Chef Joachim Splichal: Part II
I met Joachim Splichal when I was the National Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group. Smith & Wollensky was publicly traded and a hostile take-over was underway. Much to our relief, Joachim’s Patina Restaurant Group purchased the Smith & Wollensky restaurants outside of New York City in what Wall Street would call a “white knight” scenario. I figured I'd never again cross paths with him.
But, I did. Well, at least I encountered Joachim's wines. I was deeply curious to have the chance to taste the wines from his recently launched Domaine de Cala in Provence. I was especially keen to taste them as they hail from the smallest rosé AOP (by far) in Provence. The two were profoundly different, and the Prestige rosé is well worth the trade up in price. Santé!
Domaine de Cala 2018 Coteaux Varois en Provence Prestige 12.5% $25
While delicate in aroma and flavor, this blend of 40% Grenache, 29% Syrah, 16% Rolle and 15% Cinsault immediately shows a lovely succulence on the palate, all the while emmanating a scintillating refreshment. Fields of spring flowers lift the nose and are followed by donut peaches on the palate. The harmony here is spot-on, giving this wine plenty of drinkability. There's a vague and enchanting touch of Italian-like bitterness on the back palate that suggests this wine doesn't need to be drunk up within the year. Its relatively "quiet" flavors might even expand to benefit.
Domaine de Cala 2018 Coteaux Varois en Provence 12.5% $16
Barely pink, this wine hailing from Brignoles exhibits elegance and finesse in structure once it opens up. That said, it smells overtly of struck match and is stinky when first opened, making it challenging to appreciate. Alas, some of that polarizing character lingers throughout the bottle and, along with the dilute concentration of this wine, makes it hard to appreciate. Though clean and pristine, this wine is severely modest in fruit concentration. The whispering finish shows vague strawberry and watermelon notes.
Drink: Through 2019