Monday, December 29, 2014

Chateau de Sancerre, Sancerre Blanc 2013

This juicy Sancerre Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc reminds me of rainwater, pale golden colors the glass while verdant aromas of grapefruit, or even a bit of orange and a slight funk are intense on the palate. Has a nice minerality and shows great balance, with flavors of ripe kiwi, sweet floral lychee, and perfumed with a long juicy finish.

Fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged on the fine lees for at least 6 months.

Paired so well with Verde Capra from Lombardy, a super creamy goat cheese styled after a mild cow's milk gorgonzola.

Found this great duo at the bar Isola at the Mondrian Soho.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico 2010

From Castelnuovo Berardenga in the Chianti Classico appellation of beautiful Tuscany, an area in which I stayed on for a few days, comes this supple red wine.

Made with 100% Sangiovese grapes by Mario Bacci, dark ruby colors the glass with aging warmer tones around the rim. Aromas of coffee, leather and mild spice while on the palate tart red cherry with a bright acidity and good finish. I tasted this very nice red at Il Poeta.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Antonin Rodet Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2011

Tasted this French Bourgogne, Antonin Rodet Pinot Noir 2011 at Domaine Wine bar on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.

Attractive gamey aromas of barnyard and underbrush with red fruits and floral undertones, the palate is dry but with healthy tannins showing red cherry, raspberry, muted strawberry and chalky floral notes on the back of the tongue. Very light and balanced... the fruit holds it's own against the tannins, good long finish.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Carraia Aglianico Beneventano IGT 2012

From the Campania region in the south of Italy, the warm summers allow for excellent ripening, Carraia hand picks these ripened Aglianico grapes, then they are fermented in stainless steel tanks.

In the glass showing dark ruby colors with aromas of slate, wet stone and raspberry, complementing flavors of ripe blackberries, raisin, glycerine, blackberry and licorice. Nice acidity with tartness and very soft tannins, followed by a decent finish. This is a beautiful value at under $10.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Three Italians to Bring to Thanksgiving Dinner. Sofia Loren, Robert DeNiro and Mario Balotelli?!?!?!

Well, you could try, but here are three Italians that might be easier to find... and will definitely work with your next Thanksgiving Dinner.

'IL' Spr!z... it's an Apertivo modeled after the Venetian Spritz recipe blending semi-sparkling wine with blood orange. The flavors and aromas are natural bold blood orange with herbal hints. This will pair perfectly at the beginning of the day with cured meats and cheeses.

Castello Di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG
Estate grown blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino & Canaiolo hand picked, stainless steel fermentation, aged in French oak barriques for 18 months followed by three months in bottle. Nice acidity and tannins, ruby colors in glass, with exotic aromas of cherry and spice, wood and dark fruits. Full body with tobacco notes and black cherry flavors, and a good long finish, this will work well with Turkey Dinner along with the following Rocca.

Rocca Sveva Ripasso Valpolicella Superiore DOC
70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara blend is "re-passed" for 11 to 14 days over the freshly fermented grapes that have made the Amarone, giving it added structure, depth and roundness. 30% of the wine is aged in oak barrels while 70% is also aged separately in large oak botti for 12-18 months before bottle aging for 6 months. Dark ruby colors with deep aromas of vanilla, black cherry and cassis, Dark fruits on the palate and floral notes and a smooth long finish.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Collazzi Liberta Toscana 2012 IGT

From Collazzi Estates, a few miles south of Florence, where Michelangelo constructed a villa on the estate, comes this Super Tuscan blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 15% Sangiovese. Part of the estate lies within a natural amphitheater with a warm south-western exposure making for excellent ripening of the grapes. Each varietal is harvested and processed separately before fermentation in stainless steel vats, then aged partly in barrels and partly in stainless steel for 10 months before bottle aging for another 2.

In the glass dark cool ruby with rust around the rim, wholesome rich aromas of ripe blueberries, earth and vegetal notes. On the palate lively tannins expressed by blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, slightly balsamic edges with black pepper, spice and a very long juicy finish. SRP $23.99.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

GOTG First Look Series: Barollo Wines

I recently had the good fortune to try the new line of wines soon to be available in New York from Barollo (not Barolo) wines from the Veneto region of Italy.

The first white wine up was the 2013 Barollo Sauvignon Blanc made from 100% of the same. Stainless steel fermentation. The first thing I noticed about the aromas was the absence of cat pee, which frequently appears in varied quantities in many Sauvignon Blanc's. There are nice grassy base aromas layered below herbaceous nuances of citrus, while the palate displays a verdant earthy slate minerality along with more citrus fruits like grapefruit and lime. A very fine acidity with balance and juicy finish.

Paired perfectly with a first course of shrimp with yellow squash, baby kale, tomato confit with a champagne vinaigrette dressing.

