Friday, February 29, 2008

Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico Riserva 2000 DOCG tasting notes

photo ©2008 by Kristen Trieger
Italy • This dry red wine from Gaiole in Chianti is medium weight with ruby color, 90% Sangiovese 10% Canaiolo is aged in oak casks for 2 years and bottle for 1 year. On the nose first there's smoke with what seems like well... beef, and on the palate is mushrooms and cherries. This is a really nice Chianti Classico.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sella & Mosca Marchese Di Villamarina 2000 Alghero DOC tasting notes

©photo 2008 dave trieger
This estate bottled red wine from the Alghero region of northwestern Sardinia is made with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and aged in small Troncais oak barriques, then in traditional casks for over 4 years. Color is ruby red with a palate that is full and complex. The deep berry aromas are intense but even, along with an earthy cherry and toasted oak. The long soft finish is like herbs on a warm breeze. This wine is outstanding! Tasting was done at Accademia di Vino on 63rd st & 3rd Ave, NYC.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gallo Nero...

180 view, Colli Senesi ©2006 photo dave trieger
... which in Italian means black rooster, is the symbol for a region in Italy between Florence and Siena called Chianti that produces some of the greatest wines in the world. The original Chianti was defined in 1716 by the Medici family and included the area around Gaiole, Greve, Radda and Castellina. The borders were extended and redrawn in 1932 to stretch to the north of Firenze, south to Castelnuovo Berardenga, west to Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and east to the Chianti Mountains. There are now 8 sub-zones:

Classico, Colli Aretini
Colli Fiorentino, Colline Pisano,
Colli Senesi, Montalbano,
Montespertoli & Rufina

The black rooster signifies the Chianti Classico producers association and you will find it on the necks of the bottles from this region. Following is a story told by Dario Castagno a few years ago describing the black rooster's origins...

In the 12th century, Florence and its rival Siena had had a long dispute about the rich territories between the two cities. Legends say they would resolve this quarrel with a race involving two knights, one from each city. The rules were agreed upon... the two knights would start the race when the cock crows. The point where the knights meet would be the new border their respective city would control. This is where it gets interesting... allegedly the Florentines had a black rooster (galletto nero) which they kept unfed for days, so by the morning of the race it crowed well before dawn. So the Florentines had an advantage because their knight left first and rode many miles deeper into rival territory, reaching Fonterutoli, a territory of Castellina. So the border was established in Castellina, close to Siena, in a place they named Croce Fiorentina.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Banfi Chianti Classico 2005 DOCG tasting notes

©2008 photo dave trieger
This Chianti Classico from Banfi is made from sangiovese grapes, has dark ruby color with medium weight, with a nose of dark fruits, cherries, plums, earth/leather and violets. Palate: cherries, tobacco & wood. Great with red sauces but I had it with a porterhouse steak. Let this wine open for a few hours and you'll get the optimum value of this $16 bargain. Also pairs well with Pavaroti singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot (how MUSIC ALTERS WINE'S TASTE).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chateaux Saint Genes 2004 French Bordeaux tasting notes

©photo by dave trieger

Label reads: Grand Bordeaux Chateau Saint Genes Premieres Cotes de Blaye 2004 Bernard Magrez Proprietor. Grapes: Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a heavy weight ruby bordeaux, with chocolate covered cherries on the nose, and a full fruitiness on the palate. It's rich, balanced and supple and a pure pleasure to drink.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Zen of wine tasting

Sunset San Leonino, Toscana ©2006 dave trieger.

When asked to describe a wine's aroma most people would just answer, "It smells like ... GRAPES, I guess." They don't trust their own senses enough to pinpoint a particular smell, and would feel more comfortable describing its taste.

But I think you can dig up a smell from early childhood much easier than a taste. I can remember vividly the lilac smell of my mom's jewelry box... and in first grade when the teacher passed around tests on mimeograph paper, or walking into the candy store and being hit by a wave of sweetness. These odors are burned into my memory and wines give me the chance to use my life experiences to describe them.

I found that if you THINK about it too hard, the description won't come. But fear not ... there are ways to wake up your senses. The trick is to close your eyes and breath in deeply and slowly. It's almost as if your looking for the FEELING the wine evokes on your senses more that the AROMA.

