You don't see many domestic wines in the State system that don't hail from the West Coast so I was pleased to find an offering from the North Fork of Long Island. Pick up a bottle of the 2011 Lieb Family Cellars Pinot Blanc and see if it will put you in a New York state of mind.
My birthday is coming up this week and I've been looking for something new. I'm partial to some of the Italian varietals and found a new Chairman's Selection that featured a blend of four of them: the 2008 Brutocao Quadriga. What really caught my attention, though, was that this wine hails from Mendocino County, CA.
While it's not quite rosè time for me yet, I found an interesting wine that will bridge the gap as we head into the grilling season. I selected the 2011 Percheron Old Vine Cinsault from Paul Boutinot. It's a South African wine bottled in France that shows great promise. Give it a slight chill, pop the cork (or in this case, unscrew the cap) and serve it up with whatever you're serving on the 4th.
Maremma is located in the southwestern end of Tuscany where some of the most famous Super Tuscan wines are produced so I was quite surprised to try a white wine from the same area. It is an impressive little number made from the Vermentino grape. Pick up a bottle of the 2011 San Felo Le Stoppie and see if you agree.
You oenophiles are probably tiring of me picking "cheap" wines but I am not necessarily one that subscribes to the dictum that "life is to short to drink cheap wine". Rather, I think life is too short to drink bad wine and even that is relative. So, shoot me for selecting a bargain white blend from the Columbia Valley: the 2010 Kamiak Windust White.
With it's PA released timed to coincide with Memorial Day, the 2009 Whitehall Lane Perfect Union is a new release from this venerable Napa Valley producer of reliable Cabernet's. Let's see what they can do with a New World twist on an Old World blend.
It's hard to always be on your game. Me, I work in fits and starts with ample amounts of mindless distractions interspersed. This often involves wandering the isles of the wine shop searching for inspirationwhere I recently happened upon the 2010 Dalliance Lake Country Red. Websters defines "dalliance" as a "trifling away of time". Bingo: this week pick!
My eldest, Anna, recently finished college, making me feel both (very) proud and (incredibly) old. In an attempt to toast the former and numb the pain of the latter, I searched for a wine that we both would enjoy and stumbled upon the 2010 Prode Cavaliere Moscato. Pick up a bottle of this light bubbly to toast a special occasion or, at this price, life in general.
I was able to combine two things that I've wanted to try into one interesting evening: exploring Portuguese wines and trying a new (at least for me) restaurant. Thanks to the organizational skills and somewhat obsessive passions of Jack Brice, I was able to sample a flight of Portuguese red and white wines while enjoying a hearty farm-to-table meal at Legume. The highlights were many, but I settled on the 2010 Esporao Reserva White as this week's pick.
This is a big week in the 'burgh. Yes, it's the 10th annual Pittsburgh Wine Festival and there is quite a buzz surrounding the event. With over 160 vendors pouring 800 wines, there is something for even the most jaded of wine drinkers. I will be attending a lunch hosted by a buddy from Capital Wines & Spirits featuring some boutique French offerings imported by Robert Kacher. While they all look promising, one in particular caught my eye: the 2007 Muscat de Rivelsaltes from Domaine Cazes, the largest biodynamic wine producer in France.
I attended an interesting event at the BE Gallery last evening sponsored by Women for WineSense. Several interesting wines were poured at the event including the 2010 Colli di Castelfranci Frango Falanghina which caught my attention, enough so to select it as this week's pick.
We recently joined the Clever Wine Group for a tasting at Dreadnought Wines. It was a fun event but what excited me most was the opportunity to taste a red wine from the producer of one of my favorite Austrian whites. So for this week's pick I selected that wine for all to try: 2010 E. & M. BERGER NIEDERÖSTERREICH ZWEIGELT.
I was on the prowl for a new red to try. Being partial to the Rhone and Bordeaux blends but wanting to stay on this side of the pond, I found the 2009 Hahn Winery Meritage priced in what my buddy Dan like to refer to as the "sweet spot". I've enjoyed their moderately priced Pinot Noir before so I thought I would give it a try.
I'm always looking for a bargain and, while I have had mixed results in the sub-$10 price range, I was tempted by this week's pick: the 2010 Gonnet Cotes du Rhone. It wasn't just the steeply discounted price that got my attention, but the fact that it was a white wine from an area usually associated with reds.
