December 16, 2009

Wine Tasting!
Friday, Dec. 18th

Dueling distributors - Doug and Cat from SOPO and Iain Cardus from Pine State.

We're tasting wines we feel are great for the holiday season - whether it's a gift or for a special meal or just unwinding at home!

We hope to see you on Friday!

The Wines:

Iain's Wines:

The Sparkling:

Carpene Prosecco (Italy) Reg. $17.99, Sale $14.99
- Aromas of pears and fresh bread. Flavors of pears, peaches, orange with nice acidity and crispness. Food pairing - great as a cocktail wine! Seafood.

The Whites:

1. Santa Rita Medalla Real Chardonnay 2007 (Chile) Reg. $18.99, Sale $16.99 - Aromas of fresh fruits, some citrus notes, dried fruits, and minerals. It is fresh yet weighty on the palate, with a creamy texture and a long, persistent finish. 20% of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels, with the rest in second, third or fourth use. Food pairing - Delicious with white meats and poultry, seafood, shellfish, and pastas prepared in seafood sauces.

2. Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2008 (California) Reg. $14.99, Sale $11.99 - YUM! That’s what we have to say about this wine! Aromas of lemon, orange, pear & pineapple that carry through to the flavors. Clean, crisp, well-balanced and easy-to-drink. This is soft and smooth! Great wine for warm days and a picnic/party! Food pairing - Great choice for shellfish, seafood, pasta salad, chicken and drinking! Perfect with curry dishes. Awesome with oysters! Food & Wine, “Great Bargain – Terrific Wine Under $15;” Wine & Spirits, “Best Buy”

3. Milbrandt Riesling 2007 (Washington) $11.99 - This Riesling shows why Eastern Washington is becoming a hub for Riesling. It is ripe, fresh and highly aromatic. The nose combines peaches and apricots. The flavors are rich, lush and juicy. The finish is off dry and balanced. Food pairing - seafood, chicken, turkey and pork and a wide swath of cuisines from Cajun to Asian and Hispanic to German. Great as a cocktail wine!

The Reds:

1 - Robert Sinskey Cabernet Sauvignon "Vandal Vineyard" 2005 (California) Reg. $52.99, Sale $34.99 - DELICIOUS! Impressive. Organic. Biodynamic. Just off the rim, the color goes nearly opaque, almost black, but holds on to an intense, lustrous purple hue. Aromas recall black currant jam spiked with sweet herbs and vanilla. Flavors broaden and linger unhurriedly on a taut but supple canvas expertly knit by ripe, polished tannins. Food pairing - lamb, beef and more. Not an overblown Cab, so this is food friendly.

2 - Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Chile) Reg. $18.99, Sale $16.99 - Outstanding Cab that is a mouthful of wine! Flavors and aromas of dark and red berries, leather, baking spices, coffee, vanilla and toast. Tannins are soft and well-integrated. Long finish with lots going on, including mint and sage! 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged 12-14 months in French oak (1/3 new, 1/3 1 year-old, 1/3 2 year-old). Food pairing – drinks great without food. Steak, lamb, beef, rich pasta dishes. Wine Spectator, 91 points, “Smart Buy”

3 - Kenwood Pinot Noir 2007 (California) Reg. $17.99, Sale $14.99 - This is a really nice Pinot and an excellent value! Wonderful red berry (strawberry, cherry, plum) aromas and flavors. A touch of peppery spice. Silky, soft…lots of fruit. Food pairing - Goes well with roast chicken, duck, turkey, pork and lamb.

4 - High Note Malbec 2007 (Argentina) Reg. $14.99, Sale $12.99 - Great tasting and a huge value! Well-balanced wine – fruit, tannins and acidity are all well-integrated. This has a smooth mouthfeel – the tannins are round and soft. Aromas and flavors of black currants, cherries, blackberries, plums and baking spices. A little peppery spice. Soft, smooth finish. 83% Malbec, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Aged 6 month in 65% French and 35% American oak (only 24% is new oak), so this is not overly “oaky.” Food pairing – red meat, lamb, grilled chicken or vegetables, lasagna, pasta! Drinks well without food!

