Fascinating, Italy I recently had the opportunity to visit the wine country of Italy. It is a remarkable country filled with great wines from many regions. My initial stop of course, was...
Unlike pinot grigio which is a grape variety, Soave is a region producing some great white wine in the province of Verona, Italy. Soave comes with several quality designations, including ordinary...
Why We Decant Wine I have three reasons why we decant wine. The first is to remove wine from the sediment in the bottle. The sediment consists of tartrates, which are harmless crystalline deposits...
When the wine left the bottle into the glass there was no doubt it was a Bordeaux blend. Dark velvety ruby color with a fragrance of black fruits, espresso, and roses, this wine is made from 36% ...
Aliquam venenatis enim in mi iaculis in tempor lectus tempor et convallis erat pellentesque
I recently had the opportunity to visit the wine country of Italy. It is a remarkable country filled with great wines from many regions. My initial stop of course, was Tuscany were the great wines of Chianti are made. My first sip of Fattoria La RIpa by Santa Brigida Chianti Classico Reserva was produced from 100% Sangiovese and lived up to the reputation of a deep ruby red color with complex aromas of forest fruits then shift to soft spices with a herbal finish. When purchasing this wine always look for the “Black Rooster” seal (Gallo Nero in Italian). This is an indication of wine that is produced with restrictions by the Chianti Classico Consortium. I remember many years ago staring at pictures of Tuscany in my Grand Mother’s Parlor. They were cobblestone streets with stone buildings on both sides and always seemed to be a bicycle or two, with clothes hanging out to dry from a second story balcony in the picture. I was not disappointed that picture does really exist.
Next, we visited the town of Montalcino and stayed at a vineyard with remarkable views and fabulous wine. These wines are Brunello, made from the grape variety Sangiovese Grosso or also called Brunello di Montalcino. The difference in these wines from the Chianti region is the soil. Chianti is highly a friable shale-clay where Montalcino has a high proportion of limestone. The vintner’s choice for our table was a 2007 Lagerla Reserva gli Angeli. This vintage is rated 97 points by wine spectator. It has spicy oak aromas concentrated with flavors of black cherry and tobacco. The finish is long and lingering.
The views of Montalcino are breathless. Opening my eyes in the morning and witnessing these surroundings was Heaven.
We then traveled to visit the La Colonica Winery which is between the municipalities of Montepulciano and Cortona. In this region the soil is fertile with a clay texture. The wines are well rounded with structure. My favorite from this proud vineyard is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Reserva “ San Venrio”. The grapes used to make this wine are Sangiovese, Canaiola and Melot. The love in making this wine I noticeable from the first taste. The grapes are harvested by hand. The wine is a deep red garnet with a delicate but intense bouquet. I found a slight sent of violet on the nose with a rich satisfying finish. The care used to make these wines is impressive. I will never forget my visit to this winery. It leaves a long, lasting, wonderful impression.
Our next stop led us to a nice surprise at the Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Winery located in the commune of Sant’ Angelo All’Esca, in the province of Avellino, Campania. I enjoyed many wines from this vineyard.
My favorite was the “OPERA MIA” Taurasi made from 100% Aglianico grape. This grape is so unique that it should be on everyone’s list to drink who appreciates great wine. It comes from a soil that is clay-like and chalky. The grapes are aged in quality French oak for 12 months then left in the bottle to age for another year. The Aglianico grape is black-skinned and produces musky berry flavors. The nose is complex of ripe red fruits, dried prunes and spices. The taste is inviting with a good presence of silky tannins and an intense finish.
Finally, we set out to Manduria, to see our friend Gregory Perrucci.
Gregory owns the Racemi Vineyard and is very knowledgeable about growing grapes and making great wines. He is the ultimate host. One of the wines I enjoy most is “GIRAVOLTA”. It is 100% Primitivo grape varietal. Very deep in color with a slight muted nose, the initial aroma is of vanilla and sweet baking spices with red cherry and milk chocolate. After opening, the wine has elegant floral notes. The taste is remarkable with red cherry and milk chocolate. I found the finish to be clean with well-balanced tannins.
