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swirl and savor

LIOCO, Exciting "Wines of Origin"

Beth Ribblett

While a self proclaimed old world wine girl (yes, even at middle age I still think of my self as a girl...) there are times when an new world wine or two can turn my head. And while many a wine maker states they are producing wines in the old world style, expressing the place in which it is grown in a pure unadulterated style, void of over manipulation and use of harmful chemicals, I find it is rarely the case. For me, finding wines with soul that truly express the typicity of the varietal in the new world can be a difficult task. But when it does happen, it's a wonderful thing, which is why I'm so excited about the LIOCO wines from California.

LIOCO is a labor of love between Matt Licklider, a seasoned wine import specialist, and Kevin O'Connor, wine director at the esteemed Spago-Beverly Hills. The project began in 1995 as a test between the two to see if California was capable of producing "wines of origin", wines that truly represent where they came from. They do not own vineyards or a winery, but purchase fruit from trusted growers and produce them in a state-of-the-art cooperative in Santa Rosa, allowing them to direct all of their resources toward the sourcing of the best grapes from the state's premier vineyards.

Their quest is to build wines from the ground up using an old world approach. They accomplish this in a number of ways including using older vines, matching clones with the right mesoclimate, hand harvesting, low yields, using natural viticultural techniques, native yeasts, low or no wood contact, no fining or filtration and just over all non interventionalist winemaking.

I was introduced to these wines by our friend Matt Lirette of Lirette Selections. He brought them into the market when he began his new distributorship last year and had the full line up at his portfolio tasting. We picked up the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Carneros Pinot immediately and later added the Rose of Pinot Noir and this week the Indica, all of which over deliver for the price, another statement I don't usually make about California wine....

Matt will be in the house on Friday, August 7 pouring these 4 amazing wines so come and see what all of the fuss is about and in the meantime, check out what Tanzer has to say about the LIOCO wines:

2007 LIOCO Chardonnay Sonoma County
Pale gold. Vibrant, pure aromas of citrus fruit, flowers and herbs. Juicy lime and lemongrass flavors are complemented by notes of anise and honeysuckle. Gains power on the finish, which strongly repeats the anise note and offers good mineral cut. This is an outstanding value. $21, 90pts.

2007 LIOCO Pinot Noir Carneros
Vivid red. Smoky red berry and cherry aromas are complicated by pungent herbal and floral notes. Mineral-driven red fruit flavors are refreshingly tangy, with a bite of cherry skin adding grip. Becomes deeper and chewier with air and finishes with excellent clarity and sweet persistence. Give this some decanter time. $37, 90pts.

2007 LIOCO Red Wine Indica Mendocino County
A blend of carignane, petit sirah, grenache and mourvedre) Bright red. Flamboyant aromas of raspberry, cherry preserves and incense. Lively but supple red berry flavors are given depth by anise and cherry pit qualities. Reminds me of an open-knit 2007 southern Rhone wine, with excellent finishing clarity and persistent sweetness. $21, 90pts