Monday, April 29, 2013

Altesino - Rosso di Altesino 2010, IGT

Here's a quick note on a wine of solid value, from a big Montalcino producer, Altesino. This is, by their own description, an everyday wine, and I have to say, you could do a lot worse than to drink this every day. The "Rosso di Altesino" should not be confused with the Rosso di Montalcino. Rather, this is an I.G.T. wine made of 80% Sangiovese, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot comprising the other 20%. It can be easily found for around $15.

The nose starts off with some bite, and a little acridity, although not unpleasantly so. There's plenty of dark fruit there as well, primarily blackberry, with a little violet, and firm flinty notes underneath. The palate presents with a smooth texture, and pleasing fragrant wood notes, along with charred black cherry and mineral earth. The acidity plays a lesser role, behind the fairly extracted fruit and dense, fine grained, texture.  Later, a clear Bordeaux-like nose begins to develop, with cedar, pencil shavings, and some ink. There was also a subtle hint of spearmint late on the nose. Quite firm in its nature, but satisfying, and resilient, for the duration of the bottle. 14% ABV.  88Pts

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ribera del Duero Lunch -Salinas NYC

A Magnificent Scene in Ribera del Duero
There are many fine wine producing regions in Spain, each offering its own unique set of influences and styles. Recently I had the opportunity to focus on the Ribera Del Duero, an area located about 80 miles due north of Madrid. This area, like so many in Spain, focuses on Tempranillo, an outstanding varietal that can be vinified into both simple wines of solid value, as well as those of elegance and stature.

The event was held at Salinas Restaurant, in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, and sponsored by Snooth, and Drink Ribera del Duero. For the record, the service, food, and decor were all excellent, and I hope to visit again soon for a regular sit down meal. On this occasion, we were a room full of bloggers from across the United States, with twelve different wines before us, all from Ribera del Duero. It was a great opportunity to see the range of quality and styles that the region has to offer.

Guiding us through the tasting was top sommelier, Roger Kugler, who shared many interesting facts about the wines and the region. For example, did you know that it can be as cold as -10 degrees Fahrenheit during the Ribera del Duero winter? That, along with other factors, makes this a challenging wine making location for the approximately 280 producers there. It is located not far from the better known Rioja region, but is at a slightly higher elevation.The Tempranillo grape, known locally as Tinto Fino, must make up at least 75% of the blend in order for a wine to have the Ribera del Duero D.O. designation. Oh and one more thing, Roger says they love visitors, so keep that in mind on your next trip to Europe.

If you would like to learn more about Ribera Del Duero, visit Drink Ribera del Duero.
Scroll down for my notes and comments on the wines.

Galacian Style Pumpkin-Chicken Soup ...with Smoked Bacon and Chorizo. Yum!

Our Chef - Luis Bollo Enjoys Well Deserved Applause

The Line-Up
Some Favorites

2001 Valduero Gran Reserva, "Explotaciones"  $160

This wine showed great finesse on the nose and palate, with blackberry, tobacco, some mint on the nose. The palate was light to medium in weight, with more lean blackberry and tobacco notes. Very nice, although it loses a bit of momentum on the finish. 90 Pts
Here is a tasting note I wrote in 2010 on the 1994 Valduero Reserva. Current vintages of this are selling for around $35.
1994 Valduero Reserva  
What a great QPR wine! Deep garnet with a hint of brick on the edge. Pronounced nose of mature mushroom, stewed cherries, and earth. Medium weight with cured meats, some black pepper and warm spices. The modest finish is gently warm with nice acid and fine tannins.

 2001 Condado de Haza, S.L., Alenza Gran Reserva, $100

 The nose starts out with dark charred earth, black and bell pepper, and incensed black fruit. Well balanced and solid on the palate, with dried blackberry skins, some minerality, and a bit of vanilla. Nice aromatics on the finish, with moderate length. 91Pts.

2005 Bodegas Hnos. Rerez Pascuas, S.L. Vina Pedrosa, $85
The nose is pronounced and beautiful, with focused dartk black cherry / blackberry fruit, and some floral notes on top. The palate is interesting in that, in addition to the blackberry fruit, there is a cream - caffe macchiato kind of note which is not unpleasant. The finish is firm, with notes of grilled meat and aromatic wood. 90 Pts.

