Lately, I’ve tasted quite a bit of Italian wine. The wines I’ve tasted recently represent a real cross section of what’s available from Italy — they’re all over the spectrum in terms of price points, grapes used and style. And at the end of the day that’s really a microcosm of what Italy produces, which is great variety. The Vino Dei Fratelli line features wines made all over Italy, and made by several families that vary by area. Basically each family specializes in making wines from varietals that are indigenous to their area. By sourcing from a host of family producers throughout Italy, Fratelli is able to offer genuine regional wines at reasonable price-points under one umbrella. Here’s a look at a handful of their newest releases that I feel represent very good values. Read the rest over at Bullz-eye.com
Archive for the ‘Sangiovese’ Category
Posted by Gabe on May 15, 2014
Posted by Gabe on October 23, 2013
Stickybeak is a California based winery that sources grapes in a host of regions such as Napa, Sonoma and Monterey. They have now widened their reach by making a wine with fruit sourced in Italy. These particular grapes come from the 40 year old Cerreto Guidi vineyards located in Tuscany. Here’s a look at this Italian blend.
The Stickybeak 2011 Toscana was produced from a blend of Sangiovese (85%), Merlot (10%) and Syrah (5%). The Sangiovese and Merlot were both sourced in Tuscany with the Syrah coming from Maremma which is close by. Wild yeasts were used for fermentation which took place over roughly 15 days. Each varietal was aged separately over 18 months in entirely French oak. Blending occurred prior to bottling. This wine is finished in screw cap and has a suggested retail price of $20. Violet and red cherry aromas light up the nose of this Tuscan blend. Strawberry, cherry, spice, and vanilla bean are all in play throughout the palate which has nice depth. Leather, cherry, raspberry and black peppercorn flavors all show up in the finish which has above average length. This wine really shines when paired with food. Anything with red sauce on it will work well. I drank it with homemade pizza and it was memorable and delicious combo.
A lot of wines are looking for your attention and your wine dollars in the $20 or under category. Here’s an example that shines with food. It has excellent Sangiovese character at the forefront with the Merlot providing a bit of structure and the Syrah some pronounced wisps of sweet berry fruit. It’s terrific now and will drink well over the next 5 years. This is a very solid value.
Posted by Gabe on May 30, 2013
Castello di Amorosa is an ostentatious winery in Napa Valley founded by Dario Sattui who has owned V. Sattui for years. It’s styled like an old Italian Castle. Their focus is largely on Italian varietals. Today I’ll look at the current release of their Napa Valley Sangiovese.
The Castello di Amorosa 2009 Napa Valley Sangiovese was produced from fruit sourced throughout Napa Valley. Some is from estate fruit in Calistoga and the balance comes from other parts of the valley. In addition to Sangiovese (90%) a small amount of Merlot (10%) was also blended in. After fermentation this wine spent 18 months aging in French oak barrels. Just more than 3,500 cases were produced and it sells for $30.
Rose petals, cherry blossoms and bits of spice all emerge from the nose of this 2009 Sangiovese. The palate is layered with wave after wave of red cherry characteristics. Bits of black cherry are present as well and make their presence known. Dry, warming red fruits, bay leaf, black pepper and more are all part of an elegant finish that has excellent length. This wine has medium tannins and firm acidity.
This Sangiovese has the flavor profile of a Napa Valley imbued Chianti Classico. The style and intent certainly says Italy, but the richness of the fruit belies that a bit and reveals its actual origin. At the end of the day none of that matters; this is a very nice Sangiovese that’s primed to pair with food. It’ll work with a wide array, but I suggest a hearty Italian meal for best results.
Posted by Gabe on January 7, 2013
These days Barolo, Brunello and even Aglianico often steal many of the headlines when it comes to Italian wine. However Chianti continues to be a go to choice for a lot of folks who drink offerings from Italy. And well it should be as they can often be well made at an affordable price. The fact that good Chianti is also one of the most natural food partners in the world certainly helps too. Today I’ll look at a current release from Piccini.
The Piccini 2011 Chianti DOCG also known as Chianti Orange is the standard bearer in the Piccini line. This Chianti is a blend of Sangiovese (95%) and Cilliegiolo (5%). Fermentation is temperature controlled. This is followed by a second fermentation induced by adding a selection of withered Sangiovese grapes. This Chianti is widely available around the country and has a suggested retail price of $8.99.
