Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Olivares Rose 2010

As we barrel headlong toward Memorial Day weekend wondering what food to put on the grill which day, I can suggest a wine that will fill all your needs all weekend long - especially if it's hot. Yes people it's time to put away your old anti-rose bias and try some of these amazingly tasty, refreshing wines. Roses come in a broad array of styles, from spicy, herbal styles to strikingly fruity and bold. No they are not sweet. They are dry and quite captivating. I tend to gravitate toward the bold, fruity style which kind of goes against my old world bias but hey...everybody gets to drink what they want. They are kind of like reds you drink cold and they will go with whatever you put on the grill - from the burgers to the shrimp to the chicken. They'll even go with your more upscale sushi grade tuna. This beautiful $9.99 Spanish rose from Olivares is a blend of monastrell and syrah. It greets you with big aromas of strawberries, raspberries and a floral note or two and big mouth-filling red berry flavors. It finishes very smooth and long with just the right amount of balancing acidity. It's imported by the wonderful Rare Wine Co. When I have a summer party and I want to serve one wine, I serve something like this. Cheers and have a great weekend!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chapoutier Bila-Haut Cotes de Roussillon Villages

Here's a delicious 2009 southern French red from top producer Chapoutier. They make some of the Rhone Valley's greatest wines, from high end Hermitage and Cote Rotie to everyday wines like today's entry. The Roussillon region is located at the extreme southern end of France on the border with Spain. The stony soil is all limestone and schist and the terraced vineyards sit on hillsides in the foothills of the Pyrenees. This wine is a blend of syrah, grenache and carignan, three very typical varietals from the region. The syrah gives this wine it's earthy/herbal aromas, the grenache gives it it's peppery/red berry aromas and the carignan contributes structure and minerality. All in all, this is a very smooth and easy drinking red with a lot of complexity....and it cost a mere $13.99.  It went great with a venison backstrap with carmelized onions and rosemary that Janet made us. The backstrap is a filet mignon-like cut from the outside of the spine. It is very tender. I know that sounds crazy exotic but if you can befriend a local hunter, you can get a deer for your freezer almost every year. Cheers!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Spanish Dynamic Duo

Here's 2 great values from my go to country, Spain. The white, called Ermita de Nieve, is a 100% verdejo cuvee. Verdejo is a grape that has been grown in Spain for centuries but has only been used to make the aromatic, crisp light whites we see a lot of now for the past few decades. This wine is from Rueda, a Demoninacion de Origen located in Spain's northwest. Rueda whites must contain at least 50% of this varietal. Verdejo's aromas and flavors at times remind me of sauvignon blanc and the Erimta de Nieve certainly fits in that regard. It features sauvignon blanc-like grass and grapefruit on the nose and bright, crisp citrus and melon flavors in the mouth. It finishes quite smooth and is perfect for summer sipping on the deck. It'll set you back a very affordable $9.99. The red here is a $7.99 bargain called Luzon Verde. It is a 100% Monastrell cuvee made entirely from organically grown grapes in the Jumilla DO. Monastrell is an indigenous Spanish varietal that is also widely planted in southern France, where it is called Mouverdre. The Luzon Verde has a big spicy nose of blackberry and dark cherries and has sweet, medium-bodied dark berry flavors in the mouth. It finishes long and smooth with a touch of tannic firmness. This is an absolutely great value. Both of these wines are from the '09 vintage but I find that I really don't have to pay too much attention to vintage when it comes to Spanish wines. They really do not have very many bad vintages. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mason Cellars "Pomelo" Sauvignon Blanc '09

Sauvignon blanc seems to be on a roll these days. Now don't get me wrong, chardonnay is still king, but it seems that a lot of folks that are looking for alternatives are gravitating to sauvignon blanc for it's clean, crisp textures and vibrancy of fruit. Yes the best sauvignon blancs in the world (for me) still come from the Loire Valley of France and in particular from Sancerre, but there are great values to be had elsewhere. Mason is one of California's finest sauvignon blanc producers. Their delicious mid-level bottling can be had for a mere $14.99 or so and they have introduced a $9.99 bottling called "Pomelo" A pomelo is an asian fruit with a very thick skin that tastes like a sweeter version of grapefruit. Mason's delicious "Pomelo" has plenty of grapefruit, lemon and a very mild touch of that sauvignon blanc grassiness on the nose. It also features great texture and plenty of bright citrus flavors in the mouth as well as good balancing acidity. Sauvignon blanc is an early ripening varietal that thrives in cooler climates, so California producers have to be especially careful with regards to hang time and harvest time. Mason is one producer that always seems to get it right. Cheers!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

