Monday, December 29, 2008

Bodegas de Los Herederos Del Marques De Riscal Reserva Rioja 2003


Exhibiting a wonderful freshness, this red wine from Spain is made from 90% Tempranillo grapes and 10% Graziano y Mazuelo then aged 24 months in American oak. Showing colors of deep red and warmer amber hues around the edges, this Rioja has medium body and soft tannins.

On the nose are delicious aromas of black cherries behind layers of herbs and another of dark berries and intense vanilla.

On the palate are ripe, exotic flavors, as unique as coconut, licorice and black currant leading up to a long tobacco, oaky finish.

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Curtis Heritage Series Santa Barbara County Cuvee 2005

This California red is influenced by the style of the Southern Rhone valley with a blend of 46% Syrah, 23% Mourvedre, 17% Grenache and 14% Cinsault.

On the nose, an intense flashback to cherry flavored Jolly Ranchers, morphing into roasted marshmallows on a campfire, and hints of smoked meats, leather and petrol. Noticeably high in alcohol, 14.9%, and a palate of blackberry, herbs & spices, rhubarb pie and white pepper. The tannins are a little tight, but still a good wine.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Altos Las Hormigas Malbec 2006 Argentina


From Mendoza comes this wonderful Malbec that seems to be thriving in the dryer climates of Argentina. Deep purple hues preview aromas of violets, figs and chocolate with faint layers of green peppers. Then revealing chewy blueberry flavors and ripe plums with a creamy, syruppy thickness that finishes into a fruity lushness that stays with you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Merlot Reserve 2006 Chile


Smooth but with decent structure, this Chilean Merlot (a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Carménère) brings aromas of plums mingled with berries and pencil lead... then plays on the palate with spices, currants, cherries and a smokey chocolate. In the $8-9 range, this is a workhorse of a good everyday food wine or enjoyed on its own. I had it with home-made pasta and cannelloni beans with a cream spinach sauce.

Lamùri Nero D'Avola 2005 IGT


Along with a delicious dinner, we had this wine as our second bottle at Il Poeta this weekend.

Lamùri, which means “The Love” in the Sicilian dialect, reflects its name very well. With aromas of toasted oak, ripe red and black fruits, and a floral bouquet, followed by waves of cherry pie, jam and spice cascading on the palate, then settling with ease into a solid, balanced fruity finish. I thought it was sweeter than most Nero D’Avolas that I’ve tasted, but in a good way… reflecting the perfectly timed ripeness of the fruit.

This wine was well matched with short ribs over potatoes in a brown sauce, cutting the richness with ease and at the same time complimenting the flavors.

Producer's notes:

First vintage bottled in 1967, 
900 acres, produce 2,500,000 bottles annually


No wine purchased

No grapes purchased


Winemaker: Giuseppe Tasca and Laura Orsi

Lamùri Nero d'Avola IGT Sicilia
Intense ruby red in color, Lamùri offers a lush bouquet of blackberry, mulberry, cherry and sour cherry jam, spices, laurel, cinnamon, vanilla, coffee, licorice and chocolate. On the palate, this wine is incredibly rich, intense and supple, with velvety tannins framing a refreshing acidity and a medium body. Recommended with mediterranean fare, such as pasta, tagines, roasted lamb, kebabs, and ribs.

Made from 100% Nero d'Avola


First vintage bottled in 2002, 150,000 bottles produced annually.

Production area: Piana Margio, Piana Gelso and Ex Conti, located 1,650 ft. above sea level, with varied exposure and a mix of sand and clay soil composition

Vineyard characteristics: 69 acres planted in 1990-1995 with a density of 1,600 vines per acre. The vines are planted in the espalier method and yield 2.4 tons per acre.

The harvest was carried out in September/October

Vinification & Aging

Type of Press: pneumatic


Method of extraction: pump over


Length of Maceration: 10 days
 fermented in stainless steel at a temperature of 77-82 degrees



Aging Container 
Type: Allier and Troncais barriques

Age: 20% new

Size: 225 L

The wine is aged 12 months followed by an additional 3 months in bottle prior to release from the winery.

Analytical Data

Total Acidity: 6.3 gram(s) per liter
pH: 3.53


Dry Extract: 36.70 gram(s) per liter


Alcohol Content: 13.5 % alc. by volume

Residual Sugars: 2 gram(s) per liter

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Santa Rosalia Nebbiolo d'Alba Brezza 2006 Piemonte DOC



The following Nebbiolo was one of my favorites out of 4 flights of 3, sampled at a blind tasting at SNOOTHdotCOM hosted by Greg Dal Piaz.

