Showing Off the Renovations

We have been hard at work getting the house fixed up and we are almost there.  And we have started to have dinners here in between the moving of furniture, new hardwood floors, wallpaper removal, painting, plaster repairing, hanging new wallpaper, stripping, staining and lacquering woodwork, new electrical fixtures and eventually some new carpeting, and I do not install any flooring; though I think that I can do everything else and I also think that I am a twenty-something individual, but my bones and muscles know better. 

We had The Caller and his charming wife over for dinner, and he didn’t even realize that he wouldn’t bump his head on the chandelier in the front entry and then he started to notice the difference in lighting and color and then he saw the living room and the total makeover there.  We started with appetizers in the living room, as we are old-fashioned and like entertaining there.  We just had some simple appetizers to get the evening going.  We had Shrimp Cocktails, Roasted Garlic and some wonderful White Cheddar with Black Truffles.

We also introduced them to my Bride’s new “go-to” wine.  Artomana Txakolina “Xarmant,” Arabako Txakolina, Spain 2020 made with a distinctively Basque colorful label.   Artomana Txakolina, S.L. began in 1988, when the Association of Artisan Producers of Txakoli from Alava (Arabako Txakolina) was founded with the desire to return a wine tradition to this region.  It started with six hectares of hand planting and the vineyard is now up to twenty hectares.  This is now a three-generation family project, now using modern technology to create a wine that they wish to have worldwide distribution.  Arabako Txakolina is a DO wine zone, which was conferred in 2001.  Txakoli is a Basque word meaning “wine from the village” and Arabako is the Basque name for the village of Alava. “Xarmant” means “charming and delicate.”  The region was devastated by phylloxera in the late 1800’s and basically laid dormant until the 1980’s.  The majority of the wines from this region are white made from the Hondarrabi Zuri varietal and also from Petit Courbu.  Hondarrabi is named after the local village and Zuri in Basque means white, and the grape is indigenous to the region and the perfect local pairing for the local cuisine of seafood and hot peppers.  Petit Courbu another white varietal was originally found in the Gascon region of France.   Artomana Txakolina “Xarmant” Txakoli 2020 is a blend of eighty percent Hondarrabi Zuri and twenty percent Petit Courbu.  The wine undergoes cold fermentation and maceration and the juice is left on the lees for a couple of months.  The quick aging allows the wine to offer natural flavors and the wine is actually bottle with the lees, which gives the wine a bit of natural residual carbon dioxide with a lightly sparkling finish similar to a Vinho Verde.  A pale-yellow wine with green tinges, has notes of citrus, florals and cut grass.  On the palate soft flavors of peach and green apple, a bright acidity (that calls for an immediate second sip), balanced with a nice finish of minerals (terroir). 

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Years

It is hard to believe that I have been slaving at the computer and drinking wine for the last ten years to write an article here, every other night.  Years ago, in Junior High School, I had to read Richard Henry Dana, Jr.’s “Ten Year Before the Mast” and it seemed that long to finish that tome, but ten years doing this, has just breezed by.  There have been times when it seemed like a job, because of my self-imposed desire to do an article as often as I do, sometimes working under a deadline, and other times, I am a writing machine, because if I am going away, I don’t like to announce it, until I have returned.  I never quite understood telling the world that your house will be empty, because you are on holidays.  So, here is to some great articles that people have consistently responded to, by finding an article on a search-engine while they are researching something else, and to some fluff pieces and some pieces that are just there, all with my same rambling prose and narrative.    

There was plenty of doubt when I began, as to whether anyone would read my writings or if they would even care, and I still sometimes feel that way, but what the hell, it is fun.  I look at my early articles and I am a bit dismayed at the very amateurish feeling to them, not that I am polished and professional now, but I think that I have found my voice here.  I still get messages that I should stop writing, because I don’t talk about wine properly, with all of the descriptors that are all the rage for at least the last ten years.  Some brush me off, with their messages, and inform me that I have no designations, no formal training, so it is impossible for me to speak of wine properly.  The funny thing is, that most of my detractors, are no longer around, at least writing a wine blog.  Some even took umbrage, when another blogger conferred upon me, the title of “Street Somm” and I thought it fit me well, since it fits my background and my sense of humor. 

