hint of oak spice balance notes of honey, mouthwatering acidity all ending in a complex and long finish.

SRP:  $32

 

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 2015 Norman Hardie Pinot Noir

Delicate and pretty color. This wine has fresh red berries muskiness on the nose. All of this comes through on the palate combing with minerality, and lovely acidity combining to make a wonderfully elegant and balanced wine. 11.9 ABV!

SRP:  $32

Ep. 38 Cristiana Tiberio, Wine Maker, Tiberio

If you’re familiar at all with trebbiano, you’re almost certainly thinking of trebbiano Toscano, which is a high yielding grape that often produces mundane wines. But not all trebbianos are created equally. 350 meters above the town of Cugnoli in Abruzzo, Riccardo Tiberio found a very old plot of trebbiano d’Abruzzese, which, despite it’s name, is neither the same grape as trebbiano Toscano, nor is it common in Abruzzo.

In the year 2000 Riccardo purchased a small eight hectare plot of 60 year old trebbiano d’Abruzzo and carefully nurtured and replanted it. At the same time he expanded the site and included plantings of other indigenous varieties until he had a 31 hectare estate.

In 2008 he handed over the growing and wine making to his son Antonio and daughter Cristiana. I sat down with Cristiana to talk about trebbiano d’Abruzzo and the importance of clonal selection and indigenous grape varieties.

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20170614_110322John Lenart with Cristiana Tiberio, Wine Maker, Tiberio

trebbiano_new2016 Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo

Yellow with tinges of green in color. Aromas of stone fruit, flowers, fennel and a hint of saline minerality end with a bit of fresh herbal notes. Flavors of green apple, pear, beeswax are balanced by elegant minerality and crisp, mouthwatering acidity. A lovely, unique wine.

SRP:  $20

 

 

 

pecorino_new2016 Tiberio Pecorino

Quite herbal on the nose. Flavors of delicate peach, under ripe fig, and melon. The rich texture is balanced nicely by fresh acidity.

 

SRP:  $20

 

 

 

cerasuolo_new

2016 Tiberio Cerasuolo

Vibrant cherry color. On the nose aromas of cherry and under ripe strawberry. Flavors of sour cherry, rhubarb, cranberry, and pomegranate. Silky tannins and bright acidity make this a slightly more serious rosé that can pair with richer foods. Great for barbecue.

 

SRP:  $20

 

 

montepulciano12014 Tiberio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Bright ruby in color. Nose of red fruit, with a touch of smokiness. Flavors of light, fresh red berries and subtle blood orange notes are backed up by spectacular minerality, vibrant acidity, and silky, elegant tannins.

 

SRP: $20

 

 

ColleVota

2014 Tiberio Colle Volta, Single Vineyard Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Very pretty delicate ruby color. Beautiful floral notes accented by restrained minerality. Flavors of sour cherry, cedar, sage, and hints of doughnut peach. Super silky tannins and vibrant acidity  make this wine something to search out. Not made in every vintage.

SRP:  $55

Ep. 37 Diego Cusumano, Cusumano

The wines of Sicily get more exciting by the vintage. In the past few decades the fiercely independent Italian island on the Mediterranean has transformed from a bulk wine growing region to one producing many outstanding wines of distinction.  One of the best things about Sicilian wines is that they offer an amazing value and will rarely break the bank.  Such is the case with Cusumano, a group of brothers who invested heavily in creating high quality vineyards around Sicily. Taking their time, they eventually started making a variety of outstanding wines.

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DiegoGrapexDiego Cusumano Photo Credit Cindy Rynning grape-experiences.com

CusamanoNero2016 Cusumano Nero D’Avola

Kind of like a Bruno Mars song, poppy, fun, has wide appeal and a bit of an adult side. Bright ruby red color. Bold aroma of cherries followed by notes of violets, spice, and earth. Flavors of black plum, and blueberries are backed by hints of tobacco, cocoa, nice acidity and round tannins. The unique glass closure will have your guests talking. A solid value.

