October Wines of the Month
We’ve been tasting wines this fall with the focus really being on food-friendly wines, particularly with the heartier foods we are eating as the weather cools and the days shorten.
We wanted to go to Italy for Tier One because the Italians truly do think about food when they are making their wine. If you are having an Italian wine and it just isn’t working for you, find some food. Salami works great with Italian reds.
Zenato Lugana San Benedetto 2010 (Italy) $14.99 – We flat out LOVE this! This has crisp acidity and a soft, supple feel to its texture. Aromas and flavors of peach, citrus, bananas and herbs. The wine is soft and round and has a wonderfully long, savory finish. Made from an indigenous grape, Trebbiano di Lugana. This is a unique clone of Trebbiano that is highly regarded for its distinctly flavorful characteristics. The grapes are from estate vineyards in San Benedetto, a village just south of Lake Garda. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in stainless steel for 6 months. Aged in the bottle for 2 months before release. Food pairing – Thanksgiving Dinner, roasted chicken, scallops, lobster, duck breast, etc.!
Tedeschi Valpolicella Classico Lucchine 2010 (Italy) $14.99 – LThis is well-balanced and nuanced. It has vibrant, lively acidity. Aromas and flavors of cherries and red currants. Nice finish that carries through the fruit. Lucchine is the vineyard that produces the grapes. The vineyard is in the heart of the Valipolicella. Hand-harvested. Blend of 25% Corvina, 25% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, 10% Molinara, and 10% Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara & Dindarella. That’s a mouthful and a truckload of grape varietals! Stainless steel fermentation and aging. Food pairing – Thanksgiving Dinner, pasta, white meat dishes and lighter meals. Serve at 57 degrees.
For this tier, we’ve turned to a friend of ours, Warren Frasor. Warren managed the Italian portfolio for an importer, T. Edward, in Manhattan. We’ve enjoyed and sold a ton of the wines from T. Edward over the years. We buy those wines from the inimitable Ned Swain of Devenish Wines.
Warren started a new wine importing company this year, Peter Warren Selections. Ned and I are really excited about these wines and Warren’s new venture.
Warren was also the sommelier at Mario Batali’s famed New York restaurant, Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca. Warren’s a fantastic guy with a great nose for fine wine.
These wines are brand new to Maine!Comelli is a small winery in the northeastern part of Italy.
Daniela and Pierluigi Comelli had a home and vineyards. Originally, they sold all the grapes they grew. Looking to make something interesting and great for their two sons, they decided to build a winery and increase some vineyard holdings. They are in northern part of the Collio Orientali DOC, which is hillier than the southern part. This helps give the wines a little more brightness in the fruit department. They produce about 6,000 cases per vintages. Very sweet folks; all the family is involved in the company. They make very focused and delicious wines.
The location is protected by the Alps to the north and is open to sea breezes from the south. This area is an ancient sea floor, so the soil is laced with limestone. This adds great minerality to the wines.
Colli Orientali del Friuli is a wine area that is unfamiliar to most Americans. It is near Slovenia. Friuli is primarily known for their lovely aromatic white wines, but they produce some exciting high elevation reds as well.
Comelli Friulano Colli Orientali del Friuli 2009 (Italy) $21.99 – This is a delicious wine that typifies white wine styles from Friuli. Dry, nicely balanced, it has a pleasing yellow-straw colour with golden reflections. It has well-balanced, fruity bouquet with notes of almond, wildflower and white peach. The aromas carry through to a taste that is fresh, fruity and inviting.
Fruilano is the relatively new name for the grape. It used to be called Tocai or Tocai Friulano in Friuli and Slovenia. The Hungarians successfully lobbied the European Union to only permit the name Tokay, and its derivatives, to be used with the famous golden dessert wine of northeast Hungary.
So, Tocai Friulano is now abbreviated to Friulano. The grape is a close relative of Sauvignon Blanc.
Food pairing – prosciutto, soup, fish appetizers, white meat terrines, Thanksgiving Dinner.
Comelli Soffumbergo Rosso delle Venezie 2008 (Italy) $21.99 – This has a brooding, dark, elegant aroma that is very warming. It has aromas of cedar, bacon fat, black cherry, cigar box and freshly ground coffee. This has a sleek and refined texture. It’s really hard to not just chug this one down it is so good. The wine has bright, fresh acidity and the fruit is alive! Lush and layered. Dark cherries with baking spices and cassis. It’s velvety and smooth. Medium-bodied and an excellent autumn wine! This combines the power and intensity of Cabernet Sauvignon with the earthy smokiness of Refosco and the soft, supple lushness of Merlot. Blend of Refosco, Pignolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Food pairing – grilled and roasted meats, mushrooms, truffle dishes.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve Champagne NV (France) $59.99 – This winery was established in 1818 with a marriage uniting 2 Champagne producers. The blend for this cuvée has not changed much for almost 50 years. Blend of 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. This is medium-bodied and has beautiful, fine bubbles and plenty of length. It finishes crisp and refreshing. Straw-colored. Aromas and flavors of ripe pears, peaches and freshly mown hay. Stephen Tanzer, International Wine Cellar, 90 points.
Podere San Cristoforo “Carandelle” Sangiovese Super Tuscan (Italy) $28.99 – Lorenzo Zonin comes from a wine making family. They produce excellent Prosecco. He decided to branch out and chart his own course. So, he established a winery in the wild west of Tuscany, in southerm Maremma. He purchased an old winery/vineyard with spectacular terroir. He farms biodynamically. These wines are beautiful and intense. When Warren was discussing these wines with him at VinItaly last year, Lorenzo said, Wait until I get my dirt healthy.” He’s serious. Much of the farm is fallow, planted with various grasses and herbs to correct deficiencies in the soil.
Lorenzo is focused on making elegant, rich wines. The Carandelle is made from grapes grown in cuttings of Sangiovese Grosso that Lorenze obtained from a friend in Montalcino. He grafted these cuttings onto old-vine rootstock. He makes about 3,500 cases of wine total each vintage and plans to grow slowly.
The wine – This is smooth, rich and elegant. Aromas and flavors of dark cherries, flowers, spices and minerals. This wine truly showcases the nuances that are Maremma – fresh raspberries, macerated strawberries, mint, lightly dusty, violet-like, with minerals and baking spices….even rhubarb. This has an opulence and fullness in the mouth. The tannins are well balanced. Aged 12 months in French oak. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points