Saturday, May 31, 2008

Arnaldo-Caprai Sagrantino Di Montefalco 2003 DOCG

©2008 Digital Image by Dave Trieger

From Umbria, smack in the middle of Italy, comes this wonderful Arnaldo-Caprai Sagrantino Di Montefalco 2003 DOCG "Venticinque Anni". It is made with 100% Sagrantino grapes that as far as I know only grow in Montefalco; after vinification it is then stored in French oak for 24 months and another 8 months in the bottle. It's colors are on the purple side of a deep ruby red with aromas of black fruits, spices, plums, and truffles. On the palate there is an earthy silkiness, that is unexpected from such a powerful wine (the high alcohol content is 14.5%). The tannins are well structured and the finish is long thanks to the vanilla influence of the oak. A big tasting "thank you" goes out to Gary.



95 points from ROBERT PARKER’S WINE ADVOCATE April 24, 2006

Friday, May 30, 2008

Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico 2003 DOCG

90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot and Syrah make up this single vineyard Chianti Classico from Tuscany, Italy. Very dark ruby in color with a medium body, it gives off aromas of cherries, herbs, cloves, black pepper, and funky soil. So far so good... but this is where the fun stops. On the palate are sour cherries and a slight oak on the tip of the tongue, and a dry bitter medicinal finish that thankfully doesn't last all that long. It's just as well... I'm not crazy about this wine. It's in the low $20-25 and I can think of quite a few tastier reds in the $10 range.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Well it had to happen sooner or later, but it couldn't have come at a worse time. I was REALLY in the mood for a little wine with dinner and as soon as I opened it I caught a strong whiff. There was no mistaking it. I've finally been C-O-R-K-E-D! I feel violated... I can't remember the last time it's happened to me. I'm too tired to go out and exchange the bottle so I guess I'll wait until tomorrow... I'll let you know the outcome. Two days later returned bottle without problem.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Baltailles Beaujolais 2004 Gamay Village

The Gamay grape is used primarily in the production of Beaujolais wines in France. This Baltailles Beaujolais 2004 is a cloudy light garnet color, probably unfiltered, with a bouquet that at first has a little more funk than I would expect, but transforms on the palate into a silky soft earthiness with high acidity and low tannins. It would be a perfect match for a salad with walnuts and goat cheese and a vinagrette dressing. Tasting provided by Keith B at InVino.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Tormaresca Negroamaro Cabernet 2003 IGT

Tormaresca Negroamaro Cabernet 2003 is a dry red wine from the Puglia region in southern Italy. The mix, a 70% Negroamaro and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon makes for an excellent blend. The former brings a dry bitterness to the table while the latter balances it all with its fruitiness. On the nose is a slightly metallic cola, chocolate, oak, and barnyard. On the palate is intense ripe cherry, earth and mushroom. Paired well with whole wheat pasta with olive oil, garlic, toasted pignoli nuts and baby spinach. 13% alcohol and $8 range. Really good deal!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Marenco 2007 Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG

This wine is a "frizzante"... an almost imperceptibly sparkling red dessert wine made from the Brachetto grape in the Acqui district of Southern Piedmont. It reminds me a little of a moscato and a little of champagne, but light rose in color, medium bodied with floral aromas and flavors of cherries and finally a bright raspberry finish. It was deliciously paired with Affogato al Cafe, vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso at Uvarara.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Vigneto Rompicollo 2005 IGT

This is the second time I've had this red wine from Maremma, Tuscany (actually the first time was a 2004). Called Tommasi Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo, this Supertuscan is 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. This time it was a little sharper at first, but within an hour or so opened very nicely with extremely fruity aromas and flavors of ripe cherries, pepper, oak and licorice. Paired well with a tagliere of prosciutto, speck, gorgonzola and smoked gouda cheeses at Uvarara.

