Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cantina Valpantena Torre del Falasco Valpolicella Ripasso 2010

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, dark berries violets and chocolate on the palate with a ripe, smooth silkiness and alcohol content of 13.50 %

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Arnaldo Caprai, Collepiano Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCD 2005, Umbria

Last month, to celebrate Umbria Month here in NYC, I got a chance to sample a delicious Sagrantino from producer Marco Caprai, who also talked about his wines with palpable passion.

Made with 100% Sagrantino grapes of the finest quality, aged for 30 months in French oak barriques followed by six months or more in bottle before release. Intense and dark ruby in color, the aromas fly out of the glass on wings of vibrant earth, leather and vanilla. The palate shows delicious ripe fruits atop deep spices and violets. Full bodied with intense flavors, beautifully balanced and complex, and a long finish that is most memorable. I was astounded at the perfect pairing of Porchetta con Lenticchie Umbre, especially the before and after. Tasting was held at La Scuola di Eataly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Vina Ventisquero Pinot Noir Reserva 2011, Chile

This very nice Pinot Noir is from the Vina Ventisquero Vineyards of Casablanca Valley in Chile where it's fermented in open tanks, then 70% of the juice is aged in French oak while 30% in stainless steel tanks for ten months.

Colors in the glass are a cool ruby tone, aromas are fresh strawberry and cherries with vanilla and mild minerality. Spices appear on the palate along with vanilla bean and bing cherry and a really good finish. The $12.99 price tag makes it a smart but inexpensive choice to accompany a Christmas dinner, and would pair well with roast pork or turkey.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Great Holiday Gift Ideas: Three Excellent Reds for Under $40 Each

Every once in a while you need to splurge a little, and now is the perfect season to buy that really good wine you've been wanting to try. Well, here are picks of three of my favorite reds to treat yourself to.... (or bring as gifts for the holidays) for under $40 each.

Castello di Gabbiano Alleanza 2009 IGT, Italy
Sourced from the best Merlot and Cabernet vines on the Gabbiano estate, this blend is made from 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented in stainless steel and aged for 18 months in new French oak.

Starting with rich ruby red colors, a beautifully complex bouquet of roses, fresh herbs, black pepper and mild spices, while delicious flavors wind through a blend of blueberry, blackberry, ripe dark cherry, leather, raspberry and especially cloves.

Very balanced, mild sweet tannins with fresh acidity and a dark fruit finish. Love this wine! $40

Termes 2009, Spain

100% hand harvested, 4 months in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French oak barrels for 14-16 months. (The 2008 was expressly fresh fruit, while the 2009 was slightly warmer vintage like 06, 03 with a level of intensity, and lots of character). Aromas of raspberry, strawberry, fruity, sweet lush tannins, lively vibrant fruit character. nice structure, toasted, cedar, layered juicy texture on palate. Pairs beautifully with salumi, which rounds out the tannins. SRP $30

Macari Vineyards Merlot 2005, Long Island

soaked in a perfume of damp earth, green peppers, currant, blackberry, vanilla and ripe plum enmeshed with an herbaceous and lush mouth-feel surrounded by caramel candy and lively tannins redolent of leather and a long toasty finish. $36

Monday, December 3, 2012

Six vintages of Soldera Wines Destroyed

One of the better producers of Brunello di Montalcino, Soldera/Case Basse, has been vandalized by unknown assailants who entered the winery and emptied all of the barrels of the wine from the 2007 through 2012 vintages, according to Gianfranco Soldera. There is talk in the wine trade that organized crime might have been responsible.

First reported by and Jeremy Parzen of DoBianchi.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Ysios Reserva DOCa 2004 Rioja, Spain

Aged for 16 months in French, American and Hungarian oak, then in bottle for 22 months before release. Ruby colors in the glass with intense nutty aromas, while earth and leather play against hues of violets and raspberry. The palate is a smooth blending of cherries, blackberry, licorice and blue fruit. Silky tannins and well balanced with an attractive soothing creamy finish. $30 SRP.

