Wines
Château Lassègue: affordable St. Emilion Grand Cru, Bordeaux PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Saturday, 16 February 2013 21:18
 chateau 7
Elegance, complexity, finesse, style is what one invariably finds in a bottle of Château Lassègue, from the prestigious Grand Cru from St. Emilion.
So what’s else is new? The prices. They’re surprisingly affordable!
Together with Jess Jackson, veteran winemaker Pierre Seillan and his wife Monique are owners of several fine wine estates in the US, Italy and France.  Chateau Lassègue in Bordeaux, in the heart of St. Emilion, is one of them.                                                                                                                   chateau 8
This 18th Château built on a beautifully restored 17th century villa sporting sundials (originally installed 250 years ago so vineyard workers could track  time while working), in turn built over Roman ruins in Saint Etienne de Lisse, is an important estate of over 84 Grand Cru acres of red grapes planted in a variety of soils, from the foothills to the hillsides of St. Emilion.
I stress the variety of soils because winemaker Pierre Seillan’s philosophy is based on what he coined “micro-crus.” Not only is each parcel thoroughly analyzed and planted according to the soil’s properties, “and you can imagine the diversity of soils you get in 80 acres in Bordeaux, where plots are usually quite small,” Monique Seillan was quick to point out at a recent wine tasting where she poured newly released and to-be-released vintages. “Here, each block or mini-plot is harvested separately and vinified in separate barrels.
And those are another story:  to get the best for each of his wines, Pierre Seillan even picks the trees from selected forests for his barrels, before working on how long to heat the staves and on the intensity of the toasting which will affect the color, flavor, tannin profile and texture of the wines.
All of the above demands imposed by his perfectionism are in addition to the strict regulations and production restrictions imposed on St. Emilion Grands Crus such as reduced yields, high sugar content at harvest -with the exception of Merlot, and a period of at least 14 months storage at the producer’s before being released.
This labor of love and precise wine-making-style was evident at the vertical tasting of Château Lassègue and Château  Vignot, both Saint Emilion Grand Cru, 2005 through 2008.  Both traditional Bordeaux blends from old vines (Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) are elegant, complex, well-balanced and the true expression of St. Emilion, yet so different from each other.
Château Vignot wines, from the clay-sandy gravel foothills of the Côtes de St. Emilion are truffle-like earthy, fruity, rich with chocolate and delicate violet, good acidity and soft tannins. Chateau Lassègue, from 50-year-old vines planted on the estate’s hillside with calcareous clay soils and limestone, yields opulent, well-balanced and shimmering lush wines with some minerality, smooth tannins, an impressive structure and a fantastic length.
Great food wines, they pair beautifully with seafood as well as grilled steaks and desserts and can be consumed now or aged for another 20 years.

Having being under new management for less than the required time for classification, while bound by all the production regulations and  restrictions, Lassègue is more flexible when it comes to pricing than a Cheval Blanc or Le Pin.
bouteille 1Here are some notes from our tasting at The Capital Grill in Downtown Miami:
 
Les Cadrans de Lassègue, Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2008 ($30) 60% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  This second label aged 8 months in French oak,  while still young, evolved into a delicious, unique wine with jammy tones of dark fruit, licorice, great acidity and subdued tannins.
 
'Lassègue', Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France 2007 ($80) (68%Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon). Round, perfect, with smoky, toasty nose and hints of tobacco, fresh black fruit, spices and chocolate and a long and aromatic finish.
 
'Lassègue', Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France 2006 ($80) Powerful, elegant but still closed, requires a couple more years to achieve its full potential.
 
'Lassègue', Château Lassègue, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, France 2005 ($150) (60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Balance, elegance and complexity is what characterizes this opulent wine with minerality peaking through the blend of rich, aromatic Cabernet Franc, dense and concentrated Merlot and powerful and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon.
 
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2008. This to-be-released promising wine from 40-year-old vines grown in the clay-sandy gravel foothills of the Côtes de St. Emilion will peak in 2017, but can certainly be opened before.
 
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2007 ($60) Cedar, coconut, leather, cherry and brandy meld into a soft and round wine with ripe tannins and a long finish.
 
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2006($60) rich, complex, aromatic and mature with dark fruit in the nose and mineral overtones, solid tannins
 
Château Vignot, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, Château Lassègue, France 2005($75) A vintage that will be remembered in Bordeaux yields a wine that is powerful and elegant with a nose of cashews, oregano, plums resulting in a charming mouthfeel, strong aromatics and a lively acidity.

 

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 01:25
 
The Love of Sparkling Wines PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:51

 

Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, the name Champagne will always be in the back of our minds, ingrained in our collective memories and triggering that Pavlov reflex when we yearn for the ultimate luxury of cold, crisp, ephemeral and elegant bubbles that only a Sparkling Wine can provide.

However, the offering beyond the universe of Champagne is vast and flexible when it comes to the many different quality productions of sparkling, the geographic diversity and the consumers’ pocket sizes.   

Here is a good choice of price-conscious, elegant Champagne stand-ins; from yeasty and fragrant sparklings from Sonoma, CA; silky crémants from Burgundy, fresh fall apple-tasting crémants d’Alsace; or crisp and fresh proseccos from Italy, all in the $ 30 to $15 range.  They are all energizing and enjoyable as aperitifs and stand up well to an entire meal, holiday or not. Cheers

  

Valdo Oro Puro, DOCG, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy  ($14.00)  

Freshness, with a spicy thread of ground ginger, cardamom and balsamic weaving through tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine, white peach and a delicate almond note typical to Prosecco is what you will get from this well-balanced straw yellow Prosecco with a fine perlage, a frothy mousse and a floral finish.   A good pairing with starters, with delicately flavored dishes and seafood.

zonin

Zonin Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy      ($15 - $18)

A delightful fresh, fruity and aromatic nose, with hints of white peach, mineral and honeysuckle characterizes Zonin’s Proseccos —   Zonin also makes a popular "Special Cuvee". The straw yellow sparkling has a fine and creamy froth. It is dry  with soft tropical fruit and honeyed apple flavors melding with a pleasantly nutty background. The finish is long and softly complex. A Well-balanced wine made with 100% Prosecco or Glera grapes is ideal as an aperitif or throughout  a meal.  

 

 

Berlucchi Cuvée '61 Brut Rosé, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy ($17 - $20)  cuveerosebtl

In the 60’s Franciacorta in Lombardy became Italy’s sparkling wine answer to Champagne.  Berlucchi Cuveé ’61 is definitely a French-inspired sparkling wine, made in Italy and specially marketed in the US.  Made with Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it was fermented 6 months in stainless steel and 12 months in bottle before disgorging. After disgorging, the bottle was aged two more months in the cellar before release.

