Top Terroir: James Tidwell's Producer Picks
The Master Sommelier and Beverage Manager at the Four Seasons Dallas shares his current favorite wine producers.
On Top Terroir we ask a different wine expert who his or her favorite wine producers currently are. In this installment, James Tidwell, Beverage Manager and Master Sommelier at the Four Seasons Dallas at Las Colinas shares his picks:
Producer: Clos Saron
Location: Sierra Nevada Foothills, California
Why? It’s an area that is not most widely known for high quality, but Clos Saron does a great Pinot Noir, and also some special blends. They do bold, big, rich wines but with finesse – there’s a lot of flavor impact, but it’s not heavy-handed. I think the wines really reflect the couple that produces them, because there’s a lot of passion there, they’re not doing it just to make money. They’re passionate about making wines that are of the place; the area is prone to cooler nights which helps the grapes retain that acidity and in turn keeps that elegance.
Producer: Gramercy Cellars
Location: Walla Walla, Washington
Why? I will admit I have a slight bias towards this wine since Greg is a fellow MS (Master Sommelier). He started out running restaurant wine programs, then went to Walla Walla to make wine, and from the very beginning they have been stunning. He focuses primarily on Syrah – his first vintage was ’05, and he has become a darling of the critics. Sometimes winemakers in Washington have gone really over the top, and Greg’s wines were criticized at first for being too acidic. But he stuck to his guns and said, "I’m a sommelier, and I want to make wines that go with food." And this was five years ago, at a time when the wine press was starting to swing away from jammy, soft wines and more towards structured, balanced wines. So he was ahead of the curve, and they’re wines that age really well but also open beautifully.
Producer: Evening Land Vineyards
Location: Lompoc, California
Why? Mark Tarlov has really put together an interesting program – the vineyard isn’t located in one place. They make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the best places in the American West that do so. It’s like having three different wineries, but they concentrate on two different grapes and all under one label. The wines are stunning, absolutely stunning. The Chardonnays have great acidity for the area and wonderful balance. The Pinots are not the really dark, concentrated Pinots that you sometimes get from California. They’re beautiful and elegant but big Pinot Noirs – you get all the prime fruits that you think of with Pinot, but with so many layers. They have several different levels – blue (basic), silver, gold, white (single parcel) – ranging from basic to super-specific high-end. They control the entire process, and you can tell in the bottle.