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?

Rut-Busting Wines For New Cooking Adventures #SundaySupper

Admit it. You’re in a wine rut.  Regardless of whether you enjoy wine with a meal, as a cocktail, or both, you don’t stray too far off the beaten path.  You cling to your handful of favorites like Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Moscato.

Do you know there are over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes!

The true figure will never be known because number of grape varieties is a moving target.  New varieties are constantly evolving or being produced, and some obscure varieties become extinct.

Below is the Wine Grape Varietal Table put together by grape variety expert Steve de Long. It’s lists 184 varieties of grapes.

DeLong Wine Varietal Chart

DeLong Wine Varietal Chart

With so many varieties of grapes in the world, you’re sure to find wines other than your “usual suspects” that will suit your personal tastes, and moods.

So, if you’re ready for bit of vinous adventure, I’m offering some rut-busting wines to pair with the #SundaySupper team’s culinary adventures this week. Check out this week’s #SundaySupper menu and my wine pairing recommendations!

Pair these dishes with a sparkling wine – from South Africa!  South African sparkling wine is made in the traditional Champagne style is known as Methode Cap Classique, or MCC. Look for the Graham Beck Brut Sparkling Wine Western Cape. It’s blend of Pinot and Chardonnay grapes with creamy apple blossom, tangerine, and exotic fruit character

Pair these dishes with a wine made from the Torrontés grape variety. Torrontés is Argentina’s only truly indigenous grape.  It produces a juicy fragrant wine with citrus pineapple and spice flavors.  It’s a pretty food friendly wine too.  It pairs wonderfully with seafood, or try it with a pasta primavera or spicy Asian noodle, or curry dishes. Look for the 2011 Bodegas Colomé “Estate” Torrontés Valle Calchaquí Salta.

Pair these dishes with wine made from the Marsanne grape variety. This is probably the finest grape variety you’ve never heard of. It makes a full-bodied, sometimes rustic wine with amazing complexity, and honey, peach, and sweet spice flavors. If you like Chardonnay, give this wine a try.  Look for the 2011 Qupé Santa Ynez Valley Marsanne.  It’s a blend of 70% Marsanne and 21% Roussanne with floral, green apple, peach and ginger aromas, followed by energetic apple, peach,and citrus flavors on the palate.

Pair these dishes with wine made from the Pinotage grape variety. It is the signature red variety of South Africa.  It’s a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, two French grapes.  It shows the soft fruitiness of Pinot Noir, and the rustic characteristics of Cinsault. It produces a fruity, lively wine with soft tannins, and black fruit, spicy and many tasters report, banana flavors.  Look for the 2010 Southern Right Pinotage Walker Bay.

Pair these dishes with wine made from the Mencia (a.k.a. as Jaen in Portugal) grape variety. It’s a grape that’s indigenous to Spain that is gaining in popularity. Typical flavors are of earth, herbs (think mint, rosemary, thyme), dark fruits (raspberry, black cherry, blackberry). Look for the 2010 Amizade Mencia Monterrei.  It shows a spicy redcurrant and cherry aromas complemented by notes of Asian spices and minerals. On the palate it has lively acidity, and spice-accented dark fruit flavors with a hint of sassafras. 

Pair these dishes with wine made from the Aglianico grape variety. It’s a grape that is native to Italy  which makes great full-bodied, intense, tannic wine with berry, cherries, plums and spice flavors. Its high acidity makes it food friendly. Pair with hearty meats, tomato-based pasta dishes like lasagna, or lamb. Look for the 2009 Musto Carmelitano “Serra Del Prete” Aglianico Del Vulture.

Pair these with a Cadillac – um…the little known village just south of Bordeaux known for its sweet botrytized white wines. It’s never reached the lofty status of Sauternes, just across the river.  The wines are typically made from Semillion, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes. Look for the 2009 Chateau Suau, Cadillac.  It a blend of 40% Sauvignon – 60% Semillon with a fruity, complex, and sweet peach and honey character with good acidity. 

Pair these desserts with a sparkling red wine - Brachetto d’Acqui, from Italy. It is a produced from the Brachetto grape.  Look for Banfi Rosa Regale. It has a delicate aromas of  rose petals and offers luscious flavors of fresh raspberries and strawberries.

Pair these desserts with Madeira, one of the world’s great fortified dessert wines produced exclusively on the Portuguese archipelago of the same name that is actually closer to Africa than Portugal.  One of the things I appreciate about Madeira is that it’s relatively indestructible.  Once opened, it will keep for years. Look for the Broadbent 10 year Malmsey Madeira.  It’s a great match for rich desserts made with cream or chocolate. Or it can be the dessert in and of itself (If you have a sweet tooth, Madeira can satisfy it, and it has few calories too most other dessert choices!;-) 

And last, but not least, enjoy Bircher Muesli from Peanut Butter and Peppers with your favorite type of milk!

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on Twitter on Sunday, March 31st to talk all about citrus recipes! We’ll tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm EST. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag, and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more delicious recipes and food photos.

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Wine of the Week – 2009 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco

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.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco

The Winery

Beni di Batasiolo, as it is known today, was founded in 1978 and is located in Piemonte, Italy.  The winery is owned by the Dogliani family. The Dogliani family’s history dates back to 1882 when the family established itself as grape growers in Lange. They are a premiere wine producer of several key Italian varietals, including Moscato, Barbaresco, Barbera, Dolcetto d’Alba and Nebbiolo. In addition to the winery, the family also owns the Batasiolo SPA, Il Boscareto, which is a 5-star luxury resort.

As the story goes, the family changed the name of their winery from Fratelli Dogliani to Beni di Batasiolo in 1978 in order to avoid confusion with a grape growing region, also located in Piemonte, with the same Dogliani name.

All wines are produced from estate fruit.  The estate is composed of 9 vineyard sites, planted 70% to Nebbiolo, totaling 345 acres. In addition to Nebbiolo, which is used to produce Barolo, and Barbaresco, other grape varieties grown are Arneis,Barbera, Brachetto,Chardonnay, Cortese, Dolcetto, Moscato, Pinot Blanc,and Sauvignon Blanc.  They have a pretty full line-up of wines including:

  • Barbera d’Asti DOC,
  • Barbera d’Alba DOC
  • Dolcetto d’Alba DOC, 
  • Gavi di Gavi DOCG
  • Lange DOC Chardonnay & Nebbiolo, 
  • Roero Arneis DOCG
  • Moscato d’Asti DOCG,
  • Asti DOCG, 
  • Spumante Method Classico, 
  • Piemonte DOC Brachetto,
  • Moscato Passito DOC
  • Grappa

The Wine

I adore Italian wine, but I must confess this was my first Barbaresco!  That’s mostly because while Barolo, and Barbaresco are among Italy’s most important and great wines, they have a reputation for being pricey, especially Barolo.  I’ve bitten the bullet a few times and purchased bottles of Barolo  for special occasions  that I’ve enjoyed immensely (I even have a few in my cellar).  But since I knew less about Barbaresco, and they tend not to be as readily available, I’ve never purchased one.  Barolo has the bigger rep so I’ve gone with it. The thing about Barolo’s rep though, is that it’s like an old lady, you’re always waiting around on it.  In other words it’s a wine many recommend not touching for at least 10 years after they are released!

Not familiar with Barbaresco?  Here’s a quick 411 on the wine:

  • Produced from the Nebbiolo grape variety
  • Named after a wine growing region in Piemonte. It’s situated in an area of the Langhe on the right hand side of the Tanaro River, specifically in the comunes of BarbarescoTreiso and Neive plus San Rocco Senodelvio (once part of Barbaresco, but not part of Alba)
  • The Barbaresco zone receives a maritime influence which enables the Nebbiolo grown there to be ripen a little earlier, and have softer tannins that its big-brother Barolo.
  • Awarded DOCG status (the highest classification of Italian wines) in 1980
  • Under DOCG rules it is allowed to age for a year less than Barolo
  • It is a geographically smaller region than Barolo, thus annual production of Barbaresco is around 35% the production of Barolo and therefore the wines are not as widely available outside of Italy.

So it was with great anticipation I was looked forward to trying this wine.  And not only because it first Barbaresco, but also because it was part of a Piemonte theme wine dinner Osteria Coppa, a highly regarded Italian restaurant I’ve been looking forward to experiencing.

2009 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco

2009 Beni di Batasiolo Barbaresco

My tasting note follows:

Garnet color with beautifully aromatic rose, cherry, anise and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with dusty tannins along with dried cherry, spice and a hint of mineral flavors. Long finish.

Rating: A-: I really enjoyed this wine, especially its aromas which we just beautiful.

Pair with: I had this paired with Angolotti dal Plin from Osteria Coppa (see video below), and it was a wonderful pairing!

But it would also pair well with roasted meats, game, Coq-au-vin, stews, dry, aged, high-flavor cheese and truffles…OMG would this pair with truffles!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 13.5%
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: >ItalyPiedmontLangheBarbaresco
  • Grape Varieties: 100% Nebbiolo
  • Cooperage: Fermented on skins in SS; Aged for 2 years – one year in oak barrels and a further year in the bottle.
  • Retail: $29 (average price per winesearcher.com)
  • Cases produced: 6,667
  • Drink: now – 2018
  • >>Find this wine<<
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

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine Pairings for Home for the Holidays #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme “Home for the Holidays”, and is all about holiday traditions. Americans are such a diverse people.  As such, we have diverse holiday traditions that reflect our multitude of heritages. I prefer to focus on the common threads that run through the our diverse national fabric.  Among those common threads are family and tradition, and that’s  #SundaySupper movement is all about.

Our family tradition is to gather on Christmas Eve for our holiday meal and opening gifts (it used to be one gift when I was a kid, and when my kids were small – since we all adults now, and getting together can be like herding cats, we just open all the gifts on Christmas Eve). We’ve enjoyed Prime Rib, the last couple of years, but don’t really have a long-standing standard holiday meal. I guess, it’s more about getting together than what we eat.

Wine Lights Candles

Image courtesy of winecellarage.com

For this week’s “Home for the Holidays” theme, as best as I can, my wine pairing recommendations will reflect our diversity.  Aside from wanting to make my wine pairing recommendations congruent with this week’s theme, my reason for doing so also reflects some pragmatic food and wine pairing advice…that is pair the foods of a place with the wines of that place (Spanish wines with Spanish food, German wine with German food, etc).The flavors of food and wines that have “grown up” together over centuries (at least primarily in the case of the European “Old World” countries) are almost always a natural match. So where I could readily discern a heritage of the dish, my wine pairing recommendation(s) will be for a wine from that country. Of course, there are exceptions, but keeping this guideline in mind is a great place to start.

Here is this week’s stellar line-up of dishes.  My wine pairing recommendations are italicized.

Breakfast

Pair these breakfast dishes (except the coffee cake) with sparkling wine. Nothing like adding some sparkle to your morning to start the day!.  Look for Scharffenberger Brut Excellence, a California sparkling wine from Mendocino County.  It’s a blend of Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir with a lovely red fruit, apple, citrus and a touch of honey character.  

Pair the coffee cake with the Broadbent 10 year Malmsey Madeira. One of the things I appreciate about Madeira is that it’s relatively indestructible.  Once opened, it will keep for at least 6 months.  It’s a great dessert wine to keep on hand because it has a backbone of natural acidity.  It a great match for fruitcake, or rich desserts made with cream or chocolate. Or it can be the dessert in and of itself (If you have a sweet tooth, Madeira can satisfy it, and it has few calories too most other dessert choices!;-) 

Appetizers & Snacks

Pair these dishes with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence

Main Dishes and Sides

Pair this dishes with a white Rhone blend. What’s great about blends is that the combination of grape varietals creates vinous synergy – a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. Look for the 2011 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Blanc. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne. It’s a crisp and aromatic wine with honeysuckle and stone fruit aromas that follow onto the palate. It also has very good acidity and an appealing minerality that make it versatile food partner.

Pair the following dishes with the 2011 Burgáns Albariño Rias Baixas a crisp, fresh food-friendly white wine from Spain with a crisp apple, apricot and peach character. 

Pair these dishes with Gruner Vetliner (Groo-ner Velt-Leen-er), the primary white grape variety of Austria.  It is typically medium-bodied, high-acid mineral driven wine that is very food friendly.  Look for the 2011 Laurenz V. Singing Gruner Veltliner. 

Pair these dishes with Sangiovese (that is if you prefer wine over the delightful Martinis;-). I recommend the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a “Super-Tuscan blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, 2% Colorino and 3% Ciliegiolo.  It shows a wonderful mixed berry, and spice character with a bit of smoky tobacco, and licorice aromas. 

Pair this dish with the Scharffenberger Brut Excellence sparkling wine:

Pair these dishes with Torrontes, a white Argentine wine grape variety that produces delightful, spicy, perfumed wines.  Look for the 2011 Bodega Colome Torrontes. It’s off-dry with an aromatic fresh citrus, kiwi, and white flower character. 

Pair these dishes with a Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2011 Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Drachenstein “Dragonstone” Riesling. It’s an off-dry Riesling with an apple, pear, citrus, and mineral character with great acidity. 

Pair this dish with the 2009 Boas Vinhas Tinto Dao, a red wine from Portugal that is a blend of the indigenous Portuguese grapes Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Tinta Roriz with a  plum, dried berry, blackberry and spice character that is layered with supple tannins and good acidity.

Pair this dish with a Moscato d’Asti Moscato d’Asti from Italy.  Look for the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti. It shows a sweet, fragrant, delicate, floral, tropical fruit, and a hint of honey character.  It’s “frizzante”, which means it’s not as effervescent as most sparkling wines. It’s also a wonderful example of why I love sparkling wines, they can work with all the courses of a meal from appetizers through dessert. 

Desserts

Pair these desserts with a Sauternes,  a sweet wine from the Sauternais region of the Graves section of Bordeaux. They are made from  SémillonSauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes affected by noble rot.  Look for the 2005 Guiraud Sauternes.  It has a full-bodied, honeyed, lemon tart, baked apple, baking spice, and  vanilla cream character

Pair these desserts with an Oloroso Sherry, a denser richer style of Sherry.  Look for the Lustau East Indian Solera. It’s a provocative sweet creamy Sherry with a toffee, fig, caramel, raisin, and baking spice  (cinnamon and clove) character. 

Pair these Italian desserts with the 2011 Saracco Moscato d’Asti.

Pair this dish with a late harvest Riesling.  Look for the  2011 Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese. It’s a has an elegant, floral, spicy, exotic, and tropical fruit character. 

Pair this dish with an a German Red wine made from the Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) grape variety. Look for the 2009 Friedrich Becker Estate Pinot Noir.  It’s a spicy treat with a strawberry, cherry, and earthy character that will stand up to having the Pfeffernusse dipped in it, or used as a based for gluhwein, a spiced red wine drink!

Drinks

What does it mean for you to be Home for the Holidays?  Please join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper on December 23rd.  In the evening we will meet at 7pm EST for our #SundaySupper to talk about our Holiday Traditions.  We are so excited to have you join us.  All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

Please feel free to share with us and our followers your favorite Holiday recipe on our #SundaySupper Pinterest Board.  We are excited to have you!

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…NV Mionetto Prosecco Brut Treviso

I enjoy drinking a variety of sparkling wines depending on my mood.  What I enjoy about Prosecco is that it tends to be a bit fruitier, and less demanding (no significant contemplation needed) than Champagne, and other sparkling wines.  That’s because it’s  secondary fermentation takes place in a stainless steel pressurized tank, rather than individual bottles. Nor is Prosecco aged, which is what gives sparklers that undergo secondary fermentation in individual bottles their complexity (click here for a great explanation of how sparklers are produced).

Prosecco also tends to be lower in alcohol than most sparkling wines and Champagne, which make it nice (and less expensive) alternative to sparkling wines, or Champagne, especially as things heat up during the summer months.  Prosecco tends to be light-bodied, so I’m more likely to enjoy it as an aperitif, with lighter fare typically consumed during the warmer summer months.

For many years Prosecco was used to describe both the grape, and the region where the grape are grown.  In mid 2009, Italian wine regulations were revised to clearly state that Prosecco was no longer to be classified as a grape, but a region that was clearly delimited.  There are two such regions classified as a DOCG, the highest status for Italian wines.  Additionally, there are at least eight regions classified as DOC, the next to highest status for Italian Wines.  Treviso, the source of grapes for this Prosecco is one of the eight DOC regions.  The producer, Mionetto has been making Prosecco since 1887!  And nowadays, the grape is known as Glera.

Mionetto Prosecco Brut Treviso D.O.C.

Region: Italy>Veneto>Treviso

Variety - 100% Glera

Residual Sugar - 0.09%

Alcohol – 11%

Cost – $14 (though I found at BevMo for $10)

Production method: Metodo Italiano (Charmat Bulk)

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Very light yellow – the color of clarified butter

Aromas: Sweet bread, citrus, and a bit of wet stone

Body: Bead of bubbles with a somewhat creamy mousse.  Bubbles dissipated quickly.  Light-bodied, fairly well balanced, and juicy.

Taste: Fruity lemon-lime, Fuji apple, and a touch of vanilla flavors

Finish: Medium

Pair with: Sparkling wines are probably the single most versatile wine to pair with a wide variety of foods.  This was quite nice with an Herbed Shrimp and White Bean Salad, where I subbed colorful artisan lettuce for the arugula.  The fruity lemon-lime flavor was an excellent complement to the lemon vinaigrette I made for the salad.

Herbed Shrimp and White Bean Salad

Sometimes a wine grabs you by the palate right out the gate,  and sometimes it takes a little time and/or a few sips to make an impression on you.  Initially I thought it was OK, but with each sip, I found myself enjoying it more and more.  This is a very solid candidate for a “go-to” Prosecco for me, especially at $10!  I recommend! …. 86 pts.

T.G.I.F. Champagne and the like…Sorelle Bronca Prosecco

This week’s sparkling wine is a Prosecco from Italy, the N.V. Sorelle Bronca Prosecco – Extra Dry.  For many years Prosecco was used to describe both the grape, and the region where the grape are grown.  In mid 2009, Italian wine regulations were revised to clearly state that Prosecco was no longer to be classified as a grape, but a region that was clearly delimited and known as the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, which is a classified as a DOCG, the highest status for Italian wines.  Nowadays, the grape is known as Glera.

What makes Prosecco different from the sparklers we’ve tasted is that Prosecco is not made using the Méthode Champenoise  where secondary fermentation occurs in the same bottle in which the wine is made.  Rather, according to the “Wine Bible”…

 ”Prosecco is not made by the Champagne method, but rather by the Charmat process, in which the wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles”

Sorelle Bronca Prosecco

Sorelle Bronca Prosecc0 – Extra Dry

Region: Italy; Veneto; Valdobbiadene

Variety – 100% Prosecco

Dosage – 16gr/Lt

$17, 11% abv

Production method: Charmat Bulk

My tasting notes follow:

Appearance: Light straw color.

Aromas: Pear, Fuji apple with slight floral note.

Body: Tiny, delicate, dispersed bubbles. Light bodied, fruity and crisp with good balance of fruit, acidity, and minerals. 

Taste: Fuji apple and pear.

Finish: Short

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food. We enjoyed this with a Crab Frittata. This one would be enjoyable both as an aperitif, and with food.  Would pair well with Salvadoran tamales, Garlicky Shrimp pasta, and lighter cuisine.

I enjoyed this more than most other Prosecco I’ve had because it’s a balanced off-dry style.  While not complex it is enjoyable, and I would buy again.  I recommend – 85pts

Sunday Italian Gravy – Wine Pairing Smackdown!

We invited some friends over for dinner and decided to make the classic Italian-American dish Sunday Italian Gravy (Hearty Italian Meat Sauce) from Cook’s Illustrated (click “Watch the video” at this link) .  Its a dish I made earlier this year in February for Open That Bottle Night.  We enjoyed it with a bottle of  2005 Rosenblum Cellars Kick Ranch Reserve Syrah.  It was a fabulous pairing (click  here for my blog post)

Though the Syrah was fabulous with Sunday Italian Gravy, I wondered if an Italian wine might pair even better with this hearty Italian Meat-A-Palooza comprised of six different types of meats simmered slowly in a robust tomato sauce for a few hours.   Ah yes…time for a wine pairing smack-down!

The smack-down contestants were the reigning champ – the 2005 Rosenblum Kick Ranch Reserve Syrah, and two Italian challengers  – the 2004 Pio Cesare Barolo, and 2008 Gabbiano Chianti (a last minute entry courtesy of a friend who doesn’t like to come to a dinner party empty handed – my favorite kind of friend!)

It took me about 3 hours to prepare the dish (about half the time that’s typically spent making the dish), and it turned out wonderfully! We served the hearty meat sauce with spaghetti, an Italian salad, and homemade garlic bread.

Sunday Gravy

The rules for the smack-down were simple:

  1. Get the wines ready to drink (i.e. decant the wines – 7 hours in the case of the Barolo, and 3 hours for the Syrah).
  2. Sip, savor, and tell me which you like best with the dish.

We started with the exalted Italian challenger, Barolo.  Breathing therapy seemed to help sooth the surly tannins of the brooding Italian, as the Barolo wooed the judges with its seductive aromas, complexity, balance, full body, and a staying power.  The judges were duly impressed and several asked for an encore performance all the while commenting about how well it harmonized with the Sunday Italian Gravy, and its remarkable balance.   Next up was the reigning champ hailing from California, the Kick Ranch Syrah.  Unfazed by the impressive showing of the Italian Barolo, and knowing its strengths, it quickly pounced on the judges with more vivid, though overall less complex aromas, gobs of extracted, dark, rich Sonoma fruit, sultry spiciness, and matched the body of the Italian challenger. While it didn’t have the staying power of the Barolo, it too flaunted its pairing proclivity with Sunday Italian Gravy.  Lastly, and sadly least, was the Chianti.  It should have sat out this competition of heavyweights. It was clearly the 98 pound weakling of the bunch, and the judges politely, but swiftly bounced the Chianti from the competition.

The judges conferred, and in a close, but unanimous decision avowed their preference for the… (drum roll please)

- Pio Cesare Barolo!! (clickhere for my review).

Related stuff you might find interesting:

Sunday Gravy with Ween (Benito’s Wine Reviews)