Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:51:43 -0400 Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:51:43 -0400 Snooth Marcarini Barolo Brunate Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Barolo, while experiencing the greatest explosion of interest in its history, remains a bit of an enigma to many winelovers. The greatest wines have percolated their way up to the top of most people&rsquo;s lists, both in regards to pricing, and esteem, but top wines are never simply about their quality. &nbsp;Top wines have always also been about their reputation, a reputation determined by those supposedly in the know.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are a great number of fabulous producers of Barolo who have, for various reasons, not achieved the sort of reputation that makes you famous. The most obvious and egregious of these happens to be the wines of Cappellano. The previous owner Teobaldo Cappellano, who passed away in 2009 had requested that the wine media not reduce his wines to a mere number. As a result most contemporary critics have respectfully refrained from scoring the Cappellano wines, myself included. I have called the wines exceptional and extraordinary, but that&rsquo;s not enough. Without the high scores to confirm for the wine buying public at large just how good these wines are, and let&rsquo;s not beat around the bush they are among the very best &nbsp;of barolo, the wines tend to languish on the shelves. Even today one can find these wines from the last half dozen vintages all at or very near release pricing, which is exceptionally fair I might add. I am talking specifically of the rupestris bottling as opposed to the rare and much more expensive Pie Franco bottling, but I digress.<br /><br /> <br /> Another producer whose wines have somehow continued to float under the radar have been those of marcarini in La Morra, though for a different reason as far as i can tell. Here the problem is not critical review, which has historically been quite favorable, but rather pricing. As far as I can tell the barolos of marcarini are just too inexpensive to be considered great by many collectors. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but what other explanation is there? Today for the sake of argument I am speaking of the barolo Brunate, though in many vintages I am actually partial to their Barolo from the higher elevation La Serra &nbsp;vineyard.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Here you have this wine, traditionally made by the experienced hands of Elvio Cogno for decades, born of the heart of the Brunate Cru in La Morra, one of Barolos grand Crus, though admittedly a portion of the vineyard, and a portion of the Marcarini holdings lay across the boundary in the commune of Barolo. It&rsquo;s a winet &nbsp;with a rather impressive track record and a history of constancy. And then you go to buy it and it&rsquo;s $40. The fact that recent vintages seem to lack the spark of the past vintages also doesn&rsquo;t help the image of Marcarini&rsquo;s Barolo. But still, there have been enough tastings, and enough positive reviews to support the viewpoint that marcarini is solidly in the second tier of barolo producers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Perhaps that&rsquo;s better kept a secret after all. Because of the wine&rsquo;s tendency to be undervalued I&rsquo;ve been able to enjoy a Marcarini vertical of some sort almost every two years for the past eight years. Yesterday I enjoyed my fourth adventure down this path, and while the bottles showed mixed results, on the whole it was another great showing for Marcarini of yore. To be certain these wines are not the most profound wines of Piedmont, and perhaps show some signs of vines that were cropped rather heavily. And at this point in their lives even modest deviations from ideal storage over the year can have a distinct effect, as was the case with the wines of the 70s during this most recent tasting, but none the less these are fabulous wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Just for fun I&rsquo;ve included my notes from the first Marcarini Vertical I put together, in March of 2007. Those wines all came from my own cellar. The tasting I attended last night was put together by the Rare Wine Company, though I did contribute the three youngest vintages. Seven years have separated the two events. I am as curious as you are to see how the wines stack up, though not every wines tasted last night was included in my tasting seven years ago, though there are enough to make this very interesting.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> We tasted the wines youngest to oldest paired with a fabulous menu at Maialino here in NYC, a fabulous and remarkably wine friendly restaurant that should be on everyone&rsquo;s list of places to visit when you come to NYC. The wine service was exemplary, as usual and it was a pleasure to be in their caring and knowledgeable hands. Without further ado let&rsquo;s jump inot the wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Flight 1 &nbsp;2014</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1998 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A touch shy on the nose though with building aromas of earth, old wood, rose petals and a faint hint of game accented with a top note of mint. On the palate this was a softer expression of Brunate, very much in line with the character of 1998. Stewy orange and strawberry fruit early on the palate gave way to lots of red cherry tones on the backend, all underpinned with good acids and rather soft, caressing tannins. A touch simple, though showing some orange peel and rose petals on the modest finish this has begun to drink well but lacks some depth and complexity. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1996 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight on the nose with faint undertones of dark, slightly jammy fruits topped with hnts f fennel and cocoa that gained lift from a hint of VA. This remains fairly tight on the palate though there is an innate sweetness here t hints at the core of fruit. The tannins are ripe, not quite soft, but supple and embedded in the core of savory dark fruit that leads to a tight, snappy if short finish. with air this gains length and begins to shed some reticence and take on earthy complexity. Another three years should let this wine reveal it&rsquo;s true character though i remain positive about it&rsquo;s potential for improvement. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1995 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite aromatic already this reveals perfumes of earth, tar, flowers and spice notes that are verging to tea. Air brings out a touch of rust and &nbsp;huge white floral note. Warm and open on the palate, this shows off the slightly rustic tannins of the vintage, a little angular and drying, but there&rsquo;s plenty of strawberry fruit here supported by bright acids to keep this quite engaging. Rose petals and just a hint of herb stem adds some complexity to the wine which gains a nice earthy note through the long finish. Perhaps not quite at peak this is drinking very well and both the flavors and texture hold ones attention. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1995 tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> low key nose with good balance and complexity, sandy and limestone with a narrow band of black spice and faint dark cherry note on the nose which developed into a spicier, more typical profile with time. Round and sweet upfront with lovely integration though the tannins remained a bit astringent and the acids a touch high, they served to compliment the slightly musky, with grapy/ red berry fruit, still a touch young but a complete and successful Barolo 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> Flight 2 - 2014</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1989 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A touch of oxidation greet those nose, all old bones, parchment, &nbsp;and slightly sweet but air helps this immensely allowing the glass to fill with aromas of green nut meats, dried herbs, bright floral notes, fennel pollen and cherry pit fruit. Seamless on the palate, this shows the hallmarks of the great 1989 vintage with full, ripe tannins and fine acids that are superbly integrated but very supportive. I was expecting this to have a bit more flesh on its bones, though it was still quite rich and full with ripe red fruits and a hint of blood orange adding nuance on the palate. The tannins are a bit peppery today and the hint of oxidation has contributed a little nuttiness to the palate but this is still drinking quite well even if it was a perhaps a touch more evolved than it should be. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1989 Tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> Double decanted for 3 hours.A jump up in aromatic intensity, this nose soars from the glass with great depth and such a layered quality. At first jammy notes of blackberry, nettles, again tarry and menthol then floral with rose and iris as well as a dusty limestone note. With time the nose closed up. A sweet and voluptuous entry, velvety, a beautiful mouthful at this point, vibrant and spicy though needs more time to develop nuance. While round and powerful this remains transparent and fills the mouth with bright red fruits. Still a baby but the long finish bodes well for exceptional development to come. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1982 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stinky on the nose and fairly reeking of old seaweed on a hot seashore, though those aromas do fade with air being replaced by strong notes of lavender, leather, and herb stems. In the mouth this shows a different side of itself, elegant and silky with excellent balance. Gorgeous fruit, slightly jammy and reminiscent of dark frutti del bosco, fills the palate supported by tannins that are firm and savory. The nose is a bit of a downer but this shows off the brilliance of the 1982 vintage exquisitely. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1982 tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> the color here is still very youthfull, dark and almost purple tinged. The nose starts out a bit tough with a decidedly leathery, nutty base over which are laid spicy and savory, soil driven notes with a top note of espresso foam, seems very youthful though then turns distinctly beef bouillon cube with particularly strong dehydrated vegetal notes, adds some incense, cigar ash and dried rose with time as well as a light nuance of menthol/licorice. Tougher in the mouth than the 78, minerally and riper though still transparent, finishes a bit short. Some obvious richness upfront with nice bright fruits through the mid-palate which tightens up with air before shutting down some on the finish which is crisp and long. This seems to need quite some time to reach it&#39;s peak but is an atypical bottle as others have shown significantly more evolved. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Flight 3 2014</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This flight showed an overarching sense of evolution that i would associate with less than ideal storage, but not abuse, somewhere along their life.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1978 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Slight seaweed notes greet the nose, which is high toned and rather lean with lots of aromas of dried citrus rinds, leather, and quite a bit of tomato and sun-dried tomato fruitiness. On entry this shows a little tired with a smooth, integrated mouthfeel thats silky but short. There&rsquo;s still plenty of raspberry and strawberry fruit here and some richness and power on the finish, which gains length with air, but this is evolved with nuttty accents and mineral soil tones on the backend adding a spicy nuance and a suggestion of beef blood. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1978 tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> dark pristine color showing some age but no sign of being old. Explosively aromatic, sweet and almost jammy at first, nettles, smoky, tarry, angelica root, rhubarb, apricot, and roasted blackberries, fresh pine nuts, salted capers, sandalwood, basil stems, the nose just evolves and expands. Tight in the mouth at first though layered and lush, lovely bitter, black mineral vein ties the entire experience together offering great contrast to the ripe fruit and keeping the wine lively in the mouth. With time the fruit turns a little wilder with spicy red tones. Great long finish, just at peak and a wine to drink over the next 10-15 years. 96pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1974 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Musty and funky on the nose with a number of tasters calling TCA, though I don&rsquo;t believe that to be the case. This had that musty, chlorine driven aromas that is not uncommon with Barolo of a certain age. It does seem like the wine is corked at first, but the issue diminishes with air, unlike actual TCA which almost always gets worse and more imposing with air. Under the mustiness there were hints of game meat, truffles, and minty on the nse, all fairly typical of ths wine, if not this vintage. A little lean on the palate, this shows nice depth to the seedy flavors that leads to subtle wild cherry and sandalwood tones in the mouth. There&rsquo;s a hint of chlorine on the backend and some soy notes before this fades on the short yet balanced finish. On it&rsquo;s own this would have held my interest but in this company this was a clunker. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1974 tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> much more depth of color than the older wines, bright and youthful with a dark ruby core. quite profound nose with piercing menthol and wild cherry tones with an herbal top note, sweet licorice, a bit of smoke, dried rose, just a hint of funkiness, a great nose. Rich entry with a citrussy quality to the acidity, lacks a little depth at first and finishes very short, still a bit of astringency across the mid-palate, very 1974, really grows and fills out with time adding some upfront sweetness which eventually is able to compensate for the light astringent note, lovely, bright lingonberry fruit here leads to a long finish. Great bottle. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1971 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dusty and autumnal on the nose then turning stoney with aromas of hot rocks, a bit meaty as well and then showing off layers of savory notes. All ginseng, lea &amp; Perrins, and roasted root veggies layered over a core of seared cherry fruit with a hint of mint and a licorice nuance adding further detail. Remaining powerful and vibrant in the mouth this shrugs off an early edge of dry tannins, filling out on the mid-palate with great depth of earthy, leather, spicy seedy flavors that add detail to the core of dark, slightly jammy wild strawberry fruit. There&rsquo;s an innate sweetness here that reveals itself on the relatively long, smooth, and dense finish which &nbsp;retains darker black cherry fruit and hints of fennel, minty herbs, and seaweed. Still quite powerful but with flavors that are evolved. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1971 Tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> great color, beautifully bright red. A penetrating nose with greater depth than the older wines, good base of spice and leather, a bit sweaty, lots of orange tinged sweet wild berry notes, turns extremely floral soap scented by nights end. Bright acidity, most tannins resolved, minty up front, lacks a bit of weight and depth, lovely fruit on the finish, a relative disappointment considering the vintage though a fine bottle at peak, perhaps just a touch past. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1970 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Soy, soil and sweet spice greet the nose along with deeply macerated herb notes, bouillon, mushrooms and rust. In the mouth this is texturally intact but fully evolved. The flavors are all coffee and chinato with hints of dried orange peel, some peppery spice, and an earthy finish. The acid is quite vivid lending this good drive in the mouth but the tannins remains angular and a bit edgy and everything wraps up quickly on the short finish. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1970 tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> slightly cloudy with less depth and delicacy than the 67. less VA on the nose which starts off with an intense pure pine balsam profile, sandy and spicy as well with a base of bouillon, less complex, lurking floral note never gets past the mint which turns wintergreen as the bouillon devolves into a more vegetal profile recalling turnips in a root cellar. Decidely softer and voluptuously round compared to the 67, very complete in the mouth with more nettle and spice than fruit, lovely feathered mouthfeel. Distinctly different that the other wines here though while considered on it&#39;s own merits a success. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>&nbsp;Flight 4 2014</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1967 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This was remarkably youthful in appearance when compared with all the other wines younger than the 1982 on the table.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A whiff of smoke greeted the nose followed by notes of oysershell, wild berry fruits, leather, sweet pipe tobacco, and BBQ sauce notes all intense and quite perfumes. In the mouth this was fruity with a sweet freshness to the flavors of wild berries and lingonberries that were nicely framed with hints of mushroom, tobacco, and mineral notes. the tannins were fading but intact and the acids well integrated and supporting the fruit on the moderately long finish. A lovely mature Barolo but one that was a bit of a fruity outlier. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1967 tasted in 2007</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> lovely bright color shows great gradation. volatile and high-toned nose starts with a strong enamel note, earthy, spicy, lurking fruit, campfire, bit of black licorice, with time develops sour note of bookbinders glue. Bright, acid driven red berries in the mouth, mostly resolved tannins though still some adding support, orange peel and green strawberry fruit throughout, nervous and a bit fading in the mouth intact and in fact with time the bright mouth adds the silkiness of old wine and retains a fine long finish. No doubt somewhat past peak but still a very fine bottle. &nbsp;88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1967 Marcarini Barolo Brunate Riserva</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Subtle and yet quite complex on the nose with layers of nutty aromas, crushed herbs, green herbs, middle eastern spices and subtle strawberry top fruit. Soft in the mouth, supple almost to the point of creaminess with round, small scaled fruit flavors framed by notes of smoke, earth, caraway seeds, and nuanced leather and dried mushroom notes. A lovely wine, though one that is quite subtle and should be enjoyed on its own in a quiet space with expansive views. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1964 Marcarini Barolo Brunate</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This smelled strongly of bananas, vinegar, and VA. Off putting is an understatement and the mouth was no better featuring harsh acids and a touch feel though this was quite rich. Thankfully there was little finish. A defective bottle and one I will refrain from scoring. My experience with this vintage has been troubling with only one particularly noteworthy example to date, though each bottle has shown a variety of defects so I will not write off the vintage quite yet. NR</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>1964 Marcarini Barolo Brunate Riserva di Famiglia</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Ethereal on the nose with subtle expressions of smoke, apricot, freshly cut blond tobacco mineral earth, and sweet herbs coming together seamlessly over an underlying orange scented mist. On the palate this exudes elegance with subtle red cherry fruit and bitter cherry notes flecked with slightly medicinal notes, hints of black tea, and moments of fennel seed and licorice spice. Long on the palate and showing engaging complexity and fine tannic heft even at this evolved stage, this is a gorgeous, subtle, refined example of Barolo that pays testament to the Cru, the producer, and the vintage. 93pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Thu, 24 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5318 Where to Wine in May Gregory Dal Piaz <p>May is almost upon us and with it comes some of the best wine events of the year, particularly if you live on the East coast. Now that&rsquo;s something you don&rsquo;t hear everyday. While the west coasts enjoys better weather, anda near unbroken string of attractive wine events year round, we on the East coast have to manage the weather, and inthis most recent case winter has been brutal and in fact as I write this, teased us with a (hopefully) finale dusting of snow just last night.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> That&rsquo;s enough of that. Now let&rsquo;s look forward. Forward to blue skies, sunny days, the wrap of incipient warmth and the cool creeping breezes of evenings that make this time of year perfect for partying.<br /><br /> <br /> </p> Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5313 Organic and Under $15 Gregory Dal Piaz <p>So you want to celebrate Earth Day do you? And what better way than with an organic/natural/biodynamic wine, am I right? Well, before we dive into the meat of this subject let&rsquo;s be honest with ourselves and face the facts that the best way to celebrate Earth Day would be with the wine that has the least impact on the earth. While all these permutations of natural farming would fit that criteria, only one of the wines tasted today does the full nine yards.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> And shouldn&rsquo;t it be the full ten yards anyway?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But I digress. If you really want to save the earth you have to of course add less to if. using no herbicides and natural fertilizers, pesticides, and treatments. But to make the full impact you also have to use fewer of its resources. &nbsp;Enter the Tetra Pak. That&rsquo;s the little multi-layered cardboard box that the Fuoristrada sangiovese comes in. It packs better than bottles, is light to transport, and uses less energy to produce it. You want to save the earth? Tell producers to stop with the glass, foils, and corks. Bag in box and Tetra Pak is the way forward my friends.<br /><br /> <br /> Thank you for indulging my mini-rant, now let&rsquo;s talk about wine.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The problem with these natural/organic/biodynamic (NOB) wines is that some are labelled as such, and some aren&rsquo;t. They are not so much a category as they are a lifestyle decision. As you can, while of course I should have been able to put together a more coherent line-up, the fact of the matter is that it&rsquo;s not that easy. I pulled together a group of widely available NOB wines, and this is the selection I ended up with. It&rsquo;s not exactly fair to compare these wines against each other, but in light of Earth Day I did just that.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And the results were mixed.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Not that the wines were of poor quality or suffered from the outright defects that these wines may have exhibited a decade ago. it&rsquo;s just that some were not that interesting, which makes them almost identical to more commercially produced wines. Neither has a lock on quality. A few wines did exhibit their NOBness fairly obviously. Mostly aromatically where natural yeast fermentations have produced aromas that are more complex and decidedly less fruit driven than almost all commercially distributed yeasts are capable of.