Monday, January 30, 2012

Siro Pacenti Rosso Di Montalcino 2008

Sometimes Shirley just picks the wrong time to do one of her signature dishes.  Tonight it was her Southern style BBQ pork ribs. This would have been a perfect dish for Super Bowl Sunday next week, but I'll probably go with the usual pizza and wings for the game.
I had no idea on what wine I would open with the ribs, so I decided to search the net for a proper pairing.  Basically, I found that this dish would pair well with just about any red wine and even a few white wines, but they all seemed to agree on Zinfandel, Syrah or Malbec.   A quick check of my wine supply found neither.  That means I'll have to do some wine buying tomorrow and that for tonight I will choose what I think will work best. Not really that tough of a decision given the info I found searching.
My first choice was a 2007 Gigondas, but upon pouring I could see that this bottle had turned and instead I settled for my second choice of a 2008 Siro Pacenti Rosso di Montalcino ($30). I believe that opening a nice bottle of wine that has turned bad may have been a sign, because the second choice was fantastic.
Rosso di Montalcino is made from 100% Sangiovese grown in the same delineated region as Brunello di Montalcino. However, the wine is required to spend only six months aging in oak and 1 year total aging before release. These "Baby Brunellos" are often 1/3 to 1/2 the price of Brunello di Montalcino.
*Since the 1995 vintage, Giancarlo Pacenti's Brunello has repeatedly won Gambero Rosso's most prestigious Tre Bicchieri (Three Glass) award in addition to 90+ scores from all the major international publications.  The Rosso is considered to be one of the very best, with the fruit’s inherent structure delicately enhanced by a brief passage in barriques.  These are quintessential Sangioveses that are wonderfully aromatic, opulently rich and powerfully structured. *Michael Skurnik Wines
I found wonderful aromas of black cherry with some dark plum and a little tobacco.  Very nice earthy mouthfeel with smoky dark fruits and a little blueberry. The finish was medium to long, smoky and dry. A nice compliment to the BBQ pork ribs.
I have always enjoyed Italian wines above all others and I am a big fan of Rosso di Montalcino.  The Rosso is far less expensive than Tuscany's finest wine, the Brunello di Montalcino and very comparable.  Highly recommend.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

NFL Championship Sunday Wines

I like football (i.e. American Football) almost as much as Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball.  So this past Sunday was a big day where the NFL Conference Championships were decided.  My team (Philadelphia) was not part of this season's playoff's, but another favorite team (NY Giants) was playing in the NFC title game.
I started off the afternoon dicing up some veggies and cheese bites with a few dips and opening up a NEW YORK Finger Lakes 2010 dry Riesling from the Fox Run Vineyards.  Of course, any wine opened on this day will be from New York, after all they are playing against a team from California, which made the wine choice very easy.
A little iffy with the aromas.  There was some slate with hints on honeysuckle and lemon-lime. Not a whole lot on the nose, but wine excelled in the mouth with taste of tropical fruits, some citrus, orange peel and apricots. Short to medium finish which was dry and just a bit of slate or mineral.  Paired nicely with a mixed plate of cheeses, especially the Bier Meck Gouda from the Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese Co.  Found the wine locally for $14.
Enjoyed the cheese and Riesling while watching the first game of the day and prepared for the big game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49er's by opening my last bottle of Heron Hill Blaufrankisch Reserve 2007 ($35). no longer available 
I really enjoyed this wine when it was released in 2009. It was very oaky, spicey with hints of cherry and plums which I liked.  I put a few away, but never did believe I'd keep them as long as I did.  They all went fast except for this last bottle.  I uncorked this last one to serve with my daughter Pam's first stab at lamb stew.  I had to look up a wine to serve with lamb stew because all I thought would be nice is a tall glass of Ale, but several pairing sites suggested Blaufrankisch or as we know more formally as "Lemberger"
There actually was very little change.  The wine was a little less oaky and spicey, a little more earthier(is that a word),  but not much more fruit aromas or taste.  A little more smoother in the mouth with some black currant and plum.  There was some spice and vanilla with a very long finish.  What saved this wine was the lamb stew.  One of the better pairings I had with any wine.  The stew and the wine were like one.
Very nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Great food, good wine, the wife left me alone and the NY Giants won, and are now going to the Super Bowl in two weeks. Now I must stock up on some more NEW YORK wine for the final game.  Go Giants!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

McGregor Vineyards Merlot Reserve 2007

Merlot is another one of many wines that I can 'take it' or 'leave it.'  Not very high on my list of favorites. So, I very seldom have any on hand and very seldom search this wine out when wine shopping.  This past year, I have tried a few from Long Island, where Merlot seems to be king, but was not impressed.  I also have not, until now, found a Finger Lakes Merlot that pleased the palate. I usually bring home a few when on a wine tour or from the annual wine fest, but like many wines tasted on tours or events, they're just not what you thought they were when tasting weeks later at home.
Recently, I opened one that I bought at my last visit to Keuka Lake.  One of them nights when you cut up some cheese bits, a little pepperoni and a veggie dip and turn on ESPN to watch whatever sporting event is on the tube.   The wine was a 2007 McGregor Vineyards Reserve Merlot ($32).
At first the aromas were a little suspect. Lots of earthy soil, with some tobacco and a little red fruit.  It took a little while, but soon there appeared some black currant and a little dark plum.
The first taste was also lacking any real depth in flavor and, at first, I just passed it off as just another so-so Merlot.  But, this wine really started to open up after about 30 minutes of breathing. I found more fruit aromas like raspberry and plum with a little leather and much smoother in the mouth. The finish was very long and smooth, but a little heavy on tannins.  The wine was still very pleasant and paired well with my small platter of hors d'oeuvres.  Acutally was able to finish the bottle by the end of the game.
The price tag on this wine is a little overboard, but this is also one of the best, if not the best, Merlots I've tasted. I can't imagine me laying down a Merlot for a few years, but this is one I just may do that with.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Licia Albariño 2010

