I can’t tell you when or even under what circumstances I first met Joe Glunz, Jr. This is not meant as a slight against him -- quite the opposite in fact. Kind-hearted, sincere and quick with a story to make you laugh, he’s the type of person you easily become friends with and are hard pressed to ever recall a time when you weren’t.
Joe Glunz, Jr. and his nine siblings are now the fourth generation of the Glunz family to work in wine. In 1888, his great-grandfather, Louis Glunz, began bottling wine, beer and spirits at a storefront on Wells and Division Streets. The House of Glunz is still going strong and a visit to Barbara Glunz-Donovan and her son Christopher Donovan is more than highly recommended. Joe’s branch of the family owns and operates Louis Glunz Wines, a wholesale and import company as well as the Glunz Family Winery in Grayslake.
In between sharing stories about everything from movies and restaurants to vitamins and family doctors, Joe and I managed to discuss and taste through the following selection of wines from his portfolio.
NV Pierre Delize Crémant de Bourgogne -- Cremant is a French term for a dry sparkling wine produced outside the Champagne region using the traditional method of sparkling winemaking. Cremant wines are quite often an affordable alternative to Champagne. Cremant provenances include Alsace, Bordeaux, Loire, Limoux as well as Burgundy where this wine hails from. Traditional Burgundy grapes may be used (with certain percentage limitations). The Pierre Delize consists of Pinot Noir, Gamay and Aligote. Pale gold in color, notes of crisp green apples and lemon rind. Crisp on the palate with a soft but swift mousse, moderate+acidity. A nice candidate for Champagne Cocktails, Mimosas or Bellinis. Made exclusively for Louis Glunz.
NV Rack and Riddle Sonoma County Blanc de Noirs -- Rack and Riddle is a project from Bruce Lundquist, former General Manager of J Vineyards and partner at Longboard Vineyards. He co-founded Rack Riddle with partner Rebecca Faust in 2007. In addition to producing their own line of sparkling and still wines, Rack & Riddle also functions as a custom crush and winemaking facility. The Blanc de Noirs is 92% Pinot Noir and 8% Chardonnay. Slight coppery pink hue, earthy Pinot Noir notes of beets, strawberries, brioche and citrus. Finishes clean with a lingering toasty note.
2011 Domaine Michel Girard et Fils Sancerre, France -- Joe’s parents met the owners of this winery at a wine trade show in France some years ago. Girard’s style is to veer towards a more full-bodied version of Sauvignon Blanc. Pale straw color, notes of green apple, lime zest, and flint in the nose. Moderate+acidity on the palate with a slight pithy bitterness on the finish. A straight forward style – simple, fresh and clean.
2010 Gianni Gagliardo Fallegro Favorita, Piedmont, Italy -- A unique and interesting wine from a fourth-generation Piedmontese producer known for his Barolos. Favorita – the so-called “favorite grape” - is native to Piedmont but a relative of Vermentino (popular in Liguria and Sardinia). The grape tends to produce wines higher in acidity but relatively neutral in terms of flavor, which is not necessarily a bad thing if fresh and fruity is what you’re after. Pale straw in color, green apple on the nose, half way between a still and sparkling wine with a distinct effervescent frizzante quality on the palate. Crisp, clean and light bodied with moderate plus acidity and flavors of green apples and pears. This is certainly a playful and interesting alternative to Pinot Grigio.
2011 Four Graces Estate Grown Pinot Gris - Willamette Valley -- Pale gold in color, aromas of peach skin, and tropical fruits in general. Palate is off dry but fresh, lively and bright with moderate acidity. This is an interesting wine featuring the ripeness and RS of an Alsace Pinot Gris but the fresh zippiness of an Italian Pinot Grigio. Winery President Anthony Van Nice once worked for a wine distributor here in Chicago.
2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley -- Breggo Cellars was purchased by the Cliff Lede winery in 2009 as a foray into Pinot Noir and Alsace varietals. Incidentally, Cliff Lede is known for their Bordeaux style wines from the Stag’s Leap District of Napa Valley. Pale gold color, nose is a tropical fruit bomb of mangos, pineapples and honey with notes of marmalade and orange zest. Off-dry on the palate with additional tropical fruit notes and moderate acidity. If an Alsace style Pinot Gris is what they were aiming for, they hit their mark.
2011 Dry Creek Dry Chenin, Clarksburg -- The Dry Creek Fume Blanc was on the wine list at a restaurant that I worked at in Monterey back in 1995 so I’ve known this winery for quite some time. Pale straw color, nose is reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc with notes of citrus zest and green apples. Dry and crisp with moderate + acidity on the palate and a whiff of fruitness. It’s definitely made with a Sauvignon Blanc hand and would be a good match for shellfish.
