Saturday, July 9, 2011

2008 Veramonte Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon

So yesterday I got an e-mail from one of my favorite local wine merchants about a sale, and you know how I love sales!  One of the sale wines was the 2008 Veramonte Riserva Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile, so the price was good and I figured why not buy a case, so I did! 

Well it's a hot day, and I've been doing chores all day, so I figured I needed to enjoy a bottle of this cab, but what could I do to really integrate the wine into my dinner?  Hmmm...did someone say Italian?  Did someone say mussels fra diavalo tossed with linguine???  Ahh yes, one of my favorite home made, yet quick and easy Italian dishes that leave me feeling sated, and sophisticated all at once!

First the dinner, since it includes the wine.  I sautee a little diced pancetta in some olive oil, add some fresh galic, and then come the fresh mussels. Once they open up, toss in a couple cans of diced tomatoes and a little of the Veramonte cab and some spicy red peppers...then let it simmer.  Just before I toss with some al dente lingine, I add a few sprigs of fresh basil I pick from the plants on the patio, and then top with some fresh grated parmesan and asiago and dinner is served!

Oh yeah, I almost forgot this blog is about wine isn't it?  The wine is actually quite nice, as Chile has been producing some very nice cabs over the last few years.  This wine has a great nose of leather, cedar and very subtle berries, the taste is smooth and quite dry with nice tannins for a long, pleasant finish.  This is the type of wine I can use in my dinner, with my dinner and after my dinner as I enjoy a glass while watching the late summer sunset from the patio.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid, 7.5 by itself, but given that I bought this wine for the bargain price of $7 I can't help but boost this to a solid 8!  So if you can find it, grab a bottle, cook some spicy tomato based pasta and enjoy!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

2009 Rouge des Karantes Languedoc La Clape

What a wonderful summer day!  It's sunny and about 84, perhaps the most perfect weather to enjoy a relaxing glass of wine on the patio.  Tonight I am enjoying a bottle from one of my favorite producers from the south of France, in Narbonne on the Mediterranean, the 2009 Rouge des Karantes Languedoc La Clape.  I became familiar with Domaine des Karantes in 2008 or 2009 at a wine tasting fundraiser in Grand Rapids where I was able to meet with the proprietor and taste his wines.  He showed me a number of photos of the vineyard, and I was shocked at how close it was to the sea, you could see the Mediterranean right over the next hill it seemed.  I was so impressed with the quality of the Diamant des Karantes I ended up buying a case!

Well, here we are again, only this time its not the Diamant, but the lesser cousin, the Rouge des Karantes, but it's still a wonderful wine that beautifully expresses the terroir of the Coteaux de Narbonne and the warmth and beauty of the south of France.  I think sometimes when we drink French wine, we only think of Bordeaux, but there is so much more, from burgundy to the wonderful wines of the Cote d'Azur.  From a technical standpoint, I am not sure this wine could be much different than a Bordeaux.  Forget Merlot and Cabernet, this wine is 50% Grenache, 40% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre!  The result is quite pleasing.

On the nose, this wine has a distinct air of leather, earth and cedar with just a hint of licorice.  For a wine that you might expect to be more fruit forward, it's quite dry, with just a hint of black cherry.  The tannins are quite smooth, allowing a sophisticated, lingering finish.  The wine would pair very well with nice Mediterranean dishes, from a mussels simmered in tender red tomatoes and capers served over linguine, to seafood kabobs grilled over a wood fire, to a fresh platter of soft cheeses and olives.   Come to think of it, I need a snack!

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, with room to grow over a few years, but given the cost compared with it's highbrow cousin, I have no place to complain!  I bought this bottle for $9 at my local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's & Sons, so if you can find it, pick up a bottle and enjoy the taste of the vacation spot of the rich and famous!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2007 Kilikanoon Killerman's Run Cabernet Sauvignon

Yeah, try saying that three times fast!  Our wine today comes from the land down under, where it's probably wintry cold right now, even as I have my A/C cranked!  The Kikikanoon Killerman's Run Cabernet was sourced from premium parcels and blended together and aged in French oak barrels, then bottled unfiltered to preserve the balance of flavors desired by the winemaker.

On the nose, this wine exhibits the classic scent of a very nice cab with a clear presence of fruit, cherry and black currant, but with a hint of leather and spice.  On the palate this wine is fairly dry, with a definite taste of spice more pronounced than the aroma would suggest and very smooth tannins for a long, satisfying finish.  This wine would pair well with lamb, a variety of gilled meats or vegetables, or as I will experience shortly, a nice rare porterhouse, about 1 1/2" thick!

