Thursday, December 31, 2009

Truffles & Pinot Gris

Had a really tasty New Years Eve Day brunch today, egg whites omelette with havarti cheese and arugula and a sprinkle of white truffle oil paired with a glass of Oregon Firesteed Pinot Gris 2007.

The truffle oil provided the grounding effect to contrast nicely with the fresh citrus aromas of the Pinot Gris, while the savory edge of the truffles complemented the pear and honeydew melon and flavors of honeysuckle and spice.

Sabatino Tartufi White Truffle Infused Olive Oil is made in Italy, sample provided by Marxfoods.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prosecco picks for New Years Eve

Here are a few of my favorites for New Year's Eve celebration.

Valdo Extra Dry Prosecco
"... straw colored, with aromas like a fresh loaf of bread and, well, grapes... and flavors of grapefruit, melon, apple, stretching into a refreshing finish. "

Col Vetoraz, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene

Ruggeri Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Gold Label DOC
"... from the Valdobbiadene area of the veneto region, this spunky Extra Dry Prosecco has fresh fruit aromas, with flavors on the sweet side of sour Granny Smith apples and a wonderful floral finish."

Riondo Prosecco
"... with delicous fragrances of orange blossoms, apricots and ripe peaches."

Prosecco is not made by the methode champenoise in which the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in its own bottle, instead it happens in large, pressurized tanks.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Poggio al Casone Toscana IGT 2005

With a nose of cranberry and fig, black raspberries, strawberries and white pepper with subtle animal notes, this blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Syrah offer up an exotic aromatic presentation. 12 months aging in French oak barriques shows on the palate with a smoky veil revealing herbal tones and more dark fruit, evolving to leather, wood, mint and mineral.

In the Siena hills the Poggio al Casone Estate in the Colline Pisane region of Tuscany, the Castellani family is making a major investment in their Tuscan estates. To produce this selection of Tuscan Red, they have followed the craft of the *tufaceous soils of Poggio al Casone that give birth to soft and light wines, with strong fruitiness and intriguing aromatic complexity.

*tufaceous\ a porous rock formed as a deposit from springs or streams
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Poggio al Casone.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Poggio al Casone Chianti Superiore 2006 DOCG

Up in the Siena hills the Poggio al Casone Estate in the Colline Pisane region of Tuscany, the Castellani family is making a major investment in their Tuscan estates. This selection is made for its ripe fruitiness and easy drinkability.

It’s a Chianti Superiore blend of 90% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo and aged for 12 months in Slavonian oak casks. First the senses detect figs, chocolate, tobacco and mineral aromas, followed by almonds and vanilla with light mellow flavors of cassis, ripe tart cherries then spices as the finish stretches over time.

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Poggio al Casone.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Women Of The Vine Cellars Napa Valley Syrah 2006

This Napa Valley Syrah made by winemaker Heidi Peterson Barret has deep blueberry colors, with lot's happening on the nose: roasted marshmallows, tar, blackberry jam, black plum, rosehips, strawberries and eucalyptus. On the palate rich almost sweet blue fruits, hints of white pepper, dried cherries, licorice and marzipan with a nice long finish. A fairly high alcohol content at 15.3%.

Il Poggione Brunello Di Montalcino 1999 DOCG

It wasn't too difficult choosing the wine to have with our Christmas Eve dinner this year. I picked one given to me by my friend Gary last year for Christmas called Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino, a concentrated and full bodied, earthy Sangiovese.

Warm ruby with rusty colors around the edges introduce aromas of leather, plums and vanilla on the way to intense flavors of cola, ripe black cherries, spices and a hint of smoked meats. There is also a floral note present somewhere in the background that floats along the way to the long elegant finish.

Buon Natale

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Picks for Christmas 2009

Sparkling white:
Riondo Prosecco Italy
"...with delicous fragrances of orange blossoms, apricots and ripe peaches", to accompany shrimp appetizers.

Urban Uco Torrontés 2009 Argentina $10
"...fragrant and snappy, the first whiff just put a big smile on my face", try this with linguine with clam sauce.

Il Trullo Salento Primitivo Italy, $11
"...loaded with resinous flavors of cassis and dark berries", similar to a Zinfandel and will work really well with a veal dish.

Cantele Rosato Negroamaro 2007 IGT Puglia, Italy
"... hints of copper paints this Rosato from Puglia, while sour cherry gummy bears and strawberries express the aromas. The crisp palate shows a tart freshness that sings with the essence of rose water and cherries." This will work with a traditional Italian Christmas Eve "7 fishes".

Marenco 2007 Pineto Brachetto d'Acqui Italy
"... a strawberry bubbly that is an excellent way to end a Christmas Eve meal.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Firesteed Citation Pinot Noir 2000 Oregon

Howard Rossbach (who grew up in the Bronx) of Firesteed started out by successfully crafting a good, affordable Oregon Pinot Noir at $10.

