Thursday, March 19, 2015

2011 Dolianum Dogliani San Mate

Well, here's another Italian wine the I bought from Wines Till Sold Out a while back, the 2011 Dolianum Dogliani San Mate, a dolcetto based wine from Piedmont.  The San Mate designation originates from a document found in the Dogliani City archives from the late 16th century which specifies that grapes from this vineyard cannot be picked before San Matteo's Day, which is September 21.

Well now that we've dispensed with the trivia, let's get to the wine!  The wine has a lovely deep ruby color in the glass with nice clarity.  The nose is very interesting, with some sweet notes of plum and blackberry and some earthy, meaty aromas as well as a subtle floral undertone.  The taste is very nice, a rush of cherry cola and black plum transitions nicely to some tea leaves and black pepper spice midpalate.  The finish is very smooth and very dry, but the tannins are quite subdued, making this one a pleasure to sip all afternoon.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's very easy drinking and a solid value at just $13.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a simple midweek dinner of butternut squash ravioli with a creamy mushroom alfredo sauce, but this wine would pair well with a nice steak, hearty Italian pasta dishes, or a simple pizza.  Cheers!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

2008 Audius Rioja

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Yeah, I know I should be falling down drunk on green beer, but I really haven't been much of a beer drinker since college, though I can open a nice bottle of wine to celebrate!  Tonight it's the 2008 Audius Rioja, a lovely tempranillo from Spain that I think has a good chance of pairing well with a traditional Irish dinner.

The wine is lovely garnet color in the glass, with an inky purple near the center.  The nose is a fantastic smoky aroma of bright red fruit, cherry, raspberry and red plum over the faintest hints of leather and vanilla.  The taste is wonderfully fruit forward with flavors of cherry cola, blackberry and cassis, that easily transition to some spice notes of white pepper midpalate.  The tannins are softly structured but they still give nice backbone to the long, smooth and very dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very nice Rioja at a terrific price as I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $13.  Tonight I am enjoying this with, what else?  Corned beef and stinky cabbage, along with red potatoes and carrots that have been simmering in the slow cooker since this morning!  If you choose not to have beer, I can think of few better wines to go with this Irish fare than a lighter, dry and very fruit forward wine like this.  Erin go bragh!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2013 VitaLuce Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Well, it's selection Sunday, and I just watched the entire NCAA basketball bracket revealed on CBS, so now it's time for a glass of wine and get to making dinner!  Tonight I've opened a bottle of 2013 VitaLuce Cellars Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, a recent purchase from Wines Till Sold Out.  It's a young Cabernet, but given this wine from Paso Robles was primarily from grapes on the west side of the appellation, I thought it might be just a bit more interesting despite its youth and inexperience.

The wine is a lovely garnet color in the glass, with a violet hue and great clarity.  The nose is somewhat fruity, with some jammy plum and blackberry notes overlaid with some lovely earthy notes of toasted oak, cedar and a touch of mint.  The taste is quite nice, with a rush of jammy fruit up front, blackberry and cassis that quickly subsides into some baking spice and dark chocolate midpalate.  The well structured tannins make for a long, smooth, very dry finish that dare you to take another sip.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very nice Cabernet and a terrific value at just $13!  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic Sunday dinner of a rare bacon wrapped filet with some garlic mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus.  The fruit and minerality of this wine are perfect against the richness of a great steak.  Cheers!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva

This was the third wine in the recent virtual tasting, the 2011 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva, a wine that's been produced by Ruffino since 1927.  This particular wine is a blend of Sangiovese (80%) with the balance Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, aged for 24 months before bottling and then aged a further 3 months before release.  This is also the only Chianti that has "Riserva" in it's name, hence the riserva riserva connotation!

The wine itself is a lovely garnet color in the glass with great clarity and a bit heavier appearance than the two previous wines we tasted.  The nose has a definite fruity characteristic that borders on "jammy" with aromas of ripe berries and cherry compote along with some rustic earthy notes of oak and peat.  The taste is very fruit forward, but not nearly as jammy as the nose would suggest, instead it's laden with tart cherry and red currant that transitions nicely to some mineral notes midpalate.  The tannins are nicely structured and balanced perfectly against the bright acidity to make for a long, smooth dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a beautiful example of a riserva Chianti at a stellar price of about $20.  This wine would be great with a classic Tuscan ragu, or almost any hearty Italian pasta dish.  Tonight I am enjoying this one with some linguine and hot Italian sausage with onions and peppers, what better way to enjoy a hearty Saturday night?  Cin Cin!

Friday, March 13, 2015

2010 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Happy Friday before Pi-Day!  Tonight I am enjoying the last of the four wines we tried on our virtual tasting with Ruffino Wines, though this is my third review - man I really messed up the order on these!  At any rate, tonight it's the top of the heap, the 2010 Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, a blend of Sangiovese (80%) with the remainder composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Colorino.  The wine was aged in large oak casks for about a year, then transferred to barriques for another 12 months, followed by an additional four months in the bottle.  Now let's taste the result!