Lots of good wines have so much to offer in the way of aromas. Some wines are complex and have multiple layers of flavors and smells... you might smell oak from the barrels and smoke, or licorice, chocolate, coffee, leather... it just goes on and on.

So open a good bottle, let it aerate for an hour or two, then pour a glass and plug into your untapped past and you'll look at wine in a different way. Don't miss out on all the great things it has to offer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dirty socks. Barnyard. Wet dog. Burnt match. CAT PEE.

Wondering what could possibly be the question to these answers? You guessed it, “what is the aroma I’m getting from this wine?” And if the answer is any of the above, don’t sweat it, because they can be good things.

Wines exude all kinds of aromas and it’s not necessarily because the grapes were growing in a vineyard near a family of cats. The terroir of each vineyard gives each locale of grapes it’s own unique chemical composition—and that composition corresponds with a particular aroma. For example the chemical profile of real chocolate corresponds exactly with the chocolate flavor you will find in a wine.

So the next time you have a Cabernet Sauvignon and you’re concerned about how many calories you’ll get from it's chocolate nuance… have another glass.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Baglio Curatolo Villa Tonino 2003 Nero D'Avola IGT tasting notes

color: deep purple rose; nose: chocolate, cherry, pepsi, red licorice candy, oak, smoke ; palate: berries, blueberry, strawberry, cherries. Good wine, takes a while to open up, maybe decant this for an hour or two... Colosi is still my favorite Nero D'Avola in the below $20 price range. (see Jan 14, 2008 post) Paired well with homemade mushroom ravioli at Basilico on 9th avenue and 47th street, nyc

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Taste of International Varietals at Italian Wine Merchants

Most of the wines I talk about in this blog don't go for more that $20, But last weekend I treated myself to a tasting at Italian Wine Merchants (Founded by Sergio Esposito, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich) and sampled six wines from various regions in Italy. As a tasting room it really is a near perfect space, both functional and cozy. Naturally the wine that most impressed me was the Sassicaia, but some of the other wines from various regions of Italy were really diverse. And for $50 I got to sample 6 excellent wines, so in my book it's a great deal.

The orientation was given by IWM Sales Manager, Augusto Cardona who gave a brief history of IWM and it's philosophy. He then went thru the wines one by one extolling their virtues, and was really helpful with any questions we had. Next, we dove right in...

• Bruno Giacosa 2003 2003 Spumante Brut (Lombardia-Pinot Nero)

This 100% Pinot Nero is a sparkling wine with almost clear golden color, a bouquet of sour apples, yeast and fruit. The grapes are grown in a soil rich in limestone giving this Brut its singular character and dry, lively edge.

• Castel Sallegg 2004 Traminer Aromatico (Alto Adige-Traminer Aromatico)

This is a Gewurztraminer, Alto Adige's signature grape, which Augosto says, may have originated that region. The wine has a light golden color, aromas of melon, apples, peaches and roses accenting a palate of citrus, more specifically grapefruit.

• La Castellada 2002 Sauvignon (Friuli-Sauvignon Blanc)
To come...

• Rocche Dei Manzoni 2001 Pinonero Damino (Piemonte-Pinot Nero)

To come...

• Movia 2000 Veliko Rosso (Friuli-Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot, Pinot Nero)

This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Nero is from the Friuli/Slovenian border and is stored in Slovenian oak casks for three to seven years. Appearance is berry red with an earthy leather aroma, medium body and notes on the palate of black cherry jam and hint of mushrooms.

• Tenuta San Guido 2004 Sassicaia (Toscana-Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc)

This is from the house that started it all... the Supertucan movement that is.
The regard for this wine is such that it was accorded a DOC status by the classification system that shunned its initial efforts--a first for an Italian wine. IWM
Deep ruby red colors this complex wine with an opacity that makes it look unfiltered, while the nose is intense (but not overpowering) with waves of luscious fruit and balanced tannins. Amazing.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Taste of Italy.... Sassicaia at Italian Wine Merchants

This weekend I got the chance to attend a wine tasting at Italian Wine Merchants (Founded by Sergio Esposito, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich) and sampled six wines from various regions in Italy. As a tasting room it really is a near perfect space, both functional and cozy. Naturally the wine that most impressed me was the Sassicaia, but I'll be collecting my notes and writing more about the event this week. So stay tuned....

