Thursday, December 30, 2010

Mairena Reserve Bonarda 2007 Mendoza Argentina

Dark, thick ruby with purple highlights are the rich colors showing in this Bonarda, and the bold aromas are matching stride for stride with bright cherries, stone fruits, an earthy forest floor, red fruit, blackberries and fresh herbs.

A few steps further comes the interesting and complex palate with brown licorice, cafe mocha, chocolate and vanilla, a texture of syrup and full body, smooth tannins and a fine finish. May not be fined or filtered, some sediment in bottle, but did not detract from the exotic direction this Bonarda is taking. Aged 12 months in French Oak barrels, contains 13.4% alcohol and retails for about $39.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Montevertine Toscana Rosso 2003 IGT

From Radda in Chianti, Tuscany, Montevertine's Martino Manetti produces this blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino, with malolactic fermentation in cement vats, and aged for 24 months in slavonian oak barrels, then 6 months in bottle.

Showing a light bodied gem with ruby red colors, an intense dark and wonderful bouquet of raspberry, dried figs, cigar wrapper, sour cherries, tea, and leather. On the palate ripe black cherry, pepper, textured layers and velvety super long finish.

Many thanks to my friend Allen who gave me this bottle for helping him move on a very rainy night a few years back.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut

Well, we got our first snow day here in New York, over 20", a perfect excuse for a bottle of champagne, Veuve Clicquot. Fresh citrus and floral aromas with flavors of apple, kiwi and cream. Paired with chicken cutlets, risotto with pancetta, mushrooms and white truffle oil, and sauteed broccoli.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2007 Napa

From Chateau Montelena, the vineyard featured in the movie Bottle Shock, and winner of the 1976 Judgement in Paris, comes this 2007 Chardonnay loaded with lemon rinds, apricot, apples, melon, pineapple, slate and smooth buttery flavors, with oak, spice and vanilla reflecting a long complex finish.

Thanks Jordan, I saved this for a special occasion. Salute!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oddero Barbera d'Alba DOC 2007

Oderro, a big producer of Barolos in La Morra, Piemonte, Italy, shows floral aromas contrasting savory smoked bacon and delicious violet accents on the palate, blue fruits, cherry vanilla and a long finish.

Paired well with appetizer of fresh tomatoes with basilico and Burrata at Zampa Winebar & Kitchen at 306 West 13th street in West Village.

Selection of grapes in the vineyard, fermentation and maceration for about 15 days in stainless-steel containers, followed by malolactic fermentation in November.

40% aged in 50-hectoliter French oak barrels, 60% in small 225-liter barrels, for 18 months.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet 2008 Australia

Fruit up front with blackberry preserves reduction on toast, ripe bing cherries, black fruits, plum, smoke, spices, white pepper, candy finish. By the glass at Brickyard Gastropub $7.50/glass.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Montes Winery Exhibits Class at SFMOMA

Montes, the Chilean Winery who produced a few wines reviewed by this blog has been chosen to represent Chile at the Terroir Gallery of the landmark exhibition How Wine Became Modern at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Specifically, the wine chosen was the Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine, along with a soil sample from Montes’ Apalta Estate in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, is featured in this exhibit exploring the visual culture of wine and its stunning transformation over the last three decades. The exhibit showcases 18 renowned vineyard sites from around the world. Each profile includes a soil sample, live weather information, climate graph, bottle of wine, information on the varietal, soil type and depth, altitude, location, and a quote from each winemaker expressing his/her understanding of 'terroir.'

The exhibit is from November 20, 2010 - April 17, 2011.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Albino Armani Foja Tonda (Casetta) Vallagarina 2006 IGT

Foja Toda or Casetta is a rare grape from Trentino that the Armani family expertly produces. It is perfumed with ripe cherry, hints of vanilla, and raisins with luminous marzipan flavors, butterscotch and a foamy cherry candy, while mild black pepper and spices display on the mid-palate. Recommended by Carolina from The Wine Room of Forest Hills for about $20.