Doug and Cat's Wines

The Whites:

1 - Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (New Zealand) $11.99 - The wine is pale with green hues and has scents of lemon and honeysuckle. Peach and a touch of lime zest come through on the palate opening out to include hints of gooseberry. Lip-smacking, full, dry finish. Maori-owned. Sustainable agriculture. Food pairing - great with steamed mussels, fishcakes or a chicken stirfry.

2 - Charles Smith Wines Eve Chardonnay 2007 (Washington) $12.99 - a slightly oaky (20% sees oak barrels) Chardonnay from impresario Charles Smith of K Vintners fame. A lighter style Chardonnay that's clean and fresh! Bright, fresh aromas and flavors of ripe apples! Charles was just named Food & Wine's winemaker of the year! Wine Spectator, 88 points

3 - Darting Durkheimer Nonnengarten Kabinett Riesling 2007 (Germany) $19.99 - it's a full liter bottle, so it's 1/3 more fun! Just a touch of sweetness! Nice stone fruit aromas and flavors with good acidity and crispness. Food pairing - ham, smoked fish, Sushi, Thai food.

The Reds:

1 - Mas Lavail Terre d'Ardoise Carignan 2007 (Languedoc, France) $11.99 - This is a country wine — uncomplicated in its appeal, fragrant with dust and smoke, and just a little bitter. The wine is concentrated by leaf pulling and discarding a portion of the unripe harvest. The vines are very old and stand upright in sparse soil of black slate. Such hardship could produce a wine of formidable acid and structure. The cousins are clever in their wine-making, however, and the result is surprisingly soft and open. Food pairing - This wine welcomes food, especially pork and bread.

2 - Harlaftis Estate Athanassiadi 2006 (Nemea, Greece) $10.99 - drinks like a smooth, velvety Merlot. Soft tannins. This has nice dried cherry and berry flavors and aromas. Nice length on the finish. Food pairing - lamb chops, chicken, dishes with rosemary.

3 - Descendientes Palacios Petalos del Bierzo 2007 (Spain) $22.99 - That's a mouthful of a name and this is a mouthful of wine! We call this "Petalos" for easier talking. The entry-level wine (what an entry!) for this winery is the 2007 Petalos del Bierzo, 100% Mencia from vineyards ranging in age from 40 to 90 years. It spends its first few weeks in new French barriques before transfer to seasoned oak for 6 to 10 months. Saturated purple in color, it offers up a super-fragrant bouquet of smoke, violets, mineral, wild blueberry, and black raspberry. Fruity yet complex on the palate, it has superb depth, grip, and balance. This sexy effort can be enjoyed over the next six years but only hedonists need apply. 91 points, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

4 - Kilikanoon "The Lackey" Shiraz 2006 (Australia) $14.99 - “The Lackey” which was aged for 15 months in seasoned American oak and bottled without fining or filtration. It offers a stylish bouquet for its humble price featuring aromas of cedar, bacon, plum, and blueberry. This leads to a medium-bodied wine with good grip, intensity, and length. 89 points, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, Best Buy

The Dessert:

1 - Niepoort Tawny Port (Portugal) $19.99 - Dirk Niepoort is THE MAN when it comes to Port these days!

I'm working on the wine descriptions and hope to have them up soon.

We hope to see you Friday!

December 10, 2009

December Wine Tasting #1

Wine Tasting!
Thursday, Dec. 10th

We are having 2 tastings in December - this Thursday (the 10th) and Friday, Dec. 18th. The descriptions of the wines are also here!

Dueling distributors again - Ned Swain from Devenish Wines (Ned always brings a delicious, esoteric mix of wines!) and Art Gonyea from National Distributors, along with Mary Bridge from Leonardo Locasio's Winebow Imports (one of my favorite people from one of my favorite importers).

We're tasting wines we feel are great for the holiday season - whether it's a gift or for a special meal or just unwinding at home! We hope to see you on Thursday!

