One flight up

Second Story Selections bills itself as a boutique importer/distributor of “wines with the energy, depth and complexity that might come from artisanal practices such as organic/sustainable viticulture, small hands-on production and uncompromising commitment to balanced aroma and structure.”

Wines that “might come from …”? Second story’s portfolio makes a point of indicating which wines come from “sustainable” vineyards. This, however, is a term of art rather than science.

At The Frisky Oyster, I put the alcohol content of the wines on the list, along with the price and vintage. Once, before I was putting together a wine list, I was in a restaurant looking at theirs and said I wished wine lists ordered their wines by alcohol content rather than vintage or price. I thought of this because I don’t like hot wines. Dennis agreed to do it, and it has sparked some interesting conversations with the customers. It’s also a good way to talk about what global warming is doing to the wine industry.

I’ve thought about adding whether the wines come from organic, biodynamic or sustainable vineyards. It is a selling point these days.

But “sustainable” lacks a definition. More accurate would be terms such as “no herbicides were used to make this wine.” Or, harder still to accomplish, “No pesticides were used to make this wine.” Sustainable could also mean the winery composts everything.

This has gotten far afield from the wines John brought me. I was unable to taste them with him, which I enjoy because he’s got a unique way of talking about wine. It’s more like a relationship.

The wines were:

Heinz Nikolai 2006 Erbacher Honigberg Feinherb Riesling — delicious, with a smoky, slatey nose and a juicy, velvet mouthfeel with stone fruit. The bottle says it tastes like apricots and almonds.

Unus 2006 Syrah — from Spain, this was an herbal syrah, as opposed to the tarry kind from hot weather vineyards. It reminded me of the Bunyip I tasted the other week. Rosemary and thyme with big body.

Burford and Brown 2005 Barbera Amador County — this wine was hot, chocolatey and berry with a full body.

These are the notes I rushed off.

The final wine was the Bodegas Sierra Virgen 2007 Airen. Airen is one of the most planted but least known of grapes. I’m going to give it its own post.

Exciting update:

Looks like growers in California’s central coast have got together to create a third party for codifying sustainability. From Wines & Vines.

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