Monday, April 26, 2010

Il Cascinone Barbera d'Asti Rive 2007

Here is a wonderful Barbera I had at Il Poeta paired with an appetizer of porcini mushroom risotto with truffle oil and a main course of short ribs. The woody character of the truffles compliments Barbera's smoky nuances very well. Good acidity also cuts through the richness of the red meat, with aromas running the gamut from lavender, to pepper, to barnyard and smoke. Lush, creamy, ripe dark blue fruits, medium to heavy body with dark purple ruby colors, a velvety texture with extracted but mellow ripe cherries, and just loaded with luscious raspberry fruits at the finish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cameron Hughes Wines

From Wikipedia:
A négociant is the French term for a wine merchant who assembles the produce of smaller growers and winemakers and sells the result under its own name.

Cameron Hughes is a Negociant in the wine world, delivering small "Lots" of high-end wines at very affordable prices. He’ll shop around the world’s best wine regions, including France, Italy, Spain, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and California to find some very good juice in bulk that a vineyard might sell for $55 per bottle and sell it for $15. He sells directly to consumers on line thru his website and retails mainly at Costco.

I had the pleasure of meeting him yesterday to sample some of his newer releases at the Snooth offices in NYC. To me they were all great value wines. Here are some of my abbreviated tasting notes:

Lot 108 Napa Valley Chardonnay 2007 $14
Apple, pineapple, lemon rind and pear aromas with lemon verbena and grapefruit on a creamy fresh finish.

Lot 159 Santa Barbara Chardonnay 2008: new release $14
Musky aromas, citrus, creamy oak.

Lot 125 Napa Carneros Pinot Noir 2007 $18
Aromas of dark cherries, mineral/petrol with flavors of black pepper, raspberry, chocolate and a creamy caramel finish.

Lot 129 Campo de Borja Garnacha 2007 $16
Leather, red fruits, wood bark, dark cherry fruits, smoke, violets, slight carbonation.

Lot 135 Central Coast Syrah 2007 $12
Animal, bright fruits, dark berries, strawberries, red licorice.

Lot 169 Napa Valley Merlot 2007: new release
Blue fruits, candy cane, some heat, blueberries, oak, structured.

Lot 147 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $15
Dry, tarry, some minerality, tight, attractive aromas of leather, sachet d'Épices and black cherry, with violet notes and oak.

Lot 149 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 $22
Super intense perfumes of flowers especially lilac, powdered violets, sweet juicy blue fruits and cassis. My favorite of the group.

Lot 154 Lake Country Zinfandel 2006: new release $13
Bubblegum, vanilla, banana and blueberry

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home Made Wine... En El Barrio

A while back I joined a group of friends sharing a plan to make wine at a facility in New Jersey.... sadly, for the immediate future it looks like it has fallen through. But two of the group, my friends Justin and Lauren, decided to take matters into their own hands. That's right, they're making wine in their 475 square foot apartment in NYC, and will document the whole process on their new blog called Vino En El Barrio.

So, if you like, please follow along ... this should be really interesting.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Viña Maipu Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Argentina

From the foothills of Argentina's Andes Mountains, showing colors of deep bluish red with aromas of burnt marshmallow, leather, tobacco, smoked meats, red peppers and cassis. Deep forest flavors of black plum, cassis, spices and blackberry jam reflect a smooth tannic edge.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bodegas Pinord Clos de Torribas Crianza 2005 Spain

Made from Tempranillo, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks followed by aging in the cask for nine months.

Beautiful intense aromas of dried flowers, ripe plums and spices woven into chalk and violets... while on the palate, I was blown away by delicious blood oranges, combining with vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Ending with a great fruit finish with lively acidity and firm tannins.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Viña Antigua Malbec Bonarda 2008 Argentina

The brand manager for this wine from Argentina raved about how great a value it is. OK, I'll bite, I generally like what the country is doing with wines anyway, but this one just floored me.

50% Malbec blended with 50% Bonarda, attractive aromatics of violets, plum and chocolate, against a tasty palate of cola, glycerine, with fresh fruit showing blueberries and strawberry followed by a slightly bitter finish and very mild tannins.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Guess That Dish

Here are a few dishes we had at In Vino on East 4th Street Friday night with a couple of good red wines, one from Puglia and a Barolo.

Salmone ai Capperi
Grilled salmon in a lemon & caper sauce,
served with sauteed spinach

Risotto with shrimp and avocado, tomato & basil

Ravioli Tartufati ai Porcini
Porcini ravioli in a truffle cream sauce

La Lasagna
Lamb and pork lasagna

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Abbona Dogliani "Papa Celso" Dolcetto di Dogliani 2003 DOC

From Piemonte, dark and ominous with deep purple colors, heavily textured and looking unfiltered, but then revealing woodsy aromas with floral notes, especially violets. A bit of blackberry touches the palate with ripe plum and a hint of balsamic, nicely structured tannins, good finish.

