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The soul of Indian Soil Carefully Crafted into our Boutique wines
There have been made times when we stood atop a rocky mountain overlooking a verdant vineyard and wondered aloud what inspired a grape grower to choose such a rugged terrain for his crop. Boulders had to be moved, packed ground dynamited and tractor equipment destroyed to get a crop that, at best, was often just good. In most cases, something great was eventually produced because the grower was stubborn — and confident of what was beneath the surface.

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Charles Tamm, in search of soil similar to his native Burgundy, had confidence — and guts — when in 1919 he planted vines on the Gavilan Mountain Range in California’s Monterey County. Talk about an uncompromising, rugged environment. The property struggled under different owners until Philip Togni came along in 1960 to label the wine Chalone. So isolated was the winery that Togni had to haul ice from Salinas to cool the cellar. The closest burg, Soledad, is more famous for its prison than tourism or wine.

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Given the cost of making wine under such circumstances, Chalone was near bankruptcy when Dick Graff — with financial help from his mother — came along to save it. A pioneer of malolatic fermentation, his first wine was produced in 1966. Still, it wasn’t until 1986 that the remote property paid to install its own electricity, phone service and water line.

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LEWISVILLE, N.C. – Westbend Vineyards in Lewisville, the first winery in Forsyth County, will close its winery, brewery and tasting room to the public on March 2.

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“I’m very proud of what we’ve done here, but it’s an extremely time-consuming business, and I want to quit while we’re ahead,” she said.

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Lillian and Jack Kroustalis planted their first vineyards in the 1970s. Instead of planting native muscadine grapes, they planted such European vinifera varieties as chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon — despite experts telling them the grapes wouldn’t grow well here.

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The wines of Roussillon owe their existence to ancient Greek merchants and sailors from Corinth that brought to their colonies and trade stations in the Catalan countryside cuttings of vines from the Eastern Mediterranean to create the first vineyards.  Plantings of Moscato d’ Alessandria, Muscat à Petits Grains and Malvasia were later augmented by Grenache, Carignan, and Macabeo from the Kingdom of Aragon (Spain), and Cinsault, Syrah, Marsanne, and Vermentino to create a thriving wine production now exported around the world.

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Depending on the production area—Côtes du Roussillon, Côtes de Roussillon Villages, Collioure, Maury, Banyuls and Rivesaltes—the terroir dictates the grape varieties planted, with dry reds dominating some, while others create a variety of full bodied dry reds, dry whites, and rosés and still others being dominated by aromatic, sweet whites and a few, very distinct, sweet reds (Banyuls Grand Cru). The grape-growing area is bordered by the Mediterranean in the East and mountains in the west.  Vine growing is essentially a family business. The area’s small vineyards have shrunk in size through the years because of the French inheritance laws and there are now approximately 4,500 full time grape growers, averaging 9 hectares each. Co-operatives began in 1907 and are presently handling 75 percent of the wine production.  At a recent tasting I was enthralled by the mellow, aromatic sweet wines I tasted. Yes, there were numerous nice dry reds and whites in the tasting, but the highlights belong to the sweet, some of them fortified wines (vins doux) that many Roussillon vineyards produce.

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To my taste the best was from Arnaud de Villeneuve, the 1969 Vieux Millésimes Rivesaltes Ambré Hors d’ Age, a wine that unfortunately is not officially imported in the United States yet. Bottled in a very distinct rhomboid decanter with a gold vintage date, it has a color that is medium teak, with orange/brown highlights.  The nose of this wine is highly nuanced and textured, with tropical flower notes predominating, especially honeysuckle and frangipani with hints of fruitcake, honey, spice, and cigar box aromas. From the same producer, the 2009 Muscat de Riversaltes was a fruity, amber-colored wine that would pair very well with foie gras. There are many other wines in their portfolio, both dry reds and dry whites, but their sweet wine palette was truly exceptional.  Domaine Madeloc showed the 2008 Banyuls Cirera, (Cicera means cherry in Catalan) a lovely Grenache Noir-based wine from grapes grown in a poor, acidy soil, in a hot, sunny climate, with the wine matured in large casks for more than a year.

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Keep up with Triangle business Get the latest news on local companies and people who keep capitalism moving on our business blog.

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Read our Under the Dome blog Find more news, tidbits and commentary about the state's political process here.

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Art you can see with your eyes closed The visually impaired have Braille for reading, but how can they “see” images? Artist ...

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Daniel Johnnes, both an importer and a wine director for Daniel Boulud's Dinex Group, picks best value-for-money wines in the $25-to-$100 range.

Indian Late Harvest Chenin Blanc (dessert Wine)

With lots of cash and a falling share price, Citrix Systems looks like an opportunity for activist investors. This options trade pays you to wait.

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EPL Oil & Gas Looks Ready to Rally The Gulf of Mexico driller is undervalued, even as it is growing production and reserves.

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