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In these challenging times, enjoy the unexpected

The Brown family, owners of Brown Estate vineyards in California's Napa Valley (Photograph supplied)

If you can feel something very special and unexpected it certainly helps on our journey during these challenging times.

I will share a few very recent arrivals with you that may just do this.

On January 2 we finally took a chance and invited two good friends over for dinner. The husband and I were chatting in the living room while his wife was observing mine as she was preparing spicy cheese grits to accompany a ham baking in the oven. I had poured us all a glass of white wine.

Our visitor in the kitchen calls out, “John you will never believe where this wine is from!” She hands the bottle to her hubby who looks at the label and says, “You have got to be kidding me.”

He then proceeds to take pictures of the bottle with his phone. “This is where my grandparents are from,” he says. “I spent much of my young years there and had no idea that wine is now being produced in this area.”

When I had handed him a glass of chilled white, I had neglected to show him the label of this blend of l’acacia blanc, seyval blanc, vidal blanc, ortega and New York muscat. I was going to get to it, but he could now read 2020 Lightfoot & Wolfville Tidal Bay – 100 per cent Nova Scotia organic white wine, a product of Canada.

This wine brilliantly reflects its birthplace: the terroir, coastal breezes, cooler climate, and the winemaker's world-class craftsmanship. Bright citrus, ripe peach, minerality, even green apple and lemon combine in a refreshing, crisp and light glass of wine. $28 (Stock #9700). Although I have not tasted them yet, I also showed him a bottle of rosé and a bubbly from the same winery – more on them at a later date.

“In 1980 our parents purchased an abandoned ranch in Napa Valley. They rehabilitated the crumbling homestead and planted viniferous grapes which, for a decade we farmed and sold to local winemakers. In 1995 we kids decided to make our own wine.” So reads the opening page of the website of a new range of wines for us.

To understand why these wines, besides being good, may make some of my fellow islanders feel something rather special, let me quote Wikipedia: “Brown Estate Vineyards is the first and only Black-owned estate winery in California's Napa Valley. Parents Bassett Brown (originally from Jamaica) and Marcela Abrahams Brown (originally from Panama) acquired 450 acres in the Chiles Valley AVA of Napa Valley after being informed by local family friends that the property was for sale.

“Abandoned for some ten years prior, the land and its two structures – an 1859 stone and redwood barn and an 1885 Queen Anne Victorian home – were derelict. The senior Browns cut roads and brought in plumbing and electricity, ultimately earning an award from the Napa County Historical Society for their restoration of the residence.”

If you are out there in the future and want to find it with the GPS here you are: 38.505142°N 122.276707°W.

Our 2019 Brown Estate Chaos Theory is a hearty blend of 50 per cent merlot, 25 per cent petit Sirah and 25 per cent zinfandel that exhibits a dense crimson colour. Apple blossoms, rose petals and cloves give way to a soft, silky texture in the mouth. Black cherries, blackberries, cappuccino, sage and rosemary follow. This is the ideal wine to accompany boldly seasoned grilled meats. $53 (Stock #6892).

Our 2017 Brown Estate Tempranillo comes from a one-acre plot that the family planted in 2009 and it is a rather rare example of how this renowned grape of Spain performs in the New World. The winemaker describes it this way: “Alpine forest, pipe tobacco, saddle, and graphite accented with purple flowers and raspberry hard candy. Secondary notes of pepper and coriander-crusted dry-aged beef, Tahitian vanilla, toasted brioche, Meyer lemon zest.”

Only 275 cases were produced, which gives you an idea of what a single acre supports. $70 (Stock #6894).

Of course, you have to make cabernet sauvignon when you are situated in one of our world’s finest areas for the king of grapes. Only a mere 150 cases were made of the Brown Estate 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon. This tiny production guarantees that I cannot find any reviews but what the heck, I have a bottle sitting here and, even though it is quite early on a Monday morning, I will remove the cork. You may have heard that I am not blessed with the ability to identify colours, but I see that it is bright, clean and what seems to be quite lovely and what one should expect. Ripe cherries, the clue that it is fine cabernet sauvignon, reveal themselves first. It is full bodied with a fine balance of acidity and ripe fruit. The expected tannins are evident but quite gentle and the taste lingers in my mouth, the sign of a very well-made wine. Overall, it is what one should expect from a good Napa Valley producer. $85 (Stock #6893).

The 2018 House of Brown Californian Chardonnay is made entirely by the women in the family – in fact an eye-catching one peers out from the flowers on the label. The wine, at $29.50, offers the opportunity to try one of these unique wines if you are in a “spent too much on Christmas mode”.

This chardonnay is elegant, juicy and bright with pineapple, star fruit, guava, jasmine, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and lemon verbena. It is also produced from grapes that are certified as sustainably grown and it is also vegan-friendly. No oak is used, and maybe I should expound on “vegan-friendly”. Usually animal products, such as egg yolks or gelatin are used to “fine” or clarify the wine. They are not used here. (Stock #6895).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

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Published January 14, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated January 14, 2022 at 7:59 am)

In these challenging times, enjoy the unexpected

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