Domestic Wine: 2013 Cass Vineyard & Winery-Flying Nymph Blanc, White Rhone Blend
Cass Family Vineyard & Winery: Cass Vineyard & Winery is located in the rolling oak-studded hills between Paso Robles and Creston on California’s beautiful Central Coast. This area that the vineyard calls home offers quiet serenity for the visitor and an ideal growing environment for wine grapes. Sited due east of the “Templeton Gap,” the vineyards receive the evening’s cooling breezes that the west side of Paso Robles is noted for. They also rest far enough from the coast to generate the heat needed to optimally ripen the Rhone varieties grown on their 160 acre estate vineyard. 100% of the wines crafted at Cass Winery are estate grown. Cass Vineyard was planted in 2000, and wine production began in 2005. Founders Steve Cass and Ted Plemons live on the property. In 2010 Michigan natives Doug and Beverly Cass became partners, handling the distribution in the Midwest, East, and Southern states, and have been guests at The Fine Wine Source on several occasions. Doug has been in consumer sales over thirty years and is also co-founder of the Michigan based business Kahootz Toys, whose brands include Play Doh, Lite Brite, and Spiro Graph (that turns 50 this year).
About: White Rhone blends consist of two or more white grapes originally from its namesake region. They mainly include Viognier, Rousanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. Blends outside of the Rhone are mostly found in California and Australia and can include all four primary varieties together. Aiming to preserve the intense fruit and aromatics of these varieties, this blend was fermented and aged in 100% stainless steel. Hand-picked in the early morning, the cold grapes were pressed within moments after coming off the vine. Following juice settling, a long, cold fermentation commenced using a unique South African yeast strain. Malolactic fermentation was inhibited to preserve acidity, keeping it crisp and fresh.
Varietals: 65% Rousanne & 35%Marsanne
Tasting Notes: Aromas of lemon zest, kumquat, lemongrass, and ruby red grapefruit. Although it displays some restraint at first, it soon opens up to notes of honeydew melon, white rose and fresh herbs. The palate is light on its feet, with lean, zippy acid holding together a core of flavors that span honey mandarin, lemon curd, and green apple. The finish stays tight and clean, with a kiss of agave nectar and wet stone.
Food Pairings: Squash, smoked fish, Asian cuisine, curry dishes, roast duck, and lobster.
Jim Lutfy’s Thoughts: A truly delightful wine! A perfect patio sipper, that is great with Antipasti and other light dishes.
The Story: “My father is the youngest son of Natale and Teresa Vacca. Our family has lived in this region for generations. Like many families in the Langhe, we speak Piemontese as our first language and Italian second. Some of the grapevines we manage today were planted 70 years ago by my great grandfather.-Renato Vacca winemaker & owner Cantina del Pino
Domizio Cavazza was the director of the Royal Enological School in Alba from 1888 – 1913. When he arrived he surprised everyone by purchasing land and making his home in Barbaresco. The noble families expected he would reside near the more famous estates in Barolo.
He purchased the Ovello cascina (farmhouse and land) and he began making wine. For the first time the wine made from the nebbiolo vineyards surrounding the village was called Barbaresco. For the people of this area it was a huge compliment. Cavazza was very charismatic and an outspoken supporter of the farmers in the Langhe.
Cavazza celebrated the birth of his first son by planting what became a well-known landmark in the region, a large Mediterranean pine tree. The estate began to be known as the ‘cascina del pino’ or winery of the pine. Renato Vacca’s great grandfather purchased the vineyards after Sig. Cavazza prematurely died and his family moved to Torino. The Vacca family has been here ever since.
Location: Cantina del Pino is located in a part of the Piedmont Region called the Langhe where some of Italy’s most famous wines are produced.
Barbaresco sits high above the Tanaro river where wine grapes grow alongside truffles, hazelnuts and chestnuts and some of the most famous cheeses can be found. This area boasts nine Michelin starred restaurants and countless family run trattorias and nearby accommodations range from the luxurious to apartment based farm houses called agritourismos.