Red cherry, wild strawberry, rose petal, and a bit of green herb emerge from the nose of this Chianti. Dried red fruit flavors lead the palate with bits of black fruit characteristics intermingled within. Black tea, pepper and warming red fruit elements make up the finish along with a subtle hint of earth. Firm acidity adds to the mouthwatering element of this wine.
This Chianti is very solid value in the $7 – $10 range. While it will pair well with a host of foods, you need no better excuse than this wine to make or order pizza. It will pair perfectly with a delicious pie. At this price it’s a good wine to purchase in quantity so you have some hanging around the house to enjoy anytime.
Posted by Gabe on October 8, 2012
Tenuta di Vignole is owned by the Nistri Family who has been involved locally in the wine business since the mid 1800’s. They acquired their 21 hectares of winery property in 1970. Their focus of course is on making Chianti. I recently had a chance to taste some of their wines alongside family member Fabrizio Nistri. They were, on the whole, delicious well made wines but one stood above the others for me and I’ll look at it today.
The Tenuta di Vignole – 2006 Vignole Chianti Classico Riserva is produced from fruit sourced in the Panzano section of Chianti Classico. This offering is a blend of predominately Sangiovese (85%), with some Cabernet Sauvignon (15%) utilized as well. The fruit was handpicked and individual lots were fermented in concrete vats. Barrel aging took place over 20 months in a combination of 225 liter barriques and larger 400 liter vessels. After that time the lots were assembled and another 3 months of barrels aging commenced followed by 6 or more months of bottle aging. 1,200 6 pack cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $59.99.
Aromas of mushroom, spice and dry red fruits permeate the nose of this 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva. The palate is rich and loaded with mouth-filling red fruit flavors. Red raspberry and cherry star here and they are buoyed by clove and pepper spice. The finish is long and dry showing off continued spice and dried red fruit flavors. At 6 years old this wine is just beginning its life. It’s going to age well in bottle for a number of years more. It’s a fabulously structured example of Chianti that pairs wonderfully with food and will be a welcome addition to your table for a special occasion.
Posted by Gabe on September 5, 2012
Benessere Vineyards is a boutique sized winery in Napa Valley that’s also a treasure to those lucky enough to discover it. They produce varietally correct wines sourced from their estate vineyards. The fact that they lean towards Italian varietals such as Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio makes them somewhat unique in the valley. Their property is beautiful and the wines are by and large delicious and fairly priced. Today I’ll look at the current release of Phenomenon, their red Super Tuscan inspired blend.
The Benessere Vineyards 2007 Phenomenon is a proprietary blend. This Napa Valley wine was made entirely from fruit sourced at their Estate Vineyard in St. Helena. Cabernet Sauvignon (49%), Sangiovese (38%), Merlot (11%), and Syrah (2%) were fermented and barrel aged separately. They were then assembled and barrel aged for two additional years prior to release. Just fewer than 500 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $50.
The nose of this 2007 blend is loaded with dark fruit aromas and spice. Plum and blueberry characteristics lead the way and they’re accompanied by cardamom, clove, cinnamon, and a hint of eucalyptus. The plate of this wine is impressively loaded with a terrific array of expressive flavors that are lead by deep, dark fruit flavors such as black cherry, and plum. Earth, chicory, black tea and continued waves of spice reverberate on the finish which has terrific length. The 2007 Phenomenon is a great example of what a blend should be; each of the varietals comes together seamlessly to form a cohesive unit. This wine is delicious on its own, but really shines when paired with food. Roasted meats and dishes with red sauce will work well as will medium strength cheeses and charcuterie.
Benessere Vineyards did well to release to release this wine when they did. It’s inviting, engaging and ready to drink now. While it’ll certainly continue to improve for a few years and drink well over the next 6-8, it’s delicious and hard to resist right now. So I vote to pop that cork sooner rather than later. And when your travels take you to Napa Valley, be sure to visit this terrific winery.
Posted by Gabe on June 20, 2012
Italy is well represented on the shelves of good US wine shops. Whether you’re looking for a Barolo, Chianti Classico or Amarone you shouldn’t have any trouble finding what you’re in the mood for. Over time the availability of some varietals that are lesser know to us in America are increasing as are the number of blends that utilize both indigenous and international grapes. Here’s a look at a couple of current releases from Poggiotondo that fall into those categories.