With the Easter holiday approaching, I searched the isles for some sort of themed offering. Rabbit Ridge seemed too pedestrian and the only pastel colored wines were blushes and we've seen enough of those. So, instead, I grabbed the 2009 Yarden Mount Hermon Gallilee Red from Golan Heights Winery. That way we can broach two taboo subjects over a glass of wine: Middle East politics and religion. Fun!
We were discussing movies this weekend and War Horse came up as one that generated polarized reviews: How can Disney create a World War I drama that tugs at ones heartstrings? Strolling the isles for a new white wine to try, the label for the 2009 Firesteed Oregon Pinot Gris recalled the imagery that Disney employed so I had to see if the wine would yield the same diversity of opinion.
When the kids were little we used to play "opposite day". Feeling a bit nostalgic I decided to try it today so I picked up a bottle of the brand new offering from Skinnygirl as I am neither skinny nor a girl. Wildly popular in the premixed cocktail category, I'm wondering how well success can translate to "low calorie" wine. Is this pandering at its best?
While it was an unseasonably warm winter, it was long nonetheless and, like a bear coming our of hibernation, I'm feeling a bit sluggish and a tad portly. Imagine my surprise then, when I walked past a display for the 2008 Heavyweight California Chardonnay. I picked up a bottle to see if it delivers a "punch".
I don’t often find myself venturing into the “Collector’s Corner” of my local Fine Wine & Good Spirits store, letting myself be intimidated by the glass-enclosed, temperature controlled room. I’m more of a quaffer than a collector but while nobody was looking, I snuck in and, much to my surprise, found a number of wines in my sweet spot. I grabbed a bottle of the 2005 Vines on the Marycrest Satin Doll before anyone could mistake me for a wine snob!
It’s Mardi Gras time again and, as a veteran of several myself, nothing seems to go better with two weeks of debauchery than cheap wine. My wine of choice was a fine Burgundy that retailed for $1.79 at the local drug store on St. Charles Street. Fast forward 30 years and I’d grab a bottle of the Barefoot Bubbly Moscato Spumante NV.
When my buddy and I were fresh out of college and fumbling our way around a wine list, our "go-to" was Jordan Cabernet. Every time I see that swooping "J" it puts a smile on my face. Well a new generation of Jordan's have entered the business and moved into sparklers and whites so when I saw the vaguely familiar logo on the 2007 J Vineyard Russian River Chardonnay, I thought I'd give it a try.
Not having touched a golf club in months, I was not very happy to learn of my brother's recent golf trip to Naples to play Old Collier. Rather than wallow in self pity, I thought that I would go to the wine shop and drown in it instead! I tried some free association to get my mind off of it and remembered that Naples was the capital of Campania. Aglianico is the predominant grape of the region and, low and behold, a new Chairman's Selection was staring me in the face: 2008 Mastroberardino Aglianico. The choice was obvious!
Since the Aussie Verdelho I picked last week caught many off guard, I thought that I would return to more familiar ground with an Australian red: the 2007 Shoofly Aussie Salute. I liked the colorful label and the nod to the even more colorful nursery rhyme. The 2007 vintage makes it promising as does the blend of Grenache, Shiraz and Viognier.
When we lived in Australia, Deb and I would dress the kids up in their cute little uniforms, drop them off at Central Coast Grammar and then make a beeline for the Hunter Valley to sample wines and enjoy a leisurely lunch. We'd make it back in tome to pick them up and they were none the wiser! So, when I saw the 2009 Hope Estate Verdelho on the shelf, it brought back fond memories.
I recently picked a Barbera from California to try, noting that this varietal is much more popular on the other side of the pond. I found myself trolling the Chairman's Selections, as I often do, and came across an Italian example: the 2010 Vigneti Massa Fuso Barbera at a very fair price. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to draw some comparisons and contrasts between two styles.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding this young wine which is meant to celebrate the end of the harvest, giving workers a taste of the new vintage. It's one of the first wines I remember trying, wondering what all of the fuss was about. I saw the 2011 vintage on the shelf and wondered what, if anything, had changed in the 30 years since I last grabbed a bottle. Pick one up, give it a slight chill and see what you think.
When you're a big shot like me, you get to hobnob with the wine cognoscenti with some frequency. As a case in point, I am looking forward to a luncheon scheduled for next week with David Adelsheim: Co-Founder and President of Adelsheim Vineyard. They make some exciting stuff and are one of the founding wineries of the Willamette Valley in Oregon. Since you can't be there (you weren't invited!) I selected the 2009 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir as this week's pick. Grab a bottle and join us, at least in spirit!
