And they say McDonalds isn’t a restaurant well I guess I’m wrong,
But if you gon’ tell me that A&W ain’t the spot for the best hot dogs,
You can get the “F” on dawg. – T.I. and Eminem “That’s all She Wrote”
Thursday, May 30, 2013, 2:23 am
Quivira Guest House, Dry Creek, Sonoma
Last week I lead a team through Italy visiting great properties mostly in Piedmont and Tuscany, although we did also stop by to visit the farmers at La Delizia. In addition to Nexus wines, my partners and I also own a medium size wholesale distribution company in Colorado, and many of the properties that we visited last week we import into the state of Colorado for sale to independent retailers and neighborhood restaurants in our home state.
I mentioned that we visited great properties, and that is what I have been dwelling on in my head lately, instead of sleeping. What makes a wine great? The question feels especially urgent right now because this week I am back in Northern California, working with our growers and winemakers on various Nexus projects.
Like most wine professionals, I turn to Eminem when I need deep insight around the issues that keep me up at night. And not for the first time, the Sage of Eight Mile came through with the answer. When you find the spot for the best hot dogs, you need to defend that insight at all costs, dawg, because there just is no improving on the best.
And so it was that in 1340 Pietrino Falletti discovered that Nebbiolo grown in the south-facing, sandy soils of Monfalleto produced a wine of remarkable finesse and aromatic expressiveness unlike Nebbiolo grown in any other spot in the region. Then, after six centuries, the Monfalleto vineyard became the property of the noble Paolo Cordero di Montezemolo in 1941. The Corderos represent a different branch of the family tree, but through three generations if stewardship they have never lost track of the greatness of the Monfalleto cru, and that is why the wines of this historical property a so great today. The team was duly impressed. We couldn’t be more proud to import the wines of Cordero di Montezemolo into Colorado.
Last night I had dinner with a new winemaking partner named Ed Kilian. You may not know Ed’s name by heart, but I can almost guarantee that you know his wines. Ed has been crafting great wines over at Chateau Souverain for over two decades; his signature is on every bottle. Ed and I have been working on a new single vineyard Russian River Chardonnay for a different project I am involved in called Reaper (www.reaperwines.com). There are still a couple finishing touches to put on the wine prior to bottling later in the summer or early fall, but the barrel samples were magical. Ed (unlike me) is a man of few words, but when I asked him over dinner what made this wine so special, he replied with a thirty minute disquisition on the glories of the vineyard.
Next week I will be in Mississippi helping our new agent down there to launch Chime, and all week long I will be telling the story of Rodney and Gayla Schatz, third generation winegrowers in Lodi who have become our incredible and indispensable partners for Chime California Cabernet. And I will be introducing customers in that great state to Ricardo de Los Rios, who helps us to produce that incredible Chime California Pinot Noir. Of course I will be clueing them in about the new single vineyard Chime Russian River Chardonnay from Cal Plans vineyard that Heliodoro Lopez and his family have farmed so passionately for three generations. Beyond that I will be telling them all about Money Lane Vineyard in Oakville, a spot that produces the most remarkable Chardonnay, although the region is more noted for Cabernet. I hope that my new agent in Mississippi, and the independent retailers and neighborhood restaurants that we present to will agree with me that we are making great wines, but if they do I will make sure that they understand what makes these wines great: it is the right combination of a special place, carefully farmed, and a gifted, artisanal winemaker.
I don’t claim to be anything special personally, but I do spend a lot of time looking for opportunities to bring great wine to the market. And when I identify those opportunities I try hard to stick to them (double stick, as my man intones in “That’s all She Wrote”). And why? Because there is no improving on an A and W hot dog, any more than an Ed Kilian Russian River Chardonnay, dawg.