Monday, April 6, 2009

Alfredo Bartholomaus Visits Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits Monday, April 6th, 2009 To Taste TILIA & YEALANDS Wines

I just enjoyed earlier today a wonderful reunion with my old friend Alfredo Bartholomaus, owner of Billington Imports. He came with William Davis that is our rep from Billington currently and they took me to lunch at one of my favorite D.C. restaurants Nam Viet.

Alfredo wanted to introduce the new Kiwi wines of Peter Yealands called YEALANDS Estate. We tried all three currently here : two Sauvignon Blancs, 2008 regular bottling : ON SALE for $13.49 ) and the " Seaview " 2008 ( $20 or less ). We also tried the Marlborough 2008 Pinot Noir ( $16.99 or so ). I must say I liked all three : there is style and balance and character in all three. At first I was not sure about the 2008 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. I had just tasted this past weekend here in the store with our customers at Cleveland Park Wines & Spirits ( 3423 Connecticut Avenue N.W, Washington D.C. Tel : 202-363-4265 ) the 2007 KENNEDY POINT ( $17.99 ) which I really like a whole lot. I was remembering that as I sipped the 2008 YEALANDS Estate and was snapping pictures and listening to Alfredo talk about this man he had met in New Zealand last December called Peter Yealands. Alfred assured me that I would like him, that we would get along.

I loved the pictures of Peter : he looks like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe!

The " Seaview " 2008 Sauvignon Blanc reminded me more of the KENNEDY POINT. It was a bit richer, fuller, smoother and creamier - still bright and fresh and alive. The female winemaker here working with Peter knows here wines. She has produced two excellent Sauvignon Blancs that will have world-appeal. They both do not have any gooseberry taste.

The Pinot Noir is medium-to-light-bodied and bright and lively and refreshing. It tastes and smells like Pinot Noir and with another eight months or more in the bottle I think the wine will fall completely into focus and develop more of it's flavors. It's so appealing even now at this stage!

I also liked the two red TILIA wines that we tried next from Argentina : the Cabernet Sauvignon and the red blend of Malbec and Syrah. I liked both, especially because of how sound they are and because their excellent price. I know they are current vintages but I forgot to look : what are they William? Fortunately I took the pictures and when I blow them up on the monitor I can usually read them and record them immediately after : a small trick I learned a long time ago.

I preferred the blend to the Cab in this case. At first I got just a bit of alcohol on the first taste that was replaced with a silky, smooth finish. The Malbec-Syrah blend was a bit thicker, richer and I liked it better for just casual sipping. I might change my mind, however.

This weekend rep Stephen Allegretto from Billington will be here in the store to do an all-TILIA Argentina wine tasting with these two and the Chardonnay which I still have to taste. That will be Saturday 11th from 3-7 PM here at Cleveland Park. Come join us.

The YEALANDS Estate wines will be here the first week of May and we will have Alfredo himself coming to do a very rare-in-store wine-tasting. Stay-tuned for more info.

I also liked both YEALANDS Awatere Valley, Marlborough ( sustainable wines ) and TILIA'S Argentinean ( sustainably farmed ) approach to organic/environment-friendly wine making. I was hearing all about it at YEALANDS, New Zealand winery from William Davis as Alfredo spoke of Peter Yealands' passion in this new project of his. He spoke of Peter wanting to do this project because of his love for New Zealand and wanting to have New Zealand wines in every area of the world.

Over and over Alfredo spoke of the investment in time, energy, money and large tracts of land to plant lots of vines. He mentioned how Peter had purchased 50 John Deere pieces of equipment to move and rearrange the land : that's something =easier than many men with many shovels! My response to Alfredo was that I understood completely this joy and satisfaction of Peter's as this is completely his, his vision, his persistence and his will to see it through and provide really good Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir to the world at large : bravo Peter , you certainly are on the right track.

As you can see from these photos I take lots of creative and artistic licence. I try to tell both a story and create a mood. I want to show things in a light that I hope is a bit fresh and original. I love to show the wines next to the food. This is Vietnamese food at it's very best, really. I also like to show the wine, food and people caught in candid pictures/expressions through my wine glass as well as through the wine bottles. I'm an artist and I am having the time of my life combining 100% now my artistic bent with my love to educate people on and about wine and give them opportunities to enjoy experiences with wine and food that they might not otherwise have.

I have been hearing all through this meal about the young female winemaker at YEALANDS Estate : how she has made wine in Italy, Australia, California and now New Zealand. That's all very impressive and these various experiences have honed her skills to make wines that by and large the whole world should really like and embrace. Cheers to her and I do look forward to meeting her as well sometime. I can already see her heading to South America for a visit to Chile and to Argentina to visit both Cousino-Macul as well as Catena and Tilia!

I'm npw looking at the glossy, actually matted color fact sheets that Alfredo gave me and realize that I have alot to read and to mention with time. Under Peter's bio there are six notes/points of commitment that look crucial to this mission. On a separate sheet there is a whole bio on Tamra Washington the young female winemaker of which I speak. I will read them later tonight. I do not read them now and include all their info because I want to report simply now my " first impressions " - and they are very positive.

I can't wait to get these wines to our store, to get Alfredo here as well as you Peter when you come to visit Washington D.C.

As I said I also liked the TILIA ( sustainably farmed - speaking my language ) wines and can't wait to try the Chardonnay this weekend. I am really also intrigued that TILIA has neck-talkers made of recycled paper with seeds of annual Gaillardia, Baby's Breath Catchfly, Siberian Wallflower, Chinese Houses, Baby Blue-Eyes and California Bluebell in it that, when planted will actually sprout and fill pots with their flowers! I've got one here now and I intend to plant it this week, The directions are right on the back of the neck-talker. Go to : 888-402-9979 / 858-565-2585 ( handmade in San Diego, CA. ).

In one of the photos I took ( perhaps my favorite ) you see the picture of Peter Yealands through the glass of 2008 Sauvignon Blanc as well as through the clear bottle of wine itself. What do you think Peter? Do you feel like I have seen through to the core to connect the dots so to speak between you and your wines?

Cheers, Gracias Alfredo, hasta luego amigo ! TONY

P.S. I blew one of the pictures up as I said I would do and I see that the Tilia ( sustainably farmed ) Cabernet Sauvignon and the red blend of Malbec and Syrah are both from the 2008 vintage.

Peter, I'm curious about the bird on your label, is it a seagull? I guess I'll have to read the literature to find out that answer. It's now Monday night at home here in northern Virginia at 10:31 PM. It's almost time for bed. What will tomorrow bring?!?

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