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I like that. I like smelling weird things derived from soil, season, and fruit in my wie. As long as the wines taste and feel good and the best of the bunch today are absolutely stunning wines. I ended up with a nice selection of wines, though Italy was arguable over represented; revealing both my bias and the bias of the retailers I frequent. Buying these at retail also introduced a pair of wines that will probably cost more than $15 a bottle but that i was lucky enough to score on closeout or on sale. Such is life. we all get lucky sometimes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The one real take away from this tasting is that NOB wines are becoming mainstream, both in acceptance and in quality. I do not buy NOB wines simply because they are NOB. I buy them because they taste good, and feel good, and offer something special to the drinker. That of course is not always the case with these wines, so i suggest you be particularly circumspect when researching these wines. I expect NOB wines to offer something more than simply a clean, fresh wine experience. That&rsquo;s sort of the point here, besides saving the earth. We buy NOB wines because they are more transparent, more honest, more terroir driven. That is obviously not a universal rule so if you&rsquo;re getting into NOB wines be prepared for a bit of a learning curve. It&rsquo;s exciting I can tell you, and a bit surprising at times as you battle your prejudices about what a wine should smell and taste like but the rewards, as the top wines tasted below will attest to, are a new window into this brilliant hobby of ours.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Happy Earth Day!</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Moretti Omero Terre di Giano Umbria 13.5% $14 on sale</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 50% Sangiovese, 25% Ciliegiolo, 25% Merlot.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark on the nose and slightly oaky with aromas of maduro tobacco, licorice and carob that drift up with spicy nuance to frame a tight core of black fruit and fresh leather. An initial rush of candied herbs flows across the palate pushed along by a wine of great power, and clarity. There&rsquo;s excellent detail and cut on the palate, showing off tart and slightly bitter black fruits of plums and, tobacco, bitter chocolate, and berries. Turning chewy and dense on the backend, this saturated that operate with bitter cherry fruit before seguing to a firm, slightly tannic and cherry pit finish which shows off a hint of prune. A powerhouse, and a brick house of a wine. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Luis Pato Colheita Seleccionada Beira Portugal 12.5% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 70% Baga, 30% Touriga Nacional&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Deep, leathery and subtly spicy with notes of white pepper and cardamom on the nose, this gains layers of complexity with air running the gamut from pressed flowers to vegemite, peppercorn to sweet pipe tobacco. A bit firm in the mouth, though without the explosive acids Baga sometimes have. Still this is bright and superbly balanced with mineral framed slightly jammy red currant and raspberry fruit on the alate. Hints of tea and dried flowers add detail and the tannins, firm but fully ripe, keep everything in their place. This is an impressive wine, definitely something that can age well for probably up to a decade, there finish is bright and edgy with slightly spicy red fruits that show excellent persistence. The violets and blue fruits of Touriga emerge with air, though the do play second fiddle to Baga&rsquo;s bright, rusty red flavors. What a buy. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Tenuta di Ghizzano Il Ghizzano Costa Toscana IGT 13% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A touch reticent on the nose but some swirling brings out an attractive bouquet of wild herbs, earth, almost violet floral notes and small wild cherry fruits with hints of blueberries and grilled meat adding subtle complexity. This enters the mouth with real energy, great concentration of fruit that is rich and powerful but neither sweet nor fruity is immediately cut by vibrant acids that lend this a mineral edge. The tannins have a touch of pine nuttiness to them, but are ripe and soft adding further detail in the mouth and contributing to the wines lush, fullish feel. The finish is pure and long, a bit rusty with red cherry and currant fruits. Medium full, elegant and nuanced this is delicious and has a great texture, Serve it with bistecca alla Fiorentina. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Natalino del Prete Torre Nova Salice Salentino 13% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Decidedly funky on the nose and very &lsquo;natural&rsquo; smelling. This shows of an array of medicinal, barnyard and earthy aromas that are super complex but not what many wine drinkers are looking for, all savory and spicy as opposed to being fruity. Light and fresh on entry, this offers subtle fruit, rather bright and juicy for Salice Salentino, with cranberry and sour cherry flavors laced with dried herbs, leather, fennel fronds and a touch of children&rsquo;s vitamin. The backend gains a nice light, fresh tannic bite and some steely mineral notes. Fairly long on the finish, this remains a bit tannic but the fresh fruit, nicely strawberry toned, pops on the finish and lingers on the juicy finale. Smells like a hippy but is a brilliant little wine. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Emiliana Natura Carmenere Valle de Colchagua Chile 14% $9</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Really Lovely on the nose, this is full of green tomato, red currant and mossy, earthy aromas that are fresh and bright. Round and fresh in the mouth, this is just past being full bodied and is a touch thick in the mouth for my tastes but delivers a very attractive core of black currant fruit that gains a whisper of oak contributing complexity and a little sweetness on the palate. Fruity, rich and with really attractive clarity and length to the flavors and a late arriving hint of pepperiness, I do like this but just wish it was a touch lighter on its toes. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Michel Torino Cuma Malbec Cafayate Valley Argentina 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Herbs, particularly rosemary, and black plummy fruit greet the nose followed by decidedly balsamic and bitter aromas of quinine and Chinato. Light, fresh, and energetic in the mouth, there&rsquo;s a nice blend of power and clarity here and unlike much Malbec with is nicely dry. At its core there is that faint bitterness and touch of black spice that Malbec is capable of and this gains complexity in the mouth while retaining the fresh perfumes of crushed berry fruits, most notably mulberries and blackberries. Clean, fresh and clear on the finish, this lacks a touch of length but does gain some nuanced oak influenced complexity as the fruit, now turning red and a touch austere, fades from the palate. A lovely wine that may lack the power some look for but offers complexity and nuance at a great price. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Monte Bernardi Fuoristrada Sangiovese Tuscany 13.5% $15/Liter Tetrapak</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Moderately fruity on the nose at first then earthy, leathery and gently sweet with ripe herbal notes and some dusty mineral and nutty tones. Bright acids greets the mouth followed by attractively pure and wide open flavors of raspberry and strawberry that are supported by slightly wiry, stemmy tannins. the wine has at its core a gentle sweetness and is quite transparent with just a suggestion of rusticity that plays out on the fairly long, herb, leather, and earth inflected finish. rather ripe and chewy for Sangiovese, there&rsquo;s a lot to like here but it&rsquo;s a bit one dimensional. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Fontaleoni Chianti Colli Senesi 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Reticent on the nose and herbal with aromas of dried graasses, hay and subtley spicy red fruits. Light, fresh and zesty in the mouth, this is laden with bright, clear and slightly sweet cherry fruit. It&rsquo;s a simple wine but round and yet bright in the mouth. Very refreshing and gaining some savory complexity on the backend, this goes down dangerously easily and has just enough tannin to add some mouthgrab. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Chateau Tire Pe Diem Bordeaux 12.5% $13</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Soft and subtle on the nose, at first this shows off a quite fruity side with sweet notes of grapes and currants but air brings out some sweet nutty oak tones along with hints of tomato leaf, sun dried tomatoes, little flecks of black olive and a touch of sassafras. Soft and almost elegant on entry, this shows off brilliantly pure and fresh fruit in the mouth. So young it remains a touch grapy, but with cherry and strawberry flavors growing in the mouth and even gaining a little mineral and earthy streak and notes of briarwood on the backend. The finish is short with angular little tannins, &nbsp;but fresh and sapid, almost with a hint of saltiness to the fresh fruit. Simple but pure and fresh. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Casar de Valdaiga Bierzo 14% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smokey and herbal on the nose and filled with tobacco, black tea, and dried autumnal aromas topping subtle black currant fruit. Showing some caramel notes on the palate, this is bordering on fully mature and perhaps is past peak for many palate, but it&rsquo;s lively and shows excellent balance on a medium bodied frame. The fruit, slightly tart plum toned and with the black currant notes found on the nose, remains fairly fresh and distinct in the mouth, along with hints of fennel and sweet pipe tobacco. &nbsp;Finishing with fine length and an assertive sandalwood and mineral toned set of flavors, this is perhaps a touch rustic but it grows on me with it&rsquo;s complexity and interesting combination of moderately big power and lighter weight on the palate. Try this with wild game. 85pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Chateau Maris Natural Selection Biodynamic Syrah Minervois 14.5% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Handfuls of fresh earth meet dried bay leaves and deep pools of blackberry fruit on the nose with just a suggestion of mintiness adding a touch of freshness. Theres some raw beef aromas to this and streaks of ta as well but it smell decidedly ripe. Downright voluptuous in the mouth, this is soft and seamless with ripe tannins and integrated acids adding unseen support. The fruit is a bit dark, plummy with hints of dried fruit character and some spicy herbal notes that help add contrast and freshness. A hint of black pepper emerges on the back of the palate, as this segues to a modest, slightly drying finish. Showing off more textural appeal than depth of flavor, this does have a nice streak of sage on the palate that helps cut through the richness but it turns chunky and dry on the modest finish. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>NV Lamoreaux Landing Estate Red Finger Lakes NY Table Wine $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Complex with sweet herbal, licorice and red floral note on the nose along with cranberry and strawberry fruit all topped with some spicy, dried stemmy notes. This is soft and broad in the mouth and float across the palate delivering gentle cherry and strawberry flavors flecked with suggestions of herbs. A bit creamy in style, it&rsquo;s supple and easy going with flavors that are just a touch candied and a very short finish but give it a little chill and it&rsquo;s a perfect picnic wine or something to enjoy with the setting sun. &nbsp;84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Ch La Grolet Cotes du Bourg 13% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Biodynamic 70% Merlot 30% Cabernet Sauvignon</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky, earthy and complex on the nose with floral, sweet grass, and dried herb aromas framing a subtle core of strawberry and black currant fruit all topped with a sprig of mint. Soft on entry, with fine ripe tannins and well integrated acids supporting this medium bodied and transparent wine. rather complex in the mouth with earth and herb notes accenting a core of red fruit, cranberry and strawberry, that is a bit tart and astringent. Very clean and refreshing on the palate, though it does lack a bit of depth. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Heartland Stickleback South Australia 14.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 42% Shiraz, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Dolcetto, 7% Lagrein&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy on the nose and quite herbal with big black pepper and raw beefy notes layered under creamy, raw oak and lightly jammy black currant and black cherry fruit. Opulent and a touch sweet on entry, there&rsquo;s enough tannin and acid here to help cut through the palate impression, though it does remain a bit heavy and chewy in the mouth. There&rsquo;s some brewed coffee notes early on the palate, followed by hints of nutty oak and dark plummy fruit that all lead to a short, slightly chewy finish with flavors of slightly roasted and dried fruits. This offers fair power and complexity at this price point, though it is a touch hot on the finish and does have a flavor profile that veers toward the brown end of the spectrum. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2008 Ardales Tempranillo Vino de la Tierra de Castilla Spain 13.5%</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet and candied on the nose with lots of carob, cola, and vanilla notes. This is more nutty than fruity. Interesting in the mouth, this shows off very fine edged tannins and juicy acids but there&rsquo;s not much there to help cover the structure. The fruit is fresh but very faint, a touch of slightly jammy strawberry on the palate surrounded by woodsy herbal notes and plenty of oak. The wood tannins kick in on the back end and lead to a short, dry finish. Anonymous dry red wine. 80pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Tue, 22 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5306 Organic for Earth Day? Gregory Dal Piaz <p>It being earth day tomorrow I thought this would be a fine time to explore attitude towards the whole organic/natural/biodynamic movement. I reached out to some wine professionals to get their opinions about these wines, but before I turn the stage over to them I&rsquo;d like to explore the situation briefly.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Before we consider the value of these wines let&rsquo;s be as clear as possible in regards to the definitions, whichcan be vague.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> To begin with there is no organic wine, just wine made from organic grapes. Organic is a way of growing crops,the techniques used in the cellar, and additional treatments in the vineyard are what distinguishes, to a great extent, the wines peddled under the moniker natural or biodynamic.<br /> So organic wine, ie wines produced from organically grown grapes, can and often do undergo traditional commercial winemaking techniques. natural winemakers eschew all intervention in the vineyards and in the cellars, ie no additives, acid adjustments, cultivated yeasts and preferably dry farming with. Sulphites are kept to a minimum, though some natural winemakers go so far as to not use sulfites, which can give stunning results but create a wine that is so delicate and predisposed to &nbsp;bacterial growth as to be commercially unviable.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Finally there are the biodynamic producers who are essentially natural winemakers who view their estate as a closed, living entity and work by the phases of the moon.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what is not to like? For starters, there still remain quite a few defective wines that get sold, and praised because they are natural. I have nothing but the utmost respect for natural and biodynamic winemakers. They work harder and against unlikelier odds than virtually any other farmer on earth, but their job is to make wine. I am fairly forgiving in regards to wine faults. A bit of VA, some brett, it&rsquo;s all good. &nbsp;Really funky wines that are off putting and fall well below the average of quality today, well that I can not forgive.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So if someone had asked the question that I have asked of me:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>What are your thoughts on organic/natural/biodynamic wine?</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I would reply thusly:</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> They are generally fine, in fact many of the wines I enjoy are produced organically and naturally, even though the producer often haven&rsquo;t bothered to get any official recognition. Wines that are produced by conscientious producers working naturally show better detail and more transparency that most of their counterparts. This is undoubtedly results from their efforts in the vineyards. Working naturally requires more attention and this attention tends to extend to work in the cellar as well. I would be hard pressed to say that natural and/or organic farming is by definition better than any alternative, though the use of herbicides in particular disgusts me. By fermentations with natural yeasts, the the low level stress that naturally farmed vines enjoy do seem to have a profound affect on the finished wines and given the choice I would opt for a naturally made wine over a commercially made wine &nbsp;nine out of ten times.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> What do you think about these wines? We asked our panel of experts and they shared their opinions with us.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Aligra Wine &amp; Spirits</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In theory, I think it&rsquo;s good. &nbsp;As consumers, the trend in food and wine consumption is very much about natural, organic clean products to put into our bodies. From a producer&rsquo;s point of view, it can get complicated. Many countries have stringent guidelines for certifying a product as organic (which is good), but it is often costly to the winery to obtain all the necessary certification, driving up the price of the wines. &nbsp;Some producers choose to farm organically regardless, and offer good, well grown and produced products, but are not &ldquo;certified organic&rdquo; on their labels. &nbsp;It becomes confusing to consumers. Good, small, hand selling retailers can assist consumers in identifying these wines because they have done research into the brands they choose to sell and can place them in an organic section of the store, or label them on their shelves as such.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Allison Phillips F.W.S.</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Co-owner <strong><a href="">Aligra Wine &amp; Spirits</a></strong>, West Edmonton Mall, Alberta</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Gowanus Wine Merchants</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> My first thought is really an observation that &quot;organic&quot; and &quot;natural&quot; wine was all that was produced throughout history until chemical fertilizers were introduced in the 20th century. Therein lies a paradox; both the most traditional and the most cutting edge wineries tend to produce wines organically.</div><br /> <div><br /> As far as biodynamic wines are concerned; it shows a true dedication of the winemaker/farmer to meet the various requirements to certify a wine as biodynamic. This can result in wonderful bottles of vibrant, beautiful wine. However it can just as easily produce unreliable, volatile, incomplete wines that at best are tasty young but fall apart within a year. We have several in our shop that we love and recommend without hesitation, but they have to be faithful examples of their grape and pleasurable to drink for us to carry them.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Rick Lopez</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em><a href=""><strong>Gowanus Wine Merchants</strong></a></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>493 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA</em></div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Pour Sip Savor</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &#39;Organic&#39; as a Brand?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Walk into almost any market these days and you are bound to see a section of Organic food or wine products. &nbsp;They are listed as such under detailed menu items in restaurants and often asked for by name. &nbsp;&#39;By name?,&#39; you ask. &nbsp;If Organic is now considered a brand, it is a brand doesn&#39;t belong to just one company and is definitely a &#39;label&#39; that is of interest to consumers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Back in the day when you bought your fruits and vegetables from the roadside stand, you knew who the farmer was that sold them and where the farm was located. &nbsp;Same thing with local wine production as you filled your glass container at the winery itself. &nbsp;But with the advent of commercialism, big city living and less purchasing of food stuffs from the source, consumers want a way to know where the products they are consuming come from and also to have a measure of quality as to what is in the package.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This demand for these types of products from consumers is the idea behind Organic certifications that define an agricultural process, yet do not promise the product to be more beneficial or less impactful on one&#39;s health. &nbsp;The regulations to be labeled Organic have varied from country to country until recently and were established by either a governmental body or an organization that wanted to create a sense of cohesiveness around what they were producing. &nbsp;These include a set of production standards for growing, storing and processing, along with possibly the packaging and shipping of such items. &nbsp;It is thought to assume quality and prevent fraud, assist in promoting commerce of a certain region and product assurance.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> An example of these qualifications which have been around for many years before the term Organic became popular can be seen around the world with wine classifications. &nbsp;Think about the protected name regions of Champagne, Port, Chianti or Ribera del Duero. &nbsp;Each of these regions has a set standard of requirements (production limits and procedures, permissible grape varieties, area boundaries, etc.) in order to qualify to be labeled as such. &nbsp;As for Organic wines, they allow you to use a minimal amount of sulphur dioxide from grapes grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It would seem to be a challenge to grow grapes in this manner and still produce a top quality wine. &nbsp;Many producers feel they do not need a third party certification to qualify their wine as Organic as long as they know they are following Organic practices. &nbsp;Whether or not you would be able to tell the difference in a blind tasting between a wine that is Organic and one that is not, there are a handful of producers who do label themselves as such and make a quality wine worthy of mention.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> At Quivira in Dry Creek Valley, their quest is for genuine representatives of the land. &nbsp;They achieve this by not only having a healthy vineyard, but also by this being in balance with its surroundings of the river, the animals and the garden on the property. &nbsp;Their unusual Grenache proves to provide authentic varietal expression. Blended with a touch of Mourvedre and Syrah, this wine has a beautiful nose of dried strawberry, fresh raspberry and cherry pie. &nbsp;Overtones of black pepper and savory spice notes followed by silky tannins provide structure and density on this wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Robert Sinskey Vineyards has a point of view that they husband, nurture and elevate, but not alter, in pursuit of a naturally pure wine of character. &nbsp;Hence their right-bank inspired Bordeaux style wine named POV. &nbsp;This wine captures the dirt and sunlight in the vineyards of Carneros where it is grown - bright cherry with dark undertones of black currant and plum, followed by a bit of spice and vanilla complement the tannin and create a natural balance.