Mingling with people who have a lot more money than I do, I prepare myself to seek out the best wine of the bunch at a charity wine & food event. It’s Maui Calls, an annual benefit held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center. Top tier winemakers have flown in to pour the good stuff alongside the island’s best chefs.
I avoid the incredibly popular Rombauer Vineyards’ table, if only because the line is too long, and skip Chappellet Winery because I already love them too much. Instead, I meander to Selby Winery. Susie Selby, the owner/winemaker, is on hand and I’m eager to give her a quick Wino quiz.
I ask Susie what makes her a successful winery owner. “Well, I can drive a forklift,” she says without pausing.
According to Susie, it’s necessary for winemakers—especially females—to master all facets of the vinification process. This proficiency not only garners respect from the rest of the team, but provides valuable time to concentrate on blending, where the winemaker’s true artistry surfaces.
Sold on the story; now let’s see if the wine is any good.
I’m urged to try the Selby Chardonnay ’09, from Russian River. I’m not the biggest Cali Chard fan, but this one is damn good. In fact, it may be the best Chardonnay of the evening, despite some serious (and seriously expensive) big hitters in the lineup. Yellow apples, fresh lemon and a hint of peach paired with great acidity… it’s a winner at less than $25 retail.
My personal favorite is the Selby ‘Old Vines’ Zinfandel ’07, also from Sonoma County. It possesses the requisite Zinfandel notes of blueberry pie and strawberry jam, but without the booziness of Zin. Easy drinking and light, it’s now a staple of my wine diet. It also sells for slightly less than $25.
Throughout the night I have a glass here of tasty Cab and one there of yummy Syrah, but nothing that delivers the quality of Selby Winery, when you factor in the price. You can request these wines at specialty shops like The Wine Corner and Maui Prime, and I’ve heard a rumor that Roy’s Kahana has picked up the Chardonnay.
Later in the evening, Susie calls me over to weigh in on a debate. What should she name her new (as yet unmade) red blend? Having “tasted” one too many wines by this point, I immediately say “Succubus. It’s a female demon who entices men with her erotic beauty… Perfect for a red blend made by a famous female winemaker, no?”
I seriously have to stop drinking so much.