We were planning a last minute company holiday dinner at Arpino Trattoria and I was looking for something to go with the appetizer course of beans&greens, sausage and their fabulous Roman rice balls. While perusing the isles, a bottle caught my eye and I decided to make it this week's pick: the 2010 Cantina di Sorbara Galante Lambrusco di Modena Amabile. There aren't many sparkling reds out there and Lambrusco has a bit of a sketchy reputation, but I was willing to throw caution to the wind. Do you think the risk will be rewarded?
What's in a name? A lot, apparently, particularly as it relates to the producer of this week's pick: the 2008 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Petite Syrah. From movie studios to tropical resorts, the man has been busy. A friend just visited the winery on some corporate boondoggle, but it made me think that I had not tried a Coppola wine in some time. I find the brand confusing so I grabbed one with the pretty purple label and the highfalutin "Diamond Selection" designation! Will it be a rare find or a cheap imitation?
I'm feeling a bit guilty for discounting a white wine's ability to stand up to its red brethren so I decided to give the French a chance to prove me wrong. This week's pick is the Louis Latour Meusault Blagny. It is a Premier Cru (first growth) Chardonnay from Burgundy that promises to be a beauty.
Some weeks ago, I was invited to sit in on the introduction of the upcoming Chairman's Selections. Honored to be included, I dusted off my sports coat, polished my readers and vowed to be on my best behavior. The offerings were quite diverse, but the standout was a high-end Malbec which I decided to feature as this week's pick: the 2008 Lagarde Primeras Vinas. Pick one up and decant it before serving.
I never really associated "sex" with wine but someone must, given the proliferation of titillating titles of late. Thinking discretion was the better part of valor, I passed on "Playmates" but couldn't resist PromisQous if for no other reason than they encourage practicing "safe sipping". Offered in both red and white flavors, I chose the latter for this week's pick.
With all of the Thanksgiving buzz around it's hard not to be focused on Thursday's activities. Whether your looking forward to the football, the food, family, or just a guilt-free sleep in, there is something for everybody. I plan on taking advantage of all of the above which is why I started preparing early. My menu this year contains some novel twists on traditional dishes so I decided to pair it with the 2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir. They won the 2011 Winery of the year from Wines & Spirits with four of their offerings toppings the rating charts.
The weather has been crummy, the leaves are falling fast and the days are getting miserably short so I decided to pick up a bottle of liquid sunshine. This week's pick is the 2007 Weingut Ernst Bretz Riseling Eiswein. If this doesn't put me in a better mood, nothing will!
I'm meeting a buddy of mine at Penn Fish for Fish Taco Tuesday and I needed a multi-purpose wine that would handle the spiciness of the tacos without overwhelming them so I grabbed a bottle of the 2010 Protos Verdejo, gave it a chill and we'll see what happens!
A friend of a friend started a group aptly called "Grapenuts" that hosts weekly wine tastings and occasional themed dinners wherein participants are introduced to new labels and varietals. We're going to tag along this week so I selected one of the eleven wines that are going to be featured: the 2008 Cooralook Shiraz.
I’ve got two buddies, both named “Jim”, that are nuts about Halloween. Frankly, I don’t get it but I thought that, in their honor, I would pick a wine befitting the holiday: the 2008 Zombie Zin from Zombie Cellars (really Chateau Diane). My expectations are low but you have to drink something to get through an evening tacky costumes and overly cautious parents!
I thought it might be time to mix it up again, but I wanted to do it without leaving American soil. I was surprised to find a Barbera made just outside of Napa and even though it is coming from A volume producer, only 1,400 cases were produced. So, pick up a bottle of the 2009 Shannon Ridge Single Vineyard Barbera and see what they can do with this Piedmontese varietal.
One of our staffers likes dry white wine and the other, Pinot Noir. So, when I happened upon the 2010 Toad Hollow Eye of the Toad it caught my eye. It touts itself as being a "bone dry" rose made in the traditional French style with a triple pressing that yields good fruit. The label was catchy and the price was right so...
It's birthday week in the Zappala household! Yes "week"! Don't ask. So with two birthday girls under one roof I selected the Veuve Cicquot "Yellow Label" Brut to celebrate. A perennial favorite with the Hollywood set, lets see if it makes the grade with my two unforgiving critics.
This week's pick is Peachy Canyon Winery's Incredible Red. I've seen this wine pop up on a number of wine lists lately and I am always curious about how "Incredible" a wine can be at this price point. A red blend that's made up of 82% Zinfandel, it claims to be an all around quaffing red. Let's just see about that!
