Tuesday, May 30, 2006

WHEW what a trip

Well it was certainly a world wind vacation. Amongst spending some time with my girlfriend I also got to experience some really interesting wines from Italy. To give you some background we left Frankfurt, Germany on May 20th, drove down through Switzerland and into Italy. We stayed in Cinque Terre, a group of five towns built on cliffs in the middle of the Italian Riviera. They produce a lot of wines here, most white, but there are some reds. We hiked through the region in the midst of vineyards and Olive Tree and Lemon Tree Orchards (this is after all the home of Lemoncelo). While I wasn't able to visit any wineries while in Cinque Terre, I did of course go out and experience as much of the food and wine as I could. One of the best whites I had was an exotic Vermintino from the region with some grilled squid salad and pasta. We also had a few glasses of red Frizzante. Frizzante wine is partially sparkling i.e. frizzy instead of the bubbles we are used to seeing in most Sparkling wines and many times Frizzante is Red and not white.
After 4 days in Cinque Terre we drove up to the Parma region where we stopped for some Parma Ham and of course Parmersian cheese. To go along with this picnic we grabbed a bottle of 2004 Vignette Cal Zetti, Colli Di Parma Rosso. To me this was a great example of what a Frizzante can be. Very fruity, but not sugary sweet. Well structured and really complimented the bite of the cheese. I would grade it a nice B.
After Parma we drove up to Trentino which is in the middle of the Alto-Adige wine region of Italy. Miles and miles of Vineyards and we were lucky enough to visit the Rotari MezzaCorona winery. According to our tour guide this is the largest Wine Co-op in all of Europe. And it was HUGE, they get grapes from all over Italy and have smaller wineries in Sicily and Chianti where they do local wines. We were able to tour their sparkling wine facility which was extremely interesting as I have never seen the process that sparkling wines take. Here we were able to taste a wonderful sparkling Wine made in the Champenois Method (or Classical Method), known in Italy as Spumante (very different from Proseco). Rotari Arte Italiano Cuvee 28 Trento DOC 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. It poured a honey golden color with tiny microscopic bubbles. Toasty with hints of Apple, dry with hints of sweetness. Chardonnay is the overpowering presence. I'd give it a B+. One of the last things while in Italy was visit an absolutely fabulous wine shop in Trento called 12 Grado. This shop had everything, from obscure California wines to big French Chatau's. I was able to pick up a really nice bottle of Vin Santo and a Pino Nero (local name for Pinot Noir). In my travels I picked up quite a few wines that I can't wait to pop the cork on and taste and post here, so if you are interested in some unique Italian wines stay tuned as I will be tasting and posting my experiences here in the next few weeks.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Over the Pond I go

Well after a couple of weeks of tasting Italian wines here in the states and a couple of months of being without my Girlfriend I figured I would resolve both issues. So, tomorrow I will be heading over seas to meet my girlfriend in Germany where she is living and after a day's drive through Germany and the wine country there I will be heading to the Piedmont region of Italy for some spectacular Nebbiolo based wines (I hope!).
Stay tuned as I will try to update this blog while I am over there and give everyone reviews of wines and even some restaurants.

Monday, May 15, 2006

2003 Bogle Phantom

Since I discovered wines outside the cheap box wines and white zin of my college years I have been a fan of Bogle vineyards, specifically their Petite Sirah which I think is one of the best wines in the world for the value. So when I was in Napa last year and I saw this Phantom Wine I was intrigued. I didn't pick it up then and have regretted it ever since. However the other day I was visiting my local Spec's on Bay Area and saw this wine calling me, so of course I picked it up.
The Winery: The first vineyards were planted by the father and son team of Warren and Chris Bogle in Clarksburg, Ca in 1968. The family had been into all sorts of farming since the mid 1800's, but it took those two to create the Bogle Vineyards that we know today. They have over 1200 acre's of vines along the Sacramento River. Bogle vineyards is known for creating one of the best values of California wine. From the afore mentioned Petite Sirah to their Syrah and Zinfandel, the wines are always a great 'bang for the buck'.
The Wine: While not as cheap as other Bogle wines (about 17.00) this was still a pretty decent value. The wine weighs in at 14.6% alcohol and is a blend of 59% Petite Sirah, 34% Old Vine Zinfandel, and 2% Old Vine Mouvedre. It pours a nice dark ruby red in the glass. There is smoke cherry, and chocolate with hints of spice in the nose. In the mouth there are tastes of blackberries, black cherries, cocoa, and black pepper. This is a very good wine for a pretty good price. I'd grade it an A.

