Archive | April, 2011

From JvB’s Cellar (Bin #7): A Delight from Northern Italy

3 Apr

I was gifted a phenomenal Italian gem today, Triacca Valtellina Superiore 2007 Sassella, a northern subgroup of the Nebbiolo family. A blushed wine almost murky rose’ in color with light fruit, leafy greens and rose bush in the nose, my initial tasting was very fruit-forward- ripe cherry, dried cranberry, rose leaf, and tar/tobacco with a hint of gravel. This medium-bodied wine from Northern Italy opened up when aired and warmed and reminded me greatly of the local carafes I sampled in Merano (North-Eastern) Italy two summers ago- fruity, medium palate of semi-sweet, acidic finish with a high alcohol content.

Ideal for medium-weight food up to entree: pre-dinner, soup, salad, pasta and main course. I’d pair with white meats (veal marsala or piccatta, chicken parm) or rich pastas (alfredo, alla vodka, cream sauce) this pleasant bottle starts well and improves immediately with air. I drank it cold on its own and later paired with heavy cheese and multigrain crackers to my delight. Blows away many Pinot Noirs with structure: even balance between fruity/rosy flavor, tannin, and acid. As it was a gift, no clue as to the price but it drinks like a $50 Piedmont area Nebbiolo. If you are a fan of the 90+ point Barolos, this would be a great vin du table to have on hand for light food & flavors, especially during the hot summer months.


From JvB’s Cellar (Bin #6): A Trio of Pinot Noir

2 Apr

A Trio of Pinot Noir:

Chile, France, and California: great values in fruit-forward noir!

Alto Tierruca Pinot Noir Reserve ’09;  $9

It is good to note that Malbec and the rare French Cabernet Franc import aren’t the only great tasting grapes in Chile. This pinot noir from the Lontue Valley offers what Chilean wines are famous for: great value. With a ripe ruby hue, it features a red fruit (plum, raspberry-cherry) forward palate with a touch of earth, mineral and oak and a hint of sunflower forward in the wildflower nose. Simple but balanced, and quite enjoyable with a clean finish, it’s easy to pick up and hard to put down. More importantly, it paired easily with a vegan portobello mushroom, then a chinese stir-fry medly and would easily be a crowd-pleaser with white meats or seafood.






HobNob Pinot Noir ’08; $8

HobNob is a strangely French wine that is marketed like it’s a northern Cali. Good pinot is hard to do well and this is a perfect example: with color of a red plum and a nose featuring red carnation, this is a very black cherry-forward burst that finishes quickly with a touch of cola. It’s a bit sweet for dinner but might be ideal for an afternoon of friends before lunch, or a way to cool off after the hike or tennis game. Pairing would want anything with a touch of salt: cracker & cheese, baked brie, smoked salmon, etc.  After opening, I tried this with a plate of baguette baked with chevre, gouda, and blue cheeses served along with some chilled red grapes, and thought is was an ideal complement.




Mark West Pinot Noir ’08 $10

The last in my recent Pinot Noir group is a coastal Californian.

Ripe red currants and strawberry with a healthy hand of tannin for a pinot,  the nose featured red fruit again with hints of vanilla, granite, and oak. Forward in the palate, it has a tart and nearly dry finish with a flash of cola. Like most pinot, it has a higher (13.8%) alcohol content. This wine is well balanced, not too sweet, yet a chewy, fun red that would wow the appetizer and cocktail party crowds!


From JvB’s Cellar (Bin #5): The French country answer to Mendoza’s malbecs

1 Apr

Clos La Coutale ’08 was sold to me as a French country malbec, so I had to try it. While the label says it’s 70/30 Malbec/Merlot blend, the French Office of Professional Wines says it’s actually 70% malbec, 20% merlot and 10% tannat. Either way, it’s a nice country red.

The shade is a ruby-purple color, the nose has a little ripe cherry, some vegetation, and a slight pepper spice which are confirmed and explode upon the palate. Firm tannin and tight with acid, this is a big mouthful which is really the opposite of an Argentinian Malbec in flavor: less fruit, more earth, spice, mineral a little tobacco and a very dry finish. Nice!

While it doesn’t taste like a Mendoza malbec, what it has in common is being an ideal wine to pair with strong flavors like grilled meat. Very drinkable without aging, this is a good dinner wine for those not into the pinot noir/fruit forward wines and like a dry, tight finish. Google puts this up at $14/bottle, I paid $17 in Manhattan and think it’s a fair price and once tasted, it opens up beautifully with red meat! A lovely choice for the high end backyard barbecue or steak night. This vin du table would normally be sold only by the carafe in Cahors (SW France) but you can enjoy it here, now.

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