February Domestic Wine: 2012 Peirano Estate Syrah, Lodi, CALIFORNIA

In 1992, Lance Randolph, the fourth generation of Peirano to farm the 300 acre estate, began making Peirano wine simply for himself and to prove Lodi could produce desirable wines.  After considerable praise for his ability to make elegant wines, he decided to start bottling and selling Peirano wine using his estate grown grapes.  Since then, Peirano has won numerous awards for producing top of the line wine using many of the old techniques valued by Giacomo Peirano.

The history of Peirano Estate Vineyards is a tale deeply rooted in Lodi history and the importance is felt by every member of the Peirano family.  Legend has it that Lodi was named after Giacomo’s famous racer horse, Alta Genoa, he brought from Lodi, Italy. Over the years, the vineyards have grown to not only include the same naturally rooted, head trained Old Vine Zinfandel imported to the United States by Lance’s great grandfather, but Cabernet Sauvignon, Viogner, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah, Barbera, Syrah and  Malbec as well.  The difficult times in the Peirano family history, did prove to be challenging but showed their tenacity through desperation and hard times.  How, you might ask, were they able to persevere?  As Lance Randolph says, “A family that works together stays together, and the vineyards are a big part of our family.  It’s as simple as that!”

Vineyard Notes: Lodi’s climate and soil are ideal for Petite Sirah production, which is why the area is the state’s leading producer of this varietal. From the use of ‘head-training’ in the old world manner through careful pruning as well as bunch thinning, we optimize the ripeness that the berries achieve. Hand harvesting the fruit also ensures the fruit is in perfect condition for its upcoming transformation.

Winemaking Notes: To maximize the extraction of the big and bold flavors of Petite Sirah, we use rotary fermentation, which constantly mixes the skins and pulp with the juice so we can get every bit of flavor out of this variety. After malolactic fermentation is complete, the wine is transferred to French oak barrels, which allows the wine to settle as well as slightly concentrate its fruit flavors, as well as round out with touches of oak.

Varietals: 100 % Syrah

Alochol: 14.2% by volume

Tasting Notes: The senses are tempted by an array of black raspberry, spice, coffee, cocoa, cola and white pepper. The palate is filled with ripe boysenberry, black raspberry, plum and sweet black cherry and firm tannins, with a hint of smoke and dark chocolate. Enjoy this wine along with a nice grilled steak, baked potato with all the fixings, and good friends. This is a wine that can please now, as well as age out for many years to come.

Food Pairings: Pair with rich foods that warm you in these cold months! Syrah is a rich and heavy grape that will stand up to all types of foods!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “This Peirano wine is on fire! A great wine to drink now. Deep and rich on the palate, with concentrated flavors. Great with barbequed ribs or chicken. Enjoy!”-JL

February Imported Wine: 2012 Esporao ‘Assobio’ Red, Quinta dos Murcas, Douro, PORTUGAL

Esporao, one of Portugal’s top wine and olive oil producers, enjoys an international presence for their comprehensive series of wines and delectable olive oil offerings. A family-owned and family-run corporation, Esporao also happens to be the largest privately held wine company in Portugal. Founded in 1973 by Jose Roquette and currently led by Jose’s son, João Roquette, the youngest of six children and a man with avant-garde vision, Esporao brings a balanced blend of tradition and foresight, convention and innovation to their wine making practices and ultimately to the lofty lineup of Esporao wines.

Esporao History: Esporao’s Alentejo estate is of equal intrigue for both the history buff as well as the full-fledged oenophile. With the estate’s original boundaries dating back to 1267, a medieval tower and chapel from the 15th and 16th centuries respectively and a detailed archaeological dig (with museum) of a pre-historic settlement that existed on the property some 5,000 years ago, it’s no wonder that the land is nationally recognized for its historical importance. Yet, with an eye to the future the estate is also home to a 20 acre research project that cultivates 188 grape varieties to determine best bets for sustainability.

Quinta dos Murcas: Quinta dos Murças stretches along 3.2 km of the right bank of the River Douro, next to the Covelinhas railway station. It is located in the Cima Corgo sub-region, between Peso da Régua and Pinhão, boasting an area of 156 hectares in total. The vineyards occupy 60 hectares and vary in age, altitude and exposure. Due to the uniqueness and excellence of its terroir, Quinta dos Murças enjoys a long tradition of producing high-quality grapes that go to make port an all of the vines are A classified, the region’s top grade.  In Cima Corgo, the landscape is inhospitable, rough and near untameable. There are countless deep and steep valleys. Flora shyly sprouts among the rocks resting on stony and schist soils, making the vine is less vigorous and verdant than in Baixo Corgo. The climate is more severe here than in the other Douro sub-regions: the climate is severe: The winters are cold and the summers hot.

Varietals: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and others

Alcohol: 14.0% by volume

Tasting Notes: Perfumed and spicy with notes of blueberries. Round and full bodied palate with youthful fruit and integrated tannins. Finishes with good balancing acidity.

Food Pairings: Enjoy this red with salty cheese and nuts! Drink as an aperitif or with food!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Purple fruit, loaded with complex flavors of tobacco and earth. Blackberries are present on the palate as well. A great wine to pair with rich soups and barbeque. Cheers!”-JL