When I started out, I wrote my blog and then I would advertise it on Facebook.  The blogging world is a tough audience and that is fine, Facebook on the other hand seems to go out of the way to make it more difficult periodically, because I will not pay them to get me an audience, which I think defeats the purpose of writing, plus they have a hard time with the fact, that I refuse to pay them, for the work, that I do not generate any income from.  Then later I started to advertise with Twitter, and I am still at a loss on how to use Twitter and “tweets,” and I sometimes wonder if anyone else does, though perhaps with the new ownership, it may become less of a mystery.  The last big hurdle that I discovered and has made my readership grow is Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and also has inscrutable and unwritten rules, that one can get reprimanded for.  It is also a challenge to retrofit some of my articles, because I do tend to ramble and there is a word count (not mentioned in the missing rules).  And I find it, a fun environment for discussing wines and eventually, I will have all of my articles up-to-date and in sync with Instagram, so that all four parts of my blogging world will be on the same page. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When You Just Want Something Different

There are times when you are having dinner at home, but nothing really fancy, though with my Bride she does try to make everything special.  We just finished the season of Lent and in this house, it means that we are having fish on Friday and somedays it may just be a traditional serving of Fish and Chips.  Those are the days that one would expect one of our “go-to” wines, but every now and then, one has to shake up the moment and grab something unexpected and that is the joy of a cellar. 

One of the nights we enjoyed a bottle of Bernardus Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands, Sierra Mar Vineyard 2014.  This wine immediately brought a smile to me, as we had actually visited Bernardus Winery on one of our trips to Carmel-by-the-Sea. The winery is located in the Carmel Valley and besides the winery, there is also Bernardus Lodge and Spa, and a spectacular restaurant on the grounds called Marinus; where we dined there after a tour of the grounds and a wine tasting. Sierra Mar Vineyard is a new vineyard on a hilltop location in the southern end of Santa Lucia Highlands, and so far, I have not experienced a bad bottle of wine from the Santa Lucia Highlands. This particular wine is made from three clones of Chardonnay and the grapes are all hand-picked and sorted at harvest. There were three-hundred-fifty cases made of this wine and the wine was estimated to having an aging potential of five to six years and this one was an eight-year-old, and it was excellent.  The wine showed as a golden hue with notes of white fruit and vanilla.  The fruit was still quite evident, with good acidity and a medium length finish of terroir that is always a hallmark of the Santa Lucia Highlands.

Another evening we also went away from the norm and had a bottle of Le G de Chateau Guiraud Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2018.  Chateau Guiraud is in the 1855 Classification of Sauternes and Barsac and was originally known as the Noble House of Bayle, until it was bought by Pierre Guiraud in 1766 and continued for many generations until it was bought by a group of French winemakers in 2006.  In the old days many of the chateaus of Sauternes and Barsac made a dry white for their own consumption and for some of their friends, but the world has discovered these little treasures.  While most Bordeaux Blanc Sec wines are predominately Sauvignon Blanc, Le G de Chateau Guiraud is fifty/fifty of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.  The fruit is manually harvested using small baskets and fermentation is for about three weeks.  Eighty percent of the wine is aged in the barrels from the last vintage of Chateau Guiraud and twenty percent is done in Stainless Steel. The average aging in the barrels is seven months with regular stirring of the lees.  This is a very lush and full-bodied white wine with a delicate gold tinge, a very refreshing wine that leaves one chewing the wine to appreciate the suppleness of the fruit and the terroir that lingers and beckons for another taste. 