Sampled at Spain's Great Match WINEFOODDESIGN at Metropolitan Pavilion on October 24, 2012.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bodegas Muriel Reserva 2005 DOCa Rioja, Spain

Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes and fermented in stainless steel tanks before aging in American and French oak for two years, then in bottles for another two.

Totally smooth, dark purple ruby colors appear in the glass, showing a complex combination of vanilla, oak, blue fruit and underbrush with nutty notes, a layered chewy creaminess, a fine texture and a long finish. Also attractive hints of spices accented by a cozy herbal note. SRP $20.

Sampled at Spain's Great Match WINEFOODDESIGN at Metropolitan Pavilion on October 24, 2012.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Eden Road's The Long Road Shiraz wins Best Shiraz

A wonderful Australian Shiraz I reviewed this past summer, The Long Road Shiraz 2010 has won Best Shiraz in Australia's National Wine Show. Production only began in 2008 when they won The Jimmy Watson Memorial trophy for their first vintage.

"The vineyard for this wine is located in Gundagai, where some of the most exciting Shiraz in Australia is being grown," explains Eden Road's Winemaker Nick Spencer. "The region features basalt-rich soils, which deliver highly perfumed, aromatic wines, and ironstone-rich soils, which provide a mineral, crushed rock and gravelly tannin structure."

Congratulation Eden Road! Well Done!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2009

This Riserva is made only from grapes grown on the Gabbiano Estate in the heart of Tuscany. Only the oldest and best Sangiovese vines on the property are used. Fermented in stainless steel tanks for 20 days, and for more extraction the wine was macerated on the skins for another 20, followed by aging in 50% new French oak for 16 to 18 months, and finally in bottle for 4 months.

Made from a blend of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot, with dark ruby colors in the glass revealing big aromas of pastel strawberry and dark cherry. On the palate a range of flavors evolve from chocolate to vanilla to coffee to mild hints of spicy wood, good tannins showing, a sweet balance and a long, smooth finish.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pago de Vallegarcia Hipperia 2009

Pago de Vallegarcia is found in a part of Spain's "Montes de Toledo" a forest terroir near the Cabaneros National Park. Skewed toward the French Bordeaux style, Pago de Vallegarcia produces their 2009 Hipperia with a blend of 47% Merlot, 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. After initial fermentation and maceration it is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels and 18 months in bottle.

Dark cherry colors in the glass, bold aromas of red berry, blue fruits, fresh herbs and balsamic with a palate displaying violets, blueberry, cassis, licorice,  eucalyptus, mint and a mild smokiness.  Nicely balanced with strong tannins, and a long finish. 14.5% alcohol and SRP of $29.99.

Sampled at Spain's Great Match WINEFOODDESIGN at Metropolitan Pavilion on October 24, 2012.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Castello di Gabbiano Alleanza 2009 IGT

Sourced from the best Merlot and Cabernet vines on the Gabbiano estate, this blend is made from 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, fermented in stainless steel and aged for 18 months in new French oak.

Starting with rich ruby red colors, a beautifully complex bouquet of roses, fresh herbs, black pepper and mild spices, while delicious flavors wind through a blend of blueberry, blackberry, ripe dark cherry, leather, raspberry and especially cloves.

Very balanced, mild sweet tannins with fresh acidity and a dark fruit finish. Love this wine!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bodega Cyan Tinto del Toro, 12 Mesas

Sustainably farmed 50 year old vines from Toro, Zamora, Spain, aged for a year in French and American oak, exhibiting beautiful deep dark purple colors, aromas of menthol, underbrush, leather, and licorice with complex flavors of citrus, blackberry jam, ripe dark berries, and anise, smooth tannins and long finish. A great value at $15 per bottle at Ninth Avenue Vintner, in Manhattan.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monte Real Gran Reserva 1998, Bodegas Riojanas DOCa Rioja Spain

According to the governing traditions the Reservas from Rioja must spend (at least) 1 year in oak barrels and 2 years in bottle; Gran Reservas spend (at least) 2 years in barrels and 3 years in bottle.

