Thursday, September 27, 2012

Banfi Col Di Sasso Toscana 2010

This week I started craving a Thanksgiving style Turkey dinner, so Shirley obliged with an all day preparation along with a little assistance from moi. While in the kitchen, in Shirley's way, I received a package with two wines for review.   One of these wines was just begging to be opened immediately, enjoy a glass now and save the rest for the turkey dinner. The wine: Banfi Col di Sasso 2010($9), a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.  I posted before, what I think of Banfi wines (one of my Italian favorites), so you know why I was ready to uncork this on right away.
A nice, bright ruby red color with aromas of cherry, plum and some strawberry on the nose.  Soft tannins with plum and hints of blackberry and a little earth in the mouth leading to a moderate finish with a bit of currant and cinnamon.  This $9 wine was nice before the dinner and excellent with the dinner. I had only a sip left to try with some Nutella after dinner and that was also a nice match.  Very easy red table wine to drink and very easy on the wallet.  Very Highly Recommended.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco Rioja Seleccion de Familia Crianza 2008

I guess there comes a time when one should breakaway and wean themselves from life long habits that one may call tradition.  That is what I am now trying desperately to do when it comes to matching my Italian food.  For 40+ years, it has always been, Italian food means Italian wine.  Even after starting this blog, expanding the palate and advocating a policy of "drink what you like, but always give other wines a chance," I would not stray from my 'tradition.'  But, the time has come to heed my own advice, although I will begin with baby steps.  That is, I am not going to stray that far to begin.  How about Spain for beginning this trek?  The meal: a simple pasta covered with Shirley's homemade sauce and sprinkled with a little Parmigiano-Reggiano and a side salad.  The wine: Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008($18) made for 100% Tempranillo grapes that is aged for 16 months in French and American oak.
I chose the wine from the Rioja region of Spain, because I find it's characteristics are not that much different than those of my usual Italian red table wine, Chianti.  The Crianza is a little bolder, but both have very nice and similar fruit and berries aromas and taste.
Right out of the bottle, I knew this would be one of the better Rioja wines I've tasted.  Lots of plum and cherry aromas with just a bit of spice and vanilla.  In the mouth, I got cherry, a little cinnamon, some tobacco and a touch of damp woodsy soil with soft tannins and a little acid like feel on the sides of the mouth.  The wine finished nice and smooth with spice notes and some leather.  Much more than expected and a wine I am sure to try again at this price and the fact that it paired very nicely with the pasta and Italian sauce.   Wine Spectator magazine selected the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza 2008 amongst its list of Top 100 Wines of 2011. The wine made by Rafael Vivanco is the top ranked Rioja on the list, appearing at number 59, and one of only 7 Spanish wines to make the top flight.  Just as I expected after the first aromas, this was one of the best Rioja wines I've tasted. Nice wine, nice price and very highly recommended.

You should also notice the unique shape of a bottle of Dinastia Vivanco. It's a recreation of a shape found in the family’s museum, a bottle dating back to the 18th century when each glass bottle was still individually crafted by a skilled glass blower. The design was chosen to reflect the ancient history of Rioja wine.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Banfi Tavernelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Last week while on my way to the mall to allow Shirley to spend some money, I stopped into one of my favorite wine shops, Vinomania.  I wasn't planning on walking out with any wines, just stopped in to say hi to shop owner, Gary Decker. But, after taking a small walk around the shop while Gary was busy, I found a few wines that I just had to buy.   One was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Castello Banfi, a 2006 Tavernelle ($40). This wine is from Banfi's Estate vineyards near the hamlet of Tavernelle, in the southern hills of Montalcino.   A bit above my normal price range, but some of my best Cabernet Sauvignon's are from Italy and Castello Banfi has always been among my favorite Italian producers.  I would usually save a wine like this for some thick grilled burgers or a grilled steak, but later that evening with a left over pizza slice and some extra sharp cheddar bites, I opened the Banfi Cab/Sauv. and settled in for some Thursday night NFL.
The aromas coming from this dark ruby red wine were every bit what I expected.  Currant, some blackberry and blueberry with tobacco, licorice and a faint hint of leather. A very pleasing mouthfeel full of berries, mocha and spice leading to a long dry finish with blackberry and spice.  The pizza and cheese bites were a great match, but now I am dreaming of a grilled medium rare rib eye or a thick juicy Black Angus burger and a Castello Banfi Tavernelle Cabernet Sauvignon.   Very highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Frog's Leap Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Tuesday afternoon I had to take a wine run to one of our local Wine & Spirits shops to pick up a white wine to serve with broiled salmon and snow crab.  My first thoughts were of a dry or semi-dry Finger Lakes Riesling, but while there I decided on a California Sauvignon Blanc and found one that looked very interesting,  a Frog's Leap Rutherford Napa Valley 2010.($22).  Interesting because of the connection of Frog's Leap and the New York Finger Lakes.

