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Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

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Mionetto IL Prosecco, D.O.C. Prosecco

bottles_il-160x533Mionetto IL Prosecco D.O.C. Prosecco. This offering is made entirely of Glera. All of the fruit is sourced in the Veneto. After pressing the must was separated from the skins. Secondary fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks using the Charmat method. This wine is finished with a crown cap rather than a cork. The cap is a traditional closure for Prosecco in the Veneto. The suggested retail price is $14. Mionetto, which was founded in 1887, make 5 distinct Prosecco’s and works with many small farmers in the area. This is an impeccably fresh Prosecco from the word go. Apple, spice and white flower aromas emanate from the lively nose. Bartlett pear, Gala apple, hints of stone fruit and a host of spices fill the palate which is has lots of flavor. Lemon curd, brioche and white pepper are all in evidence on the finish which lingers persistently.

I love the look of the bottle including the crown cap. It lends an air of ease and casual fun to this wine. But the visuals would be unimportant if the contents of the bottle weren’t so delicious. It’s really tasty by itself as an aperitif or welcome wine but it would also be an excellent choice for brunch. While it’s loaded with appealing flavors there is also an inherent lightness to the body that makes it easy to keep drinking. Chill a couple, the first one will be gone before you know it.

Gabe's 2011 Holiday Gift Guide

The 2011 Holiday Season is here and with it comes shopping and gift giving. There are all sorts of gifts to consider but I think wines and spirits are excellent gifts for those that appreciate such things. With that in mind I decided to compile a list of some items in that category. To make my list the items below had to meet some particular criteria: 1) it has to be something I heartily recommend. 2) It needs to be a good value. 3) It should be relatively easy to locate. 4) The list should take into account peoples various budget sizes. With that in mind here are 8 offerings that the wine and spirits lovers on your gift list will be happy to receive. The Lamberti Prosecco Veneto D.O.C. was made from fruit sourced at hillside vineyards throughout Treviso. This sparkling wine was produced utilizing the Charmat Method. This wine is widely available and has a suggested retail price of $13.99. This Prosecco has an effusive nose that shows off spice and fruits. Stone and citrus fruit flavors star through the palate along with loads of tingly spices. Brioche and hints of crumbled biscotti emerge on the finish which has good length. This wine shows off hints of sweetness and is a very appealing wine. It’ll work well on its own or paired with food. It would be a particularly nice choice for a Brunch. Sparkling wine generally makes people happy. Here’s a tasty choice that makes a perfect, modestly priced gift.

The Apaltagua 2009 Envero Carménère was produced from fruit sourced in the Apalta section of Chile’s Colchagua Valley. This is an estate vineyard 60 hectares in size. The 2009 vintage is a blend of Carménère (93%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (7%). Barrel aging took place over 12 months; an additional 6 months of bottle aging followed prior to release. This wine has a suggested retail price of $16.00. This Carménère has a fresh and lively nose. It shows off red and black fruit aromas as well as hints of eucalyptus. Juicy black currant and cherry flavors lead the palate as well a host of spices. This Carménère has a solid finish that lingers with sour black fruits and continued spices. Yielding tannins and firm acidity mark the structure and make this a terrific food wine. Carménère has been making inroads with US wine lovers over the last few years. This is a grape with lots of appeal to a wide array of folks. It’s ready to please fruits, as well as the fact that it’s still a discovery grape for some make this a particularly excellent gift for the newer wine lovers on your list.

The Sandeman Founder’s Reserve Port was produced from fruit sourced in the Douro Region of Portugal. Fermentation of this wine was stopped with the addition of chilled Brandy. This Port is aged for at least 5 years prior to release. It has a suggested retail price of $19. The Founder’s reserve has a deep red color, looking most like a young Vintage Port. The aromas it gives off lean towards red fruits laced with copious spices. Cherry flavors drive the palate and lead to a wonderful compote of dark, brooding berry flavors which are joined by plum pudding spices. Warming red fruits and loads of sweet dark chocolate mark the finish, which has tremendous length for the price point. The Founder’s Reserve is a great choice to drink while your Vintage Ports are aging. For its reasonable price tag it makes an affordable gift that offers lots of flavor and quality. This is an adaptable Port that’s delicious on its own, paired with desserts or used as the base of an inventive cocktail. It’s also currently available in decorative tins, perfect for gift giving.

