A Trio of Wines from Scaia Line Up Perfectly

I was sent three sample bottles from Italian winery Scaia. The first thing I want to say about them, to put on my old retailer hat, is how much I appreciate they are “line-priced.” As in the bottles all cost the same, each with a $13 suggested retail price. That’s good, because these are the kind of wines you want to stack up next to each other. Or just put on your bedroom floor in front of your bike and admire them.

I also really like the closure Scaia uses. It’s not a cork nor screw cap. It’s a glass closure. Here’s what it looks like. (Note: greens/herbs sold separately. Though a dish with those things featured would be nice with the white or rosé.)

Do you drink wine while preparing fresh #spring soup?

A post shared by Vinolok Crystal Top (@vinolok_crystal_top) on

Anyway, let’s get to the wines.

Scaia Garganega/Chardonnay Trevenezie IGT 2017

Garga…what? Garganega is the main feature of Soave (one of my favorite Italian white wines) from the Veneto in northern Italy. Chardonnay, well you know what that is. It’s 45% of this blend. This unoaked wine would be a good bet for the Chard-phobic and the Garganega makes it interesting for those who think most unoaked Chardonnay is shrill and boring. (That would be me, BTW.) What can I say, I love my oak barrels. But this is a perfect summer white wine. Speaking of perfect summer wines….

Scaia Rosato Veneto IGT 2017

I’m a sucker for weird grapes. I mean, unusual ones. Bring on the esoteric and unfamiliar. The Scaia rosato is made from Rondinella. Putting on my Troy McClure voice, you may know Rondinella from such red wines as Valpolicella and Amarone.

Of course, someone put together all of these moments in chronological order. God bless the internet.

This is a pale rosé with some intrigue. You can quaff it and think about it at the same time, which you can’t say for most rosés out there that slake thirst yet provoke no invigorating brain waves.  On the winery website, one of the suggested parings is toasted polenta with herrings. Nice to see someone giving some love to fish like herring. Did you know they are related to sardines? I did not know that. I also learned Neolithic-era Scandinavian burial grounds contain herring bones. So if a rosé can take you there, it’s definitely got something going on.

Scaia Corvina Veneto IGT 2016

Speaking of grapes that make up Valpolicella and Amarone, how about Corvina? It’s a bigger player in those two reds than Rondinella. Despite seeing no oak, its got some guts. I’d call it medium-bodied. Reading the tech sheet for the wine even made me look up “organoleptic” because Scaia explains each wine organoleptically. The word is defined as “being, affecting, or relating to qualities (such as taste, color, odor, and feel) of a substance that stimulate the sense organs.” Once again, Scaia is stimulating.

So you’ve got three wines, all under $15 bucks, with cool glass closures and made with interesting grapes. What’s not to love?

The post A Trio of Wines from Scaia Line Up Perfectly appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Tasting Barolo with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti

“Born in 1934, Renato Ratti was a larger-than-life figure in Barolo who did much to shape the modern framework of the appellation. He started his career working for Cinzano in Brazil and moved back to Italy in 1965. He immediately founded a winery in the Abbazia di San Martino di Marcenasco. He produced his first vintage of Barolo that same year. Renato Ratti was one of the first to map the vineyards of Barolo and he penned the region’s most elaborate vintage chart. Mostly importantly, he created the Albeisa growers’ association with its distinctly branded bottle in 1973. Renato Ratti died in 1988 and the estate is run by his similarly active and engaged son Pietro. Pietro Ratti completed construction on the new winery in 2005.” Monica Larner, Wine Advocate 

Tasting Barolo with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti

“Quality, research, passion, respect for our history and our land with a window ever open on the future, are the underlying principles of our philosophy and the expression of our wines.” Pietro Ratti, 2003

Our wine Buyer Jeff recently had the opportunity to have lunch with Pietro Ratti, son of Renato Ratti.

I recently attended a lunch with Renato Ratti an old and brilliant winery in Piedmont established in 1965 by my Fathers host Pietro Ratti at Carmines IL Terrazzo in pioneer square. Renato Rati is hailed as the bench mark of the classic La Morra Barolo Let’s jump in and see what I found, shall we.