I got caught at the right time to open one of my few remaining Albariño wines.  Shirley, decided to cook up a broiled salmon steak with some baked Ore-Ida 'Fast Food Fries" and a garden salad for dinner.  Tonight it was a Licia Albariño 2010 ($13).
This is a Albariño that I found at one of the counties larger wine outlets.   I have become very fond of this grape, which until recently was hard to find locally.  It does appear, however, that this grape is now becoming very popular and easier to find.  That's great to see, because it makes a very nice wine.
Aromas were filled with lemon, peach,.some green apple and just a hint of mineral.  On the palate there was a crisp flavor of peach and honeydew melon which led to a very long zesty finish.
The Albariño has amazed me over the past year and continues to do so.  The Licia is maybe the best of what I have tasted so far. For white wine lovers who have not yet experienced this remarkable Spanish wine, I highly recommend you give them a try.   The Licia Albariño is a very reasonably priced nice one to start enjoying this exquisite dry white wine from the Rias Baixas region in Northern Spain.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wines of the Sea

I have often mentioned that my favorite white wine is Riesling, especially those from the New York Finger Lakes region.  Another that I discovered in the past year that rivals those favorites is the Albariño wines from the Rias Baixas region of Spain.  I now think that it is maybe because I found the Riesling and Albariño so similar.  At least that is what I found in three samples I just received from the PR folks at Cornerstone Communications.
I was going to taste all three and then post a review on one of the three, but decided instead, to review all of them in one post.   This is a bit different than what I normally do, but I did not want to leave two of them out.
The first two were opened on New Year's day with a dinner of pork roast with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.  This is our traditional New Year's day meal and one that I especially like with a dry white wine like Riesling.
Before dinner, with a little left over to start the meal, I opened the 2010 Valmiñor Albariño ($20).  A yellowish straw color with aromas of melon, peach and red grapefruit were a bit overpowered by some slate or mineral. Smooth and not too citrusy in the mouth with some green apple were, at first, a little disappointing, but finished nicely with some peach and a little citrus.  This wine was nice, but overpriced at $20.  
The second bottle opened was a 2010 Zios de Lusco Albariño ($16).  More of a lighter yellow color with lots of tropical fruit on the nose.  Passion fruit and some pineapple with hints of guava were very aromatic. A zesty mouthfeel with some tropical fruit finished dry and long. A very nice wine and nicely priced.  I would pair this with broiled scallops or a shrimp cocktail.
Both wines tasted with the pork dinner were nice, but the Zios was much more pleasant and paired much better.
The third bottle of Albariño received was a Martin Códax 2010 ($15).  I reviewed the 2008  vintage a year ago and I was sold on Albariño since.  I saved this for a dinner of baked trout with Jasmine rice and asparagus.  The 2010 vintage was much like the '08, (outstanding).
Aromas and palate were filled with melon, pear, green apple with floral aromas of honeysuckle and apple blossom.  Add a hint of pineapple with a very long finish and you have one fantastic wine.  By far, the best of the three and priced very nicely at $15.
I recently found a few more Albariño's locally and have put them away for the right time and the right meal to uncork and enjoy. Like my favorite Rieslings, I find these wines very aromatic with lots of tropical fruits, apple and floral with some mineral and nicely balanced.
Albariño wines have been nicknamed Wines of the Sea, based on their derivation from coastal vineyards and on their compatibility with seafood.  For the Rias Baixas are also famous for their wonderful seafood.  Fishing villages line the rias and ocean coast, and fishing is a major industry.  It is a delightful experience for locals and visitors alike to spend a sunny afternoon at a charming little outdoor cafe in Rias Baixas fishing village, enjoying a plate of fresh seafood and a bottle of crisp, dry Albariño wine.  
Well, another add to my retirement bucket list and I think a visit to Rias Baixas may be going to the top of that list.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

E. Guigal Gigondas 2007

I very rarely buy, order or drink French wines.  For 'old world' wines I have always enjoyed those from Italy and Spain and paid little attention to wines from France. There have been some I have enjoyed, like Beaujolais, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Rhône and some Bordeaux and one in particular that I had a few years ago, a Gigondas.  So, on my last wine shopping spree I picked up a bottle of E.Guigal Gigondas 2007 ($24)
Gigondas is situated right under the rugged, rocky range of the Dentelles de Montmirail.  The region, once a Cotes-du-Rhone village, earned its own appellation in 1971. Producing reds and rosés, Gigondas creates top quality reds sometimes rivaling its southwest neighbor, Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
There are days when I get home from work and just want to sip with a nice wine, relax and catch up with on my e-mails and social networking. Tonight I decided to open up and sip on my lone bottle of French wine, the Gigondas, a blend of Grenache (60%), Mourvèdre (30%), and Syrah (10%).
A nice dark garnet red color filled the glass. Aromas were awesome.  Started with a little licorice and herbs and then lot's of fruit.  Some blackberry, blueberry and a little cherry.  In the mouth the blackberry, red raspberry, some cherry and currant flavors were prevalent with some added herbs and a hint of black pepper. The finish was very smooth with a little smoke and the finish was long.  This wine was delicious.
After a few sips, I grabbed a few bites of sharp cheese and then a freshly baked chocolate cookies and the wine was still awesome.
I can't say enough about this wine.  It rivals those from it's neighboring and more popular  Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but is far less expensive.  I do doubt that this will swing me over to trying other French wines, but for now, I am a fan of Gigondas. Then again, I have heard that the French do make some great wines, so I just may give a few more a try.