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

October Domestic Wine: 2009 MANDOLIN Pinot Noir, Monterey, CALIFORNIA

Mandolin is a collaboration between veteran winemaker Philip Zorn and longtime wine executive Brent Shortridge. Bringing together their previously established relationships with winegrowers in California’s Monterey County, Zorn and Shortridge have created wines that stand out for their balance, finesse and distinct varietal character, as well as their sense of place. Mandolin wines are internationally recognized as outstanding values.

Mandolin currently produces ChardonnayRieslingPinot Noir,SyrahMerlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, with grapes sourced from Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco and Hames Valley within Monterey County.

History of Pinot Noir and its Relation to Mandolin: The fruit for this Pinot Noir comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA, in the Central Coast region of California. Situated high above the Salinas Valley within Monterey County, the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA has developed a reputation for producing wines with intense fruit character. Chardonnay dominates the vineyards, although Pinot Noir is quickly establishing itself as another favorite. Running parallel with the Pacific Ocean, this region benefits from well-drained granitic soils and is sheltered from harsh weather by the Santa Lucia Mountains. Cool morning fog and afternoon breezes are drawn into the Salinas Valley from Monterey Bay, creating a very long growing season.

The grapes for this Pinot Noir were sourced from vineyards in the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA of Monterey County, where high winds, dry days, and bay fogs create a cool, but very long, growing season. These growing conditions are ideal for cool-climate grapes such as Pinot Noir, and lead to full, forward fruit flavors and ideal acidity. Grapes were harvested at an ideal balance of sugar and acid, and the wine was fermented in small open-top tanks. The wine completed malo-lactic fermentation in French oak barrels, where it aged for 11 months prior to bottling.

Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 14.3% by volume

Tasting Notes: With its maritime influence, California’s Monterey region has an extended growing season that yields wines with full flavor development and great acid balance. Mandolin Pinot Noir is a rich wine that features bright cherry and raspberry fruit with hints of spice, leather, and cedar.

Food Pairings: This wine is the ultimate match with turkey and heavier fishes like salmon. A great accompaniment to your Thanksgiving meal or a nice sipper for a Fall football game!

Jim Lutfy’s thoughts: “A wine that is textbook Pinot Noir. Old-school in character; loaded with earthy cherry flavors. This wine really overachieves for an affordable Pinot Noir.”-JL