Frog's Leap was founded by the Williams family, on a spot along Mill Creek known as the Frog Farm. At the helm of Frog's Leap is John Williams, winemaker and former dairy farmer from upstate New York.
John Williams grew up in Western New York and originally attended Cornell University to extend his studies as a dairyman. A fortuitous work-study program at Taylor Wine Company and a few bottles of wine later, John entered the Enology and Viticulture Masters Program at UC Davis. Following Davis, he returned to the Finger Lakes as the start-up winemaker at Glenora Wine Cellars. Taking inspiration from his first Napa Valley winemaking post in the cellars of Stag's Leap, John began making wine commercially in 1981 and named the new operation "Frog's Leap."  
Winemakers John Williams and Paula Moschetti hand-craft an annual production of almost 60,000 cases composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc  and Zinfandel.
Frog's Leap produces some of Napa Valley's finest wines and, undoubtedly, has one of the wine world's best mottos: "Time's Fun When You're Having Flies."
Before I forget, Frog's Leap grapes are organically grown.  See here...

The wines color was typical Sauvignon Blanc, bright, pale with a greenish hue.  Nice aromas of green apple, grapefruit, lemon peel and melon with some honeysuckle filled the glass.  In the mouth the wine was nicely balanced with grapefruit, lemon, some green apple and a little slate like minerality.  The finish was lengthy with lots of grapefruit, some lemon zest and hints of peach.  Very much reminded me of some French Sauvignon Blancs.  Only drawback is the price.  I found many very nice Sauvignon Blancs under $15 over the past few years and I paid $22 locally for the Frog's Leap.  You can find this wine on-line for as low as $17 and I may even be able to find a much lower price by shopping around. Then again, this was a delicious and refreshing wine that I just may buy again.  Highly Recommended

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Middle Sister Rebel Red NV

38% Zinfandel, 34% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, 2% mixed red varietals. 100% California grapes with 42% from the Lodi appellation.  That is the blend in what I found to be a very delightful party wine, Middle Sister Rebel Red Non Vintage.($12
I opened the wine while munching on some spicy chicken burritos layered with a mix of three cheeses, tomatoes, lettuce, some medium hot peppers and medium hot salsa and I was looking for a nice red table wine for pairing.
Color was a very bright ruby red, which looked awesome on a very sunny early evening on the patio. Lots of berry aromas right out of the bottle.  Aromas were filled with blueberry, blackberry, elderberry, raspberry and a very subtle hint of smoke.  In the mouth the Rebel Red was loaded with black and red fruits and some nice black pepper.  The medium finish was smooth with blackberry and a little earthiness. There was also a very tiny suggestion of sweetness which made the wine a very nice pairing with the burritos.  A very nice versatile wine that will pair well with many dishes.   Highly Recommended

Friday, September 7, 2012

Borsao Berola 2008

When shopping for wines in any shop, I like to hear recommendations from the staff, even if the staff is only one clerk in a small shop.  I do sometimes look the other way when the clerk or stock boy is recommending a bottle in a display that consist of four to six open boxes sitting on top of 25 to 30 unopened boxes of that same wine.   Somebody ordered a pallet of wine and now they have to get rid of them.  Especially true, when the wine is new or one that is not among their regular stock. But, last week a young lady at a small shop was persistent and convinced me to try a Spanish wine they just received, a Borsao Berola 2008 ($15), a blend of 70% Garnacha, 20% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Lot's of berry aroma's like, blueberry, blackberry and some strawberry with some anise but a little heavy on vanilla.  Mouthfeel was smooth with some spice, cherry and smoke.  Also tasted a bit of earth or damp forest soil. Finish was medium to long with hints of pepper, vanilla, plum and tobacco.    This Berola will age very nicely and the $15 price tag is, I think, outrageously low.  I'm heading back to this shop later this week for a wine tasting and I will be sure to pick up a few more of the Borsao Berola.  Very Highly Recommended 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Matua Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011

This past weekend Shirley cooked up some of her BBQ pork ribs for a quick dinner.   Normally I would like a nice Pinot Noir or Cab Franc with her ribs, but it was a very warm day and I just returned from a local wine shop with a Sauvignon Blanc I was anxious to try, A Matua Valley Marlborough 2011 ($11)
Founded in 1974, Matua Valley was the first New Zealand winery to produce Sauvignon Blanc, establishing them as innovators and pioneers of New Zealand viticulture.  That is why I chose this wine over several others on the shelf.
The wine showed a very clear, bright with a greenish hue color that you would expect in a Sauvignon Blanc.  There was a little bit of mineral aroma at first, but after one swirl aromas were full of lemon/lime and tropical fruits with a hint of melon and green apples. Nice acidity with a medium length tropical fruit finish made for a very refreshing wine.
A very nice everyday wine at a very reasonable price.Try this wine with any white fish or light summer salads or just sipping with a light cheese.  Recommended