The Poggiotondo 2011 Vermentino IGT was produced from fruit sourced in the winery’s home region of Tuscany. This offering is 100% Vermentino. Fermentation took place in a combination of stainless steel (85%) and French oak (15%). Their estate which is over 123 acres has both vines and olive trees on it. After fermentation this wine saw two months of contact with the lees during aging. This wine has a suggested retail price of $20. Lemon zest, hazelnut and mango aromas are all prevalent on the nose of this Vermentino. Bartlett pear and yellow delicious apple flavors are on display throughout the palate along with hints of grapefruit. An impressive amount of minerality is in evidence throughout, particularly on the finish which has excellent length. The Poggiotondo Vermentino has lively acidity and nice structure; it’s a pleasure to drink on its own but it’s truly made to pair with food. I enjoyed it alongside a roasted beet salad with goat cheese which worked perfectly. This wine is best served a couple of degrees warmer than the average white wine. That really allows it to open up and show its true charms.
The Poggiotondo 2010 Rosso IGT is a blend of Sangiovese (40%), Merlot (30%) and Syrah (30%). The fruit for this wine comes from their home estate in the north-western end of Tuscany. After hand harvesting the grapes underwent a pre-ferment and cold soak. Fermentation followed in stainless steel tanks followed by 8 months of aging. A final two months of time in bottle was allowed prior to release. This wine has a suggested retail price of $11. Red cherry, earth and hints of green herb are prominent on the nose of this Red Tuscan blend. Blueberry, raspberry and cherry flavors (black and red) emerge on the palate of this wine along with bits of leather. Cranberry, rhubarb as well as bits of smoke and spice are part of the finish which has good length. Firm zippy acidity helps make this a nice everyday food wine. This is a good selection for Pizza night or with grilled meats.
These wines from Poggiotondo represent good values for everyday consumption. They each show off good character and are fruit driven wines that will work particularly well with food. Both should be consumed over the next few years for maximum pleasure.
Posted by Gabe on December 19, 2011
The 2011 Holiday Season is here and with it comes shopping and gift giving. There are all sorts of gifts to consider but I think wines and spirits are excellent gifts for those that appreciate such things. With that in mind I decided to compile a list of some items in that category. To make my list the items below had to meet some particular criteria: 1) it has to be something I heartily recommend. 2) It needs to be a good value. 3) It should be relatively easy to locate. 4) The list should take into account peoples various budget sizes. With that in mind here are 8 offerings that the wine and spirits lovers on your gift list will be happy to receive.
The Lamberti Prosecco Veneto D.O.C. was made from fruit sourced at hillside vineyards throughout Treviso. This sparkling wine was produced utilizing the Charmat Method. This wine is widely available and has a suggested retail price of $13.99. This Prosecco has an effusive nose that shows off spice and fruits. Stone and citrus fruit flavors star through the palate along with loads of tingly spices. Brioche and hints of crumbled biscotti emerge on the finish which has good length. This wine shows off hints of sweetness and is a very appealing wine. It’ll work well on its own or paired with food. It would be a particularly nice choice for a Brunch. Sparkling wine generally makes people happy. Here’s a tasty choice that makes a perfect, modestly priced gift.
The Apaltagua 2009 Envero Carménère was produced from fruit sourced in the Apalta section of Chile’s Colchagua Valley. This is an estate vineyard 60 hectares in size. The 2009 vintage is a blend of Carménère (93%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (7%). Barrel aging took place over 12 months; an additional 6 months of bottle aging followed prior to release. This wine has a suggested retail price of $16.00. This Carménère has a fresh and lively nose. It shows off red and black fruit aromas as well as hints of eucalyptus. Juicy black currant and cherry flavors lead the palate as well a host of spices. This Carménère has a solid finish that lingers with sour black fruits and continued spices. Yielding tannins and firm acidity mark the structure and make this a terrific food wine. Carménère has been making inroads with US wine lovers over the last few years. This is a grape with lots of appeal to a wide array of folks. It’s ready to please fruits, as well as the fact that it’s still a discovery grape for some make this a particularly excellent gift for the newer wine lovers on your list.
The Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Port was produced from fruit sourced in the Douro Region of Portugal. Fermentation of this wine was stopped with the addition of chilled Brandy. This Port is aged for at least 5 years prior to release. It has a suggested retail price of $19. The Founder’s reserve has a deep red color, looking most like a young Vintage Port. The aromas it gives off lean towards red fruits laced with copious spices. Cherry flavors drive the palate and lead to a wonderful compote of dark, brooding berry flavors which are joined by plum pudding spices. Warming red fruits and loads of sweet dark chocolate mark the finish, which has tremendous length for the price point. The Founder’s Reserve is a great choice to drink while your Vintage Ports are aging. For its reasonable price tag it makes an affordable gift that offers lots of flavor and quality. This is an adaptable Port that’s delicious on its own, paired with desserts or used as the base of an inventive cocktail. It’s also currently available in decorative tins, perfect for gift giving.
The Biltmore Estate 2007 Blanc de Blancs Brut was produced using méthode champenoise. This offering is 100% Chardonnay, produced from fruit sourced in the Russian River Valley. After temperature controlled fermentation at cold conditions this wine underwent a secondary fermentation in bottle and aged for approximately 24 months prior to disgorging. This wine has a suggested retail price of $24.99. Lemon Zest and hints of brioche fill the nose of this 2007 Sparkling Wine. Apple, citrus and Bartlett pear flavors are all on display throughout the palate. Hints of ginger and flaky biscuits emerge on the finish which has nice length. This is a perfectly dry wine which is particularly well suited to pair with dinner. It’s fine on it’s own but excels when matched with the right dish. This is highly recommended for those who are open to New World Sparkling Wines.
The Frescobaldi 2006 Montesodi Riserva Chianti Rufina DOCG was produced from fruit sourced at the Castello di Nipozzano Pelago home estate. This vineyard sits roughly 1,300 feet above sea level. The vines have an average age of 16 years on them. This wine is 100% Sangiovese. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats over 10 days. Aging took place in Barriques over 24 months; 6 months of bottle aging followed. The Montesodi Riserva Chianti is only made in select vintages. This wine has a suggested retail price of $52. Violet, rose petal, and dried red fruit aromas fill the nose of this Chianti Riserva. Dried fruit flavors, cherry and blueberry in particular, star throughout the palate which has impressive depth and complexity. Layers of spice emerge and lead to the finish which shows off black tea, and hints of dusty chocolate. This wine has tremendous length, awesome acidity and terrific overall structure. This is everything you would want in top shelf Chianti. It’ll drink well for at least a decade, if it’s being consumed in the short term it should be decanted for a couple of hours for best results. This is a tremendous gift for the Gourmand in your life who likes to slave over a great meal and pair it with a fabulous wine.
The Rodney Strong 2008 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit sourced in a single vineyard. It was from this vineyard in 1971 that Sonoma County’s first single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was produced. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aging took place over 22 months in all French oak; 47% of the barrels were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $75. Deep, dark berry aromas, toast and vanilla fill the bold nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate here is simply overrun with blackberry, black plum, raspberry and cherry flavors. Black pepper and clove spices also make their presence known. Roast espresso, sweet dark chocolate and additional spices emerge on the finish which has excellent length and remarkable depth. This is a big, bold, brash, spicy mouthful of Cabernet Sauvignon that does a tremendous job of showing off its Alexander Valley roots. While Alexander’s Crown is delicious now it’ll benefit from time in the bottle. Those with the patience to lay this down for a decade will be justly rewarded. If someone on your holiday gift list loves California Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll have a hard time finding a more appropriate gift than this wine which is a jewel in the Rodney Strong Portfolio.
The Sandeman 30 Year old Tawny Port was aged in wooden casks. Over a period of time the fortified wine receives slow exposure to air which ages it and changes the color to the beautiful caramel typical of Tawny Ports Throughout their life the wines utilized are racked from time to time. As the name indicates the average age of the wines used to assemble this Tawny Port is 30. This Port has a suggested retail price of $99.99. Stone fruit in the form of Apricot underpinned by yellow peach lead the nose of this Port along with fruitcake spice and. Apricot flavors continue through the palate where they are dominant. Honey, hazelnut and almond characteristic are present along with white pepper spice. The impressively long finish shows off chamomile tea as well as a bit of caramel and continued spices and stone fruit flavors. This Port can certainly act as dessert all by itself. That said it works extremely well paired with food. A cheese course would be my top pick to match it with. In any case if there’s a Port lover in your life this would be a wonderful gift they will be sure to treasure.
