The Wine: Three by Sommelier and New New World Winemaker, Brian Smith, a Malbec, a Torrontes and a Cotes de Provence Rose.
The Food: Classic American from the great kitchen of Neptune Market, Harvey Cedars, NJ.
The Place: Our Friend's, Gail and Marc, Beach House, Lane 89, Loveladies NJ.
I love taking my friends on wine adventures, bringing them to places where they have not traveled before. When I heard that a weekend on the Jersey Shore with a group of friends was to commence with a dinner of classic American cuisine, bbq ribs, fried chicken, and fresh bounty from the garden I thought it would be a great opportunity to explore three fun wines from Loca Linda.
We seek to make our tastings stimulating and illuminating for the palate and mind. We take our wine very seriously but also think it should be fun. We now know that Brian Smith has the same point of view.
For this tasting we asked “Can Whites go with Meats like Ribs?”, “Can Reds go with Chicken?” “What about Something In Between?” The answer was certainly yes as a flavorful Torrontes played interesting games with tangy bbq and a very crisp Malbec added a new dimension to the crispy fried chicken. Rose of course plays well with many foods but was a great compliment to a classic American macaroni salad.
The second question, which we posed was “Can a former snowborder, European skateboarding wine backpacker, boy from Green Point, Brooklyn, really go out and make some great wine and sell it at a great retail price?” Yes Again.
Intrigued by his wines Loca Linda and Jolie Folle, which translate loosely in their respective countries of Argentina and France to “Crazy Beautiful” We wanted to learn more so asked Brian some questions. Here is what he said.
Peter: What's your philosophy of making great wine, what has inspired you most.
Brian: Great wine should be approachable and enjoyable, everything doesn’t need to be pushed to extremes. While I love exploring new wines I think balance is ultimately the deciding factor. Whether it’s extreme ripeness, oak and extraction, or barely ripened fringe varietals with natural ferments– my favorite wines are those in the middle.
Peter: What do you mean by "sommelier driven wines?"
Brian: When we started we always wanted to make approachable wines - not too precious. To me somms or anyone who drinks a lot of wine looks for acidity and tension in their wines. Even though we work with soft juicy Malbec, we focused on a fresher style of that wine by only working with high altitude vineyards, minimal oak and picking a little earlier. For these reasons we placed our Malbec in a lot of high end restaurants that normally wouldn’t really consider working with Malbec by the Glass. We also focused on natural acidity in our Torrontes by staggering the pick to increase natural acidity and balance. This is more common in Argentina now but not when we started in 2007.
Peter: If you were advising an aspiring wine maker what experience or words of wisdom would you share?
Brian: It’s all in the details and buckle up!!
Peter: What are you plans or dreams for future wines.
Brian: We’re launching our second wine under Jolie Folle. It is a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc that I’m extremely excited about. I drink a ton of our rose and I think this will be hot on it’s heels in terms of personal consumption. I also have the pleasure of working on a number of really unique small lot wines with some great friends and partners in 2014. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Santa Barbara County, it’s an extremely exciting time there right now. I’m fired up on the terroir, talent and creativity coming out of this area. It’s on fire.
Peter: What changes do you see coming in wine making and consumption that are driven by the Millennial Generation.
Brian: I think the key to engaging the millennial generation is to make really interesting wines more accessible. This means telling great origin stories through new channels of communication and engagement, adapting "wine speak" to the language of the day and delivering wines and experiences through new channels of distribution (direct to consumer).
Well there you have it. Find out More Here: www.localinda.com
Our first tasting with family, was also a great success.
We found Brian’s wines at Shoppers Vineyard in Clifton NJ where I met the charming Cassia Schifter who helps Brian promote the wines. Her enthusiasm won me over and so glad she took the trip to New Jersey. To find these wines try www.wine-searcher.com