From Piedmont comes this classic Nebbiolo d'Alba showing a simplicity of style and reflecting its unique form and balance. Exhibiting freshness and ripeness at the same time, there are faint flowery aromas, like violets or roses, contrasting with flavors of chocolate, toast and tar.

Notes from the Brezza site:

Production process
The vinification is designed to maximize the freshness and elegance of the wine. The fermentation and maceration last 6 to 10 days, with the temperature about 18-20°C to encourage malolactic fermentation. In December, the wine, already quite clear, is put into oak for 6 months, after which in undergoes bottle-ageing for a similar period. Once the wine is released, it is ready for consumption; a further year in bottle, however, will further enhance quality.

Serving recommendations
Both terroir and estate philosophy dictate a wine quite different from the more famous Barolo wine. This Nebbiolo d'Alba typically exhibits fruity aromas (peach and wild berries) and medium body, being ready to drink relatively young. With respect to the more austere Barolo, it is more suited casual summer meals. It is best enjoyed young, but will improve with a brief cellaring.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Il Poeta Ristorante



Sunday night, our favorite night out for dinner, we spent at the newly opened Il Poeta Ristorante on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills, New York. A family owned spot with northern Italian cuisine and a crack staff that knows their stuff. In the front of house is Luca, who makes you feel right at home and in the kitchen is Chef Mario DiChiara, formerly from Harry's Bar (owned by cipriani in Venice, Italy), Cipriani (NY), and Il Corso also in NYC.

We started with a bottle of the Chiante Superiore 2006 from Poggiotondo, Tuscany, Italy. Licorice and cherries accented the nose with smooth silky tannins, pepper, oak and cherries on the palate. There are 40-50 wines on their menu, mostly Italian but a few from California, New Zealand, France, Chile & Argentina.




First appetizer was Carciofi in tegamino, baked artichokes served with shrimp and smoked scamorza cheese.


Next was Burrata, a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream at room temperature with arugula, mushrooms, capers and olives in what I believe was a brown reduction sauce.


My wife had Tagliolini del Poeta, a home made pasta in porcini mushroom sauce wrapped with smoked prosciutto, which I tasted and unsuccessfully tried to switch with my wife... delicious.

And I had Risotto with veal in a rich fresh mirapoir sauce.


For dessert was a creamy pana cotta with ground pistaccio and a raspberry coule.

Overall it was a close to perfect night out and I can't wait to go back to try some fish dishes, which looked good. Prices were reasonable and service was excellent.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Corinne Couturier Vin de Pays de la Principauté d'Orange 2005

From France's Rhône region comes this red wine, Vin de Pays de la Principauté d'Orange from winemaker Corinne Couturier made from the grapes of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut, Mourvèdre and Carignan. There are certain country aromas at work here, making for a nice complexity with a redcurrant, tarry, vegetal blend on the nose, and a mushroom minerality to contrast the robust flavors of tart cherries, spice and white pepper. The finish is spicy with the lingering of pepper and currants and a satisfying earthiness that I really enjoyed.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Il Borro and Castiglion del Bosco

A few weeks ago I sat with Gary Grunner and tasted the wines of Il Borro and Castiglion del Bosco, the wineries owned by the Ferragamo family, the well known Italian fashion house. He was really excited about presenting their wines and was proud to say that they are found in some of the best Italian restaurants, steak houses and fine wine shops in the USA.

The six wines I tasted were:

Il Borro Lamelle Chardonnay 2006 IGT

This Chardonnay has a pale yellow color, fruity rich aromas of apple and peach with notes of floral & lemon. Flavors of pear and vanilla balanced with nice acidity.

Notes - The Chardonnay grapes for ‘Lamelle’ are carefully selected from vineyards within the Il Borro Estate in San Giustino Val d’Arno in Arezzo. The hand harvested grapes are immediately transferred to the winery and sorted manually. 50% of the wine is fermented in new French oak barriques & 50% in stainless steel for about 10 days.

Tenuta Il Borro Pian di Nova Toscana 2005 IGT

Another blend from Ferragamo's Il Borro, this blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Sangiovese reflects a subtle nose of red cherries, currants and leather, with hints of vanilla and a finish of spices, namely cinnamon and cloves.

