Monday, July 30, 2012

A Break From the Heat & Back to the Reds - Ch. Beauchene Cotes du Rhone

There was actually something cool feeling in the air tonight and it felt great to sit out on the deck, lingering with dinner and the juice of the vine. After all, neither man nor woman can live with whites and roses alone. Variety is key. So when we decided on some pasta with a raw sauce of avocado, tomatoes and garlic, I just had to open a Cotes du Rhone. It had been awhile. This recipe is a house favorite and comes from Viana La Place and her wonderful Italian cookbook "Verdura". The sauce prior to adding the pasta is pictured here.

Wine is what we are all about here though so here I go. The 2010 Cotes du Rhone from Chateau Beauchene is a perfectly delicious $10.99 red. This cuvee is comprised of 60% Grenache, 27% Syrah, 10% Carignan, and 3% Cinsault from stony, alluvial soils. It's got raspberry compote and bright red cherry on the nose along with typical black pepper and Provencal herb accents. It's fairly generous of mouth feel with red berry and red plum flavors, bright acidity and some lightly dusty tannins on the finish. Though not the most intriguing Cotes du Rhone around, this is none the less a wonderful mid-week bottle. Imported by Regal Wine Imports. Cheers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Case Ibidini Nero d'Avola 2009

Nero d'Avola, Sicily's most important grape, is often compared to Australian Shirazes. And while they share a warm climate with plenty of sun and little rain, this comparison usually doesn't work for me, especially at the everyday level. I find most Nero d'Avolas more balanced and food friendly than the aforementioned Australian wines, whose flavors run much more to raisiny over-ripeness and high alcohol. This version, another fine product of Polaner Selections, cost me an affordable $11.99. Produced by Valle dell'Acate, a winery now under 6th generation management, this graceful red delivers the goods. A beautiful translucent ruby color yields delicate raspberry, maraschino cherry and a stony minerality on the nose. The mouth filling yet somewhat high toned medium-bodied flavors run toward tart cherry and pomegranate with bracing acidity and a long, smooth finish. This paired very well with pasta with escarole and basil from the garden and cannellini beans. I'll take this over Australian Shiraz any day. Cheers.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Marques de Riscal Rueda Blanco 2010

I've become a big fan of many of the Spanish whites I've tasted over the last couple of years. Many of them are light and easy to drink and are the antithesis of many of the large scaled, heavy handed Spanish reds in the entry level category. Marques de Riscal is a winery that was founded in 1858 and there is a long track record of success. From the Rueda DO in Northwestern Spain, a high plains plateau, this everyday white wine is a blend comprised of mostly Verdejo with a small amount of Viura, both indigenous grapes. Somewhat nutty, leesy aromas are buoyed by pineapple, green apple and grassy notes. In the mouth, the somewhat oily texture yields medium bodied flavors of apple, melon and mint. There is excellent balance and crisp, vibrant acidity which makes this a refreshing, delicious summer drink. It finishes slightly tart and long. For the $9.99 price, this quaffer is hard to beat. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Poderi Colla Dolcetto d'Alba - "Pian Balbo" 2010

The Piedmont district of northern Italy is home to some of the worlds most famous and long lived wines. Barolo and Barbaresco, made from the Nebbiolo grape, usually need 10 to 15 years to begin rounding into shape and then last even longer than that. Producers like Gaja, Conterno, Voerzio and many others are known the world over. But even in Piedmont, when it comes to everyday drinking, Dolcetto rules. Cultivated since the middle ages, this early ripening varietal, although found in a few other places in Italy (such as Oltrepo Pavese near Verona) does best in the cooler, hillier areas in Piedmont. Here, the extra hang time contributes to more even ripening.

Poderi Colla has been around Piedmont since the 18 century and the current generation makes traditionally styled wines that complement food in every way. This bottling is from a single vineyard planted at 885 ft. in altitude with southern and western exposures. Slow to open aromas gradually reveal beautiful bitter cherry, clove, nutmeg and floral notes. This is one of those wines I could sit and sniff for a long while. In the mouth it's a bit less complex than the aromas and light to medium in body with the bitter cherry flavors dominating and vibrant acidity giving it lift. A little like pinot noir in flavor, it finishes with some dusty tannins. This is a great weeknight wine that is fresh and lively and sees no wood at all. A selection of the wonderful broker Neil Empson, this lovely $12.99 Dolcetto went great our hometown pizza from Nomad Pizza. Cheers.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Off the Beaten Path Italy - Terredora Dipaolo Falanghina 2010

Southern Italy boasts a huge number of overlooked, under appreciated  and downright ignored indigenous varietals. Names like Gaglioppo, Cannonau, Fiano, Piedirosso, Negroamaro and Grillo are just a few of the grape names that make southern Italian wines. As a fan of the local varietals, nothing is more interesting to me than delving into wines derived from this fruit. In the southern Italian region of Campania, several white varietals make wines that some of us are familiar with. Names like Fiano di Avellino, Lacryma Christi and Greco di Tufo are fairly common in the American marketplace. Falanghina on the other hand, is less well known. And, for everyday purposes like mine, those more well known wines are most likely going to cost more than $15 and more often approach the $20 mark.

Not so with Terredora Dipaolo's wonderful $13.99 Falanghina. This virtually unknown varietal makes a wine that is a crisp, refreshing everyday white that will work well with all your fish dishes, grilled shrimp and even simple grilled chicken. I tasted the 2010 for this post but with the consistently nice weather in this part of Italy, vintage is less important than with other wine regions. This tasty wine has some typical hot climate white wine aromas of candied apple and white peach along with apricot and floral notes. In the mouth, it's fairly fat and fruity with apple, peach and citrus flavors, but it is still balanced out with bright acidity. It finishes with toast and honey notes. Aged for a time on it's lees in stainless steel, this refreshing wine sees no wood whatsoever. It's imported by one of my favorites, Vias. Also, one of my favorite wine writers, Tom Hyland, has a couple of reports on Campania whites on his blog, learnitalianwines. Be sure to check him out. Cheers!