Yarden Odem Chardonnay 2006 Organic Vineyard Israel

This Chardonnay is a tasty wine from the Golan Heights in Israel. It is the color of pale gold and has an aroma of flowers, with a hint of banana. Pear and citrus with a bit of oak permeate the palate and leave me with a buttery finish of vanilla ice cream and spiced apples. I don't read Hebrew but I believe this wine is Kosher.

Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay 2006 Columbia Valley

At his cabana at the beach this afternoon my friend (thanks Mark!) invited me to try a Washington state Chardonnay with him along with some shrimp cocktail -- it was a perfect match, not to mention refreshing. On the nose are aromas of an array of citrus fruits, honey and mild oak, while on the palate a buttery cream with a nice acidity, combined to form a complex, balanced wine. Not usually a big white wine fan, this one was one I could drink easily and the price is right, about $13. I could also see this going well with chicken or swordfish or even a spicy Thai dish.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Zeni Teroldego Rotaliano DOC

The Teroldego is a swaggering grape with the gusto of the Trentino region of Italy. This tasting was also offered by Vincent from Vinifera at In Vino. With deep colors and full flavor, this one has backbone! Aromas of black currant, bright cherry, cedar, wood and violets are a preview to flavors of earth, mushrooms and spicy minerality. (I didn't catch the vintage year)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tenuta Mormoraia Chianti Colli Senesi 2006 DOCG

San Gimignano is an old walled city in Tuscany that I was lucky enough to visit during my cycling trip in 2006. Here is a beautiful red wine from that region called Tenuta Mormoraia Chianti Colli Senesi 2006 DOCG. Grown in the clayey soils of the Colli Senesi hills around San Gimignano, these Sangiovese grapes yield a wine that is a deep ruby red in color. According to Vincent from Vinifera (who graciously provided sample tastings of this gem), Chianti Classico's forest undertones contrast with Colli Senesi's rolling hills type of dryer, austere, earthier and more powerful profile. On the nose is a beautiful ripe cherry aroma, and on the palate is tobacco, a slight minerality and spice with very soft tannins. Sampled this delicious red wine with Keith at In Vino.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Domaine Monte De Luz Carquera Tannat 2007 Uruguay

Domaine Monte De Luz Carquera Tannat 2007... Uruguay and Tannat... two firsts for me, but I was pleasantly surprised. Dark ruby/violet in color and full bodied, this 100% tannat is juicy and full of aromas like plums, blackberries and smoky tar, laden with flavors of spice and jam... soft and lush, with smooth tannins. It's a great deal in the $8 range. Paired really well with an Italian prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, arugula and red peppers on 7-grain roll with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Robert Mondavi

On Friday May 16, 2008 Robert Mondavi, a wine legend who put California wines on the map, passed away. I have to say that Mr Mondavi was responsible for what I'll call my first "Eureka!" wine moment back in the late 70's... at a NYC restaurant, we ordered a 1974 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon. Amazing! Thank you Mr M. and may you rest in peace.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Avalon California Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Even though this red wine from California is labeled Cabernet Sauvignon, upon further research I found that it is in fact a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Syrah, 4% Merlot and 1% Tempranillo. Aged for 8 months in French and American oak barrels, it has smoke and cedar aromas with blueberry, plum, cherries and a hint of chocolate. On the finish there is a spice and vanilla on the palate. This is a decent every day Cab and can be found in the $8 range. 13.5% alcohol.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Colleccion Vivanco 4 Varietals Dinistia Vivanco

Another tasting entry from La Rioja Wine Seminar at Astor Center, this one is a red made from 70% Tempranillo, 15% Graciano, 10% Garnacha and 5% Mazuelo-- all fermented separately in French oak vats. Aged for 24 months in French oak barrels. Color is a deep rose red with a floral nose of violets and cherries. On the palate is oak, toast, flower petals and cherries.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tenuta Greppone Mazzi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 1999 DOCG

Tenuta Greppone Mazzi Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 1999 DOCG • This vintage was one of the best of the 90's decade (a close second behind 1997, the best in 100 years) in all of Italy. After fermentation it was aged in oak for over 40 months and in bottle for at least another eight. The Brunello grape is a close relative of the Sangiovese and the color is a deep ruby red with 14% alcohol. This is a big wine with full body and intense earthy aromas of herbs, tree bark, vanilla and figs. On the palate there are deep dark black fruits, licorice and husky but balanced tannins with a long nutty finish. A beautiful wine like this should be savored and that's exactly what I'm doing. This was a gift bottle so don't ask how much. Thanks C & G.