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Paul Dolan views Organic grape growing and wine making as a partnership with nature instead of an exploitation of the land. &nbsp;Try his Zinfandel from Mendocino County/Amador County. This Is unique expression of a specifically nurtured piece of land. &nbsp;Jammy berry, pepper and orange marmalade along with a distinctive spiciness are a perfect marriage for this wine.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Jenny Benzie</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Head Sommelier + CEO</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong></strong> | 561.779.7687 (POUR)</em></div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Plume Ridge Bottle Shop&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It is not necessary that an organic or biodynamic wine is going to taste better, but there is something to be admired about the winemakers who take the extra measures to take care of the earth as well as the end product. It is one of our mission as wine buyers to find producers that focus on quality and produce authentic wines that are expressive of their terrior. The producers who are committed to responsible agriculture as well as working more naturally in the vineyard, typically take a less interventionist approach in their winemaking process. At the Bottle Shop about 50% of our wines come from that organically, sustainably, or biodynamically farmed. <strong>Plume Ridge Bottle Shop</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>&ldquo;The best fertilizer is the farmer&rsquo;s footstep&rdquo; Ancient Wisdom &nbsp;&nbsp;</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Monica Yu Wine Buyer&nbsp;</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em><a href=""><strong>Plume Ridge Bottle Shop&nbsp;</strong></a><br /><br /> 1485 Andrew Dr, Claremont, CA 91711</em><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>The Wine Bottega</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You can call me a true believer! While I started out drinking all kinds of wines, I found over time that the wines that really captured my soul turned out to be those that had been produced naturally, I suppose you could say I came about it organically. I truly find that these wines have more complexity, personality and just something special that you can&#39;t quite define.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Kerri Platt</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Owner of </em><strong><em><a href="">The Wine Bottega</a></em></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Lynda Carlin</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Most of the rest of the world has been doing the bio/natural/organic thing forever out of necessity (no Monsanto, et al until recently). &nbsp;I talk weekly with European winemakers who are returning to these old methods because they want better flavor and they do not like using the chemicals. &nbsp;They have always produced amazing wines historically without chemicals, while (my opinion here) we in the USA have been using this stuff almost from the beginning and we are used to these background notes. &nbsp;However, I have seen amazing flavors coming from wineries like Cline which have taken the bio thing to the &quot;green string&quot; level. &nbsp;End point: winemakers who know what they &nbsp;are doing produce great wines. &nbsp;Using fewer chemicals is better for our bodies and environment (soil is everything in winemaking). Vineyard property is too expensive to risk losing it all to poor soil management. Talk to Glenn Alexander at Sanglier Cellars in Healdsburg. &nbsp;Really interesting grower/winemaker.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Wine Department Whole Foods&nbsp;</strong></em></div><br /> </div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>Sec Wines</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Natural Wine....Why the Hubbub</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Eric Asimov, one of this country&rsquo;s most insightful wine writers, recently published an article in his New York Times column, The Pour, about the hot button issue of &ldquo;natural wine.&rdquo; &nbsp; Why in the world would something - &nbsp;an idea, a movement or wine with a name like &ldquo;natural&rdquo; be so divisive? &nbsp; What&rsquo;s not to like about wine, or just about anything else for that matter, being made as naturally as possible? &nbsp; And what is &ldquo;natural wine&rdquo; anyway?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For starters, there is no official definition for the term natural wine, but it&rsquo;s loosely the idea that a wine is made with as little manipulation as possible. &nbsp;This means starting with grapes that were farmed sustainably/organically, then brought into the winery and left to do their thing. &nbsp;Certainly the winemakers may help the wines along their path, but they don&rsquo;t set forth the path or force the wines to go in a certain direction or correct for defects or deficiencies. No reverse osmosis machines, no roto-fermenters, no pre-packaged yeasts and usually, no new oak.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The natural wine &ldquo;movement&rdquo; began with a small group of winemakers, mostly working independently from one another but sharing a common idea that producing wine should start by being good stewards to the land and the philosophy of staying out of the grapes/wine&rsquo;s way and letting it essentially make itself. &nbsp;The goal of making wine this way is to have a wine that speaks of the soil that it was grown in and the grapes natural flavors. &nbsp;Eventually, through the tireless work of a few importers (i.e. Louis/Dressner and Kermit Lynch) people started to take notice. &nbsp; At this point, a small group of sommeliers, wine bars and bloggers started to talk/write about the virtues of natural wines.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> While natural wines have gained favor with a certain subset of consumers, they still only make up less than 1% of all wine sales. &nbsp;So why would such a small percentage of all wine being made and sold cause a backlash? &nbsp;Robert M. Parker, the world&rsquo;s most influential wine critic, referred to the natural wine movement as &ldquo;One of the major scams being foisted on wine consumers is the so-called &lsquo;Natural&rsquo; wine movement.&rdquo; &nbsp; Mr. Parkerhuv is not the only one who seems a little hostile to the natural wine movement. &nbsp;Certain winemakers, importers and retailers are a bit testy when the topic arises. &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But why? &nbsp;For winemakers who don&rsquo;t subscribe to the natural wine movement&rsquo;s general practices, it could be that they don&rsquo;t want their wine to be deemed unnatural in the public&rsquo;s eye. &nbsp;If they farm conventionally and employ tactics in the cellar like reverse osmosis to concentrate their wine, add enzymes for darker color and use the genetically altered super-yeasts necessary to ferment a wine to over 15% alcohol, does this make their wine any less natural? &nbsp;Like the topic of global warming, the answer may be clear, but different individuals may see different answers.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> For importers and wholesalers who work primarily with conventionally made wines, they may just be guarding against their hard fought market share. &nbsp;For some retailers, it could just be that they are unfamiliar with natural wine and don&rsquo;t care to learn about these new-fangled wines because &ldquo;they&rsquo;ve never needed them before so why should I worry about them now...and natural wines are for pretentious people anyway.&rdquo; &nbsp; Look out.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And then there is the question of wheather natural wines any better than conventional wines, or vise &nbsp;Like any category, or subcategory of wine, there are both sublime &nbsp;and undrinkable examples of natural wine. &nbsp;I really don&rsquo;t care that much whether or not the wine I&rsquo;m drinking is &ldquo;natural&rdquo; or not, so long as it&rsquo;s delicious, food-friendly and interesting. &nbsp;All things being equal, I&rsquo;d opt for a natural wine, but not demand it. &nbsp; While wine can be made in any number of ways and turn out delicious, I do find that a higher percentage of natural wines are food-friendly and are more outright interesting. &nbsp;In any case, attacking natural wines and the people who make and enjoy them seems counterproductive as this only serves to bring more attention to these wines. &nbsp;Can&rsquo;t we all just enjoy what we enjoy and let others do the same?</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Eric Pottmeyer</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em><a href=""><strong>Sec Wines</strong></a></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>Portland, OR</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em>503.805.5871</em></div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Danielle Cross</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> *What are your thoughts on organic/natural/biodynamic wine?*</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Organic labelling can be as confusing in the wine world as in the food world. Each country has its own set of rules of how things can be labelled and what is considered Organic farming versus wine making. Knowing the wine maker is the best way to know what is in your wine, how it was made and whether it is truly organic and/or biodynamic. Sustainable farming is very important in the wines I select and every wine maker I represent practices organic farming to the best of their ability but sometimes accreditation is not feasible. Getting an Organic designation in France is a 3 year process and cuts yields by 30%, and what Organic means in France is different than the US. So some wine makers can label their wines Organic Grapes, but not Organic wines depending on how the wine was made. All of my wine makers follow biodynamic principles to some extent but they all agree on bottling on fruit day and that the wine begins in the vineyard.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Danielle Cross. Level 3 Sommelier</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong><a href="">Vin Boutique</a></strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> <em> 720-988-9400</em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Mon, 21 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5308 An Italian Easter Gregory Dal Piaz <p>With Easter looming this Sunday, and the thoughts of yesterday&#39;s Chianti reviews fresh in my mind I sat down this morning topull both threads together. Italy, being a Catholic country that celebrates life through food and wine, has quite the repertoire of &nbsp;traditional Easter fare.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> While the cuisine we think of as Italian varies considerably from the north to the south of the country, and is also quite skewed by the Italian-American dishes we often think of as traditional, there are some themes that unite Easter dishes. Innocence andrebirth for example, often symbolized through the use of eggs, spring lamb, and asparagus. And of course the famous dove shaped cake known as La Colomba should cap off an Italian Easter feast. Not familiar with the Italian Easter? Well, read on and prepareto be tempted. These are all fabulous spring time recipes and that you don&#39;t have to be celebrating easter to enjoy!