Pale pink, the wine is full-bodied. Complex, fragrant and lively on the nose with wild red berry fruit and ripe stone fruit with the body, acidity and tannin of Pinot Noir for texture, the Rosé is crisp and rich with elegant bubbles and generous fragrances of apple and pear and notes of tropical fruit and spices. Exceptionally fresh with a velvety texture, well-balanced with a lively froth and elegant bubbles Rosé is festive and drinkable with a broad range of foods.

 

jcb 39JCB No 39 Crémant de Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France (approx $30)  

JCB No. 39 is the quintessential marriage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three renowned appellations in Burgundy: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint –Véran.     And there’s a romantic story behind this refined pale yellow wine in a beautiful black bottle.  The delicate and silky yet bone-dry crémant with whiffs of toast and yeast and fresh aromas of white peaches, crisp apples, with lovely bubbles and a creamy froth, has a long and elegant finish with slight honey citrus notes.  Great on its own, for a toast or an aperitif, it pairs beautifully with food.

Each JCB wine is known by a number. And each number has deep significance for Jean-Charles Boisset, the collection’s creator and namesake.  The year was 1939. Germany had just invaded Poland and France was rallying its troops to come to the aid of their ally. While this world of chaos was unraveling, a young couple had fallen in love.  They married the day before he set out to serve, and although the wait was long and painful, she knew he would return safe one day.  After three adventurous years, he returned home to the loving and faithful arms of his wife and now three-year old daughter, who he was just now meeting for the first time.  The couple is the grandparents of Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates.

 

J Brut Rosé NV, Sonoma CA  ($38)j brut rose_01

The J Brut Rosé in the sexy bottle labeled with a stylized J is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Alexander Valley and Russian Valley in Sonoma, CA where hills and benchlands provide a diversity of soils.  The soft peachy pink color leads to a crisp, dry and mellow wine with a steady stream of fine bubbles, with flavors of red berries, orange, Meyer lemon peel and hints of almond.  It is elegant and lively, perfectly balanced with a lingering finish that makes you yearn for more and more….   

 

j sparkling_sm1J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Sonoma CA  ($28)

This is another hit by J. The pale gold non-vintage J Cuvée 20 gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a hint of vanilla. The mid-palate flavors are interlaced with toast, caramel, warm pear, and almond. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering lush finish. This is the perfect celebratory wine.  

 

 

 

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noir, Sonoma ($20)gloria ferrer blanc de noir


Bright strawberry and black cherry aromas with subtle vanilla highlights. Creamy cherry, lemon and cola flavors combine with a lush palate, small, lively bubbles and a persistent finish. Blanc de Noirs is predominantly made from hand-harvested Pinot Noir grapes (90%) , the hallmarks of which are a vibrant red fruit character. The creamy palate and rosy hue are a result of a small addition of Vin Gris, which was blended into the base cuvée.  

 

 

The Love of Sparkling Wines  

 

Regardless of the legal requirements for labeling, the name Champagne will always be in the back of our minds, ingrained in our collective memories and triggering that Pavlov reflex when we yearn for the ultimate luxury of cold, crisp, ephemeral and elegant bubbles that only a Sparkling Wine can provide.

However, the offering beyond the universe of Champagne is vast and flexible when it comes to the many different quality productions of sparkling, the geographic diversity and the consumers’ pocket sizes.   

 

Here is a good choice of price-conscious, elegant Champagne stand-ins; from yeasty and fragrant sparklings from Sonoma, CA; silky crémants from Burgundy, fresh fall apple-tasting crémants d’Alsace; or crisp and fresh proseccos from Italy, all in the $ 30 to $15 range.  They are all energizing and enjoyable as aperitifs and stand up well to an entire meal, holiday or not. Cheers

 

Valdo Oro Puro, DOCG, Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy  ($14.00)  

Freshness, with a spicy thread of ground ginger, cardamom and balsamic weaving through tropical notes of pineapple, tangerine, white peach and a delicate almond note typical to Prosecco is what you will get from this well-balanced straw yellow Prosecco with a fine perlage, a frothy mousse and a floral finish.  

A good pairing with starters, with delicately flavored dishes and seafood.

Prosecco is a very fast growing sparkling wine category worldwide, and Valdo,  located in the Valdobbiadene area at the foothills of the "pre-alps" around Treviso in the heart of Prosecco DOCG production area, was started in 1926 by the Societa Anonima Vini Superiori and purchased by The Bolla Family in the 1940's.

 

Zonin Prosecco Brut, Veneto, Italy      ($15 - $18)

A delightful fresh, fruity and aromatic nose, with hints of white peach, mineral and honeysuckle characterizes Zonin’s Proseccos —   Zonin also makes a popular "Special Cuvee". The straw yellow sparkling has a fine and creamy froth. It is dry  with soft tropical fruit and honeyed apple flavors melding with a pleasantly nutty background. The finish is long and softly complex. A Well-balanced wine made with 100% Prosecco or Glera grapes is ideal as an aperitif or throughout  a meal.

 

 

Berlucchi Cuvée '61 Brut Rosé, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy ($17 - $20)  

In the 60’s Franciacorta in Lombardy became Italy’s sparkling wine answer to Champagne.  Berlucchi Cuveé ’61 is definitely a French-inspired sparkling wine, made in Italy and specially marketed in the US.  Made with Méthode Champenoise or Metodo Classico with 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, it was fermented 6 months in stainless steel and 12 months in bottle before disgorging. After disgorging, the bottle was aged two more months in the cellar before release.

Pale pink, the wine is full-bodied. Complex, fragrant and lively on the nose with wild red berry fruit and ripe stone fruit with the body, acidity and tannin of Pinot Noir for texture, the Rosé is crisp and rich with elegant bubbles and generous fragrances of apple and pear and notes of tropical fruit and spices. Exceptionally fresh with a velvety texture, well-balanced with a lively froth and elegant bubbles Rosé is festive and drinkable with a broad range of foods.

 

JCB No 39 Crémant de Bourgogne, Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint-Véran, Burgundy, France (approx $30)  

JCB No. 39 is the quintessential marriage of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir sourced from three renowned appellations in Burgundy: Saint-Aubin, Saint-Romain and Saint –Véran.     And there’s a romantic story behind this refined pale yellow wine in a beautiful black bottle.  The delicate and silky yet bone-dry crémant with whiffs of toast and yeast and fresh aromas of white peaches, crisp apples, with lovely bubbles and a creamy froth, has a long and elegant finish with slight honey citrus notes.  Great on its own, for a toast or an aperitif, it pairs beautifully with food.