After this success he wanted to attempt a higher end wine in a creative way, so he selected the best available Pinots of the region, fermented in small vessels, then aged in French oak for 18 months before bottle aging for 5 years … There really aren’t that many Oregon Pinot Noirs aged for 5 years before release.

The results? A complex but softened beauty. I allowed a few hours decanting and the aromas were dark and earthy. In the glass deep ruby colors and a nose full of strawberry shortcake with a bit of citrus. On the palate ripe black cherries, vanilla, a smoky spice, forest floor and a good long balanced finish.

$50, 13.6% alcohol

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Firesteed Cellars.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Renato Ratti Marcenasco Barolo 2004

Renato Ratti played a major role in defining Barolo, and in 1965 bought his first vineyard in the historical zone of Marcenasco at La Morra. Ensuring quality by using the best Nebbiolo grapes and aging in new barriques and small Slovenian casks, his family carries on Mr. Ratti's particular style.

Robust and full bodied, the assault begins with seasoned aromas of chocolate, sour cherries, coffee, tar and tobacco, with delicious flavors of violets, licorice, chalk, and dusty stone. Having a richness and texture that hits hard, after an hour's decanting integrating well, and finishing nicely with length.

If you have the patience to hold on to this for just a bit longer, it may just be worth the wait. Or if you'd rather seize the day like I did, enjoy it now, my friend.

Country: Italy
Region: Piedmont
SubRegion: Langhe
Appellation: Barolo
Vineyard: Marcenasco
Varietal: Nebbiolo

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Marchesi de Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva 2006 DOCG

This Chianti Riserva from the 11th century Frescobaldi vineyards of Rufina is sexy and layered with dark deep, cool ruby colors, fruity aromas of pomegranate and black currant, with exotic notes of leather, vanilla, and a barnyard hint. The palate is complex and runs the gamut from black cherry pie topped with powdered sugar to black plum and raspberries, to spice and cocoa powder to smoke and licorice. Fine tannins are expressed with a long clean finish.

It is made from 90% Sangiovese with small amounts of Malvasia Nera, Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and is aged 24 months in barrel and 3 months in bottle. Cost is in the $20 range and alcohol content is 13.5%.

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Marchesi de Frescobaldi.

Winery Notes:


Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina DOCG is one of the historic wines produced at the Castello di Nipozzano. This wine always retains its close relationship with the Castello di Nipozzano terroir.


The 2006 harvest for the Tenute Frescobaldi was completed on October 11. The overall evaluation is very positive, particularly regarding exceptional levels of fruit quality in the areas where the Tenute Frescobaldi are located.Castello di Nipozzano, the standard-bearer of Chianti Rufina DOCG winemaking, experienced even and balanced growing conditions, with normal amounts of rain during July and August.

The year yielded wines of considerable elegance and outstanding ageing potential.Light rains during the summer provided the vines with enough moisture to undergo veraison (change of colour) without problem. Sunny, crisp, dry days in September and October were crucial in developing in the grapes all of the qualities necessary for the production of wines of unsurpassed quality and fine structure.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Firesteed Oregon Pinot Gris 2006

From a blend of various vineyard sources and regions within the Willamette and Rogue Valleys in Oregon, this Pinot Gris varietal does well in this place. Very pale coloring, more like that of an Italian Pinot Grigio, with aromas of pear and honeydew melon and flavors of honeysuckle and spice. Fresh and clean with good acidity and weight, with lemon notes and easy drinkability, I paired it with a blue cheese, but it can easily work with a salmon dish.

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Firesteed Cellars.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Firesteed Willamet Valley Pinot Noir 2005 Oregon

The jolt I get from this Pinot is reminding me of those candies I loved as a kid... you know... those chocolate rings with a chewy raspberry jelly inside. Then aromas of pomegranate, black cherries, grilled meats, and figs. The flavors are a mix of marzipan, black tea and a bit of cocoa at the end. Very, very nice and a long finish.

Winemaker notes:
Cool and slightly damp weather in early June caused vineyards to set a small crop for the second consecutive vintage. The hot, dry summer ran out of steam early in September and high temperatures at the winery stayed in the 60's and 70's for a full month prior to harvest. Requiring neither sunscreen nor umbrellas, crushing peaked mid-October. As the season began to wind down it became clear that the year 2005 could rank among Oregon's finest vintages.

Select lots of prime Willamette Valley Pinot Noir grapes were chosen to be fermented in small vessels with a high percentage of berries remaining whole. After fermentation the young wine was gently pressed into new, one, two and three-year old French oak barrels for 12 months of aging. The top-quality barrels were then selected and blended together for this cuvee.

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Firesteed Cellars.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Urban Uco Torrontés 2009 Argentina

¡Caramba! That's Wow! in Spanish.