The Wines:

Ned's Wines:

The Whites:

Castell Silvaner Trocken 2008 (Franconia, Germany) $16.99 - At first I looked at Ned and said, "Ned, a Sylvaner? Really?" And, he said, "YES!" Well, Ned is one guy I usually let have his way at the tastings and he's usually right! This family has been in the winemaking business since 1224 AD! Castell planted the first Sylvaner grapes in Germany in 1659! The vineyards here are loaded with minerals, gypsum and marl - which are ideal for growing Sylvaner. Consequently, this wine is loaded with minerals! It also has a little lime citrus to it! It's fresh and lively with well-balanced acidity. Medium-bodied with a rich texture. This is a lot like a dry Vouvray. This area is in the northern part of Bavaria at a higher elevation than the more temperate Rhineland. Sustainable agriculture. Food pairing - food-friendly wine! Really adaptable to a lot of different foods! Appetizers, quiche, onion tarts, grilled or smoked fish, creamy dishes, chicken, ham, sushi, scallops, shrimp (it's Maine shrimp season!).

Viñedo de los Vientos "Estival" 2007 (Uruguay) $16.99 - This is a fabulous blend - 60% Gewurztraminer, 30% Chardonnay, and 10% Moscato Bianco. It's a unique combination - Uruguayan flair and style! And you can taste each grape variety working together! The Gewurz brings spice and rich body, the Chardonnay adds balancing acidity and the muscat adds an enticing tropical aroma. Viñedo de los Vientos is located in one of the most "bird dense" regions in South America and practices sustainable agriculture. Aromas of tropical fruit, pineapples, melons, lemons. This has soft, subtle "Gewurz" spice. It's real soft on the tongue at the start and then almost, but not quite, tingly on the tongue! Zingy minerals in the mid-palette really wake you up! White peaches in the flavors. Finishes clean and rich with hints of nuts, definitely almonds. Food pairing - Great wine with a tropical/Asian "fusion" dish, turkey, duck, pork tenderloin. The spice and hint of effervescence can cut through and compliment powerfully flavored foods. Drinks wonderfully well on its own!

The Reds:

Ala Nera Nero d'Avola 2008 (Sicily, Italy) Reg. $13.99, Sale $12.99 - Big, dark red wine loaded with dark fruit, minerals and oomph! Much more than a simple Sicilian table wine! This also has nice earthiness that is typical of Sicilian wines (volcanic soil and hot sun!), minerality and those dusty tannins I love in Italian reds! It finish with more bright fruit and isn't too drying. Named for the black-winged birds that fly over the vineyard in Sicily. Food pairing - pizza, pasta dishes with tomato sauces, mushrooms, grilled meats!

Château de Bonhoste Bordeaux Supérieur 2006 (France) $17.99 - Tasty, tasty, tasty! A great value in Bordeaux! Blackberry, dark berry, vanilla and baking spice aromas and flavors. Ripe, intense fruit in the nose. A quintessential Bordeaux "dustiness" in the nose - it's subtle, almost like dried Provencal herbs. Rich, ripe and juicy fruit flavors. Supple, long finish. Blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. Aged in neutral oak barrels. Château de Bonhoste is located in Saint Jean de Blaignac, 3 miles south of St. Emilion. Food pairing - This cries out for lamb, beef or any rich dish with rosemary.

Midslope Rasteau 2007 (France) $16.99 - Midslope is made by Maison Arnoux et Fils who have been making wine since 1717. The winery is located in Vacqueyras. The family owns 40 hectares, but has also been purchasing fruit from area growers since 1936 and has one of the best list of growers under long contract. Barrel aged for 6 months. Midslope is the sister project of the wildly successful Upslope Syrah from Thompson Vineyard in Santa Barbara. The wine is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache from vineyards planted in the Rasteau AOC. Once known only for its sweet and fortified wines, Rasteau is rapidly becoming recognized for its outstanding Grenache. Many believe that the best wines from Rasteau resemble a well made Chateauneuf du Pape. We believe that Midslope represents terroir in a bottle, a very good terroir.