Each JCB wine is known by a number. And each number has deep significance for Jean-Charles Boisset, the collection’s creator and namesake.  The year was 1939. Germany had just invaded Poland and France was rallying its troops to come to the aid of their ally. While this world of chaos was unraveling, a young couple had fallen in love.  They married the day before he set out to serve, and although the wait was long and painful, she knew he would return safe one day.  After three adventurous years, he returned home to the loving and faithful arms of his wife and now three-year old daughter, who he was just now meeting for the first time.  The couple is the grandparents of Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates.

 

J Brut Rosé NV, Sonoma CA  ($38)

The J Brut Rosé in the sexy bottle labeled with a stylized J is made with a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from Alexander Valley and Russian Valley in Sonoma, CA where hills and benchlands provide a diversity of soils.  The soft peachy pink color leads to a crisp, dry and mellow wine with a steady stream of fine bubbles, with flavors of red berries, orange, Meyer lemon peel and hints of almond.  It is elegant and lively, perfectly balanced with a lingering finish that makes you yearn for more and more….   

 

J Cuvée 20 Brut NV, Sonoma CA  ($28)

This is another hit by J. The pale gold non-vintage J Cuvée 20 gracefully opens up with crisp lemon peel, honeysuckle and delicate yeast aromas followed by a mix of Fuji apple, grapefruit and a hint of vanilla. The mid-palate flavors are interlaced with toast, caramel, warm pear, and almond. The acidity adds just enough liveliness and the citrus zest leads to a lingering lush finish. This is the perfect celebratory wine.  

 

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 17:16
 
A chicken in every pot? Perhaps not, but Bordeaux wines on every table and for every pocket PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Sunday, 09 December 2012 23:16

Is there such a bargain as Bordeaux wines under $15?

This year, five of the "Le Wine Buffs," a team of Bordeaux Wine Council-appointed wine connoisseurs, and three guest judges, blind-tasted 300 wines submitted by importers in order to determine the final selection of the 100 wines included in Today's Bordeaux (affordable Bordeaux).

The 100 wines —red, white, rose, and sweet wines —  are priced between $9 and $35 retail and are representative of the wide range of wines produced in Bordeaux, from renowned appellations like Blaye - Côtes de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, Bordeaux Supérieur, Cadillac, Castillon -   Côtes de Bordeaux, Entre-Deux-Mers, Fronsac, Graves, Haut-Médoc, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Margaux, Médoc, Pessac-Léognan, Premières Côtes de Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion, Saint-Estèphe, Sainte Foy, and Sauternes.

American consumers can  now use the Today’s Bordeaux selection on the Bordeaux.com  webpage http://www.bordeaux.com/us/wines/selection, to find affordable Bordeaux wines under $35 dollars for their holiday meal. Today’s Bordeaux wines — vibrant whites, rich reds, seductive dessert wines —  are well balanced with lively acidity. They  pair elegantly with food  from smoked salmon, turkey, leg of lamb to lasagna, creamy potatoes or even asparagus and artichokes.

 
Brunello di Montalcino gets top “Vinibuoni D’italia 2013 Guide awards PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Friday, 30 November 2012 01:16
 
 
The “ViniBuoni d’Italia 2013”  guide of native vines and wines produced in Italy for over 300 years awarded Tuscany (mostly Brunello di Montalcino) and Piedmont most of this year’s kudos in three categories: Crowns, Golden Stars and Wines not to be missed . The guide will be presented on Saturday  December 1, at 10.30 am at the Teatro degli Astrusi in Montalcino. “This guide’s values of authenticity and strong tradition  perfectly embody the spirit that has always driven our producers for more than 150 years, ” declared the Montalcino Consorzio President Fabio Bindocci
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               Franco Biondi-Santi - photos Simone Diament 

CROWNS
Biondi Santi Franco -Tenuta Greppo - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Tenuta Greppo 2006
Cerbaiona - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Col d'Orcia - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Poggio al Vento 2004
Le Macioche - Palazzina - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva 2006
Le Ragnaie - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Ragnaie V.V. 2007
Pietroso - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Poggio di Sotto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Poggio di Sotto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva 2006
Poggio di Sotto - Rosso di Montalcino Doc 2009
Salvioni - La Cerbaiola - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Sesti - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Phenomena 2006
Siro Pacenti - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva PS 2006
Tenuta Le Potazzine - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Tiezzi - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Vigna Soccorso 2007
Val di Suga - Tenimenti Angelini - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Vigna Spuntali 2006
GOLDEN STAR
Biondi Santi Franco -Tenuta Greppo - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Tenuta Greppo 2007
Cerbaiona - Rosso di Montalcino Doc 2009
Gianni Brunelli -Le Chiuse di Sotto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg 2007
Il Marroneto - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Selezione Madonna delle Grazie 2007
Le Chiuse - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva 2006
Lisini - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Ugolaia 2006
Mastrojanni - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Vigna Schiena d'Asino 2007
Siro Pacenti - Rosso di Montalcino Doc 2010
Tenuta Il Poggione - Brunello di Montalcino Docg Riserva Vigna Paganelli 2006
VINI DA NON PERDERE
Celestino Pecci
Col di Lamo
Coldisole
Fornacina
Il Poggiolo - Rodolfo Cosimi
La Magia
La Mannella
La Palazzetta
Pian delle Querci
Podere Paganico
Tenuta San Giorgio
Terralsole
Vasco Sassetti
Ventolaio

 

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 30 November 2012 01:34
 
American Wine Society AWS Commercial Wine Competition Results 2012 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Thursday, 29 November 2012 23:52


An earthy Lodi Zinfandel, a delicate and floral Chenin Blanc from Washington State and a superb sparkler from New York's Finger Lakes were among the top winners at the 2012 American Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition held November 6-8 in Portland, Ore.

The AWS competition is one of the oldest, most respected wine competitions in the country, drawing entries from across the United States and Canada. Contrary to industry trends, this year's competition enjoyed a 20 percent increase in wines entered.

Since this year's American Wine Society national conference and commercial wine competition were held in Oregon, the spotlight was naturally on Pinot Noir. Overall, seven categories judged at the competition yielded a total of 22 double golds, requiring unanimous acclaim by the panel of judges, and 54 gold medals.