This inexpensive white wine from the Cafayette apellation in the North West Region of Argentina is in the $9-10 range... no malo, verdad? It's made with 100% Torrontés grapes and is so fragrant and snappy that the first whiff just put a big smile on my face.

And springtime is the season where it takes me, with flowery aromas of honeysuckle, lemon rind, honeydew melons and peaches... then finishes like a bright sunny May afternoon.

¡Viva Torrontes!
Sampled this wine at The Wine room of Forest Hills
Torrontes grapes photo from Wikepedia

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Erath Pinot Gris 2008 Oregon

Made from the Pinot Gris grape in Oregon, pleasing fresh layers of kiwi, lychee, honeysuckle and ginger aromas unfold with tropical fruit flavors and ripe banana, lemon and floral notes. Showing a lively acidity and a very good structure and finish, Erath produced an appealing everyday white at the $14 range.

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Erath Winery.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2004 Cayalla RTW (Red Table Wine) Oregon

From the Columbia and Walla Walla Valley in Oregon comes this tasty blend made from 35% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 14% Syrah. It is aged for 9 months in French oak barrels before blending.

Aromas of cassis and vanilla complimented with exotic flavors of sour cherries, bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, licorice and stewed prunes. Balanced, but with a bold character and showing a long finish with medium tannins.

Winemaker notes:
The Cayalla brand has been created by a team with over 75 years of experience in the Pacific Northwest wine industry. Cayalla wines exhibit the finest qualities derived from grapes grown in the Walla Walla and Columbia Valleys.

The Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley are shared by both Oregon and Washington State. The Walla Walla Valley is a small region that lies within the confines of the larger Columbia Valley. Both appellations are east of the Cascade Mountains and are very much warmer and drier than the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. The climate east of the Cascade Mountains is far more hospitable to the Bordeaux and Rhone varietals.

Select Cuvees of Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah from top sites in the Walla Walla Valley were blended with choice lots from the Columbia Valley to produce this unique wine. After going through malo-lactic fermentation, the wines were aged nine months in a combination of new, one year, and two-year old French oak barrels prior to final blending and bottling.

We chose the name, Cayalla, as it is unique, memorable, and trademarketable. It is derived from the names of the Cayuse and Walla Walla tribes of eastern Washington and eastern Oregon.

Full disclosure: This bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Firesteed Cellars.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Firesteed Oregon Pinot Noir 2007

This blend of Pinots Noir sourced from the Willamette, Umpqua, Rogue and Walla Walla Valleys in Oregon makes for an interesting glass of wine. Fermented in stainless steel tanks, then 20% of the blend was barrel aged to round out the flavors.

Pale translucent ruby colors and medium body with aromas of cherries, and an earthy underbrush, followed by flavors of raspberries and strawberries. 12.5% alcohol. $15 pricetag make this a great wine to accompany a weeknight dinner.

Full disclosure: This particular bottle was a complimentary sample for Vigna Uva Vino from Firesteed Cellars.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Black Box California Merlot 2007

Well, I really didn't want to like this wine, simply because it was in a box (actually it's in a bag, in a box). But, the truth is... I did. It has a freshness that is not easy to find these days in an everyday wine. It's touted to stay fresh for four weeks.

Aromas of blackberries, raspberries, cedar, violets with hints of fresh baked pastries. Flavors are fruit forward with cherries, milk chocolate, and a fairly smooth creamy cherry finish.

The box holds 3 liters of wine, the equivalent of 4 bottles and retails for $24, 13.5% alcohol.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Clos L’Oratoire St. Emilion 2005

Quick notes on a Bordeaux blend... dark purple, made from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, very earthy, barnyard and mushroom, creamsicle fruitiness, plums, banana peels, tight tannins, could use a little time. $50-60.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cameron Hughes Lot 143 Howell Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet 2007

More tasting notes from the Snooth California Cabernet Sauvignon Blind Tasting earlier this month. Made from 90% Cabernet, 6% Tempranillo, 4% Syrah... on the nose chocolate, cherry cola, cassis, violets, super dry on the palate but with cedar, cigar box and ripe black fruits, and a floral note, nice acidity, short to medium finish.

Hughes notes:
In this economic environment, more and more wineries are presenting their wines to us, so one could say that as the economy gets worse, our selection gets better. Lot 143 is one of the first acquisitions of Sam Spencer, (our new wine maker) after originally bringing us Lots 1 and 2 back in 2003. Sam has focused on stepping outside of traditional brokerage channels to find the upper-echelon wines that tiptoe around the frenzy of the wine-sourcing market.

This lot in particular has been nothing less than mind-blowing. It comes from a $95 per bottle program, so with a little fine-tuning by Sam, becomes one of the best wines we offer at $22 per bottle. We just submitted it for reviews and should have the results by the end of 2009. I would be shocked if it scored anything less than 92 points. The grower group responsible for this wine has consistently scored in the mid 90s and with 2007 being one of the best years that Napa has seen, making this wine truly exceptional.