After spending time with Gregory Perrucci, you feel like you’re a part of his family.
My experience in Italy was fascinating and educating. I want to thank everyone for making my trip to Italy, remarkable.
Unlike pinot grigio which is a grape variety, Soave is a region producing some great white wine in the province of Verona, Italy. Soave comes with several quality designations, including ordinary Soave as well as wines labeled Classico or Superiore, and Recioto.
Ordinary Soave has a minimum of 10.5 percent abv (alcohol by volume). It is a blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and Trebbiano di Soave grapes. It is dry and probably the best known and plentiful Italian white wine. Soave Classico or Superior wines are aged for six months and will have a minimum of 11.5 percent abv. They are meant to be consumed young and are of a higher quality. All of these wines are produced in the inner delimited area of Soave. Recioto di Soave has a 14 percent abv, has a color of amber gold. It is a sweet dessert wine made from semi-dried (passito) grapes. The passito method describes the drying of the grapes prior to fermentation. This increases the sugar level of the grapes and makes for a tasty dessert wine. Many times the grapes are dried on straw mats, but this method can be done by placing the grapes in warm lofts or hanging them in rafters. In good years the grapes will be affected by botrytis. Botrytis is a rot that actually forms on the grapes while on the vine. It causes the grapes to shrivel up like raisins which are low in moisture but high in sugar.
Soave is diverse with aromas of apples, white flowers and citrus. It pairs well with many dishes such as pasta with cream sauces, light meats and fish. Recently, I paired it with Dover Sole a La Meuniere.
The fish is lightly sautéed, made with the Soave and a squeeze of lemon. To compliment my fish I decided on parsley potatoes, broccoli romanesco and slivered almonds
I am seeing a rebirth of Soave with a handful of producers making quality wines.
When you are looking for an Italian white wine other than pinot grigio, remember to try the Soave Classico or Superior. You might be surprised with the satisfying quality coming from Italy.Read More
Why We Decant Wine
I have three reasons why we decant wine.
The first is to remove wine from the sediment in the bottle. The sediment consists of tartrates, which are harmless crystalline deposits that form in the bottle with ageing. Today, vintners take great pride clarifying the wine as much as possible before bottling, but inevitably some wines will create a little sediment formed by the grape skin, seeds, and pulp fragments. I think that noticing some sediment with wines of age is acceptable, because most of the time it is an indication of the presence of soft, silky tannins. The tannins come from different sources such as the skin and seeds found from the grapes. You cannot taste tannins. It is a tactile sensation of bitterness in the wine. One can encounter a similar mouth feel when drinking over-steeped tea. When the sediment is present it may be an indication that aged wine is more subtle.
The second reason for decanting is to allow the wine to ‘breathe’ or ‘aerate’. This allows the wine to take on an extra dimension. Great wines allow a wonderful experience of olfactory sensation. Aeration opens up the wine throughout the decanter and the bouquet surrounds the table. Wine is food. As you enjoy the aromas of the dinner, the wine should be an intricate sensory part of the meal.
Finally, the third reason for decanting. When wine shows up at the dining table it takes center stage. A drama begins to take place that without it the excitement would be absent. The conversation at the table is formulated around the wine. Where is it from? What is the varietal? How does it pair with the dinner? What is the vintage? The Sommelier decanting the wine at the table adds to the good feeling by all that is shared throughout the dining experience.
Many times at a restaurant, before dinner, I will order a bottle of wine as an aperitif. Then, I order a bottle to suit our table according to my guests entre’ choice. After a sip of fine wine from the first bottle, I am never surprised when I see them change their mind of entre’. The power of great wine is amazing.
I have a saying, “Romance is the essence of life, and wine kindles the romance”.
