I had the opportunity to catch up with Alois Lageder of Italy's Alto Adige region this week, which was great, as I'm a big fan of his wines and the wines from this region. Located in the far north of Italy on the east side of the country the Alto Adige borders southern Austria, which is why the majority of the residents in this area speak German as their primary language. The wines reflect a sort of teutonic bent as well--the whites—Rieslings, Pinot Grigios and Sauvignon Blancs, especially—are precise and steely with a great mineral core, just as you'd find in Austria and Germany. The reds are good too, but lesser known. The most famous indigenous variety of red grape there is Lagrein, which has a spicy, peppery component that recalls a lighter Syrah.
Rosé champagne has never been more popular in this country. There's no greater indication of that than the overwhelming number of rosé samples that are stacking up at my house. And if you haven't seen the new Wine Spectator yet, dry rosé graces its cover--which I doubt has happened before. Not to mention that so many wine lists around town and press folk like I am are heavily promoting rosés of late.
I finally managed to get over to Poggio last week, where I'd been hearing good things about the cocktails, wine list, after-dinner drinks, and, yes, even the food. I wasn't disappointed. No driving is necessary--take a shuttle boat from the Ferry Building and it's only a few paces over to Poggio's front door.
Just got the news that last week Berkeley Wine importer, merchant and living legend Kermit Lynch was bestowed with the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, one of the highest awards given by the French government. If you've read his Adventures on the Wine Trail, one of the most inspiring wine books ever written, you'd know that Lynch is a true rock star of wine. But this award puts him in the company of the likes of Duke Ellington, Clint Eastwood and Julia Child.
While traveling in Sicily, it was hard not to think of wine director Shelley Lindgren and her restaurant A16. Shelley’s done more for the reputation and profile of Southern Italian wines than anyone in the city, perhaps the country. There are lots of regions you’ve never heard of, strange sounding grape varieties, wines with flavors and aromas like you’ve never experienced.
Cameron Hughes is not your ordinary winemaker. He doesn’t drive a tractor, lovingly prune his vines, and soulfully dip into his barrels. Rather, he sits behind a cluttered desk on his phone lines or his email or both searching for great wine that hasn’t been bottled.
As baseball season approaches we’re all aware of the myriad places around the ballpark to drink Vodka drinks (e.g. Paragon), stand and chatter in claustrophobic throngs (Momo’s), etc. But just a block down from where you can guzzle margaritas (Tres Agaves), there is now a place to sip Sauvignon Blanc, munch on risotto balls and rhapsodize about Pinot Noir. The name of the place is District and it brings a touch of sophistication to a neighborhood that needed it.