It’s not often that I stray from the wine world here. However sometimes the mood or occasion calls for a beverage not made from grapes. Single Malt Scotch is one of the spirits that often has crossover appeal to those who like to sit and philosophize over their wines. So With that in mind here’s a look at a Single Malt that has really hit the spot for me on a number of occasions.
The Balvenie 12 Year DoubleWood is a Single Malt Scotch. During the aging process it’s moved from a traditional oak cask to a European Sherry cask. This Scotch sells for about $49.99. This Scotch has a great big nose that really develops over 15 or so minutes in the glass. Vanilla and hints of apricot are present. From the very first sip this Scotch distinguished itself by presenting lots of depth and a range of flavors. It is simultaneously fruity and spicy with a nice overall bite. The finish is above average in length and has rich, honeyed flavors and a bit of warmth in the final note. It’s apparent that the use of two types of wood for varying lengths of time really added to the complexity and finesse of this Scotch. If someone on your list is into Single Malt’s this offering from Balvenie is an excellent choice. It’s a distinct expression that stands apart from many of the 12 years Single Malts in its price range.
The selections above provide some excellent choices for gift giving this Holiday Season. I happily stand squarely behind them as good values in their respective categories as well as really tasty products that I enjoy a great deal. Happy Shopping.
Posted by Gabe on November 14, 2011
The 2007 vintage of Luce from Luce della Vite was produced using fruit grown in Montalcino. This offering is a blend of Sangiovese (45%) and Merlot (55%). Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel over 12 days. Barrel aging was accomplished over 24 months in a combination of new (90%) and once used (10%) barriques. 4,000 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $93.
The deeply perfumed nose of this 2007 Tuscan blend is loaded with Aromas of dried red fruits and rose petals. Dried fruits continue on the palate where cherries, strawberries and intense spices join black tea, rhubarb and pepper to fill out layer after layer of flavor. Earth, minerals and a veritable truckload of red cherry emerges on the finish which has tremendous length and persistence. This selection is a food wine that’s balanced by even structure and terrific acidity. Pair Luce with an Italian feast.
If you’re going to drink the 2007 Luce now, decant it for a couple of hours to achieve best results. However if you’re patient lay it down for 10-15 years and you’ll be rewarded with an even lovelier and more impressive wine. These two grapes work well together to form a wine that has excellent aromatics, structure and intensity. What most distinguishes the 2007 vintage of Luce is its absolutely remarkable depth of palate which is loaded with complex favors both overt and subtle; additionally the incredible length of the finish which goes on well after the last sip is swallowed is quite notable and exciting.
Posted by Gabe on August 10, 2011
Rosé is one of the many reasons I look forward to warm weather. I’m glad to report that as a wine culture in this country we’ve gotten better in the last few years when it comes to embracing good, dry Rosé. Just about every wine making country has a Rosé tradition; this is particularly true in Europe. In Italy the tradition is Rosato and Napa Valley’s Benessere Vineyards, whose focus is Italian varietals, makes their own Rosato which I’ll look at today.
The Benessere Vineyards 2010 Rosato was produced using Napa Valley fruit. This Rosé is composed of Zinfandel (49%), Sangiovese (41%) and Merlot (10%). Small amounts of the juice from each grape were bled off just prior to fermentation. This blend which becomes the Rosato was fermented in stainless steel tanks. Less than 300 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $16.
The nose of this Rosé brings to mind a bowl of fresh ripe red fruits. Cherry and raspberry flavors lead the palate which also shows off a nice core of spices. Red raspberry and a bit of blackberry emerge on the finish which is crisp and clean. This Rosé is fruity with just a bit of perceived sweetness poking through. The Benessere Rosato has a bit more heft than the average Rosé and will stand up to more substantial foods quite nicely. That said it’s perfectly delectable all by itself.
Benessere Vineyards makes Napa Valley wines that allow the Italian varietals they often work with to shine. Their portfolio is filled with wines which are elegant, balanced, food friendly and fairly priced. The 2010 Rosato is just one example of that. Check back soon for my look at their Zinfandels.