This month’s feature, the 2015 Fore Family Vineyards Stewart Vineyard Albariño, exemplifies not only the individual quality and consistency we have come to expect from the Fore Family, it highlights the Fores’ pioneering spirit with Albariño, a relative newcomer to California. The winery’s total production of the Stewart Vineyard Albariño is a mere 172 cases. The 2015 vintage in Northern California yielded a bevy of exciting wines, including this mouthwatering Carneros Albariño. In true Fore Family fashion, the winery’s debut vintage of Albariño offers plenty of bold flavors and is anything but a light, wimpy white wine. With an inviting gleam the color of sunshine and enticing aromas of pit fruits, lemon zest, and honeysuckle, the 2015 Fore Family Stewart Vineyard Albariño welcomes the taster from the moment it is poured. More aromatic and structured than its Spanish counterparts, this Albariño nevertheless retains the varietal’s bright acidity and distinct minerality, which render it one satisfying and refreshing white wine, and a welcome alternative to Chardonnay. In the mouth, one encounters a wealth of fruit, pit, and stone flavors that are superbly rendered on a sea of bright acidity. Balanced, bold, and vivacious, the Fore Family’s first venture with Albariño is sure to make heads turn. We are glad we committed to this wine when we did because it won’t last long. For optimal enjoyment, we suggest affording the wine a moderate chill (38°-40° F) and a few minutes in the glass to release all of its charm. Enjoy!
The 2015 Fore Family Vineyards Napa Valley Carneros Albariño makes for a delightful aperitif, but it brings its best self to the table where it rises to the gastronomic glories of both the land and the sea. Given this Albariño’s extroverted personality and balanced structure, it provides an ideal accompaniment to Frutti di Mar Lasagna, delicate layers of fresh pasta sheets served with swordfish, salmon, mussels, cured tomatoes, spinach and fine herbs in a saffron seafood broth. Sautéed scallops, grilled snapper, crabmeat, and a spicy conch salad also make fine companions to Fore Family’s mouth filling Albariño. Seafood tacos, ceviche, and savory rice with squid ink pair beautifully with this wine as well. Spinach salad with grilled chicken, Serrano ham, hard boiled eggs, roasted tomato, avocado, and Manchego crisps tossed with a Gorgonzola dressing also provides a superb accompaniment to this wine, as does sushi, sashimi and fresh or fried Thai-style spring rolls. We also support pairing the 2015 Fore Family Vineyards Albariño with Spain’s finest cheeses, especially Manchego, Mahon, and mild goat cheeses. Buen Provecho!
Editor’s Note: Rarely does The International Wine of the Month Club feature more than one wine from a winery in any month or in successive months. We make exceptions only when the quality and extreme rarity of a producer’s wines pose a special opportunity for our members. We are pleased to make the exception this month with wines from Fore Family Vineyards.
Fore Family Vineyards, Lake County pioneer viticulturists and creators of limited editions of Carneros and Napa Valley wines from single vineyard sites, fashions a growing portfolio of California’s most exciting wines. Fore Family Vineyards’ wines are highly allocated and rarely available outside of the winery, unless you are a member of The International Wine of the Month Club.
Fore Family Vineyards began in 1986 when Jim Fore won first place with his Pinot Noir in the Napa Town and Country Fair home winemaking division. This accolade gave Jim the impetus to plant a small vineyard in the back yard. Since then, the Fore family passion to grow grapes and make wine has grown to sixty acres in Napa and Lake Counties and a multi-generation family affair.
Jim’s wife Diane, a kindergarten teacher, is also fully engaged in the family enterprise from sales to assisting in the vineyards, managing sales meetings, and bookkeeping, while still teaching part time. From the beginning, Fore Family Vineyards was meant to be a family affair, but the couple’s children, Melissa and Eric, were too young at the onset to commit to that endeavor. However, as adults, they now share the pleasures of wine and actively work in producing Fore Family Vineyards’ wines.
The Fores’ farming practices are sustainable, which means that they don’t take out without putting back. They plant cover crops, which are a mixed blend that includes legumes to increase nitrogen and act as green compost. Cover crops are planted in alternating rows each year, which in turn alternates the rows that are tilled. The Fores also maintain the balance between vine canopy and crop, so as to control yields. Fore Family Vineyards believes this is a responsible way to farm the land, so that their endeavors can sustain further generations.
Albariño is an indigenous Spanish grape variety whose home is Rias Baixas and the Galician hinterlands of northwest Spain and Portugal. Albariño was once thought to be distantly related to Riesling, but some enologists now believe that Albariño may be more closely connected to the Petit Manseng variety of southwest France, just on the other side of the towering Pyrenees Mountains. However, no dry white Petit Manseng can match the body and finesse of Spain’s finest Albariño wines.
In Portugal, Albariño goes by the name Alvarinho where it usually ends up as a light summertime quaff in the guise of Vinho Verde. Surely, nowhere could a single grape variety be more different than Albariño is in Spain, Portugal, and in the New World as well. While Portugal picks this varietal early and makes a low alcohol wine (8.5%-9% on average), Spain, under the tutelage of accomplished wine makers in Rias Baixas, turns out full-bodied, intense Albariños with aromatic and flavor profiles more akin to Viognier – the greatest white variety of France’s Rhône Valley.
Although once exclusive to its native land, Albariño is now being extensively studied and planted in numerous locales around the world, including Australia, California, South Africa, and Washington State. Early reports from winemakers and consumers appear especially promising for the late maturing Albariño, for which extended growing seasons are beneficial and the grape’s firm, bright acidity is much appreciated. We can expect to see more of this premium grape variety in the years to come.
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