The Biltmore Estate 2007 Blanc de Blancs Brut was produced using méthode champenoise. This offering is 100% Chardonnay, produced from fruit sourced in the Russian River Valley. After temperature controlled fermentation at cold conditions this wine underwent a secondary fermentation in bottle and aged for approximately 24 months prior to disgorging. This wine has a suggested retail price of $24.99. Lemon Zest and hints of brioche fill the nose of this 2007 Sparkling Wine. Apple, citrus and Bartlett pear flavors are all on display throughout the palate. Hints of ginger and flaky biscuits emerge on the finish which has nice length. This is a perfectly dry wine which is particularly well suited to pair with dinner. It’s fine on it’s own but excels when matched with the right dish. This is highly recommended for those who are open to New World Sparkling Wines.

The Frescobaldi 2006 Montesodi Riserva Chianti Rufina DOCG was produced from fruit sourced at the Castello di Nipozzano Pelago home estate. This vineyard sits roughly 1,300 feet above sea level. The vines have an average age of 16 years on them. This wine is 100% Sangiovese. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats over 10 days. Aging took place in Barriques over 24 months; 6 months of bottle aging followed.  The Montesodi Riserva Chianti is only made in select vintages. This wine has a suggested retail price of $52. Violet, rose petal, and dried red fruit aromas fill the nose of this Chianti Riserva. Dried fruit flavors, cherry and blueberry in particular, star throughout the palate which has impressive depth and complexity. Layers of spice emerge and lead to the finish which shows off black tea, and hints of dusty chocolate. This wine has tremendous length, awesome acidity and terrific overall structure. This is everything you would want in top shelf Chianti. It’ll drink well for at least a decade, if it’s being consumed in the short term it should be decanted for a couple of hours for best results. This is a tremendous gift for the Gourmand in your life who likes to slave over a great meal and pair it with a fabulous wine.

The Rodney Strong 2008 Alexander’s Crown Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit sourced in a single vineyard. It was from this vineyard in 1971 that Sonoma County’s first single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was produced. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aging took place over 22 months in all French oak; 47% of the barrels were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $75. Deep, dark berry aromas, toast and vanilla fill the bold nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate here is simply overrun with blackberry, black plum, raspberry and cherry flavors. Black pepper and clove spices also make their presence known. Roast espresso, sweet dark chocolate and additional spices emerge on the finish which has excellent length and remarkable depth. This is a big, bold, brash, spicy mouthful of Cabernet Sauvignon that does a tremendous job of showing off its Alexander Valley roots. While Alexander’s Crown is delicious now it’ll benefit from time in the bottle. Those with the patience to lay this down for a decade will be justly rewarded. If someone on your holiday gift list loves California Cabernet Sauvignon, you’ll have a hard time finding a more appropriate gift than this wine which is a jewel in the Rodney Strong Portfolio.

The Sandeman 30 Year old Tawny Port was aged in wooden casks. Over a period of time the fortified wine receives slow exposure to air which ages it and changes the color to the beautiful caramel typical of Tawny Ports Throughout their life the wines utilized are racked from time to time. As the name indicates the average age of the wines used to assemble this Tawny Port is 30. This Port has a suggested retail price of $99.99. Stone fruit in the form of Apricot underpinned by yellow peach lead the nose of this Port along with fruitcake spice and. Apricot flavors continue through the palate where they are dominant. Honey, hazelnut and almond characteristic are present along with white pepper spice. The impressively long finish shows off chamomile tea as well as a bit of caramel and continued spices and stone fruit flavors. This Port can certainly act as dessert all by itself. That said it works extremely well paired with food. A cheese course would be my top pick to match it with. In any case if there’s a Port lover in your life this would be a wonderful gift they will be sure to treasure.