The Monte Real GR blend is 80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano, aged in American oak casks for 24 to 30 months and in bottle for 36 months. I first sampled this in 2008 at the Astor Center's Rioja Wine Seminar where my notes are as follows:

On the nose are beautiful bright cherries with aromatic spices and ripe summer fruits, while on the palate waves of dark fruit make for an excellent balance and a lush, long finish. I did a search and PJ Wine Co. has it listed retail at $26.99. This, I believe, is an amazing value.

Here are my notes on the same wine 4 years later at the "Spain's Great Match/WineFoodDesign" held in the Metropolitan Center in NYC this past week. 

Pale ruby colors in the glass with burnt orange around the rim, mild spices, white pepper, subdued, ripe cherry, smooth, mild wood, very smooth finish. Presently the SRP is $55.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Castello di Gabbiano Bellezza Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 DOCG

Made with 100% Sangiovese grapes, hand picked ripe fruits, fermented in stainless steel at warm temperatures, punched down 4 times daily for 28 days for added texture and extraction and then aged on the lees in French oak for 17 months before bottling.

Deep ruby colors with aromas of resinous ripe cherries, raspberries and strawberries while the palate shows attractive signs of cinnamon and nutmeg with puffs of smoky vanilla and hints of an earthy slate. Crisp and juicy acidity with bold tannins and an excellent finish.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Castello di Borghese Merlot 2007

Formerly known as Hargrave Vineyards, Anne Marie and Marco Borghese have taken Castello di Borghese to new heights. They made the oldest vines on Long Island work very successfully for them. 

Aged in French oak for 13 months before bottling. Ruby with warmer colors around the edge of the glass. Clear bright cherries with caramel aromas, beautiful essence of rosewater contrasting a strong vanilla, also hints of raspberries and blue fruits, while flavors of ripe cherry compote, cinnamon, and vanilla again, wisps of white pepper combine nicely on the palate. Showing mild, soft tannins, finely balanced with a supple and juicy acidity. A good long finish, 12.5 % alcohol and a great value for a 2007 at $20!

Friday, October 12, 2012

L'oca Ciuca 2008 IGT

L'oca Ciuca or The Drunken Goose is a Tuscan blend of 40% Sangiovese, 30% merlot, and 30% Syrah with pretty violet perfume, aromas of ripe rich and crisp cherries, while on the palate notes of red fruit and cherries with white pepper and anise. Followed by hints of blueberries, vanilla, and especially caramel at the back of the tongue. Soft tannins, nice finish, just an all around winner. This bottle was $34 at Tuscan Hills on Queens Blvd.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Chateau La Grange Clinet Bordeaux 2008

From Entre-Deux-Mers sub region of Bordeaux, here is a wonderful value in a red Bordeaux blend of merlot 57%, Cabernet Sauvignon 25%, and 18% Cabernet Franc, sustainably farmed, fermented in stainless steel vats, aged in oak barrels for 12 months, and in bottle for a year before labeling.

Dark rose colors with purple edges. Deep violet aromas, fresh mint mixed with complementary earth tones, suggestions of smoked meats, and attractive blackberry notes. Very easy on the palate with ripe cherries, cassis, and licorice... mild tannins but balanced acidity. Nice long finish. Great find on sale at Pop's for under $10.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Astica Malbec 2011 Cuyo Argentina

Made with hand-harvested grapes from vineyards throughout the Cuyo/Mendoza region of Argentina, just east of the Andes, this stainless steel fermented 100% Malbec is a decent showing for the price (ranges from under $4 to $7).

