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Posts Tagged ‘sangiovese’

Two Wines Reviewed by Chris Noel of Vintage Cellars

July 2nd, 2013 No comments

For me, going wine tasting to me is like heading out to find new friends. You will find plenty that you only keep around for a short time, but every now and then you find those lifelong relationships that you want to last for years. I had the fortune to attend a wine tasting a few weeks ago, and just so happened to come across a couple of those wines I want keep around for a long time.

The first was the 2002 Lail Vineyard J. Daniel Cuvée. Lail Vineyards in California’s Napa Valley, and can trace its origins back five generations to 1879. Their 2002 Lail Vineyard J. Daniel Cuvée is made from lots of Cabernet Sauvignon. Abundant sunlight this season allowed the grapes to get extremely ripe. 900 cases of this wine were produced.

The wine is elegant and stylish, with a delicate, creamy texture leading to a tasty core of mocha-laced currant, anise, wild berry and plum flavors. The tight focus keeps the flavors flowing on a long luxurious finish. If you’re not in a hurry to enjoy this lovely wine, I would recommend laying it down for another 3 to 5 years to see its full potential.

Montalcino Italy

Montalcino, home of Brunello wines

The second wine that I enjoyed was a Argiano 2001 Brunello di Montalcino from Italy. Montalcino is well-known for its Sangiovese grapes. What might not be familiar to some is the name, “Brunello di Montalicino,” which is a red wine produced from grapes grown in the vineyards that surround the town of Montalcino, in the wine region of Tuscany. Originally, it was thought that a unique type of grape grew in this area, and it was given the name “Brunello.” But in 1879, experiments showed that Brunello grapes were, in fact, Sangiovese grapes, and now, “Brunello” means that the wine was produced with 100 percent Sangiovese grapes.

When tasting the Argiano 2001 Brunello di Montalcino, I received intense aromas of fresh raspberry and sliced mushrooms and a hint of black olives. The wine is full-bodied, with chewy tannins. It’s long and structured. This wine would pair perfectly with a hearty Italian gravy over your favorite pasta on a Sunday afternoon with family and friends. I really enjoyed this selection.

If you’re looking to add some new wines to your cellar, you can’t go wrong with these two choices. Cheers!

Simple Label, Complex Wine: the Cahuin Winemaker’s 2008 Select Red

March 21st, 2011 No comments

Cahuin Winemaker's 2008 Select Red

Never judge a book by its cover, or a wine by its label.  The somewhat plain, non-memorable label on the Cahuin Winemaker’s 2008 Select Red gives credence to this old adage.  This delightful, earthy and rich red consists of a fine blend of Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Malbec.  (The Malbec provides exceptional body, with earthy flavors including blackberries and plums.)  In fact, this wine recently took home the Bronze in San Francisco’s International Wine Competition in 2010.  I personally would rate it 91 or 92 points, though it received an “official” rating of 90 points.

Blends such as this, when successful, are so because the balance of varietals is just right; they work together to bring out the best flavor inherent in each.   This well-balanced red pairs particularly well with salads that include Thousand Island dressing, Russian dressing, and meals that may include pasta with rich sauce, pastrami, corned beef, whole potato fries, and caramelized onions.  Even mushroom burgers make a nice pairing, particularly with a bit of bleu cheese is melted atop the mushroom.  And, naturally, this wine goes well with a good cut of steak, like most wines from Argentina.

If, at first, you’re not as taken with this wine as I, have no fear; this is one of those wines that takes time to open up.  After a good 10 minutes, you’ll experience this wine in all its glory. Decanting it would be an excellent plan; I like this classic decanter by Riedel and it’s currently on sale for less than $40!

While it is not a wine that will call to you from the store shelf with an intriguing label, the Cahuin Winemaker’s 2008 Select Red will certainly dress up one of your meals!

Wine Profile: Sangiovese

March 11th, 2010 No comments

Ahh, Sangiovese.  Despite its delightfully Italian name (which, incidentally, gives you a great opportunity to do your best Godfather impression), Sangiovese is a great wine that has been loved for a long time.  The first literary reference to Sangiovese was made in 1722, but it is most likely much older than that.

Sangiovese is a bit similar to Chianti, because Chianti is made from 70% Sangiovese grapes.  Here’s a handy analogy: Sangiovese is to Chianti as Cabernet Sauvignon is to Bordeaux.  (OK, that was a mouthful.  But it’s still a handy way to think about the relationships between these wines.)  Both Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon are made solely from grapes that are most often seen as a component of mixed-varietal wines.  But alone, they make great wines too.

Sangiovese grapes have thin, delicate skins and can easily rot if exposed to the damp.  As a result, they thrive in a hot, dry climate, and so are very popular in Tuscany.  But because it’s so easily influenced by climate, the sangiovese grape takes careful and knowledgeable cultivation.  The quality of Sangiovese varies from vino di tavola at the lower end to the best classico superiore.

In flavor, Sangiovese is a fruit-forward wine.  Often, flavors of blueberry, cherry, strawberry, violets, and plums are evident, and Sangiovese can often have a faint floral aroma.  Sangiovese isn’t as bold as, say, Cabernet Sauvignon–it’s generally medium-bodied, moderately tannic and moderately acidic, but can range to assertive and robust with a slightly bitter finish.  Because of its balanced, smooth character, Sangiovese pairs well with many dishes, making it great to share at a restaurant with people who are eating different entrees.  Try it with chicken, red meat, fish, pastas, and even cheeses.