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What a Great Memory

My Bride got excited and bought a bunch of filet mignons at the butcher counter and each was almost the price of a gallon of gas.  OK, not at nineteen cents a gallon during the gas wars that occurred during my first real job in the late Sixties, but like almost five dollars today, a couple of weeks ago.  She was excited and who can blame her, as we are approaching full retirement and the rampant inflation was not one of the factors that we had seriously planned on about three to four years ago as we were working with financial planners.  She decided to splurge, actually, she almost had to, at that price, so we were going to have a nice dinner with an appetizer, a salad, potatoes and vegetables and a dessert, just with out a waiter or a waitress. 

I went into the cellar, looking for something interesting and looked at the collections of dwindling splits, which is alright.  A split, for wine is a half-bottle and we used to be able to find them, but they have seemed to disappear.  When I saw the bottle, I knew that I had to open it up, and see if she remembered the wine and the memories.  She remembered the wine and the restaurant associated with it.  On our first trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea we dined one night at Casanova’s.  A couple of things stand out, it was the first time I had Abalone, which is legal there, as an appetizer, the first time I had free-range chicken which made me realize how wonderful a simply prepared dinner could be, and they issued Laguiole steak knives, those perfectly balance knives adorned with a bumble bee.  The following year, when we went back, they were not using them and when I mentioned it to our waiter, he said that if I wanted one, he could bring me one, but that the knives “disappeared” even in such a fine establishment.

We were enjoying Georis Winery Estate Merlot Carmel Valley 2000.  Walter Georis immigrated to the USA from Belgium in 1956 at the age of eleven.  He spent his early years in Southern California and ended up opening a family restaurant that became internationally famous as Casanova’s both for the cuisine and the wine cellar.  In 1981, he bought a ranch in Carmel Valley and began planting grapes.  The fourteen-acre estate has terroir of sandy clay loam, gravel, river rocks and one small pocket of chalky soil.   Alas there is nothing to glean about this wine, but I have to say that the wine still had a beautiful deep purple-red color with notes of red and black fruits and spices.  On the palate this twenty-two-year-old still had a jammy finish of plums and cherries with silky tannins and a nice long finish of fruit and terroir.  I can’t help it, but I will always be in love with Merlot, since my High School days, because the Right Bank of Bordeaux was more affordable then, until the world discovered the majesty of Merlot, the beautiful and feminine grape of the Medoc.    

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

April 2022 Club Selections

I was going to my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, for two reasons.  One was to pick up a case of wine that is becoming one of our new “go-to” wines and also to pick up the current Wine Club selections.  I tell everyone that they should join this club, the wines are actually curated by the shop and become part of their inventory, which is very important, because they don’t carry the run-of-the-mill wines that are found in gas stations, drug stores, grocery stores, party stores and the big box stores.  The club also allows the member to run in and pick up a bottle or two (and that sometimes happens) and still rate a “case discount price.” Each month, they offer one Old World and one New World wine. 

Podere Ciona Semifonte Toscana IGT 2017 was the current Old-World selection.  Podere Ciona is a boutique winery and an agriturismo, meaning that you can arrange to vacation on their property.  The estate is located near the historic town of Gaiole in the Chianti Classico region.  The estate is about ten acres of weathered sandstone and has been planted primarily with Sangiovese, Merlot and a bit of Alicante Bouschet.  Semifonte features their younger Merlot with the addition of twenty-five percent Alicante Bouschet and they keep production low and they average about a bottle per plant.  With it being a Merlot based wine, it has to carry the famous Toscana IGT appellation, which is just as popular as the Chianti Classico DOCG.  The wine is fermented in Stainless Steel and then is aged for twelve months in large French vats, and then bottled for about a year.   The wine is a bright purple-red with notes of black fruit and spices.  On the palate tones of black plums, nuts, pepper and spices, smooth tannins and a nice finish of spices.