Dark ruby colors in the glass, pastel aromas of violets and blueberry under a palate of blackberry and spice, pepper and hints of mint or eucalyptus, with a medium finish.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fattoria Le Pupille Elisabetta Geppetti Morellino Di Scansano 2009 DOCG

This wonderful Morellino di Scansano is a Tuscan blend of mostly Sangiovese with a bit of Alicante and Malvasia Nera. Dark bluish ruby colors in the glass, as boysenberry and vanilla aromas permeate intensely, with exotic dark licorice scents and even a bit of wild underbrush, while on the palate resinous dark chocolate notes with cassis and red berries fill the mouth. Nice balance and long finish. Found this one at Il Poeta Restaurant.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Macari Estate Bottled Chardonnay 2009

From the North Fork of Long Island, The Macari family produces this 100% steel fermented Chardonnay. 

Pale clear and golden colors, with floral notes on the nose, further colored by honeysuckle, pear and jasmine. An aggressive palate of citrus, tree bark, green sap, and grapefruit complete the picture, with noticeable minerality and body, 13.1% alcohol and retails for $19.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gougenheim Malbec 2010 Argentina

Deep purple garnet colors with maraschino cherry, ripe bing cherry and green peppers on the nose, while contrasting with sour cherry and white pepper on the palate. Medium plus tannins open nicely to reveal a simple but solid Malbec.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Koutsoyianopolous Santorini Assyrtiko 2011

Made in Santorini, Greece from 100% Assyrtiko grapes fermented and aged for 5 months.

Almost clear with slight yellow/golden colors, floral aromas merge into cantelope and watermelon rind, later revealing grape bubblegum, then woven into a palate rife with a boatload of flavors from cream to honey, from ginger ale bubbles to green pepper skins.

This very complex, refreshing wine is intriguing in that some of its characteristics are unfamiliar. I did some online searches that described the flavors as that of a Quince, which tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear. In hindsight, I'll agree with that description.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Deinhard Green Label Riesling 2008 Mosel Germany

Here is a great summertime white from the Mosel region of Germany where they produce wines from the wonderful Riesling grape. Rieslings can traditionally range from extremely dry to very sweet, and this one is somewhere in the middle of that scale (on the sweet side of dry).

High in acidity with aromas that suggest cranberry, yeast/dough, and grapefuit while the palate shows signs of citrus, apple, ripe watermelon, hints of banana and marzipan. A very refreshing wine and under $9 a bottle.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Eden Road Shiraz The Long Road Gundagai 2010

From the Gundagai region of Australia, this is a 100% Shiraz made from fruit picked, de-stemmed and chilled for 7 days before warming naturally and innoculated with a chosen yeast strain. The cap was turned over with high volume compressed air which is a gentle approach to soaking the skins. No pumping over or plunging was employed. Following fermentation the fruit was pressed and 50% transferred directly to old French oak puncheons.

Very dark deep colors of purple, with cassis, pepper, and licorice aromas, great texture and body while flavors of dark fruit and violets play happily on the palate into a satisfying floral finish.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Carta Vieja Chardonnay 2011 Chile

Tropical fruity aromas of banana taffy, confectioners sugar, and summer fruits, while on the palate leaning more towards a Sauvignon Blanc than a Chardonnay, but that's a good thing if you ask me. Has good texture and balance and satisfies nicely with fresh peach on the finish.

My friend Mark first introduced me to the Carta Vieja Merlot in the summer of 2010, and this Chardonnay this past weekend. Thanks Mark!

This bottle sells for an unbelievable $4!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Marlborough New Zealand

Clear and bright golden colors with aromas of lemon drops, grapefruit and pineapple with a crisp acidity and mild minerality. Finish leaves flavors of lime zest and totally refreshing. Nice deal for $8.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Eden Road Hilltops Shiraz 2010

Sourced from a single vineyard (Kingsvale) in the Australian Hilltops wine region northwest of Canberra, Eden Road Hilltops Shiraz (actually there is a tiny 1% Viognier blended in) is open-fermented for 2 weeks before 16 months aging in French oak barriques.