Tasting Barolo with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti#1 we started with the 2015 Barbera d’Asti DOCG. WOW! I really like this wine with its black cherry spice and bight acidity. There is a great energy to this wine with layers and perfect balance not to mention lots of fruit.

#2 2015 Langhe Nebbiolo ‘Ochetti’ DOC. If you can’t afford Barolo then don’t miss this wine. Grown above the Tanaro River @ 800 feet with a southwester exposure ideal for Nebbiolo.  The wine has delicate lasting red fruit aromas and is filled with classic strawberry and raspberry followed by pleasant savory and earthly notes.

#3 2013 Marcenasco, Barolo, DOCG. Marcenasco is the site were Renato created La Morra’s first single vineyard in 1965 and historical documents show that the cultivation of Nebbiolo dates back to the 12th century. Today, the Marcenasco a blend of vineyards in the Annunziata subzone. A combination that yields a Barolo of structure and elegance, with those classic markers of dark red fruits rich and full- bodied. 93 WA

#4 2014 Rocche dell’ Annunizata, Barolo DOCG. The Rocche dell ’Annunizata vineyard on a steep hillside is considered one of the most important in all of Barolo. Pietro considers the site a “grand cru” of La Morra for its supreme elegance and aromatics imparted by the rare soil of blue marl with steaks of white sand. This is a slow ripening site which makes for a very complex wine of red fruits darker in color and denser in body. 95 WA

# 5 Conca, Barolo, DOCG 2014. The small Conca vineyard is in one of the oldest sub-zones in Barolo. It is less than two acres and is in the hollow of the Abbey of Annunizata where Benedictine Monks made wine as far back as the 12th century. The name Conca in Italian means basin or dell and the vineyard is a shell-shaped basin sitting with a southwest exposure. The wine is more elegant and dialed back. 94 WA 

“The pedigree of origin of a determined sub-zone and the delimitation of its area, the classification of the characteristics pertaining to the various vintages and the process of bottle refinement to both propitiate and maintain distinction, smoothness, elegance and longevity, are three crucial moments to be lived in the first person, concepts that I consider both as matters of substance and style.” – Renato Ratti, 1971

This is something that isn’t seen every year here in Seattle the distributor gets very little so if you would like some contact me Jeff@esquin.Com or call (206) 682-7374 ask for Jeff. There are no guarantees on this particular wines availability.

Thanks for reading.

Jeff Fournier, Esquin Buyer

Tasting Barolo with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti

The post Tasting Barolo with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red

It’s not often you pour a wine and the first sip brings forth an involuntary “Wow!” Especially on an inexpensive wine. But this was the case with an red Italian gem I purchased at Grapepoint Wines, the Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2016).

Three things off the bat I liked about this wine, just looking at it:

  • Sealed with a screwcap
  • Cool label
  • Good importer (Skurnik Wines)

Let’s go to the tale of the tape and open it up:

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red

Abruzzo

From Skurnik’s website, “After harvest, this wine is aged in stainless steel until bottling, preserving the freshness and fruit we love about Montepulciano.” Yup, sounds good to me. I noted that the 2017 is already listed and that this wine also comes in big 1.5L bottles. I could hardly think of a better wine for a party than a magnum of this red.

It’s got super-juicy black cherry flavors, a little bit of sappiness (not sappy like The Notebook* but like the stuff from trees) giving the wine body, and a nice bright minty snap on the finish. Wouldn’t hurt to throw it in the fridge for 30 minutes and server cool. Very food-friendly and also a pleasure to drink on its own. 12.5% alcohol.

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red

Hi! I like this wine. And my curtain.

I paid ten bucks for it. It’s definitely a great house wine candidate; take advantage of any offered case discount. You could probably get the same deal on six 1.5Ls, I’d see about having those ordered for you from your trusty wine shop. If you know the importer (Skurnik) it makes it a lot easier to track down.

