Archive for the 'Unusual grapes' Category

Wine – 2003 Contado Aglianico del Molise, DOC

11152007.jpgEarthy, dense, darkly fruity, complex and and velvety are the first words I think of when tasting this wine. I opened it hours ago and the necessary air has brought the wine’s layers to life.

As I mentioned last week, ever since I first had Mastroberardino’s Radici, I’ve been on the lookout for other wines made from the Aglianico grape. I found this at Kitsilano Wine Cellars last week.

Tonight I cooked up a simple pasta with a basil and tomato sauce… and opened this. I’ve gotta say that it actually paired fairly well, though it wasn’t an ideal match – the wine showed its best after the meal with a bit of cheese. The colour is a dark ruby red. The nose shows a schwack of dark red fruit, earth and an edge of what hit me as mellow balsamic and oak. The flavours are a balanced bunch of dark cherry, rhubarb, currants and velvety tannins.

A very nice and balanced wine. Not for you slutty-wines-New World folks, but very tasty.

~$23 at Kitsilano Wine Cellars and LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2004 Fontanarosa Portogreco Basilicata IGT

11072007.jpgEver since I tasted the Mastroberardino Taurasi, I’ve had my eye out to try other wines made with the Aglianico grape. Along with Aglianico, this wine also has Sangiovese and Merlot to round out the blend.

What it adds up to is a smoothly boozy (14%) wine that isn’t too complex, but one that is tasty. The colour is an impressive deep, dark purple red. The nose has earthy dark cherry, with a distinctive floral edge. A big ‘ol sip provides a mouth-filling bunch of dusty dark cherry juice with a smooth tannic finish.

Like I said, it’s not mind-blowing, but is a pretty yummy drop nonetheless. Would I buy it again? Probably. It has dark and earthy flavours that appeal to my palate.

$24.95 at LDB stores here in BC.

3 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2005 Comm. G.B. Burlotto Verduno Pelaverga, DOC

10312007.jpgI have always been intrigued by authochthonous grapes and there is a real trend in Italy to promote these national treasures. The origins of these native vines is not always well documented and many are part of invented traditions. That said, I still want to believe that these grapes have stronger ties to place and are well adapted to the terrain. Above all else I like the idea that these are strange underdogs of the wine world; maybe in the future they will be the Cinderellas of the ball.

I have made friends with the water/wine man around the corner here in Bra and he has been pulling out some interesting bottles. Apparently the pelaverga piccolo grape is only cultivated in the areas surrounding La Morra, Verduno and Roddi in the Langhe region. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the local winemakers took a renewed interest in this native grape. In 1995 pelaverga was given DOC status.

Tonight I am drinking a 2005 Verduno Pelaverga from Comm. G.B. Burlotto. It’s a transparent ruby red that does not knock me out at first sight, but the nose is pleasant with frutti di bosco (red berries) and black pepper. With only 12.5% alcohol this wine is light and quite balanced and fresh. This not a big wine, but it is ideal for everyday sipping. Pelaverga reminds me a little of gamay in many ways and I intend to try others and do some more research on the history and local culture of this local grape.

9 in the Langhe.

3 1/2 stars


Wine – 2000 Mastroberardino Radici, Taurasi

06122007.jpgSweet mother of God, this is a good bottle of wine! Rachel introduced me to this a month or so ago. We had a bottle and I immediately wanted more.

It’s 100% Aglianico, a variety that has existed southern Italy for over 2,000 years. According to the wine’s fact sheet, “Mastroberardino’s single-vineyard Radici Taurasi made its debut in 1986. Named Radici (root), as a reference to the family’s 300-year winemaking history, this wine is the result of the Mastroberardino family’s careful study of Irpinia’s terroir over the years.

Apparently, they’ve figured it out. This is one of the best wines I’ve tried so far this year.

It was big, balanced, complex and memorable. The nose made me want to crawl into the glass… there was black cherry, dark berry, violets and earth. The follow-through in the mouth was even better. All the fruit from the nose was there along with a full-bodied, mineral-laced finish.

If you can find it and feel like a gorgeous wine treat, grab it, take it home, give it a few hours of air in a decanter and savour every sip.

Great stuff.