The Best of Show winner, also garnering Best Red Wine, was a 2010 Klinker Brick Zinfandel Old Vine Marisa Vineyard from Lodi, California, produced by Steve and Lori Felten – an earthy, rich, deeply flavorful old vine Zin. The 2012 Signature Award Pinot Noir winner was small producer Cottonwood Winery from Oregon's famed Willamette Valley for its 2005 Brigette Catherine, a fine example of Oregon pinot excellence.

Other category winners included:

•       Best white wine: Washington State's Kiona Vineyards Winery 2011 Chenin Blanc.
•       Best dessert wine: California's Ficklin Vineyards 10 years aged Tawny Port.
•       Best sparkling wine: A non-vintage blanc de blanc from New York's Swedish Hill Vineyards.
•       Best rosé: New York's Coyote Moon Vineyard 2011 River Run.
•       Best fruit wine: A non-vintage peach wine from Lone Star Gold of Texas.
•       Best distilled: A limoncello from Oregon's Glaser Estate Winery.

A complete list of winners, including those earning silver or bronze, can be seen at americanwinesociety.org.
The competition was held over two days at the Red Lion Riverside Hotel in Portland in conjunction with the American Wine Society's 45th annual conference. Judges included graduates of the rigorous AWS wine judging certification program along with leading wine writers and other prominent wine professionals.
 
To toast the holidays: Ferrari Metodo Classico; aristocratic Italian sparkling wines PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 15 October 2012 22:21

 

ferrariEven though it is a common Italian surname, say Ferrari and you’ll conjure images of fast and furiously expensive Italian made sports cars, symbols of luxury and wealth.

No less iconic is Ferrari Metodo Classico, an Italian sparkling wine produced at the foothills of the Alps in Trento DOC, a region in the Val d’Adige bedecked by the beautiful Lake Garda with names like Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi at 1000 to 2300 ft. above sea level.

The Cantine Ferrari winemaking company founded in northern Italy’s Trentino region in 1902, over a century ago,  by Giulio Ferrari  has earned a worldwide reputation as the premier source of luxury metodo classico sparkling wines from Italy.  The metodo Ferrari is essentially the same as le methode Champenoise,  with the wine being aged for four to five years.

Ferrari’s best-known wines – Ferrari Brut, Perlé and Giulio Ferrari – are blanc de blancs, meaning they are made from 100% Chardonnay, apparent in their remarkable delicacy and finesse.
A pioneer in Italian viticulture, Giulio Ferrari was the first Italian winemaker and viticulturalist to dedicate his vineyards almost entirely to Chardonnay – and by 1906 the awards had begun to roll in. Ferrari is a 22-time winner of the Tre Bicchieri award, Italy’s highest wine accolade, with the most recent honor going to the 2005 Ferrari Perlé Nero bottling in 2012.
In 1952, Giulio Ferrari, not having any children, entrusted his company to friend and local merchant Bruno Lunelli. Today, the third generation of the Lunelli family is overseeing 300 acres of prime estate vineyards in Trentino and production, in the hands of a capable team of eight winemakers, is led by chief winemaker Marcello Lunelli, four agronomists and members of the family.

These are great holiday wines that pair with anything from smoked salmon to roast turkey.

ferrari 2Ferrari Brut, non-vintage (100% Chardonnay, $25. 12.5% vol.). Medium bodied, soft and creamy with an appealing yeasty toast aroma on the nose with  hints of fresh and dried fruit, wild flowers and minerality balanced by a lively acidity with a touch of pineapple and a faint taste of fresh crusty bread in the mouth.  It pairs well with appetizers, light pastas and seafood.

Ferrari Perlé 2004 (100% Chardonnay, $35. 12.5% vol.).) This is a vintage Blanc de Blanc made with handpicked chardonnay grapes harvested by hand. This wine has spent 5 years on yeast and exhibits a particular intense and delicate bouquet with scents of almond blossom, ripe apples, a faint spiciness and a hint of freshly baked bread.  In the mouth it is well rounded yet crisp and elegant with fruity notes of fresh apples, a touch of citrus and the aromatic flavors typical of Chardonnay.

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2004 (70-80% Pinot Noir; remainder Chardonnay, $75).

Ferrari Perlé Nero 2005 (100% Pinot Noir, $90).

Giulio Ferrari 2001 (100% Chardonnay, $100).

Last Updated on Monday, 15 October 2012 23:12
 
Marius 2010 Blanc by Michel Chapoutier, Le Pays d'Oc, France PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 15 October 2012 20:26

 

Marius, a wine as good as the stories about it

Marius 2010 Blanc by Michel Chapoutier, Le Pays d'Oc, France

marius wineFor over 200 years the house of Chapoutier has been producing prestigious wines in the Rhône Valley, wines like Hermitage, Côte Rôtie, Chateauneuf du Pape, Saint-Joseph, Crozes Hermitage.

So I never thought much of opening a bottle of white called “Marius” with an odd-looking label depicting a man from the turn of the 20th century, originating in the generic appellation of Pays d’Oc.

The blends stated on the label, Vermentino and Terret, the screw cap, the name Marius evoking the robustly regional naïf novels of Marcel Pagnol, spoke to me of an easy little white wine to quaff one’s thirst on a hot summer day under a canopy of vine leaves, preferably with good company. So I put it off.

But after all it was a Chapoutier product, so on a whim I decided to open the wine which I first used in a hearty tomato and anchovy sauce for a pasta I was going to have to dinner.  Then I cooled the wine and sat down to taste…

Marius 2010 Blanc by Michel Chapoutier, Le Pays d'Oc, France ($13.99). I was amazed. I could hardly believe that a wine with a pale yellow color with green tints and 12% alcohol could yield such enticing aromas of fresh citrus and ripe fruit and present such an elegant and fruity attack on the mouth balanced with a good minerality, a good acidity and complex hints of rich ripe fruit and a long and elegant finish.

The blend Vermentino and Terret is not your everyday occurrence. Chapoutier chose the Terret for its vivacity and the Vermentino for its smoothness and elegant and floral aromas to express all the warmth and richness of the South of France.

Marius advises to serve this wine between 52 and 54°F as an aperitif or with a meal . I had the wine at 60F and it was perfect with just about anything I had, from the pasta with the robust sauce to later a grilled chicken breast.