Hi again, four days later there was half a glass left and it was opened all the way, aromas and flavors mellowed a bit but even more beautiful. Unbelievable.

Conde De Romanones Reserva 2003 Marques de Camp Noble

Here are some more tasting notes on the Vanguard style wines from Spain offered at La Rioja Wine Seminar last week. As far as I can tell this is 100% Tempranillo grapes aged for 18 months in new French oak barriques and at least another 18 months in bottle before release. The aromas are very funky like an earthy underbrush and sour cherry. On the palate are mushrooms, and, freshly dug earth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

La Montesa Palacios Remondo 2004

From what the folks at La Rioja Wine Seminar call their Vanguard Signature Series, this red wine from Spain is a blend of 40% Granacha, 35% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo, and 10% Graciano aged 12 months in barrel, and contains 14.1% alcohol. It’s color is a ruby red with good complexity-- on the nose—there’s an earthy, fruity, smoky barnyard aroma and on the palate fresh ripe cherries, raspberry, and toasted chocolate. The combination of funky aromas and bright fruity flavors made for an impressive contrast.

Cereghino Smith Sangiovese Reserve 2004

A little background about Cereghino Smith Sangiovese Reserve 2004 provided by Keith Beavers:

The story goes like this: Fred Smith from the band Television and his wife whose name I cannot remember (note from Dave T. I believe her name is Paula Cereghino) lived on Houston back in the late seventies and eighties. His wife (girlfriend at the time maybe) comes from a wine producing family from Washington state. Her grandfather was a winemaker, and one vintage, he passed away before harvest--so her father took on the responsibility of running the winery. So wine making was in her blood from the get. One day the two of them went to the Brooklyn Terminal Market and bought a bunch of grapes from California and had a de-stemming party in the backyard of their building in Houston. They started having fun making homemade wine, and their friends got into it, too. Their friends Tish and Snooky, who were starting their own line of hair dye called Manic Panic, used to take a bottle of Fred and his wife's wine to clients as presents. Fast forward a decade, and they now live in Bloomington, New York and make wine on a more professional level. They have a line of five or six wines that are mostly blends and have great flavor.

I was introduced to Fred and his wife through a customer who happened into our shop a couple of months ago. This lady walks in wearing ripped up jeans and black, worn Chucks with a CBGB's t-shirt ripped "Flashdance" style and Manic Panic "wild fire" red hair. Her little chihuahua is dressed in a similar shirt, and she is in love with the shop because of the location and how the hood has changed (she has got to be in her sixties). She starts telling me about Fred Smith from Television and how he and his wife make wine upstate and that I should try it. I agree, and she calls him right there on the spot and hands me the phone. So Fred and I have a convo and agree to meet. His wife and him come by the shop, and I try the whole line. This is NYC, East Village, Alphabet City history here. I couldn't not take one or two bottles. The cool thing is the wines are good. You can tell there is some family history of craft in the works here. That and pure passion.

Keith Beavers

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cereghino Smith Sangiovese Reserve 2004

This is a red wine made from Sangiovese grapes grown in California and produced in New York. Intense aromas of bubble gum, raspberry jam, and strawberries attack the senses, while ripe bing cherries, licorice, smoke and oak get the taste buds busy. I've tasted many Sangiovese wines, mostly from Italy, but never interpreted like this. It's chewy, has texture, and an interesting flavor profile. Found this at a tasting at Alphabet City Wine Co., recommended by Keith B. Fined not filtered, 13% alcohol and in the $20 range.
©Photo 2008 by Dave Trieger

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Falanghina Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio 2006

A dry white wine from the Campania region of Italy, 100% Falanghina grapes are soft-pressed to release only the first free run of the must, then fermented in stainless steel for 28 days. Color is pale but on the green side of gold. There are aromas of flowers with complex flavors of peaches and apples, a nice acid tannins balance and a mineral citrus finish. 12.9% alcohol, priced around $15. Sampled at Rosetta Wines.