Three Saints Syrah 2007 (Santa Ynez, California) $21.99 - Big, delicious, bold California Syrah! Aromas and flavors of chocolate, smoked meat, mocha, dark berries and more! The wine is developing soft, integrated tannins. Three Saints is part of the Dierberg Winery. As they convert to organic viticulture, they are harvesting their grapes at a lower Brix level (amount of sugar in the grapes). This is resulting in lower alcohol wines and better, more balanced wines! This is good! 55% aged 15 months on its lees in 2nd-8th use barrels to round out the flavors, 15% aged in new French oak to bring out the chocolate flavors in Syrah and 30% in stainless steel to add fresher, bright fruit flavors to the wine. Food pairing - grilled meats, summer grilling (yeah, it's a long way off, but I NEVER shut down grilling!), hearty winter stews and more!

Ned says, "I make no secret of the fact that I've got a big crush on Santa Barbara Syrah. This comes from the Starlane ranch all the way in the east of Santa Barbara where the grapes get riper and more powerful. It's inky and dark with serious brooding blackberry fruit, lush ripe cherry, black pepper, and sleek mouth watering tannins. This is balanced, no component is over the top, but it's about as sexy and hedonistic as wine comes. I plan on drinking this on some of the long cold nights that are coming."

The Dessert and/or The Sparkling!

Bricco del Sole Moscato D'Asti 2008 (Piedmont, Italy) $22.99 - ooooohhh! Aaaahhhh! This is GOOD! Rich & lush. Beautiful nose of nectarines, white peaches & tangerines. Well-balanced acidity. Fresh, clean & crisp finish. A moderately sweet finish. Sparkly! This farm has been in the Morando family since the early 1800's. Organic. Food pairing - Drinks great on its own as a lighter cocktail wine. Try it with fruit tarts, dense, rich cheesecake, do as the Italians do and pour it over fresh peaches or pears for brunch. Wonderful with hot and spicy foods!

Art and Mary's Wines

The Sparkling:

Juvé y Camps Brut Reserva de la Familia Cava 2005 (Penedes, Spain) $15.99 - Pale gold in color, this Cava has aromas of pears, apples, white stone fruits (nectarines and peaches) and toasted bread with hints of citrus in the background. The bubbles, aromas and flavors are longlasting and pleasing. Blended from the traditional Cava grapes - Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada grapes, which are harvested on the estate's properties at Espiells, Can Massana and La Cuscona. The Juvé Family founded this winery in 1796 and it has been family-owned and operated ever since. Food pairing - Pair with paté, seafood, rice, and all kinds of fish, white meat and smoked. Wine Enthusiast, "Top 100 Best Buys"

The Whites:

Terranoble Sauvignon Blanc 2008 (Maule Valley, Chile) $8.99 - This Sauvignon Blanc, offers you a wine with an attractive yellow color with greenish tones. It has intense aromas of tropical fruits, especially pineapple. It is a very fresh wine, dry and equilibrated. It has a good structure and a nice natural acidity which has a long permanence in the mouth. Food pairing - perfect cocktail wine with or without food. Great with seafood and fish.

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2008 (Sudtirol, Italy) $13.99 - One of the most delicious and elegant white wines in the Winebow portfolio! Dry and full-bodied with crisp, bracing acidity. Aromas and flavors of pears and citrus. 100% Pinot Grigio. Stainless steel fermented. Aged in tank 6 months before bottling. Cork-free closure to ensure long-lasting freshness. The Tiefenbrunner Castel Turmhof Winery owes its name to the castle on the property. The family founded the winery in 1848. Food pairing - lots of appetizers, vegetable dishes, salads, seafood, poultry, pork and veal. Wine Spectator, 500 Great Buys, "A global surplus of delicious wines means it's prime time to drink well for less"

Mastroberardino Sannio Falanghina 2007 (Campania, Italy) $21.99 - Light straw-yellow in color with greenish reflections, this Falanghina displays fresh aromas of citrus, pineapple and white flowers. On the palate it confirms the freshness of the bouquet offering a good structure and acidity. A very well-balanced and versatile wine with a complex character. Mastroberardino is Campania's landmark winery and has been in this family since the 1750's! The origin of the grape's name is the Latin word "phalange" that means "supported by stakes." Food pairing - excellent with appetizers or to pair with seafood and fish.

