Archive for February, 2013

Tasting Recap: Valentine’s Day Wines

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Valentine’s Day is certainly a holiday you just can’t miss. Whether you were avoiding the flashes of pink and red hearts or embracing the day with plans of a romantic evening, our simple answer is that there is a wine to accompany whatever your day entailed. ┬áThis in mind, last week’s tasting featured six wines connected by the holiday at hand, whether stating a label fit for lovers or having a lovey-dovey reference in its name, or simply fitting into what we think of drinking for this celebration. Now, we understand Valentine’s only happens once a year, but these wines will be there for any romantic celebration and give cause to plan one if you missed out last week. The tasters certainly enjoyed their pre-Valentine’s plans with a night of tasting wines to inspire love…of all sorts.

Besitos 2010 Moscato, Valencia ($9.95)
When one thinks of Moscato it is often the sweet, low alcohol sparkler from Italy, however this wine is a bit unique for its type. Besitos (or, little kisses) is a tad bit drier for the style at 11% alcohol, offering a slightly drier, yet still a bit sweet Moscato. This wine tastes simply of peaches and citrus with a slight effervescence to bring some life to the fruity flavors. Crisp, refreshing and sweet enough to inspire actual besitos, this wine is perfect to start or end your next romantic affair.

The Furst NV Blanc de Blancs Cremant de Alsace ($21.95)
Hailing from north-eastern France, Alsace is a primarily white-wine producing region nestled between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine river, essentially isolated from its home and the neighboring Germany. Produced in the method Champenoise, this 100% Pinot Blanc evokes bright apple flavors with a crisp tenure and vibrant acidity yet retains a slightly rich palate without the yeasty flavors of Champagne. The style is a bit unique for the region, but is a perfect accompaniment to any celebration, whether for a dinner party or a lover’s feast. Quantities are extremely limited for this wine, and people are quickly discovering just how good this sparkler is – a new favorite we are sad to see go!

Gruet NV Brut Rose, New Mexico ($19.95)
Born and raised in Champagne, Gilbert Gruet was once a producer of Champagne until a visit to the American southwest inspired a relocation. Producing wines from some of the highest elevation vineyards in the US, Gruet crafts the classic Champagne varietals Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in to some of the best valued sparkling wines around. With bright strawberry fruits and a yeasty backbone, this wine has a creamy palate from two years of lees aging, and has enough acidity to keep it refreshing. Creamier than the Furst, this wine is the perfect pink for the Valentine’s holiday for those seeking a more sensual style of sparkling wine.

Terra Valentine 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($29.95)
This one is all in the name. Terra Valentine is a small producer located in Napa’s Spring Mountain District where they produce higher-end wines. This offering is their entry level wine sourced from valley floor fruit, yet still showing the excellent skill of the winemakers. Juicy, fruity and smooth, this Cabernet is full of cherry and black currant fruit, with a hint of brown spice and a lusher palate and little grip, creating a juicier wine perfect for an evening where smooth and lush are ideal. The label shows two hearts connected by arrow, reassuring us this wine is appropriate for Valentines. Tasters were split on this wine, though it’s time in our shop has shown its emergence as a new favorite among our customers.

Some Young Punks 2009 “Lust Collides” Mataro, McLaren Vale
What’s a Mataro you might ask? An alias. Mataro is best known as Mourvedre found primarily in France, and Monastrell in Spain, providing a unique character to blends or varietal bottlings. Known for dark fruit, a bit of tannin and a wild, savage character, this biodynamically produced, 100% Mataro from southern Australia shows just how expressive this grape can be when treated right. Spending 14 months in French oak, we find an incredibly aromatic nose full of floral notes, a meaty, savage note and spice, all perfectly integrated and providing quite the stunning aroma. On the palate, this wine shows smooth and well-structured, with dark purple fruits, a long finish, and a well-balanced acidity. This wine is certainly one of a kind, and for any wine geek or appreciative palate, this wine is simply captivating. The provocative, yet classy, label is a bit sexy, showing when marketing and great winemaking unite, art is made. Quantities here are limited, and only a few bottles are left in the shop.

Some Young Punks 2009 “Fierce Allure” Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale
Harvested from the same vineyard block as the Mataro above, this Cabernet defies all expectations with a low alcohol of 13.5%, medium body and nuance one wouldn’t expect of such a hot climate. Restrained, yet still fruity and complex, this Cab is a great value given its pedigree. Black currants and black raspberries with a bit of tobacco and earth, a lush smooth palate and old world acidity make this wine truly remarkable. Also donning a sexy label, this time with a white tiger replacing the bull, this wine is perfect for a Valentine’s holiday or any time you seek truly delicious wine. This was a tasting favorite and only a handful of bottles remain – though they may not last very long!!