Leza Garcia Valdepalacios Vendimia Seleccionada 2005

Another wine from La Rioja Wine Seminar at the Astor Center, this red wine from Spain is mainly Tempranillo with a small amount of red garnacha. On the nose is a nice caramel and vanilla aroma and on the palate chocolate cherries, fresh strawberries/red fruit. Opens nicely.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Monte Real Gran Reserva 1998 Bodegas Riojanas

As promised, here are my first tasting notes from La Rioja Wine Seminar at the Astor Center. In the 2nd hour they served up a group of nine Classic red wines from Spain, namely Reservas and Gran Reservas. According the governing traditions the Reservas must spend (at least) 1 year in oak barrels and 2 years in bottle; Gran Reservas spend (at least) 2 years in barrels and 3 years in bottle.

This one was one of my favorite wines of the day. The Monte Real GR blend is 80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano, aged in American oak casks for 24 to 30 months and in bottle for 36 months. On the nose are beautiful bright cherries with aromatic spices and ripe summer fruits, while on the palate waves of dark fruit make for an excellent balance a and lush, long finish. I did a search and PJ Wine Co. has it listed retail at $26.99. This, I believe, is an amazing value.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

La Riojas Wine Seminar at The Astor Center

Riojas Tasting • This week I attended a tasting of wines, olive oils and cuisine from the Rioja region of Spain at the new Astor Center in New York City. The tasting was led by Juan Bautista Chavarri, the official winemaker to the Gobierno de La Rioja. A winemaker with 30 years experience, Mr. Chavarri guided us through four hours of tasting 31 wines, 2 olive oils and a multitude of tapas. Please watch this site in the very near future for tasting notes on many of them.

Bodegas Ondarre Rioja Reserva 2001

70% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha, and 15% Mazuelo, all varietals are fermented separately in American and French oak casks for 16 months. Color is deep cherry with oak, leather and spice aromas. It has good body, structure and balance with a long finish. Found this at a tasting at Best Cellars on 3rd avenue an 87th street in the $15 range. Nice.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

8 Wine Bars In Queens and Manhattan

Accademia di Vino
1081 Third Ave (at 64th St.)
New York, NY 10021

Aroma Kitchen & Winebar
36 East 4th St. (at Bowery)
New York, NY 10003

Bar Veloce
176 Seventh Ave
New York, NY 10011-1827
212 629-5300

i Trulli
122 E. 27th St.
New York, NY 10016

Invino Wine bar & Restaurant
215 East 4th Street
nyc (between A & B)
212 539-1011

1486 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10021
212 472-4552

Uvarara Vineria & Ristoro
78-28 Metropolitan Ave.
Middle Village, NY. 11379
718 894-0052

Vino Di Vino
29-21 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105
718 721-3010

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Rubesco Rosso Di Torgiano DOC Lungarotti 2004

Rubesco Rosso Di Torgiano DOC Lungarotti 2004 • Made from 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo, the blend that is classically indigenous to the Umbrian region, this ruby red wine (from the fantastic 2004 vintage) is aged in oak for 10-12 months and in bottle for another 12. The bouquet starts with red fruits and an earthy/mushroom undertone that opens up with violets and oak. There are cherries on the palate with black fruit, medium tannins and is really a well balanced every day wine. This wine paired wonderfully with, of all things, a Cuban sandwich, but would also go well with a roast, cheese or in a red sauce (to give it a little kick). The good people at The Wine Room introduced me to this wine and also suggested pairing it with pizza. It is 12.5% alcohol and goes for around $15. This one is a hit!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Firriato Chiaramonte Nero D’Avola 2005

