I’ve often referenced my father’s influence on my love for wine. Those early introductions to various bottles at the dinner table, particularly on special occasions, were almost always prompted by him and his wine passion, in turn passing that along to me. But, make no mistake, my mother’s interest in wine was equally acute; she was just a little more soft-spoken about it.
My mother and I share the same birthday. And while there’s no need to discuss age here, let’s just say she was young when I was born. The advantage, it turns out, is that the older we’ve both become, the closer we’ve gotten in age. It’s worked out very well for years now when it comes to enjoying a glass of wine together. And to that point, as I’ve also referenced before, our mutual love of travel has enhanced our love for global wines. My mom had the opportunity to live in France as a young girl. She’s also visited many great wine producing countries in her adult life, not to mention multiple trips out west, to the various wine regions of California.
So, in honor of my mom, and to all mothers celebrating Mother’s Day this year, I’ll share with you some wines that not only I love, but are also my mother’s favorites. Perhaps they’ll be on your Mother’s Day table as well.
Moms and chardonnay. Sorry, they just belong together. Probably because a great chardonnay, like a loving mother, is irreplaceable. It can present itself in more ways than any other white wine grape in the world, is a workhorse in the toughest of conditions and is the Queen grape of Champagne. What more do you need?
In our family vacation years to California’s wine country, and certainly the years of my SoCal life, I came to know great chardonnay. In more recent times, my favorite producer has become Ramey Wine Cellars.
David Ramey, along with his wife Carla, founded Ramey Wine Cellars in 1996. His resume is the stuff of legends – Matanzas Creek, Dominus, Rudd, Chalk Hill – and in the 25 years of producing wines under his eponymous label, he’s become an iconic figure of California chardonnay. His bottlings of Sonoma County, as well as his single-vineyard Napa Valley chardonnays, have shaped the way many wines in the United States are made today, with an array of groundbreaking winemaking techniques that are now the standard. The California ‘style’ that we’ve all come to know can truly be attributed to the extraordinary skills of David Ramey.
Of his numerous selections, my go-to bottling is the Ramey Wine Cellars Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. The 2017 vintage is the second one to come exclusively from the acclaimed Martinelli Charles Ranch, just two short miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. It’s 100% Chardonnay and is aged for a year in French oak barrels. Creamy textured, yet respectably acidic, it has orchard fruit for days and a finish that doesn’t quit. A beautiful wine; and priced at $40, a beautiful gift for mom.
Like I mentioned, my mom lived in France, one of the greatest wine countries in the world…ever. And if you’re inclined to drink rose`, then Provence is a must. My mom will concur, she’s been there.
The late Luc Sorin, a man Robert Parker once called “the most exciting winegrower the South of France has to offer,” purchased his 14-hectare Bandol estate in 1994. Bandol, France is mere minutes from the Mediterranean Sea and is home to some of the most beautiful wines you’ll ever drink. Domaine Sorin is in the heart of Bandol and produces a Provence rose’ for the ages, Domaine Sorin Côtes de Provence Rose “Terra Amata”.
There’s something magical in the air when it comes to the Mediterranean Sea and its influence on the nearby vineyards, and Domaine Sorin Côtes de Provence Rose “Terra Amata” is proof that magic can be real. Organically grown and hand-harvested, it’s an artful blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, with numerous floral notes, a wash of berries and ripened strawberries. It’s clean, weighty and bone dry…the hallmark signature to Provencal rose’. It’s a wine worthy of a place at the most notable brunch of the year, especially at around $20.
And finally, Italy. I’ll cut to the quick; in my family, vino Italia reigns supreme. For me, it’s Piemonte and Nebbiolo. For my mom, it’s Tuscany and Brunello di Montalcino…she’s been there, too.
Montalcino is a small medieval hill-top town in the southeastern part of Tuscany, about 25 miles south of Siena. An ancient place, it’s home to the finest Sangiovese grown – Sangiovese Grosso – and produces the longest age-required wine in all of Italy, four years, Brunello di Montalcino.
Of the many small-property, world-class labels to come from Montalcino, Fattoria La Gerla is one of the best. Founded in 1976, La Gerla was born from the passion of its founder, Sergio Rossi, a successful businessman who fell in love with his vineyards, caring for them as if they were his children. The vineyards are located on the Montalcino hill, 320 meters above sea level, right where the slope softens. Sergio Rossi passed away in July 2011, but his legacy lives on through the vineyards and the wines they produce. Of his small handful of offerings, La Gerla Brunello di Montalcino 2015 is a force to be experienced. Harvested solely by hand, this Brunello (little dark one) is a powerful wine, with dark red fruits, earthy tones and a structure that commands a palate’s respect. Sangiovese is an inherently acidic grape, but its mutation Grosso offers a nearly equal tannic backbone, giving it enormous ageing capability, well beyond the six years already passed since harvest. If your Mother’s Day feast is calling for an epic red wine, this one, priced around $70, is the one to get. It will be on our table, honoring the woman who brought me into this world.
I hope you have a wonderful May and until next time, Happy Vino’ing!