Wineries of the Month
The Pecchenino family has worked in viticulture for over four generations and made the leap from small wine production to a winery of international recognition under the brothers Orlando and Attilio Pecchenino. Today, Pecchenino consists of 54 acres in Dogliani and an additional seven acres in Monforte. Focused on the production of high-quality Dolcetto and Nebbiolo, Pecchenino’s vines are painstakingly cared for by hand and farmed without chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. According to Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso, “The vineyards employ rigorously environmentally friendly methods, but the brothers prefer to think of this as common sense.” Pecchenino has won multiple Tre Bicchieri awards from Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso, especially for the Dogliani Siri d’Jermu, Dogliani Bricco Botti and the Barolo le Coste. But the entire line-up of Pecchenino wines is consistently delicious.
The Araldica cooperative of growers, whose winery is located in Castelvero, was originally formed in the 1940s and today has 300 members, who are small vineyard owners, producing the native grapes of the region, such as Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Cortese, Arneis, and Moscato as well as the less common Brachetto and Freisa along with international Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. The vineyards are located in the major Piemontese growing areas of the Langhe, Monferrato, Roero, and in Gavi appellations. Claudio Manera serves as Managing Director and enologist. The cooperative’s major labels are Araldica, Alasia, Castelvero, Poderi Alasia, La Battistina and Il Cascinone.
Winery of the Month
Bodegas Paso Robles
Located in Paso Robles, Bodegas Paso Robles is part of a growing fraternity of grape growers and winemakers, who are embracing the wines of the Iberian Peninsula, Bokisch Vineyards, Fenestra Winery, Quinta Cruz, St. Amant among others. Owner Dorothy Schuler says, “I’m on the board of the Tempranillo Society and three years ago was the president. So I’m very involved with all that. But you know how long it takes to educate people? It’s tough, but it’s actually paying off now.”
In the mid 1980s, Dorothy was working as a cycling journalist in Europe, covering bike races. “The American dollar was stronger than it had ever been since the end of World War II. We were drinking the very best wine available and eating the very best food. That’s where I learned about Spanish wines. I was drinking high-end French wines too.” As a result of this early experience, Dorothy tends toward leaner European-style wines rather than the riper versions that visitors will find in Paso Robles, a warm region where grapes can get very ripe. Dorothy picks her fruit earlier than most before subtle flavors are baked out of the fruit and sugars reach high levels. Reds don’t go over 14.5% alcohol, and most are around 14%. Whites are typically around 13% alcohol.
In Paso Robles alone, 18 wineries are producing Albarino. When Dorothy opened the tasting room at the winery in 2008, visitors could not pronounce Tempranillo (Tem-pra-nee-o), the name of the noble red wine of Spain. Now they can. Current interest in Spanish wines that have lately been exported to the U.S. are reinforcing what Dorothy and other winemakers and growers are doing domestically. Tempranillo, Garnacha, Touriga, and Albarino are some of the mellifluous names of wines that she makes and bottles. When visitors on the wine trail in Paso Robles ask where they can find something different, the answer is always the same, Bodegas Paso Robles.
ITALIAN Wines of the Month
Araldica 2013 Gavi La Luciana
One of the most important white wines of Piedmont, Gavi is made from Cortese grapes, which for this wine were harvested from the La Luciana vineyard in the Upper Monferrato. At just 11.5% alcohol, the wine is subtle, fresh, and fruity with citrus and green apple aromas and flavors. Serve chilled with appetizers, first courses, and braised white fish.
Pecchenino 2014 San Luigi Dogliani
I used to think that Dolcetto was an acquired taste, but no longer. The San Luigi Dogliani is as elegant, aromatic, and delicious as you would want any wine. It is aged only in stainless steel tanks, so what you taste is entirely the grape without any oak intrusion, a great way to perceive the essence of Dolcetto (13% alcohol). Writing for Vinous Media, Antonio Galloni gave the wine 91 points.
Il Cascinone Rive Barbera d’Asti
Barbera is known for its intense berry aromas and flavors, but the Rive Barbera d’Asti pushes the model into a richly nuanced and layered taste experience that ends with deliciously spicy notes. Tannins were a bit forceful when I first opened the bottle but soon mellowed. I recommend that you decant the wine for an immediately smoother texture (14.5% alcohol).
Pecchenino 2013 Siri d’Jermu Dogliani
This beautifully balanced and aromatic wine is 100% Dolcetto. The grapes were harvested from a single 12-acre vineyard at the northern edge of Dogliani, carefully hand selected, and then fermented with natural yeasts, which enhance the authentic personality of the final wine. The Siri d’Jermu was aged in untoasted oak casks to minimize the intrusion of oak flavor (14% alcohol). Decant the wine before serving to maximize smoothness and release aromas.
Pecchenino 2014 Maestro Bianco
A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Sauvignon, this delicious white combines the fresh flowery aromatics of Sauvignon and the rich flavor of Chardonnay. Aged on its lees in French oak barrels for nine months, the wine is medium bodied with intense flavor (13%). Serve chilled.
Pecchenino 2012 Pinot Nero
This Pecchenino Pinot Nero was harvested from a vineyard in one of the coolest climates around Dogliani, in the South Western part of Langhe, an environment where Pinot Nero can thrive just as it does in its native Burgundy. Aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, the wine’s translucent color is typical of Pinot Noir, exuding delicious berry and spice aromas and flavors. This Pecchenino 2012 Pinot Nero attracts plenty of attention but at the same time supports a wide variety of dishes from roasted poultry to pasta with wild mushrooms (13.5% alcohol).
