Excellent Value “Barolo”

1982BriccoAsiliI have often told people looking for value Barolo or Barbaresco to buy one now (and wait 10-20 years), or look elsewhere. Sorry but many believe this expression of Nebbiolo is built for aging and needs much time to soften.

 

 

However…if you like the Nebbiolo grape here are some lesser known (less expensive) varietal alternatives:

Roero DOCG- Minimum 95% Nebbiolo

Gattinara DOCG– Minimum 90% Nebbiolo (locally Spanna); maximum 10% Uva Rara; maximum 4% Vespolina

Ghemme DOCGMinimum 85% Nebbiolo (locally Spanna); maximum 15% Uva Rara and/or Vespolina.

Some other Piedmont regions to look for on the label:

*Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC100% Nebbiolo (best pure Nebbiolo value)

Langhe DOC– Nebbiolo labeled- Minimum 85% Nebbiolo

Alba DOC–  70–85% Nebbiolo; 15–30% Barbera; maximum 5% other reds

Some others from Lombardy:

Valtellina Superiore DOCG– Minimum 90% Nebbiolo

Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG– Minimum 90% Nebbiolo

best value for drinking now- Valtellina Rosso/Rosso di Valtellina DOC- Minimum 90% Nebbiolo

2013VilladeiLadri 2013VilladeiLadri_backHere is a beauty of the Langhe that I discovered at the Wine Cellar, visiting a friend in Red Bank, NJ- Villa die Ladri (House of Thieves)- 80% Nebbiolo and 20% Barbera.

 

More reading:

A great article on Alto Piemonte which is another source of value for Nebbiolo based wines.

Excellent maps of Barolo

Itunes download

How to buy the best Barolo

WTF…Montepulciano grape, or region?

Another installment of what IS this wine

2010Contucci_VNdMVino Nobile di Montepulciano is produced in Tuscany, around the town of Montepulciano. The wine name translates into “Noble wine of Montepulciano”.  Since the most noble red grape in this region is Sangiovese (called Prunolo Gentile here) the wines are a traditional blend of mostly Sangiovese. The grapes must make up at least 60–80 percent of the final wine, and may be complemented by Canaiolo (10–20 percent) and other local varieties permitted in the province of Siena, including the rare, violet-scented Mammolo (Sciacarello). This wine is 80% Prugnolo Gentile, 10% Canaiolo Nero, 10% Colorino. Purchased on WTSO for $20.

Some have described Vino Nobile as having the perfume of Chianti Classico’s with the richness of Brunello di Montalcino. This is a great description for this wine.

Montepulciano is also the name of a grape which is primarily grown on the eastern shore of Italy in Abruzzo (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG) and Marche (Conero, Rosso Conero, Offida).

Both Montepulciano and Sangiovese make excellent wines but they are very different.

Further information:

proper pronunciation for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

a thorough article on the Montepulciano grape.

 

Vintage Charts…how to use them.

3BrunellosMany of us believe that the best wine is the highest rated wine…not necessarily true..

WS_VintageChartWhat do vintage charts mean and how to use them…

Hold (cellar)This wine is not really ready to drink. It will probably be very tannic and require some aging. If you do want to drink it now you should open it up and decant it (pour it into a larger container and swirl it around) then wait a few hours before serving it. This helps the wine soften and open up.

Drinkno explanation needed here.

Drink/Hold– Gets a little more complicated. Whether it will drink well right now depends on the producer, where the grapes were grown and what the weather conditions were like that year.

A real world example using a Wine Spectator vintage chart (app) for one of the greats- Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, Italy.

2010ScoponeLooking at the chart for the highest rated wine, would indicate that you should buy the 2010. 2010 produced some amazing wines and they are well priced BUT they really aren’t ready (see Hold above). If you want to hold this wine for 5-10 years this would be a great purchase.

 

 

2004IlPatrizieFor a splurge and drinking now, the next highest rated would be 2004. This is what you want! 2004 was an excellent vintage for this wine and they are perfect right now. They may be a little difficult to find and a little pricey, but the search is worth it.

 

 

2005CortePavoneFor value drinking you will need to stay away from the top rated vintages. A good strategy is to look at wines that fall in between 2 great vintages. 2005 was between the high rated vintages of 2004 and 2006. This is what the wine pros buy because they are more readily available and the best buy.

 

Please share your favorite Vintage tips

Introducing…WTF wines

Dogliani1Assuming you know what WTF stands for…

I consider WTF wines to be wines that:

• contain an obscure (less common) wine grape… and/or

• are produced in an unusual region…and/or

• are created with an unorthodox method

Most importantly, when you look at the bottle containing a WTF wine it is extremely difficult to determine what is actually in the bottle OR if you will like it.

Because I am not afraid to try new things I will highlight these wines but only my recommend ones. I will give you some solid information about them and hopefully you will find something NEW and delicious.