For more info on this wonderful grape varietal see Charles Scicolone's website.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sicilian Style Pesto Ragusana & Calabretta Etna Rosso 1999 DOC

While reading Robert Camuto's book Palmento all about his odyssey through Sicilian wine country, I happened upon a dish called Pesto Ragusana. It was made by Rosa Aura, the "Mamma" of winemaker Arianna Occhipinti in Vittoria, Sicily. Arianna runs the biodynamic winery Occhipinti and is the niece of Giusto Occhipinti, who owns the well-known winery COS.

I love pesto, and I usually make a traditional Genovese pesto using evoo, basil, pignoli nuts, garlic, and pecorino cheese. The Ragusana recipe calls for raw onion, almonds instead of pignoli, and lemon rinds, which peaked my interest, so I just had to give it a try.

I loved it.


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch of basil
1/4 of a raw red onion
15 roasted almonds
1 clove garlic
1 lemon
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Put olive oil in blender, wash basil well in cold water, remove all leaves from stems and place a few at a time in blender on low speed. Slice garlic thin and finely chop onion and almonds, grate the rind of half a lemon and add to blender. Add grated cheese, salt & pepper to taste and toss with favorite pasta.

Not able to find a bottle of Occhipinti, I did the next best thing, pairing this dish with a red wine from the same region in north-eastern Sicily, a 1999 Calabretta Etna Rosso DOC. Nerello Mascalese blended with a Nerello Cappuccio, organically farmed then aged for 6-7 years in large Botti before bottling. Aromas of ripe prunes, similar to Port, coconut, vanilla syrup, fairly high alcohol content at 14.5%, licorice on the palate, and nice long but muscular finish. Balances well with the strong flavors of the pesto sauce.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Castello D'Albola Chianti Classico 2007 DOCG

From Radda in Chianti and ranked #47 with 90 points from Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2010, this Chianti is light and fresh with classic Sangiovese signatures... and affordable at $14. Displaying wild cherry and violet aromas and even some flavors of strawberry. Stylish and simple. Recommended by Carolina at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Another 24 hours later and I'm tasting additional flavors of red licorice and spices, like Christmas. Opens beautifully. Veramente, mi piace molto.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bodega Atamisque Tupungato Catalpa Single Vineyard Merlot 2007

From Tupungato, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina comes this wonderful Merlot. Dark cherry colors and violet tones, with first impressions of defined aromas and flavors of cola. On the nose, well, imagine you're Gulliver and six inches tall walking through a dense forest in the fall, past wet leaves, and under giant mushrooms. On the palate is black pepper freshly ground with juicy raspberry, carmelized black fruits, cocoa, and finally leather and licorice on a silky finish. This is a great value at $22.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Isole e Olena Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 1994 DOC

After another delicious Sunday dinner my good friend Eric opened this amazing bottle of Vin Santo. This wine is like a birthday cake, a celebration of the senses, in hibernation for 16 years with the soul purpose of singing a birthday song. It made me very, very happy. And it's not even my birthday... but it might as well have been... fresh warm caramel jumps out at you, followed by vanilla and marzipan and hints of coconut. Full bodied and extravagant on the palate, showing ripe apricots as the finish wraps smooth and perfect like a silk ribbon around a present... "Happy Birthday tooooo youuuuuu!"

"Tuscany's traditional wine of commeroration and meditation, Vin Santo is made from white grapes (Malvasia and Trebbbiano) that are harvested early, allowed to wither into raisins, pressed in January, and then barrel fermented and aged for four years before bottling. Paolo De Marchi's production is ridiculously small, and his Vin Santo is considered one of the top Italian dessert wines." -Importer

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vineyard 48 Cabernet Franc 2007

From The North Fork of Long Island, this Cabernet Franc opens with an interesting mix of earthy barnyard funk, violets, dried flowers and sour cherries, while on the palate attractive ripe strawberries and vanilla. After decanting for a few hours the flavors mellowed a bit and veered back towards sour cherry.

Bought this bottle for $45 after a sampling at The New Amsterdam Market this past Sunday where I met Matt McBride from Vineyard 48.

Mauro Vannucci Il Sasso Carmignano Piaggia 2007 DOCG

From Tuscany roars this Super blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot, showing an intense nose of resinous oak, black cherries, violets, and on the palate cassis, blackberry, bright ripe cherries, white pepper and spices... complex. silky. balanced. beautiful.

