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.