Although Australia is quite well known for its Shiraz, I've found many of the Cabernet blends quite satisfying, and to me this wine marks a progression of Australian wine development.  My only serious reservation on this wine is the use of a screw cap, but alas it's an indiscretion that can be forgiven.  I would rate this wine a solid 8, with the potential for improvement over time.  I got this one from (actually their bargain site), and for the perhaps $15 I paid for it, I think it's well work it!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

2009 Chateau de la Taille Bordeaux

Ahhh...summer time, it's officially here and it's such an awesome time for enjoying the joy of outdoor cooking, or "cookouts" as we used to call them!  Although having my 60,000 BTU Charbroil grill allows me to grill steaks, fish, chops and other sundry items year round, it really comes into its own during the sweltering days of summer.  So today, I am enjoying my grill along with a bottle of 2009 Chateau de la Taille Bordeaux, another bottle from that super vintage (at least as it's been billed) from France.

Now don't get me wrong, the experts who tasted from barrels are probably right on, but given that for us plebians it takes at least 4 or 5 years for a great or even mediocre Bordeaux to be drinkable much less outstanding, it's really an unfair tease in my opinion.  Granted, I did order a case of '09 Margaux on futures and can't wait for it to arrive sometime in 2012, but come on!  We all know the reason we buy great bottles of wine is not to satisfy our squirrel instinct for stocking the cellar, but to enjoy the great wine now! 

Well, fortunately, many of the early 2009 Bordeaux are drinking quite nicely right now.  Could they benefit from time in the cellar, certainly, but that doesn't mean we must opt for future enjoyment over immediate satisfaction.  Such is the case with today's wine, a wonderful blend of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Malbec (this might be a somewhat familiar blend to those who like me, enjoy the Bordeaux blends of the Pacific Northwest).  I've found in my personal experience, the early releases that have a heavy Merlot emphasis tend to drink much better right now than many other blends, particularly the heartier wines like a recent St. Emilion I purchased and can't imagine opening until 2014.

This wine is a very young wine, with ample fruit.  The nose exhibits some hints of cedar and leather, with a strong body of fruit, ranging from cherry to dark plum.  The taste is quite light right now, and very dry with silky tannins for a long finish.  Unlike some others I've tried, this wine is actually drinking quite nicely right now, though it's certainly worthy of another year or two in the cellar. I've heard some suggest this would be a great wine with lighter fare or perhaps some soft cheeses (but come on, what wine wouldn't go well with a fine brie?), but call me crazy, I'm going to enjoy this bottle with a summer cookout of a prime porterhouse steak, grilled rare (oh yes, cool red center please!), some red, yellow and orange peppers roasted in extra virgin olive oil and some fresh sweet corn grilled in the husk!  Ohhhh my!

This wine is still young, and I would rate it 7.5, certainly with room to grow.  I expecially like it at the bargain price of $9 that I found it for at my favorite local wine merchant, G.B. Russo's!  So crack open a bottle and get grilling!  Salut!

Friday, July 1, 2011

2006 Sanguineti Caruso

Ok, in celebration of our Independence Day, let's start off with some fireworks!  My wine today was our July office wine club selection and comes to us from our friends at, the 2006 Sanguineti Caruso.  Now we've seen the emergence over the last few years of the "Super Tuscans" those wines that come from the Tuscany region, but do not fit squarely in the DOC(G) classification system.  Well our wine today is being billed as a "Super Italian" as it takes an unorthodox approach of blending wine from grapes grown throughout Italy, and as the label touts, from the Nord, Centrale and Sud.

From an aesthetic standpoint, this wine blends some of the best grapes from the Valpolicella region (think Amarone), Tuscany (think Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino) and Sicily (Nero d'Avola).  From a technical standpoint, this is a blend of 14% Corvina (from the Veneto region in Northeast Italy), 6% Rondinella (also from Veneto and used in Valpolicella and Bardolino), 50% Sangiovese (from Tuscany in Central Italy, the main grape in Chianti and Brunello), 10% Syrah and 20% Nero d'Avola (from Sicily).

The wine itself has a remarkable nose, with hints of leather, tobacco and spice, but a very strong sense of the fruit, exhibited by plum and cassis.  The taste is fairly dry, but with a fruity spice that really explodes on the palate (hence the fireworks!), with fairly robust tannins leading to a long, but clean finish.  Quite honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect from a "Super Italian" after all could combining the great wines from each region even equal the sum of the parts?  Well I was very surprised, as this wine was very pleasant from the first sip to the last, a real taste of a nation with more than 2 millenia of experience making wine.  Overall I would rate this one a solid 8.5, expecially at the $13 price tag we were able to get it for!  So this weekend grab some Italian sausage and some fresh eggplant, zuccini, peppers, and other veggies and grill them out and enjoy them with this wine! "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!"