Saturday, January 31, 2009

Madonna Alta Rosso Di Montefalco Umbria 2006

Made from mostly Sangiovese and blended with Sagrantino, this full-bodied red from the Umbrian region of Italy is a juicy, perfumed wonder-wine. Imagine this... you're holding a basket of fresh-picked mushrooms, then stepping into a barn, that's what's on the nose.

Hints of glycerine, waves of succulent, ripe blackberries, dark fruits, and integrated silky earthy tannins, painted in a package of opaque inky deep purple. Has an herbal edge that reminds me a bit of an Aglianico/Nero D'Avola.

Paired really well with a risotto with sausage and radicchio and red wine at InVino in NYC. Price at InVino, $36/bottle,13% alcohol, probably around $16 retail.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

San Felice Deja Vu

One of the most memorable parts of my cycling trip through Tuscany was a visit to Tenuta San Felice at Relais Borgo San Felice. I remember tasting their delicious Il Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva which I believe was a 1999 or even a 1997. So it was with extreme surprise and excitement that while attending the Vino 2009 Italian Wine Week at New York's Hilton Hotel, I found myself standing at a table with the wines from San Felice.

Pouring that day was the Diretorre Comerciale, Fabrizio Nencioni who smoothly guided me through an amazingly rich selection of reds from the regions in and around San Felice. Out of the five that I sampled three were from Tenuta San Felice in Chianti Classico, one was from Tenuta Campogiovanni in Montalcino and one from Tenuta Perolla in Maremma.

1st: 2006 San Felice Chianti Classico DOCG (Tenuta San Felice)

100% Sangiovese, 12 months in Slavonian oak casks, with ruby red coloring, aromas of cherries, raspberries and violets, smooth tannins and crisp acidity. $17

2nd: 2005 Il Grigio Chianti Classico Reserva DOCG (Tenuta San Felice)

24 months in oak, 12 months in bottle, this is one I remember best, on the label was a medeival knight painted by Titian. Deep ruby red colors, aromas of red berries and violets. $23.

3rd: 2003 Vigorelli - Toscana IGT (Tenuta San Felice)

This one is a fine Supertuscan blended with 45% Sangiovese, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, 20 months in French oak, 10 months in bottle, garnet colors, aromas of red currant and earth, thick in texture with yummy silky tannins and hints of vanilla. $60.

4th: Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG (Tenuta Perolla)

3 years in Slavonian oak casks and 12 months in bottle, deep red colors, black fruits, blueberries, even some strawberries, smoke, leather and tobacco with a beautiful long finish.

5th: Poggibano Maremma Toscana IGT (Tenuta Perolla)

Mostly Merlot blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, 12 months in barriques followed by 6 months in bottles, deep garnet coloring, blackberries, blueberries and ripe cherries and a nice balance.

All photos by Dave Trieger © 2006

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dave Trieger and Gary Vaynerchuck

If you don’t like wine and live in a hobbit hole you probably haven’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuck, otherwise you’ll know him as the exhuberant, wisecracking, regular-guy, wine-tasting, super-jet-fan from Wine Library TV.

This weekend I got a chance to meet and speak with him for a few minutes at the Boston Wine Expo, mostly about the emergence of Nero D’Avolas and Aglianicos from southern Italy and Sicily.

As Director of Operations at Wine Library, Gary rode the top of the wave of technology, and pioneered using on-line video clips as a marketing vehicle to get his wine reviews out there, and uses social networking to the same purpose.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Got Wood?

At the Boston Wine Expo I got to meet a couple of really nice guys, Jay Crocker and Tyler Knight, who are arborists; they trim your tree branches... and woodturners; they recycle the excess branches into beautiful and useful pieces.

They displayed fine wooden wine stoppers which really caught my eye, besides hand made butter knives, pens, pizza cutters and salad servers.

They are known as Given Woodcraft and it's worth a trip to their site. Tell them Dave sent you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gary Grunner from Grapes on the Go at Boston Wine Expo

This weekend at The Boston Wine Expo Gary Grunner, from Grapes On The Go, exhibited the following Italian wines from the Ferragamo family's Tuscan vineyards, Il Borro and Castiglion Del Bosco:

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.

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.

Tenuta Il Borro Pian di Nova Toscana 2005 IGT

Another blend from Il Borro 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.

Tenuta Il Borro Toscana 2005 IGT

From Arezzo, Italy this blend is a balancing act of 50% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah, and 5% Petit Verdot 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 that says SuperTuscan.

Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino 2003

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

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. Opened to a very good balance of fruit and soft tannins, but still it's a powerful red with 13.5% alcohol content.

 A very velvety wine.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Greek Wines...

I don't know a thing about them, but my friend Jim L gave me a few pointers:

Dave--The best way to experience Greek wines is obviously through a Greek meal, where the wine and the foods get to interact. Greek whites are probably more superior to the reds (I find most of the reds on the light side). Every Greek restaurant will have these wine staples on the menu:

Achaia Clauss: Demestica White (Greek table wine)

Boutaris: Moschofilero (a refreshing white on a hot day with a taste of apricots, peaches and cucumber) Priced in the low teens.

Boutaris: Nemea Agiorgitiko (red)

Tsantalis: This wine maker makes solid whites and reds. Look them up, the wine was originally made by monks.

Estate/Domaine Hatzimihalis: This winemaker starts raising the bar of Greek wines with solid whites and definitely more complex reds. They tend to be priced around $20.

There is also Retsina, an acquired taste that people either love or hate. It's white wine with a kick because they add resin.

Hope this helps as a starting point. Grand Avenue wines in Astoria on 31st Street under the el will probably have the biggest selection. (Also, there's a new generation of Greek winemakers on the scene now with higher end wines that I haven't tried yet.)


Thanks Jim, sounds like a great start to me.

Bacchus (c.1595) is a painting by Italian Baroque master Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). It is held in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
(In Greek mythology Bacchus is the god of wine)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Boston Wine Expo

This morning I'm heading up to The Boston Wine Expo and looking forward to a busy day of tasting, and making new friends.

Talk to you later.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Blind Tasting of Twelve Syrahs

At Snooth's tasting room I had the opportunity to sample 12 Syrahs selected by Greg Dal Piaz. They were all 100% Syrah varietal, so it still amazes me how much of a range there was in the flights. A few common threads were the high alcohol content (a 14.57% average), full body, dark fruits, black pepper and spices. (Please note all bottles were opened 2.5 hours before tasting). So here they are, a powerfully dirty dozen.

2006 Neyers Napa Valley California - Hudson Vineyards Syrah 14.1% - $40

On the nose a funky barnyard waft and later opened but showed a medicinal aroma, while up front on the palate dark sour cherries and mainly black pepper in the mid palate.

2004 Burgess Napa Valley Syrah 14.7% - $20

Perfumed aromas, lilac, and a playful candy twist, fresh-cut wood or bark peeled back, green peppers, spices and a bit of raw onions with a cola finish. Liked it.

2005 LaTour Vineyards Napa Valley California Syrah 14.8% - $26.50

On the nose mushrooms and turned soil, black cherries and tannic structure.

2006 Alesia Santa Lucia Highlands California Fairview Ranch Vineyard Syrah 14.25% - $60

On the nose getting vinegar, sulphur, cat pee, and meats, while on the palate dark fruits, coffee, chocolate and blackberry...with smooth integration of flavors somewhat redeeming the rough aromas.

2006 Snoqualme Columbia Valley Washington State Syrah 13.9% - $12

Muted aromas of dried herbs lead into a diluted texture and a palate of ash, wood, blueberries, dried fruits and a dusty glycerine.

2006 Luca Laborde Double Select Syrah Uco Valley Mendoza, Argentina 13.9% - $25

Simple bouquet of toasted red fruit and barnyard, balanced, chewy, white pepper, blueberries with great finish... very nice.

2006 Stolpman Santa Ynez Valley Estate Syrah 15.1% - $30

On the nose, herbal and violets with specks of meat, flavors of sweet stewed tomatoes, white pepper, alcohol, red fruits and candy. Good one.

2005 Firestone Santa Ynez Valley California Syrah 13.5% - $18

Nose of petrol, oak, butter with a subtle diluted leather, fizzles on the midpalate.

2004 Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Valley California Estate Syrah 14.5% - $20

Strawberries, meat, herbs, burnt rubber, dust, wood, fairly balanced.

2006 Dry Stack Cellars (aka Grey Stack) Dry Stack Vineyard Bennett Valley California Marie's Block Syrah 15.5% - $40

Earthy mushroom, meat, barnyard, black pepper, blackberries, sharp ripe fruits and very high alcohol.

2006 Grey Stack - Dry Stack Vineyard - Bennett Valley California The Narcissist Syrah 15.8% $48

Muted aromas of raw meat, on the palate alcohol, stout tannins, oak, chalky mid-palate, and a sour cherry finish.

