By Charles Fredy, Advanced Sommelier
When people ask me to name my favorite wines, I always struggle. I taste wine for a living, so you would think it would be easy. It’s not. Red or white, each wine is distinctive, and enjoyment is often a matter of personal taste.
Sometimes you just know a wine will be great. That happened one evening when I invited friends to a simple gathering and wine tasting. At some point, we ended up in two separate groups. Mine had a bottle of Turley Hayne Vineyard zinfandel, the other a fine Oregon pinot noir. When the other group noticed what we were drinking, you’d have thought from their reactions that I’d served them dirty water. It was 2001; Turley wines were so sought after that even though I worked for the wine’s distributor, I was only permitted to buy a few bottles of each release. I confess that a bit of my enjoyment came from knowing I was drinking a wine everyone wanted. But really, it was the wine itself. Full of minerals and earth, artisanal and decadent, it displayed heady alcohol and a huge fruit concentration—layered flavors of red, black and blue fruit.
(And here I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Turley is the featured winery for the June 27 ‘Aipono Wine Dinner at Fleetwood’s on Front St. in Lahaina. Turley bottles about thirty-four different wines, and while the zinfandel mentioned above won’t be available for that dinner, I can vouch for the Turley petite syrah that will be.)
Sometimes the circumstances surrounding a wine experience can create a new favorite. Once, when colleagues and I went on a supplier trip to Paris, our host suggested we visit a caviar bar and enjoy the selections with Champagne. The tiny, unassuming shop had several choices of the world’s best caviar displayed like meat selections at a butcher’s. At the back of the store, a narrow staircase led to a quaint dining room. It looked so off-limits that, climbing the creaky stairs, we felt we had made a wrong turn. Intimidated by our limited ability to communicate in French, we surrendered ourselves to whatever choices our waiter made. What luck! A bottle of grower Champagne arrived at our table, along with caviar and all the accompaniments. By “grower,” I mean a producer who makes Champagne from estate-grown fruit. Most Champagne is made by large producers, who rely on grapes from many different vineyards. Champagne from a single vineyard can be unpredictable, year to year, but the one we drank that day was seductive and festive, delivering a complexity of flavor. That experience laid the foundation for my passion for Champagne, one of the world’s greatest wines.
Try some of these selections, and create your own memorable wine experience:
- Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Kirschenmann Vineyard, Lodi, 2013
- Turley Wine Cellars, Zinfandel, Rattlesnake Ridge, Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, 2013
- Turley Wine Cellars, Petite Syrah, Hayne Vineyard, St. Helena, Napa Valley, 2012
- Billecart-Salmon Brut, Sous Bois, Mareuil-sur-Ay, Champagne, Non-vintage
- Pierre Peters, Cuvee Speciale les Chetillons, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Champagne, 2000
- Taittinger, Comtes de Champagne, Blanc de Blancs, Reims, Champagne, 2002
Got a wine question? Contact Charles Fredy at Facebook.com/ChambersWinesHawaii