Pecchenino 2011 Barolo San Giuseppe
When the wine was released, critics were talking about “brisk” tannins, which have since faded into a delicious harmonious whole, supporting pronounced fruit aromas and flavors. “Scents of sweet tobacco, leather, mint, spice, cedar and a host of savory notes add lovely shades of dimension,” writes Antonio Galloni in Vinous Media. The grapes were harvested from two small vineyards, totaling just over three acres in the San Giuseppe area of Monforte d’Alba. The wine was aged for two years in oak casks and one year in cement vats, an older practice that is in use again to minimize the intrusion of oak flavors.
ITALIAN Region of the Month
Half of Piemonte, which means “foot of the mountain,” lies in the great arc of the Alps and the Apennines, from which the Po River flows east through its broad valley to the Adriatic. Bordering Switzerland and France, Piemonte was part of the Frenchspeaking principality of Savoy between the 11th and 18th Centuries. The ancient Liguri tribes first cultivated the wild vines of the Apennines and later learned wine making from the Greeks about 600 BC. In the 19th Century, the wines of Piemonte gained distinction when the Savoy and others began to use French methods. Piemonte has 58 DOC and DOCG zones, more than any other region. In the Langhe hills above the town of Alba are the vineyards of Barolo, one of Italy’s most prestigious wines, “the king of wines and the wine of kings,” although Barbaresco may be its equal, both wines made from the noble Nebbiolo vine. Barbera and Dolcetto are popular reds. Whites are equally prominent. Asti Spumante from Moscato d’Asti is the nation’s second DOCG in volume after Chianti. Among still whites, Gavi from the Cortese grape is highly regarded along with Arneis.
CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month
Bodegas Paso Robles 2012 !Viva Yo!
Think delicious! The Bodegas Paso Robles wines are terrific, every single one in the line up. Ninety percent of !Viva Yo! is Tempranillo, the noble grape of Spain, and the other 10% is Cabernet Sauvignon, a great combination, fruity, aromatic, textured, and balanced (14.5% alcohol). The wine was aged for 22 months in French oak barrels. Serve at cool room temperature.
Bodegas Paso Robles 2014 Galicia
This wine is 100% Albarino. Whether from Spain or California, Albarino is finding its way onto many restaurant wine menus. Dorothy Schuler made 195 cases of this wine. You’ll love its crisp character, aromatic nose, and full flavor on the palate (13.2% alcohol). Serve chilled.
Bodegas Paso Robles 2009 Solea
Notice the nose. It’s beautiful. The Solea is 86% Tempranillo and 14% Graciano, grape varietals that are bound to increase in California because the state reminds them of their native habitat in Spain. Winemaker Dorothy Schuler made 243 cases of this wine, which is intriguingly different. Eight years after bottling, the Solea is smoothly textured, balanced, and fruity (13.9%). Serve at cool room temperature.
Bodegas Paso Robles 2010 Pimenteiro
The Pimenteiro is a blend of 67% Trousseau and 33% Tempranillo. You’ve never heard of these grapes? All the better. You can taste without expectations and enjoy the delicious surprise. Winemaker Dorothy Schuler made just 117 cases of this wine, which I first tasted with a savory chickpea flour crepe. You can pair it with almost any dish, from roasted meats to creative pastas (14.2% alcohol). Enjoy!
Bodegas Paso Robles
2014 Dona Blanca
A blend of 50% Garnacha Blanca and 50% Malvasia Bianca, the wine has ripe round flavors but at the same time shows crisp minerality. In a word, it’s a beauty. Dorothy Schuler made just 197 cases of the wine (14.2% alcohol). We’re proud to introduce it to you! Serve chilled.
CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month
San Luis Obispo
Located along the Central Coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo County, is one of the original counties of California, named after Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1772. The small size of the county’s communities, scattered along the beaches, coastal hills, and mountains of the Santa Lucia range, provides a wide variety of coastal and inland hill ecologies to support many kinds of fishing, agriculture, and tourist activities. The County is the third largest producer of wine after Napa and Sonoma and includes nearly 300 wineries and four distinct viticultural areas. Edna Valley is California’s coolest wine region just five miles from the Pacific Ocean, known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The coastal valley Arroyo Grande has a more temperate climate, and Paso Robles is the largest and warmest of the areas, known for its Rhone varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and more recently Spanish grape varieties.
MENU OF THE MONTH
Chick-pea flat bread, served with olives, artichoke hearts,
and mixed cheeses
Roasted boneless leg of lamb stuffed with garlic and fresh rosemary,
served with warm lentil salad with herbs, and steamed asparagus,
drizzled with olive oil & vinegar
Mixed garden lettuces with lemon-olive oil dressing
Honey Ricotta Tart with fresh berries
Chick-Pea Flat Bread, An Italian Favorite
Chick-pea flat bread adds interest and novelty to a menu. And it is certainly more healthful than the refined-flour bread that we usually serve. Adapted from Lorenza de’Medici’s Tuscany, the Beautiful Cookbook, this classic chickpea flat bread recipe can be paired with savory appetizers and then brought to the table for the main course, which this month celebrates the traditional dishes of spring.
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2.5 cups chick-pea (garbanzo) flour
3.5 cups water
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch cake pan with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Pour the flour into a large bowl. Gradually add the water to the flour, whisking constantly to keep lumps from forming. Add the salt, rosemary, and the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Whisk until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden, about 40 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before cutting into slices. Serves 6.