Tasting Recap: Red Wines of Tuscany

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Within the famously undulating hills of the Tuscan countryside one will find a vast landscape dedicated to the grapevine. Producing about 33,000,000 cases of wine annually, the wines of Tuscany are some of the most recognized and appreciated wines in all of Italy. From Chianti in the north to Montalcino in the south and Bolgheri on the coast, wine drinkers have certainly sampled the simplest to the most complex of wines. The main grape for the region (ultimately accounting for 10% of all vines in all of Italy) is Sangiovese, a varietal known for its red and black cherry fruit and a dusty earthiness, as well as its ability to produce long-lived, world-class wines. Taster’s opinions differed on the favorites of the evening, quite rightly, and a broad array of Tuscany’s offerings was introduced to new palates. We, of course, recommend trying one out yourself!

Melini 2011 Borghi d’Elsa Chianti ($9.95)
Cappanelle 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva ($29.95)
We began the tasting with a side-by-side comparison of two qualities of Chianti – the best way to examine exactly what contributes to a wine’s quality, and the processes of how this occurs. A baseline $10 Chianti paired with a more aged and smaller-production Chianti Classico Riserva. The Melini 2011 Borghi d’Elsa Chianti offers a solid wine at an everyday price – juicy, earthy with cherry fruit and an incredible drinkability. The Cappanelle was certainly a step up, as the nose alone showed a deeper concentration of fruit and minerality, clearly showing the pedigree of the wine. On the palate we find far less fresh cherry fruit, though ripe, taking on more of a dried quality. As this wine has aged, the fruit has mellowed out and integrated allowing non-fruit notes to surface. The fruit is darker, and the earthiness and dustiness well-integrated. These are both wines more traditional in style, so those seeking a fruitier style certainly have other options in the shop. All tasters agreed the Melini was a great value, and the quality comparison was enlightening, showing how not all Chianti is created equally.

Querciabella 2009 “Mongrana” Maremma Toscana IGT ($19.95)
The term Super-Tuscan came about in the 1960s and implies the use of non-traditional varietals in the creation of a Tuscan wine. By utilizing the French varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and or / Syrah, some of the most prized wines in recent decades have been created. The Querciabella Mongrana falls into this category, produced in the fairly recent designation of Maremma, a thin strip of the Tuscan coastline. This wine is comprised of 50% Sangiovese, with equal portions of Cab Sauv and Merlot filling the rest. The Cabernet brings darker fruit and tannins, Sangiovese offers high acidity and dustiness, and the Merlot smooths out the blend while supporting the red fruit of Sangiovese. This wine is clearly old world in style, but certainly has a bit of fruit to balance the earthiness. A tasting favorite.

La Palazzetta 2010 Rosso di Montalcino ($21.95)
Just south of Chianti we come across the region of Montalcino, a regions broken in two distinct climates and terroirs by vast forests. To the north, the limestone soils produce wines with structure and longevity, while the clay based soils of the south west prove to create wines of greater elegance. The big wine of the region is Brunello di Montalcino, and as the style requires extensive aging, cashflow is a concern. The more youthful style of Rosso di Montalcino allows producers to keep the winery fiscally stable, and is a wine created of fruit destined for Brunello, therefore creating an often excellent wine at affordable prices. This La Palazzetta Rosso has a nice bright cherry fruit, bright acidity and a light, but smooth palate showing just how great a value this wine is. We are currently pouring this wine at the bar in Shorewood – stop in and give a taste!

San Filippo 2007 Brunello di Montalcino ($43.95)
Casanova di Neri 2006 “Tenuta Nuova” Brunello di Montalcino ($89.95)
Showing two Brunellos comparatively shows their differences, yes, but also just how good this wine is. Brunello requires 48 months total aging, two years of which must be in cask. This extensive process creates a high pricepoint, often intimidating consumers, though the price is right for such a world-class wine. The San Filippo, at a more introductory price, shows a fantastic wine full of deep rich dried black cherry fruit with notes of earth and dust balanced by a little grip and integrated acidity. This wine was quickly a favorite as the price a bit lower for the style, yet the quality stayed high. Casanova di Neri is known for being a flashier producer, and as the fruit for this wine is sourced from the southern portions of Montalcino (the winery is located in the northern), the ripe lush fruits show through as the warmer climate allows for more development of fruit. This wine brings a bigger fruit profile with a slight bit less acidity and a richer palate – a more modern style of Brunello though classically layered with earth and spice. The Neri is twice the price, but has the ability to cellar a bit longer than the Filippo, and shows the exceptional winemaking of Giacomo Neri. No matter your style, these wines are both superb examples of the region and are certain to please.