Go to  www.mariusbymichelchapoutier.com and enjoy the stories, funny and very well written in the vivid style of the buoyant 19th century. You will know how the Chapoutier Father and Son felt when seeing the Tour Eiffel at the 1900 World Fair in Paris where they were showing their wines, and much more…

 

 
Amaretto, the intriguing and versatile almond tasting liqueur from Italy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Friday, 28 September 2012 21:25

I don’t know why one has to wait for the holidays to open a bottle of good amaretto!

di saronnoThe distinctive bittersweet almond taste (although it contains no almonds or nuts) of this liqueur is intriguing and almost addictive and the amber color is beguiling in cocktails as well as on the rocks.  Amaretto's "secret formula" is unchanged since 1525, and its production remains in Saronno, Lombardy, in Northern Italy where the famed Amaretti biscuits come from.

Disaronno has been in production since about 1900 and the company describes its amaretto Disaronno Originale — it was called "Amaretto di Saronno" (Amaretto from Saronno) until a copyright issue on the name Saronno, forced the company to rename it — as an infusion of "apricot kernel oil" with "absolutely pure alcohol, burnt sugar, and the pure essence of seventeen selected herbs and fruits"; the product does not contain any almonds or other nuts. The amber liqueur is presented in a unique square faceted Murano glass decanter with a distinctive stopper.

The legend of DISARONNO dates back to 1525, when Renaissance artist and Leonardo da Vinci pupil Bernardino Luini was commissioned to paint a fresco in Saronno. To portray the Madonna of Miracles, he chose as his muse a beautiful local innkeeper. She repaid the honor by giving the artist a flask of a fragrant and delicate amber liquor known as amaretto.

Disaronno can be served on the rocks, in shots, as part of a cocktail ( check out the DiSaronno cocktail competition in LA http://lacocktails.com/2012/05/25/disaronno-mixing-star-la-regional-competition/ ) or with a Cola drink or apple and cherry juice.  I love to mix it in cookie dough and cakes.

But here are cocktail recipes for the coming holidays:

di saronno 2SMASHING PUMPKIN

1 ounce aged rum/ whiskey/ cognac
1 ounce DISARONNO
1 heaping bar spoon of pumpkin pie mix
½ ounce heavy cream
1 whole egg

Place all ingredients into a mixing glass. Dry shake (shake without ice so as to 'whip' the ingredients together). Then shake again with ice. Strain into a rocks glass without any ice. Top with freshly grated cinnamon.

 

di saronno 1A BLOODY GOOD TIME

1 ½ ounces Cazadores Añejo.
1 ounce DISARONNO
1ounce fresh blood orange juice
2 ginger dials (muddled)
½ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce simple syrup
soda
In mixing glass muddle ginger dials with lemon juice. Add simple syrup; blood orange juice, DISARONNO, and Cazadores Anejo tequila.  Shake and strain into a highball over fresh ice.  Top with soda, fold & stir into cocktail. Garnish with lemon wedge.

DISARONNO WINTER WHITE COSMO
1 part DISARONNO1 part GREY GOOSE vodka
1 part white cranberry juice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
 
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
 
 
ITALIAN EGG NOG
 
2 parts DISARONNO
1 part BACARDI OakHeart Rum
1 part half and half
1 whole egg
 
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a highball glass and top with fresh nutmeg.

DISARONNO ITALIAN RUM PUNCH
 
1 750mL bottle DISARONNO
1 750mL bottle BACARDI 8
2 quarts pineapple juice
1 quart orange juice
5 lime slices
 
Place limes in a large bowl and press lightly. Mix in all ingredients and serve over ice. Makes 20 servings.

THE GODFATHER
 
1 part  DISARONNO
3 parts Scotch Whiskey
 
Mix ingredients and pour over ice.
 

di saronno photo

 

Just on time for the holidays:  the DISARONNO2012 Holiday Gift Set with two Italian-designed glasses etched with the iconic DISARONNO bottle image and logo packaged alongside a 750ml bottle of DISARONNO and a list of signature cocktail recipes. The limited-edition set is available nationwide throughout the holidays for approximately  $25.99.

http://www.disaronno.com

Last Updated on Friday, 28 September 2012 21:45
 
St. Supéry Elu Red Meritage 2000, Napa, Fresher and better today... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 20:11

 

elu st superyThis week, as I was inspecting the contents of the back of my little wine refrigerator to check on what I had in the Bordeaux Red Blends shelf, I found the last bottle of a stash of St. Supéry Elu Red Meritage 2000, Napa, CA.  
Needless to say, I opened it right away to see if it was still as good as I remembered it.
Without even letting breathe I poured myself a glass and immediately was amazed by the brilliant deep garnet/violet red color and by the aroma that pervaded the room.
As sensory memories tend to do and in typical Remembrance of Things Past style, the first sip took me back to St. Supéry in Napa where a few good years ago I had stopped to visit and have lunch with the then director-vintner Michaela Rodeno.
We had tasted the St. Supéry Elu line of wines, red and white, among them the Red Meritage 2000 (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot – all estate grown), at a delightful luncheon after which we visited the art gallery from which came all the labels.
Today, in 2012, the wine was younger and more expressive with a wonderful harmony and intensity in the aromas of cherry-vanilla, rose petal and cassis. It was fresh and lively in the palate with juicy blackberry, red currant and black cherry notes mingled with subtle mint and spice, ripe and supple tannins well balanced with an elegant acidity. The wine was delicious and rich without being overpowering and the finish was long and lingering.  
Michaela is no longer at St. Supéry  — she is now at the Board of Marin Bank — and the 2000 vintage is sold out, but this outstanding wine with great balance which was so lovely when we first tasted it gives full meaning to the mention “will only improve over the next few years or should age nicely…”
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 20:17
 
The Serious Eats Field Guide to Orange Liqueur PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Dietsch - Serious Eats   
Monday, 20 August 2012 16:55

The Serious Eats Field Guide to Orange Liqueur

 

Not all orange spirit is curaçao, or Cointreau…  What is triple sec?  Which is the best orange liqueur or triple sec?

Excellent guide to the much maligned orange liqueurs.

Read more...

 

 

 
Elegance, leashed exuberance in two splendid Rodney Strong wines: Symmetry 2009, and Alexander’s Crown 2009 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Monday, 06 August 2012 17:28

On a tour to Europe that culminated in France, dancer Rodney D. Strong’s glittering leaps across the stage dazzled the audiences.  But upon returning to the US in 1951, he confessed that the highlight of his four years of dancing in Paris as member of choreographer George Balanchine’s troupe and the American School of Ballet was his experience with French food and wine. He went on saying that rather than become an old dancer, he’d much rather become and old winemaker… He did; finding in Sonoma county friends, love, marriage to a former ballerina and the versatility he needed as an artist and as a serious winemaker.

