What happens when a wine director of a restaurant meets a nations sales director for a wine import company?  A friendship that takes Matt Licklider and Kevin O’Connor on a journey to follow their palates and become a New World Negociant and the creation of LIOCO Wines.

What is a negociant and what makes them different.  The term negociant is a French term for wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller independent growers and  performs all the winemaking and sell the wine under their own name.

Matt and Kevin search for unique vineyards throughout California that show great expression of terrior. They currently source fruit and produce wine from vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino and Santa Cruz.  They focus on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Carignan but don’t be surprised when they have an unexpected great find in an unsuspecting vineyard and add a new wine to their portfolio.

The wines I tasted are true to their philosophy. The 2012 “Estero” Russian River Valley Chardonnay, 2012 Saveria Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir and 2012 “Laguna” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  Before I get into the tasting notes, I will tell you that Pinot Noirs are not all the same.  The expression of terrior in each of them put them on two ends of the Pinot Noir scale (fruity vs. earthy) and were both very good.

2012 “Estero” Russian River Valley Chardonnay – This selection, sourced from choice blocks, ones with the oldest vines, preferred clones and unique soil,  from four of their Russian River sites are blended to produce this wine.  The wine is assigned to their most expressive barrels, all neutral oak and primarily 500 litre barrels.

This Chardonnay is expressive of the terrior, bright with aromas of citrus, pear and a hint of stone fruit. The wine had a medium body and slightly creamy with a nice mineral hint on the finish.  As the wine warmed up a little you get a hint of toasty oak.

SRP $35

2012 “Laguna” Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir – Grapes for this selection come from individual blocks from the Sonoma coast located near the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. Bright fruit expression from this wine with aromas of blackberry, raspberry and cedar.  Flavors of black raspberry, pomegranate and tangy acidity make this an exciting selection that you can drink now of put down for a year or two.

SRP $38

2012 Saveria Vineyard Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir – This Pinot Noir is a bit more serious than the selection above. The Pinot Noir is grown approximately six miles from the Pacific Ocean.  A pattern of fog, sun and fog ensures proper vine respiration and even ripening.

Aromas of plum with a hint of earth and ginger lead the way to sour berry. drenched strawberries and some spice on the finish. This would pair very will with a serious dinner of duck or grilled or smoked pork.

SRP $50