Maceration in steel tanks for 3 weeks, aging in French-oak barriques for 12 months, cellaring in the bottle for 6 months.

"... Its dense appearance introduces a complex, concentrated nose that foregrounds aromas of wild berries and mixed spices."
Gambero Rosso, 2010

Thank you Eric & Deborah for sharing this wine with me.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Il Trullo Primitivo Del Salento 2008 IGT

From the Puglia region of Italy and aged in stainless steel tanks, this bottle brings it all outdoors with aromas of black plum, black raspberry, leather and toasted marshmallow. On the palate exuding a verdant freshness of ripe fig, cassis, caramel and vanilla, with intense dark berries. The resinous finish fades slowly into hints of white pepper. A great everyday wine with a price to match, about $11 at The Wine Room of Forest Hills, 14% alcohol.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DaVinci Pinot Grigio 2008

From Castello DaVinci "Tre Venezie", the area that at one time made up the Venetian Empire: Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Veneto, Da Vinci Pinot Grigio is sourced primarily from the Trentino-Alto Adige region, although a small percent of the blend is from Surmaturo grapes.

Pale straw colors in the glass, with expanding aromas of Italian pastries, dried flowers, damp earth, fresh-cut green grass, contrasting with flavors of apples and lemon zest, a certain crisp acidity and a mild summer fruit finish.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Viña Maipu Sublimis Malbec Limited Edition 2008

From Medoza Argentina, made from 100% Malbec and aged eight months in oak barrels, this full bodied red shows inky, opaque blue, ruby coloring in the glass. Beginning with vegetal, green pepper aromas, jammy berries, and black cherries, followed by dark fruit flavors of cassis, plums, ending with hints of anise and mint that add additional layers of flavor.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lens Winery "Old Vines" 2001 Merlot

Two years in oak and five in bottle, mature and viscous with some sediment, unfiltered and unrefined with pungent aromas... a range from raspberry to vegetal flavors, chocolate, coffee, sour cherries.

Bought this bottle two years ago at a visit to Lenz Winery for a barrel tasting and laid it down for another two, $55.

Alluno Montefalco Rosso 2002

Yesterday, between shopping for a Thanksgiving pie at Chelsea Market and a late afternoon West Village meeting, I stopped by the Ino Cafe & Wine Bar for a quick glass of wine. I was surprised to find a "by-the-glass" gem (at $8) in the 2002 Montefalco Rosso from producer Alunno. Hues of dark ruby purple in the glass, followed by aromas of vanilla and big waves of cherry cola flavors with solid resinous character, good balance and long smooth finish.

As I was leaving I realized too late that they also carry one of my favorite Sicilian wines, the COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico, a blend of 60% Nero d'Avola and 40% Frappato... well, next time.

Ino Cafe & Wine Bar
21 Bedford St
New York, NY 10014

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New Amsterdam Market

New York State Winemarket
Organized in collaboration with the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation, next Sunday's market will feature a special celebration of NY's grape growing regions, with over 30 wineries joining the regular roster of market vendors. See the complete list of participating wineries below. Stop by to sample their vintages and use this opportunity to stock up for the holiday entertaining and gift-giving.

Calling All Accordionists!
New Amsterdam Market invites you to bring your instrument and mingle with fellow musicians while providing a unique soundtrack for our Winemarket. Please email accordions @ for more information if you are interested in joining!


7 Vines
Bella Vita Vineyard
Benmarl Winery
Brooklyn Winery
Buttonwood Grove Winery
Cascade Mountain Winery
Chateau LaFayette Reneau
City Winery
Damiani Wine Cellars
Eagle Crest Vineyards
Fox Run Vineyards
Heron Hill Winery
Hudson-Chatham Winery
Imagine Moore Winery
Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars
Long Island Meadery
Macari Vineyards & Winery
Martha Clara Vineyards
Mattebella Vineyards
Palmer Vineyards
Ravines Wine Cellars
Robibero Family Vineyards
Scarola Vineyards
Sheldrake Point Vineyard
Spring Lake Winery
Vetter Vineyards Winery
Wagner Vineyards
Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
Waters Crest Winery
Wolffer Estate

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

6 Rosé Wines for Thanksgiving

Picking a wine that will work with a turkey dinner can be tricky, here are six Rosés that will do the job without overpowering the dish:

Carpineto Rosato 2007
Bouquet: floral characteristics, particularly rose, acacia and grape flowers; fruity fragrances like apple, currant and sour cherry are evident.
Flavor: broad and fresh; the characteristic fruity aromas of the bouquet come through with complexity and end with a clean finish.

Domain de Mourchon Seguret Loubie (Rose) 2007
Having a Cote du Rhone designation, this Loubie Rose blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah comes from 40 year old estate grown vines.
Tasting notes:
First up is a bouquet of summer fruits; peaches and nectarines with a tangy grapefruit accent. Next, the bright, crisp flavors of strawberries mingled with a floral undertone and long, fresh fruit finish.

Cantele Rosato Negroamaro 2007 IGT Puglia
Pinkish rose with 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.

Gassier Sables d'Azur Rose 2009
From Cotes de Provence in France, this Rose comes in an hourglass shaped bottle and is a Grenache blend loaded with flowery aromas, waves of grapefruit, apricot and orange peel, with flavors of cherries and roses. $11

Rosaenovae Irpinia Terradora DiPaolo DOC 2009

Paolo Mastroberardino owns this winery formerly shared by brothers. Actually labeled as a red wine (because it's made from red Aglianico grapes), but looking like a rose and showing salmon coloring in the glass, see photo. Aromas of ripe summer fruits mingling with fresh flowers and slight minerality, then enhanced by flavors of sour cherries bringing a nice acidity to the table.

Macari Vineyards Rose 2008
Made from a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Pinot Noir, and 4% Malbec, this rose from the North Fork of Long Island shows colors of pale pink copper with fresh aromas of grapefruit, watermelon and some floral notes of hibiscus. The flavors range from white peach and sour apricot to orange zest, a hint of eucalyptus and a spot of papaya.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Half Dozen Shiraz from OZ

talian wines paved the way for my wine education, but last night my friend Eric Guido provided a detour for me: A blind tasting of six Australian wines from the famed Barossa Valley. All six were reds and either 100% Shiraz or a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The bottles ranged in price from about $20 to $100, the labels were covered with aluminum foil and the six were separated into two flights of three. Three wines were from the Yalumba Vineyard and three were picked from Erics's cellar.

Flight 1

Penfolds RWT 2003
Creamy cherry aromas with a slight indication of citrus rinds and roasted meats, on the palate flashes of raisins and ripe cherries, the alcohol is evident at first but after a few hours starts to open nicely.

Yalumba The Scribbler 2008
65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Shiraz showing aromas of oak, raw wood and ripe cherries while on the palate hints of violets, black pepper and a spicy intensity.

Yalumba Signature 2004
54% Cabernet Sauvignon and 46% Shiraz, acute floral aromas coalesce in a bouquet of rich violets and red licorice while contrasting earth and mushrooms and even a sign of meat and oak. Flavors of candy apple, noticeably aged and fresh all at once, well balanced, long smooth finish, stylish and elegant. This wine was my overall favorite by far, and the majority of tasters agreed.

Flight 2

Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz 2008
Muted smoky aromas, eastern spices, sour cherries, cocoa, and forest floor, raspberry, blueberry and fresh finish.

Fetish/The Watcher 2006
My pick from the second flight, this shows a barnyard funk, musk, animal, vegetal, cherries, floral nuances, oak, ripe cherries and plum.

Two Hands Bella's Garden Shiraz 2008
Made from a blend of six different Shiraz wines, each sourced from vineyards located in subappellations of South Australia, minimal fining and no filtration. Aromas of oak, a balsamic edge, very fruit forward, fresh full flavors, licorice, dark chocolate, rich blackberries and ripe cherries. This week's #2 pick at Wine Spectator (out of a field of 100 wines).

I don't feel especially guilty about drinking non-Italian wines, after all we still paired the wines with (Grandma) Pizza and had Panettone topped with Shiraz Cream Fresh for dessert.

For another take on the wines we tasted see Eric's comments at The V.I.P Table.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wine In The News

Wine Spectator's #1 pick is James Berry Vineyard Saxum Paso Robles 2007, 98 points and listed at $67, already up to $250 at auction sites, blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah.

Rex Pickett, who wrote Sideways, which later became a wine lover's movie, has written a sequel to be released on November 23, 2010 called Vertical. Published by Loose Gravel Press, it will be available nationwide in electronic and hard copy form.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bricco delle Lepri Dolcetto di Dogliani 2007

From Piemonte, Bricco delle Lepri translates from Italian: Jug of Hares... I like the name, but the wine? I love it! Had it by the glass at Eataly tonight, bright strawberry, sour cherries, cocoa, oak, red berries, and herbs, tannins talkin' to me, all good. The color really impressed me too, really deep reddish purple and almost completely opaque.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mille Bardolino Veneto DOC 2009

70% Corvina with 30% Rondinella, this light bodied red wine from the hills of Verona is a ripe and lively every day wine... and by the way is made with the same grapes as Valpolicella. The package is a $13, 1000 ml. bottle with a screwcap with mild aromas of raspberries, red berries and spices, similar in style to a Pinot Noir. This would make a good bottle for Thanksgiving dinner. Recommended by Carolina at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Salvalai Pinot Noir 2009 IGT

From Venezie, Italy comes this 100% Pinot Noir with a simple but elegant profile. The nose finds a mineral edge with wild cherries and ripened red fruits, complimented by very simple but even flavors, reminding me a bit of a Montepulciano, slight spices on the back palate with a pretty finish. Recommended by Luca at Il Poeta in Forest Hills.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Macari Bergen Road 2007

From The North Fork of Long Island, Macari produces this delicious blend of 42% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% Cabernet Franc, and 7% Petit Verdot. Aromas of lush blue fruits along with verdant eucalyptus leaves, red licorice and violets, on the palate a floral bouquet and more intense eucalyptus, dark chocolate and silky lavender, with smooth tannins and a totally captivating finish. 13.7% alcohol, retails for $42/bottle.

Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Macari Vineyards

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coppola Shiraz Napa Valley 2007

Aromas of violets, spicy peppery flavors, sour cherries and blue fruits, concentrated, earthy, perfectly matched with baked manicotti with marinara sauce at La Villa in Lindenwood, Queens.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jose L. Mounier Torrontes 2009 Argentina

From Argentina's Alto Valle de Cafayate Salta, this 100% Torrontes shows fall colors of pale yellow/greenish straw, herbal aromatics with pineapple and grapefruit rind, so it's dry but floral. Upon opening the bottle the vibrant aromas assault on fresh, herbal waves swimming with notes of honeydew melon. There is a very nice balance with a finish that shows a hint of spice, and at the very end switches over to apple. 13.5% alcohol. Salmon Dijon with baby broccoli should pair well with this fresh, clean white wine.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Best Bet for Cellaring Wines from Piedmont

Reading Kevin Zraly's Windows On The World Complete Wine Course, I found some very useful information if you're a fan of Piedmontese wines (he actually gleaned the info from Giuseppe Colla from Prunotto, one of the top producers from the region).

In an exceptional vintage set a Barbaresco aside for a minimum of four years before drinking.

In an exceptional vintage set a Barolo aside for a minimum of six years before drinking.

In an extraordinary vintage set a Barbaresco aside for a minimum of six years before drinking.

In an extraordinary vintage set a Barolo aside for a minimum of eight years before drinking.

Extraordinary Vintages in Piedmont
1996 2000 2001 2004

Exceptional Vintages in Piedmont
1990 1997 1998 1999 2005 2006

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Consorzio Vino Chianti Reception and Dinner at Maialino Restaurant

On Monday October 25, 2010, The Consorzio Vino Chianti presented an exclusive reception and dinner at Maialino Restaurant, the newest restaurant from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, Maialino is a neighborhood Roman trattoria overlooking Gramercy Park. The dinner was more informal compared with the panel discussions and tastings earlier, and was a perfect end to the day.

The Menu

Salumi & Antipasti
Carciofini Fritti
Insalata Misticanza

Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe
Bombolotti all' Amatriciana

Pollo alla Diavolo
or Porchetta

Mixed Selection

The Wines

Badia di Morrona Il Sodi Del Paretaio Chianti DOCG 2009
85% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, 10 months aged in stainless steel vats. Violet, ripe cherries, coffee, cocoa, mint with floral finish.

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Gabbiano DOCG 2009
90% Sangiovese, 10% other red grapes from the area, 3 months of aging in stainless steel vats, a bouquet of super ripe cherries, red fruits, cocoa, and sage with an herbal infused honey. Freshness is apparent and a fine, mellow character displayed with an overall balance.

Melini Borghi d'Elsa Chianti DOCG 2009
85% Sangiovese Grosso with 15% Canaiolo, Malvasia, Trebbiano, Merlot, 3 months aging in stainless steel, more floral undertones mingling with forest floor, a bit of toasted nuts, ripe cherries and raspberries.

Piccini Chianti DOCG 2009
95% Sangiovese with 5% Ciliegiolo, fresh fruity cherries, red berries, soft tannins, smooth.

Ruffino Chianti 2009 DOCG
75% minimum Sangiovese and the balance Canaiolo and Colorino, 4 months in stainless steel and 2 months in bottle. Aromas of lavender and fruity undertones with a hints of gelato, and flavors of plums leading to a spicy laced finish.

Melini San Lorenzo Fattorie Melini Chianto DOCG 2008
85% Sangiovese Grosso with 15% Canaiolo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in stainless steel 4-5 months, raspberries and cassis with floral waves of violets, forest floor.

Ruffino Chianti Superiore 2008 DOCG
A minimum of 75% Sangiovese and other varieties including Canaiolo and Colorino, the best grapes are carefully selected from the harvest for the Superiore, aged in stainless steel vats for 7 months then three months in bottle. Ruby coloring in the glass with violet around the rim, aromas of black cherries, plums, along with flavors reflecting spices and black pepper, a long soft finish.

... and with dessert we sampled two delicious Vin Santo:

Badia Di Morrona VinSanto Del Chianti 2006 DOC
70% Trebbiano, 15% Malvasia Bianca, 15% Colombana, after the harvest, grapes are selected and hung from the ceiling until January, then aged in caratelli (small kegs) for 3 years, beautiful golden colors with apricot and almond bouquet.

Castelvecchio Chiacchierata Notturna VinSanto Del Chianti 2003 DOC
70% Trebbiano and 30% Sangiovese (that's right, Sangiovese), grapes are selected and hung from the ceiling until December, then aged in caratelli for 5 years, and 3 months in bottle before release. Intense perfumed aromas of dried fruits with honey and cocoa.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ruffino Chianti Superiore 2008 DOCG

A minimum of 75% Sangiovese and other varieties including Canaiolo and Colorino, the best grapes are carefully selected from the harvest for the Superiore, aged in stainless steel vats for 7 months then three months in bottle.

Ruby coloring in the glass with violet around the rim, aromas of black cherries, plums, along with flavors reflecting spices and black pepper, a long soft finish belies the 12.99 pricetag.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Instituto Grandi Marchi Tasting

On October 25th at The New York Public Library The Instituto Grandi Marchi presented their “Premium Brands”. The Institute, composed of 17 of Italy’s most renowned wine producers (Biondi Santi Spa, Michele Chiarlo, Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari, Pio Cesare, Tenuta San Guido, Cà del Bosco, Umani Ronchi, Carpenè Malvolti, Lungarotti, Masi, Mastroberardino, Alois Lageder, Rivera, Jermann, Donnafugata, Marchesi Antinori, Tasca D’Almerita) hosted a full day of wine tasting in collaboration with the Masters of Wine, the world’s most elite wine society. The producers were represented by Augusto Boffa from Pio Cesare, Raffaelle Boscaini from Masi, Piero Antinori from Antinori, Giovanni Folonari from Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari, Sebastiano de Corato from Rivera, Jose Rallo from Donnafugata, Giuseppi Tasca from Tasca d'Almerita. Hosting the panel was Charles Curtis MW, Head of North American Wine Sales Christie's, New York, and representing the new media was Gregory Dal Piaz from Snooth.

Each producer made a pitch describing their vineyards history, combining tradition with new technologies, diverse high quality Italian wines and new marketing direction.