Had this by the glass at the bar at In Vino in the East Village NYC until my friends arrived, after which we moved to a table and... well that's another post.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Marchesi di Barolo Riserva 1988 DOCG

Winemaker notes:

100% Nebbiolo.

The grapes come exclusively form the best vineyards belonging to the Marchesi of Barolo.

The grapes are handpicked then, after being removed form the stalks, they are soft pressed.
Fermentation's temperature is controlled in thermoconditioned vats (28-30°C). Maceration of 10-12 days with racking of the product only when all the sugar has been transformed into alcohol.

The wine is aged for 1 year in Slavonian oak casks, (of 30, 120, 180 hectolitres) and then for an additional year in small french oak casks, of 450 litres. The wine is then aged an additional 3 years in the bottle prior to been released under the name of Riserva, due to its 5 years of aging. Conserved in a cool, dark cellar, this wine can last 15-20 years.

Warm ruby colors with rusty edges, full body, roses and forest floor, spices and anise, cherry and mint finish... another birthday present from Carolina & Gary, yum.

Cycles Falcon Zinfandel 2006 California

Deep purple in color with a solid texture, an intense nose of ripe cherries, chalk, and raspberries expanding to notes of cedar, remnants of campfire charcoal and burnt marshmallows. Then on the palate firm layers of powdered cherry candy, distinct espresso, chocolate and black pepper. Has a high alcohol content of 15% and finishing like a Port.

Had this by the glass at Pudding Stones on Carmine Street in the West Village, NYC.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cantina Valpantena Torre del Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso DOC 2007

A blend of Corvina Veronese, Corvinone, Rondinella from Verona with a 10 day maceration time, the second fermentation on Amarone Torre del Falasco marc and aged in oak casks.

Ruby red colors, aromas of cola and vanilla, wild berries licorice and chocolate on the palate with a ripe, smooth silkiness and alcohol content of 13.50 %. This drinks like a $30 bottle of wine, being a super value at around $15 at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bertani Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone Classico Superiore DOC 1975

This is an Amarone from the Bertani family vineyards. Founded over 150 years ago, Bertani became successful by producing quality wines, and buying some of the best vineyards in the region, which allowed them to further control the process from start to finish. The 1975 Vendemmia was one of the finest vintages between 1960 and 1980.

Balance is the word to describe this beautifully aged Amarone. The colors show deep ruby with rust around the edges, floral aromas winding around dried red fruit from the forest floor, a holiday fruitcake, raisins, and dusty, musty flavors expressing ripe cherries, licorice, plums, spices, and vanilla lingering on the palate.

This wine was a thing of beauty, and a birthday gift from Carolina & Gary. Thank you!

Winemaker notes:
"... It is the product of selected grape bunches from specialised vineyards: the grapes undergo a lengthy natural drying process, followed by extremely slow fermentation in the harshest winter conditions. A long ageing process over a number of years in large oak casks gives the wine its extraordinary balance."

Grape varieties:
Rondinella and Corvina Veronese. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method. Pruning: “Guyot“ method with 5.000 bases/ha.

Area of production:
These grapes are produced in the vineyards of the Bertani Estate in Villa Novare in Arbizzano of Negrar in the heart of Valpolicella Classica. The soil, of the eastern side, is of marlcalcareous composition, while in the western side, a modest stratum of agrarian soil, covers slabs of calcareous stone.

The manual harvest takes place in the second week of September. A selection of the best, perfectly ripe and healthy bunches is then transported to the loft extremely airy rooms situated in the wine cellar garret and laid out on cane mats for the drying. After about 120 days, during which all operations are make daily and manually, the withering gives the grapes a thickness, a wide variety organoleptic addition and a concentration of sugar of about 24/25° babo. In mid- January grapes are picked from the bunches and pressed. Then the grapes are vinified with an initial very low temperature of 4/5°C, which reaches in the final stage a temperature of 18°C. The slow fermentation that follows to the period of maceration (about a total of 50 days) gives the wine a high level of noble alcohols and glycerine, very important elements for the elegance and softness of the taste.

It ages for about 6 years in Slavonian oak casks (the capacity is from 60 hl) and an aging period of about 12 months in the bottle.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Casa Brancaia Tre Rosso Toscana 2007 IGT

This SuperTuscan blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is from three estates, Brancaia (Castellina), Poppi (Radda) and Brancaia in Maremma (Morellino di Scansano). Aged in oak 12 months plus 2 months in bottle. Inviting floral aromas of violets, the palate being tight at first, but with time expands with smooth, round flavors and a mix of herbs, black fruit, blackberry and glycerine finish.

Recommended by wine steward at Trattoria L'Incontro in Astoria.