May 31, 2007


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Pinot noir romance
Vintner explains his love of a Burgundy-style red
By Susan Ware

More than 40 years ago Richard Sanford drove around California with a thermometer in his car so that he could source the perfect California climate to grow delicate, little pinot grapes as they’re grown in Burgundy.

He settled on a spot in the Santa Rita hills and quickly garnered the reputation as an innovator in the world of wine.

Today, wines from his new Alma Rosa label — anoffshoot of his Sanford Vineyards — is being sold in New Hampshire. Currently, Alma Rosa is being poured in restaurants such as CR Sparks in Bedford, Hanover Street Chop House in Manchester, Michael Timothy’s in Nashua and Z in Manchester.

Two Alma Rosa labels are available in the state liquor stores — the Sta. Rita Pinot Noir 2005 and Sta. Rita Chardonnay 2005. Look for several more labels to be added to wine lists and store shelves in the very near future. (“Sta.” is short for Santa. Sanford had to change the labels because there is a Santa Rita vineyard in Chile.)

The pinots put Sanford’s Santa Barbara vineyard on the map and got Hollywood’s attention.  Sanford Vineyard, where he lives and works played a key role in the move Sideways.

In the movie, Miles, a devout follower of pinot noirs played by Paul Giamatti, takes his friend Jack to the Sanford Vineyard tasting room and attempts to educate him on the finer points of pinot noir. Less interested in a lecture and more interested in catching a buzz, Jack is impatient to swill the wine and when he does, Miles notices that Jack is chewing gum.

Sanford liked the film, and not just because of his plug.

“Virgina Madsen’s soliloquy on pinot noir was moving. She was dead on about the beauty of pinot,” Sanford said.

Sanford visited New Hampshire recently to promote his Alma Rosa label. The name Alma Rosa, he explained, truly signifies the wines. “Alma,” in Spanish is the word for soul, and “Rosa” is the name of the land where his vineyard is.

Alma Rosa wines are produced from grapes grown at an organic vineyard. (While Sanford grows grapes without herbicides and has careful environmental practices in place, his vineyard is not officially certified as organic and he says he’s fine with that.)

Alma Rosa bottles have a Georgia O’Keefe-style rose on the labels, an antique green bottle with a twist cap and a punt. Yes, a twist cap. Alma Rosa wines are all screw cap and Sanford wouldn’t have it any other way. The wine industry believes that between five and seven percent of all bottles with a natural cork are corked, meaning they have the unpleasant smell of wet cardboard and just don’t taste good.

“If I were in food service and packaging ruined five percent of my product, I would change it right away,” he said. “Also, think about airlines. A five percent failure rate, is that acceptable?”
Sanford saidd out that the West coast has been quicker to catch on to all the benefits of a screw cap wine.

“Once people have a bad experience with a wine, it is tough to overcome it because there are too many options in the market. People need to remember that it is the wine in the bottle, not the cap. The closure does not define the wine,” he said.

With Alma Rosa, Sanford’s goal is to offer a fantastic, entry-level pinot noir that people will reach for time and time again.

“So many people in this business are just trying to sell a bill of goods and it is so annoying. The brands are all homogenized and then there are all the fighting varietals. I believe there is a better way,” he said.

Alma Rosa wines
• Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Sta. Rita 2005 A very bright wine, fruity at first without being sweet, finishes with classic, spicy pinot noir undertones. This is a versatile wine that can be paired with casual food, grilled meats, vegetables and fishes and salmon. Alma Rosa Pinot Noir Santa Rita (750ml) sells for $29.99, currently on sale for $27.99.
• Alma Rosa Chardonnay Sta. Rita 2005 Called the new generation because it is not oaky or buttery. As California chardonnays got bigger and more manipulated, Sanford went for a pared-down wine. There is no malolactic fermentation and aging is only for a limited time in seasoned barrels. This chardonnay is crisp, fresh and with a taste of minerals. Pairs well with grilled seafood, curry dishes, Chinese, Thai and Indian food. Rosa Chardonnay Santa Rita (750ml) sells for $19.99, on sale for $17.99 until June 24.
Find Alma Rosa wines in state liquor stores at 27 Coliseum Ave., Nashua (882-4670), I-93 North, Hooksett (485-5663), I-93 South, Hooksett (485-5816), North Side Plaza, 31 Hamel Rd., Manchester (622-5044) and 55 Colby Court, Bedford (627-5878).

5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)

5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki — a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
A picnic — it’s romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead — run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
It’s not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken — no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: it’s what’s for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch