A Taste of Marche; Chicken in Potacchio with Sartarelli Verdicchio

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This month we’re exploring Marche (a.k.a Le Marche)!

A Taste of Marche; Chicken in Potacchio with Sartarelli Verdicchio

Image courtesy of holidayinmarche.com

Marche (pronounced Mar-kay), is the third region, alongside Tuscany and Umbria, that makes up Central Italy. It located between the Adriatic coast and the Apennine Mountains with Emilia-Romagna to the north.

It is a lesser known and lightly traveled hidden gem rich in history with walled hilltop villages, castles, spectacular limestone caves, rolling farms, craggy hillsides, and amazing sandy beaches. If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, and away from the ravages of mass tourism, check out Le Marche!

While cuisine of Marche is lesser known than that of its neighboring regions of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, highlights include  the appetizer olive ascolane which are crispy fried stuffed olives, ciascolo, a soft smoked pork sausage flavored with fennel and garlic, brodetto, a classic fish stew, and the epic baked pasta dish vincisgrassi that is similar to the well-known lasagna.

On my plate

Chicken in Potacchio is a traditional chicken dish from the Marche region of Italy. Potacchio is a cooking method specific to Le Marche which involves braising fish, chicken or rabbit in white wine, garlic, tomato and rosemary.

After perusing various recipes, most of which featured braising, I found this recipe and video.  It’s a bit of twist on the traditional recipe in that the chicken is roasted rather than braised.  Additionally, the addition of potatoes and onions make it  a one-pan meal. It’s my kind of recipe…

Easy.

I like easy. Especially on weeknights!

Roasted Chicken in Potacchio
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree; One Pan Meal
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
The key to a mess-free meal is to keep it simple, and it doesn't get much simpler than a full meal in one pan!
Ingredients
  • 1 (3½ - 4 pound) chicken (trimmed and patted dry)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 medium new potatoes (quartered)
  • 6 small sprigs rosemary
  • 1 large onion (cut into 8 wedges)
  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Rub the chicken all over with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and season it well with salt inside and out. Add a pinch of cayenne to inside and outside of chicken. Put the chicken in a large roasting pan (you want some room around the chicken to hold the vegetables in a single layer). Add the potatoes, rosemary, onion, tomatoes, and wine to the roasting pan around the chicken. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil.
  3. Roast the chicken until done, periodically basting it with the liquid that accumulates, 1 to 1½ hours depending on the size of the bird. (When cooked through, the juices that result from pricking the thigh will run clear and a thermometer inserted in the thigh will read 170°F.) Let the bird sit for 10 minutes before carving.
  4. To serve: Serve the chicken pieces with the potatoes and onions from the pan. Spoon out some of the tomato "sauce" and add that to the plate, too.
Notes
If you watch the video, red pepper flakes are used to season the bird, but the recipe calls for cayenne pepper (which I took to mean as crushed red pepper). I seasoned the bird inside and out with the crushed cayenne, then sprinkled red pepper flakes over the bird, tomatoes, onions and potatoes before roasting.

Let the chicken come to room temperature before roasting to ensure even cooking and moistness

The chicken turned out beautifully.  Roasting the tomatoes, wine, and red pepper transformed them into a chili sauce like sauce that’s a little sweet and a little spicy. Likewise roasting the onion and potatoes carmelizes them and makes them a bit sweeter and tastier.

Whenever I roast a chicken I’m concerned the breast meat will dry out, but the even the breast meat was moist and juicy!

It’s was delicious…and easy…I’ll be making it again!

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In my Glass

I often use my Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil as a resource when researching wine regions.

Le Marche wasn’t in the Wine Bible.

The wine for which Marche is best known, Verdicchio wasn’t in the Wine Bible.

I checked my “Concise World Atlas of Wine” by Huge Johnson and Jancis Robinson.   The Marche didn’t do much better there. It warranted a paragraph about Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, which, at least,  included this:

..it is the Verdicchio grape that is responsible for the most exciting white wines.

This might be because the most well-known wine from the Marche used to be wine in green bottles shaped like fish…

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But that’s the way Verdicchio used to be back in the day. It was cheap, easy, and cleverly packaged. Ultimately, it suffered the same indignity as Chianti in straw bottles.

However, the world’s diminished interest in the wine was a blessing.  Winemakers had spent those lost years quietly improving their grape quality, equipment, and techniques. Today, thanks to push toward quality and renewed interest in native Italian grape Verdicchio is to be taken more seriously.

Relatively unknown outside of Italy, Le Marche is a thriving wine production region boasting 12 DOC and 2 DOCG wines. The best known of these wines is the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, an outstanding white wine from the province of Ancona. – winesearcher.com

My wine the 2011 Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Tralivio” is produced by Sartarelli, a Verdicchio specialist based in the village of Poggio Dan Marcello.  

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2011 Sartarelli Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Tralivio”

My tasting notes follow:

Deep straw yellow color with green nuances in the glass with low-key stone fruit, apple, almond skin, lees, and crushed rock aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and dry, with vibrant acidity and a luscious mouth-feel. A wonderful combination of refreshment and substance.  It shows white peach, apple and lemon zest flavors balanced by a mineral tang with a lingering finish 13.5% alcohol. $15 retail

I was a bit apprehensive about pairing a white wine with a tomato sauce based dish, but the Verdicchio was a fine pairing with the Chicken in Potacchio!  I’d say it’s a classic “what grows together, goes together” match!

Join us live on Twitter today at 8am PST and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT and share your experiences of the Marche region in Italy.

Want more of Marche? Check out what my fellow #ItalianFWT bloggers have

Join us next month Saturday June 6th as we explore the Campania region in Italy.  If you would like to join our group email Vino Travels directly at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.  Ciao ciao for now!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of Sicily-Tuna and Sea Bass Spiedini #ItalianFWT

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This month we’re exploring Sicily!

Sicilian Beach

The harbor in Levanzo – a small island off the coast of Sicily; Image courtesy of blogsturismo.blogspot.com

My #ItalianFWT journey has been amazing so far!  We’ve virtually traveled to Tuscany (with which I was familiar), Emilia-Romagna, and Alto-Adige (which I knew nothing or next to nothing about). And now Sicily – which I thought I knew something about,  but  it turns out, I knew very little about!

Among the island’s innumerable charms, here are a few personal favorites: the ever-present scent of lemon trees, the purity of dawn light on terracotta walls, the colourful decrepitude of Palermo’s markets, the drama of Stromboli erupting against a darkening sky, the sense that history lurks always just around the next corner, the reflective marble glow of late-night Ortygia and Marsala streets, the lonely majesty of Segesta, the exotic flavours of Sicilian food and the kindness of its people. – Gregor Clark for Lonely Planet

Admittedly, the first thing that came to mind when I thought of Sicily was the Mafia (thank you “The Godfather”)

On how little I knew.

I knew about a few Sicilian dishes, that it is an island, Marsala, and of course the Mount Etna (a wine region on the rise!)  But once I started researching it…

Wow!  Such an amazing place (check out 10 Amazing Things You Should Know About Sicily, or for my foodie friends - 23 Sicilian Dishes To Die For)!

On my plate

Inspired by an episode of Giada de Laurentiis’ Everyday Italian entitled “Sicilian Summer“, and the summer-like temperatures in California these days (it was sunny and 80 degrees last weekend), I brought a bit of Sicily to California with this menu:

I modified Giada’s recipe by substituting half of the tuna with some great looking Chilean Sea Bass I found at Whole Foods, and cooking the dish on my Weber grill instead of the oven. 

Before…

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The skewered spiedini ready to go on the grill – chock full of marinated tuna and sea bass with fennel, red onion, scallions, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and lemon!

After…

A Taste of Sicily - Tuna and Sea Bass Spiedini

All grilled up and served on a bed a delectable Mediterranean Salad full of the flavors of Sicily – lemony couscous, fresh basil and mint, tart cranberry and almonds!

This was a perfect light meal for al fresco dining!

And the Spiedini served on top of the Mediterranean Salad?

Wow! The combination offers a tour de force of contrasting tastes and flavors!

You get little explosions of sweetness from the grilled tomatoes and the dried cranberries in the salad that are the perfect foil for the unami of the seafood.

You get the crunch of the almonds, and the grilled fennel, and onions.

There’s a nice textural contrast between the grilled tuna which is firm,and the seabass which was more tender and succulent.

And the lemons (90% of Italy’s lemons come from Sicily btw…) used for both the marinade for the seafood, and the salad adds a delightful citrusy brightness to the meal.

Despite my ongoing challenge with kebabs (I can never seem to get the meat, and veggies the same size - tips anyone?), this is definitely a “make again” for me!

The Talenti Sicilian Pistachi Gelato?  OMG!

In my Glass

I was fortunate to find a Sicilian Rosé at my favorite wine store.

I adore Rosés. They combine the best of white and red wines, while maintaining their own unique charm. They offer the crisp acidity, delicacy and freshness of white wines, and the body, and flavors of red wines.  And they’re great at the table!

The  2013 Antichi Vinai “Petralava” Rosato hails from the Etna D.O.C.  It’s a blend of Nerello Mascalese, and Nerello Cappuccio grapes grown in vineyards on the slopes of Volcano Etna in Castiglione di Sicilia and Randazzo districts.  

IMG_1948-001

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with vinous red fruit, spice, wet gravel, and a hints of floral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, dry and fresh with abundant cherry jolly rancher, strawberry, and spice flavors with complemented by an appealing minerality and fine-grained tannins. Lingering finish.  13% alcohol  Retail – $15

It paired wonderfully with our salad and entrée. What a great meal!

Ti amo la Sicilia! I’m hereby officially adding Sicily to my bucket list!

If you’re ready to fall in love with Sicily too, there are lots more where that came from.  Check out my fellow bloggers and what they have to share on their sites.

 

We are live on twitter today and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT.  Join us and share your food, wine and travel experiences in Sicily; We’d love to hear from you!

_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

 

A Taste of Alto Adige – Cantina Terlano Classico #ItalianFWT

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This month we’re exploring Trentino-Alto Adige!

Image courtesy of AltoAdigeWines.com

Image courtesy of AltoAdigeWines.com

The Region

map-of-trentino-alto-adige

Map of Trentino-Alto Adige courtesy of beviamo.com

Trentino-Alto Adige is Italy’s northernmost wine region.  Notwithstanding it’s hyphenated name, it’s really two autonomous provinces. Alto Adige, nestled in Alps, is bordered by Veneto to the east, Lombardy to the west, and the Tirol region of Austria to the north. Alto Adige or Südtirol, as it is known in German,  has a predominately German speaking population. This is due to the region’s former status as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It was re-claimed by Italy in 1919.  To its south is Trentino, which is almost entirely Italian speaking.

Here’s an overview of what I learned about Alto Adige:

  • Winemaking in the region pre-dates Roman occupation of the Adige Valley
  • The Alto Adige DOC, which covers the majority of wines made here, was granted in 1975
  • One of the smallest wine-growing areas in Italy (approximately 13,000 acres), producing only 0.7% of Italy’s total production
  • It leads Italy in wines meriting a DOC designation: 98% of its wines fall into this category
  • The vineyards are tiny and ownership is impossibly fragmented. Typical vineyards are about a hectare; which is probably why…
  • Most wine made here is produced by co-operatives (15 co-ops produce about 70% of the wine)
  • The major green grapes varieties, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanc account for over 20% of the total wine production and are a hallmark of the region.
  • The native Schiava black grape variety dominates red wine production accounting for almost 25% of total vineyard area. The velvety Lagrein, also a native variety, is also widely planted.
  • Surrounded by the Dolomites and Rhaetian Alps Alto Adige is one of the most beautiful wine regions in Europe.
  • The Gewürztraminer grape owes its name to the village of Tramin (Termeno in Italian) about 12 miles south of the region’s major city Bolzano.

Cantina Terlano

Founded in 1893, the Cantina Terlano winery is now one of the leading wine growers’ cooperatives in Alto Adige. It’s current membership is composed of 143 growers working a total area of 165 hectares. Seventy percent of their production is white wines.

“The most impressive wines I tasted this year from Alto Adige came from Cantina Terlano. Simply put, these are reference point wines. I can’t imagine these wines not being represented in any serious cellar.” - Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate 2011

Cantina Terlano winery has a traditional focus on long-lived wines. In fact, Terlano has a Wine Archive located about 13 meters underground which contains over 20,000 bottles.  It’s quite a collection of rarities comprising various vintages from 1955 to the present. Some of the wines actually date from 1893, the year the winery was founded!

The Wine

From Cantina Terlano (Kellerie Terlaner in German)… A composition of Terlano’s three most traditional white varieties, namely Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Sauvignon, this old cuvée, which was one of the wines produced when the winery was founded, is an extremely complex wine. Pinot Bianco, as the main variety used in the cuvée, provides the freshness and a good acid structure, while Chardonnay delivers a pleasing warmth and mellowness and Sauvignon adds the fine aromatic character.

The fruit for this wine come from the Alto Adige Terlano  sub-region of Alto Adige, a region renown for its high quality white wines.

IMG_1787

My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow-green color with pear, lemon, white flower and lemongrass aromas. On the palate, it’s dense, and tangy with bright acidity, and white peach, lemon, hint of apple flavors with a wonderful mineral note and a lingering sweet finish. Blend of 60% Pinot Bianco, 30% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. 13.5% alcohol. Retail $22 >>Find this wine<<

I paired the wine with a fabulous Seafood Lasagna (recipe here) I prepared. (Note: I substituted seafood stock for the clam juice and chicken stock and used real crab meat)

What a fabulous pairing! The wine’s bright acidity was a welcome counterpoint to the richness of the Bechamel sauce in the Lasagna, while the “weight” of the wine was a perfect complement of the weight of the dish.  And in the mouth each made the other taste better!

A Taste of Alto Adige - Cantina Terlano Classico #ItalianFWT

Much to my surprise, I’ve yet to try an Italian red wine for #ItalianFWT.  But , so far I’ve been captivated by Italian white wines.  I think my choices have (mostly) been driven by the foods I’ve been pairing with the wines.  But the whites have been memorable (and repeat purchases), including the Cantina Terlano Classico!

Don’t stop here.  We have lots more great information to share with you on the Trentino-Alto Adige region.  Join the rest of our Italian bloggers group:

Make sure to join us live on Twitter today and throughout the weekend at #ItalianFWT to chat about the Trentino-Alto Adige region and your experiences.  We can’t wait to hear from you.  Check back at #ItalianFWT throughout the month as well for additional blogs on food, wine and travel of Italy.  Next month on April 4th we feature Sicily so stay tuned.  Ciao ciao!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

A Taste of the Tuscany Coast #ItalianFWT

One of the things I love most about food and wine is their ability to transport one to a different place.  And a  place’s people, culture, and customs are reflected in its food and wine.  In that sense, one can virtually travel the world through food and wine.  And that is exactly what we are doing through Italian Food Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT).  We taking a virtual tour of Italy by exploring its food and wines.  This we’re exploring Tuscany!

Exploring Tuscany Through Food and Wine

Unlike last month’s “tour” of Emilia-Romagna, I’m pretty familiar with Tuscany.  It’s one the largest wine regions in Italy,and arguably its most well known.  Tuscany is situated in central Italy and stretches from the Apennines in the east to the emerald Tyrrhenian Sea in the west.  It famous for its endless rolling hills, artistic heritage, medieval villages and stand-out cities like Florence.  Tuscany’s reputation as of one of  Italy’s foremost wine regions is based on iconic wines such as ChiantiBrunello di Montalcino , Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Super Tuscans.

On My Plate

Being familiar with Tuscan red wines, I wanted to try something different and try a Tuscan white wine.  A search of my favorite wine shop came up with Vernaccia.  And when I looked for a dish to pair with Vernaccia, my attention was drawn to the less well-known Tuscan Coast.  There in the port city of Livorno, you will find Caccuicco alla Livorna, a popular traditional seafood dish with a history that stretches back at least five hundred years. Its name probably comes from the Turkish for ‘minute’ which is ‘kuciuk’. It reminds me of my beloved Cioppino, which is believed to have its origins in San Francisco. Game on!

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This “bottom of the boat” seafood stew delivered “top shelf” flavor (especially the octopus)! I think it has an earthier, more savory character than Cioppino, which I really enjoyed.  And the recipe is definitely a keeper!

Cacciucco (Tuscan Seafood Stew)
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
 
This Tuscan soup traditionally uses fish considered "bottom of the boat"—those left behind after more valuable fish have sold.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh sage leaves
  • ½ tsp. red chile flakes
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 12 oz. calamari, cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 12 oz. baby octopus, cleaned and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (14-oz.) can chopped tomatoes with juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fish stock
  • 1 (1-lb.) monkfish filet, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 1 (1-lb.) red snapper filet, cut into 2″ pieces
  • 12 oz. large shell-on shrimp
  • 12 oz. mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 8 (1″-thick) slices country-style white bread
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add parsley, sage, chile flakes, and 4 cloves garlic, minced, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add calamari and octopus, and cook, stirring occasionally, until opaque, about 4 minutes. Add tomato paste, stir well, and cook until paste has darkened slightly, about 1 minute. Add wine, and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes along with their juice, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until seafood is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add monkfish, and cook, covered, until just firm, about 5 minutes. Add snapper and shrimp to the pot and scatter mussels over top. Cook, covered, without stirring (so as not to break up the seafood), until the snapper is just cooked through and the mussels have just opened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Toast bread, and rub liberally with remaining garlic clove. Ladle stew between bowls, over bread or with bread on the side.
Notes
I made a few substitutions due to lack of availability of ingredients. I substituted sablefish, wild dover sole, and Alaskan spot prawns for monkfish, red snapper and shrimp.

In My Glass

I headed back inland to the small medieval village of San Gimignano for my wine.  San Gimignano, located north of Siena in the heart of Tuscany is home to Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Vehr-NAHCH-ya dee Sahn Jee-mee-NYAH-noe). The “city of the beautiful towers”, as it is often called, has been a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. 

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Vernaccia-based wine from San Gimignano has a long history, and since the Renaissance period has been considered one of Italy’s oldest and most noble wines.  (Source)

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The Vernaccia di San Gimignano was a milestone of Tuscan wine-making.  It was the first national wine (1966) to get the DOC classification, (Appellation of Controlled Origin). In  upgraded to DOCG status in 1993.  It’s the only white wine DOCG in Tuscany.

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My tasting notes follow:

Light yellow-green with lime, and tangerine, wet stone and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with an ample texture,  with lime, tangerine, and a bit of spice flavors with a surprising and pleasing touch of tannins. Long mineral driven finish. 13% alcohol. Great QPR at $16! Will buy more!

This was my first taste of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a rare tannic white grape variety, but it won’t be my last.  The wine was outstanding and it was great pairing with the Caccuicco!

Our Tuscan journey doesn’t stop here.  Join all of our other bloggers as they share with you their experience through the region of Tuscany.

Join us next month on Saturday March 7th as we travel to the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in the northeastern part of Italy in the Dolomite mountains.  For additional Italian related blogs on the food, wine and travel of Italy stay tuned to #ItalianFWT on Twitter throughout the month.  Ciao Ciao!

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.  

Wine of the Week; 2012 Vigneto San Vito – Orsi Pignoletto

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  This week’s wine is the 2012 Vigneto San Vito – Orsi Pignoletto Colli Bolognesi Classico Vigna del Grotto.

The Winery

Federico Orsi & Carola Orsi Pallavicino founded Orsi – Vigneto San Vito in 2005 with the intent of revitalizing Bolognese wines. They found a site on the hills (200m above sea level) outside of Bologna  in Emilia Romagna.  They tend to 15 hectares of 50-year-old vines, with a focus on grapes and traditions that are indigenous to this area.

Their vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic.  They take that some “slow wine”, minimal intervention approach in the cellar utilizing native yeast, and bottling their wine unfiltered and unfined.  They do so because they seek to elaborate wines indicative of their land and to highlight the region’s unique style.

In addition to this wine, Orsi-San Vito also produces a sparkling Pignoletto, Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Grappa

The Wine

This was my first time trying Pignoletto, a Italian white grape variety indigenous Emilia-Romagna, which has has two DOCGs (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – the highest classification for Italian wines)Albana di Romagna, and Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto.

This wine is from the latter. It is 100 % Pignoletto.  Fermented in large oak cask.  After fermentation, the wine was aged 9 months sur lie with occasional battonage. Aging sur lie imparts some complexity and a wonderful creaminess to the wine.  It was aged in bottle for another 6 months before release.  Bottled unfiltered and unfined.

.13% alcohol; Retail – $22.99

IMG_1451 (1)My tasting notes follow:

Slightly cloudy gold color (unfiltered) with lime zest, honeysuckle,and stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, fresh, and very persistent with a wonderfully supple texture. Flavor-wise it shows white peach, lime, honey, and a suggestion of persimmon flavors with a long mineral laced finish. 

Rating: A-; I really enjoyed this wine!  It was a nice change of pace, and a great winter white wine!I  Will buy more! >>Find this wine<<
Pair with: Pasta dishes prepared with fish, or chicken, mushroom risotto or Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings. Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2010 Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva.

The Winery

Cantele is a family run winery founded by Giovanni (“Gianni”) Battista Cantele, and his two sons Augusto and Domenico in 1979.  The winery is located between the villages of Fra Guagnano and Salice Salentino.

Today, the Cantele family owns 50 hectares planted to vine and the family’s current winemaker Gianni (one of Augusto’s sons) and agronomist Cataldo Ferrari manage another 150 hectares owned by other growers. Augusto’s other son Paolo is the winery’s brand manager and Domenico’s son Umberto is head of sales. Domenico’s daughter Luisa also works in the estate’s corporate offices together with Gianni’s wife Gabriella. The business remains to this day a true “family affair.”

Cantele produces about 2 million bottles/year, including indigenous Pugliese grapes such as Primitive and Negroamaro, along with international grape varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah.

The Wine

Cantele produces wine in Salice Salentino DOC of Puglia, which is located in “the heel” of the boot in peninsular Italy.  Puglia has had a reputation for producing mostly low-quality bulk wines (a.k.a. “plonk”).  In the 21st century though, a growing number of winemakers are more focused on quality rather than quantity.  For example, Puglia is the second largest producer (after Sicily) of organic wines.  And there have been substantial investments by the iconic Italian producer Antinori.

The flagship red grape of the Salice Salentino DOC is Negroamaro , which translated to English means dark (negro), and bitter (amaro).

This wine is made from 100% Negroamaro fermented in stainless steel and aged in 1-2 year old barrique for 6 months.

13% alcohol Retail – $9.99

Wine of the Week; 2010 Cantele Salice Salentino

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with inviting black and red fruits, bramble, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, vibrant, and deliciously spicy with plum, dried cherry, black raspberry flavors, dusty tannins and a supple texture. Medium+ finish. >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-; Fabulous QPR on this wine!  And if you’re looking to try a different grape variety – give Negroamaro a try!

Pair with: Carne alla pizzaiola, meat lovers pizza, roast veal and beef, game, lamb, and ripe aged cheeses.

Sample purchased for review

Related post you might enjoy:

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
_________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings. Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

International Chardonnay Smackdown!

The theme of the most recent Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) was International Chardonnay.  Inspiration for this theme came from my recent tastings of the Chardonnay of Chablis and Burgundy.  I was virtually an ABC (“Anything But Chardonnay”) person before the tastings of French Chardonnay.  They are so different from most California Chardonnay I’ve had.  Those tastings renewed by interest in Chardonnay.  I thought it would be great to share a different side of Chardonnay with with members of the PPWTC.

The Chardonnay grape itself is very neutral, with many of the flavors commonly associated with the grape being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France to New World wines with oak, and tropical fruit flavors.

That’s one of the things that make wine tasting clubs fun, and educational – trying wines one might not normally try, from places “new to you” places.

Here’s how our blind-tasting went down:

  • Chardonnay priced between $15-$25
  • Maximum of 8 bottles tasted
  • All wines are blind tasted
  • There were 14 tasters, with a diverse range of experience with wine
  • Tasters are required to score all wines
  • The wines are scored based on 4 criteria (aromabody, taste, and finish) - each on a scale of 1-5 (1-low; 5-high). Therefore minimum score = 4 point and maximum = 20 points
  • Both average and median scores are calculated.  The winner determined by highest median score.  Average score used as tie breaker.
photo (66)

The Contenders representing (L-R) Australia, Burgundy, Oregon, Chablis, South Africa, Italy, New Zealand, and California. This was also the tasting order

We had diverse selection of eight Chardonnay from around the world including:

The wines were tasted in the order of my tasting notes, which follow:

  • 2012 Oakridge Chardonnay Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard - Australia, Victoria, Port Phillip, Yarra Valley - Pale gold color with honeysuckle, peach, citrus, spice and wet stone aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with peach, green apple, , citrus flavors underscored by lively acidity and minerality. Nicely structured. Medium finish. Screwcap closure. Retail – $25
  • 2011 Domaine Matrot Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc - Pale lemon yellow color with pear, citrus and a hint of white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a wonderful mouth feel and apple, pear and citrus flavors. Medium+ finish. 100% Chardonnay. From vineyards averaging 30 years of age located next to the vaunted Mersault. Retail – $18
  • 2011 Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay - USA, Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills - Pale gold color with stone fruit, apple, and buttered toast aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with peach, green apple, and citrus flavors lifted by lively acidity. Medium finish. 11.7% alcohol Retail – $24
  • 2011 Gérard Tremblay Chablis Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Chablis
    Pale yellow color with apple, wet stone, lemon peel aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, with lively acidity, and concentrated apple, lemon, and mineral flavors. Medium long finish. Sourced from vines of over 40 years of age, most planted in 1957. Retail – $20
  • 2012 Glenelly Estate Chardonnay Grand Vin - South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch - Pale golden color with stonefruit, citrus, butterscotch, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, supple and layered with lively acidity and apple, citrus, vanilla, and mineral notes. Long finish. 13% alcohol. The grapes were whole cluster pressed. The juice was transferred to new and second fill 500L barrels after a brief settling. It was naturally fermented and then left for 9 months on its lees. Total time in barrel was 10 months.  Retail – $20
  • 2011 Cabreo Chardonnay La Pietra Toscana IGT - Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT - Pale gold color with appealing peach, pear, apple butter and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and persistent with lively acidity and apricot, pear, spiced baked apple and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. Retail – $20
  • 2007 Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate - New Zealand, North Island, Auckland, Kumeu - Pale gold color with buttered toast, honeysuckle, pear, tropical and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with vibrant acidity and green apple, pineapple, peach, citrus and vanilla flavors. Medium+ finish. Native yeast is used for the wine and is 100% barrel fermented and goes through 100% malolactic fermentation. Retail – $20
  • 2012 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Chardonnay - USA, California, Napa / Sonoma, Carneros - Pale yellow gold color with lifted, appealing pear, lemon and white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with focused apple, citrus flavors with a hint of minerality and a lingering satisfying finish. 50% barrel fermented; aged sur lie five months in French oak Retail – $21

The winner with a median score of 15 points was *drum roll please*…

International Chardonnay Smackdown

2012 Glenelly Estate Chardonnay Grand Vin – South Africa, Coastal Region, Stellenbosch

The runners-up (in descending order) were:

  • 2011 Cabreo Chardonnay La Pietra Toscana IGT (13.5 pts)
  • 2012 Charles Krug Winery (Peter Mondavi Family) Chardonnay (13.5 pts)
  • 2011 Gérard Tremblay Chablis Vieilles Vignes (13 pts)
  • 2011 Domaine Matrot Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc (11.5 pts)
  • 2011 Eyrie Vineyards Chardonnay (10.5 pts)
  • 2012 Oakridge Chardonnay Local Vineyard Series Guerin Vineyard (10 pts)
  • 2007 Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate (8.8 pts)

Blind tastings are always fun, and there’s almost always a surprise of some sort.  I was surprised the winning wine was from South Africa.  South Africa is a country more renown for Pinotage, and Chenin Blanc, than Chardonnay.  It was a decisive victory at that.

On the other hand, the scores for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place wines were tightly clustered. The Cabreo from Italy edged out the Charles Krug from California, based on the average score tiebreaker (13.82 v 13.64).

So often in blind tasting, it’s the wine that “speaks” the loudest that wins.  That certainly was not the case here.  The winner displayed a judicious use of oak, as did the wines in the next four places.

That’s what I love about wine tasting clubs, it gives one a chance to discover what they prefer by tasting wines back to back, so that one can discern the differences immediately, and  draw conclusions about their preferences.  And that’s what each our wine journeys should be discovering what pleases our palate!

Disclosure: All wines were purchased from K&L Wine Merchants, except the Charles Krug (Peter Mondavi) Chardonnay.  It was a sample provided by Charles Communications Associates, LLC.

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

My New Everyday Bubbly; Kirkland Prosecco!

A friend of mine,  who adores sparkling wine, especially Prosecco,  IM’d me last week. The message said “Martin go get yourself 2 bottles of Costco brand prosecco…….it will blow your mind for the price….I was just shocked”.

He drinks a lot of Prosecco.  That’s high praise.

Since my wife and I were hosting a wine tasting a couple of days hence, I figured I’d give it a try.  Sparkling wines make a great aperitif, and go with just about anything.

I headed over to my local Costco.  The Kirkland Prosecco sells for $7.49!

The packaging immediately reminded me of another popular Prosecco that I’m quite fond of and have purchased many times…La Marca Prosecco which also sports a blue label. It sells at Costco for $10.99.  In fact, the two were sold side by side….

photo 1 (7)

When I looked at the back label, I noticed two things:

The first thing is that the fruit was sourced from the Friuli region, rather than the more typical Veneto region.

The second thing, I noticed is that it’s imported by Cameron Hughes (“CHW”).  I recalled CHW also, relatively recently, released a Prosecco.

photo 2 (9)

I started feeling all investigative journalist - ish, so I popped over to the CHW website and checked out their Prosecco.

Hmmmm…their Prosecco is also sourced from Friuil…

Could it be the same Prosecco sold by Cameron Hughes for $14 is packaged differently and sold at Costco for $7.49?

I don’t know, but here’s what I do know…This Prosecco is flat out delicious!

Here are my detailed tasting notes…Very pale straw color with apple, citrus, brioche and honey aromas. On the palate, light-bodied and between dry and off-dry with a prickly mousse and crisp refreshing apple, mandarin orange and honey flavors. This is my new house bubbly! 11.5% alcohol| Retail – $7.49

Rating: B+: Mind blown…This one is a charmer with an amazing QPR.  Will buy (much) more. You should too!

Pair with: Great an an aperitif, it’s also versatile at the table – Some of my favorite foods to pair with Prosecco include tamales, moderately spice Asian cuisine, fish ‘n chips, and fish tacos. Works wonderfully with a wide variety of finger foods like potato chips and popcorn too. In fact, try it with Sriracha Popcorn!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Italian Reds Smackdown – 9 Italian Red Wines Blind Tasted

I can hardly believe it, but our community wine tasting club – The Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) is entering its fifth year, and going stronger than ever. Our most recent gathering had an Italian theme.  Since we’ve previously tasted Chianti, and Barbera those were not options.  But with over 500 different Italian grape varieties, including at least 10 major grape varieties, there were still plenty of options. We settled any Italian Reds, and folks were encouraged think beyond Sangiovese!

Our tastings alway start with a “Happy Hour” where we get a chance to catch up with each other, and grab a bite to eat (we do a themed potluck).  Since we had an Italian theme, there was plenty of Italian food (click to enlarge)

Here’s how our blind-tasting went down:

  • Italian red priced between $15-$25
  • Maximum of 9 bottles tasted
  • There were 19 tasters, with a diverse range of experience with wine
  • Tasters are required to score all wines
  • Both average and median scores are calculated.  The winner determined by highest median score.  Average score used as tie breaker.

photo 1 (10)

We had a nice selection of wines that showcased some of the diversity of Italian wines. Geographically speaking, Tuscany was the most well represented, but there were also wines representing Veneto, Piedmont, Sicily, and Campania.  From a grape variety standpoint, Sangiovese was the most well represented, but we also had wines made from Aglianico, Corvino, Corvino blends, Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah.

The wines tasted were:

  • 2010 Poderi Foglia Aglianico Gallucio Concarosso (Aglianico) – $20
  • 2010 Montechiara Amarone della Valpolicella (Corvino Blend) – $25
  • 2011 Luisi Barbera d’Asti (Barbera) – ($17)
  • 2007 Rubbia al Colle Toscana IGT (61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah) – ($13)
  • 2012 Rocche di Cusa Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab + Nero D’Avola) – ($15)
  • 2009 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (Sangiovese) – ($19)
  • 2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico (Sangiovese) – $17)
  • 2010 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT (Corvino Blend) – ($21)
  • 2011 Straccali Chianti Classico (Sangiovese) – ($21)

The wines were scored based on 4 criteria (aroma, body, taste, and finish) - each on a scale of 1-5 (1-low; 5-high). Therefore minimum score = 4 point and maximum = 20 points

Italian Wine night score Sheet

Image courtesy of Jojo Ong

The Winner:

Italian wine night winner

Photo courtesy of Jojo Ong

With a median score of 13.5pts

The runners-up were and scores in descending order were:

  • 2012 Rocche di Cusa Cabernet Sauvignon (12.5 pts)
  • 2011 Straccali Chianti Classico (12.3 pts)
  • 2010 Montechiara Amarone della Valpolicella  (12.0 pts)
  • 2011 Luisi Barbera d’Asti (11 pts)
  • 2010 Poderi Foglia Aglianico Gallucio Concarosso (10 pts)
  • 2010 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT (10 pts)
  • 2009 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (10 pts)
  • 2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico (9.8 pts)

Blind tastings are always fun, and there’s almost always a surprise of some sort.  More often than not, it’s a $10 wine beating our a $25 wine.  Not only did the lowest priced wine, but it was made from a blend of mostly (91%) Bordeaux grape varieties – definitely non-traditional Italian grapes.

Likewise for the second place wine, which was the second lowest price and made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon.

I think the obvious answer is that our tasters prefer the “New World”, rather than “Old World” style wines.  Speaking from personal experience the more rustically styled Italian wine can take some getting used to.

Regardless of which style one prefers, I think everyone found a wine or two they really enjoyed, and got a chance to try something new (it was my first Amarone, and Aglianico) while expanding their wine knowledge.  And isn’t that what a wine tasting club experience is all about?

Top 20 Sparkling Wines Under $20!

Over the past couple of years I’ve made it a point to blog about sparkling wines. For a time I blogged about a different sparkling wine on a weekly basis (At one point I tried 30 different sparkling wines over a 30 week period!).  Though I’ve gotten away from it in recent months, it’s not because I stopped drinking sparkling wines (I still drink bubbly pretty much on a weekly basis; I don’t wait for a special occasion and neither should you!), rather it’s because after a year and a half of trying more than my fair share of sparkling wines from around the world, I’ve found many I enjoy that have become repeat purchases.

While I love Champagne, it’s more expensive (entry-level examples start at around $30) than its sparkling wine brethren (I did find one for under $19.99, but didn’t care for it enough to purchase it again).  There are just too many other sparkling wines i enjoy more (especially since I’m footing the bill;-)…

Please allow me a moment on the Sparkling Wine soapbox..

  • Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne, the real stuff only comes from the Champagne region of France
  • Sparking wines are great wines – drink as you would other wines (i.e. don’t limit your consumption to special occasions), including trying different styles (White, Rosé, Red, Blanc-de-blancs, Blanc-de-noirs, Brut, Extra-Dry, etc.)
  • Sparkling wines are under-appreciated food friendly wines – If I’m not sure about a food a wine pairing, you can bet I’ll reach for a bottle of bubbly!  Besides being the only wine that’s socially acceptable to have with any meal, sparkling wine is one of the few wines that can take you from appetizers to dessert!

Ok…now that that’s off my chest…

Champagne Glasses

Image couresy of Grape Sense – Glass Half Full

Your best bets for finding quality for the price sparkling wines under $20 are to:

  • Here in the U.S. – look for sales on most major California labels, Chandon, Gloria Ferrer, Mumm, and Roederer are in wide distribution and frequently significantly discounted. At least one of those brands is on sale at my local grocery store every week for less than $20 ( and often less than $15…)
  • If you prefer sparkling wine with as Champagne-like character, look for Cava from Spain, or  Crémant from France (Crémant de Bourgogne, Limoux, Alsace, and Loire). They’re produced using the same method as Champagne, so you’ll get a more yeasty character,and save some coin.
  • If you prefer sparkling wine with fruitier aromas and flavors, and you’re not hung up on the method of production, look for Prosecco from Italy.
  • Sparkling wine is made the world over, so you can find good value in sparkling wines from South Africa, Australia and even South America.

Here are my Top 20 sparkling wines under $20 (click on the bold italicized links for my more detailed blog posts from my T.G.I.F. series of weekly sparkling wine tastings) It’s a diverse list geographically, and stylistically. There is with bubbly from Argentina, Australia, California, Spain, Italy, and South Africa. And there is Brut, Rose, Blanc de Noir, and even a dessert sparkling wine. Many can be found at grocery stores, or large beverage retailers like BevMo, and Costco. Others may be more challenging to find, but are definitely worth seeking out.