Dogliani2My first WTF wine has a simple label that tells the average consumer very little. This wine is made from 100% Dolcetto grapes from Piedmont Italy. It doesn’t say either anywhere, on the front or back label, so you will have to trust me. Dogliani is the region and it is has achieved the top quality level (DOCG). The laws from this region insist that the wine is made from 100% Dolcetto. Oddly enough, Dolcetto means “little sweet” in Italian but Dolcetto is usually used for dry (not sweet) wines. Although Nebbiolo (Barolo/Barberesco) and Barbera (d’Asti/d’Alba) are probably better known, outside of Italy, Dolcetto is a very popular, “goes with anything” wine for Italians. And it is enjoyable young so you can drink Dolcetto while your Barolo’s and Barbaresco’s are aging for the next 10-20 years.

If you can’t find this wine try another 100% Dolcetto from these denominations:

Dogliani DOCG

Dolcetto d’Acqui

Diano d’Alba DOCG

Ovada DOCG

More to come…

 

Summer wine pairing

pesto_roseOne of my favorite (easy) fresh summer appetizers is Basil Cream Cheese pesto with tomatoes.

The fancy version involves making an “X” shape in the end of a cherry tomato and stuffing the tomato with the pesto filling.

I prefer to spread it on grilled bread and top with chopped fresh garden tomatoes to make bruschetta.

Pesto_ingredientsHere is my version of this summer favorite:

8-12 basil leaves (around 2 cups)

2 or 3 cloves garlic (depending on size)

1/4 c. pine nuts (toasted preferably)

1/4 c. Parmesan cheese

6 oz. low fat cream cheese (or Neuchâtel preferably)

1/2 c. Olive Oil

Pulse all solid ingredients together in a food processor while drizzling olive oil into the mixture. Blend until smooth.

Brush fresh bread with olive oil and grill or broil.

Spread pesto mix onto bread, top with chopped tomatoes and extra cheese if desired.

Enjoy with a low-tannin light red, or rosé wine.

IRDC_LaSpinettaMy wine pairing suggestion is a pink Sangiovese like this one. Il Rosé di Casanova- La Spinetta. Around $15.

Anything, but Santa Margherita

WineTastingMemorial Day Italian wine tasting- anything but Santa Margherita.

SantaMargheritaFor 14 years in a row, from 1995 to 2008, it was the most popular imported wine in Wine & Spirits magazine’s annual restaurant poll. And as a popular Wine Blogger Blake Gray reports “With 2.5 times the sales of the next-most-popular wine over $20, this is easily America’s favorite wine splurge. It tastes like nothing, and the logical conclusion is that’s what many Americans are looking for.”

 

WIneLineupWe tasted 4 alternatives against Santa Margherita Pinot Grigo:

This was an informal tasting, on the beach, so we used my favorite summertime wine accessories: stainless carafes.

ORANGE• Santa Margherita Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2013- This wine needs no introduction, as Santa Margherita is the standard for the crisp, refreshing notes of Italian Pinot Grigio. Your Price: $19.97

Villata_ArneisAQUA• Villata Arneis Terredavino- Piedmonte NW Italy- Generous, crisp, and refreshing, releasing aromas of blossoms and green apple

$8.50 on sale grape varietal Arneis means “little rascal” in Italian. Difficult to grow.

 

AloisLageder_PGBOTTLE (covered in foil)• Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio 2013– Crisp, mineral driven, lively, delicious. The perfect summer sipping beverage, and a killer pairing for seafood. It’s cheaper, and better than SM, and just a fantastic wine period. – PJ Wine: $12.97

 

DelSannino_FalanghinaGREEN• Mastroberardino Sannio Falanghina –Campania Italy. The tongue of the boot. 2013- The nose whacks you with a cool sea-breeze of peach, pesto, and salt. It’s also got this fantastic fennel thing going on and smells like sweet basil being extracted by the mid-day southern Italian sun. PJ Wine $16.97

 

Luisa_RibollaGiallaSTAINLESS• Ribolla Gialla is a signature varietal of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The origins of this varietal are uncertain, but some have identified its ancestor as Avola, a varietal brought to Friuli during the occupation of Friuli by the Romans. However, others say Ribolla Gialla is a native varietal of the region. Record of its existance in the region goes as far back as the 12th century. This is a fine and pristine expression of Ribolla Gialla, with bright fruit aromas of peach, citrus and pear. There’s a touch of dusty mineral at the back and the wine is fresh and tart on the close. $17.95

CONCLUSION: The Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio was the most expensive and least favorite of the group.

The BEST Barolo…

MicheleChiarloHow do you find the best Barolo producers? Thanks to Wine-Searcher for some detective work…they ranked the “king of wines” based on vineyard site rankings.

The “best” regions (in bold) and some recommended producers listed below:

Third Tier:

Francia (Serralunga d’Alba)

Villero (Castiglione Falletto)

Second Tier:

Monprivato (Castiglione Falletto)- Giuseppe Mascarello

Rocche dell’Annunziata (La Morra)- Renato Ratti

Vigna Rionda (Serralunga d’Alba)- Bruno Giacosa, Luigi Pira, Cappellano

Top Tier: Continue reading