Wineries of the Month
A “maso” is a typical rural farm, with a farmhouse made of stone and with its adjointing lands. Everything is in symbiosis: Nature, farming, grapegrowing, work, family. Maso, owned by the Togn family, embodies all of this: here we have an old 18th century “maso” that has been recently renovated in full respect of local landscape but with a new architectural interpretation of its structure. The “maso” is surrounded by fifteen hectares of land, ten of which are planted with vineyards, ideally positioned for altitude, soils, exposure to the sun and protection against cold winds. The Togn family began renewing the vineyards in the nineteen seventies, leveling and draining soils, and creating new rows of vines. This extraordinary site is perfectly expressed in the bouquet and flavors of these wines. The Lechthaler label is owned and produced by Maso Poli.
Marquis Carlo Guerrieri Gonzaga stems from one of Italy’s most illustrious noble families. The 741-acre property (tenuta) of San Leonardo, once a monastery huddled around the church of San Leonardo, came to the Guerrieri Gonzagas in 1770. The ancient church still stands. The vineyards of San Leonardo themselves are very different from what they used to be before Carlo GG’s time, for the present Marchese (who adds a university degree in Enology to his titles of nobility) is a great believer in Bordeaux varieties and their potential on San Leonardo soil. When he took over from his father, Carlo GG spent some time in Bolgheri, with the creators of Sassicaia, Mario Incisa della Rocchetta and Giacomo Tachis. The Marchese returned to San Leonardo and replanted the estate to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot (in lieu of Lambrusco, Marzemino and Teroldego), to which he later added a small portion of Carmenère vines.
Our modern winery produces 30 percent red and 70 percent white wines, all of them of DOC quality (Controlled Designation of Origin). Following the last upgrade and refurbishment in 2009, our cellars now include a total of 18,000 cubic meters of storage space, which ensures that the wines can develop undisturbed. On the outside, the new tract has a natural facing of red porphyry, the stone that gives the wines in the area their typical character. The roof is planted with vines so that it blends in completely with the surrounding countryside. Our wines are marketed in three distinct quality lines: Selections, Vineyards and Classics..
Winery of the Month
Merlo Family Vineyards
Ray started his career as a medical doctor and Robin as a physician assistant. They started a family practice in Redding, CA. Ray and Robin traveled to see family in Italy in the 1980’s. It was a revealing trip for them. All of his relatives had small plots of land where they grew grapes for their own use. They visited the old family vineyard, which was planted by his great-grandfather and is still maintained by his cousin. It was during this trip that Ray thought he might like to continue this family tradition back home. After returning to California, the Merlo’s recounted their experience with an old school friend, Randall Meredith, who had made a similar trip and had similar interests and aspiration in wine. He planted the first vineyard in Hyampom in the mid ‘80’s. The Merlo’s were not directly involved in the ownership at that time. They traveled to Hyampom on weekends helping with planting and harvest. It wasn’t until the late ‘90’s that the Merlo’s entered into a formal partnership with Meredith Vineyards, an established, bonded winery. Robin conveys that they fell in love with the valley over time, but it wasn’t until later that they realized the real potential this land had for growing grapes. Fruit coming from Randall’s vineyard was incredible she explained. That is when they purchased Hyampom Valley Ranch and set in motion a plan to develop a second vineyard. The ranch was prepped in 1999 and planted in 2000. The first bottling was in 2001 under the Meredith/Merlo label. The Merlo’s vineyard came into production in 2002. They constructed a larger facility in 2002 and the first winery was built. In 2004, a second winery was built. The first bottling under the Merlo label was 2004 using the family name – Merlo – Italian for Blackbird.
ITALIAN Wines of the Month
Lechthaler Pinot Grigio 2015 DO
This wine is straw yellow in color with a bouquet of elegant and typical varietal scents of Williams pear. It is dry and harmonious with good balance and citrus notes. It pairs well with typical Mediterranean dishes and grilled fish such as trout. It is hand picked and aged in stainless steel for 4 months. Alcohol 13%
Lechthaler Teroldego Rotaliano 2013 DO
With an intense ruby red color, this wine has a bright nose of ripe raspberry, blackberry, pomegranate, earth, and tobacco. The palate is characterized by a smooth texture of black cherries, black raspberry, earth, and a touch of spice. It has ample acidity and medium tannins. It pairs with vegetarian dishes, fish, poultry, pork, and beef. It is 100% Teroldego aged 90% in stainless and 10% in barriques for eight months. Alcohol 13%.