This Sunday the last of the 2011 PLCB wine festivals will be held in Happy Valley where the main event will be a Rioja tasting. I, unfortunately cannot make it so I thought we should bring our own bit of happiness to Pittsburgh and try one of the nine featured wines: the 2007 El Coto Crianza. If you can make it out there give my regards to Ted, if not, grab a bottle, join the tasting and share your thoughts with us.
I haven't picked a German wine yet, if for no other reason than they are difficult to pronounce! Take this week's pick, for instance: the 2009 Paul Anheuser Kreuznacher Kahlenberg Spätlese Riesling. Talk about alphabet soup! Hopefully the finish is as long as its name.
We've made reference in the past that Merlot has become the Rodney Dangerfield of varietals these days. Having been knocked from its once lofty perch people are wondering why this wine "ain't gettin' no respect"! The American Wine Society (and our local chapter) is featuring a national tasting of this varietal so I figured we might as well ride on their coattails which is why I selected the 2008 Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot as this week's pick.
It's time to head back down under! I walked into my local shop and this beauty was staring me right in the face. Hard to pass up a Shiraz for $9.99, especially one sporting a 90+ rating from Wine Enthusiast.
Wines from Portugal are really hot this year. Not sure why, but we certainly don't want to miss the boat now do we? This week's pick, a blend of four grapes, is the Chamine from Cortes de Cima. It seemed like a safe place to start so pick up a bottle and see what you think.
I'm not ready to move on from Italy and I found an interesting and approachable wine from Maremma: the 2008 Poggio alla Guardia from Rocca di Frassinello. It's a current Chairman's Selection and well priced for a Super Tuscan.
I just spent 9 blissful days in the Tuscan countryside with my family, the highlight of which was our visit to the Ornellaia Winery in Bolgheri. While their premier offering is virtually untouchable, their second offering, Le Serre Nuove, is at least within reach.
We have yet to review a French wine (a glaring error on my part) and I wanted to skip the standard fare so I was pleasantly surprised to find the 2009 Cave de Saumur Reserve des Vignerons made from 100% Cabernet Franc. It is a noble grape not given its due.
I received some grief for "dissing" a very popular Chardonnay recently so it seemed only fair to go back to the well in an attempt to find some viable alternatives. There is no shortage of Chardonnay's at my neighborhood store but this one caught my eye because of its use of native yeast in the fermentation process.
As we move into the dog days of summer, we're cooking less and going out more. Thankfully, we found a great little BYOB Thai restaurant in Bellevue that we have been frequenting. There are some lovely spicy seafood dishes on the menu so I picked the 2009 Rocca dei Sanniti Vino Spumante to take on our next visit. Why don't you do the same and share your tasting with us.
Cupcake bakeries have popped up all over as the newest fad and they seem to be shamelessly pandering to women. And, I have walked past the "Cupcake" section of the wine shop on numerous occasions figuring that they, too, seem to be targeting the female clientele. So, am I to conclude that the 2010 Cupcake Malbec is a "chick" wine? I made my wife buy a bottle (just in case) to see if I am jumping to a conclusion.
With a new crop of offerings from Spain, several Chairman's Selections caught my eye including this week's pick: the 2005 Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco from Rioja. I'm excited to try such an approachable wine with so much aging already under its belt. Pick one up and share your thoughts.
Thought to be the consummate American grape, Zinfandel wines tend to have a loyal following. Never accused of being shy, they tend to show red fruit, spicy and a bit of burn from a relatively high alcohol content. This week's pick, the 2007 Clos LaChance Buff Bellied Zinfandel claims to carry that pedigree.
It's summertime and the livin' is easy. I've got the grill primed and want something that would go with corn on the cob and a smokey slab of ribs. We all know that the Aussie's love their "barbi", so I picked up a bottle of the 2009 Red One from First Drop Wines. Let's see if it fits the bill.
My daughter is turning 21 this week so it only seems appropriate to select something special for her first sip of alcohol. (Yes, I live in a fantasy world and I am quite happy being blissfully ignorant about such things). Fittingly, I selected the 2006 Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs.
If selecting a wine at my local store were a popularity contest, Kendall Jackson Chardonnay would win, hands down. Is beauty only skin deep? Well, pick up a bottle of the 2009 Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay and lets see if it deserves the attention it is receiving.
In a previous issue we talked about organic wines and whether or not that process affected the taste. But what about the packaging; does it affect the taste? My wine store now has an entire row of boxed wines or some sort of variation on that theme. I grabbed a 1.0 Litre “box” of bandit Cabernet Sauvignon to find out.