2002 Caparzo Rosso di Montalcino

In my latest installment of Italian wines I went to the classic region of Montalcino. This wine is the little sister of the great Brunello di Montalcino made with 100% Sangiovesse grape. Montalcino is a region in central Italy in Tuscany. While the Brunello version is aged 4 years in oak the rossi version is only aged a minimum of 1 year. A great wine to experience young.
The Winery: The Caparzo is named after Ca' Pazzo or Madman's house. The estate was founded only in the late 70's by a group of businesseman, not one single vintner. Caparzo is known throughout the world as one of the best Brunello's and well Montalcino's values in the world.
The Wine: This wine weighs in at about 13.5%. In the glass it pours a beautiful red color in the glass. A subtle nose ofcherry, wood and oak. In the mouth there is a light cherry oak flavor. Not an outgoing flavor profile. A nice wine that I'd grade a B.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

2005 Dr. Loosen Bernkasteler Lay Reisling

This is a special wine. My girlfriend who is living in Germany right now shipped this over to me. When I opened the box I was worried that the wine may have gotten to warm (some chocolate she also sent was semi melted). However I let the wine rest for a week or so and opened it up with some good Asian food this weekend. What a WINE!
The Winery: Dr. Loosen, world famous for their great German Riesling wines. Originally started 200 years ago, the winery has stayed in the same family and is now run by Ernst Loosen since 1988. The Loosen estate extends to the States where they have a joint winery in Oregon named Eroica with Chateau Ste. Michelle. The Bernkasteler Lay is a vineyard that is situated between a town of the same name and the Dr. Loosen estate. Lay, pronounced LIE is an old dialect term for Slate, which of course is what the soil mostly consists of.
The Wine: The wine weighs in at a very nice 12.5%, and pours a golden honey almost effervescence nectar in the glass. On the nose there are hints of peaches, melon, honeysuckle and slate from the soil. In the mouth you can taste the over the top acidity eased by the peaches, honey dew melon and the hints of slate that permeate through. This is what makes Riesling the white wine for food pairing. This wine would go with most anything, and it is such an example of why Riesling is one of my all time favorite wines. I'd grade it a very strong A.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Where Texas Ranks

We Texans like have a superiority complex like there's no tomorrow. I mean we DO live in the greatest state, and we don't ever hide that fact from anyone. We do think that we are the best at most everyting......
Well not to knock us down a peg or two (although we sometimes could use it), but a nice blurb from the Ft. Worth Star Telegram and where the great state of TEXAS ranks in the world of wine:

Texas is the fifth-largest wine state in the nation, farming over 3,100 acres and producing about 8.7 tons of grapes. The Texas wine industry contributes about $170 million a year to the state's economy and supports 1,600 jobs.

Seriously its great to see the growth of the Texas wine industry and things are only going to get better as we learn what grapes grow best wear and get smarter in our techniques both in the vineyard and in marketing.

2001 Barbera D'Asti Guasti Clemente e figli

As I have mentioned earlier I am getting into Italian wines more and more. In Italy there are two BIG regions for wine, especially Red Wine. Their is the world of Tuscany which produces the so called 'Super Tuscans' along with Chianti, all made primarily with the grape Sangiovese. In the northern region of Italy you also have the Piedmont region which produces mostly Nebbiolo based wines. Along with Nebbiolo however is the Barbera grape. Approximately 15 times MORE Barbera than Nebbiolo is actually grown with in the Piedmont region. Within the Piedmont region one of the best places to get Barbera is where it is thought to have Originated....Asti. In Asti, Barrique aging, or aging is small French Oak barrels, for many years is popular.
The Grape: Barbera is popular with growers due to its vigor and reliability in a wide variety of soils. The grape itself is high in acid, but low in tannins which create wines of deep purplish black in their youth that tend to brown in their old age. The oak that most vintners use helps stabilize the color. Barbera can make wines that range from racy and tart to spicy and rich.
The Winery: Guasti Clemente e Figli is a small winery that produces about 1200 hectolictres of wine. They are located in Nizza Monferrato a town in the province of Asti. They are family owned and family run.
The Wine: Nice bright red in the glass, not the typical deep dark purple. Nice dose of acidity in the nose with some earth, mustiness and earthiness, with hints of BRIGHT red fruit. In the mouth its much thicker than I expected, with nice levels of acidity, fruit, soil, tartness and hints of oaky vanillan from the barrel aging.
A really nice wine to go with food, something I always appreciate. I'd grade it an A-.