Shows deep purple/ruby colors, with juicy earthy/barbecue/smoked meat aromas, displays an intriguing palate of ripe cherry, white pepper and red fruit and slight vegetal and metallic notes on the long finish.

Received a Silver Medal in the 2012 Southern Highlands Wine Show.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tenute Silvio Nardi

The Nardi family, starting with Francesco in 1893 who emigrated from Italy to the US and returned to Umbria two years later with his new plow invention, the “Voltarechhia”, is tied to the earth.

The next generation found his son Silvio buying estates in three Montalcino locations, the Casale del Bosco estate in 1950, Manachiara in 1962, and finally the Bibbiano estate in 1970. He also was one of the founders of the Brunello di Montalcino Wine Consortium.

Silvio’s daughter Emilia, president of the Winery since 1990, was influenced by the wines of Bordeaux and has focused on terroir, clonal research and phenological ripeness in order to improve the quality of the wines. All told there are 36 vineyards and 25 different kinds of soils and altitudes. She employed enologists to study the soil and positions of plants, and the use of many modern techniques.

At a recent tasting at Aldea in NYC I had the opportunity to meet Emilia and sample some of her wonderful wines from Brunello, paired with equally great cuisine... here are my tasting notes.

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $70

A blend of the best hand harvested Sangiovese Grosso grapes of the Manachiara and Casale del Bosco estates, aged for 30 months in French Allier barriques and large Slavonian oak, then a minimum of 12 months in bottle. Deep ruby color, with nose of violets, spice, smoked meats, leather, and on the palate sour cherry, cedar, and green pepper. Good acidity and tannins in balance with a long finish.

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino Manachiara 2006 $107

From 45 year old vines this single vineyard Brunello demonstrates intense use of wood in the 12 months in French Allier barriques and 18 months in old Slavonian oak barrels, followed by at least a year in bottle. One bottle = 1 vine. Garnet colors, aromas of ripe fruit and spice, while on the palate is candied cherry, and floral notes with a nice acidity and finish.

Tenute Silvio Nardi Rosso di Montalcino 2010 $27

Sangiovese Grosso grapes from the Casale del Bosco estate make up this Rosso fermented in stainless steel for 15 days, aged in used casks for 6 months and 4 months in bottle. Enjoyed this very much. The 2010 vintage was a great one and it shows here, can’t wait for the Brunellos. Deep ruby colors, this was a shining star for me with bing cherry, red fruits, even some strawberry on the nose and a palate of red fruits and spice that grows with time.

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2006 $70

Also a blend of the best hand harvested Sangiovese Grosso grapes of the Manachiara and Casale del Bosco estates, aged for 12 months in French Allier barriques and 12 months in large Slavonian oak botte, then a minimum of 6 months in bottle. Grapes are from the best 15 to 20 year old vines.
Ruby colors warmer colors around rim of glass, intense aromas of spice, leather, and earth and a palate of red fruits and a smooth balance of acidity and tannins. What a great finish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Argiano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2007

Ruby with rust colors around rim, showing minerality on the nose, waves of wood (cedar) with a nutty edge, while on the palate attractive candied spice, blue and red fruit, hints of violet.

This Brunello is newly released and is a tiny bit tight but with an hour decanting should be fine. On the other hand if you'd like to lay this one down optimum drinking would be between 2014-2022, a bottle presently averages around $46.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Feudi del Pisciotto Versace Nero d'Avola IGT 2009

Made from 100% Nero d'Avola grapes fermented in stainless steel, aged in barriques (50% new, 50% used) for 10 months with another 6 months in bottle.

