The Little Sweet One

Quite the misnomer, little and sweet have nothing to do with this wine. Dolcetto is known as the “sweet little grape”, but produces magnificently structured wines. Dolcetto could be considered the everyday drinking wine in the Piemonte region of Northern Italy, yet is relatively unheralded here in the U.S. In body and style, it’s a cross between the light fruity style of a Pinot Noir, with a lightly spicy kick more like a California Zinfandel. This 2012 bottling of Napa Valley Dolcetto from Pavi holds true to that form, ringing with bright red cherries on the front end of the palate, a smooth tannin quality across mid palate, ending with wonderful toasty baking spice melange no doubt from 3 years in French Oak before finding its way to the bottle.

We enjoyed this bottle with a Thai Red Panang Duck Curry I created. The curry itself was full of exotic flavors from lead-off flavor of the curry itself along with the back up cast of ginger and garlic, sesame oil, lemongrass, five spice, broccoli rabe, coconut  milk and of course duck breast. This Dolcetto held its own and more with all of those spices and drank beautifully on its own as we prepared this meal. Food, friends, family and fantastic wine..what more could you ask for? Look for Pavi wines at Cheers!

Pavi….Pinot Grigio….as it should be


I have a little story to tell….

I have had the amazing opportunity to move to the Napa Valley, into a small cabin that sits atop the hallowed Howell Mountain. My cabin is aptly named Pine Cone Palace. Its amazingly fitting. Quaint..secluded..charming..Howell Mountain…on top of that, I am now an Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone…just a little bit of Heaven on earth if I do say so myself.

Through another amazing turn of events, a story could occupy a thousand websites, I met Pavi Micheli Lawson over this last weekend. She is a realtor that just happened to be showing homes to a group of my friends looking for a retirement home here in the Valley. As lady luck would have it, I had the fortune of being her passenger for two days as we scoured Napa Valley looking for homes for my friends. I asked her background and history here in the Valley and as it turns out..her name is on a wine label. Pavi. Yes…a winery bears her a Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine, of course I was intrigued..beyond floored..

Now to make a very long story short, we stopped for lunch at Sunshine Market ( for a quick lunch and to regroup from wine tastings and home tours. As we were waiting for the afore mentioned home seekers to gather their lunch, Pavi introduced me to Henry Gomez, the Wine Specialist at Sunshine; what an incredibly great person and wine buyer! As I perused the cold wine case to find something to go with my freshly rolled sushi..I saw it. 2013 Pavi Napa Valley Pinot Grigio. Well of course I had to buy it, who the hell wouldn’t with the name sake standing next to you? But I had a sense, from her charm and grace, that the wine would be just as compelling, and it was.

Let’s talk about this fantastic Pinot Grigio now. Even at first sight this Pinot Grigio is different, just as the varietal expects itself to be. For those that don’t know, Pinot Grigio is a mutation of the varietal Pinot Noir. As the grapes reach veraison, the term for grapes as they turn colors and ripen, Pinot Grigio (Gris in French) changes color oddly. Some are red, some are green, and some are an odd color in between. Grigio and Gris equal grey in Italian and French. This Pinot Grigio, has a slight depth of color indicating a little more skin contact in the crush, 8 hours in fact. Skin contact imparts a tinge of color and tannic impact on the mid palate, and combined with a 13.5% alcohol content and bright acidity, this wine sings. It is exquisite and mature, brilliant and beautiful without any pretense. Straight forward elegance and beauty, it’s unlike any Pinot Grigio I’ve encountered. It has a hefty weight and mouthfeel; mid palate tannins and crisp acidity make it a natural with higher fat dishes and fish. The fruits are pear and lemon with stone fruits and honeysuckle on the finish, which is long and complex. Extraordinary wine. This is one to find and buy a case of. Even as a Pinot Grigio, which aren’t meant to age, I could lay a case of this down in the right temperature range at 45-50F for at least another 2 years, to allow the mild skin tannins to mellow. This wine is exquisite. At $15-$21 it’s a crime to not buy at least a case.