It’s not often that I stray from the wine world here. However sometimes the mood or occasion calls for a beverage not made from grapes. Single Malt Scotch is one of the spirits that often has crossover appeal to those who like to sit and philosophize over their wines. So With that in mind here’s a look at a Single Malt that has really hit the spot for me on a number of occasions.

The Balvenie 12 Year DoubleWood is a Single Malt Scotch. During the aging process it’s moved from a traditional oak cask to a European Sherry cask. This Scotch sells for about $49.99. This Scotch has a great big nose that really develops over 15 or so minutes in the glass. Vanilla and hints of apricot are present. From the very first sip this Scotch distinguished itself by presenting lots of depth and a range of flavors. It is simultaneously fruity and spicy with a nice overall bite. The finish is above average in length and has rich, honeyed flavors and a bit of warmth in the final note. It’s apparent that the use of two types of wood for varying lengths of time really added to the complexity and finesse of this Scotch. If someone on your list is into Single Malt’s this offering from Balvenie is an excellent choice. It’s a distinct expression that stands apart from many of the 12 years Single Malts in its price range.

The selections above provide some excellent choices for gift giving this Holiday Season. I happily stand squarely behind them as good values in their respective categories as well as really tasty products that I enjoy a great deal. Happy Shopping.

Villa Sandi - Prosecco “Il Fresco” Spumante DOC Brut Treviso

I don’t need an excuse to drink Sparkling Wine, but warm weather certainly gets me to think about it more often. And when I’m thinking about a specific type or style of wine that means I’m much more likely to reach for it as well. Casual warm weather gatherings call for something fun. And fun is definitely one of the words I associate with Prosecco. Today I’ll look at a Prosecco from the Veneto that is perfectly primed for warm weather drinking. The Villa Sandi Prosecco “Il Fresco” Spumante DOC Brut Treviso was produced using fruit sourced in Italy’s Veneto region. This offering is 100% Prosecco. After pressing and racking the wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Secondary fermentation with select yeasts occurs at approximately 15 degrees Celsius. Once fermentation is stopped and the wine has had time to settle it’s bottled. This offering has a suggested retail price of $12.99.

Citrus and melon aromas fill the nose of this Prosecco along with bits of orchard fruit and a touch of vanilla bean. The palate shows some hints of flaky biscuit and brioche along with apple notes and a touch of yeast. This finish has good length with crisp acidity. A touch of cream closes things out.

This is a nice Prosecco for the price point. It’s a delicious wine to drink on its own or to pair with light foods. It’s a perfect choice for a warm weather brunch. This wine is refreshing and for its reasonable price point most can afford to drink it regularly. I suggest doing precisely that.

Vino de Fratelli - Prosecco (NV)

Sparkling wine comes in all shapes and sizes, which is good because there are many settings that it’s suitable too. I drink it more casually these days than I used to; more often as well. Whether it’s a starter to a meal, a welcome wine or paired with lighter foods, Sparkling wine can be a great go to choice. Today I’ll look at a Prosecco. The Vino de Fratelli Prosecco is a non vintage selection. This sparkling wine was produced using 100% Prosecco from Veneto Italy. Vinification and fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks over 15-20 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Yeasts and sugar are then added over 20-25 days to reach the chosen amount of bubbles. After chilling and filtering it’s bottled. 1,000 cases of this offering were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $14.99. This wine is finished in screw cap.

This Prosecco has a lively nose that shows off a hint of candied apple. Orchard fruits such as continued apple as well as some pear are on display through the palate. Through the whole of the wine there is a creamy, yeasty undertone that provides substance and bite. Ginger spice and white pepper emerge on the finish along with some mineral notes.

This wine is a good value at under $15. I like it on its own but more specifically, this is the kind of sparkler I enjoy pairing with brunch or serving as a welcome wine when guests come over my house. The screw cap closure on this wine makes it easier to save for a day or so in your refrigerator, retaining the bubbles. That’s assuming there’s any of this tasty wine left once you open it and take the first sip.