Expressively intense and fruit forward, with pretty aromas of blackberry pie, fruit compote and baked strawberry, while flavors are on the sweet side of dry with bing cherry and hints of blue fruits.  Mild tannins are balance by fresh acidity and finish is long. Average $14/ bottle, good price for this gem.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Argiano Suolo Rosso Toscano IGT 2007

The Sangiovese grapes used to produce Suolo are from two single vineyard plots on the Argiano estate, one, their oldest vineyard planted in 1966, and one of their younger ones, planted in 1989, thereby playing on the contrasting age of the vines. Aged in new French oak barrels (selected for softness in both fruit and tannin) for 15 to 17 months.

Dark ruby colors with aromas of roses & violets, forest floor, sweet vanilla and licorice, while the palate shows more vanilla, cherry, red and blue fruits, white pepper and cherry. Nicely balanced.

Sampled at the Vias Portfolio tasting last week in NYC.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Argiano Non Confunditur Rosso Toscano OGT 2010

Just southwest of famed Montalcino in Tuscany, Argiano produces this attractive blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 20% Syrah, each fermented and aged for several months in French and Slavonian oak separately before blending.

Showing colors of ruby, scents of violet, smoke meat and cedar with parallel deep floral aromas, met by complimenting flavors of wood, spice, pepper, blueberry and leather. Medium-Full body with soft tannins.

Sampled at the Vias Portfolio tasting last week in NYC.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Romano Dal Forno Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006

One of the top Amarone producers in the famed Veneto and inspired by Giuseppi Quintarelli, Romano drastically lowered it's vine yields resulting in rich, expressive and dense wine. The classic blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes is partially dried resulting in an intensity of flavor, texture and aromatics and ultimately making some of the best Amarones in the world.

With deep colors of dark ruby, colored by brooding aromas of sweet raspberry, strawberry, and a viscous and plummy texture. On the palate fragrant smoked meats offset by bing cherry, dark chocolate, and tobacco. Very nice acidity and silky tannins.

A bottle generally goes for about $400, but I sampled this at The Vias Portfolio tasting last week.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 2007 DOCG

Aged in French and Slavonian oak casks for 12 months and in second usage of French barriques for another 12 months and finally in concrete vats for another 12 months. 14.5% alcohol.

Ruby red, clear and clean with medium weight, hints of musk with aromas of mature fruits, smoked meats under a burst on the palate of cherry and spices with violets and red fruit... fresh and straightforward with a good finish.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Viña Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Here we have a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Colchagua valley in Chile, produced by DOMAINES BARONS DE ROTHSCHILD-LAFITE who took over the Los Vascos estate (Los Vascos meaning The Basques, in honour of its Basque origins) in 1988.

There is much going on here for under $10. This wine has a deep and dark ruby red color. The nose is definitely intense, with ripe red and blue fruits like cherry, cassis, blueberry, raspberry and plum interwoven with palate notes of licorice, violets and spice, while showing good firm structure. A very pleasing combination of tannins and acidity, and a warm and harmonious finish. This is a really good everyday wine well worth looking for by the case, where it can probably be had for close to $7 a bottle!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Artemis Karamolegos Santorini Assyrtiko 2010

Made with Assyrtiko grapes on the Greek Isle of Santorini by producer Artemis Karamolegos this white wine is greenish gold in color, shows complex aromas of citrus, pear and exotic fruits combining with flavors of ripe peach, green apple and hints of yeast. Nicely balanced with a crisp, bright acidity, and closing on a good long finish, 13.5% alcohol. Paired beautifully with a grilled shrimp dish with peppers and mushrooms.