Also a little Italian wine label knowledge. A lot of wines are “[Grape] of [Place].” Here the grape is Montepulciano and the region is Abruzzo. (Vigneti del Sole is the producer.) Same goes for Brunello di Montalcino, Barbera d’Asti, etc.

*Full disclosure: I watched The Notebook on a long international flight. I never sleep on airplanes so it’s a very contained, dark, surreal atmosphere to watch films. Literally everyone else on the flight is asleep except me. The combination of all these things makes movie-watching very…emotional. I (silently) wept so hard during the end of Silver Linings Playbook and during an animated movie, Rio. So if you’re on an international flight and sitting next to me, I suggest you go to sleep ASAP or bring some Kleenex for my tears. And don’t worry, I always get an aisle seat so I won’t be waking you up to go to the bathroom.

Map by By Gigillo83 via Wikimedia Commons

The post Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red

It’s not often you pour a wine and the first sip brings forth an involuntary “Wow!” Especially on an inexpensive wine. But this was the case with an red Italian gem I purchased at Grapepoint Wines, the Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2016).

Three things off the bat I liked about this wine, just looking at it:

  • Sealed with a screwcap
  • Cool label
  • Good importer (Skurnik Wines)

Let’s go to the tale of the tape and open it up:

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red

Abruzzo

From Skurnik’s website, “After harvest, this wine is aged in stainless steel until bottling, preserving the freshness and fruit we love about Montepulciano.” Yup, sounds good to me. I noted that the 2017 is already listed and that this wine also comes in big 1.5L bottles. I could hardly think of a better wine for a party than a magnum of this red.

It’s got super-juicy black cherry flavors, a little bit of sappiness (not sappy like The Notebook* but like the stuff from trees) giving the wine body, and a nice bright minty snap on the finish. Wouldn’t hurt to throw it in the fridge for 30 minutes and server cool. Very food-friendly and also a pleasure to drink on its own. 12.5% alcohol.

Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red

Hi! I like this wine. And my curtain.

I paid ten bucks for it. It’s definitely a great house wine candidate; take advantage of any offered case discount. You could probably get the same deal on six 1.5Ls, I’d see about having those ordered for you from your trusty wine shop. If you know the importer (Skurnik) it makes it a lot easier to track down.

Also a little Italian wine label knowledge. A lot of wines are “[Grape] of [Place].” Here the grape is Montepulciano and the region is Abruzzo. (Vigneti del Sole is the producer.) Same goes for Brunello di Montalcino, Barbera d’Asti, etc.

*Full disclosure: I watched The Notebook on a long international flight. I never sleep on airplanes so it’s a very contained, dark, surreal atmosphere to watch films. Literally everyone else on the flight is asleep except me. The combination of all these things makes movie-watching very…emotional. I (silently) wept so hard during the end of Silver Linings Playbook and during an animated movie, Rio. So if you’re on an international flight and sitting next to me, I suggest you go to sleep ASAP or bring some Kleenex for my tears. And don’t worry, I always get an aisle seat so I won’t be waking you up to go to the bathroom.

Map by By Gigillo83 via Wikimedia Commons

The post Vigneti del Sole Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: Hall of Fame $10 Red appeared first on Jameson Fink.

Truffle Mushroom Risotto and Sangiovese

I love this time of year. Although the changing of the seasons can seem a little schizophrenic. 80 degrees one day; raining and overcast the next. But this is harvest time, the final bounty of summer. True, it can be hard to plan for dinner just because of the bounty. Here is a dish that is ideal for the cooling weather.

Truffle Mushroom Risotto. Made with sautéed mushrooms and spiked with truffle and porcini this is a rich creamy side dish or Primo for an elegant dinner. I always make a little extra so I can have it for lunch the next day.

One of things I really like about this dish is that it pairs well with an array of wines. It plays well with nice Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay when served as a starter but also holds its own alongside fuller bodied reds. The earthiness of the mushrooms and the added umami of the Grana Padano make for a perfect match to a rustic styled Sangiovese.

