Wines That Resound in Memory

Calder’s Rory Williams makes wine with his dad, John Williams, at Frog’s Leap, and along with his mother, Julie Johnson, at Tres Sabores. His very own label is focused on exploring what he telephone calls Napa’s “cultural terroir,” in an effort to better appreciate the region’s winemaking heritage, which grapes like charbono, riesling and chenin blanc happen to be certainly part.

This wine was vibrant and pure, deliciously fruity with an underlying bitterness that refreshed and invited the next sip. It seemed to capture past and future, sadness and sweet hope. It is a much better memory compared to the wildfire smoke that may permanently become imprinted in my memory.

2. Lambrusco, at its greatest, is usually a humble farmhouse wines, and I declare that with sincere esteem. The 2015 Rosso Viola from Luciano Saetti is a good example.


It is manufactured from the salamino grape, one of the used for Lambrusco. In the hands of Mr. Saetti, who farms organically, the wine is dry, earthy and meaty – certainly not complex – and extraordinarily delicious. I’ve had it perhaps a half-dozen instances in 2017, and usually I am shocked by just how much I love it.

This wine, incidentally, is made with no sulfur dioxide, the common stabilizer shunned by many natural wine producers. I’ve never had a flawed bottle. The salamino grape takes its brand from its elongated form, which resembles a little salami, another thing about the wine that makes me happy.

3. Domaine Roulot is one of the world’s great suppliers of white wines, renowned for its Meursaults and other Burgundies. But the wines I could not forget was Roulot’s 2007 aligoté, Burgundy’s often forgotten other white grape.

I was found in the Roulot cellar with Jean-Marc Roulot tasting aligotés when he pulled out the ’07. By reputation, aligoté is slim, acidic and simple, with little capacity to age or screen the nuances of place. Many heralded Burgundy suppliers like Mr. Roulot continue to make aligoté since it is portion of a revered heritage.

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His aligotés are exceptional, but even he will not expect too much of them. They happen to be meant to become unpretentious. “There’s no shame in that,” Mr. Roulot explained. The 2007, at a decade old, was wealthy, deep and still fresh, with savory, salty flavors. “It’s not as much recognizable as aligoté,” Mr. Roulot said.

When a wine no longer tastes just like a grape and tastes just like a place rather, that is memorable.

4. Of all wine regions I’ve visited, Colares on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, the westernmost wine area in continental Europe, is the most unusual. To protect against the incessant salty wind, the vines happen to be trained low over what’s essentially beach sand.

The red ramisco and the white malvasia de Colares grapes are superbly adapted to the singular environment; they thrive nowhere else. And in addition, this tiny area produces utterly distinctive wines.

The reds are powerfully tannic, saturated in acid and lower in alcohol, just about 12.5 percent. They must mellow for a long time before they could be sold. The existing vintage available is usually 2008. I drank a bottle from the neighborhood cooperative, the Adega Regional de Colares, with the winemaker, Francisco Figueiredo. It was savory and spicy, with an almost balsamic character, structured however graceful. There is absolutely no other wine enjoy it.

5. For reasons of record, politics and economics, some historic wines regions can be practically forgotten. One is usually Pécharmant in the Bergerac area of southwestern France, that i visited while reporting on the writer Martin Walker, whose Bruno mysteries happen to be set in the tiny, fictional community of St.-Denis found in the Périgord.


Bruno is the chief of police in this world where a lot of life centers on food and wine. Simply mainly because in the culinary realm, the conflicts in St.-Denis often stem from the collisions between hometown traditions and globalization. In fact, while the people in the Bruno novels have access to all the wonderful wines of the universe, they often decide to drink their native bottles, like among Bruno’s favorites, Château de Tiregand in Pécharmant, which also is actually among Mr. Walker’s favorites.

Jointly, we visited Tiregand, where we’d lunch time with the proprietor, François-Xavier de Saint-Exupéry (a distant cousin of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), and drank different older bottles. I was most struck by the 2005 Pécharmant. These reds are produced from the same grapes as Bordeaux, the effective neighbor on the coast, grown in similarly gravelly soils. It was earthy and lovely, intense and refreshing. At 12 years of age, the youthful fruitiness was simply just beginning to cave in to complex minerality.

