August Domestic Wine: 2012 Birichino Malvasia Bianca, Monterey, CALIFORNIA

Birichino is committed to producing distinctive, harmonious, highly energetic wines which transcend the casual wine drinkers’ typical realm of experience. Founded in Santa Cruz in 2008, and drawing on a combined 35 years making and selling wine in California, France, and Italy, owners and winemakers Alex Krause and John Locke are focused on attaining the perfect balance of perfume, poise, and puckishness with a particular fondness for varieties that provide enormous pleasure and reestablish a direct connection to the sensual world.

History of Malvasia and its Relation to Birichino: Krause and Locke, owners and winemakers at Birichino, first laid eyes on their Malvasia Bianca in the rain shadow of the Santa Lucia Mountains back in 1991. Over the decades, they’ve seen Malvasia with lots of botrytis, with gargantuan acidity; with modest acidity; vines with both under and overripe grapes; Malvasia exhibiting every variation Mother Nature can concoct. They had never seen, however, something close to perfection until 2012.

In 2012, Birichino started sourcing Malvasia from the original block they worked with from 1990-2005, which is a bit closer to the Santa Lucia Highlands and also a bit rockier soil. The soil is more decomposed granite, with less clay. The 2012 vintage is a bit more aromatic, perhaps a bit finer and more precise in the profile, where 2011 is a little broader. These are 25+ year old vines now, and they are excited to have the older block from now on.

Varietals: 100% Malvasia Bianca

Alcohol: 13.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: The name Birichino means mischievous and impish; and this white wine from the Malvasia grape certainly lives up to that. On the nose, its pure tropical fruit, with strong hints of lychee and mango which when on the palate move to flavors of ripe fruit, jasmine and elderflower, with a refreshing finish. A great summertime sipper!

Food Pairings: Because Malvasia has an interesting combination of rich and oily mouth feel, but strong acids…deep-fried foods actually pair very well with it. Try with something salty, sweet, or savory to experience the nuances of the wine!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich and exotic with flavors of melon, tropical fruit, and passion fruit. An intense glass of wine! The wine is hedonistic and exotic. The finish lasts for at least three minutes on your palate. Enjoy!”-JL

August Imported Wine: The Gatekeeper Shiraz, McLaren Vale, AUSTRALIA

Simon Hackett, the man behind this wine, grew up in an atmosphere steeped in wine, spending his boyhood in the Barossa Valley alongside his father, who was General Manager and a Director of the giant Barossa Valley Distillery. The family home was situated next to the sprawling Saltram Winery outside Angaston. Given this environment, it was not surprising that Simon, at the age of eighteen, elected to follow a career in winemaking and joined the team at the neighboring Saltram Winery. In 1984, Simon decided to concentrate fully on establishing his own boutique winery situated in McLaren Vale.

History of Shiraz and its Relation to The Gatekeeper: McLaren Vale is a wine region approximately 35 km south of Adelaide in South Australia. Grapes were first planted in the region in 1838 and some vines more than 100 years old are still producing. Today there are more than 88 cellar doors in McLaren Vale, including The Gatekeeper. The majority are small family-run operations and boutique wineries. McLaren Vale has a Mediterranean climate with four clear seasons. With a dry warm summer, the area has dry weather from December through to March or April, giving an easy change between summer and winter. It is gentle with long warm days and short cool nights. Winter rains of 580-700 mm per annum flow into a fresh spring. The region rarely experiences frost or drought due to its close proximity to the sea. The McLaren district has many different soil types and this contributes to the wines from the area having different terroir. The vineyards are planted on soils including fertile red-brown earths, terra rossa, rendzina, soft sands and dark cracking clays.

Varietals: 100% Shiraz

Alcohol: 14.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: Balanced and bursting with lush fruit, this is a thoroughly delicious Shiraz. The grapes were sourced from the McLaren Vale and the Riverlands and then carefully aged in oak for 6 months — breaking the over-oaked Australian mold a bit… in a very, very good way.

Food Pairings: Barbecued foods with a smoky char pair nicely with Shiraz, as do lamb, venison and game birds. Enjoy before the summer ends!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Loaded with layers of concentrated fruit, cherries, cassis, blackberry, and blueberry. Red and black fruits intermingle in this glass. A great combination with BBQ!”-JL