Terlano Chardonnay 2015 DOC
Straw yellow in color, it has a fruity and intense bouquet with nuances of ripe bananas and tropical fruits. It is dry, medium bodied, harmonious and very persistent, with elegant minerality and the ability to pair with many foods. It is aged in stainless steel on the lees for six months. Alcohol 13.5%.
Gonzaga Terre di San Leonardo Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2013 IGT
This wine is brilliant ruby red with attractive depth. The nose finds aromas of ripe plum fruit layered over a faintly grassy background. It is dry, soft and well-balanced on the palate revealing a pleasing bitterish twist on the finish. It pairs well with rice and pasta in tomato or meat sauces, filled pasta, as well as grilled meats, poultry, white meats, and soft cheeses. It is 50% cabernet sauvignon and 50% merlot aged in 80% Slovenian oak and 20% French oak. Alcohol 13.5%.
Maso Poli Pinot Noir Superiore 2013 DOC
This wine is light ruby red with amber highlights. Intense and fine bouquet on the nose with notes of flowers, cherries, dried raspberries, and black currants. It is rich, dry, and smooth on the palate with notes of cherries, berries, and a persistant fruity and peppery finish. It pairs with meats with delicate flavors such as filets, chops and grilled meats. 833 cases produced. Alcohol 14%.
Terlano Montigl Pinot Noir Riserva 2013 DOC
This is a dark ruby red wine with an intense bouquet of wild berries and light toasty notes. This Pinot is elegant and medium-bodied with velvety dark fruits and a memorable finish. Pairs perfectly with barbecue, grilled shrimp, salmon, swordfish, and tuna. It is aged in 50% large and 50% small barriques and casks for 12 months. Alcohol 13.5%.
Gonzaga San Leonardo Vigneti delle Dolomiti 2010 IGT
This wine is ruby red with garnet hints. It has remarkable intensity on the nose with layers of bell peppers, wild berries, and a bit of vanilla. The palate is full, warm, and rounded with intense aromatics that linger on the palate. It is ideally paired with poultry, red meats, roasts, braises, game, and aged cheeses. It is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Carmenere, and 10% Merlot and aged in new and used French oak for 24 months. Alcohol 13%.
ITALIAN Region of the Month
Trentino Alto-Adige, Italy’s northern most region, borders Austria and Switzerland. Dominated by the Rhaetian Alps and the Dolomite Mountains, only about 15 percent of the region is suitable for cultivation. In the south, vineyards climb the sides of sweeping river valleys up to the foothills of high mountains. The Etruscans were probably the first people to practice viticulture in the area and may have been responsible for training vines on wooden frames. At the time, farmers in other parts of Italy more commonly trained their vines on trees. Today, Alto Adige’s native Lagrein and Trentino’s Teroldego are among Italy’s most distinguished red wines, and Cabernet and Merlot, which have grown in the region for 150 years, have reached impressive heights. The region also produces some of Italy’s finest Rosé. Among the white wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Sauvignon, and Riesling Renano can also stand with Italy’s finest. Trentino, which has Italy’s largest production of Chardonnay is a leader with sparkling wines. The region also produces the aromatic Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, and Muller Thurga.
CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month
Merlo Family Estate Syrah Rosé 2016
This is a beautiful dry rosé for the warming weather. It is light, crisp, and medium pink in color. The nose has a very pleasant scent of berries. The palate will find flavors of strawberry, raspberry and watermelon. This will be a big hit sipping on the patio on a warm afternoon all by itself or with mild cheeses. Cases produced. Alcohol %
Merlo Family Estate Blackbird 2014
This is a Mediterranean style red wine blend, with 50% Syrah and 50% Zinfandel. From the estate vineyard in Hyampom Valley on the riverbanks of the wild and scenic South Fork of the Trinity River surrounded by 8,000 ft mountains on all sides. It is a rich full-bodied wine with notes of cedar and spice and a very complex finish. It compliments richly flavored foods like stews and cassoulet, or with BBQ ribs, pizza, and burgers on the grill. 1500 cases produced. Alcohol 13.9%.