Airfield Estates Syrah, Yakima Valley 2019 represents the New World.  Airfield Estates goes back to 1907 when H. Lloyd Miller was pioneering this area as he was into the buying and selling of farm properties, and this area did not have access to irrigation water.  He was instrumental in getting water from the Roza Canal Project and he also leased part of the property to the Olympia Air Transport Corporation, which constructed a flight school for hundreds of Army Air Corps pilots needed for World War II.  Eventually they got their property back and it was the basis for Airfield Ranch and a portion became Airfield Estates originally selling grapes to other wineries, until 2005 when they began producing their own wines.  The wine was fermented on the skins for sixteen days and then Malolactic fermentation in French Oak for three months, then an additional aging in French Oak (twenty-five percent new) for sixteen months and then one month in Concrete before bottling.  The wine is described as having notes of brambleberry, with hints of orange peel and soy.  On the palate tones of plums, blackberry jam, salted chocolate and a touch of licorice with a silky texture and a lingering finish of oak and terroir.

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter 2022

Easter is a major holiday here, and we were going to celebrate it in style.  We always invite everyone, and if they can’t attend, that is their loss, because I will tell you that the house smelled wonderful, as my Bride began making an entrée that was going to cook overnight.  I am hoping that she isn’t totally upset with me, but we are in the midst of another renovation and I couldn’t complete it in time for the holiday, actually it will still be a couple of weeks for the installation of some new carpeting for the staircase and upstairs hallway.  Actually, the house wasn’t in much of disarray, just a couple of pieces of furniture put elsewhere, so the living room was a bit cozier, with the seating arrangement.  I have to admit, that as crazy and hectic as it has been, my Bride was able to create a new small centerpiece for Easter to coordinate with the new colors of the main floor (if and when I finally finish).

My Bride was making Braised Short Ribs and she began the endeavor just before Midnight, and in the morning, she got up and added all the root vegetables and some more wine to braising sauce.  I sometimes think that I am one of the few people that like root vegetables, of course I just adore Braised Short Ribs and it is usually a dish that I normally order, when we go out, because it takes so long to prepare, but it may start appearing on our dietary regimen at home, so I may have to discover, another unique dish to order out.  Well, I am rambling again, about my Bride’s culinary skills and she made two other entrée dishes, Marinated Pork Tenderloin and Breaded Chicken Breasts.  We had appetizers, the famous Caesar Salad, Armenian Pilaf as well as her new latest vegetable dish of Fennel and Onions, as well as Asparagus drizzled with aged Balsamic.  We had leftover Death by Chocolate Cake, along with a Coconut Cake and some assorted ice creams, Lent is officially over and time for some to indulge in desserts.  

The main wine for the meal was Galante Vineyards Malbec “Ace High” Carmel Valley 2010.  I have already written about and am a fan of this wine since we enjoyed the 2009 vintage, so I am a happy camper.  Jack Galante’s family has a long history in the Carmel Valley, as his great-grandfather was the founder of the town of Carmel, and built the Pine Inn and the Highlands Inn. The family started a cattle ranch in the valley in 1969, and started planting Cabernet Sauvignon in 1983. There were 214 cases of this wine produced and the estimated aging potential is for eight to nine years, and I am happy to say that this twelve-year-old was still fresh.  I have found this wine to be a very well balanced and more elegant version of a Malbec with notes of black fruits, and on the palate plums and blackberry fruits were still showing well, and the tannins were velvety and a nice solid long count with the terroir that I just enjoy so much.   

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Easter Eve 2022

I created a faux pas, or perhaps a total sin, but I can’t be totally to blame, at least in my mind.  My Bride was a sponsor for her niece who was finally finishing her rites and at the same time her friend accomplished all of his rites and became a part of the church as well.  We were sitting up at the front of the congregation, because of what was part of the mass.  The mass was long, of course my Bride didn’t tell me that it was a two-hour event with a cantor that I thought was singing a twenty-minute dirge.  I have also read the Bible years ago and it was a beautiful and well written book, very floral and poetic in parts, I do not know what happened, but the verses read, lacked the appeal to me, as it was about as poetic as a grocery list.  I fell asleep, and as far as I was concerned it was the priest’s fault, but he took umbrage and even though I did wake up before the mass was done, he took a bundle of reeds stuck then in a bucket and was supposed to anoint the congregation with Holy Water, he being a petty man, dowsed me with water, and I really think that my Bride was afraid that I was going to dowse him with the bucket.  Thankfully, I did not have to see him after the service. 

