2014 Lioco Wine Company, Cerise Vineyard, Pinot Noir, $55
Winery info: Lioco was founded in 2006 by two friends in the wine and restaurant trade with a shared passion for classic European wines and a dislike of the “heavy-handed wines of the day.” They wanted to make wine in California that favored nuance over power. With access to some of the top independent growers in the state, they source fruit from exceptional vineyard sites in three counties. Today the winery is owned by Matt Licklider (the “Li” of Lioco) and his wife, who continue to produce characterful, terroir-driven California wines.
Winemaker: John Raytek
Grapes: 100% Pinot Noir, Pommard, 115, and Dijon clones. Aged ten months in French oak, 25% new.
Vineyard: Cerise Vineyard, in the Anderson Valley. Planted on a series of steep, exposed ridges overlooking Boonville in Mendocino County and farmed biodynamically.
Flavor Profile: A serious Pinot, with aromas of bitter chocolate and crushed stone, and savory flavors of red fruit, woodsy brambles, and spice. While it has some heft, the texture is smooth and supple, making it a lovely wine to enjoy on its own or with food.
Availability: 165 cases made. This wine will be moving on to the next vintage soon.
Drinkability: Give it a little time to open up. Enjoy any time over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Peking duck, pork belly ramen, or braised lamb.
2015 Domaine de Bellivière, Jasnières, “Les Rosiers,” $38
Winery info: This estate was created in 1995 in Jasnières, one of the least well known regions in France’s Loire Valley. It is located north of Touraine, in the northernmost (and coolest) zone in the valley. The winery is run by Pascal Janvier and his wife Dominique.
Grapes: 100% Chenin Blanc, from the estate’s younger vines (under 50 years in age). Aged 12 months in one- to three-year-old barrels, a quarter of which are new.
Vineyard: The parcels for this wine are located on flinty, clay-limestone soil, rich in tuffeau (soft sedimentary limestone). Farmed biodynamically and hand harvested.
Flavor Profile: Although Les Rosiers is typically the lightest and driest of Bellivière’s offerings, 2015 was a particularly warm vintage and there is more residual sugar in this wine than in cooler years. But it is balanced by a zippy acidity and minerality that adds a mouthwatering freshness. The wine is elegant rich and juicy with hints of orchard fruit and savory mushroomy notes.
Availability: There are just a few cases left with the distributor.
Drinkability: Fresh and delicious now, it will develop more of those savory notes over the next few years.
Food Pairing: Mushroom dishes, poultry, or white fish. Or perhaps with Asian cuisine.