2006 Four Vines Santa Barbara County California los Alamos Vineyard - One Tree Hill Block Syrah 14.8% $36

Bigger and fruity with cherry cola on the nose and a palate of violets, spices... medicinal but in a natural way, very herbal finish... my favorite of the twelve.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jargon Pinot Noir 2006 California

Light and fruity and with colors of pale ruby this Pinot Noir from California's Trinchero Estates and comes in a screw top bottle, but... I like it. Not at all complex but with good notes of strawberries, chocolate, green peppers, spice and mild tannins with 13.5% alcohol.

Paired well with black beans and brown rice with guacamole and salsa, it's simplicity makes this a good everyday food wine that you can enjoy for about $11.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Argiolas Costera Isola dei Nuraghi 2006 IGT at Il Poeta

Tonight we returned to Il Poeta for dinner and started with a red wine from Sardinia, Italy.

Aged in French oak barriques for 6-8 months and composed of 90% Cannonau (derived from Grenache), 5% Carignano and 5% Bovale Sardo, this medium weight ruby red wine shows aromas of blackberry and violets.

On the midpalate are white pepper and licorice, with a bit of freshly cut wood... or kind of like eating parsley after a garlic dish, palate cleansing and with a dry finish.

Paired well with:
appetizer: Burrata with mushrooms, onions, capers & tomato
primi: Tagliolini del Poeta, home made pasta in porcini mushroom sauce wrapped with smoked prosciutto
secondi: Petto di pollo in crosta di parmiggiano, chicken breast crusted in parmesan cheese in a lemon and white wine sauce
contorni: broccoli rape
dessert: Fritelle with fresh cream (similar to a zeppole)

We also had a taste of the Natura Carmenere from Colchuaga valley in Chile, an organic dark deep purple that's as thick as syrup. With a slightly vegetal nose similar to green peppers and waves of ripe black cherry, and flavors of summer fruits with structured tannins.

Mario and Luca also bought us an after dinner drink from Piedmont, the Marenco 2007 Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui was a strawberry bubbly that was an excellent way to end the meal.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro 2004 DOCG

First let me say that though aged in oak casks for 24 months, this Chianti Classico gives just a hint of the edges from the aging process.

What's most impressive is the simple, subtle elegance of this wine expressed through its ripe cherries and herbs. Into the picture creeps a bit of spice and violets and plum that has just this second ripened perfectly. Well integrated, this Chianti opens into a nice fruity mouthful and gives up a clean and even finish.

Very, very nice. (This bottle was a Christmas present, thanks Brian).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bodegas Montecillo Crianza 2003 Spain

From the Rioja region of Spain comes this red wine that received an 87 rating from Wine Spectator. Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes with more than 1 year in French oak barrels, and 1 year in bottle.

There is so much going on in the nose, like milk chocolate, grilled meats, leather, licorice, animal, and vegetal, but there's also a mild wafting of cat pee. This is the first time I've ever ran accross this aroma in a wine. I always thought it would be more common in a white wine.

The palate is awash with good ripe black cherries, dark fruits, tomato and a hint of oak. Having a lot going for it, and a complexity that's difficult to ignore, it's hard not to like this wine... and I want to like it, but I just can't get past the cat pee. I'll try it again tomorrow to see if anything changes.

This bottle retails for around $9.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Agustin Cubero UNUS Syrah 2006 Spain

From Bodegas Agustin Cubero in the Calatayud region of Spain comes this VERY dark, VERY opaque, VERY purple wine that is made from 100% Syrah grapes.

This one is BIG and RICH and a real bargain for something in the $12 range, found this at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

On the nose- rich aromas of barnyard, bacon, horse and varnish, and flavors of black currant with a citrus edge, then emerging bursts of chalky violets and roasted peppers. Reminiscent of a Sicilian Nero D'Avola. Layered and complex and with a long finish.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Colosi Nero D'Avola 2007

If you follow this blog at all you might have noticed that one of my favorite everyday wines for the past couple of years has been the Colosi Rosso Nero D'Avola. Going back to the '06 and '05, I've been recommending it to everyone I know and it's great to see it's popularity begin to soar.

So today as I watched Gary Vaynerchuck's Italian Red Wine Tasting Episode 601, I was happy to see him taste this Colosi (which I believe is the next level up from the Rosso) and rave about it. Sporting a new label for 2007, it garnered 90 points from Robert Parker.