The current President Piero Antinori pointed out that Italians in general do not like "groups", but this one is composed of competitors who are also friends... friends with a common bond of terroir, history, tradition, art, and vineyards hundreds of years old. He said, "Each bottle should share all these qualities with the drinker".

Here are a few of my tasting notes:

Masi Costasera Amarone Classico 2006
70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, 2 years in oak, 4 months in bottle, deep violet colors, delicious cherry pie aromas, dark waves of chocolate and coffee.

Tenuta Tignanello 2007 IGT
80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, aged in new oak barriques after fermentation until December, blended and aged in barriques for a year, each barrique was individually tasted before bottle aging for another year. Black cherries pervade the palate with ripe fruits, concentrated aromas, blackberries, toast and chocolate... complex and sexy.

Biondi-Santi Tenuta Greppo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2003
100% Sangiovese Grosso, 3 years in oak barrels, at least 4 months in bottle, aromas of sweet violets and roses, rosewater, sour cherries, structured tannins, great long finish.

Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido 2007 DOC
855 Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, aged in French oak barrels for 2 years and an additional 6 months in bottle, deep ruby colors, a marked intensity, beautifully balanced with fragrant violet aromas and persistent blue fruits, full bodied flavors with balanced tannins.

Donnafugata Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria DOC Sicilia
Made from Zibibbo (Moscato d'Alessandria) grapes, aged in stainless steel tanks for 4 months then in bottle for 6 months, amber yellow colors, summer fruits, sweet dried figs, and a long honey finish.

Rivera Il Falcone Castel Del Monte Riserva 2005 DOC
70% Nero di Troia, 30% Montepulciano, aged 12-14 months in oak, 1 year in bottle, ruby red colors, chocolate, ripe cherries, and forest floor, supple and textured

Tasca d'Almerita Rosso Del Conte 2005 Sicilia
A blend of mostly Nero d'Avola and other red grapes from the estate, 18 months aged in barrel, six in bottle, deep purple colors, licorice, spice, while fruit comes through on the impressive finish.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dal Piaz to Italy's Top Winemakers: Embrace Social Media

Gregory Dal Piaz, Editor in Chief of Snooth, told a panel of Italy's top wine producers to embrace the new social media vanguard, namely wine bloggers. The challenge: To address the massive amount of information that consumers wade through regarding Italian wines which had been previously disseminated thru the wine press, thus opening lines of communication between producers and consumers. Greg explained that a small investment in creating an internal blog or hiring a blogger to field the questions for them would offer curious consumers direct interaction with producers and that would be a very a good thing. This kind of unique opportunity would enable producers to explain all sorts of things, such as what sub-regions are, as well as answer any other questions.

The Instituto Grandi Marchi is composed of 17 of Italy's most renowned wine producers including the likes of Augusto Boffa from Pio Cesare, Raffaelle Boscaini from Masi, Piero Antinori from Antinori, Giovanni Folonari from Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari, Sebastiano de Corato from Rivera, Jose Rallo from Donnafugata, Giuseppi Tasca from Tasca d'Almerita, and more. The event was held at The New York Public Library this past Monday, October 25th.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Castello Banfi Moscadello di Montalcino Florus 2007 DOC

Castello Banfi in Tuscany produces this beautiful Moscadello that is made with late harvest grapes gently pressed at low temperatures over the course of a few months... then stored in stainless steel. 85% of this batch is then blended with 15% from the previous vintage, and stored in oak for a year.

Displays heady and strong aromas of honey and flowers, but then the flavors exude raisins, exotic fruits, painting a balanced sweet wine... excellent for dunking biscotti or on it's own. This is a beauty for around $20 at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cantina Di Soave's New Three Brands

One of Veneto's top producers, Cantina Di Soave introduced three new brands and National Sales Manager Gary Grunner poured samples to the press at the friendly and beautifully stocked Columbus Circle Wines, located at 1802 Broadway in NYC. Gary spoke about the great wines of the Veneto, and gave a very informative narrative of the region.

The brands include Duca Del Frassino, a Premium Wine-In-A-Box, Re Midas, an all new fresh affordable everyday indigenous wine, and Rocca Sveva on the higher end.

