Northern Italian Reds

 

Dolcetto_NizzaWines of the Week

wines chosen for the 2nd Italian Wine Professional class: The red wines of Northern Italy

starting in the North East the best known grapes are:

 

• Barbera

premiere regions: Barbera d’Asti DOCG, Barbera d’Alba DOC, Nizza DOCG.

• Nebbiolo

premiere regions: Barolo DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG, Roero DOCG, Ghemme DOCG, Gattinara DOCG (Piedmont), Valtellina Superiore DOCG (Lombardy).

To discover less expensive regions click here…

• Dolcetto

premiere regions: Dogliani DOCG, Ovada DOCG, Diano d’Alba DOCG, Dolcetto D’Alba DOC, Dolcetto d’Asti DOC, Dolcetto d’Acqui DOC.

The wines:

PioCesare_DolcettoDolcetto means little sweet one but the wines are not sweet. Dolcetto is the least “serious” of the Piedmont wines and is the everyday wine in this region. You drink Dolcetto while your Barolos and Barbaresco’s are aging. This wine from traditional producer Pio Cesare- 2012 Dolcetto d’Alba is stainless steel fermented and aged. It is an elegant wine and like all of the other Dolcetto denominations it is 100% Dolcetto (not a blend).

Prunotto_NizzaBarbera is the most widely grown grape in Piedmont. It can be used to produce various styles of wine depending on the wine maker. The 2009 Prunotto Costamiole Nizza is pretty spectacular on it’s own but is even better with food. The Nizza denomination was a sub zone of Barbera d’Asti until 2014 now Nizza is the only denomination that requires 100% Barbera (also not a blend).

 

Italian International Wines

Wine(s) of the Week

The theme of this week’s Italian wines class was regions that have International influence. The following regions in Italy border other countries:

Liguria- France

Piedmont- France/Switzerland

Valle d’Aosta- France/Switzerland

Lombardy- Switzerland

Trentino- Alto Adige- Switzerland/Austria

Veneto- Austria

Friuli-Venezia Giulia- Austria/Slovenia

Wines chosen:

SanMichele_ai_Pianoni2003 San Michele al Pianoni Profondo di San Michele Riserva Oltrepo Pavese– $30

A beautiful wine with earthy, rusty elements but also great acidity and fresh red fruit flavors. An excellent, aged wine for the money– From Lombardy

 

GrosJean_Gamay2013 Grosjean Gamay Valle d’Aosta – $18

An interesting producer that uses French varietalswhere else are you going to find “Beaujolais” in Italy. Very nice cranberry, tea flavors. Good value compared to Cru Beaujolais. Notice the different spelling of the region “Valée d’Aoste.”

 

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…

 

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.

LOCALE Farmtable 8 course dinner !!

Locale Market-St. Petersburg Florida pairing dinner

Complete descriptions on the nights menu at the bottom of this post

1st Course

(Fresh) tuna with 2013 Robert Weil “Tradition” Riesling– Rheingau, Germany. This is a perfect pairing- the saltiness of the fresh tuna with the minerality and fruit from the Riesling.

 2nd Course

Beet salad with Round Pound Sauvignon Blanc– Rutherford, CA. Salads are difficult to pair with wine but this one worked nicely. Good for picnics!

 3rd Course

“Fancy” ham&cheese- Proscuitto/Taleggio with Clos Canarelli Rosé from Corsica, France. This Rosé has a bit of funk on it but went well with the cheese. A light stainless red would also have worked.

4th Course

Blue Crab dumplings w/caviar & lobster butter with 2007 Tahbilk Marsanne, Australia. This wine had a strong aroma of kerosene, but when paired with the rich lobster butter and dumpling, made an interesting match.

 5th Course

Strawberry shooter with green drink shooter.

 6th Course

Wet and Dry Aged Beef with mushrooms.

Chateau Coutet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru & Joseph Carr Cabernet Sauvignon

 7th Course

Nitrogen chilled vanilla ice cream in espresso

 8th Course

Milk Chocolate s’mores with Alvear Pedro Ximénez Solera 1927. PX is a perfect match with creamy chocolate (especially chocolate mousse).

LocaleMenu

Open That Bottle Night

2006_CdBMeritageFor our first trip to the North Fork of Long Island we attended Wine Camp. With each winery, that you visit, you learn a different aspect of the wine business; from the owners or winemakers. A very personal and hands-on approach, we blended wine at one, pruned vines at another and learned alot about the region and it’s wines. It was a very special experience. And on the last night we celebrated with a wine/food pairing at Castello di Borghese.

The owners, Marco and Ann Marie Borghese were gracious hosts and true ambassadors for the wine region.

One of the rewards, of Wine Camp, is a mixed case from each of the participating wineries, including two bottles from Borghese.

Over the years we enjoyed these wines, for special occasions, and each time it brought back great memories. Continue reading

Under $15 Bargain wines…are these really the best?

NePriCa_Banyan

Many magazines, retailers and websites offer “15/50/150 under $15”, “our best values of the year (under $15)” etc.

Why not under $10? Here is why:

Cost of bottle- $1

Cost of label-25¢

Cost of cork-25¢

Cost of cardboard case that wines are shipped in- 25¢

Cost of capsule (foil at top of bottle, if used)-5¢

Roughly $1.8o, without any wine in the bottle!

If you add in cost of transport and taxes, labor costs, markup and margin for the 3 tier system- an empty bottle of wine costs approximately $7.99.

$8- without grapes, machinery, storage, land, barrels, tanks…

So, if you can find a great wine for under $10- you have truly found a bargain.

The bargain list gets much larger (and more interesting) when you increase the budget to $15 so here are some of those recent lists…

Continue reading