20 July, 2015
Bliss Wine Imports TastingComments : 6 Posted in : Colheita, Red Wine, Tempranillo, Verderon, White Wine, Wine on by : The Gourmez
At Bisou Bistronomy in the Castro, an impressive handful of Bay Area winos—oops, I mean wine bloggers—gathered to explore the wares of one of the newer importers on the block: Bliss Wine Imports. And we didn’t even run the other customers out of the restaurant until an hour into the tasting!
Alleah Friedrichs and Erin Geyer started Bliss Wine Imports not even two years ago, but I was blown away by the great instincts they’ve already cultivated. They’ve scoured Europe, hunting for wines that please them, and I think what they discovered is telling. From their website:
We discovered that the best wines come from
- Small winemakers producing less than 10,000 cases per year
- Winemakers that don’t buy grapes from other vineyards
- Vineyards that don’t use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
- Winemakers that believe their job is to aid the natural process, not to create flavors to fit a certain profile
- Grapes that are native to the region, not popular ones that are grown there just because they will easily sell.
I don’t automatically dismiss wines that don’t meet such qualifications, but after tasting Bliss’s line-up, I certainly put more stock in having them. Bliss has been selling out their shipments of limited quantities super-fast to restaurants and through online sales, so I think it’s fair to say the philosophy is working out for them as well. Big time.
We tried eight of Bliss’s wines from Spain and Portugal. Each was unique, none of them uniformly fitting into the notions of what a wine from a particular region or varietal should be. They are wines that’ll make you smile the moment they hit your lips, perhaps even pushing you into a state of, dare I say it, bliss? Here are my three faves from the event:
Bodegas Tritium 2012 Tempranillo
I adore tempranillo, and it was a real treat to try this wine made from the fruit of 97-year-old vines—that’s old growth! The nose of licorice and blackberry toffee and taffy stands out; I sniffed a great many times before I was willing to move on to the juice. When I did, I was surprised to find mulberry, warming spices, and vanilla playing in the glass along with the candied notes from the nose. It’s very dry, but very appealing if you don’t mind your tannins.
Availability: Just came off the boat, so see if you can bully Alleah into throwing some into a mixed case for you. All direct consumer sales go through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org. And let me tell you, this woman lights up at the prospect of making the perfect case for the perfect customer, which could be you!
Quinta da Zaralhôa Douro Superior Colheita 2010
This wine is made from grape varietals normally used for port, but be grateful they are preserved unfortified in this lightly filtered red blend. It was easily the most loved wine of the tasting—we couldn’t get enough of it. Strawberry, blueberry, woodsy cocoa nibs, rose petals: as we tasters mused, it’s a wine for falling in love on your first date and sharing that moment with your wedding guests years later.
Availability: Check with Alleah on purchasing it directly, but you can find it either by the glass or bottle at the following locations – Sens and Michael Mina in San Francisco, soon at Patina in Los Angeles, and in multiple Kansas City, MO, and St. Louis spots including the downtown St. Louis Four Seasons.
Caecus Verderon 2013 Viura
This is one of the most memorable white wines I’ve had yet in my blogging career. It’s aged in new American oak barrels, but the cream that imparts is overshadowed by the herbal qualities in the glass. Notes of dill and crushed, dried coriander took over, making me both very pleased and wistful in light of how badly those herbs have done in my planter this summer. Salinity fights through the rest of the wine’s characteristics and comes out glistening like a champ. I want more of this wine. I want it now.
Availability: Sorry, folks (and me), it sold out to restaurants so there is none available for online orders. But you can get it by the glass in San Francisco at Beso Bistronomia, the sister restaurant of Bisou Bistronomy, and at Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine. Once again, Kansas City, MO, has a number of restaurants offering it.
Thank you, Bisou, for hosting us, and Alleah, for introducing us to the adventurous and inspiring wines you and Erin have found through Bliss Wine Imports. I look forward to watching your continued future success and sampling your finds. We learned that Croatian wines are coming on the next shipment…
Tasted 12 July 2015.