The wines simplicity make it an attractive blend that utilizes the best of both grapes, Syrah for a rich spiciness and Sangiovese for an earthy freshness.


Castiglion Del Bosco Campo Del Drago Brunello di Montalcino 2003

Campo Del Drago Brunello di Montalcino 2003 is a DOCG, single vineyard effort from Salvatore Ferragamo's Castiglion Del Bosco.

We start with a bouquet of smokey vanilla and red licorice candy, then subtle traces of dark chocolate and black cherries on the palate. Medium tannins give this a traditional style, not too sweet, but balanced and with an intensity that defines it as a classic Brunello reflecting the wonderful Sangiovese grape.

Tenuta Il Borro Toscana 2005 IGT

From Arezzo, Italy this blend is a balancing act of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah, and aged in French barriques for 12 months.

Nuances of violets, toast and roses on the nose and even a tinge of fresh baked pie... soft tannins preview the ripe flavors of blueberries, black cherries and a rich smokiness. The color is a cool ruby with medium weight, but the mouthfeel is a bit more substantial with rich textures and a satisfying finish.

Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2003

Castiglion del Bosco produces this Brunello di Montalcino which is aged in oak for 2 years.

It is a traditional 100% Sangiovese from Tuscany, has ruby coloring and intense inviting aromas of vanilla with flavors of plum, orange peel and a sweet campfire smokiness. Initially slightly tight, I decanted and waited an hour before it opened to a very good balance of fruit and tannins, still it's a powerful red with 13.5% alcohol content.

24 hours later: Tried this wine again today, tannins way softer and overall feel was more velvety. A very nice wine.

Castiglion Del Bosco Dainero 2004 IGT

From the Tuscan region of Montalcino comes this mouthwatering blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Sangiovese grapes.

Aged in barriques for 6 months, it puts on an aromatic show of violet, currant and chocolate all wrapped in a full bodied style. Deep purple and displaying a round, soft fruitiness, flavors emerge quickly of blackberries, cherries and a slightly smokey, vegetal quality at the finish.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another BYOB one83

Here's another BYOB to add to your list... I found it this week on the upper east side of NYC and it's called one83 at 1608 First Avenue, between 83rd and 84th street.

With a contemporary Italian decor and Northern Italian cuisine, it was the perfect place to meet up with visiting friends with whom I cycled through Tuscany.

I brought a bottle of 2004 Antinori Chianti and ordered a whole wheat penne pasta with cubes of chicken and mixed assorted vegetables in a white sauce. We ate and drank at the bar, prices were reasonable, and the corkage fee was $15. Overall it was a good experience, I would like to go back and try their outdoor garden.

Full listing of BYOB's.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1979


This opulent, deep opaque purple Cabernet has a softness that I savor so much. And there were lots of sensory memories from my past that I had to call upon in free association...

candy cane wrapper plastic toys mineral rubber bands dried herbs catsup vegetal green pepper blackberry chocolate

Greg Dal Piaz from Snooth organized this vertical tasting of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon's ranging from 1975 to 1979 and ending with a 2003 Pietra Santa thrown in for good measure. We gathered at Cafe Loup on 13th Street in NYC to sample these wonderful old Cabs from the Maestro of California wines.

All the wines were double decanted to lose any sediments and were opened an hour and a half before we got our hands on them.


©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Monday, December 8, 2008

Red Wine Blind Tasting

At snooth on Sunday afternoon I participated in a blind tasting of 12 red wines. Led by Greg Dal Piaz of Snooth, all the bottles' labels were covered and we sampled 4 flights of three each. Here they are along with my comments:

Flight 1 (Sangiovese)

2005 Perdroncelli Alto Vineyard Dry Creek valley, CA
color: cool rose; nose: bright cherries, violets, roses; palate: raisins, vanilla

2006 Terra d'oro Amador County, CA
nose: cassis, chocolate; palate: grapefruit rinds, sour cherries

2005 Pietra santa Cienega Valley, CA
color: deep purple; nose: smokey, concentrated not unlike Amarone, intense, violets, cherry syrup, cough drops, and vanilla; palate: red fruits, ripe cherries, white pepper

Flight 2 (Other Italians)

2006 Montevina Amador County Aglianico, CA
color: ruby; nose: vanilla, blueberries; palate: strawberries, blueberries, fresh fruit finish