“We prefer to hunt, we like mushrooms, we just like a glass of wines,” Mr. Saint-Exupéry stated, speaking to traditions which have sustained Pécharmant for centuries.

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6. In Portugal this June, we sealed some innovative friendships over a simple and extraordinarily delicious lunch time at Solar dos Pintor, a restaurant and wines bar outside Lisbon. Before the dessert most of us drank one glass of Madeira, Blandy’s malmsey, 1992.

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In Madeira years, this was a baby. It will live for decades, if certainly not centuries. It was already thrilling, striking a fragile equilibrium of sweetness and acidity, complexity and sheer refreshment. Wines such as this are inspiring, having a baby to ideas and interactions. Unforgettable.

7. While in Burgundy in May, I had meal at a simple wines bar in Beaune. Along with crazy asparagus (collected that morning by the chef’s dad) and charcuterie, we drank a bottle of Beaune Premier Cru Les Theurons 2008, from a maker I had never observed in the United States, Régis Rossignol-Changarnier.

The wines of Beaune tend to be being among the most overlooked of Burgundies, and for that reason can be relatively very good values. That one was genuine, old-fashioned, a bit rustic and delicious, a reminder of the times before billionaires began to purchase grand cru vineyards, when the most notable wines were still affordable.

I am certainly not saying this Burgundy was better, nor did it diminish my reverence for the fantastic wines. Still, it had been refreshing in every perception and offered a good moment of clarity.

8. Another Burgundy, consumed at a meal in Chappaqua, N.Y., where the centerpiece was spit-roasted lamb. My pal Bill brought a 1999 Clos de la Roche from Domaine Dujac.


A good bottle of grand cru Burgundy such as this one is always a privilege to take, especially one from a great maker at a peak second. It was beautifully focused and exact, still fresh, with aromas and flavors that flowed in a linear, enduring progression. It smelled of exotic crimson fruits. On the palate the fruit gave way to a stony minerality that is normally characteristic of the vineyard – “pure rock,” I wrote at the time.

That wasn’t the just time in 2017 I swooned over a Clos de la Roche. I recall tasting Domaine Arlaud’s superb 2014 Clos de la Roche with the maker earlier in the year. The lamb meal was a chance to take in it, which manufactured all the difference.

9. One last Burgundy, that i tasted in February at La Paulée de NY, a Burgundy celebration held once every 2 yrs. I was poured one glass of one of the more coveted wines in the world, a grand cru Musigny 2002 from Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier.

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I cannot remember a wine that as a result captured the magical Burgundian method of weightless intensity. This wines was ethereal – very much in keeping with the elegant style of Mugnier – however powerfully deep, resonating very long after swallowing. I even now look the echo today.

10. Back in January I went to a lunch arranged by Levi Dalton, host of the I’ll Drink to That podcasts, which focused on the nebbiolo rosé grape, once regarded as a clone of nebbiolo, and today regarded as genetically different though closely related.

It used to be widely planted in the vineyards of Barolo and Barbaresco. Today, it is mostly eliminated, though patches remain here and there. It manufactured a pale-colored wines that, though gorgeously perfumed, was out of vogue in an era in which powerful, dark wines were prized.

Of the fascinating wines we drank, one stuck in my memory space: the 1970 Barbaresco Podere del Pajorè from Giovannini Moresco. Beautiful, with a color of pale brick crimson, the wine got aromas of truffles and spices, and flavors of tobacco and herbal products with citrus highlights.

This producer no longer exists. The Podere del Pajorè vineyard is now owned by Angelo Gaja, who – in Ian D’Agata’s book “Native Wine Grapes of Italy” – dismisses the notion that the vineyard ever contained nebbiolo rosé. Hence we do not know for sure whether this wines was nebbiolo rosé. But it certainly was good.

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