  1. Taltarni Brut Tache - (Australia)  Lovely pale salmon color with floral, stone fruit (peaches/apricots), and fresh-baked scone aromas. On the palate, approaching medium-bodied, with a creamy mousse with watermelon, red berry, and a bit of hazelnut flavors. Dry with a light fruitiness, good acidity, and a clean medium long finish. >>Find this wine<<
  2. Schramsberg Mirabelle North Coast Brut Rosé - (California) Delicate pink color with strawberry and bread dough aromas.  On the palate, moderately creamy mousse, good acidity, focused, fruity, yet dry, and lively, with strawberries, raspberries and a touch of citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
  3. 2011 Raventos i Blanc L’Heure Blanc Brut Reserva - (Spain)  Very light straw yellow color with plenty of tiny bubbles, white flower, yeast, apple aromas. On the palate, a wonderful creamy mousse uncommon at this price point, dry, and approaching medium-bodied with apple, and a hint on citrus flavors. Medium finish >>Find this wine<<
  4. Törley Doux Tokaji (Hungary) The only dessert bubbly in the bunch – Pale straw yellow color with lots of pin prick sized bubbles and brioche, apricot, mineral and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it shows a creamy mousse, and is sweet but nicely balanced very good acidity with apricot, peach, and vanilla flavors. Made from Furmint grapes. 11% alcohol >>Find this wine<<
  5. Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley - (California) - Light golden straw color with plentiful, persistent stream of tiny bubbles, and sweet yeast, fresh-cut green apples aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with soft texture, zippy acidity, between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla flavors.
  6. El Xamfra Cava Mercat Brut Nature - (Spain)Pale straw yellow color with lot of bubbles, and floral, stone fruit, citrus and slight sweet yeast aromas. On the palate, it has a surprisingly explosive mousse, and approached medium-bodied with stone fruit, citrus, and toasted nut flavors. Medium finish. 11.5% alcohol. Zero dosage. A great value! >>Find this wine<<
  7. Mumm Napa Brut Prestige - (California) - Light golden tinged straw color with biscuit, sweet citrus, red fruit and subtle floral aromas. In the glass it displays lots of tiny bubbles. On the palate it is medium-bodied with fairly creamy mousse and cherry, vanilla, and citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  8. Vinos de Terrunos German Gilabert Penedès Brut Nature Rosat - (Spain) Cherry red color with a frothy mousse showing tiny dispersed bubbles with yeast and red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry owing to zero dosage (no added sugar) with fresh cherry, raspberry, and a hint of mineral flavors. This Rosé is a blend of Trepat and Garnacha. >>Find this wine<<
  9. 2012 Antech “Cuvée Eugénie” Crémant de Limoux - (France) Light straw color with brioche, Fuji apple, and floral aromas.  On the palate, crisp with zippy acidity, a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet green apple, pear, and a bit of citrus flavors.  Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
  10. François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Brut (France) Light straw yellow color with lots of tiny bubbles, and brioche, and apple aromas. On the palate, it has a delicate mousse, is off-dry with apple and mineral flavors. 100% Chenin Blanc >>Find this wine<<
  11. Graham Beck Brut Rosé - (South Africa) Watermelon pink color with a hint of silver with aromas of yeast, and raspberries.  On the palate, a creamy mousse, fruity, yet dry, with crisp acidity and raspberries, cherries flavors, with a slight mineral overtone, and a hint of citrus on the back palate.  Short-medium finish. Great QPR! >>Find this wine<<
  12. La Marca Prosecco - (Italy) Very pale straw yellow color with white flowers, stone fruit, and a whiff of tangerine aromas. It shows an active stream of tiny bubbles. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and fresh with a creamy mousse and peach, and tangerine flavors. Medium finish. >>Find this wine<<
  13. Deligeroy Crémant de Loire Brut - (France) Pale yellow color with a bit of bronze tinge and brioche pear, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate it was light-bodied,and between dry, and off-dry with good acidity, and a prickly mousse with pear, raspberry, and mineral flavors. A Blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Franc. >>Find this wine<<
  14. Scharffenberger Brut Excellence - (California) Pale yellow-bold color with tiny bead of bubbles that dissipated somewhat quickly, and bread dough, faint apple aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied, with a moderately creamy mousse, and sweet fruity sweet apple, and lemon-lime flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  15. Gruet Blanc de Noirs - (New Mexico)  Salmon color with an abundance of dispersed tiny bubbles with brioche and apple aromas. On the palate approaching medium bodied with a moderately aggressive mousse, balanced with pear, sweet baking spice, vanilla, and nuanced citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  16. Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut(California) – Very light straw color with persistent bead of smallish bubbles, and fresh bread, apple, citrus,and a bit of ginger aromas.  On the palate, it shows a moderately creamy mousse, with apple, pear, and citrus flavors. >>Find this wine<<
  17. Reginato “Celestina” Rosé of Malbec - (Argentina) - Intense strawberry red color with intermittent stream of tiny bubbles with baked bread and ripe cherry aromas. On the palate, fruity, yet pleasingly more dry, than off-dry with an explosive, creamy mousse, and with delicate almost imperceptible tannins, with flavors of cherries, raspberries, and a hint of spice. >>Find this wine<<
  18. Segura Viudas Brut Reserva - (Spain) Light straw color with fine bead of bubbles with bread dough and lemon-lime citrus aromas.  On the palate, light bodied, with moderately creamy mousse with green apple, and tart citrus flavors. Short finish. This one is “everyday” sparkler for me.  It’s a great value at $9/bottle! >>Find this wine<<
  19.  Blason de Bourgogne Crémant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut(France) Very pale straw yellow color with toasty pear, citrus and hint of spice aromas and tiny bubbles. On the palate it’s fresh and fruity with pear, fuji apple, a vanilla, and sweet baking spice flavors.  Wonderful QPR @$10! Available at Trader Joe’s
  20. Korbel Natural - (California) Pale golden-yellow color with yeast ,red fruit, and apple aromas.  On the palate light bodied, crisp, between dry and off-dry.  Straight-forward with cherry, apple, minerals, and a touch of honey flavors.  Short-medium finish. >>Find this wine<< 

What are your favorite sparkling wines under $20? I’d love to give them a try!

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