July 22, 2013 |
The biggest champion of Barbera was the late, great Giacomo Bologna of Braida in Barbera d'Asti territory. His "Bricco dell'Uccellone" was as big a leap as Gaja's Cabernet "Darmagi" at the time. Braida, a Barbera specialist, also produces "Montebruna," a young, easygoing Barbera with bright, pure fruit, round and soft on the palate, and just enough tannins to give it some grip. the 2011 Montebruna is almost violet in color. It comes from a vineyard in Rochetta Tanaro and is lighthearted enough for pasta dishes.
June 22, 2013 |
The stunning Côtes du Rhône "Petit Ours Brun" (little brown bear) tastes like a youthful Cornas. The grapes come from a parcel that winemaker Matthieu Barret calls "no man's land"; it lies just between the official boundaries of Cornas and St. Joseph. The wine is 100% Syrah from 40-year-old, low-yielding vines. Oh, and it's also certified biodynamic. The taste is cool fruit, earth, bruised blackberries and that indefinable wild quality that makes Syrah from this part of the Rhone pure magic.
June 15, 2013
Here's a fine summer white from Miljenko "Mike" Grgich, who turned 90 in April and by all accounts is still going strong. The emigré winemaker famously made the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, which beat out the French in the notorious 1976 Paris tasting. He went on to found his own winery a year later, where he has continued to make wines in the same style: structured and elegant. They're never big bombs but more restrained and subtle. Grgich is, of course, best known for his Chardonnays, but I opened a bottle of 2011 Fumé Blanc (Napa-speak for dry Sauvignon Blanc)
June 8, 2013 |
It may be time to get back on the Zinfandel wagon. I just tasted the 2010 Limerick Lane Zinfandel from Sonoma County and loved its subtle approach. Instead of the big bruiser Zins that have dominated the market for so long, this one is cool and focused, with very pretty fruit and the tanginess of pomegranates. That mouthwatering quality makes this Zin ideal drinking with charcuterie, salumi , grilled sausages and pork stews - anything rich and fatty. I like it with adobo and oxtail braised in red wine (Zin, of course)
June 1, 2013 |
The coals are hot. The big steak sizzles as you put it on the grill. What are you going to drink with that? A big brawny red from Spain, Alto Moncayo's Campo de Borja Garnacha. The color is a gorgeous deep ruby, the aromas raspberries and sweet, sweet fruit. It's a mouthful all right, intense and ripe, but also bright and juicy. And it just cuddles up to that steak. A perfect match. OK, you could also drink it with thick pork chops. And Grenache always loves lamb, so consider a butterflied leg of lamb too. And give the wine time to breathe: You might want to open the bottle an hour or so before you plan to drink it. But wait for the meat, please, and pour something lighter and less demanding as an apéritif, maybe an Albariño.
May 18, 2013 |
The term "Rosso Toscano" usually indicates an inexpensive wine made for everyday drinking. But in this case, the wine is essentially a Super Tuscan, made from a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Not a drop of Sangiovese, but it's unmistakably Tuscan - intense and concentrated, with a seductive tonal palate and enough body and tannic grip to age and evolve. And hard to resist now. This is a great red for barbecue season, with the stuff to stand up to smoke and char.