Merlo Family Estate Chardonnay 2013
Brilliant clarity and a deep golden straw color describe this Chardonnay. It is 100% Chardonnay with aromatics of pear and apple mingling with a hint of baking spices while retaining a sense of freshness. The palate is full, but not overly buttery or fat. You find find a hint of vanilla, as it is discreet and well integrated. Pairs well with most cheeses, seafood and pasta Alfredo style. 350 cases produced. Alcohol 13.9%.
Merlo Family Estate Zinfandel 2012
Boasting 100% zinfandel, it shows a very floral nose of red fruits and spice that lead to a soft and gentle mouth feel with fresh acidity and a long finish. It supports the tradition Zinfandel pairing with BBQ and burgers as well as more sophisticated creations such as mushroom risotto or chipotle- lime rubbed pork loins or even cedar planked salmon. 750 cases produced. Alcohol 14.2%.
Merlo Family Estate Pinot Noir 2013
This Pinot is a little shy the first few minutes in the glass, but then a deep and savory black cherry note evolves. The palate shows rich and velvety tannins with deep fruit flavors and a pleasant mix of forest floor and mineral notes. It is aged in French oak for 12 months. The fruit represents two terroirs singing in harmony. It pairs with herb crusted pork chops and salt and pepper grilled chicken. 750 cases produced. Alcohol 14.2%.
Raymond Merlo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
The fruit is from the Oak Knoll District famed for great Cabernet featuring dark fruit flavors and silky complex tannins. The vineyard is nestled at the base of the Mount Veeder foothills thus sustaining ample black cherry fruit and vanilla oak characteristics. Pairs well with rotisserie Cornish game hen accompanied by tomato basil risotto with roasted bell peppers and Tiramisu to finish. 600 cases produced. Alcohol 14.1%.
Raymond Merlo Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
The fruit for the 2006 is also from the Oak Knoll District. It is complex, masculine, and graceful. The nose whiffs boysenberries, vanilla, and cedar oak. On the palate, deep dark cherries, boysenberries, and tobacco show good balance and structure. Pairs with grilled peppercorn tri-tip, Caesar salad, and baked potato with sour cream and chives. 250 cases produced. Alcohol 14.0%.
CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month
Trinity County is one of California’s most northerly AVAs, just 65 miles (105km) south of the border with Oregon. The county is almost completely covered with forests and mountains. It lies directly north of Mendocino County, and Humboldt County separates it from the Pacific Ocean in the west. The difficult terrain and the remoteness of Trinity County mean that few vignerons have explored its potential. The wineries that do exist here can be found around the Hyampom Valley in the west of the county and also around the Trinity Lakes in the northeast, an area distinctive enough to warrant its own Trinity Lakes AVA title. Trinity County’s location among the Klamath Mountains means that most vineyards are planted at altitudes higher than 1200ft (365m) above sea level, sometimes reaching up to 2500ft (760m). This altitude contributes to the area’s significant diurnal temperature variation. Warm days are tempered by cold air from the surrounding mountains that permeates the vineyards throughout the evenings, extending the growing season and giving grapes time to gently develop varietal character without sacrificing acidity. Vineyards have been planted in Trinity County since the 1980s, and Trinity Lakes was made the region’s first sub-AVA in 2005.
DINNER WITH DEBRA
By Tere Williams
Cilantro – Lime Shrimp Salad
Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta
Key Lime Poke Cake
Recipe – Salsa Verde Chicken Pasta
1 lb. penne
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Freshly ground black pepper
1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. salsa verde
1/3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp. freshly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack, divided
3/4 c. shredded yellow cheddar
Preheat oven to 400º. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook penne. Drain and return to pot.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil. Add chicken and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook until golden and no longer pink, 8 minutes per side. Set aside to let rest, 5 minutes, then dice.
To skillet add onion and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more, then add salsa verde, chicken broth, and cilantro and simmer 3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup Monterey Jack and cheddar and let melt, 1 minute, then add cooked chicken and penne and stir until totally combined. Top with remaining Monterey Jack and bake until melty, 10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and serve. (Recipe from Delish)