Barollo Pinot Bianco 2012
Similar to a Chardonnay but slightly dryer, aromas of buttery apple pie and tropical fruit partnering well with a palate of ripe apples and hints of banana. Very food friendly with lively acidity which pairs well with a second course of pumpkin risotto.

Barollo Manzoni Bianco 2012

Manzoni Bianco, an indigenous grape from the province of Treviso, which was originally a cross-breeding of Riesling Renano and Pinot Bianco in the 1930's. Usually used as a blending grape, Barollo is one of a handful of wineries presently producing Manzoni as a single varietal.
Pale golden colors in the glass, on the nose a floral bouquet with nuances of apricot, apple and marzipan. On the palate notes of pears and powdery flower petals. Delicate but with texture and structure showing minerality that also works very well with the pumpkin risotto.

Barollo Frater Rosso 2013
Stainless steel fermentation and 3 months in bottle. Deep purple in the glass, animal and underbrush on the nose, exotic spices, super ripe cherries, violets and an overall floral bouquet. Flavors are intense but not overpowering with gamey notes, red bing cherries, and a lingering finish of violet candy and nutmeg. Beautifully balanced and complex... but, easy drinking, and as someone at my table pointed out, "... bridges the gap between new and old world reds".

The Frater (above) and Frank (below) both paired well with 3rd course of Grilled Hanger Steak with Caramelized Onions & Oxtail Marmalade.

Barollo Frank 2010 Cabernet Franc
Late harvested for ripeness, the stems are removed early to eliminate any green taste. Aged 12 months in French barriques before bottle aging for 6 months, resulting in an elegant, well structured, mouth watering Cab Franc with smooth, even aromas. Ruby red colors with warmer colors around rim, on the nose ripe cherries, tobacco and cocoa. On the palate a soft, elegant balance of acidity and tannins, with earthy flavors of coffee and red berries and a wonderful long finish.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lieb Cellars Bridge Lane Red Blend 2012

Lieb Cellars produces this excellent affordable red blend from the North Fork of Long Island. A second label for Lieb, Bridge Lane is a Bordeaux style blend of 46% Merlot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec aged 12 months in French oak barrels.

Dark red cherry colors with intense aromas of balsamic, vanilla, and root beer candy, flavors of ripe raspberry jam, black cherry, cola, and spice with a long, smoky, cedar finish. SRP is $20 and 12.9% alcohol.

Besides the 750 ml bottle, it is also available in 3 liter boxes (equal to 4 bottles), and... get this... a 19.5 liter Keg! which is equal to 26 bottles or 130 glasses. Sounds like a great idea for any big event.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mustache Vineyards Merlot 2011 Lodi California

From Lodi California this excellent Merlot is a huge bargain at $15 per bottle! It's actually a blend of 87% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Sirah and 2% Petit Verdot and is truly a thing of beauty. After fermentation the grapes were soft pressed and 30% went into French and American oak barrels while 70% went into stainless steel tanks for 11 months prior to bottling.

Warm rose colors the glass, with enormous ripe fruit aromas showing raisins, spices, maple syrup, vanilla, plums and marzipan. On the palate blueberry, blackberry, cola, white pepper and leather. Pretty acidity, nicely integrated and balanced with a long, smooth finish.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trumpeter Chardonnay 2013 Mendoza Argentina

Produced by Rutini, Trumpeter is made with hand harvested Chardonnay grapes sourced from estate vineyards in the Uco Valley, Mendoza Argentina. 30% malolactic fermentation followed by aging for 7 months in half new French oak and half used barrels. 

Very approachable with fresh aromas of kiwi and other tropical fruit... meanwhile on the palate... fresh notes of green apple, vanilla cream and flowers, along with a mild minerality. Nicely integrated to make a wonderful everyday Chardonnay at around $10.99 per bottle.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Black Bear / Red Chair California Petite Sirah 2010

Rocket ship wine company partners with the Childhood Cancer Society to raise money and awareness for cancer research. 

This beautiful Black Bear / Red Chair is sourced from Paso Robles, Lodi and the Sierra Foothills, using a blend of 81% Petite Sirah, 14% Zinfandel and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon all fermented separately in stainless steel and then combined and aged for 14 months in oak barrels. 

Violet colors the glass with aromas of chocolate, mint, vanilla, eucalyptus and ripe blueberry. The palate shows super ripe cherries, cocoa, cola, white pepper and tobacco along with spice and cassis. Very complex mature flavors with a good long finish and mild tannins rounding out the profile.

$18 bottle price, may be purchased on line from BB/RC, see link above where you can also find a list of restaurants and wine shops where it is available.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Kumeu River Estate Chardonnay 2009

Kumeu River Estate was established in 1944 in Kumeu on the North Island of New Zealand by the Brajkovich family. Indigenous yeast is used, grapes are hand harvested with a low yield to keep concentration of flavor and aromas high. Aging is done in oak barrels with extended aging on the lees.

