Since we opened our doors at Petit Philippe back in 2010, we pride ourselves on the special relationships we've built with the many proprietors and winemakers of key estates we're fond of. And there are a few that stand out, and in particular, those that we actively watch, namely LIOCO.
We've collaborated with LIOCO proprietor Matt Licklider on numerous occasions here in the tasting room and at fine wine dinners we've hosted here in Charlotte. You may have met Matt at one of those dinners or special tastings. Our friendship came about from the always fun, wine-related interactions, and grew over the years because of his generous spirit and infectious passion for wine. We share the same POV on what wines 'can' be, and to some degree, 'should' be. It's what California can offer, when it comes to pure expression wines, where the vineyard is where the wine is made and the winemaker really just a steward of great quality. It's this balanced approach, where California's most unique vineyards should bring some of the most exciting terroir into your glass. It's what keeps Matt in the business, and frankly, us too.
So this week, we bring you something other than the big, in-your-face, fruit bomb,, but rather, wines of great finesse, elegance and distinction from the rest of the pack. The beauty is, these wines can be 'drunk' and can be enjoyed with OR without food - either now, or over a decade of cellaring. These are wines that can compete and are measured with the best, at their relative price point.
THIS is why our friendship with Licklider is still strong to this day and why we carry his wines year-round (when available). And for those of you who don't know or haven't tried any of the LIOCO wines, here's your chance at discovering the story behind the label - now three-time "Winery of the Year" winner from Wine & Spirits magazine. Their wines have been compared to the best of Burgundy, including a reference to La Tache by VINOUS' Antonio Galloni. LIOCO’s Single-Vineyard Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, from some of the premier vineyard sites in California, will not disappoint. There is a reason these small-batch wines (ranging from 100-200 cases each) are found on the best restaurant wine lists from London to New York to L.A. and Tokyo.
The idea of LIOCO goes back to 2005, when Matt and his friend, Kevin O’Connor (then wine director for SPAGO in Beverly Hills) were tasting wine in the back alley of the restaurant. Matt was slinging wine as a wine rep and the two wine chums wondered if it were possible to make CA wines that favored traditional European nuances rather than the hedonistic wines that California was known for back in the early 2000's. So relying on nothing more than their palates and their rolodexes, the two embarked on a winemaking odyssey and launched the brand we know today as LIOCO (LI from Licklider and OCO from O'Connor). Europe was their inspiration right out of the gate, so they sought out the most unique sites, from historically 'iconic' vineyards which simply lost their reputation to the new-new thing of other parts of the wine country, where more glitz and marketing became fashionable. They also sought out varietals (ie. Carignan) that produced wine of typically old world style (yet made with the phenolic ripening attributable to the California sunshine).
In 2017, Matt and his wife Sara, took sole ownership of the winery and haven't looked back. Their journey continues with talented winemaker Drew Huffine (formerly with DuMol, Copain, and Tuck Beckstoffer). They continue to source fruit exclusively from only the best sites in Santa Cruz, Sonoma and Mendocino counties in Northern California.
This week we bring you text-book representations of the terroir found in each family-owned vineyard.
The focus is primarily on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Carignan from sites with old vines and interesting soil compositions. Here you'll find wine that speaks of the heritage clones and vines of noteworthy age.
So here's to vision and prowess that Matt & Sara have achieved so far. We're eager to see what LIOCO brings us in the future as we welcome Matt back to Charlotte for another personable tasting event. In the meantime, here is the latest from our friends at LIOCO.