This time of year can be an exciting experience, celebrating with family and friends.Read More
Rioja is the leading wine region located in the northern part of Spain. It makes predominately red wine from the Tempranillo, Granacha, Graciano and Mazuela varietals. Rioja divides into three districts along the axis of the river Ebro: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rio Baja in quality order. It is easy to understand the quality of the wines by looking at the label on the back of the bottle. Here you will find a stamp which gives an indication of the age.
The lighter green stamp is called Rioja Joven which has not been matured in oak at all or for less than one year for red and less than six months for white.
The light red color stamp is called Crianza. The wine is released in its third year; one year must have been spent in wood for red wines and six months for white.
The dark red stamp is called Reserva; is aged one year for red, six months for white and rosé, plus a further two years in the bottle or vice versa.
The blue stamp is the Gran Reserva; only made in exceptional years and is matured in wood for a minimum of two years plus three years in the bottle. White and rosé Gran Reservas spend a minimum of six months in wood and three years in the bottle before being released. White Rioja wines can be dry to medium sweet, light and crisp. The red wines are full bodied with cherry, strawberry, and raspberry flavors. Red Rioja wines are excellent when served with strongly flavored dishes such as game, casseroles, and roasts, and will complement spaghetti Bolognese. Light dishes are likely to be overpowered by the strong flavor of these wines. The red wines benefit from being opened well in advance of serving.Read More
When the wine left the bottle into the glass there was no doubt it was a Bordeaux blend. Dark velvety ruby color with a fragrance of black fruits, espresso, and roses, this wine is made from 36% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot.
The rich flavors of cassis, black plum and coffee were a perfect match for my choice of meal. We had great fun celebrating my parent’s 58th anniversary.
The dinner began with a small appetizer of Swedish meatballs alongside homemade egg noodles. I prepared baked potatoes on the grill with prime rib-eyes; which were done to medium rare perfection; the use of knives optional. Each plate prepared with freshly sauteed red beets and green bean almondine. All of us could not stop talking about our selection of wine as a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
Finally, we had the ultimate cupcake for dessert. Believe it or not, each cupcake was unique to each of us at the table. My Mother had banana with a fudge middle, my Father’s choice was chocolate covered cherry, Cyndie had a spice carrot cake, and I had a chocolate covered strawberry. Oh, did I say the cupcakes went wonderfully with our last sip of wine? Does this mean I now have to do a wine and cupcake tasting?
What a nice lunch. I do not normally give certain recipes, but I can’t resist this one.
I first started with rinsed and dried baby romaine in a large wooden bowl. Then I kissed the leaves with a raspberry vinaigrette and separated them into salad dishes with two sliced fresh strawberries on the top of the leaves. I placed the dishes in the frig to get nice and cold and grilled a tender chicken breast brushed with olive oil. Lucky me, I went to my basil plant and finely julienned some of the basil leaves for the strawberries and the chicken. Bring the salad bowls that were chilling from the frig and lay out thinly sliced chicken breast along side the leaves and strawberries in the salad dish. I put a drop of Thai sweet chile dipping sauce on each individual slice of chicken and finished with some fresh goat cheese.
Of course I needed to choose a bottle of wine to go with this great salad. I opened a bottle of Le Clos Chartier from the cellar. Carefully chilled and served at 55 degrees this very aromatic wine with tropical fruits, spice and mineral notes was a super match. This wine has clean flavors of grapefruit, lime, honey with herbal notes that is aged on it’s lees which make for a medium bodied wine that last on the palate.
I love the taste of taste!!
I thought it would be nice to share with you an experience I recently had drinking a Black Muscat from California. This is a distinctive grape full of aroma and flavor. I chose the Quady Elysium (Greek for Heaven) as my dessert wine. Fresh Georgia peaches are now prevalent and better than ever. So, I decided to make a quick warm raspberry sauce for dipping my expertly carved up peaches along with the wine. It turned out to be a great combination. The wine starts with an aroma of a rose garden with the flavor expression of Litchi. Combined with our peaches dipped in my sauce it was a perfect ending to a nearly perfect day.
So, go to your favorite wine shop and ask for the Black Muscat. There are different producers besides Quady. The next time I may try Rosenblum’s Back Muscat. Remember, the brix are about 25 (The higher the number the sweeter the wine).
You can also try this wine with your favorite blue cheese and fresh fruit. One of mine is the Maytag Blue from Newton, Iowa.Read More
The word Meritage (rhymes with heritage) is a trade-marked name, which can only be used legally on labels of producers that are members of the Meritage Alliance.
The grape varieties allowed are for red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot and the rarer St. Macaire Gros Verdot and Carmenere.
For white the varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Muscadelle du Bordelais. No single variety can make up more than 90% of the blend.
It must be produced in quantities of no more than 25,000 cases per year, and one of the two most expensive wines produced by the winery.Read More
Acidification is a process used to increase the acid in the wine. This is common in warm wine regions. Remember, the warmer the wine region the greater the alcohol content. The greater the alcohol content the less acidic the wine. So, sometimes to increase the richness and fruitiness of the wine, acidification may be considered. Tartaric acid is typically used in the process of balancing the wine. You may know it as cream of tartar. This acidification is used in Bordeaux and Burgundy (My favorite study). Most wine makers try to ensure that no excess tartaric acid is used. It may cause crystals to form in the bottle (sediment). These crystals that form in the bottle have no effect on the final product. This is one of the reasons to decant the bottle at our dining table.Read More
So good. I put together a lovely meal last night. Wild salmon (is there any other?) with a fresh raspberry sauce. For the sides, I grilled asparagus and a harvest blend of couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans, and red onion.
The Bellavista Franciacorta from Lombardy, Italy was a fantastic match. The grapes used are 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. The mousse is white, lively and persistent, the bubbles small and long-lasting which is an indication of a quality sparkling wine. The color is light yellow with hints of green. The perfume is full, inviting, rich in ripe fruits, chlorophyll and vanilla; these perfumes are fully reflected in the taste, and are echoed in the aftertaste.
Remember Miles from the movie Sideways making that statement. Why has Merlot gotten such a bad rap? Well, I can give you a bunch of technical jargon, but it comes down to a great amount of demand in the last 10 years and an over produced grape.
The varietal itself can be difficult, especially grown in hot climates. The acid profile is known to have issues.
This is why, when the varietal is placed in the right hands of an excellent producer with good climate conditions this wine can be exceptional.
Send me your thoughts.
Much history about great wine comes from Jurancon. The Gros Manseng varietal is chiefly responsible for the Jurancon Sec. The Petit Manseng which is thick-skinned produces the famous sweet Jurancon.
In Jurancon there is a “Cuvee Marie” that is very interesting made with 90% Gros Manseng (for structure) and 10% Petit Courbu (for Finesse) that gives a great aroma of clover, honeysuckle, juniper berries, and sweet spice.
I picked up a recipe from a great restaurant in Baltimore, Maryland that is a perfect match for this wine.
Soft shell crab, grilled tomato, peppercorn marinated crispy cole slaw, and a spicy remoulade.
Plus any time you are thinking about Currie this works wonderfully.
If you are thinking about getting out of the Chardonnay box, but are unsure were to start, this wine would be a great beginning.
What to give my Dad who has everything he needs? I know what about a break for the day. Let’s treat him like the KING he is by celebrating with a magnificent dinner. If you do not know now, you will soon find out. I LOVE TO COOK! A few days earlier before Father’s Day I had been watching Claire Robinson on T.V. for the first time. I was so impressed by her, I decided to recreate her Braised Short Ribs, Stone Ground Grits with Gruyere and Braised Red Cabbage.
It was delicious!
What made the meal more spectacular was my choice of wine. A Clarendon Hills, Hickinbotham Syrah.
Classic Aroma with ginger, white pepper, black fruit and licorice. The taste was rich with cassis, blackberry, cherry, and spice. This is a dense wine with liquor qualities. The finish is not surprisingly long.
What a day with Dad, and what a meal. He deserved it.
Of course we enjoyed it watching the U.S Open, together. A Sudnick Tradition.Read More
I know everyone has their idea of what is the best 4th of July party. As far as I am concerned, just give me champagne! Since it is going to be champagne, it might as well be one of the best this great country has to offer. So I choose Louis Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Rose, 2003. Made only in exceptional years from the very best lots of Roederer’s 580 acres. This bubbly is great with anything you might put on the grill. At first sight you notice a wonderful light salmon color. The aroma is of warm out of the oven, bread crust with baked apples and caramelized hazelnuts. The taste has a creamy mouthful rich with cherries, raspberries and vanilla. From the great AVA of Anderson Valley, California it boast the best of Chardonnay (51%) and Pinot Noir (49%, of which 3.9% is of aged reserve wine). The residual sugar is about 1.1% so this medium dry wine is a perfect match for Washington State Dungeness Crab made with drawn butter, garlic, jalapeno and ginger. Even though this sounds scrumptious, this Champagne goes well even with a Fresh Market hamburger. All I need is the fireworks!! What ever you do, have fun, stay safe, enjoy your family and friends.Read More
Simply put “The Bubbles”. Imagine a million, yes I said a MILLION bubbles all corked up for years waiting patiently to be released by some lucky individual who appreciates every single one. When the cork is carefully removed from the champagne bottle everyone of those mouthwatering bubbles wants out, and as quickly as they can. You can imagine being cooped up for years. You would want out, too!
Mousse is the French term for fizziness.
There is not a proper way to drink champagne in my view. Any way you like it, is the way to drink it. There is a way to get a great amount of enjoyment out of that bubbly.
When you take a sip of champagne swirl it in your mouth and get all those tiny bubbles excited. The mousse will magically reappear. Then you can gently swallow each and every tiny satisfying bubble.
Is it any wonder why I say “Romance is the essence of life and wine kindles the romance”.
Maybe, I should change that to Champagne!
With the recent heatwave, I was in the mood for a German Riesling with our dinner. Now, what to have for dinner?
I made an Indian Chicken Curry. I had most of the ingredients on hand so it was easy to make. I like curry dishes because the many spices it takes to put this fine dish together explode with flavor. My favorite wine to go with the curry is a fine Riesling. This time I chose The 2009 Willi Haag Braunsberger Juffer Kabinett. This fine wine has an aroma of green apple and melon notes with a mineral quality on the palate of pear, white peach, floral and honey notes. Perfect for a hot summer evening. What makes this even a better choice is that is is only 8% alcohol with a higher acidic content. Remember, hot spicy dishes go well with higher acidic wines. These wines have a tendency to put out the fire of the dish without diminishing the flavor.
Of course the label has the famous German Eagle with the grape cluster. This represents the Verband Deutscher Pradikatsweingüter Association. It is the oldest recognized organization in the world founded in 1910. This association insures quality in the wine by meeting certain German standards.Read More
Looking for a great “Dog Days of Summer” wine? Look no further. Albarino, grown in the Rias Baixas region of northwest Spain is a great aromatic dry wine, straw colored and packed with ripe peach, apricot and lemon candy. Along with a great price, each producer has their own interpretation of this wine. I paired this wine with some sea scallops sauteed in olive oil, garlic, lemon and of coarse Albarino. On the side we had some great beefsteak Jersey tomatoes with Arugula and goat cheese sprinkled with a little basil vinaigrette. Umm-Umm good.
See you later, I got to go to my favorite wine shop and pick up another bottle of my favorite summer wine. IT IS HOT OUT!Read More