2006 Bocella Rasott Campi Taurasini, Italy
color: dark ruby opaque; earthy, plastic wrap, Christmas gift wrapping, chemical cherries, sweet and sour cherries

2004 Pietra Santa Dolcetto Cienega Valley, CA
color: opaque inky deep purple; beatiful aromas of clean earth, simple and on palate ripe cherries, wood and green peppers

Flight 3 (Syrah/Shiraz)

2005 Shoo Fly South East Australia
bramble and underbrush on the nose, also hints of earthy blackberries and palate of sweet ripe fruitiness, bubble gum, violets with a candy finish

2006 The Lackey South Australia
nose: red fruits; palate: super ripe blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, smooth and fresh finish

2005 Valley of the Moon Sonoma County, CA
medicinal cherries

Flight 4 (Syrah/Shiraz)

2004 d'Arenberg The Love Grass McLaren Vale, Australia
nose: vanilla and high alcohol at first, but opened to a sweet fruit bomb (in a good way), blueberry, lavender, fruit rind with a finish of white pepper and a smokey undercurrent, refreshing, jammy, balanced

2005 Sixth Sense Lodi County, CA
nose: vegetal, sweet and spicey; palate: vanilla, violets, cherry orange liquore, oak

2005 Toasted Head Dunnigan Hills, CA
pleasing aromas of mild floral tones, preview a palate of soft, balanced and perfectly ripe bing cherries

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tenuta Il Borro Pian di Nova Toscana 2005 IGT


Another blend from Ferragamo's Il Borro, this blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Sangiovese reflects a subtle nose of red cherries, currants and leather, with hints of vanilla and a finish of spices, namely cinnamon and cloves.

The wines simplicity make it an attractive blend that utilizes the best of both grapes, Syrah for a rich spiciness and Sangiovese for an earthy freshness.

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Castiglion Del Bosco Campo Del Drago Brunello di Montalcino 2003


Campo Del Drago Brunello di Montalcino 2003 is a DOCG, single vineyard effort from Salvatore Ferragamo's Castiglion Del Bosco.

We start with a bouquet of smokey vanilla and red licorice candy, then subtle traces of dark chocolate and black cherries on the palate. Medium tannins give this a traditional style, not too sweet, but balanced and with an intensity that defines it as a classic Brunello reflecting the wonderful Sangiovese grape.

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Friday, December 5, 2008

1975 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve... From A Vertical Tasting of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserves 1975-79


Greg Dal Piaz from Snooth organized this vertical tasting of Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon's ranging from 1975 to 1979 and ending with a 2003 Pietra Santa thrown in for good measure. Eight wine lovers (see photos) gathered at Cafe Loup on 13th Street in NYC to sample these wonderful old Cabs from the Maestro of California wines.

All the wines were double decanted to lose any sediments and were opened an hour and a half before we got our hands on them.

The first on the table was the 1975 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve.

Right out of the gate it was intensely aromatic and heavy with Earth, Funk and Barnyard (remember them from the 70's?) and layered on top of that were red cherries, saddle and vanilla.

This one showed such complexity that on the palate there were just as many layers: white pepper, smoked bacon, green pepper skin and raisins. The finish was an interesting amalgam of all of the contributing factors that constructed this grand California classic.

See another review by Greg Dal Piaz

©2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Photos from Snooth Mondavi Vertical Tasting 12/04/08






©photos 2008 by Dave Trieger

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mondavi Vertical Tasting Tonight

Well, it's finally here... I've been looking forward to this tasting for a while (see Sweetbreads post), it'll be a small group and we're doing our own food pairing at Cafe Loup.

MMMMM, I'm thinking STEAK.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Tenuta Il Borro Toscana 2005 IGT


Il Borro is part of a stable of wines introduced by Salvatore Ferragamo, whose grandfather built the famous footwear brand.

From Arezzo, Italy this blend is a balancing act of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah, and aged in French barriques for 12 months.

Nuances of violets, toast and roses on the nose and even a tinge of fresh baked pie... soft tannins preview the ripe flavors of blueberries, black cherries and a rich smokiness. The color is a cool ruby with medium weight, but the mouthfeel is a bit more substantial with rich textures and a satisfying finish.

© 2008 photo by Dave Trieger

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Astor Wines 15% OFF Beaujolais

Just got a heads-up from DrVino that Astor Wines is having a 15% OFF sale today on Beaujolais.