About the Winery:
The San Torini Winery, founded in 1952 by Artemis Karamolegos, began from a passion for winemaking passed down to him from his beloved grandfather who made wine in a small cave or “canava” using the old traditional methods. In 2004, a new and modern winery was built to take advantage of the latest in modern technology, while also adhering to the traditional practices passed down from generations. Artemis has been a champion, not only of the main Assyrtiko variety, but has also invested in the cultivation of some of the more obscure indigenous varieties of Santorini, like Mavrotragano, Aidani, Mavrathiro and Voudomato.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bodegas Riojanas Puerta Vieja Crianza 2007 Rioja

From La Rioja region of Spain, Bodegas Riojanas produces this Crianza, a blend of 80% Tempranillo, 15% Mazuelo and 5% Graciano aged for 18 months in American oak, followed by six months bottle aging before release.

Dark ruby colors paint a bold picture to prepare for the bright and funky nose showing earth and bramble, dried fruit, cured meat, black cherries and spice... while the palate expresses bold signs of umami, coconut, dried cherries and earth. Easy tannins and acidity with a surefooted balance that makes this a real find at around $11. What a complex wine for the price?!

Definitely a food wine that works really well with red meat or sauces. Don't miss this one!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Villa Pozzi Nero D'Avola 2010 Sicily

The Sicilian Nero D'Avola, truly a hearty grape that makes for a full bodied red, is grown at the Villa Pozzi vineyards located in the hills surrounding Marsala, Salemi and Mazzara del Vallo, in the western part of the island. The high altitudes of between 1000 to 1300 feet are where mountain vineyards make for hard working grapes. 

Fermented in stainless steel and aged briefly in oak giving up aromas of black cherry, spices, tobacco and anise, while on the palate are a nice complexity of licorice, glycerine, a fruity lushness, with a ripe, chewy texture, spice, again cassis. 

This is a very good food wine for between $8 & $11, comes in a screw top bottle, works well with pizza, pasta red sauce or red meats.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Valle Central, Chile

Sauvignon Blancs from this region typically show good character and ripeness, on the nose is a bright citrus, grapefruit, and melon with a bit of a fresh herbal note, while the palate gives up ripe melon, hints of white pepper, rich spice and lime... all in all, a fine-tuned balance. Makes a great pairing with Italian sausage with spaghetti squash, broccoli rabe, onions and basil (thanks Mark L.). A very good value at under $10.

Winemaker notes:
Cono Sur, a modern, innovative winery in Chile that sources grapes from the best regions. Famous regional winemaker Adolfo Hurtado is named Winemaker of the year it seems almost on an annual basis. He leads the team that creates this fresh and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc best buy with all temperature-controlled stainless steel fermentation and aging.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Novel Travel Ideas for Wine Lovers

As mentioned many times on this blog, one of my most memorable vacations was a cycling trip through Tuscany. There were so many sights to see and on a bike I had the choice of stopping whenever I wanted if one caught my eye, and naturally what caught my eye related to wine. So... I'd usually stop at a winery, enoteca, or even a vineyard. I think an interesting trip sometimes can be a life changer, I know it was for me. So here are a few novel travel ideas for a wine lover.

Biking, walking, running, & multisport vacations through wine country

For over 34 years Backroads has delivered a rich sense of journey that connects you to a region, with an appreciation for every minute of your time, so that events happen in a natural manner that makes sense, giving you maximum flexibility over how you spend each day. They operate their our own trips everywhere in the world, controlling quality each step of the way.

Multiple daily routes give you the freedom to access the best of a region at your own pace. Every day of every trip they provide a variety of well-researched options which are displayed on the Web and include mileage and elevation change. Every option comes with directions and is fully supported.

Two vans, three leaders, thoughtful trip design, multiple route options with directions and a choice of riding companions—each and every person is supported equally, regardless of ability.

River Barge through wine country

Gourmet dining while savoring a glass of wine on a luxury hotel barge, visiting local vineyards in the Burgundy region of France or the Po River Valley of Italy.

Fully crewed, all inclusive luxury hotel barges cruise the inland waterways of nine European countries, along canals, rivers, lakes, lagoons and lochs, giving you the opportunity to experience life there from a truly unique perspective.

Hotel barges are ideal for people looking for either an individual cruise with other like-minded people, or for those choosing a whole barge charter for a family or group of friends.

