top-pic-1Wine Bar Coral Gables

Jonata and Lieu Dit

Wednesday morning and a day with the young guns. Having spent time with many of the forefathers today we felt the need to roust about with the names you are soon to know. First to Jonata to meet with Drew Pickering, assistant winemaker extraordinaire for the small Jonata team, to look at a whole new style of wines from what we’d seen so far. Drew was cool enough to pull some older bottles for us to try. So we got into 2 different levels of juice one which is the Paring labels that takes the younger vines and grapes that don’t fit Jonata’s regime and put them to good use. Rockin rose of pinot noir, super mineral and balanced chardonnay and pinot noir wrecking it with cola, cardamom and sandalwood. Next up some older cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon blends along with some juicy merlot. Grapes that we had not seen to this point on the trip but coming from the former owner of Screaming Eagle in Napa you knew it was coming. A great tasting as we went through older wines from 2009, 2007 and their first vintage 2005. No, no Drew you shouldn’t have, buy since you did!!!!These wines are in high demand and some even higher price points, so it was awesome for the group to get a chance to purchase some older bottles for their cellars. Knowing this group obviously they are all about allowing their wines to AGE?????!
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For our afternoon, we had the opportunity to hang with my guy Eric Railsback who at 29 has worked in some of the most revered restaurants in the west coast as a somm, has opened his own wine bar and made his own wines for 4 years now. I’ve had the great pleasure to work a few guest gigs with Eric over the years and will never forget the end of a night at a high powered event with Wolfgang Puck where Eric was mocking Chef Puck ‘s accent and Wolfgang wheeled about to tell him “you sound like my fucking sister!” We were all stoked when Eric asked us to meet him at a little old school Mexican joint in Lompoc for some bad ass chorizo tacos and Tecate before the tasting. With full bellies and brews we headed to the Tyler tasting room where Tyler, Lieu Dit and Vallin wines are all produced under one roof.
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The Lieu Dit wines are all produced from traditional grapes found in the Loire Valley in France. Chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, pinot noir and cabernet franc all made in a very elegant, lithe and structured style emanating more minerals and mouth feel than anything else. The Vallin wines are Rhone Valley varieties featuring syrah, marsanne and viognier that carry more aromatics and freshness than most wines you’ll find anywhere, especially in California. No new wood used here only neutral barrels over 10 years of age or more. Eric walked us through 10 wines combined from both labels and gave us his insight on why he and his friends who are also world class somms make these wines in a high acid, aromatic and textured combination which is a fit at the table. Wow, almost like I planned it that way! As we exited the winery I noticed that again the spit buckets were empty and as we stopped for another of the thousands of pictures Anne belted out “My boss is going to see me all over Facebook, I should have requested vacation time.” To her husband Rick responded, “Uh oh Heath, I think its time to get the marker!”
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With no plans for dinner Eric suggested Mattie’s Tavern, a classic place that recently reopened under new owners and a James Beard trained Chef. Game 7 of the World Series was on and they had bocce courts and a lounge. Bocce broke out on both courts and I ‘m not saying things got competitive but I’m pretty sure I counted 4 broken nails and 3 calls for an impartial judge come from Mary, Joy and Gina’s game. Afterward we were escorted to the kitchen where we dined at the chefs table on fried pickles (no okra), grilled avocado with wasabi, dirty laundry (cured meats hung from clothes pins), grilled squid, beef tartar, welsh rarebit and cote du boeuf that was 10 ounces larger than it should have been topped with shishito peppers. Just another crappy meal we were forced to endure, but luckily we were sequestered by the songbirds with another rendition of Happy Birthday to Gina and Skynard took us back to Sweet Home Alabama on the way home. Last day, coming up……
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