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Food & Drink

Wine, etc.: Celebrate Father’s Day with one of these special wines | COMMENTARY

This Sunday is Father’s Day, a time for us to pay tribute to a significant person who shaped our lives. Not everyone has had a positive relationship with their father. But for those of us who cherish fond memories of times with dad, this is a good time to recognize how much he influenced you.

The wine world is replete with father-son relationships — and many of them are rocky. Cesare Mondavi had to keep rival sons apart. Michel Chapoutier of the Rhone Valley and Angelo Gaja of Barbaresco upended their father’s winemaking philosophy and suffered paternal wrath despite their success. Barolo’s Elio Altare made so many changes he was cut out of his father’s will.

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But there have been as many positive transitions from father to son. Joseph Carr appreciated his father’s work ethic, so much so that he named his winery after his father Josh. Jerry Lohr’s family just released a premium wine in tribute of his 85th birthday. Georges and Daniel Daou’s fabulous “Soul of the Lion” is a tribute to their father.

Jerry Lohr.  Jerry Lohr’s family just released a premium wine in tribute of his 85th birthday. Georges and Daniel Daou’s fabulous “Soul of the Lion” is a tribute to their father.

We have fond memories of Chris Bilbro, the brilliant winemaker behind Marietta Cellars in Sonoma County. Today, son Scot is leading Marietta; son Jake bought Limerick Lane winery in 2011. They never lose sight of their father’s inspiration.

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Not all success stories are made of male bonds. We remember meeting a very young Juliette Becot many years ago in Bordeaux. She had to compete with older brothers to prove to her father she was capable of making good wine. Eventually, her father, Gerard, gave in and bought her a château. He gave her a pair of boots and wished her good luck. She worked hard in those boots to prove herself and today she manages three properties, including her father’s St. Emillon Premier Grand Cru Classe location. The wine, graced by a pink foil at the top, is a testament to perseverance.

And we would be remiss not mentioning Veronique Drouhin Boss and her brother Philippe who learned the trade from their father, Robert of Maison Drouhin, while growing up in Beaune. Today they are a team at the highly successful Domaine Drouhin in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

There are so many other successful stories of how fathers inspired their sons and daughters to follow in their footsteps in making wine. If you’re looking for something symbolic of your own relationship with your father, consider these extraordinary wines made with family love.

J. Lohr Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($100). In honor of founder Jerry Lohr’s 85th birthday, the Lohr family has released this extraordinary blend of cabernet sauvignon, malbec and the unusual Saint Macaire. Lohr was a leader in the Paso Robles region before he turned over the reins to his family and this wine is a fitting tribute to him. We met him decades ago and remember his passion for wine and the region. For much less money, consider the impressive 2019 J. Lohr Pure Paso Proprietary Red Wine ($27), a delicious blend of cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah and malbec. It may not have the complexity of the Signature but dad won’t be unhappy.

Baldacci Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon2018 ($110). Thomas Baldacci is the patriarch behind this family run winery in Stags Leap. Michael Baldacci is the winemaker. This wine is jam-packed with ripe plum and black currant flavors, a velvety mouthfeel and aromas of rosemary and ripe blackberries. The Baldacci Calistoga Cabernet Sauvignon for the same price is equally generous in fruit character but with more cherry and blueberry notes. These are very heady wines to complement dad’s big, juicy steak on the grill.

DAOU Estate Soul of a Lion 2019 ($170). Georges and Daniel Daou have a great appreciation for Father’s Day. The Daou brothers behind this label are releasing this wine in honor of their late father’s birthday. “Soul of the Lion” refers to him, an inspiration and driving force that saved the family from war in Lebanon. The Paso Robles blend is 78% cabernet sauvignon, 12% cabernet franc and 10% petit verdot. Layers of fruit range from cherries to blackberries with hints of tobacco and anise. Full bodied with fine tannins and length.

Josh Cellars Reserve Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($22). One of the best bargains in cabernets, this wine is rich and ripe with raspberry and black berry notes.

Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot 73 ($18). We’ve tasted this delicious zinfandel blend for decades. Introduced in 1982, the wine has no particular vintage. Fruity, smooth, light on the tannin, it makes for a great match to barbecued foods. And, it can age.

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Chateau Joanin Becot Castsillon Cotes de Bordeaux 2018 ($25). This wine is made up of 75% merlot and 25% cabernet franc. Fresh red berry and red currant flavors with hints of herbs.

If you are looking to make a statement and give something to dad he won’t forget, here are some other possibilities that don’t necessarily have paternal guidance:

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Calera Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019 ($105). It’s impossible not to get wrapped up in the luxurious character of this deliciously silky pinot noir from the Mount Harlan appellation. The 40-year-old vines of this vineyard deliver a blend of depth and elegance with velvety red berry and black cherry flavors.

Duckhorn Vineyards The Discussion Napa Valley Red Wine 2018 ($155). Looking for a way to open a discussion with dad? Give him this and say, “Dad, let’s have a discussion.” Cool. A blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, it has a lot of complexity. Generous black cherry and floral aromas with a waft of almonds and clove. The palate is juicy with ripe plum and blueberry flavors. Duckhorn has less expensive red wines that are equally noteworthy, especially the 2019 Napa Valley Merlot ($58).

Chappellet Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($90). Blended with a bit of petit verdot, malbec and merlot, this concentrated giant is the proverbial iron fist in a velvet glove. Although it portends good things to come with age, it is showing well now. Hedonistic texture with dark cherry and plum notes with hints of espresso and fresh herbs.

J.O. Sullivan Founder’s Reserve Merlot 2019 ($280). Yeah, we know you won’t be buying this by the case but the wine demonstrates what can be done with merlot when left in the right hands. Very complex, textured and expressive. Cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc are blended with the merlot to create a world-class wine. Aged 22 months in new French oak.

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Wine picks

Pazo de Lusco Albarino 2021 ($25). From the Rias Baixas region of northern Spain, this wine is delicious by itself, with aromatics and acidity to foil the heat, but it’s a nice wine to serve with simple foods. Apple and pear notes.

Tooth & Nail Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 ($26). The latest in wines with augmented reality labels, this wine has fruit-forward character. One of four in a “Squad Series,” the label is that of a gritty survivalist. Download the app and watch the character come to life with her story. The producer surely hopes to enjoy the same success of 19 Crimes, whose augmented-reality labels have become party conversations.

Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr have been writing a weekly, syndicated wine column since 1985. See their blog at moreaboutwine.com. They can be reached at marq1948@gmail.com.


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