The Reds:

Allegrini Valpolicella Classico DOC (Veneto, Italy) Reg. $17.99, Sale $16.99 - Vibrant ruby red in color with fresh cherry, red berry and Provencal aromas and flavors. This is bright, fresh and delicious! Valpolicella is the area and this is a blend of 65% Corvina Veronese, 30% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Aged in stainless steel for 5 months before bottling. Food pairing - This is the perfect accompaniment to Italian antipasti, pasta dishes and other typical Mediterranean cuisine. Also pairs well with roasted and grilled white meats. All-in-all, this is one FOOD-FRIENDLY wine! Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, "One of Italy's Finest Values"

Falesco Sangiovese IGT (Umbria, Italy) Reg. $14.99, Sale $12.99 - The soft and silky tannins pleasantly frame the plush texture of fruit and spice. Excellent balance between fruit and acidity, and slightly spicy notes on the finish are the unmistakable hallmarks of this wine. Food pairing - Whether paired with your favorite Italian dishes or enjoyed alone by the glass, this Sangiovese is a pure pleasure to drink. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, "One of Italy's Finest Values"

Librandi Duca San Felice Cirò Rosso Riserva DOC 2005 (Italy) $19.99 - A GREAT wine of the South! Mature, full-bodied. Aromas of Mediterranean fruits (figs and dates), dark plums, with touches of chocolate, smoke, earth and tar. Flavors of cherries, herbs, vanilla, spice and citrus. Full, long finish. 100% Gaglioppo (a grape of ancient Greek origins), this is the most important red wine grape in Calabria. Aged 2 years before bottling. Food pairing - this will both age well and go well with rich meals, such as spicy Calabrian sausages, steak, duck and game. Gambero Rosso, "Tre Bicchieri" (Italy's highest award; it translates "3 Glasses")

Don Nicanor Malbec (Mendoza, Argentina) $19.99 - A brilliant wine of deep red color with purple hues. The nose displays aromas of cherries, plums, cloves and vanilla, as well as a hint of smoke suggesting elegance and complexity. The mouth-feel is round and warm, balancing both fruit and spice. The finish is long and elegant. 100% Malbec. Aged in 2nd passage (the barrels have been used before and this "leeches" out about 80% of the "oakiness" of the barrel) French oak for 12 months. This helps the flavors soften and integrate while adding just a touch of oak. Food pairing - Pair with grilled or roasted beef or game meats, spicy sauces and mature cheeses.

The Dessert:

Coppo Passione Brachetto d' Acqui (Piedmont, Italy) $17.99 - Made from 100% Brachetto grapes from the area that surrounds the town of Acqui in Piedmont, this is one of the few Italian sweet wines to earn DOCG status. Bright red cherry in color, this Brachetto has a lively, zingy tease of bubbles, with fresh aromas of raspberries and strawberries. Food pairing - Brachetto d'Acqui can commence a great evening as an aperitif, or even better, it is one of the most romantic pairings with chocolate at the end of the meal. Serve lightly chilled.

December 3, 2009

Chocolate and Brownie Tasting

The Wines:


DeForville Moscato d'Asti (Italy) $19.99
- This family-run estate (the Brothers Anfosso, Paolo and Walter) has managed this property since 1860 (they are Belgian). Paolo Anfosso married a DeForville. Wonderfully bubbly! Very aromatic - nectarines & white peaches. Well-balanced acidity. Fresh, clean & crisp finish that is moderately sweet. Sparkly! This farm has been in the Morando family since the early 1800's. Food pairing - Drinks great on its own as a lighter cocktail wine. Try it with fruit tarts, dense, rich cheesecake. Do as the Italians do and pour it over fresh peaches or pears for brunch. Wonderful with hot and spicy foods!