SRP:  $10

 

 

cusumano-noa-2010-bot_1

2014 Cusumano Noa

This blend of Nero d’Avola, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon shows that Cusumano is about a whole lot more than value wines. A big wine at 15% abv, this wine shows rich aromas of blueberry jam, and purple flowers. This is quite full bodied for Nero d’Avola, but it’s getting serious backbone from merlot and body from the cabernet sauvignon.  Flavors of fresh dark berries are balanced by moderate acidity and fine tannins. Complex and enjoyable, Drink now through five years.

SRP:  $35

Ep. 36 Patricia Ortiz, President and Owner Tapiz, Zolo and Wapisa

 

Argentina is the worlds fifth largest producer of wine. Known primarily for Bordeaux varieties, the wines of Argentina pair wonderfully its meat driven cuisine. Patricia Ortiz is the president and owner of Tapiz, Zolo and Wapisa in Argentina, who is dedicated to making wines of distinction that express not only the unique terroir from a variety of growing regions around Argentina, but is also producing wines of outstanding quality and value.

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Patricia Ortiz, President and Owner, Tapiz, Zolo and Wapisa

tapiz_espumante_torrontes

NV Tapiz Sparkling Torrontes

Pale yellow to a touch green in color. Aromas of white flowers, citrus and a touch of salinty.  Nice tropical fruit flavors finishing off with a balanced savory note.

SRP: $21

 

 

 

Wapisa-bottle2016 Wapisa, Sauvignon Blanc, Coastal Patigonia

Pretty aroma of citrus, herbs and a hint of ginger. Bright acidity is balanced by a nice weight of fruit on the palate.  Pleasant, balanced, and delicious.

 

SRP: $15

 

 

WEB__Blacktears_MB_2012

2011 Tapiz, Black Tears, Malbec

Deep purple in color. Wonderfully spiced nose with great earthiness, combined with beautifully balanced aroma of blackberries. Grippy youthful tannin and bright acid balance out wonderful g=fruit flavors of blackberry and black plum. Gorgeous structure will help this wine age gracefully got the next 10 years or more.

SPR:  $48

 

 

tapiz_granreserva_lasnotas_2012

2012, Tapiz ‘Las Notas de Jean Claude’, Merlot

Elegant aromas of toasted oak and deep dark berries with hints of coffee and earth. Stunning weight and complex mouthfeel tell you right away that this wine is a classic. Deep dark cherry and blackberry flavors are backed by assertive tannin and mouth watering acidity. This wine screams for food, steak in particular. Amazing structure will let this wine age beautifully for 10 or more years.

SRP:  $120

Ep. 35 Josh Phelps, Grounded Wine Co.

Over the past few years California wines often go to one of two extremes. They tend to either be sweet, high alcohol jam bombs that meet the likes of a few well regarded and powerful wine critics, or they tend toward the reactionary “new” school style of being intentionally low in alcohol, lean and under-ripe. Josh Phelps, a native of Napa Valley and son of a well regarded winemaker, is a millennial winemaker with a new brand called Grounded Wine Co. who is marching to his own beat. The initial release from Grounded Wine Co., a Bordeaux blend called Steady State is a truly balanced beauty. Phelps plans other new releases from growing regions in Washington State as well as Paso Robles which will be priced to be accessible to younger wine drinkers. But don’t let a low priced wine from a young winemaker fool you. If  the wines to come from Grounded Wine Co . are as good as Phelps’ inaugural  release, this is a guy you’ll want to follow.

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Josh Phelps, Grounded Wine Co.

gwc-trade-steady-state-436x12802015 Grounded Wine Co., Steady State, Bordeaux Blend

This deep ruby wine is a blend of 73% cabernet sauvignon, 8% malbec, 7% cabernet franc, 6% merlot, 6% petit verdot grown in some of Napa Valley’s most priced appellations. Great Napa fruitiness with a nod to the earthiness of Bordeaux. Flavors of black and red fruit are kept in check by earthy notes and highlights of cocoa, espresso, and pleasant minerality. Youthful grippy tannins and mouthwatering acidity will help this beautifully balanced wine age gracefully for the next 5 to 10 years.

SRP: $65

 

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