2010 Lioco, Hanzell Vineyard Chardonnay
The name “Lioco” comes from a combination of the names of this winery’s two founders, Matt Licklider and Kevin O’Conner. Matt hails from North Berkeley Imports (importer of fine French and Italian wines) and Kevin was wine director at Spago-Beverly Hills. The two share a love of classic European wines, and joined forces to produce Californian wines equally expressive of place. There’s not much to add to their description of the legendary Hanzell Vineyard on the label, where they detail each of its three sub-sites, with soil types and the clones planted there. What they don’t mention is that this vineyard, high in the Mayacamas Mountains, is the oldest continually producing Chardonnay vineyard in the United States. Founded in 1959, the Hanzell family had never sold fruit to anyone before, and their wines have never been available outside of their tasting room. So it’s not surprising that we had to order this wine directly from California to get enough for the club. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed; this is one of the richest and most luscious California Chardonnays we’ve ever tasted. In addition to the fish and cheese dishes suggested on the label, this concentrated wine could also stand up to roasted chicken or turkey courses. Compared to other famous Cal Chards, the Hanzell is a relative bargain at $54, and we have a bottle or two left after the club distribution. It’s ready to drink, but could also develop for a few years in your cellar.
2008 Giuseppe Lonardi, Privilegia
Anyone who attended the wine dinner with Giuseppe Lonardi at Fresh Bistro three years ago can attest to the high quality and food friendliness of all his wines. He comes from a family of restaurateurs and founded his winery in 1984. He now owns seven hectares of vines, and makes all the traditional wines of the Valpolicella, including the classic Amarone we put in the August club. Now we are proud to present his Privilegia, a decidedly untraditional 50-50 blend of Corvina, the primary grape in Amarone, and Cabernet Franc, the top Bordeaux varietal grown in eastern Italy. The Corvina is fermented on its lees and stems, just like Amarone, and then blended with Cabernet Franc and matured for 22 months in large barriques. This technique preserves the bright fruit of the Cab Franc while moderating its tannins. While we’ve carried the Privilegia for a few vintages, in our opinion this is the best one yet. It was even recognized by the Italian Sommeliers Association as the top wine in Italy. At the wine dinner it was paired with veal and rack of roasted wild boar, which gives you an idea of the richness of the wine. While it could age up to 15 years, you could certainly decant it and put it out on your holiday table this year. It’s $41.50 and we do have a bit more.