Monday, February 28, 2011

Avia Pinot Noir 2008

 One to the great benefits I get from having a son who orders the wine for his bar is that when he places his weekly order he always adds in a new wine for me and my friends to try when we stop by every Friday after work. The one set back is that he tries to find the cheapest wines his distributor carries and often fails to impress. However, there are times he opens a gem.  This past Friday was one of the better selections he ever came up with and it came from a region I would have never suspected of producing this quality of wine and for less than $5 per bottle.  The region: Slovenia. The wine: Avia Pinot Noir 2008.

Aromas were light berry, nothing special or should I say nothing to make me believe this was any thing different than most $5 wines.  My first sip was better than I expected.  Light tannins, light acidity with a pleasant fruitful mouth feel.  A few more sips and I was beginning to enjoy this wine immensely.  The wine was smooth with taste of strawberry and some blackberry and a small hint of rose petal. The finish was a little short, but satisfying.  I ordered a chicken quesadilla, but left off the jalapenos this time in order to get more of the cheese flavor and less of the hot spicy pepper.  I think that made for a much better match.  I'm going to try this wine again next week with a charbroiled sword fish.
I found the wine online for $4, but I will have my son order a few for the bar,  Hopefully I'll get a family discount on a few bottles.  The Avia Pinot Noir at it's low price is much better than many I've tasted at 4 or 5 time the price.

Slovenia is bordered on the North by Austria, on the South by Croatia, on the West by Italy and in the East by Hungary.
Avia Wines, a nationally known and successful line of varietal wines, is marketed by Laureat Imports Company in the United States under the ownership of The Goriska Brda Wine Cellar.
Vinska Klet Goriska Brda is a 700 member co-operative and its cellar was built in 1957. Brda means "hills" in Slovenian.  They produce high quality wines as well as sparkling wines.  Their most popular wines are Bagueri, Traviata and Avia Wines. The wines are bottled in Dobrovo, Slovenia, which is about 20 miles from Trieste, Italy, near the Adriatic Sea.  Avia wines are the largest selling wines from Eastern Europe sold in the United States.
With retirement lurking in the near future, I am probably going to have to get use to more $5 wines when the time comes.  Good to know there are wines, with this quality, like Avia available.  Just may start stocking up now.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Concannon Conservancy Petite Sirah 2008

Last year I reviewed a 2007 Petite Sirah from Concannon Vineyard, so I was delighted to recently receive the 2008 vintage.  The Petite Sirah is one of three red wines I have began to appreciate much more over the past year and this would be my first one of this vinatge.
In 1996, Concannon was the first Livermore Valley vineyard to place its land into a permanent conservation easement.  Other vineyards have since followed suit to ensure that urbanization doesn’t threaten Livermore Valley as a wine producing region.
All Concannon Conservancy wines are entirely sourced from grapes grown in Livermore vineyards that are protected from urban encroachment by a conservation trust that preserves the land for perpetuity.  The Conservancy collection includes Pitite Sirah, Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.
I could not wait to open the 2008 Petite Sirah.
The color was a very dark purple.  The aromas were dark cherry, some blackberry and elderberry.  Felt good in the mouth with soft tannins and taste of cherry, black plums and some toasty oak.  I also got just a hint of chocolate before a very nice and very long smooth finish filled with cherry, berries and some green pepper.
Since I now eat red meat only once a month, I have to find other foods to accompany wines I like with my burgers and steaks, but this evening was that one day and Shirley cooked up a broiled New York Strip with a baked potato and broccoli.  The wine was perfect.  Also try this with BBQ chicken and a nice roast lamb. 
*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.
 Varietal Composition: 100% Petite Sirah
Appellation: Livermore Valley
Case Production: 6000
Aging: French and American Oak barrels
Alcohol: 13.5%
Acidity: 0.58g/100ml
pH: 3.62
Release date: Winter 2010
Suggested Retail: $15
Available: Nationally

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fâmega Vinho Verde 2009

Two of the best resources for Spanish and Portuguese wines are Ryan and Gabriella Opaz.  When researching these great wines I read their blog Catavino.  Through them I discovered Albarino from Spain and now Vinho Verde (green wine) from Portugal
I recently found the Famega Vinho Verde at a local wine shop and since I am doing this white wine thing and the bottle looked interesting and the price was only $7, I brought one home.
The grapes used in making Fâmega are Avesso, Azal and Pedernã (known as Arinto in the Bucelas Region). These are all native to the Vinho Verde region of Portugal.
Very light and very bright color, almost like water with a hint of  pale straw and a few bubbles gave this wine a very unique look. 
Aromas were light citrus, some green apple and floral.  
The taste was crisp, and citrusy with some green apple and some mineral with a medium to short finish.
I opened this wine after work and just sipped for a few hours while playing games on the PC.  Thoroughly enjoyed and now have another bottle in the fridge to try with a nice salmon steak.  This wine would also be nice with spicy oriental food or a chicken quisadilla and excellent with light salads on the soon to be hot summer days.
This has to be my last white wine review 'til late spring.  Shirley and I went out last weekend and I ordered one of my favorite red wines and found my palate may be shrinking in favor of white wines.  Now imagine a red wine only drinker learning to enjoy white wines finding a distaste for reds.  Going back to reds may be hard to do knowing there is a nice Poruguese white wine in the fridge.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Yasa Old Vines Macabeo 2009