$55.23 in LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars


2005 Orin Swift Cellars “The Prisoner”

06042007.jpgIt’s been a little while since I had this bottle… and the thing is, I liked it enough that I can almost taste it when I think about it. The 2005 is a bit more of a wine than the 2004 I had back in December. Wine Spectator recently gave it a huge 93-point rating.

It’s firmly ensconced in the “New World” wine camp. It’s huge and luscious with a tonne of coffee/toffee-laced ripe raspberry and blackberry fruit, finishing with a spicy chocolate edge. It’s well-structured and balanced… it really is great stuff.

If I likened the 2004 to “a hearty fire, a warm blanket paired with a warm and sexy companion“, this wine would be the outcome of snuggling under that blanket. Sexy stuff.

The blend is 48% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah and 2% Charbono and it all adds up to a lot of flavour. It’s positively Zinfandel-istic. Yum.

$49.99 in LDB stores here in BC.

4 1/2 stars

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2003 Hochar Père et Fils Rosé, Bekka Valley

06032007.jpgWith temperatures hovering around 25 degrees Celsius here in Vancouver, it’s suddenly time to start sipping the rosés and whites. Anyone who has read through my past write-ups knows I’m a huge fan of rosés when the weather turns warm. I just like ’em a lot as my warm weather apéritif wines of choice.

This is the second time I’ve had this wine, which is a 100% Cinsault grown in Lebanon’s Bekka Valley. It has one thing going for it from the start – it’s made by the same folks who make one of my favourite wines, Château Musar.

Like all the wines these folks make, this is a bit different than most rosés. It’s got a bit more colour (a medium bright cherry red) and has unique aromas and flavours going on. The nose shows a refined bunch of bright cherry with a bit of a floral edge (violets?). A big slurp shows a load of cherry and strawberry fruit, finishing up bone dry, with a medium finish.

It grew on me. When I first tried some, I wasn’t sure what to think… but the more I sipped, I really started to like it. Having said that, there are a lot of rosés out there for a bit less money that I enjoy every bit as much.

If you haven’t jumped on the rosé wagon yet, give them a go. There’s a lot of good ones from France out there, with some decent ones also coming from Italy and even California.

Just stay the hell away from the “White Zinfandels” and “Blush” wines. A good rosé is a beautiful dry wine that pairs SO well with food… or some good company and a patio. Give them a try. 🙂

$29 in private wine shops around town.

3 1/2 stars

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Wine – 2004 Montevina Zinfandel, Terra d’Oro Field Blend, Amador County

05302007.jpgOK… so anyone who reads this blog at all knows I’m a huge fan of a well-made Zinfandel. I’ll travel far and wide to get my hands on a good bottle of Zin. So, I’ll get right to the point here… this isn’t one of them. It’s thin, slightly bitter and although it shows some decent fruit, it lacks that roundness and balance that a good Zinfandel possesses.

I’ve had some great field blends wines that have a certain percentage of each grape that are grown, harvested and fermented together from the same vineyard. This one has 80% Zin, 13% Petite Sirah and 7% Barbera and 14.5% booze.

There’s some ripe red berry fruit and a minerality on the nose that is nice, but having had this wine once, it’s not one I’d buy again. There’s much better stuff out there.

Not so much.

$29.99 in LDB stores here in BC.

2.5 stars

No comments

2005 Bucklin Mixed Blacks Red Wine

02132007.gifThis was another of the wines I picked up at K & L Wines while I was in SF for ZAP. The friendly and knowledgeable wine guy, Mike, described it as deep and dark – a wine not made for the faint-of-heart. It comes from a field blend of primarily Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Alicante Bouschet, and Grenache from vines planted in 1999.

In case you’re wondering, a “field blend” is when all the grapes are grown together in a mixed patch of the vineyard. Instead of harvesting and fermenting the varieties separately, they’re all picked and crushed together. The wine is just made as a field blend from the start.

I opened the wine with my dolce metà last night (I’m trying to convert her to a Zin lover – “liker”, at the very least) and, although I’d disagree with Mike on the description of the wine, I really liked it. The colour was medium-dark red and the nose had a whack of ripe, juicy berry fruit. This came through in the flavours, along with an edge of vanilla spice… and a nice medium-length finish. It wasn’t too complex, but it was tasty and went well with the Calabrese pizza we had from Incendio.

It sells for $22 (USD) at K&L Wines, but isn’t available up here… I’m guessing it would be roughly $40-45 CDN if it were.

4 stars

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