Gary talked about aromas of vanilla cream, floral, lilac, earthiness, and artichoke while on the palate spicy, good fruit, lilac, black pepper and solid tannins.

He was blown away by this wine and its value.

I can't wait to try it.

PS: Prices seem to range from about $12 at the Wine Library in NJ... to $20 at Sussex Wines & Spirits on East 42nd street, the only place in NYC that so far carries it.


Had this with good friends at InVino last Friday night, liked it... but unfortunately I didn't take notes, so if anyone has any opinions on it, jump right in.

From what I can remember this Aglianico from Campania has nice earthy aromas with black cherries on the palate, 13% alcohol, and dark purple hues. I think it was about $40 a bottle at the wine bar, but probably is available at wine shops for about $15.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sartori DiVerona Pinot Noir 2006 Provincia Di Pavia IGT

Deep ruby with a bluish tint, aromas of bing cherries, chocolate and spices spring from a Venetian fountain of cherry vanilla gelato. With a good bright finish, and painted with a palate of berries, this Pinot has fine mouthwatering tannins.

Winemaker's notes:

Area of production:
Provincia di Pavia

Soft pressing of the grapes is followed by a vinification for 12 to 15 days. Fermentation at controlled temperatures in small capacity tanks is followed by oak aging for approximately 12 month

Bright ruby color with violet reflexions; alluring bouquet with black cherry jam, cloves, and chocolate accompanied by spice notes and vanilla. Elegant balance and roundness of the various components in the mouth, enhanced by good acidity. Light almond notes on the finish and good length.

Food Matchings:
Ideal with roast lamb, grilled salmon, and poultry dishes

Cline Zinfandel 2007

Last week I tried the 2006 vintage of this Zinfandel from California, and this '07 is almost as good. A more subtle caramel aroma could be found under the raspberry and spice overtones. Following with white pepper, leather, tea and herbs on the palate and a finish quite lively and very drinkable for the price of around $11.

Winemaker's notes:
As always the California Zinfandel is a challenging and rewarding wine to produce. Severe selection criteria and master blending show in the final product, which showcases a wide array of dark berry fruit including black cherry and raspberry. Additionally, spice notes and a lasting finish of vanilla from oak aging and firm, supple tannins add complexity to this wine. This wine is ready to drink now and will continue to develop complexity over the next three to four years.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Serafini & Vidotto “Phigaia” 2001, Veneto

This Italian Merlot/Cabernet blend is loaded with aromas of black currant and leather, a nice acidity, and a silky texture. The finish is long and juicy.

Had this by the glass at Fig & Olive in downtown (W 13 st) NYC at a Muscular Dystrophy charity event.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cat Rotie Syrah California

Syrah is the only grape used to make the famous Rhône wines of Côte Rotie and Hermitage, but it also is the major component of most Rhône blends, this California red wine is a take on that famous French grape. 100% Syrah and dark purple in color with a nose full of violets and chocolate, beautiful flavors of black currant and licorice, and finally leaving you with a smooth finish and hints of cedar.

Morgan Cotes du Crow Monterey California 2006

This red wine, done in the southern Rhone style but in a California terroir, is a blend of 55% Syrah and 45% Grenache. Lots of ripe strawberry aromas with hints of field herbs like violets and lilacs, and spicy flavors of white pepper woven between layers of blueberry and rhubarb pie.

Recommended by Francoise from Danny Brown's Wine Bar & Kitchen.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A flight at Danny Brown's Wine Bar & Kitchen

Tonight at Danny Brown’s Wine Bar I had a wonderful Red Wine Glazed Scottish Salmon with French Lentils, Chorizo & Watercress paired with 3 red wines from the “Red Flight International”.

First was a Barbera D’Asti “Le Orme” 2005 Michele Chiarlo, Piedmont Italy. With aromas of cherries and mineral tones accented by petrol woven into a metallic backdrop, the palate was sharper with a subtle bite and black cherry sparkling in a bright finish.

Second was from France and called Cote du Rhone Belleruche, Chapoutier, Rhone, 2006. Nutty on the nose with earthy aromas, roasted meats and a bit of vegetal edge. On the palate a red cherry syrup burnished with a bit of chalk, raw wood, and nicely balanced with good smooth acids.

Next up was my favorite, the Zinfandel Cline Sonoma California 2006. Intense aromas burst into beautiful fresh fruit and a delicious caramel candy, then you’re dropped into a field of violets. This wine is full and refreshing with hints of glycerine and oak and very finely balanced.