2006 Bodegas Convento San Francisco, S.L., Convento San Francisco, $34
Fragrant dried herbs, blended with dusty, dried blackberry on the nose. On the palate there’s lots of earth and forest floor to go along with the lean blackberry fruit. Later on the palate a note of tomato juice began to show and caramel spice on the nose. Firm on the finish. This has a good level of complexity. 89Pts

2010 Bodegas Astrales, S.L., Astrales, $40
Fresh fruit on the nose, like a blackberry fruit cup, followed by a lovely charred incense note. The palate continues the clean blackberry theme, adding coffee, some vanilla bean, and a very pleasant finish of charred aromatic wood and violets. 90Pts

Some top values, $20 and under, from the line-up

These three well illustrated the solid QPR that can be found in the Ribera del Duero.

2009, Bodegas y Vinedeos Ortega Fournier, S.L. Urban Ribera, $14
This is a wine I’ve enjoyed several times before, in other vintages, and have always felt the value was excellent. The nose has fresh blackberry and raspberry fruit, with a bit of sweet tea and some mineral earth. Pleasant and straightforward on the palate, the blackberry carries on in good balance with the moderate tannins. The finish is firm and satisfying. This is a good option for your house wine rotation. 87Pts

 2011 Bodegas Felix Callejo, S.A., Flores de Callejo, $20
Tooth staining purple, with ripe blackberry fruit on the nose and the palate, and an undercurrent of violets. There’s also an interesting, and pleasant, note of talcum. 86Pts

2011 Bodegas Barco de Piedra, $15
Fresh, dark, blackberry and some violets on the nose, with more of the same on the palate. There is a fine, granular texture and a bit if grip. While it is solid and fairly extracted, there is still a fair level of balance. The freshness of the fruit is the real story here. This one has backyard barbecue written all over it. 86Pts


You can read more about this event and the wines of Ribera del Duero on these other fine wine blogs.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2006 Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino

In past conversations with wine maker, and owner of Le Ragnaie, Riccardo Campinoti, it was clear to me that he loves the traditions of Brunello, and is intent on making wines that convey the elegance of which Sangiovese is capable. This is also clear in the glass. One fine example is his 2006 Brunello di Montalcino normale.

2006 Le Ragnaie Brunello di Montalcino 13.5% ABV
The appearance of Le Ragnaie, 2006 in the Glass
Decanted thirty minutes before drinking. The lovely translucent garnet appearance of this wine is an early clue to what can be expected on the nose and palate. The nose starts off with warm strawberry and subtle spice (cloves?) and a slight dairy note early on, that fades over time. Cedar is present from the start to the finish, providing a structural element to the aromas.With a little time, notes of char-broiled meats and flinty earth developed as well on the nose.This nose is complex and hard to pin down. The palate is light to medium weight with aromatic brambles, plum / necterine, lean red cherry, shale, more cedar and a hint of forest floor. Still youthful, it is a bit disjointed, but complete. The finish is firm and of good length, showing more fine cedar notes, dried cherry skins, Asian spice, and some tart earth. Distinctive, serious, and elegant. 92 Pts.

Although it can sometimes be difficult to locate in the U.S., it is well worth the effort to seek out this classic example of fine Brunello.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Canalicchio Di Sopra 2007

As a follow-up to my note on the 2007 Riserva, here is the "normale" from the same producer, enjoyed with dinner last night.

2007 Canaliccio Di Sopra Brunello di Montalcino 14% ABV
Opened, decanted, and poured. There is a lovely theme of spiced strawberry and cherry on the nose and palate of this wine. The best I can do to describe it is, roasted strawberry, very lightly seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice. Along with this are notes of oregano, anise, and other dried herbs. The palate has a pleasing medium weight and softness, with a fine grained texture on the tongue. The flavors on the palate are of that same spiced strawberry and some lean red cherry with balanced, fine, acidity and easy tannins underneath. Later, notes of anise, tobacco, and black tea develop. The finish has good length, with a charred wood character, along with active, aromatic sandalwood, and some white pepper. More acidity is evident (pleasingly so) on the finish along with moderate grip. This is a very pretty and drinkable Brunello, the kind that goes down fast. 90Pts