NYCNomNom’s Top 3: Affordable Italian

Happy Mother's Day to all. As promised, below you will find NYCNomNom's first guest post here at excellenteveryday wines. Enjoy.

There is no shortage of Italian restaurant choices in the New York Metropolitan area. As a lover of all things pasta, there also has been no shortage of Italian food in my diet.  I have had the opportunity to try many of the finest Italian restaurants in Manhattan, but there are still a number of fantastic, affordable choices.  You just need to know where to look.

Here are my top 3:

1) Antonio’s in Monroe Township

I was surprised when this Italian restaurant in a strip mall in New Jersey impressed me so much.  The food was sensational with great attention to detail and ingredients.  These dishes are obviously made with love.  Our favorite dish was the crab stuffed shrimp over a bed of the most tasty spinach we have ever had.

2)  Becco

Becco is an Italian Restaurant on Restaurant Row in NYC that I have been back to at least half a dozen times.  The food is always a hit, and they do an endless pasta special, featuring the 3 homemade pastas they have that night for $17.95 at lunch and $22.95 for dinner (and both include salad or antipasto).  They also have a full page list of $25 bottles of wine.  The pasta alone is worth going for, but they also make osso bucco so good that it is what I compare all other osso buccos to. (It's not cheap at $30, but it's worth every penny and could probably feed 2 people.)

3) Culinary Walking Tour of Greenwich Village

When I think of getting the most bang for my buck when it comes to eating Italian food, I have to go back to the culinary walking tour I took of Greenwich Village.  Not only was it incredibly informative and fun, but we got to stop at over 6 dining establishments and sample their specialities. After the tour, you even get coupons to go back and try things again.  This also happened to be the place we first tried Joe's Pizza on Carmine Street, which is sensational.

And sometimes you just need to splurge.  If you are looking for fine dining Italian in New York City that would be a highly memorable meal, I recommend La Masseria in the Broadway district (they also have a location in East Greenwich, RI).  It's not so expensive that you need to only order the apps, and the quality is so high that it's worth it.

We were most impressed by the prawns, which were honestly the size of a grown man's hand.

For more details on these dining experiences, you can find my full reviews here:
Happy Nomming!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Guest Blogging with NYC Nom Nom

I am excited to announce a reciprocal blogging relationship with a great food blog, NYC Nom Nom. I will be doing a monthly wine post for them and NYC Nom Nom principle Sara will be doing a monthly post for excellenteverydaywines. She will be touting some of her favorite affordable places to eat in and around the New York metropolitan area including NJ and Philly. It is, after all, only natural to put the food and the wine together because let's face it, the wine is meant to go with the food. That is why I try to recommend wines that will complement your meal rather than overpower it or get buried by it. Sara's first post for me will be up tomorrow so please check back in. Yum.

Tratturi Primitvo '09

Experts used to think that the Italian varietal primitivo was the genetic ancestor of our American zinfandel. Although DNA testing has since proven that false (they are both related to a Croatian varietal named crljenak kaštelanski - don't ask me how to pronounce that), the taste similarities between the 2 grapes remains. Primitivo is grown primarily in Puglia and this one is from Salento, the southeastern most tip of Puglia. Being from a hot climate, primitivos can be quite large-scaled and alcoholic. This wonderful $7.99 bargain from Tratturi however, manages to avoid that monolithic profile. It shows bright cherry fruit and a touch of pepper (ala zinfandel) on the nose and is quite balanced and medium-bodied with good fruit and a finishing note of minerals. This delicious wine paired nicely with some venison burgers and is another winner from star importer Polaner Selections. Drink it up!!