By the Glass: 4 great wines rooted in family
You probably have not heard of any of these wines, but they can be found in Hawaii, and they are well worth seeking out, not just for quality, but also value.
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I have great admiration for wineries owned and operated by families who have been practicing their craft for generations. I also admire how they tend to focus their attention on local, indigenous grape varieties, and how delicious, effortlessly light and gulpable their wines are.
You probably have not heard of any of the wines I am recommending today, but they can be found in Hawaii, and they are well worth seeking out, not just for quality, but also value.
To be clear, I am totally not suggesting esoteric, eccentric wines, trying to be cool. If you were to go to these various wine-growing regions, you’d see how familiar, appreciated and celebrated all of these producers are.
It’s not about rarity at all.
These wines are not found only in restaurants; look for them at specialty wine shops. Ask for them by name, as the shops should be able to procure them for you from the local distributor.
They are also worth finding for another reason: The weather in the islands is still remarkably hot, and these suggestions are ideal for sipping when temperatures are high.
>> Tintero Vino Bianco (roughly $13 a bottle): Tasty, remarkably light, fizzy and uplifting, the Tintero is a consummate example of country-style wines from Italy, commonly served in rural neighborhood cafes and trattorias. It’s made by a family that has been growing grapes and making wines since 1900, so they know what they are doing and they know what they like. Their wine has the feel of a family recipe, one they would serve at their own lunch table or while talking story with friends on an especially hot day.
The Tintero is made with 95% local, indigenous white grape varieties — arneis, favorita and moscato — although the 2018 contains 5% chardonnay for body and structure. Serve it well-chilled and often. It’s a real thirst-quencher.
>> 2017 Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara “Piria” (roughly $16 a bottle): A light-colored, fizzy red? Who would drink such a wine? Me, and hoards of followers of true lambrusco. Lambrusco can come from four zones in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, and one in Lombardy. My favorite for hot weather sipping hails from Sorbara in Emilia- Romagna.
Lambrusco has been enjoyed for hundreds of years, some say since Roman times. The key is finding fresh renditions that maximize lambrusco’s exuberance, freshness and vitality. This one just arrived in the islands and I am so happy it is here. While many dishes could be paired with it, I enjoy a well-chilled glass most with a platter of cheese and salami. The wine’s refreshing quality counters the rich saltiness of the charcuterie quite deliciously.
>> 2018 Catherine & Pierre Breton Grolleau (roughly $21 a bottle): The Bretons are champions of organic and biodynamic practices, a movement they are helping to spread across the world. Their vineyards are in France’s Loire Valley, and they have won accolades for their work with chenin blanc in Vouvray and cabernet franc in Bourgueil. But I find this charming “little” red wine, produced from the nearly forgotten grolleau grape, to be particularly delicious.
The aroma is quite funky and wildly rustic, at least partially due to their more natural approach to winemaking. I find it intriguing, and there is no denying how lovely and ethereal it is from the first sip (which comes from the extreme marine-influenced soils and cooler growing temperatures). If you like a light Beaujolais, this would be a fun venture into something else unique, indigenous and wonderfully food friendly.
The value of this wine is especially notable when you consider that the grapes are grown in a natural manner that is very labor intensive, then the wine is shipped all the way to Hawaii in temperature- controlled containers.
>> 2018 Coutale Malbec Rosé (roughly $15 a bottle): Many grape varieties are used to produce tasty, interesting and food-friendly rosés in many different styles. It really is a marvelous time to delve into the world of pink wines.
This specific dry, masculine, very savory rosé interacts with bold, savory dishes just as cranberry does at the Thanksgiving feast — freshening the palate between bites. At Vino Italian Tapas & Wine Bar, we recommend it with a dish of braised Spanish octopus with a smoked ham hock stew.
The wine is 100% malbec from a long-time family- run winery in southwest France — Basque country. I not only love this wine, I especially love its eye- jarring low price. I wonder how that price is even possible. I suggest taking advantage before someone wakes up and discovers they made a mistake.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the DK Restaurants group. Follow his blog at chuckfuruya.com.