2011 Morgadio Legado del Conde Albarino, Rias Baixas -- Morgadio means “only son” in Gallego, the Galician language spoken in northwestern Spain. Legado del Conde is Morgadio’s sister wine. Rías Baixas includes three sub districts: El Rosal and Val do Salnés on Galicia's rainy Atlantic coast, and Condado do Tea located further inland. Condado's benign climate, southern exposure and reflective soil maximize Albariño's concentration. Pale gold color, nose shows fresh melons, peaches, white flowers and citrus rind. Palate is rich, lush and textured with additional flavors of melons, green apples and peaches. Moderate + acidity. Excellent summer wine to pair with grilled fish and seafood.
2010 Maison Prosper Maufoux Pouilly Fuisse, Burgundy, France -- Based in Santenay, the southern-most village in the Cote D’Or, Prosper Maufoux was founded in 1860. Pale gold color, aromas of lemon curd, citrus and a splash of tropical fruit. Moderate+acidity on the palate, softly textured, no signs of earthiness, clean and straightforward. Sometimes Pouilly-Fuisse can smell like a damp basement and I don’t get that component here. That’s what I mean by clean and not earthy.
2010 Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Josephshofer Riesling, Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany -- a mouthful to say but delicious to drink. In 1999, the winery celebrated their 650th anniversary. Wholly owned by the Kesselstatt estate, the Josephshofer site lies just outside the village of Grach along the Mosel and right next door to the famous Sonnenuhr vineyard. This is a very young Riesling and should develop further in the bottle but at this stage it features high racy acidity, flavors of crisp green apples and honey with an off-dry finish.
2008 Schloss Saarstein Serriger Schloss Saarsteiner Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany -- The Saarstein estate owns the oldest vineyards in the village of Serrig and is among the leading producers in the Saar Valley. Saar Rieslings often feature the lightest body yet the most pronounced acidity with characteristic aromas of apple, citrus, peaches and subtle mineral notes from the slate soil. The vineyards are less protected than those of the Mittel Mosel, which gives the wines its vigorous acidity. Pale gold color with hints of green in the glass, aromas of mango, pineapples, petrol development and green apples in the nose Palate shows high, racy acidity, off-dry sweetness and a slight nutty quality on the finish.
2009 La Follette Chardonnay, Manchester Ridge Vineyard, Mendocino Ridge -- Were you a fan of Flowers Chardonnay back around 2006 or so? If so – you’ll love Follette because Greg Follette made it. Greg was the research viticulturist /enologist for famed master winemaker André Tchelistcheff and has worked for wineries throughout California and Australia. His resume includes illustrious names such as BV, Jarvis as well as Flowers where he was the head winemaker and general manager. In 2001 he founded Tandem wines to produce small-lot Russian River Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and in 2009 Tandem was renamed La Follette through a new joint venture with Pete Knight from Quivira. This Chardonnay is sourced from the Manchester Ridge vineyard which lies parallel to the rugged Mendocino coast at 2000 foot elevation, about 400 feet above the fog line. Gold in color with aromas of roasted hazelnuts, pineapples, caramel baked apples, cloves and a dose of tropical fruit. Moderate acidity and flavors of lemon curd on the palate, well balanced as the acid keeps the fruit in check.
2010 Ridge Estate Chardonnay, Monte Bello Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains -- I grew up not too far away from Santa Cruz which afforded me several opportunities to meet winemaker Paul Draper and I can’t overstate how much of a fan I am of him and his wines. So much so, we served Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel at our wedding luncheon. No matter where I go, a bottle of Ridge is never too far behind. Joe knows how I feel about Ridge and he was kind enough to open the Estate Chardonnay for our meeting. Pale gold color, notes of warm vanilla bean, golden apples and lightly toasted nuts on the nose. Santa Cruz Chardonnays tend to feature a high amount of acidity and this is no exception. Moderate + acidity, fresh, lean, crisp and focused on the palate. It’s bright and nutty.
2010 Laurence Feraud Cotes du Rhone, France -- This is the negociant label from the owners of the highly prized Chateauneuf-du-Pape estate Domaine du Pegau. This classic Cotes du Rhone is made from a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache. Black cherry color, magenta rim. Aromas of black pepper, black plums, dried herbs and smoked meat. Palate shows moderate acidity, medium fleshy tannins with notes of smoke and pepper. More of an elegant, bright and fresh style to be served with a slight chill.
2000 Dehesa La Granja Seleccion, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon, Spain -- In 1998, Alejandro Fernández and his wife Esperanza Rivera, having created Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in their native Ribera del Duero acquired the historic 1800-acre "La Granja" estate. Alejandro rapidly set to work reconverting the bull ranch to wine production, with 325 acres of old-clone Tempranillo from his vineyards in Ribera del Duero. This wine is in its own league. Opaque black cherry color with maroon edges. Aromas of black cherries, tobacco, cloves, mushrooms, black pepper, dried herbs and vanilla. Moderate acidity on the palate, medium tannins, medium acidity and black fruit flavors that lean to a more modern style. Hard to believe this wine is tasting so fresh and lively at 12 years old.