The wine is a lovely garnet hue in the glass with ruby along the edges, and great clarity.  The nose is classic Chianti, with lovely aromas of blackberry, cherry and some floral aromas of violet and a hint of spice.  The taste is quite nice, fruit forward with lots of cherry, plum and a bit of spice, maybe a bit of cumin.  The flavors easily transition to some lovely dark chocolate and mocha notes midpalate.  The tannins are nicely integrated, lending support for a long, smooth dry finish that lingers as if to tempt you into another sip.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's exactly what a great Chianti should be, though it's still a bit young - I really wonder how this will develop over the coming decade.  At about $40 retail, this is certainly worth putting up a few bottles in the cellar.  Tonight I am pairing it with a classic American version of bisteca Fiorentina, a rare grilled porterhouse with a baked potato and some steamed asparagus (for once I can enjoy the wine relaxing by the grill since it's above freezing!).  The wine is ideal for big steaks of just about any hearty Italian dish (think meaty lasagna, eggplant parm or mussels fra diavalo with linguine!).  Cin Cin!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

2013 Ruffino Chianti

Here we are at the second post of my reviews of the Ruffino wines we recently tasted during the virtual tasting, the 2013 Ruffino Chiant!  Although this is my second post, this is actually the first wine we tasted, being the youngest and lightest of the four wines.  This wine is a blend of mainly Sangiovese (70%) with the balance made up of red varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  So here goes nothing!

The color is a bright ruby in the glass with great clarity.  The nose is chock full of red fruit, raspberries, cherries and plum with a bit of a floral note over the top.  The taste is wonderfully fruity, with some red berries and cherries up front that transition nicely to some hints of spice midpalate,  The typically robust tannins complement the bright acidity of the wine cementing a crisp, dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 7.5, it's a very good Chianti at a tremendous value price of around $8.  This wine would be the perfect summer red, light, and perfect for a cool June evening on the patio.  Tonight I am sipping this with some olives and a bit of Podda cheese, enjoying the first of some spring weather, cheers!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

2012 Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of participating in another Snooth Virtual Tasting, a great opportunity to taste wines with other wine fans while listening to winemakers talking about their products.  This tasting was all about the wonderful Chiantis produced by Ruffino, a maker that's been producing Chianti since 1877.  We tasted four wines that made up a vertical by vintage (2010-2013) and by price (from $8 to $40).  Given my dinner tonight, I've decided to review the second of the group, the 2012 Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico, a blend of Sangiovese (80%) with the balance made up of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

The wine is a bright ruby color in the glass with great clarity and somewhat lighter body which is typical of Chianti.  The nose exhibits notes of green herbs and tart cherries with light undertones of leather and tar.  The taste is very fruit forward with notes of raspberries and plum with bright acidity that transitions to some tart cherry midpalate.  The finish is quite nice, with some well structured tannins supporting a smooth dry finish that lingers.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, it's a very easy drinking wine at a value price of around $12.  Tonight I am pairing this with pizza and a baby arugula and radicchio salad!  Yes, this is an ideal pizza wine, as the nice fruit and bright acidity are ideal complements to the richness of the cheese and toppings of a nice pizza.  Stay tuned for reviews of the other four wines in the coming days.  Cin Cin!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

2005 Vitaluce Cellars Quintos Red Wine

Well, the weekend it over, I survived the time change and am just enjoying a glass of wine before dinner.  Tonight it's the 2005 Vitaluce Cellars Quintos red wine from Paso Robles, a classic Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Petit Verdot (15%), Cabernet Franc (15%), Merlot (10%) and Malbec (10%).

The wine is a deep, inky purple color in the glass, with a bit of opacity given its age.  The nose is reminiscent of a classic Bordeaux, with lovely ripe berries, fig and blackberry compote over hints of green grass and smoke.  The taste is quite fruit forward with some ripe berries and cherry cola flavors up front that transition to some lovely notes of mocha, dark chocolate and earthy flavors of dusty granite midpalate.  The tannins are nicely structured, lending support for the long and exceptionally dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8, as it's a very pleasant blend that's easy drinking and a great value - I bought this one from Wines Till Sold Out for just $13 in the recent cheapskate marathon.  Tonight I am enjoying this wine with a classic winter comfort food, tuna casserole!  I can't even begin to suggest parings for this dish, but a nice red wine will brighten up even the most pedestrian of American dishes!  Cheers!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

2003 Reininger Desiderata

Well, it's the first Saturday of the month so that must mean it's Cellar Saturday!  That great time when I open a bottle of more mature wine just for the heck of it, and tonight I have a really special one for you, one that hasn't been in my cellar very long, but was reserved quite some time before release.  I'm talking about the 2003 Reininger Desiderata, a fine blend of six varietals including Malbec (44%), Cabernet Sauvignon (21%), Petit Verdot (13%), Carmenere (10%), Cabernet Franc (8%) and Merlot (4%) from some of Walla Walla's best vineyards.  The wine is also unusual in that it was barrel aged for nearly 5 years and then aged in the bottle for another 2 1/2 years!  Reininger made a wonderful short video on the making of this wine that appears on their website here: 2003 Desiderata that really does a nice job explaining the wine.  So let's get tasting!

