Entre-Deux-Mers: Drink Responsibly

Monday, April 24, 2017 1:14 PM

Could it be because Pete just returned from Bordeaux, or that it’s Earth Day and I am thinking about human stewardship of the planet? Or is it because it is a wine I have frequently purchased for my own personal pleasure that I have selected to write a few words about the lovely white Entre-Deux-Mers from Chateau Ferran? For all the above reasons and more, I have the 2015 Chateau Ferran Entre-Deux-Mers on my mind. Entre-Deux-Mers is a expansive Bordeaux appellation but within it are a few choice sub-appellations. One of note is Haut Benauge and this is where you will find Chateau Ferran. Haut Benauge is directly across the Garonne River from Graves and because it is on high ground it is considered a choice location to grow wine grapes.


Chateau Ferran is a family-run estate that converted to organic and biodynamic farming nearly ten years ago. In preparation for this write-up, I visited Chateau Ferran’s website. The website has plenty of information about the winemaking, the farming philosophy and such, but there is practically no mention of the people who make the wine or run the estate. I think this is a deliberate exclusion. It suggests to me that the Ferran family places more importance on the land, the soil, the biodiversity of the vineyards, than on human intervention.


This Entre-Deux-Mers is a blend of equal parts Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with 10% each of Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. I am drawn to the yellow fruit flavors, reminiscent of peaches and apricots, that linger long on the palate. It has no pungent, grassy flavors so often associated with Sauvignon Blanc. All tank fermented, with some time on the lees, it has gorgeous floral aromatics that bring to mind citrus blossoms and acacia. The finish is slightly creamy and is very fresh. It has filled in very nicely as my Friday Night Fish Fry wine, making a lovely match with baked, breaded Petrale Sole.




Julien Ferran is the current winemaker who took over from his father, Alain. Julien is a biologist by trade, so his interest in biodynamic farming is not unexpected (check out 

this video of Julien discussing geobiology in the vineyard). I know for many the principles of biodynamic farming are controversial and verge on the cult-like, but in my anecdotal experience with wineries who embrace biodynamics, I see a direct connection between the exhaustive, conscientious work down in the vineyard and the quality of the wine. This under $15 Bordeaux blanc is impressive because of the effort that went into it and the final outcome, its deliciousness.




Samples of Chateau Ferran were sent to us by another French winery who included them among their own samples. We had no prior relationship to Chateau Ferran when we tasted the samples. We knew nothing of them other than they were friends of a wine family with whom we were starting to do business. Based solely on the quality (and price) of the samples, we purchased a pallet of Chateau Ferran. This is atypical of TWH to pull the trigger so quickly, but good wine is good wine – we recognized it immediately, so we felt there was little risk.


The last few weeks have had a recurring theme for me that centers around the question, “what do you believe in?” I have been asking myself a lot of questions about what I am willing to stand up for personally, socially and spiritually. I’ll spare you my existential angst, but if I’m comparing two wines of equal pleasure to me and one is made by a small family who farms organically and/or biodynamically and the other is mass-produced, industrially made, I am going to pick the former every time. The 2015 Entre-Deux-Mers is coming home with me tonight. I am not sure what is on the menu, but I’ll start the evening with a chilled glass of it. Tastes good and it’s good for you! – Anya Balistreri

2011 Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG

Monday, June 17, 2013 7:20 PM

Don’t look now, but we are steaming into summer! Solstice is coming up on Friday, I wish I could be in Santa Barbara for that, but alas, I had a very rare weekend off last week. The band played 2 shows up in Hood River, Oregon, and we had a blast. A little wine was sipped, both local and imported, and there were many memorable moments, that’s for sure. Being June and all, there was a whole lot of daylight up there, so yeah, summer is on the mind big time! It must be time to stock up on this year’s refrigerator door white wine. This is an absolute no-brainer here. What else could it be? The 2011 Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG.

 

After having put together a Dirty Dozen or two over the past 7 years, it has become more than obvious that as far as good quality sub $10 wine bargains go, there are substantially more red options than white. Why that is, I don’t know, but it’s a fact. That’s what makes Picollo’s Gavi extraordinary.  We’ve been importing the Ernesto Picollo line for several vintages now, and we are absolutely delighted with the wines. Their entry-level Gavi DOCG is a great example of how refreshing the Cortese grape can be. Grown in Piemonte, Gavi is the white wine of choice all along the coast from the Italian Riviera to Cinque Terre. Think fresh citrus aromas with a hint of melon; the palate is framed by zippy white fruit and a whiff of pebbly minerals, which leads the taster to a bright, lipsmacking finish. I could totally see myself back in sunny Bordighera looking out over the Mediterranean sipping on a glass of this whilst I toss back a bowl of gamberi. The beauty of Picollo’s Gavi DOCG, is that it is great on its own as well as being versatile enough to pair with crustaceans, poultry, pork, or white fish. So what does this baby cost? $10.49 per bottle. By the case? How about less than $9??!!?? Definite no-brainer here.

 

 

It’s really hard to find enjoyable wines for less than $10. It’s even harder to find a good white wine in that price range. But that’s what we do; as Anya says, “We taste a lot of bad wines so you don’t have to.” When we say yes to something, it’s for good reason. Like the Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG. I fondly remember the first vintage we carried. I took a bottle over to my favorite Monday night haunt,and excitedly poured a taste for Bruce Hill himself. He took a sip, his expression changed, he nodded and smiled, “Nice,” he said.“What’s the grape?”

“Cortese,” I replied.

“Great, we’ll pour it by the glass at the Pizzeria. Good find. Tell (the manager).”

Let’s just say that I got to know their valets very well, as I used their parking lot several times to drop off cases of the stuff on my way home after work. If it was good enough for them, it is certainly good enough for me, and I will consider it a failure if I ever come home to a summer-heated treehouse and not have a bottle of Gavi already in the fridge!

 

So yeah, summer is almost here. It’s time for summer traditions like grilling, hiking, biking, hanging at the beach, I could go on but you all know what I’m getting at. Stocking up on quality, inexpensive white wine is another summer tradition that won’t be going away any time soon. As long as they continue to produce it, let’s just say that the Ernesto Picollo Gavi DOCG will be a summer tradition in 2013, and for years to come. Oh, and to all the Dads out there, best wishes for a Happy Father’s Day! – Peter Zavialoff

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments about summer, inexpensive white wine, the band, or English Football: peter.winehouse@sbcglobal.net

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