On your all-inclusive cruise, your intimate ‘floating hotel’ glides gently along while you relax and enjoy gourmet cuisine, fine wines and the company of fellow passengers. There will be guided tours to castles, chateaux, vineyards, markets and when you return to the barge a professional crew will be there to look after you once more.

They have special theme cruises for those who enjoy a specific sport or hobby. You can choose a theme cruise from their cruise guide or view their cruise maps from several locations around the site.

Food & Wine

LA DOLCE VITA WINE TOURS is a boutique tour operator founded in 1999 that offers educational wine vacations in Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

Their tours aren’t simply about stellar wine and gourmet food. They’re an entry point to Italian culture. Wine is a magnificent portal. It’s a door that leads to the world of the winemaker: equal parts farmer and artist, scientist and alchemist. It opens onto the Italian kitchen, being a soul mate to both rustic cucina povera and the most elegant haute cuisine. Wine opens the way to history, to stories of ancient Romans, Renaissance dukes, and Savoy royalty who shaped what we eat and drink. And it’s a conduit to modern-day Italy, with its lively wine bars and sidewalk cafés, bucolic landscapes and art-filled cities. These are the worlds La Dolce Vita Wine Tours explores.

Small groups (2 to 14 max) allow for dialog with winemakers. For dedicated wine enthusiasts and wine educators, they have wine-intensive tours. For the active traveler, they offer walking tours and custom bike trips. Accommodations are charming countryside inns or family-run hotels in medieval wine towns.

On all their tours, you'll enjoy Italian-style hospitality, user-friendly wine education, thoughtful food and wine pairings, and cultural sights. Plus, you'll discover places you’d never find on your own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Vidal-Fleury Cotes du Rhone 2009

On his trip through France in 1787 Thomas Jefferson visited Vidal-Fleury, today considered one of the most consistent producers in the Rhone Valley.

This 2009 Cotes-du-Rhone was a great vintage year and a value at the same time. It's a traditional blend of 65% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre and 5% Carignan fermented separately with indigenous yeasts. They do a long and slow maceration of about 30 days with 70% aged in tank and 30% in large oak foudres* followed by a light filtration before bottling unfined for 3-6 months.

It has deep ruby colors while the expressive nose shows a dark red fruit, some strawberry, chocolate, and especially prune.

On the palate black fruits, dark chocolate, cherry, pepper and dusty spice, but after a good time on the tongue you'll find hints of dried flowers, cedar, and tobacco with supple tannins a decent finish.

What a great price and value?!? I found it for about $12/bottle discounted for a half case at Wine Express online... and shipping was free.

Pairs well with meats, pizza, barbecue, pasta, burgers and cheese.

*Foudre: A large oak or chestnut cask used for aging wine (mostly in Provence and Alsace), with a capacity between 150 and 350 hectoliters (3,960 to 9,240 gallons).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2000

Salicutti Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2000 is made with organically produced Sangiovese grapes harvested from the Vigna del Teatro and Vigna del Piaggione vineyards.

After fermentation, the wine is aged in a combination of large French and Slavonian oak casks for 3 years, then bottled without fining or filtration and matured for an additional year.

Garnet colors with floral notes, and aromas of ripe cherry and balsamic vinegar, while the palate displays a complexity of spices, blue fruits, sweet bing cherries and plums, rounding out the tannins with attractive coffee/chocolate finish.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sacramento Trail Zinfandel Lodi Old Vine "Most Wanted" 2010

Dark and brooding, with a vibrant bouquet of raisins, rich spice, ripe red fruits, raspberry and cranberry, over flavors of bright rich cherry (redolent of Cherry Heering), more spices, black currant and vanilla. Chewy, loaded with texture and showing nice smooth tannins and a very long finish.

Paired beautifully with Pasta with Sausage and Artichoke Hearts at Il Poeta.