Friday, February 8, 2008

Forte Canto Negroamaro Salento Rosso 2005 IGT tasting notes

This dark red wine from Monteroni di Lecce in Puglia was my first taste of a Negroamaro, which means "black bitter". I was caught by surprise (knowing it never touched wood) at how intensely flavorful this was. It's made from 100% Negroamaro grapes and grown in a red clay, sandstone and limestone soil, macerated in stainless steel vats on skins for 12 days, then straight to the bottle for 3 months. Again, it's not barreled and it's unfiltered, which really gives it weight. On the nose & palate are cola, blackberry, cherry pie and ripe plum. I'd decant this for at least an hour to get the full blast. This retails for about $14 and is well worth it.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Villa Rossa Barolo DOCG 2003 tasting notes

Made from Nebbiolo grapes from Langhe Hills, Barolo. Color: ruby red; medium weight; Nose: paint thinner, earth, alcohol, black cherry; Palate: cola, licorice, sour cherry. Nice structure, easy to drink, even finish... about $25.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Vertical & Horizontal Tastings Defined

All the wines tasted are from DIFFERENT vintages but from the SAME wine type and winery. Eg.: First a 1999 Luciano Bruni Brunello di Montalcino; Second, 1998 Luciano Bruni Brunello di Montalcino; and third a 1997 Luciano Bruni Brunello di Montalcino.

All wines tasted are from the SAME vintage, say 1997, but DIFFERENT wineries. Eg.: First a 1997 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino; second a 1997 Luciano Bruni Brunello di Montalcino; and third a 1997 Antonio Sanguinetti Brunello di Montalcino.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

French Kiss: A French wine tasting dinner

At a recent wine tasting dinner at the Claremont Hotel in Roslyn Long Island I got the chance to try a cross section of French wines that were very cleverly paired with delicious French dishes.

First up was an Alsatian sparkling white wine (not called Champagne because its grapes are not grown in Champagne region), made from Chardonnay grapes by Pierre Sparr Marquis. Appellation (a geographical based term to identify where the grapes are grown) is Cremant Alsace, Pierre de Perlade Blanc de Blancs Brut. Light golden color with fruity aromas of melon and slight grass undertones, very crisp with taste of apples, kiwis and berries. Perfect with hors deourves.

Then another from Pierre Sparr, but this time a 100% Pinot Gris. Pale gold color, nose: fruit & apples again, peaches and smoke. This was paired quite nicely with a lobster bisque served in an espresso cup.

Next course was an asparagus tart in puff pastry with triple cream brie which might have posed a problem. Asparagus is a food long thought of as difficult to pair with wine, but they managed a beautiful companion in choosing a Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes used in Andre Lurton's Chateau Menaut Blanc Graves are grown in gravelly soil, giving the wine a mineral note. Color is pale yellow, and palate is a mixed bag of apple, apricot, asparagus. As I drank and ate more, I noticed the minerality intensify to reveal hints of kerosene... but in a good way:)

For an entree I had Filet Mignon with Foie Gras and Madeira sauce which paired well with the Andre Lurton Chateau Couchery Rouge Pessac-Leognan. This is a red bordeaux from Couchery Rouge. The place has a bit of history/legend to it... allegedly Henry IV slept there to avoid a thunderstorm, and it ultimately became known as Coucheroy (the king slept here). Soil from the vineyards are gravel over clay and seated in the Martillac and Leognan communes in the South of Bordeaux. The Grapes are fermented in steel and aged in French oak for 1 year. This is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and is an easy drinking and velvety Bordeaux. Color: ruby red; Nose: ripe fruits, smokey earth; Palate: berries & spices; mellow tannins.

The dessert wine was Chateau Castelnau Suduiraut 80% Semillon and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. It reminded me of a really good Vinsanto or Muscato, and was floral, perfumed with golden color and citrus and honey. It was paired with a creme brule and worked for me.