I am a big fan of Sangiovese and I think that Chianti doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Sangiovese and Chianti in particular, is a food loving wine. Italians drink wine with food and make wine to go with food; every meal; every day. So there is a lot of really great Italian wine that you can afford to drink every day. You can get yourself a great Chianti for not a lot of money. Take for example the Collazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico 2013, a wine that Antonio Galloni called, “… a jewel of a wine from the Frescobaldi family.”  The Frescobaldi are a prominent Florentine noble family that have been involved in the political, sociological, and economic history of Tuscany since the Middle Ages.

Truffle Mushroom Risotto and SangioveseCollazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico 2013 $14.99 

“The 2013 Chianti Classico I Bastioni is terrific. Bright red berry, rose petal, mint and anise are some of the signatures in a refined Chianti Classico that exemplifies the style of wine that is typical of the northern reaches of the appellation. The 2012 also shows the potential at Collazzi, which appears to be considerable. Merlot and Malvasia Nera round out the blend.” 92 points Antonio Galloni, Vinous

If you are planning on serving this dish with something more robust like Brasato or Bistecca Fiorentina you could step up to a “Super Tuscan”. These are wines made with international varietals like Cabernet. These wines make for a great conciliation between old world and new. If you are entertaining people who are familiar with Napa than Siena, this makes for great compromise.

I have favorite go to “Super” – Montepeloso A Quo. This wine is a balance of Cabernet, Montepulciano and Sangiovese with a little Alicante Bouschet from one of Tuscany’s most exciting winemakers.

Truffle Mushroom Risotto and Sangiovese

Quietly over the past decade, Montepeloso’s Fabio Chiarelotto has emerged as one of the towering winemakers of the Tuscan coast. His windy site sits above the famed Tua Rita estate in Suvereto, producing red wines that are among the region’s most refined. When he purchased Montepeloso in 1998, it was already well on its way to international stardom. Chiarelotto could have rested on that reputation, but he felt that as the vines and been planted and trained, the site would never reach its full potential. And so he spent years reshaping the vineyards.

For eight long years, Chiarelotto painstakingly reshaped the estate’s vineyards. With each vintage, he experimented with blends and techniques that would harness the latent power provided by the terroir, but temper it so that the terroir could fully express itself.

Looking back, he made the right decision, as today Montepeloso has few rivals on the Tuscan coast for producing wines of riveting complexity and great elegance. Proprietor Fabio Chiarelotto succeeded in capturing the best elements of these sites while also shaping his wines with a level of finesse that is remarkable.

Montepeloso A Quo Rosso 2013 $16.99 Truffle Mushroom Risotto and Sangiovese

“The 2013 A Quo is a robust red blend based primarily on Montepulciano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. The quality of the primary fruit is succulent, plump and rich. So are the background aromas of cinnamon, vanilla bean and toasted almond. This was a good vintage across Tuscany. The finish is exceedingly rich and supple with firmly yielding tannins.” 92 Pts Wine Advocate

 

So no matter if you how you serve this Truffle Mushroom Risotto there is a wine out there for your mood, company or menu.

 

Truffled Mushroom Risotto
________________________________________
Ingredients:

2 cups Water, or more if needed
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small Onion, Diced
2 cups Arborio Rice
2 cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
1 Dried Whole Bay Leaf
2 cups Chicken Stock
1 sprig Fresh Thyme, finely chopped
Ground White Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 truffle finely grated
4 ounces Crimini mushrooms, or combination of seasonal mushrooms
2 tablespoons Butter
2 ounces Marsala
2 scallions sliced
Grada Padano Cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
1⁄2 cup Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped fine

 