Parallel to that “American in Paris”- returning-to-California story is the saga of the Klein family who migrated to San Francisco from New York City at the beginning of the 20th century to be decimated by the earthquake and rebuilt itself through the surviving children and grandchildren.  The latter, who had been involved in California agriculture for four generations, added business acumen to the art of winemaking and are since 1989, in charge of the remarkable Rodney Strong Winery in Sonoma county.   Their passion for sustainable farming practices, solar power and other green business practices have led them to become Sonoma County’s first carbon neutral winery and the producer of exquisite wines.

Vintner Tom Klein captured the elegance of Bordeaux and the exuberance of the Pacific Coast  in the two splendid wines from the Alexander Valley Collection he recently released:  Symmetry 2009, a Bordeaux-style Meritage, and Alexander’s Crown 2009, a Bordeaux-style Cabernet,  while claiming Bordeaux as their style, express the terroir where they come from, the vegetation and the diversity of Alexander Valley’s agriculture.

Rodney Strong Symmetry Alexander Valley, Sonoma 2009 ($55) They call this Bordeaux-blend a Meritage. 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Malbec, 6% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc, have all been hand-harvested, sorted and fermented separately and aged in French oak for 6 months before being graded and selected for Symmetry.  The blend is then assembled and the wine is aged from 12 to 18 months before bottling. The result is a harmonious, concentrated, and elegant full-bodied wine with an opulent bouquet of blackberries, currants, sweet spices, and a hint of violet blossom, which unfolds on the palate with layers of black fruits, dark chocolate and spice. Rich and silky in texture it delivers a long and powerful finish. It definitely has the backbone for years in the cellar and promises an interesting evolution in the bottle.  15.5% alcohol content.

Rodney Strong  Alexander's Crown, Alexander Valley, Sonoma 2009 ($75) . 100% cabernet sauvignon. Established in 1971 and recognized as the first vineyard in Sonoma County to produce a single vineyard cabernet sauvignon, Alexander's Crown is perched on a hill rising to about 350 feet in the south-center of the Alexander Valley just west of Jimtown.   The top of the hill, block 1, is red in color, and produces the most intensely flavored wine.  Harvested on the morning of October 5 at the end of a perfect growing season, and after 23 months in French oak barrels — 40% new — The Crown is definitely an opulent wine, with floral notes and intense depth, ripe flavors centered on red fruit, and rounded tannins superbly balanced with a fresh acidity which adds brightness to the sumptuous and long finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
2011 was a fabulous year in Beaujolais: a tasting of the vintage with "The King of Beaujolais"; Georges Duboeuf PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Wednesday, 01 August 2012 00:11

 

dsc01105At a recent tasting* of a few 2011 Beaujolais wines, 79-year-old Georges Duboeuf, thin and straight in a formal blue jacket and tie contrasting with a grown, but well-combed mane of grey hair, enthusiastically proclaimed: ”2011 was a fabulous year. It was already hot by April and we had to harvest on August 22, instead of in the middle of September as we normally do.”

And when asked about the effect of intense heat that the change in climate in bringing about in Beaujolais, "the King of Beaujolais"  smiled cryptically and said: “Gamay loves heat. The hotter it gets, the more sun there is, the more concentrated and better the wine gets.”

And indeed, from the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Village 2001 and the Georges Duboeuf  Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes 2011 to the Moulin à Vent, Domaine des Rosiers and the Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Château des Capitans 2011, the northernmost property in Beaujolais which Dubeouf owns with his partner of 30 years, Bill Deutsch of Deutsch Family in the US, all the wines we tasted were full-bodied, aromatic and complex and all under $20.00!

The grape Gamay is very versatile as it acquires the properties of the terroir where it is grown, whether at 200 meters above sea level to relatively flat land. “The wine’s quality depends on the talent of the winemaker and the attention to detail of the wine growers,” explained Mr. Duboeuf as he described the close relationship he keeps with his wine associates.

Born in a family of winemakers in Pouilly-Fuissé in the Loire Valley, Georges Duboeuf started his own business in  1957 with a group of 45 producers and went on to become a négociant in 1964, with the company Les Vins Georges Duboeuf.  Today, the company works with over 20 wine co-ops and 400 growers in the regions.

duboeuf1Passionate about Gamay, Duboeuf feels that Beaujolais and its 10 grand crus (premium lands producing top wines--  from north to south, the ten Cru Beaujolais are Saint Amour, Juliénas, Chenas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnie, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly) is producing wines that compete with the more expensive wines of its more exclusive neighbors in the Rhône valley. The Crus are a few dollars more than Beaujolais village per bottle, but  all of these wines are very good values.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Village 2001 ($9.99)a brilliant purple color and aromatic complexisty with blackcurrant, cherry, peach and subtle floral notes. It is rich, fleshy, round and elegant and was perfectly paired— as were the next two wines — with the robust tastes of a Mediterranean  dish of grilled pork loin topped with a fragrant salsa verde, akin to a garlicky pesto, with Greek-style farro salad spiked with crumbled Feta cheese, Kalamata olives and lemony diced tomato and cucumber salad.                 Photo © Jean-Luc Mège

image002Georges Duboeuf  Morgon Jean-Ernest Descombes 2011 ($15.99) Brilliant garnet in color this full-bodied wine exhibits an aromatic nose of violet and black fruit notes with cherry scents. Well-structured, its robust tannins are tamed by the lively acidity and the concentrated fruitiness of the wine ending with a lingering finish.

Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Château des Capitans 2011 ($18.99) A tamed wine with vanilla and roasted coffee on the nose, it deployed in the palate hints of raisins and dried fruit stew with a finish of dark fruit and spices.

Georges Duboeuf  Moulin à Vent, Domaine des Rosiers 2011 ($17.99) Solid garnet color with notes of black fruit and subtle aromas of vanilla, this full-bodied wines is seductive, elegant, sophisticated and with a good tannic structure. This wine was splendidly paired with an über hamburger in a brioche bun as well as a masterful dessert of chocolate fudge topped with sea salt, olive oil, a sourdough crostini and accompanied by a deep tasting espresso parfait.

dsc01106

* the tasting was held at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink restaurant in the Design District, Miami.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 August 2012 01:07
 
KAPPA Pisco, a Chilean pisco from the House of Marnier-Lapostolle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Friday, 20 July 2012 00:54

kappa-21It’s no wonder KAPPA Pisco recently won the prestigious Double Gold Medal at the 2012 San Francisco Spirits Competition.  It was also awarded a Double Gold Medal in the “Packaging” category for its stunning and strikingly sober midnight blue bottle designed by the renowned designer Ora-Ito http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/oraito.html.

