Chow Town

A second glance at what’s in wine glasses this holiday season

Craig Adcock is preparing to make 40,000 rum cakes this year.
Craig Adcock is preparing to make 40,000 rum cakes this year. The Star

When I last left you, I was sharing the contents of the wine glasses of some of the most prominent wine-loving people I know.

I like to check in with these folks from time to time, kind of a refresh button for my wine glass and palette. Plus, it’s great this time of year when I’m always looking for suggestions for holiday tables and parties.

Oh, who am I kidding? I just like to learn and hear about stuff I haven’t tried yet. So, I got a bunch of responses, most well-reasoned and thoughtful, some off the wall and all very interesting. Let’s start with one of the former, the level-headed input of Wanda Mann who blogs under the title “The Black Dressed Traveler.”

Mann knows her stuff, so I knew her wine choice would be interesting.

“Lammershoek 2013 LAM Pinotage,” she said. “Unlike any other Pinotage I ever tasted, it actually had many noticeable Pinot Noir traits and was quite delicate.

“Very light raspberry color but quite opaque. The wine is unfined, unfiltered. Whole-berry fermentation with no added yeast. And they actually pigeage by foot. They press 20 percent as Rose and blend it back to lower the pH and increase acidity. Alcohol level is only 12.5 percent. Very odd little wine. About $15. A very delicate Pinotage, not big and assertive like I expect when I see Pinotage. You might even be able chill it a bit.”

Having just tried, enjoyed and written about three other Pinotages recently, I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle of the Lammershoek LAM bottling. It sounds yummy.

Next, I went to the Chicago suburbs to visit with long-time wine drinking pal and wine salesman Don Clemens. Clemens has represented Champagne, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and a host of other wines though the years. He’s semi-retired, but that hasn’t stopped him or his palate from continuing to push the beverage boundaries.

“This may be really ‘off the wall,’ but lately, I’ve been knocked out by some extraordinary Vermouth stylings from Italy and Spain,” he said. “They are just so far superior in flavor to what I used to think were top shelf vermouths, like Dolin, Noilly Prat and Boissiere. Something is going on here.

“In particular, I have totally enjoyed the vermouths of Yzaguirre and Mancino, as well as the ‘Chinato’ stylings of Mancino and Vergano. These are almost ‘ancient’ styles of wine, and even as I am writing this, I am anxious to get some more for my home bar. Tasting the level of complexities in these beverages is truly a journey of discovery.”

Having just gone through the Vermouth list at Affare here in town as part of another article coming to your phone, laptop and desktop shortly, I concur. There’s definitely something going on in the world of Vermouth.

I wanted to “bring it back home” for my final two wine weigh-ins, the first of which comes from one of Kansas City’s growing number of sommeliers, the second from one of the city’s most successful food entrepreneur. Sommelier Matthew Lees weighs in first.

“Let me start by saying, ‘I don’t like Pinot Grigio!’ ” Lees said. “If I wanted to drink imported lemon-infused water, then that’s what I would do. With that being said, let me say this, ‘I like Pinot Grigio!’ A very particular Pinot Grigio, of course.

“The wine, Point Conception Pinot Grigio from well respected winemaker Peter Cargasacchi in Santa Barbara County. … This Pinot Grigio is quite literally an “orange wine” which will definitely have your friends scratching their heads. It is not your typical Pinot Grigio by a long shot.

“On the palate you will be greeted with citrus, apricot, peach and, wait for it, red berry flavors. This is a wine that is not only food friendly but also ‘people friendly.’ It is a diverse wine that will please white wine drinkers and red wine drinkers alike.”

An orange Pinot Grigio from Santa Barbara with red berry flavors? I’m not surprised by the selection as Lees is definitely a wine leader rather than a wine lemming.

Finally, the thoughts and random wine ramblings of rum cake master and wine lover Craig Adcock, which I’ve edited to boil them down to their best, most potent Adcock essence.

“Right up my alley. Fav’s lately are Lucia (Santa Lucia Highlands) Pinot and Chard from the Sobranas vineyard,” Adcock said. “I remember riding in a car with Gary Pisoni when it was barren and next to the cacti field. He said, ‘This is going to be an incredible vineyard.’ The salinity and saltiness are incredible. Needless to say, the afternoon/evening with Gary wasn’t boring.

“It involved birds caught in wine nets, Johnny Cash songs, boar chacutterie made by his mom, rolling through a stop sign, party lights from a local municipal officer, copious amounts of wine and a stop by the family cellar for some 2003 Estate before heading back to his house and having my signs read and hair cut by Margarite, and then an 8 a.m. barrel tasting. God, I love that man and his family.”

I’m betting he and his family love you too, Craig.

Well, that’s it, some random, reasoned, and occasionally irrational wine thoughts from folks I’d share a glass or two with any day.

Dave Eckert is the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS-TV and Wealth TV for 12 seasons.