In the glass clear straw colors, aromas of hay, citrus, floral, oak, green bark, while on the palate lots of fruit from grapefruit to peach and pear, crisp acidity, dry and dusty with a fine minerality and long finish. SRP is $25.90.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Amisfield Pinot Gris 2011

From Central Otago, New Zealand, this Pinot Gris shows clean pale straw colors in the glass with a mild freshness sweetened by scents of honeysuckle contrasting a bit of oak. Bright acidity displaying super fresh, rich mouthfuls of apple, pear and pineapple. Also hints of stone fruits with a touch of spice. Very good finish.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Macari Vineyards Rose 2013

This is the first time Macari has done a Rose with mainly Cabernet Franc (60%) with Pinot Noir (2%) added (there is also 38% Merlot). All were vinified separately and left soaking on the skins for 3 hours.

Fresh and lively acidity with red fruits, mainly strawberry and raspberry, with waves of watermelon, peach and red cherry. White pepper on the finish. Perfect for this time of year. SRP is $15.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rock Lobster Zinfandel 2011

Rock Lobster!!!! An Old Vine Zinfandel pruduced by Hansen-Garbarino from Northern California. Dark purple in the glass with rust around the edges... intense aromas of raisins, underbrush, prunes, cola, vanilla and glycerine. Super fruit forward! A totally new world wine. The palate shows ripe blackberries and blueberries, chocolate, with a twist of spice and black pepper. Mature flavors with chewy tannins, a good bit of texture, and a sparkling finish. The flavors are so concentrated it reminds me a bit of an Italian Amarone... and I love Amarone.

Oh, by the way... 14.4% alcohol and a bottle goes for $14.99.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mud House Riesling The Mound Vineyard 2011

This single vineyard Riesling from New Zealand's Waipara Valley shows pale straw colors in the glass with crisp citrus and mineral aromatics, elderberry floral notes, stone fruit, pear, and honey, while the palate displays powdered sugar, sweet lemon, lime rind, and candied fruit. Overall a very attractive Riesling with juicy acidity, complex and with a good long finish.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

G.Washington Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

This remarkable blend of 85.6% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Alexander Valley, 10.4% Petit Verdot from Andrus Island Vineyards in Clarksburg and 4% Malbec from Lodi's Cinque Terre Estate Vineyard, is aged in oak for 18 months. It has deep ruby colors and shows aromas of ripe cherries, tobacco and black fruits, while the palate exudes rich flavors of cassis, dark chocolate and coffee with cedar undertones leaving you with a beautiful acidity and great finish.

G.Washington is truly a gem, especially at am SRP of $26. If you shop around you might find it for a bit less. Available at Windsor Wine Shop in NYC, Jolson's Fine Wines in Astoria and Eaglehouse W&S on LI.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Heritiers Dubois Rose D'Anjou AOC 2012

This beautifully fresh French Rose from the Anjou Region of Loire is a blend of Gamay, Grolleau and Cabernet Franc grapes harvested just before over ripening. Pale raspberry colors the glass with ripe red fruity aromas complimented by rose water. On the palate something wonderful happens as the crisp acidity of pears and apples dance a juicy tango slightly spiced with cinnamon. SRP $8.99.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Hansen/Grunner Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2009

Dark lush fruit and ripe strawberry on the nose, showing a mature yet fresh profile, while on the palate hints of chocolate, jammy dark cherry and spice. Also expressive waves of minerality, and overall crisp acidity and pretty, soft tannins. This is an unbelievable deal for under $20.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bargetto Winery

Earlier this month while in Monterey, California I had the pleasure of visiting the Bargetto Winery Tasting Room, right on Cannery Row. Billy Norton was my excellent wine guide and took me through the following 5 wines, 1 white and 4 reds.

Bargetto Viento Vineyard Monterey County Gewerztraminer 2011
Clear straw colors the glass, aromas of apricot, ripe grapefruit, mango and lychee, while the palate is an intense blend of green apple and citrus. Crisp acidity and long thoughtful finish.  $15

Bargetto Monterey County Sangiovese 2012
Aromas of spice, cinnamon, potpourri, vanilla and pine, flavors of dark fruit, licorice, cherries, black pepper and earthy finish.

Bargetto Tuxedo Red 2011
A really pretty blend of Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and Refosco, with additional contributions from their signature La Vita blend of Sirah, Zinfandel and Merlot. Named after Tuxedo, the Winery's mascot cat, this blend is aged in new & neutral French, American and Hungarian oak for 18-36 months. Aromas of violets, rosewater and barnyard, on the palate cassis, blue fruits and leather, beautiful bright acidity and soft tannins. Enjoyed this immensely, great as an everyday wine. This was one of my favorite bottles and a bargain at $18.