Kappa is the 10th letter of the Greek alphabet and is at the source of many scientific names — in mathematics, the kappa curve is named after this letter and in astronomy, Kappa Crucis, HD 111973) is a star in star cluster NGC 4755.  It is at the same time a giant, aggressive salamander in the Japanese folklore; a hairy, scary legendary creature in the Finnish folklore, and the name of another giant; Frank Kappa, photographer of the great wars of the 20th century — whose works I recently saw at an exhibition in Verona, Italy; just to mention a few acceptations.

The Kappa we’re talking about is a pisco named after the star in the Southern Cross constellation,  produced by The House of Lapostolle — of the Marnier Lapostolle family who produces the famed orange liqueur Grand Marnier. This is an ultra premium pisco coming from the Elqui Valley in Chile, made from two varieties of aromatic Muscat grapes:  Moscatel Rosada and Moscatel de Alejandría, grown in Lapostolle-owned vineyards.

The pisco industry in Chile — a bone of contention with their Peruvian neighbors who have long claimed that pisco is theirs — has grown both in quality and in quality in the past few years.   The many pisco distilleries are now going through more elaborate double and even triple process of distillation, aging in wood barriques for longer periods of time to obtain more complexity and depth of flavors.

In Kappa, the double process of distillation and the techniques of vinification used in Cognac results in a smooth  85% proof pristine liquid with subtle fresh citrus flavors,  delicate notes of honeysuckle and rose petal flavors in the mouth, and a menthol and verbena finish.

Just out for the summer, Kappa is great for making refreshing fruit cocktails and of course the classic Pisco Sour. Just like Cognac it is great with tonic water, a few drops of lemon and a couple of mint leaves.

Classic Kappa Pisco Sour:

  • 2 fl oz (8 parts) Kappa Pisco
  • 1 fl oz (4 parts) Lime juice
  • 1/2 fl oz (2 part) Simple Syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 dash bitters (get creative here, try Fee Brothers celery or barrel aged whiskey bitters) -Shake hard or blend with ice and strain into glass. Top the Kappa Pisco Sour foam top with the aromatic bitters.

$34 to $36 / kappapisco.com

 

 

 

 

 
32nd annual San Francisco International Wine Competition 2012. And the winners are…. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Press Release   
Friday, 29 June 2012 00:04

 

SAN FRANCISCO, June 27, 2012  A record number of wines were judged during the San Francisco International Wine Competition held at San Francisco's Hotel Nikko, June 15th, 16th and 17th, by prestigious judges invited from across the United States.

Tasting 4,556 wines from over 1,300 wineries, 49 wine industry professionals convened for the 32nd year of the San Francisco International Wine Competition to evaluate wines from 26 states and 29 countries. The medal count included 202 Double Gold awards (a wine is elevated to Double Gold status when all judges on a particular panel agree that a wine deserves a Gold medal), 363 Gold medals, 1,358 Silver medals and 1,613 Bronze medals. The competition saw a nine percent increase in wine entries from last year. Big gains were seen in the Cabernet Sauvignon submissions, as well as in Viognier, Rosé, and Sangiovese Blend categories.

"Best in Show" awards went to:

-        Maryhill Winery 2011 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $10 for Best in Show White Wine

-         Kestrel Vintners 2008 Raptor Red Premium Bordeaux Blend, Yakima Valley, $60 for Best in Show Red Wine

-         Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte 2004 Vintage Brut, Champagne, $46 for Best in Show Sparkling Wine; and

-        Barboursville Vineyards 2007 Malvaxia, Virginia, $30 for Best in Show Dessert Wine.

Vincor International Inc. was recognized with "Portfolio of the Year" for excellence across a spectrum of brands. Winemaker Corey Beck, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Geyserville, California, won the coveted Andre Tchelistcheff "Winemaker of the Year" award. The Tasting Panel Magazine "Winery of the Year" award went to Ste. Michelle Wine Estates of Woodinville, Washington.

Director Anthony Dias Blue, renowned food and wine authority, has coordinated one of the most important and comprehensive wine competitions in the world, both for the quality of wines entered and for the high level of expertise among its judges. Blue noted that "The growth of this competition highlights the strength of the wine industry, its diversity and global impact with 29 countries submitting.  It's exciting to feel the pulse of the wine industry through the views of our judges and the entries from our wineries."

"Best of Varietal" winners were awarded in 28 different categories in 2012: Best Chardonnay: Five Rivers 2010 Chardonnay, California, $11; Best Sauvignon Blanc: South Coast Winery 2011 Musque Clone Sauvignon Blanc, Temecula Valley, $14; Best Viognier: Honey Moon 2011 Viognier, California, $6; Best Pinot Gris: Kenwood Vineyards 2011 Pinot Gris, Russian River, $16; Best Riesling Maryhill Winery 2011 Riesling, Columbia Valley, $10; Best White Blend: San Antonio 2010 Heritage Blanc White Blend, Central Coast, $19; Best Gewurztraminer: Vinarstvi Libal 2011 Select Gewurztraminer, Czech Republic, $14; Best Moscato: Cameron Hughes 2010 Lot 319 Moscato, Sori, Italy, $14; Best Cabernet Sauvignon: Parallel 2008 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $125; Best Merlot: Summers Estate Wines 2009 Summers Ranch Reserve Merlot, Calistoga, $30; Best Malbec: Alamos 2009 Selección Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina $20..... and more.

"Best of Nation" awards were presented to 17 wineries, showcasing the international scope of entries.  "Best of Nation" awards went to:  Alamos, Argentina, importer E & J Gallo; Wakefield Wines, Australia, importer American Wine Distributors; Ponto Nero, Brazil; Castra Rubra Winery, Bulgaria; Jackson-Triggs Okanagan, Canada, importer Vincor International; Panilonco, Chile; Pavlovin, Czech Republic; Champagne Collet, France, importer Champagne Collet USA (MHW); Lyrarakis, Greece, importer Stellar Importing Co.; Castello Banfi, Italy, importer Banfi Vintners; Japan, Okunomatsu, importer Pacific Int'l Liquor; Santo Tomas, Mexico, importer Torrey Wine; Broadbent Wines, Portugal, importer Broadbent Selections; Saint Clair Family Estate, New Zealand, importer Winesellers, LTD.; Blaauwklippen Vineyards, South Africa; Gonzalez Byass, Spain, importer SF Wine Exchange; and Pasaeli, Turkey.