Nero D’Avola, the most important grape in Sicily, typically exudes exotic flavors and aromas... well, this one delivers in spades. The first thing I notice is that this 100% Nero D’Avola is ready to drink without decanting and has a flavor profile reminiscent of a much higher priced wine. It is full bodied, with a deep opaque purple color, and a bouquet of very ripe plums and spices. The tannins and acids are nearly perfectly balanced to leave you with a silky finish that lingers on the tongue. The grapes are hand picked, partially maturated in barriques for 7 months, and aged another 6 months in oak barriques, with an alcohol content of 14%. I have to admit this is my new favorite Nero D’Avola (Colosi is now my #2, but to be fair it’s a lot less expensive). We had this by the bottle for $36 at In Vino Wine Bar, but it can be found retail for about $20, a bargain in any case. It paired well with a 3-mushroom ravioli in a cream sauce and a Lasagna, but would also go well with roasted pork, game or steak. Best to drink with good friends or family.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

7 Inexpensive but Good Wines

Here are 7 of my most recent favorite inexpensive but good wines.

J. Lohr Estates Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
This Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, California is made from 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petite Sirah, 5% Syrah, 4% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot and 1% Malbec- quite an intense mix, but it works. Stainless steel fermentation, then 14-16 months in oak casks. Bright reddish purple in color with strong fruity fragrance of cherries cedar and blackberries, and cherry soda, chocolate and vanilla on the mouth. Enjoyed this with a cheeseburger at a new restaurant in Forest Hills by the glass, and it can be found retail at the $20 range. 13.8% alcohol.

Cantina Di Casteggio Oltrepo Pavese Barbera 2005 DOC
This medium weight ruby colored 100% Barbera is unoaked, so there's no wood influence, allowing a nose of pure mild red fruits, a palate of sour cherries, spice, white pepper, and a mix of fragrant herbs. After an hour of decanting the finish was smooth and fleeting, but after 4 hours the finish stretched out nicely. The mild tannins would hold up well to a pork or veal dish, or even barbecue. We are in the $12 range.

Rocca Delle Macie Campomaccione Morellino Di Scansano DOC 2006
Blend is 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot. Rocca Delle Macie Campomaccione Morellino Di Scansano DOC 2006 is a ruby red, dry, full-bodied wine from Tuscany with ripe red fruit and chocolate on the nose, and a fresh smooth palate with a good finish. 13% alcohol and $7.99.

Santa Carolina Reserva Carmenere 2006 Chile
This Carmenere from Chile is aged for 8 months in small oak barrels, is a deep purple red, has mild floral aromas and complex fruit flavors including cherry, with spice and vanilla. This is an interesting pick... the flavor profile is unique (it's my first 100% Carmenere)... I haven't seen many around. Found this in the $10 range.

Chateau Grand Moulin 2005 France
This red wine from France is a blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes. Color is clear dark garnet red with cherries, ripe fruit and tar on the nose. Palate has black cherry and white pepper undertones and moderate tannin. It is paired well with warm gruyere gougeres. Not bad by the glass for $9.

Straccali Sangiovese Di Toscana 2004 IGT
This is a 100% Sangiovese red wine made from grapes from various locations in Tuscany, Italy. There's barnyard on the nose with black cherry and oak with cinnamon, and mild flavors of fruit and good balance. This is an inexpensive, but decent everyday wine, I believe it was $6.

Fattoria Del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2004 DOCG
This DOCG from Montepulciano, Tuscany, Italy is made from 80% Prugnolo Gentile (a Sangiovese clone) and a 20% blend of Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo. 80% of the grapes are aged for two years in Slavonian oak and 20% in French oak. On the nose is cherry, oak, rose and vanilla and on the palate black cherries with moderate tannins and a smooth medium finish. In the $20 neighborhood, this is a good vintage to drink now but you can also cellar it for a few years.