Cantina del Pino is just one hour from Torino and situated in a unique area an equal distance to the Mediterranean and the part of the Alps that separate Italy and France.The mountains provide not just majestic views but also a protection from severe weather throughout the year.
Vineyard: Known since the 14th century, the grape variety Piquepoul has always been synonymous with quality. The production is limited to 1200 hectares in the appellation and makes the PicPoul de Pinet a rare region.
Varietal(s): 100% Dolcetto
Alcohol: 12.5% by volume
Food Pairings: Try this great wine with several different foods including chicken enchiladas, steak tartare, grilled veggies and veal! Enjoy!
Tasting Notes: The Cantina del Pino Dolcetto has splendid perfume with ruby and garnet colors with finesse and an intense and interesting nose…with jammy flavor and a hint of black pepper and soft background of mineral.
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Rich, creamy, intense layers of flavors and dried cherries. With a long lingering harmonious finish, this wine is a stunner! This Dolcetto is incredible! Best served with meats on the grill! I know you will enjoy!”-JL
At the heart of the Valley of the Rhone, 10 minutes from Châteauneuf du Pape, Château Gigognan is the heir of a deeply rooted history that dates back to the time of roman colonization.
A spiritual and temporal lordship: The estate quickly becomes a fiefdom which formed a principality with Châteauneuf du Pape and Bédarrides, one governed by the archbishops of Avignon.
During the 17th and 18th century, the administration of Gigognan was entrusted to Lords from Provence by the archbishops of Avignon. Its prosperity gave it the title of a village with the rank of a municipality.
Since 1996, the castle knows a true rebirth thanks to Jacques Callet. Having been completely renovated, it was given back the charm of the great manors of Provence.
In 2012, a new team of expert professionals is brought together. The vineyard knows an unprecedented renewal and is the object of investments to reinforce the excellence of the estate’s wines.
Varietals: 60% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 15% Syrah and 10% Carignan
Alcohol: 12.5% by volume
The Terroir: Southern exposure on an ancient terrace of sand and limestone.
Vinification: Temperature controlled fermentation by cepage; maceration for 8-10 days depending on the grape; malolactic fermentation also occurs.
Tasting Notes: Smoke and spice on the nose with hints of red cherry fruit. On the palate, concentrated, jammy red fruits. There is a great balance with a touch of tobacco and plenty of white pepper spice on the finish.
Food Pairings: Pair with grilled lamb, beef or portabella, tuna, Mediterranean pizza and grilled sausages. Enjoy!
The Palamà family vineyard was founded by Arcangelo Palamà in 1936. A family of Greek origins, they settled in Italia about two thousand years ago, and have been making wine ever since. The Palamà’s are also beloved and accomplished restaurateurs, icons in their hometown, and for 70 years had only sold their wine in their restaurant–until Small Vineyards came knocking on their door. Now the winemaker is Ninì Palamà, son of Arcangelo, and a gregarious, larger than life character who sings spontaneously (and without warning!), and is known to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Those fruits, we might add, are really terrific. His wines are full-bodied, intense and unctuous, but with admirable restrained alcohol and tannins. In many ways, his wines capture the power of the South of Italia, and the elegance of the North. In fact, for us, there are few, if any, winemakers in Puglia making better wine. Due to his estate’s proximity to the sea, the value of Southern coastal reds is that they pair as readily with seafood as they will with hearty meats.
Pronunciation: Palamà (pah-lah-MAH)
Varietal: 100% Negroamaro
Alcohol: 13.0% by volume
Food Pairings: This wine is a great food wine! Pair with grilled foods, but even has enough freshness to pair with salads, cold seafood, and young cheeses. Plus, it looks beautiful on the summer table. A rare jewel of a rosé!
Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “Deep, dark and bold. This is an intense rosé! Loaded with black cherry and raspberry. Great wine with antipasti, chicken, fish or even brunch foods. A great way to finish off the summer. Sit outside with a cold glass and enjoy!”-JL