Domaine de la Citadelle Le Chataignier “Blanc” Côtes du Lubéron 2008 (France) $15.99 - Wonderful white from Southern France! Light-to-medium bodied. This has a soft, lush texture that’s almost creamy. Flavors of pears and tropical fruit. Clean finish. 80% Clairette, 10% Grenache, 5% Ugni Blanc and 5% Rolle (Vermentino). Hand-harvested and sorted grapes. Stainless steel fermentation and aging. Aged “sur lee” with regular stirring – this adds weight and softens the texture. Sustainable Agriculture. Food pairing – Perfect with lighter meals or as a cocktail! Drinks well without food!

Gustav Schmitt Niersteiner Spatlese Riesling 2007 (Germany) $12.99 – This is rich and smooth with a nice long finish. A little sweetness! Aromas and flavors of pears and apples. Medium bodied. Food pairing - This versatile wine goes well with spicy cuisine, blue cheeses and sweet desserts. May be sipped in lieu of dessert. Serve well chilled.


Petraio Primitivo di Puglia 2007 (Italy) $9.99
– The Primitivo grape is grown in Puglia and is a close relative of Zinfandel. Both Primitivo and Zinfandel are related to the Croatian grape Crljenak. Zinfandel is identical to Crljenak, while Primitivo is a clone of Crljenak. Primitivos are generally lighter than Zinfandels and lower in alcohol, which, in my opinion is a good thing and helps the wine better pair with food! Aromas and flavors of raspberries, chalk, blackberries, a little spice and earth. This has soft tannins. Food pairing - pasta with red sauce or pizza.

Domaine de la Citadelle Le Chataignier “Rouge” Côtes du Lubéron 2007 (France) $15.99 - Great tasting and a huge value! Medium-to-full bodied. Crisp with lots of berry fruit! This has a little “drying” minerality midway. Finishes clean and crisp. 30% Syrah, 30% Grenache, 30% Carignan and 10% Cinsault. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. The Carignan undergoes carbonic maceration (the grapes are thrown into the vat in whole clusters and the fermentation starts inside each individual grape) – this adds more fruit flavor to the Carignan. Food pairing – spicy dishes, grilled chicken or vegetables, lasagna, pasta! Drinks well without food!

Wall Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (California) $14.99 – If you’ve thought really good Napa Cabernet prices have gone crazy, you are mostly right! Try this – it’s a steal! This has all of the classic Napa Cab aromas and flavors! Black cherry, blackberries, vanilla, smoke, herbs and more! The tannins are smooth and the finish is peppery. This is more restrained and nuanced than many Napa Cabs – and that is a good thing! Food pairing – steak, lamb, grilled meats, etc. Drinks great without food as well!

Écluse Blind Dog Midnight Run Cuvee (Paso Rables, California) $18.99 – Steve and Pam Lock founded this winery in 1997. The name is French for lock, the locks that are in canals. An eclectic blend of some of the best Paso Robles reds, Blind Dog Midnight Run Cuvee is delicious, approachable and affordable! This is a big, robust wine. Not for the faint of heart. Barrel aged from 14 to 30 months, this complex wine is a perfect "companion" with meals. Blend of Merlot. Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. A portion of the sales of this wine go to support “Dogs for the Deaf.”

Dessert Wine:

Quinta de la Rosa Late Bottle Vintage Port 2000 (Portugal) $28.99
– This small, family-owned Port house makes great wines! Tim Bergvist reopened this winery in 1988 when the regulations surrounding Port were changed to allow small producers to sell their wines directly rather than having to sell to the Vila Nova de Gaia near Oporto. Bregvist’s mother was given these vineyards in 1906 as a Christening present. Everything is grown, made and bottled on the estate, making Quinta de la Rosa one of the few true “single quintas.” The wine is a “ruby” Port, not a tawny, so this has aromas and flavors of wild berries. It has a long finish. Food pairing – Stilton and other blue cheese, dried fruit, figs, dishes with game, ham, dark chocolate.