The Duca Del Frassino includes a white blend and a red blend, both in a box, that holds the equivalent of 4 bottles and after opening can stay fresh for as long as 5 months... retails for about $22.

Duca Del Frassino White
is a blend of 80% Garganega, 20% Pinot Grigio, both grapes are widely grown in the Veneto region. Aromas of pineapple, and fresh melon with floral hints on the palate, crisp and dry, but fruit forward and a very nice surprise.

Duca Del Frassino Red
is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Corvina with an earthy tone showing cherries and cassis and a very smooth finish.

Cantina di Soave Re Midas Corvina
Italy's Veneto region is the home of the Corvino grape used in so many great wines of the region. This one is a version using that same grape aged in stainless steel tanks for three months, then in the bottle for one month... and what you get is an everyday wine that is so food friendly. Ruby red colors and fresh floral aromas and a waft of dried fruits, topped with bright cherry flavors and sweet vanilla accents and spicy undertones.

Cantina di Soave Re Midas Soave
Made with 100% Garganega, aged 3 months in stainless steel followed by 1 month in bottle. Floral and citrus aromas, crisp fruitiness, noticeable minerality, and roasted nuts round out the pleasant finish... tonight worked well with gorgonzola cheese.

Rocca Sveva Soave Classico
This straw colored white wine, made with 100% Garganega grapes, expresses blossoming aromas of fresh fruits, melons, pears, apples and mild cinnamon. A surprising depth of flavor and texture balances very nicely with bright, crisp acidity, and a nutty finish.

Rocca Sveva Ripasso di Valpolicella Superiore 2007 DOC
Made from 70% Corvina, and 30% Molinara and Rondinella, and employing a process by which the wine is "re-passed" for 11 to 14 days over the freshly fermented pomace/lees of the grapes used to make Amarone, is then further aged for six months in the bottle. The "re-passing" provides increased structure as well as an appealing roundness; 30% of the wine is then matured in oak barriques and 70% in large oak botti for an additional 12-18 months.

The hospitable bouquet is abundant with black fruits, a smoky oakiness, with slight barnyard alongside exotic spiciness, mineral, raspberry, blueberry, raisins, and violets... quite a lot going on for $19.99. Luscious ripened black cherries and vanilla contrast a slightly floral edge, as a prelude to a smart, smooth and long, herbal finish.

Rocca Sveva Amarone della Valpolicella 2006 DOC
Deep ruby with warmer colors around the edge of the glass, along with cherry pie aromas, layered with flavors of rich chocolate, dried fruits, bing cherries, and dark berries urge you to savor every sip. This full-bodied gold medal winner is the perfect pairing for a hearty meal. On the palate has a nice full-bodied structure, with notes of hazelnut, a beautiful balance and lasting finish.

Friday, October 8, 2010

G.B Burlotto Dolcetto d'Alba 2009 DOC

Deep black cherry colors in the glass, darker around the rim, and a very attractive but subtle freshness... floral aromas waft from the glass ranging from violets to lavender on one end of the spectrum, and on the other a contrasting earthy, barnyard... juicy flavors of prune, red berries and spice dominating the palate, and finishing as if bitter almonds were dusted on sour cherries.

An excellent pick by Eric Guido, who recommended this winner to me at the tasting last week at the Wine Room of Forest Hills, and the first meeting of the Wine Society of Queens. $15/bottle, 13% alcohol.

The Burlotto family is one of the oldest families involved in the production of Barolo wines.

Vinification: Vinification requires a maceration-fermentation of almost 7 days in vats of French oak, with pumping over, remixing and re-submerging the wine on a daily basis, as well as temperature control, which should not exceed 27 -28 degrees. By achieving malolactic fermentation in stainless steel vats, the wine matures for some months in Slavonian and Allier oak casks, holding 35-50 hectoliters.

Bottling: After bottling, normally done in May, the wine ages in the wine cellar for a brief period.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay 2006

This Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, shows big fruit flavors of apple, pear, peach, pineapple, rich butter pecan ice cream, a little oak, and honey on the roof of the mouth.

Made an excellent pairing with baked salmon oreganata and cauliflower in a creamy butter sauce, contrasting the Chardonnay's lemon acidity but complementing with a creamy smoky finish and slight spiciness.