Bargetto Monterey County Petit Sirah 2012
Aged in 30% new and 70% neutral American and French oak for 24 months. Dark fruits, cherries, chocolate covered raisins, toasted oak. Nice balance of chewy tannins and acidity. $22

Bargetto Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Sourced from Peter Martin Ray vineyard, aged in oak for 18 months. Sweet ripe cherries, red and black ripe fruits, blackberry contrasting with a slight vegetal hint of red bell pepper and tobacco. Full bodied, complex and well balanced. $48

Friday, March 14, 2014

Claude Reaut Chateau Bujeau La Grave Bordeaux 2010

From the Bordeaux region of France this blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot and 8% Cabernet Franc displays a deep ruby color in the glass, with aromas of violet and dried herbs, set against flavors of cherry, cola, cassis, plums and blueberry. Nicely structured, and good fruit intensity while tannins were soft and well balanced. Sampled this by the glass at Friend of a Farmer in NYC.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery

The Wine Cave

You are immediately assaulted by beautiful aromas as soon as the massive wine cave doors swing open. Completed in 2012, not more than six wine caves can be found in all of Carmel Valley. Nick Elliot (Guest Services/Manager/Owner) and Hunter Lowder (Marketing Manager/Owner) are partners in this family business and when they're not giving the grand tour, both can be found knee deep in grapes (they recently bottled their whites). The winery is sustainable, recently certified organic, maintaining a low carbon footprint, and Hunter and Nick both expressed their dedication to the stewardship of the land. They're also investigating the possibility of using solar energy.

From the Barrel

The first tasting was the 2013 Hunter's Cuvee, a high end Burgundian clone (115) from Dijon region and influenced by the European flavor profile. A very good vintage, aged in half new and half neutral barrels, aromas of ripe berries and fruit forward but at the same time dry with hints of dried herbs and leather.

The second barrel sampled was an interesting experiment, the Late Harvest Pinot Noir Port (working title Sueno), which was a cross section of grapes from favorite vineyards that the partners each picked from, fortified with Cognac. Dark and syrupy, black fruits, caramelized dates, nuts and dark chocolate.


All pressing, aging, bottling, etc is done in the cave. Entire bunches of white grapes are pressed gently and fermented in stainless steel tanks to give the wines a more astringent "pop". The red Pinot Noir grapes are destemmed for softness, put into hoppers and pumped into open top stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The Pinot Noirs are generally more old world style, with less fresh fruits and more oak, earth, mushroom and barnyard.


All French oak from producer Francois Freres "Mercurey" is used for 2 years for maximum affect before being switched over to a neutral phase duty.

Three Bottles

Holman Ranch Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Gris 2012
Fresh acidity, floral, green pepper, citrus and honey.

Holman Ranch Vineyards Estate Grown Chardonnay 2011
Dry, oaked, grass, floral blossom, melon and pear, more like a Sauvignon Blanc style.

Holman Ranch Vineyards Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2010
Hearty, savory, dry with medium acidity, earthy, mild strawberry, cherry, old world style.

Holman Ranch is truly beautiful, but there's so much more... a perfect place for a wedding, a retreat away from everyday life, an equestrian center, even corporate events. There's a pool, spa, wine tastings, archery, golf, skeet shooting, olive groves, BBQs... and more.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Beringer Estate Selections Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Ripe vibrant aromas of concentrated cherries with black fruits and cola, eucalyptus and menthol. Smooth leathery tannins and a juicy acidity weave though the palate of a heavy fruit statement with influences of vanilla, dried herbs, cocoa and cafe latte. Super long finish, SRP about $32.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Gran Selezione!!!!

Chianti Classico DOCG, at Tuscany's epicenter, has added a new upper tier to its line up! Above and beyond the Annata (year's vintage) and Riserva, now comes Gran Selezione. The Chianti Classico Wine Consortium has worked for several years to add a new type of wine to the top of the denomination's quality pyramid. And these wines will be under strict guidelines: from using a winery's own best grapes, in its finest vineyards, to a minimum aging of 30 months and additional time in bottle.

Recently premiered in Florence, the Consorzio will launch Gran Selezione here in the US in May/June of 2014.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vinkara Kalecik Karasi 2011 Turkey

Kalecik is a small village in Central Anatolia Turkey, where Kalecik Karasi grapes (pronounced Kah-le-djic Kah-ra-ser) are used to produce this Pinot Noir like red wine. Ruby red colors in the glass, while vibrant floral and ripe fruity aromas appear with raspberry, vanilla and hints of sour cherries.  Dry on the palate but the ripeness of strawberries, waves of rosewater and strangely enough hints of banana (usually a white wine trait), make this a really interesting flavor profile. Soft tannins are  set against a fresh acidity and nice lingering finish. My first Turkish wine, I found it lively and fresh with a pleasant balance. SRP $15.