  1. Combine 2 cups water and dried porcini mushroom in a small sauce pan and simmer to reconstitute.
  2. In a large pan sweat onions in olive oil add Arborio stir to coat with olive oil
  3. In small batches add chicken stock adding just enough to cover the rice.
  4. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt and white pepper
  5. Using a microplane finely grate truffle into rice.
  6. Strain porcini and reserve the liquid. Finely dice the porcini and add to risotto.
  7. Slowly cook risotto over medium heat adding stock and reserved porcini water. Cook until rice is al dente, cooked to be firm to the bite. Add more water if necessary.
  8. Add cream and continue to stir remove from heat add about 1 cup of Grana Padano and chopped parsley. Adjust seasoning if needed.
  9. Garniture: sauté fresh mushrooms in butter until brown and soft, deglaze with Marsala and add fresh scallions set aside.
  10. To serve garnish with mushrooms and serve with extra Grana Padano

lenny@esquin.com

@Chef_Lenny

The post Truffle Mushroom Risotto and Sangiovese appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Grilled T- Bone with Lemon and Parsley and Barbera D’asti

During the summer months I cook almost every meal outside. When I have time I Barbecue but many nights it is easy to fire up the grill for dinner. Salmon, Chicken, pork all work well, and there is something spectacular about grilled vegetables. Asparagus is so simple and quick I grill them up almost every chance I get. And then there is steak.

Around the globe, for as long as we have been around we have cooked over an open fire. If there is one thing quintessential dish that seems the grill was invented for is steak. There are many variations of the dish as there are languages on the planet. In Italy it is customary to serve a grilled steak simply with just salt and pepper and maybe a squeeze of lemon, alla Fiorentina. The simplicity of the dish is characteristically Italian so use the best ingredients for the greatest results

Here is my simple version that cooks quickly and makes quite an impression.

Grilled T-Bone with Lemon and Parsley
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 ea 1 lb (1 ½” – 2” thick) T-Bone
¼ Cup Olive Oil, plus more for serving
Sea Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground
Rosemary sprigs

*** For Serving

Lemon wedges
2 Cups Arugula
Roasted Potatoes
2 lb Asparagus

1. In a bowl large enough for steak place rosemary and steak and drizzle with olive oil. Let the steak rest outside the refrigerator for at least an hour before cooking.
2. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling over high heat (450 -500).
3. Using tongs, lay steak over the hottest part of the fire, cook 2 – 5- 7 minutes. Turn the steak and sprinkle with salt. Cook on the second side until browned, 2 – 3 minutes more.
4. Remove the steaks to a carving board and let rest for at least 5 minutes before carving.
5. Cut the steaks away from the bone and carve into 1/2-inch slices. Arrange the meat on warmed plates season with salt and pepper.
6. Garnish with lemon wedges and arugula
7. Have more sea salt and pepper available at the table
8. Serve with Roasted Potatoes and grilled asparagus

Now in Florence they would have drink a nice Chianti or Brunello. But I like go even lighter in the summer, and a perfect summer red is Barbera. Barbera has ancient origins, the first documented mention of the grape is in 1798, in a letter by Count Giuseppe Nuvolone-Pergamo of Scandaluzzo, deputy director of the Società Agraria di Torino (Agrarian Society of Turin). Barbera-based wines were well regarded even then, for their rustic yet generous character.

Grilled T- Bone with Lemon and Parsley and Barbera D’asti

Barbera wines are esteemed for their deep color, low tannins and high levels of acidity. When young they offer fresh flavors of cherries, blueberries and raspberries. Relatively rich, bold and flavorful, the most powerful examples might just be compared to Barolo or Barbaresco. Barbera is a great summertime wine. Serve it slightly chilled and it makes a great afternoon supper wine, especially on a hot day.

One of our favorite producers is Renatto Ratti. Founded in 1965 about Renato himself and now his nephew Massimo runs the operation. The original winery was built in an old abbey located halfway up the hill in the valley of Barolo. Here buttressed by steep slopes lined by orderly vineyards, lies a precious jewel from the 15th century: the Abbey of Annunziata. From the 100 acres of vineyards, the Renato Ratti winery produces Barolo, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba.

Grilled T- Bone with Lemon and Parsley and Barbera D’asti

The post Grilled T- Bone with Lemon and Parsley and Barbera D’asti appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Scarpetta Wine Pig Roast Event, Saturday, June 3rd!

Many of you have been asking about the La Caja China roaster, stacked with an assortment of Friulian delights, on our entry way carpet. We’ve brought in a pig roasting box emblazoned with Scarpetta Wines  and we can’t wait to share the excitement with you!