We then all went to one of the other sister’s houses for a dinner and celebration.  There were all sorts of appetizers to start out the night.  I don’t know about you, but I do like appetizers and the casualness of them.  I am sure that I did not taste everything that was there, but there was a smoked (barbecued?) cheese that I thoroughly enjoyed, but my Bride didn’t find out what it was.  I also have to say that my Bride ordered this “Death by Chocolate” cake from a bakery, and she wasn’t sure that the normal size would be ample for the group, so she ordered the bigger version, which was humongous, we gave away portions to the people as they left that evening, and we used the balance of the cake, the next day and we still finally ended up giving away the rest of the cake, otherwise I would have had a sugar attack, I am sure.  It was delightful, but I think the Third Army would not have been able to finish the cake in one setting.  We started off with one of my Bride’s favorite grapes, a magnum of Mezzacorona Forte Alto Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC 2020.   Mezzacorona is a group of co-operative wineries and brands, established in 1904 in Trentino.  The winery is known as the “Citadella del Vino” and they recently built a state-of-the-art facility to better serve their fifteen-hundred growers.  Mezzacorona claims to produce more Pino Grigio and Chardonnay than any other Italian winery.  With the wine being produced by so many small vineyards, the fruit is hand harvested to this day.  There is no production information, but I sure that I may surmise that the fruit is aged in Stainless Steel for a short period.  I say this, because the wine is green and flinty, crisp with a light floral nose and a soft finish.  A perfect wine for food and lots of talking and merriment and it was just the right size for the crowd.

Then for the main entrée, there was going to be pizza, and of course there is always kind of a debate over what pizzeria to choose from, I mean Detroit is actually considered a “pizza town” with a “Detroit-style.”  Actually, I basically always go with a pie covered with everything, just like I first discovered pizza back in the Fifties and Sixties, of course, I settled on Cheese and Pepperoni, out of the assortment of pizzas that were brought in, one of the nephews went with my Bride to carry all the boxes in.  I know that I am a bit of a curmudgeon.  We then had the Roberts + Rogers “Napa 5” Cabernet Sauvignon NV.  In 1999, longtime friends Roger Louer and Robert Young commenced efforts to establish a first-class Cabernet Sauvignon wine brand, sourcing the grapes from Howell Mountain, Napa Valley, California. Located to the east of St. Helena, at an elevation ranging from 1400 to 2200 feet, Howell Mountain is considered one of the most prestigious wine growing regions in the world. Roberts and Rogers sources its grapes for this wonderful wine from the Howell Mountain sub appellation area and for the present vintages from a vineyard jointly developed by Roberts and Rogers in 2000.  The wine came from five different vineyards, all from the rockiest part of the Louer Vineyard.  It is non-Vintage, as it is blended from a couple of vintages and very proprietary for a Cabernet Sauvignon wine.  Hand harvested from the loamy terrain, the wine was aged for a total of eighteen months in French Oak and the initial release was June 2018.  There were three hundred cases produced and all were done with a screw cap.  This was a beautiful red, fruit forward with plenty of deep red fruit and a surprisingly long finish with a lot of terroirs.  They felt that a screw cap was the perfect way to offer this casual wine that could be drank immediately or it could be cellared.  We purchased two cases of this wine, so it will be interesting to observe how it cellars, and yes, my Bride fell in love with this wine.  And the good news is, that I was not burned at the stake as a heretic.    

Posted in Dining, Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Great Way to Finish a Tasting

I don’t want anyone to think that I don’t work hard amassing my notes for articles when I am at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  I was there meeting an Instagram wine blogger that I had introduced her to the store.  I am sure that she must have thought I was totally eccentric, with my cryptic notes and my amateurish photography.  I have to admit that we had a wonderful tasting session, and she is working on getting a Somm designation, and the store offered to help her try and learn some wines.  As for the Street Somm, life goes on, even without a designation.