With the hint of summer on the horizon, I have been looking for a wine to complement a poolside cookout. While I can’t bring myself to purchase a “white zin”, I nonetheless want something light, crisp and fruity that I can serve chilled without getting grief from my friends. Let’s see if the 2010 Two Doves Moscato fills that niche.
I come from a land down under. Not really, but I did spend a few months there and I loved that “Men at Work” song so I figured it was high time to grab one of their fruit-laden bombs and serve it up as this week’s pick: 2004 Brothers in Arms Shiraz/Cabernet #6.
California Cabernets have the reputation of being big, bold, and beautiful! But, that usually comes with a hefty price tag. Grab this week's pick, the 2008 Ray's Station Cabernet Sauvignon, and see if the "killer b's" can be had at a bargain.
Does size matter? Please, get you mind out of the gutter; we’re talking about wine here! Have you ever wondered whether or not the size of the bottle affected the taste of the wine contained therein? Grab this week’s pick and find out: the 2008 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc in a 375 ml bottle.
Once again we are going to venture into unchartered territory and hopefully be rewarded for our efforts. Next week’s pick is a new import: the 2009 Feudi Sanniti Taburno Falanghia. While a varietal with ancient ancestry, this Naples, Italy grown grape is only recently making a resurgence.
We’ve all seen the movie “Sideways” which imbedded an irrational fear of Merlot in our cerebral cortex. The power of suggestion is ever present when it comes to wine. “Experts” love to tell us what to buy and sometimes, what to avoid. But, avoid an entire varietal? Let’s try the 2006 St. Supery Merlot and see.
Everybody loves a bargain but common sense tells us that there are certain things we shouldn't cheap out on: towels, mattresses, toilet paper. But what about wine? Can you find a decent one under $10? Try next week's pick: the 2008 Acre Chardonnay and see what 7 bucks will buy you.
I went shopping today and bought some organic eggs, organic herbs and some grain fed beef. This made me think about organic wines and my relative ignorance of them so I selected the 2007 Patianna Pinot Noir for our Next Week’s Pick. Let’s see if we can taste a difference.
Okay, I guess I need to heed my own advice. It’s not that I buy the same thing over and over, it’s that I shy away from certain wines like Cabernets based upon a built in prejudice. I, too may be missing out which is why I selected the 2006 Joel Gott 6 Cabernet Sauvignon as next week’s pick.
Let’s think small! So many of the wines we are exposed to are from big time producers. The shelves are dominated by multiple brands from recognized names. With a little digging, or through some unique buys from our “chairman”, the smaller production wines often yield some pleasant surprises like our next pick: the 2007 Salima Vineyards Syrah.
Let’s go to Italy by way of Pittsburgh! Lidia Bastianich (celebrity chef, author and restaurateur) owns a restaurant here in Pittsburgh that bears her name and, together with her son, Joe (a celebrity in his own right) they own a winery that produces some interesting whites, one of which is this week’s pick: 2008 Bastianich Friulano. Do celebrities and wine mix?
March 8th is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) so to celebrate the passing of this event and the associated debauchery; I have selected the 2008 Seven Deadly Zins from Michael David Winery. An obvious send up of the Catholic Cardinal Sins, can you name them? How many will you admit indulging in?
Feeling tragically unhip? One of the hottest white grapes right now is Gruner Veltliner. It’s relatively unknown even though it is Austria’s most widely planted varietal. And, one of my favorite examples comes from E&M Berger. Look for the green litre bottle with the old school cap its “GruVee” baby. Yeah!
Buy a wine, save a train? I would be a bit more skeptical if the wine being touted, the 2006 Pullman Petite Syrah, wasn’t so darn tasty or if it weren’t coming from such a reputable producer as Sylvester wines. It’s next week’s pick so climb on board and give it a try.
A conundrum is: a) a confusing problem; b) an awkward predicament; c) a proprietary blend of California white wine; or d) all of the above. Yes, it’s “d” and the 2009 Conundrum is my pick for next week. Pick up a bottle and share your favorite conundrum with us.
“Sweets for my sweet and sugar for my honey” (Drifters hit circa 1961) There is no denying the inextricable relationship between sweet things and love. Well, I think you’ll love our next pick: the 2009 Robert Mondavi Moscato d’Oro. It’s the closet thing you’ll find to dessert in a bottle!
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it seemed appropriate to select a wine suited to the occasion. Next week’s pick is Carra Columbina Rose: a lovely pink Prosecco from Colli del Soligo.
Pick up a bottle, and submit your thoughts by February 7th to be included in the next issue of Grapevine.