By The Glass
Delicious wines off the beaten path
While out exploring the great outdoors with the kids, I found myself yearning to go off the path and see what lay ahead. My paternal grandmother always called me "choko choko" boy, which my parents translated as being "rascal." I must admit she pulled me out of more than one mishap. Later researching the word and delving into Japanese Onomatopoeia, I came back with a definition of ... "always moving around ... toddling." It now seems fitting that my natural curiosity leads me to seek out and try obscure wines.
One example is the white grape of Piedmont, Roero Arneis, named after the town of Roero, just west of the Langhe River in northwest Italy. The grape name Arneis, translates to "Rascal" in the local dialect. Though a wonderful wine, interest in it waned (as Piedmont is Barolo and Barbaresco country) and it almost died out in the 1950s. One of the classic producers of the region, Bruno Giacosa was at the forefront for the revival of this unique, high quality grape. The Bruno Giacosa, Roero Arneis 2006 ($35.99) has a shimmer of green to its canary-yellow hue. The aromas are floral with lime zest, grapefruit, melons, almonds and wildflowers. It is medium-full in flavor, light-bodied, with crisp acidity and a refreshing finish. Perfect for Hawaii's Tropical climate and cuisine, seafood, shellfish or lighter fare work best.
From the Spanish region of Galicia in the hills of Valdeorras Valley, the indigenous grape varietal, Godello has experienced a revival. In 1975, the Spanish government began a project to revitalize the once prosperous wine region. A team led by Horrario Fernandez Presa discovered that the Godello grape once prospered more than 200-years ago in the slate laden hills, not lower valleys, as originally thought, of the Valdeorras.
Founding the Bodegas Godeval in the Monastery of San Miguel de Xagoaza, Presa began to cultivate this nearly forgotten grape. The site was chosen due to historic ties as well as a wondrous 200-year-old Godello vine that sits just outside the winery. Godeval's vineyards are currently the oldest in the Valdeorras at 20 years old. The Bodegas Godeval, Godello 2006 ($20.99) with its crisp, textured citrus tones and vibrant acidity is great with seafood (calamari, langoustines, clams and sardines), lighter meats, mushrooms and milder cheeses.
Westward, wine grape growing as we know it began in Japan about 120 years ago. One of the more prominent grapes is Koshu. Part of the European Vitus Vinifera wine grape family, it is speculated that Koshu made its way through Central Asia along the Silk road through China via Buddhist monks. The grape has been cultivated as far back as 1,300 years ago and was served to the Shogun of the time as table grapes. The Grace Winery, Koshu 2005 ($24.99) is an elegant white that is fresh and crisp with pure aromas of grapefruit, apples, lemons and yuzu. The winery is located in Katsunuma.
Kevin Toyama is at sommelier at the Halekulani and an advanced certificate holder from the Court of Master Sommeliers. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org