To this day I still claim that I can sit back and just enjoy the nose offered from Dominus Estate wines and we were tasting Dominus Estate Christian Moueix Napa Valley 2006.  Christian Moueix has over fifty years of producing Bordeaux’s Right Bank and thirty-eight years in the Napa Valley.  Son of legendary Jean-Pierre Moueix, he completed studies in Paris and at University of California, Davis and returned to France to work with his father. He began a partnership in 1982 on an estate around the Napanook vineyard, which is one of the first sites planted to grapes in 1838 by George Yount (Yountville). Dominus Estate is one of the “cult wines” of Napa Valley.  He ran the estate since 1982 concurrently with the family business in Bordeaux until 2008; he became the sole owner of the estate in 1995.  Dominus Estate is dry-farmed and into crop-thinning, having used these techniques first at Chateau Petrus in the early Seventies.  The 2006 vintage is ninety-one percent Cabernet Sauvignon, six percent Cabernet Franc and three percent Petit Verdot.  About twenty-one months of aging, with forty percent new French Oak, and then an additional eleven months in bottles before the release, and there were six-thousand cases produced.  A very dark red wine with an incredible nose of dark cherries and berries, with additional notes of tobacco and chocolate.  On the palate deep ripe fruit, beautiful elegant tannins, totally balanced with a long count finish of fruit and licorice.

There is always room for Inniskillin Wines Vidal Ice Wine, Niagara Peninsula VQA 2019 and they now also have a winery in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.  They have really created a name for themselves and Canada for their ice wines made from Vidal, Riesling and Cabernet Franc.  Inniskillin Wines were granted a winery license in 1977, the last winery licensed was in 1929, and their first vintage was in 1977.  In 1984 they produced their first ice wine from naturally frozen Vidal grapes and won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo in France in 1991 with their Vidal Ice Wine.  Vidal is a hybrid of Ugni Blanc and Seibel that is a Cold-Hardy grape.  The grapes are harvested at night when eighty percent of the water content in each berry is frozen.  The grapes are pressed while still frozen (artificially freezing the grapes is prohibited) and the grapes may be harvested from about December to as late as March, and the juice is highly concentrated, the fermentation is very slow.  The beautiful golden yellow wine offers notes of tropical florals, and on the palate tones of mango and lychee in a rich nectar with a nice long finish of tropical fruits.  An ideal substitute with an appetizer of Foie Gras, or for the perfect dessert wine.     

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two from Livio Felluga

While I was doing a wine tasting with an Instagram blogger at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan, we had a chance to try another two wines that were not on the original curated wine carte that we were adhering to.  We had a chance to try two wines from Livio Felluga, an Italian estate nestled in Friuli-Venezia Giulia at the norther tip of the Adriatic Sea.

Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio Colli Orientali del Friuli 2020 was the first of the two wines that we tried from this winemaker.  The estate takes its name for the founder Livio Felluga who came to the region in the 1930’s.  The family has been winemakers for six generations in Isola d’Istria in Slovenia.  Today the estate is comprised over one-hundred-eighty-seven-hectares of vines.  The winery is predominately white wines, but they do a few red wines as well.  Friuli Colli Orientali or the “eastern hills of Friuli” was designated in 1970.  This Alpine region naturally has a higher altitude and the vineyards are terraced on basically alternating layers of marl and sandstone.  The fruit for the wine is hand-picked in small crates, and gentle destemming, the fruit is left to macerate for a short period, then softly crushed.  Temperature controlled fermentation follows in Stainless Steel, and then the wine is kept on the lees for a few months, then it is bottled and matured additionally in temperature-controlled rooms.  The wine is straw colored with notes of white and yellow fruits and florals.  On the palate crisp tones of peaches and apples with a tinge of tea, bright and tangy with a nice medium count finish of terroir and a touch of salt, calling for another sip.