Scarpetta Wines was started by Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Patterson. Bobby is a Master Sommelier and James Beard Award Winner. Lachlan is an award winning chef. Together, they own Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Co. which was nominated this year for Outstanding Restaurant in America. Accolades aside, these guys know what they are doing and they’re doing it right. They bring the countryside of Friuli to every glass and plate they present.

With an obsession with Friuli, Bobby and Lachlan have been blazing their way through the states. And, we have some of their Scarpetta Wines to our store to celebrate!

Join as we serve Porchetta Panini along with Scarpetta Wines at our Scarpetta Pig Roast event on Saturday, June 3, 2-PM. We hope to see you there!

Grazie!

The post Scarpetta Wine Pig Roast Event, Saturday, June 3rd! appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Spring Classes at Esquin

Italy In-Depth 3 Class Series

Italy! The Land of the Vine, according to the ancient Greeks; nowhere else is wine so closely intertwined with daily life in every village throughout the Italian peninsula – not even France. Nowhere else is there such a enormous array of excellent native varietals.

Beginning Sunday April 2nd, Sommelier Arnie Millan will be offering an in-depth look at Italian wine with three classes, each organized by region:

1. April 2nd – The South (Campagnia, Sicily, Puglia, Calabria, Sardinia, Basilicata)  1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

2. April 23rd – The Center (Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, The Marches, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Molise, Abruzzi) 1- 4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

3. April 30th – The North (Piedmont, Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Veneto, Alto Aldige/Trentino, Friuli-Giulia-Venezie) 1-4:30PM in the Sky Lounge $69

Join us for the complete series $195, tickets available here>>

Each region, its history and wines, will be discussed in depth. Classes will include tasting regional wines. We will taste 8 wines per class from the Italy’s greatest appellations. Free parking is available in Esquin’s lot on the South end of our building. The Seattle Times recently named Arnie “The finest Wine Mind in Seattle.”

FOOD + WINE CLASSES with Lenny Rede

Spring Classes at Esquin Spring Classes at Esquin

April 9th – Bourbon and Barbecue! 2-4PM in the Sky LoungeTwo great tastes that taste great together. We will explore a variety of styles of barbecue and an equal number of bourbons, including a few local favorites! Do’s and don’ts on how to make your next BBQ the best party ever. $49 Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

May 14th – Champagne & Caviar! 2-4PM in the Sky Lounge
Explore the range and elegance of Champagne and some classic pairings – including Caviar, Lobster, Fried Chicken, and Popcorn. We will discuss the production styles, rules, and history of the King of wines. With Special Guest! $49
Call 206.682.7374 to register. Advance registration is necessary. Gift Certificates are available.

The post Spring Classes at Esquin appeared first on Madewine's Sippy Cup - Blog.

Eat a Peach

I did not want to hear what I knew would be bad news. But she delivered the feared message anyway. The lady at the farmers market from whom I'd been buying perfect peaches from for the last month nonchalantly announced that this would be her last market for the season. No more perfect peaches until next year. Sad news indeed.

These peaches were so juicy and sweet that I had to eat them over the sink. I would savor every morsel down to the pit then wash my sticky hands as I contemplated eating another. With each luscious bite of these delicate wonders I thought with pity about all the pastry chefs in the world. It must be hard on them to realize that with all their years of training and talent that nothing they can conjure up can surpass the pleasure of an unadorned perfectly ripe peach. Any addition would actually be a subtraction distracting from the purity and lush layered flavors of my simple peach.

When Mother Nature delivers perfection to you, you should leave it well enough alone. When something is perfect any additions only take away from that perfection. We don't add movements to Beethoven's Fifth, add another chapter to Moby Dick or splash some more paint on a Jackson Pollock. Yet when it comes to food and wine we can't seem to resist. More is not always better.

In 1984 my tastebuds received enlightenment, but it was not from a wine, it was a peach. In that year I had been invited by Neil and Maria Empson to join them on a tour of all the wineries in their Italian portfolio. This experience was a culinary and vinous voyage of discovery. I was immersed in amazing wines, foods and people for the better part of a month in an unparalleled educational opportunity. Yet among all of those incredible taste experiences the one that sticks to me the most is a single perfect peach. We were having one of those idyllic Italian lunches on a gorgeous day in Piemonte with Bepe and Tino Colla. In the Italian way, fruit was served instead of dessert. I don't know if it was the peach or the growing enlightenment of my tasting ability, but this beautiful white Italian peach seemed to just explode on my palate. My mouth still waters just writing about it over thirty years later. Each time I have a peach, my mind goes back to that table. I am always trying to return to that experience of a single unadorned peach.

Now it's September in the the Applegate Valley of Southern Oregon and it has been literally a picture perfect growing season. While harvest is coming to an end in California and well underway in the Willamette Valley, we are just getting started in our Siskiyou mountain vineyards and only the first fruit destined for rosé has arrived at the winery. The fruit on the vines looks perfect. What should you do with perfect fruit? Simply as little as possible.

At Troon Vineyard the bins of fruit come in and we tread them by foot - red, white and rosé. Then we let the native yeasts start the natural process of fermentation in well used French Oak barrels. Anything we try to add will only take away as nature is only asking us to be stewards of the wine in its voyage from the vine to the bottle. In winemaking we should always be asking ourselves not what we can do, but only what we absolutely have to do.

As I roll my last perfect peach of the season in my hands it is clear to me that the sublime is to be found only in purity. Simplicity is not the same as simple. With focus and clarity the true complexities of experience can only be relished when the extraneous distractions of the world are either removed, or perhaps, more importantly, never added. For me this is the real definition of "natural winemaking".

Tonight after dinner I will savor one last perfect peach. I can't think of a better preparation for harvest 2016.

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti

In the world of wine that at times seems overwhelming in its complexity from the number of varietals, ever-changing rules, new and evolving appellations, wine styles, trends  and so on, Italy may pose the greatest challenge. Spend some time unlocking some of its mysteries, however, and you’ll be endlessly rewarded.

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti

A case in point is the relatively obscure grape named Lacrima, an indigenous grape of the Marche region of Italy’s eastern coast. Lacrima translates as ‘tears’, the moniker supposedly earned by the variety’s tendency to release droplets of juice on the thin skin of fully ripe grapes when they inevitably rupture. It is almost entirely found in the DOC Lacrima di Morro d’Alba and owes much to Morro d’Alba-based producer Mario Lucchetti who played a pivotal role in its survival and modern day renaissance.

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti is the third-generation estate that he helms alongside son Paolo, daughter-in-law Tiziana and acclaimed winemaking consultant Alberto Mazzoni. It now produces four separate iterations of Lacrima, including ultra small quantities of a highly sought after Amarone-styled example, as well as a Verdicchio on 34 acres that Mario began planting in the early 1980s.

We were able to sit and taste through the current vintage of Mario Lucchetti wines with Paolo and Tiziana a couple of months back prior to their release. It feels like we’ve been waiting a lifetime for these wines to arrive – that’s how much we liked them.

Azienda Agricola Mario Lucchetti

Paolo and Tiziana Lucchetti

As we quizzed them on farming and winemaking techniques, the pair repeatedly stressed the hands-on, small scale approach they take in every aspect of production, from employing hand harvesting to ensure optimum selection to using only organic treatments and forbidding the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides altogether. They use nothing but ambient yeasts and renounce the use of oak, or other grapes for that matter, in order to showcase 100% Lacrima at it’s unmasked best. This is worth noting in a DOC which allows blending of up to 15% of Montepulciano or Verdicchio to help round out a vintage.

Light to medium-bodied, Lucchetti’s reds are perfect summertime wines that will pair nicely with lighter fare, outdoors on one of Seattle’s warmer afternoons, perhaps with a slight chill on them. And don’t be fooled – these wines do have some aging potential (3-6 years). They’re also priced fantastically, so don’t be shy about grabbing a bottle or three next time you’re in the store. Give them a shot and let us know what you think!