<br /><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5304 Cracking the Chianti Code Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Another in my series of reports focusing on the wines I was able to sample at the prowein event held in March of this year in Dusseldorf, Germany. Today we&rsquo;re talking about Chianti Classico, soon to be followed by thoughts on a line-up of the new Gran Selezione wines. I&rsquo;m not sure we need yet another level for Chianti, but that too shall wait for the next installment of this series for today i want to remain focused on the basic wines of the Chianti Classico zone.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> For me this is what Chianti is all about.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Classico: coming for the historic heart of the region.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> No extended ageing. No Grand selection.<br /><br /> <br /> Chianti Classico had a stand are Prowein were one could taste trough probably 100 wines from over 60 producers both large and small. For a little more background on the Prowein event please check out&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Why You Should be going to Prowein</strong></a>. Stands like this are a very compelling reason to go, and while I was not able to devote as much time as I may have wanted to Chianti during this visit, after all Chianti occupied maybe 3% of the acres of Italian wines being featured at Prowien, and Italian wines make up only a modest percentage of the toal number of wines on offer, I did manage to spend the better part of three hours investigating &nbsp;18 Chianti Classicos followed by 12 of the New Gran Selezione wines.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> I skipped all the Riservas, and in hindsight that may not have been the greatest plan, but time was short and I had pressing matters to think about. Like how long the Burger truck line was going to be.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> But seriously, I was here, at the Chianti Classico stand with limited time and a pair of missions. First and foremost was to try and suss out some of the best values from all the wines on offer, and that generally means skipping the Riservas. The second goal in mind was to try the Gran Selezione wines to see how they stack up, and here is where not having a recent set of tasting impressions for the Riservas may have done me a disservice. Instead I was to compare these new wines with the basic Chianti Classicos, and as that turns out that may be a more difficult task.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> These wines are the vanguard of Chianti, released relatively early and designed to showcase the fruit of Sangiovese, often blended with a litany of other grapes. Chianti may very well be one of the most improved wines on earth. from distant but still clear memories of shrill, acidic , and thin wines happy to carry the banner of one of Italy&rsquo;s greatest wine regions we have finally arrived at a point where Chianti can rub shoulders with some of the best wines in the market today.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> Historically the Riservas got the lion&rsquo;s share of attention, not so much because they were necessarily better wines, but rather because they were both a selection of the best lots and benefitted from additional ageing. that ageing had it&rsquo;s drawbacks as well. To my palate Sangiovese is not a grape that is particularly predisposed to benefiting from extended ageing in barrel. easy to oxidise and rather delicate, the aromas, flavors, and texture of sangiovese seem to prefer time in the bottle to time in the barrel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Today what is going in the bottle, even at the basic chianti Classico level, has never been better. these wines have complexity and depth, retain Sangiovese characteristically austere tannins and acidic snap on the palate while showing off a depth of fruit that vintners a few decades ago could only have dreamed about.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The vast majority of the wine tasted for this article were from the 2011 vintage, with a smattering of 2010s and 2012s included out of necessity. While perhaps not at the level of either the vintage that preceded it or the vintage that followed, 2011 is a fine vintage rich with fruit, from a rather warm year overall and a decidedly torrid August in particular that sped up the harvest and give some producers problems of balance. Fortunately even in August overnight low temperatures were in line with historical averages wso the grapes did retain balancing acidity. that acidity was vital in a vintage like 2011 where the grapes did suffer from dehydration, and in some cases sunburn as well leading to jammy and roasted flavors.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Due to the wet winter and rains that fell during the summer the vines were able to handle the heat fairly well, but it did speed up the harvest, which was about three weeks ahead of schedule and the poor, thin soils in the Chianti Classico region did tend to dry up and retain the heat of the day to a larger extent than those of surrounding regions. The results are certainly interesting, and in many cases with these Chianti Classicos quite attractive. These are wines that are built, after all, on fruit not nuance, and a vintage like 2011 can supply plenty of fruit.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Unfortunately many wines could only supply masses of fruit in 2011, and this lineup was, in the grand scheme of things, rather disappointing. The standouts were all delicious wines but I expected more from several of the producers. with 60 producers pouring at this stand I did have to pick and choose a bit, relying mostly on old favorites to taste from. Perhaps therein lies some of my disappointment. My expectations were high, and in all honesty I do love Chianti, but for all the wrong reasons when it comes to a vintage like 2011. I love Chianti for it&rsquo;s light, fresh, zesty purity. Edgy little tannins, mouth watering acids. An affinity for food that is tough to beat. That&rsquo;s my Chianti checklist, and only a handful of these wines checked all the boxes.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what&rsquo;s the takeaway from this? By choosy with your purchases of 2011 Tuscans. There were wines with unripe tannin, low acids, and roasted fruit, none of which i want in my cellar. On the flip side there were some pretty terrific wines as well, so my best advice is that you probably don&#39;t need these wines, but will be able to buy many at a discount once the vintage is broadly distributed. I was fortunate to taste these wines early in their lives, so don&rsquo;t be surprised if you don&rsquo;t see them for much of the coming year, but they will be coming eventually, though sandwiched as they are between 2010 and 2012 I don&rsquo;t think they will find much of a market.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Querciabella Chianti Classico $35</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy on the nose with a hint of wood adding detail to the raw if not aggressive perfumes of frutti del bosco flecked with hints of seeds and spice adding real complexity. This is downright opulent in the mouth and punching way above its weight class with richness, depth of fruit and a refined quality that makes this a real standout of the tasting. the fruit, pure, lively and spiced on the palate with wild red berry, red cherry, &nbsp;and astringent lingonberry notes is wrapped around subtle mineral and herbal nuances with fantastic length, power, and freshness on the finish. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Tenuta di Lilliano Chianti Classico $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Sangiovese, 20% unspecified &lsquo;complementary&rsquo; varieties</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Wild yeast organic earthy, funky aromas greet the nose, though under all of that this really has a big, perfumed nose with great complexity. Edgy and wonderfully clear on the palate, &nbsp;this is awesome though it has some funk on the palate that will turn some people off. late arriving minerality explodes through the veil of sheer red fruits and leads to a long finish that shows real finesse and a fine edge of austerity to the tannins in the mouth. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Dievole Chianti Classico $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% sangiovese, 10% complimentary red grape varieties&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rather explosive on the nose with superbly focused aromas of mineral, dried herbs, and smoky nuances all layered over a base of slightly jammy wild strawberry and lingonberry fruit. Perhaps a touch soft on entry, this then firms up with a fine astringent streak running through the cherry and strawberry fruited palate. In the mouth the fruit tannins built up showing great structure and compelling complexity that lingers through the long finish. This could use some more definition on the palate, which may come with time, but is already very good. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Val delle Corti Chianti Classico $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> High toned on the nose and a bit beefy then smelling gorgeously of earth, herb and spicy red fruit. This opens on the round side of things in the mouth with slightly bricky tannins and tart acids supporting a core of rich and fairly powerful raspberry. The tannins turn more polished in the mouth and through the elegant finish which is rich with slightly astringent and tart red fruits.90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Felsina Chianti Classico Berardenga $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Perfumed and &nbsp;floral on the nose, which is filled with aromas of spiced blueberries, minerals, and sweet leather notes. &nbsp;A touch soft, or rather fleshy in the mouth, this is rich with soft, ripe tannins that makes for a bit of a chewy mouthful. There&rsquo;s plenty of bright cherry and slightly darker berry fruit on the palate that is nicely perfumed and shows fine persistence on the moderately long finish but this shows good power yet not great elegance. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 San Felice Chianti Classico $16</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colrino 10% Pugnitello</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Classic smoky red fruits greet the nose framed with nuanced dried herbal and tree bark aromas. Sweet fruit, nicely spicy and with a twang floats across the palate showing off a very pretty and aromatic style. The &nbsp;red fruit, ripe but fresh and raspberry toned is punctuated by slightly rough tannins that show an edge of astringency on the moderately long finish. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Fattoria Viticcio Chianti Classico $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Big aromas greet the nose all leathery at first then bright with fresh fruit, a hint of a refreshing herbs and a hint of sweet toasty wood spice. Lively on the palate, with power, cut and inner mouth perfumes, this is very strong with fine cherry fruit on the midpalate though it does fade a bit on the finish. fairly structured today, this has everything in place to age into a wonderful chianti classico, but it would benefit from another year in the bottle. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Castellare in Castellina Chianti Classico $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mineral and herb greet the nose followed by a little huckleberry over wild blackberry fruit but the dusty and mineral notes return to dominate the nose in a nuanced and attractive way Fairly big fruit in the mouth is a little chewy, a little short, tight and raw but with lovely purity of fruit and fine typicity. This definitely needs some time in the bottle but has everything in place to grow into a fine example of Chianti Classico that really wears its terroir on its sleeve. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Carpineto Chianti Classico $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Sangiovese, 20% Canaiolo and other red grape varieties</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Damp tobacco, earthy, and a bit funky come together on the nose which is decidedly not fruit driven but complex and nuanced. Big fruit underpinned by tannins are a bit hunky and inelegant fills the mouth on entry. Decidedly young and raw, this shows off a rather old school profile with leathery, dried fruit character and earthy spice dominating the palate and the modest finish. it&rsquo;s not for everyone but a nice change of pace. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Fonterutoli Chianti Classico $30</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% Sangiovese, 10% a blend of malvasia Nera, Colorino and Merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweetly oaked and vanila influenced on the nose, this show some attractive black cherry and blackcurrant fruit aromas. A bit slick in the mouth in a rich but simple style that is attractively fresh with a nice mineral edge that helps to add a bit of cut to the rather chunky fruit. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Castello di Verrazzano Chianti Classico $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark on the nose and a bit sweet smelling with a beautiful melange of frutti del bosco, woodland spices, and mineral aromas. A bit chunky in the mouth and rich with ripe cherry fruit, this lacks a bit of structure, turning soft on the palate which is a bit roasty and fudgy. that roasted fruit does show fine persistence on the long finish, but i would like to see more energy and freshness. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2011 Carpineta Fontalpino Chianti Classico $22</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky and earthy on the nose with rich aromas of potting soil and flowers with some spicy top notes. &nbsp;On entry this has &nbsp;some cabernet like power, dry and deep on the midpalate with black fruit and spicy flavors that offer nice textural cut but are abit anonymous. Blackcurrants on the slightly tannic finish which shows decent length. this is a good wine but not a terribly convincing Chianti Classico. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Monteraponi Chianti Classico $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% sangiovese 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Deeply earthy and briary on the nose with lots of astringent red fruits and smoky top notes. There&rsquo;s plenty of sweet fruit on the palate, all raspberry and strawberry toned, but the flavors are a little roasted with a hint of truffle accentuating the ripeness which also shows up on the soft finish. This is both a bit raw and too ripe on the palate, lacking harmony in the mouth that may never come. The fruit is verging on the exotic with rich, spicy undertones. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Luiano Chianti Classico $10</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky, ashy, and a bit overtly woody on the nose with coy fruit. Tight and nervy in the mouth, this displays decent weight though with flavors that are simple and not very distinguished. the texture is attractive, and this is refreshingly austere on the finish so it may just be going through a closed phase but if the fruit doesn&rsquo;t show up this is decidedly underwhelming. &nbsp;83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Castello d&rsquo;Albola Chianti Classico $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit flat on the nose showing off some old wood tones and a bit of spice character as well. Decidedly flat in the mouth with lots of candied medicinal and herbal flavors layered over dark black cherry fruit this is rather short and inelegant but not overtly offensive. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 San Vincenti Chianti Classico $22</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, heavy, oily and tarry on the nose, this shows more interest in the mouth where it is all spicy and mineral on entry but turns heavy with fruit and &nbsp;large scaled in a raw, inelegant, tannic, tough, extracted way that leads to a bitter, hot finish. 78pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Casaloste Chianti Classico $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 90% Sangiovese, 10% merlot</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit tight on the nose and frankly weird smelling of sweet oak and grape jelly. In the mouth one finds a wine that is both rich and thin. Soft and shapeless on the tongue, this is matte and has an extracted feel &nbsp;that is not entirely unappealing on a textural level but there is no depth, nuance, of distinct flavor either. This I do not like. 75pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Fontodi Chianti Classico $30</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% Sangiovese</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tea and tobacco emerge on the nose followed by extracted, heavy carob laced aromas of roasted fruit. &nbsp;Big, powerful, and &nbsp;inelegant in the mouth, this is all chunky and showing rich, roasted fruit with harsh tannins. Raw, unbalanced and surprisingly bad. tasted twice with similar results. 70pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5300 Wines That Rang our Bell in March 2014 <p>Spring seems to have actually arrived here in the Northeast, and while the nights are still threatening us with near freezing temperatures we&rsquo;ve broken through the 70 degree mark more than once and the sun has even started to shine brightly, bathing us in resplendent warmth. That can mean only one thing when you are a wine geek.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> It&rsquo;s time to break out the whites!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sure we&rsquo;ve been dipping into white wine now and again during the cold, dark months of winter, but now we&rsquo;re serious. new vintages are gracing out shelves, fabulous offerings from around the world are at our fingertips, but as is so often the case, the selection far exceeds our ability to filter it. That&rsquo;s where our friends come in. Check out some of these great suggestions for Springtime whites from some of the best writers in the biz!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Photo courtesy&nbsp;<a href="">Andreas Kollegger</a>&nbsp;via Flickr/CC</em><br /> </p> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5296 Where has all the Malbec Gone? Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Almost fruity by design, because that&rsquo;s what we know you like. The natural, slightly bitter character of Malbec is being obscured, in those examples that through clonal selection, cropping, or vintage character still display it. In its place we&rsquo;re increasingly finding the fruit that consumers have grown to expect from their wines. Not enough fruit? Not a very good wine.And that&rsquo;s where malbec is headed.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hurtling towards the abyss of blackness, in grave danger of losing what was once it&rsquo;s calling card. It&rsquo;s not a situation unique to malbec of course, but Malbec, much like Shiraz before it is the current poster child for the dumbing down of wine.<br /><br /> <br /> <span style="font-size: 12px;">There is of course hope and reason to remain positive about the prospects for Malbec, but as $8 bottles turn into $12 bottles, and $12 bottles into $20 bottles, the value proposition begins to slip away, and that is where the real danger lays. A fruity, easy going wine with that extra bit of fruity sweetness works at $8, perhaps even still at $12, but as it comes into competition with other wines at higher price point it runs into problems.&nbsp;</span><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stylistic problems, simply being outclassed by wines that offer more nuance and detail, as well as problems with its value proposition. Again reference to Shiraz is valuable here. why would someone pay $20 for a big fruity wine when for $12 you can get 90% of the experience? Consumers didn&rsquo;t do it with Shiraz, and unless the Malbec industry wises up they&rsquo;ll be in that same boat.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And in case you&rsquo;re wondering, no I&rsquo;m not talking exclusively about Argentina here. Today&rsquo;s tasting included wines from Washington, California, France, and Chile. &nbsp;In fact my two favorite wines came from France and Chile, respectively, and they displayed the nuance that malbec is capable of beautifully. &nbsp;The subsequent wine all tended towards more of the fruit forward style that we&rsquo;re growing accustomed to, and there is where things begin to get a little dicey.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The question becomes &ldquo;What do I want?&rdquo; and to a certain extent I have difficulty articulating what I want, relying simply on the thought &ldquo; more of what the 2006 Chateau LaGrezette and the 2010 Perez Cruz Cot Limited Edition are offering. &nbsp;A little less fruit, a little less oaky, a little less sweetness. That&rsquo;s all I&rsquo;m asking for. let the detail malbec grown in fine terroir is capable of shine through. Sure, there will always be a place for the big, bold, smooth and fruity style of malbec, but when that is all we&rsquo;re left with, well then we lose sight of what malbec is all about, and it becomes all too easy to simply opt for a wine that highlights the fruity side of the variety. The $12 2012 Apaltagua Malbec Reserva does that all too well, and might just be the portent of Mlabec pricing wars coming down the pike.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&rsquo;ve been a bit too dour today. I know that, but as Yogi berra once famously said; &ldquo;It&rsquo;s deja vu all over again.&rdquo; We&rsquo;ve been down this path before. Let&rsquo;s hope this time we&rsquo;re taken to a different destination.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2006 Chateau LaGrezette Malbec Cru d&rsquo;Exception Cahors France 13.5% $30</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy, stemmy and herbal on the nose with some sweet, small berry, wild berry fruit tones floating in the glass. A bit tough in the mouth with chewy tannins plenty of richness remaining. there&rsquo;s great depth to the fruit here, all mineral and dried herb tinged wild red cherry toned flavors. The wine remains firm right through the mouth, but well balanced with the fruit gaining some darker, earthy notes on the backend before changing speed entirely and showing of nuanced red currant and subtly spiced oak note on the long, slightly rustic but delicious finish. Still youthful, this captures another aspect of Malbec, nuanced, complex, and more lively than many new world versions. 92pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Perez Cruz Cot Limited Edition (Malbec) Maipo Valley, Chile 14% $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quie a perfume here and unlike virtually anything else coming out under the Malbec banner these days. This is all sauvage, herbal, gamy, yet bright with notes of wild strawberries, lingonberries and candied cranberries. Smooth and polished on entry, this is seamless in the mouth, though there are some firm, almost stemmy tannins lurking at the heart of the pool of slightly roasted, candied red fruits that form the core of this wine. A touch chewy in the mouth, and with late arriving acids that help refresh the palate, this shows great potential for continued improvement in the bottle. The backend shows off a little black pepperiness before leading to a dried fruit finish of modest proportions. Broad shouldered and narrow waisted, this shows excellent balance and integration. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2011 Bramare Malbec Lujan de Cuyo Argentina 14.7% $40</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Crushed black cherries, expensive chocolate, grilled meats, a hint of black pepper and sweet vanilla and powdered ginger greet the nose. A bit tight, and definitely wound up, this shows lovely depth to the fruit with an elegance and almost laciness that is rare to find with malbec. The oak, nutty and showing allspice tones, is dominant today but not offensively so and the fruit ebbs and flows over the oak, giving glimpses of fine balsamic tinged crushed wild berry fruits topped with shaved chocolate. &nbsp;A little blond tobacco and white pepper spice emerges on the finish to add some detail, along with a touch of heat as well. refined and complex, this is a fine wine but it lacks a touch of varietal character. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Felino by Vina Cobos Malbec Mendoza Argentina 14.3% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite subtle on the nose, though showing a sophisticated blend of nuanced, cigar box oak, crushed wild berry fruit, and hints of ivy and green herbs. Smooth, fairly zesty and even edgy in the mouth, there&rsquo;s great tension and energy here with the bright crushed wild berry aromas of the nose gaining a bit of sweetness and complexity from the oak on the palate. The finish is a bit short, showing a fine steak of bitterness that helps to define the sweet, slightly jammy blackberry fruit that leads to the cranberry tinged finale. Captures the power of malbec while displaying a bit of finesse. Lovely wine. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Kaiken Malbec Ultra Mendoza Argentina 14.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark and exotic on the nose with layers of oak, tropical flowers, pomegranate and zesty wild plums. Rich, powerful and a bit mysterious on entry, this shows slightly aggressive wood tannin today, adding a drying vein to the midpalate, but the fruit is so rich it&rsquo;s easy to miss. Dark, slightly roasted flavors of black cherry and blackberry are enlivened with subtly toasty oak spice in the mouth, and a hint of vanilla on the backend before this fades away on a moderately long, slightly hot finish. Big and smooth. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Graffigna Malbec Grand Reserve San Juan Argentina 14.5% $18</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Subtle cigar box oak greets the nose followed by sweet vanilla, a touch of ginger and dark plummy fruit topped with shaved bittersweet chocolate. Smooth and polished in the mouth with plenty of dark plummy fruit wrapped around nicely integrated oak spice. This is well knit together and supple in the mouth with a nice blend of sour plum and blackberry fruit that lasts over the long finish. This is rather elegant for malbec with a nice blend of delicacy and depth in the mouth. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Cuarto Dominio Chento Malbec Vineyard Selection Mendoza Argentina 14% $20</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark with hints of carob, earth and leather on the nose this seems a bit tight with reticent aromas of wood spice slowly drifting from the glass. Soft, almost voluptuous on entry with a hint of sweetness wrapped around firm acids and a lacy tannic structure, this unfurls in the mouth with power, yet a sense of restraint as well as there is some subtlety here. The oak pops a bit on the backend before sliding back under the powerful yet subtle dark cherry, candied cherry, berry fruit that dominates the long finish. This might improve in the bottle over the near term, 1-2 years, but is already a pretty classic expression of Malbec today. 88pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Niner Malbec Bootjack Ranch Paso Robles 14.9% $25</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, spicy and slightly roasted on the nose with plenty of vanilla and spicy oak layered in under the spicy, slightly balsamic fruit. Soft, large scaled, and powerful in the mouth, while remaining moderately transparent and agile on the palate. The fruit here takes on a decidedly black cherry tone, slightly candied and sweet though with enough balsamic spice to remain fresh and enough depth to help keep the oak well covered. A bit of jamminess emerges on the backend, then the fruit slips away leaving lots of mocha tinged oak, drying and slightly bitter, to linger on the modest finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Apaltagua Malbec Reserva Maule Valley Chile 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruity and spicy on the nose with plenty of &nbsp;nuanced nutty, nutmeg tinged oak layered in with &nbsp;blackberry, plum, and black cherry fruit. fruit forward, exuberant and bright in the mouth, this is supported by nicely judged, firm, little tannins and integrated acids that help to show off the spicy character of the fruit here. Rich yet remaining admirably transparent in the mouth, this finish with lovely freshness and clarity, and lingering sour plummy fruit. Well knit together and fun. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Sagelands Vineyards Malbec Columbia Valley 13.5% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Subtle on the nose with nuanced oak, spicy fruit and subtly floral aromas. A bit sticky up front with perhaps a touch of RS adding some richness but enough acidity to help bring freshness and brightness to the palate. The oak is well measure with some spice accents helping to highlight the slightly spicy, plum skin and rosemary nature of the fruit here. Finishing with a slight balsamic cast, this shows some nice persistence to the fruit in a style that is slightly lighter than many Malbecs and shows more red fruit character finishing with hints of strawberries. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2009 Chateau LaGrezette Purple the Original Malbec Cahors 13.5% $14</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit funky on the nose but very plummy. Aromas of fresh Italian plums, old wood, dry earth and hints &nbsp;of tarragon and dried sage greet the nose. Smooth and broad on entry, this is almost a bit soft, though the tannins remains fairly abundant and a bit fuzzy in the mouth, adding volume and tactile complexity. There&rsquo;s a fine, clear, deep core of fruit here, all plums and wild cherry with almost a hint of wild strawberry on the backend where this gains a subtle forest floor tinged &nbsp;layer of funk. falling short on the finish, this stumble with some drying tannins and a lack of persistence to the fruit, though a peppery note does linger. A little simple perhaps, but distinct. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Cuarto Dominio Tolentino Malbec Winemaker&#39;s Selection 13.5% $15</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Vanilla, smoke and tobacco come together on the nose adding detail to the core of &nbsp;spicy, slightly savory dark berry fruit. Smooth and easy going, this is bright and fresh feeling in the mouth with attractive clarity to the simple, yet fresh and pure core of fruit. Almost delicate on the palate and through the modest finish, this is a refreshingly simple and clean example of malbec, through the nose does suggest that there might be some complexity still hiding here. eminently drinkable and just a touch sticky in the mouth as it airs out, but &nbsp;the finish remains attractively dry and refreshing with hints of chocolate and dried cherries. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Bodega Tamari Malbec Reserva Mendoza Argentina 14% $12</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy, clean and distinctly varietal on the nose with mulberry, rosemary, sage and wild cherry all coming together very nicely. A touch soft in the mouth with a hint of RS, this is fruity, forward and friendly with just enough tannin and acid to keep the wine structured in the mouth, yet not becoming obvious. &nbsp;the fruit lingers on the modest finish which shows a suggestion of juniper and a hint of bitterness, &nbsp;layered in with all the spicy red berry fruit and some fuzzy fruit tannins that add a touch of mouthgrab. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Waterbrook Malbec Columbia Valley 13.3% $14</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet, spicy if a bit anonymous on the nose with green herbal, fennel seed notes and sweet toasted oak aromas. A bit light and fresh on entry with wild berry fruit and a touch of forest floor that adds a nice attractive contrast to the fruit. Not a big wine, but not smaller either, just medium bodied, fresh, if a bit simple, and very well balanced. &nbsp;Soft and easy drinking this loses a bit on the finish, with candied blackberry notes and a bit of harshness from the oak coming together briefly. Easy going and pleasant. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 Graffigna Malbec Reserve San Juan Argentina 14.2% $11&nbsp;</strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit leathery on the nose with hints of dried herbs and some raw, vanilla, nutty oak notes on the nose. A bit raw in the mouth as well with some nice youthful energy and somewhat unformed flavors of plum and cherry that are cloaked in some sweet, vanillin laden and slightly harsh oak notes. Finishing dry, lean, and with wood tannin this is a bit rough going today though I&rsquo;m not sure the fruit will ever come into harmony with the oak treatment here. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><span style="font-size: 12px;">2013 Cuarto Dominio Lote 44 Malbec Mendoza Argentina 13.5% $10</span></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Young and raw on the nose with lots of crushed berry fruit, blackberries, pomegranate, &nbsp;and mulberries layered over spicy oak and pungent, oily, rosemary herbal notes. A touch soft on entry, there are firm if small tannins here early on the palate which shows faintly bitter notes of chocolate and medicinal herbs. The fruit is much less obvious that the nose might suggest with oak being a bit assertive today and the wine lacking a bit of stuffing, taking on the &nbsp;sweetness and weight of the oak on the midpalate before turning dry, as bit thin and firm through the long finish. 82pts</div><br /> </p> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5290 Cellar of the Month April 2014 Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Another Monday, another gorgeous cellar. Take a minute and feast your eyes on this place. Located in Westchester County, NY, this cellar accomodates 2500 bottles in classic style. Neat and orderly, it&#39;s packed and stacked with fine vintages and solid wood cases, which look especially attractive stacked as a solid block of splendor aginst the rugged look of of raw brick walls. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Curtis Dahl is an owner of <a href=""><strong>Joseph &amp; Curtis Custom Wine Cellars &amp; Humidors</strong></a>. To add some daydreaming fodder to your Monday we&rsquo;ve asked him to share some enviable cellar installation pics with us and give us a little background about the collector who has amassed such an outstanding collection.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> </p> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5288 Peas Please Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Peas, they&#39;re not exactly what we thought they were. They were those little morsels of deliciousness; a just reward for work well done. Today they, those little balls of delight referred to as English peas, are being replaced. Our pea consumption is now greatly augmented by the peas for the lazy man. You know I&#39;m talking about you Snow pea, and yes Sugar Snap, and don&#39;t get me started on Super Sugar Snaps!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Yes, in this day of instant gratification we just go ahead and eat the whole damn pea! What&#39;s up with that? What happened to the hours of shucking, the backer lined with a printed cloth napkin? Stealing peas as you went along? Getting bits of pea fiber wedged under your nails, then being finally finished, full of peas and with surprisingly little to show for your efforts?That&#39;s what makes peas something special. Well that and their deliciously sweet, earthy, and surprisingly perfumed flavor profile. I love peas, they are one of spring&#39;s great treats, and they make you work for your reward. Something that true foodies know makes food taste better. Why do you think Fava beans are so awesome? Because you have to peel each and every one of them! OK, so even I can deal with a little convenience now and again. Let&#39;s bring on the peas, and maybe some of those new fangled ones as well as we celebrate the arrival of spring!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /> </p> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5286