Still on the hunt for new varieties of white wines has led me to the Yasa Old Vines Macabeo ($8).  This another of the fantastic white wines from the northern regions of Spain.
The grape is used to make mildly acidic and young white wines mostly suitable for early consumption or blended with other varieties, both red and white. It is often the main grape of white Rioja and is known to be incorporated in small amounts with Tempranillo and red Garnacha, both in unoaked and oaked versions. It is the prominent white grape from the Calatayud region of Spain.
The Calatayud wine region is situated in the province of Zaragoza and covers an area of 5,600 hectares. The Calatayud wine region consists of 15 vineyards (Bodegas), which produce 14 millon liter of wine annually.
The Yasa Macabeo reminded me a lot of Finger Lakes Rieslings.  Therefore, I fell in love with this wine right off the bat. Lots of melon and honeysuckle aromas with a bit of citrus (clementine/tangerine) and a hint of apple blossom. Very light in the mouth and a very short but smooth finish.  Not overly thrilled with this one, but would buy again because of the $8 price. Definitely a grape I would like to find out more about.
Pam dished up a very spicey stir fry of cajun craw fish with lots of hot cayenne pepper and parsley over brown rice and the wine fit the meal.
Looking for something new and different?  Try a Macabeo from Spain.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Trivento Torrontes Reserve 2009.

Despite the fact that there is still a gazillion inches on snow on the ground and the mercury in my outdoor thermometer is frozen, I am still having this insatiable desire for white wines, especially new varieties.
This weekend I am tasting for the very first time, Torrontés.
The Torrontes grape is cultivated in the Argentine provinces of Catamarca, La Rioja, Mendoza, Salta, San Juan and Rio Negro.  The Torrontes wine made from this grape is considered the best of its kind in the entire world.
Torrontes is the most distinctive of all Argentine wines, including both white and red, because Argentina is the only country to produce it. It is considered a wholly Argentine variety.*
This past weekend and tonight I have been sampling the Trivento Reserve Torrontes 2009 ($10).
Much like the Falanghina in my last post, this wine was loaded with aromas and taste of ripe apples.
A lot of baked apples and fresh apple pie filled the glass and the mouth.  There was a bit of floral (apple blossom) and some citrus on the smooth finish.
The Torrontes was well paired with a roasted chicken, stuffed with celery and onion and covered with dried rosemary with roasted potatoes, yams and carrots,  a chef Shirley specialty.
"Torrontes," welcome aboard my fave white wine list.  Much more to come. Gonna be a good year!

Monday, February 7, 2011

VIVI Falanghina 2009

I am finding it hard to accept that I am becoming a fan of white wines over what I always thought would be my only choice, that is, red wines. Over the past three years I have found that what I had been avoiding for 30+ years may have been what I most desired all that time.  For holidays like Thanksgiving and Xmas I have been choosing white wines over reds and for the first time opened only whites wines for Super Bowl Sunday. One of these was a wine that I have never tasted before, a wine from southern Italy.
In the past two years I have come to enjoy Voignier, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Frascati, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc and Albarino along with several white blends. For the big game, I opened a new(at least to me) white wine, a Falanghina (Fah-lahn-GEE-nah) from VIVI wine.
Falanghina grape varieties are amongst the oldest cultivated in Italy for winemaking. In fact, it is believed that Falanghina vines were first brought to Italy by Greek settlers of the Campi Flegrei region north of Naples as early as the 7th century B.C. The etymology of the name suggests that this is the case. VIVI's Falanghina grapes are sourced from lush, mineral rich, sun kissed vineyards along the beautiful Amalfi Coast, in the shadow of Mount Vesvius.
The aroma was all apple.  Lots of green apple and apple blossom with just a hint of pineapple. In the mouth was more of the same with some citrus. The long, long finish was filled with green apple and citrus.
Shirley made a fantastic chili for the game. For the first time, she used dry beans (cause of my low salt diet), with ground turkey and finely diced jalapeño and Peperoncini. The Falaghina was the perfect match.
This was a first, so naturally a search must now begin to find more.   In my old age I am now having too much fun searching new wine varietals.  Even more surprising, there whites. Would have never thunk it.
*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.