This year's Label Competition awards recognized excellence in label design in the wine industry. Our professional judges selected these winning designs for their high artistic merit and brand-enhancing communicative qualities. For Series Design, a Double Gold was awarded to Telish Winery 2010 Merlot, 2010 Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon Blend, and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bulgaria, design by Philip Popoff. For Individual Design, Double Golds were awards to Dearly Beloved 2009 Forever Red, design by Stranger & Stranger, VML 2010 Pinot Noir Limited Release, Russian River, design by Stranger & Stranger, and Predator 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, design by Mark Dolin.

The 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition sponsors included The Tasting Panel Magazine, Joerg Lehmann Photography, Geoffrey Nelson Photos and Elements Design Group. Blue also thanked Hotel Nikko in San Francisco for hosting the event.

For a complete list of winners and judges, visit the San Francisco International Wine Competition's website: www.sfwinecomp.com.  Photos can be viewed online at http://j412.smugmug.com/Clients/SFIWC-2012/23694912_RF6rzp/

 
2011 J’s California Pinot Gris: A wine for summer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 19:17

 

pinot grisThe newly released vintage of J’s California Pinot Gris  is clean, crisp and refreshing with a good blast of bright lemon, kiwi and melon flavors with an interesting minerality; a lively well-balanced acidity and a long, lingering finish.

As winemaker Melissa Stackhouse described it “chock full of Fuji apple, ripe cantaloupe, and apricot. The crisp, clean mouthfeel is bursting with flavors of lemon and lime. A hint of kiwi and sweet orange blossom honey on the palate complements the fruit and acid. In short, this wine rocks.”

The grapes come from Clarksburg, Monterey, Napa and Russian River Valley. The whole clusters of grapes are Coquard-pressed, fermented and slowly cooled and aged separately in stainless steel tanks. Once the wines settled and clarified they are blended together prior to bottling.  This allows for the devleopment of a range of aromatic and flavor components to create a complex wine.  No malolactic fermentation occurs during this process.

This wine stands up to a wide variety of foods from pizza to cheeses, BBQ and chicken, or seafood,  foie gras, pasta, duck and veal.

The best part is that it is on special until July 6, and can be purchased directly from the producer  or 707.431.5479 and the special offer is $180, shipping included for 12 bottles.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 June 2012 17:31
 
Terra d’Oro wines: Italian Varieties from Amador, CA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Simone Zarmati Diament   
Tuesday, 26 June 2012 18:46

 

As they say, Zinfandel is king in Amador County, CA, in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range*. As a result, few wineries feel the need to specialize in native Italian varietals.  Terra d’Oro  is one of them. While it is famous for its outstanding single-vineyard zinfandels produced from very old vines, and for its stylish syrahs, Terra d’Oro  ( trans. "Land of Gold"  ) has been making wines from Italian varieties  since the 1970s.

These wines, all moderately-priced, are surprisingly true to their origins while exhibiting the intensity, the richness and fruitiness of the New World’s terroirs.

 

tdo-v2009 bb bottle2008 Terra d’Oro Barbera, Amador, CA (  $18). After 2 weeks of maceration in stainless steel and 15 months in French and Hungarian oak barrels, this  ruby-red 100%  Barbera is elegant  with layers of juicy black fruit, exotic spice, and a silky mouthfeel spiked with pleasant tannins yet tempered by a lively acidity.  Famous in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy for Barbera d’Alba and Barbera d’Asti,  Barbera is one of the most successful of the Piemontese grapes to be adapted in California. In Amador it has found its terroir.  It pairs well with grilled meats and veggies and any food a good Pinot Noir would.

 

2008 Terra d’Oro Sangiovese, Amador, CA  ($18) An eminently Tuscan grape used in Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano among others, the temperamental Sangiovese was brought to California by Italian settlers during the Gold Rush in the late 1800s. The high acidity and light body characteristics of sangiovese grape are tamed by minimizing crop to increase concentration and color.  Aged in old and new American oak  for 14 months the result is a bright and juicy Sangiovese with aromas of red fruit and spices with  silky tannins and a refined finish which  pairs with beef; boar ragout over pasta, burgers and goat cheese.

 

2008 Terra d’Oro Aglianico Amador, CA  ($18) When I hear aglianico what immediately comes to mind in the Aglianico del Vulture, a black grape grown in the south of Italy -  namely  Basilicata and Campania where it was brought by ancient Greek settlers before Roman times.    The name may be a corruption of Vitis hellenica, Latin for "Greek vine”. It is a relative rarity in California. This deep garnet 100% Aglianico comes from the Shenendoah Valley in Amador County and makes a light medium-bodied wine, with a complex aroma of smoked bacon and juicy fruit, fleshy and round with plum, cherry and jam  notes, rich with mocha and vanilla and a velvet-like texture, with  good acids and a bit of spice. It works perfectly with BBQ ribs and 4th of July fare .

 

2008 Terra d’Oro Forte “Super Tuscan” Blend, Amador, CA  ($28) Fruit and spice, muscle and finesse, Dark red fruit flavors, jam and candied apple spiced with nutmeg, dried vanilla bean and cracked black pepper! This full-bodied dark red wine is a blend of Amador County Sangiovese and Napa Cabernet Sauvignon vinified separately until settled, because of their different characteristics, and then blended and aged together in 100% new French Oak for 6 weeks prior to bottling.  Just like a Super-Tuscan it pairs well with a variety of dishes from steak and stews to pan-seared salmon over sweet corn risotto and crispy pancetta with a tomato beurre blanc, and cheeses.

 

tdo-v2009 ag bottleHistory of Amador county

*Wine and gold came hand in hand in Amador county , the epicenter of the Mother Lode during the Gold Rush in the 1850’s. Fortune-seekers, attracted by the discovery of the famous “Mother Lode” — Mother Lode is the name given to the long alignment of hard-rock gold deposits stretching northwest to southeast in the Sierra Nevada of California, one of the most productive gold-producing districts in the United States — chose to plant vineyards first to satisfy the thirst of thousands of miners and later to make a living after the mines began to run dry. By the 1890s, the foothill region had over 100 wineries (more than any other region in California).

By 1920 most of the gold mines had closed and Prohibition laws compelled wineries to shut their doors. This region was revived in 1970, when a young winemaker named Cary Gott and his father-in-law, Walter Field, established Montevina Winery. As the first new post-Prohibition winery in the Sierra Foothills, Montevina helped to return both Amador County and Zinfandel to the attention of fine wine aficionados and to remake the Sierra Nevada foothills as one of the best wine regions around.

Terra d’Oro wines were first released in 1973 under the Montevina label and today Terra d’Oro Winery makes world-class wines.

 

 
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