I decanted the wine and let it breathe for an hour or so before pouring.  The wine is a lovely deep purple color in the glass with bright ruby along the edges.  It has a nose that reminds you of the great Bordeaux blends from France, but there is also a level of earthy tones that no doubt is an expression of the Malbec.  The nose has a great aroma of ripe plum, pomegranate and just a hint of tobacco.  The taste is just marvelous, great fruit up front, cherry, black plum and cassis that transitions effortlessly to some dark chocolate and mocha notes midpalate.  The tannins are just so graceful and well integrated that you don't even notice that you've finished a sip, yet you're still enjoying the long, smooth and elegantly dry finish.  Every bit of this wine is like watching the performance of a graceful dancer, every move has it's purpose and adds a layer to the story unfolding before your eyes, and when you're finished you have to marvel at the experience.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 9.5, it's one of the greatest wines I've had from Walla Walla, though it's not cheap, I think it's worth every penny of the $85 I spent on it!  Tonight I am enjoying it with a nice grilled porterhouse, baked potato and some fresh steamed asparagus, but really, I could just have this wine for dinner and enjoy it just as much!  What a testament to the vision of a great winemaker.  Cheers!

Friday, March 6, 2015

2012 Havens Bourriquot Oakville Napa Valley Red Blend

Happy Friday!  It's been a very long week, but I managed to get most of my work done, get to the gym and now I'm home and definitely ready for a glass of wine!  Tonight I've opened a bottle that I just received in the mail at the office today from my "Cheapskate Marathon" orders from Wines Till Sold Out.  This one is a 2012 Havens Bourriquot, a red blend from Havens Winery in Napa Valley.  I couldn't find the spec sheet on this vintage, but based on the 2009 notes, this is likely a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, which should make for a pleasant glass on a Friday evening!

The wine is a bright ruby in the glass with great clarity, suggesting a weighting toward the Cabernet Franc side.  The nose is is quite complex with some big notes of ripe plum, fig and toasted oak that gives way to some lovely light floral notes of rose and jasmine.  The taste is quite nice with some candied fruit notes up front, plum, cherry and fig that transition to some earthy oak and mineral notes midpalate.  The finish is subtle, with well balanced tannins supporting an exceptionally smooth, long and dry finish.  This is a wine that might surprise you by how quickly and easily the bottle empties!

Overall I would rate this wine a solid 8.5 as it's a very pleasant drinking wine at a price that is a value.  I bought this from Wines Till Sold Out for $17, so I'd have no problem drinking this one everyday!  This wine would be ideal with hearty meat dishes, like braised short ribs or a nicely grilled New York strip, but tonight I'm enjoying it with some baked cod, sweet potato fries and a baby arugula salad with aged balsamic.  The lovely fruit on this wine makes it ideal for dished with more subtle flavors like the cod, but can also stand up to the spicy sweetness of the arugula and balsamic salad.  Cheers!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Malbec

Ahh...Sunday evening, time to get my amateur chef hat out and make a kick butt dinner!  And of course with a kick butt dinner you need to have a kick butt bottle of wine, and boy do we have one tonight, the 2012 L'Ecole No. 41 Seven Hills Estate Malbec, made from the fruit of block 34 of the vineyard, which is usually blended to make one of my favorites, the Estate Perigee, but for the 2012 vintage we get the treat of some Malbec on it's own.

The wine is a deep, brooding inky purple in the glass, with some bright ruby along the edges.  The nose is classic Malbec, very earthy, with notes of ripe black fruit overlaid with some tobacco leaf, smoky oak, and some lovely spices.  The taste is a burst of ripe fruit up front, with some plum, blackberry and cherry that smoothly transitions to some wonderful earthy mineral notes midpalate, dusty limestone and basalt.  The finish is again classic, with some lovely peppery spice notes that play perfectly with the fine grained tannins, making for a luscious and very smooth, exceptionally dry finish.

Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, it's really simply fabulous, and keep in mind that I've not been the biggest fan of Malbec, but this one sure is a treat.  Tonight, I've paired it with perhaps the perfect dinner for such an earthy and spicy wine, a nice rare grilled prime sirloin on a bed of baby kale tossed with a bit of aged white balsamic, along with homemade truffle mac & cheese and some steamed asparagus.  This wine is just ideal with the the earthiness of the truffles and the hearty flavors of steak, cheers!