Livio Felluga “Abbazia di Rosazzo” Rosazzo DOCG 2017 was the second wine from this winery.  The winery has encompassed the cellars and vineyards of the historic Abbazia di Rosazzo (Abbey of Rosazzo) and its distinctive white wine blend of Friulano, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, Malvasia Istriana and Ribolla Gialla.  Rosazzo is the most recent DOCG designation (2011) in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the mineral rich grounds surrounding the Abbey.  Here the vines are older, lower yields and flavor concentrated grapes.  Tradition holds that the area was planted in the Middle Ages and that a local patriarch in the Fourteenth Century declared that anyone not planting vines would be excommunicated.  The blend is celebrating its thousand-year-long history of viticulture.  Friulano must make up fifty to sixty percent of the final wine, Sauvignon and Pinot Bianco both will be twenty to thirty percent and Ribolla Gialla at no more than five percent.  The grapes are hand-picked in small crates and gently destemmed and left to macerate for a short period, then it is soft crushed.  The must ferments in Stainless Steel, then the wine is raced into oak casks on the lees for a minimum of eighteen months.  The wine is a nice yellow color with notes of white fruits, florals, hay, herbs, spices and vanilla.  On the palate there is a richness of Crème Brulee with tones of pineapple and very refreshing with a beautiful finish of spices.             

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Toscana and an Amarone

For a fellow that grew up drinking and eating Italian cuisine, there are times when I get totally spoiled, actually I get spoiled a lot, at my local wine shop The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  I was actually participating in a wine tasting that was curated for an Instagram blogger that I introduced her to the shop.  She is going to start working on her designations, I imagine, that if I was younger, I might as well, just to have.  Of course, I would probably have to use fancy descriptors to get the designations, and I would probably flunk the course, so I will just enjoy the wines, at my age.

The Isole e Ollena Cepparello Toscana IGT 2018 is the flagship wine of the winery.  The De Marchi family consolidated two neighboring properties back in the Fifties, the estate vineyards of Isole and Olena.  Here is a winery that is from the Tuscan region, made from all Sangiovese and is entirely in the boundaries of the Chianti Classico zone.  You may ask, why isn’t the wine using the more prestigious and readily known Chianti Classico appellation, and it is because they make the wine strictly with Sangiovese and do not blend it, as Chianti laws require.  Since 1980 when they started the Cepparello label they originally had to use the basic Vino da Tavola designation and even then, it was recognized by those in the know, that this was not a table wine, and when the laws changed in 1992 it became a Toscana IGT or popularly now known as Super Tuscan wines, because they do not play by the traditional rules of the region.  The wine is aged for about fourteen months in oak and then about another twenty months in the bottle.  My immediate notes that I wrote down for this wine was “FULL” and “CHEWY,” which I realize is very terse, but for me and my normal disdain for descriptors, it was plenty of information for a future purchase.  I occasionally mention a bit more as this ruby/purple wine has notes of dark fruits and hazelnuts and violets, while on the palate the cherry and cassis and some spices, along with the full tannins and a nice long finish of terroir and spices, makes me think that this wine should be bought and cellared for several years more, for all the complexities and nuances to merge perfectly.

Then we tasted Tommaso Bussola Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2016 from Azienda Agricola Tommaso Bussola.  In 1977 Tommaso Bussola took over his uncle’s estate and in the early 1990’s a new winery was constructed.  This wine is made with the classic trio of grapes Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara to get the proper accreditation.   After the harvesting of the grapes, they were allowed to partially dry and were crushed in January.  The wines were racked after sixty days and then again ten days later.  The juice was then aged for twenty-four months in a mixture of a quarter of the new in new Slavonian Oak, a quarter in new American and French Oak, and the balance in second time used barrels.  My notes on this wine were “wonderful” with a great nose and a taste of black cherry and a finish that just lingered on and on.  In fact, another time that I tasted an earlier vintage, the finish lingered and finished so well, that when I got home, I made a special tweet about having the wine, and I usually show more restraint, but I was totally happy with this wine and I think that I may have surprised some of my usual crowd.  This is one to really go looking for, in my humble opinion.

Posted in Wine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment