As we wind(wine) down 2013, we spend some time reflecting and planning for the future. Many of you have responded favorably to the direction of the wine club and there seems to be an appreciation for taking you to places you wouldn’t necessary go. We are careful to bring you the best examples and the best value. We select these wines each month with you in mind. Every wine rejected has been an answer to a very specific question: “Will our members appreciate it and will our new members understand it.”
In 2014, we are going to move around. We are going to cautiously get up from our comfortable chair and create steps that create movement. We are going to expand our minds and horizons with wine that are available to us. As always, it will be about great flavor verses a good story. We prefer to put the label and the pedigree aside, it’s about what’s under the cork.
Our first selection is something you will love, and love to show off. Kuleto Estate “Native Son” is a Rutherford, Napa Valley style blended red. Cabernet sauvignon, sangiovese and zinfandel blend this Bill Foley wine into a jam-toast finish. The winery, a place to visit, was built and designed by Pat Kuleto, of restaurateur fame. He has designed over 100 restaurants including Boulevard, Faraloon, Epic Roasthouse, Jardineire and Waterbar in San Francisco.
Kuleto selected his spotty hilltop vineyard well, it took Bill Foley’s purchase in 2009 to take it to a new level. Foley’s influence flows deep in the wine world with Sabastiani and Chaulk Hill Estates in Sonoma, Firestone Vineyard in Santa Barbara, and other vineyards in Napa and New Zealand.
In our second selection, we bring you to Mendoza Argentina. Encompassing Mendoza is a 45 X 15 mile stretch of Uco Valley that is slowly becoming the Napa Valley of South America. If you have visited Napa, you most likely flew into San Francisco and traveled the hour or so to Napa, where you where met by a lush green landscape surrounded by, well, let’s call them mountains for argument sake.
Unlike Napa, the land in Uco Valley (Mendoza) is mostly arid, stoney and irrigated. You may fly in Santiago, Chile, very Atlanta-like with its sprawl and population, very unlike Atlanta with its architecture dating back to the late 1500′s. Due to the Andes Mountains we would be taking a 5 hour drive to cover the 110 miles, but the drive is amazing! Instead of vines thriving at elevations of 300 ft above sea level, they thrive at 4,000 ft above the sea. And of course, make sure you bring along your translator app.
Traveling north on the Ruta del Vino (road of wine), on hwy 86 nestled in the north part of Uco Valley, is the tallest peak in Argentina, Mt. Tupungato (21K ft). This is where we find the Tupungato Vistaflores region of Mendoza, where the Bodega Atamisque and the Catalpa Cabernet were selected. A velvet wine with deep character created in a land sheltered by its surroundings.
Note the similarity of having a tree on both labels this month. The bean-like seed- producing Catalpa tree and the red colored old vine zinfandel among the trees in the native son, we truly start to paint the picture of cultures and environments all producing the same thing, very differently