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Alex Guarachi, Winemaker, Importer, Wine Authority

on 11/04/11 at 2:14 pm

BoozeBlog, Wine

Photo: Dean Musgrove

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the charming, Alex Guarachi, at his office in Los Angeles. It was the day before the release of the latest Guarachi Family Wines, made by the legendary Paul Hobbs, and the anticipation of their reception from the wine world was palpable. As it turns out, there was good news. The Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 and Chardonnay 2009 both scored impressive 92s by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and deservedly so. They’re wonderful.

But before we knew the scores, Alex generously shared a tasting of the the new releases: 2009 Sonoma Chardonnay, 2009 Pinot Noir and the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon. These are small production wines as there are only 450 cases of the pinot, 690 cases of the chardonnay and 1706 cases of the cab. Get them while you can!

Herewith, a little belatedly, our conversation while tasting. The wines had just been opened.

In a previous interview, Alex mentioned that his mother, Carmen, died when he was nine years old, and that if he could share a bottle of wine with anyone, it would be with her. At that time, he chose a couple of wines – a 1982 Chateau La Tour and a 1990 Vega Sicilia Unico and I wondered if he would still pick those wines. Alex mused, “It’s the atmosphere, the place, the people that also contribute to the memory of the wine. I’ll stick with those choices. I haven’t changed my mind!”  And with that we moved on to the wines at hand.

Me: Shall we taste the wine?

Alex: Yeah, let’s do it. We have the 1st 2009 chardonnay from Sonoma County.  Cheers!

Good, huh? It’s really nice and balanced, structured, tropical fruit. It’s quite good. We’re very happy with it.

We taste, swish and Alex spits. I swallow. And I mention the problem I have with watching people spit. He laughs and says, “I spit. Otherwise, I know, yeah, a lot of women say they can’t spit.” We commiserate and laugh.

Alex: So this is the 2009 Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast, Cap’s Crown. This is the one that last year got the 94 points. Pretty nose, huh?

Me: Another winner. What food would you serve with these?

Alex: I think the chardonnay would go well with salmon, seafood in general would do very well. The pinot, I think, would go well with dishes like salmon, as well as chicken, lamb, something gamey and great with ahi tuna because it’s not too fishy.

We taste some more. The wine is luscious without overpowering. Wonderful.

Alex: Ok, the last wine is the Guarachi Family 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa valley Paul Hobbs.

Me: How much are you involved in the winery? Do you go up there?

Alex: Yes, I go up there a few times a year. I want to plan and go up there for harvest this year. I’ve never done that…I want to get down and dirty, crush…I wouldn’t mind doing that. I’ve been a million times (to harvests), but I’ve never done it. So, um, that would be fun.

So, this is what I smell – Napa Cab. Solid cabernet with really dark fruit, silky tannins. Says this 94, 95 points…better than last year. Maybe one or two (points) down from last year because last year it was huge, and sometimes the press likes the massive wines. This is more feminine. Last year, it was fantastic big huge bold in your face type of wine, so, which I think is kind of old style but this one is nice and fruity, well well balanced, a lot of finesse, great finish. Last year’s (2007) has more shoulders, but again I think (2008) it’s fantastic. 93 94 points.

Cab $75 Pinot $65 Chardonnay $35

The cab is well-priced. To get this kind of wine you’d pay more than a $100. We like to over deliver. We do that a lot.

The cab will easily age 15 – 20, pinot 10 years but I think that it’s the way that it’s made, it has all those components the fruit the acid the tannins, it has those pieces, not overly ripe.

And, winding down, the tasting comes to an end but not the memory of the delicious wines and lovely time with Alex Guarachi.

Note: This interview was videoed, but unfortunately, the camera misfired and the first half of our conversation never made it, and ended abruptly. The conversation transcribed above is as close to accurate as possible. Here’s the resultant video:


Reported by Patsy

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