Archive for ◊ March, 2009 ◊

25 Mar 2009 Pre-Rhone Rangers dinner — amazing!
 |  Category: Wine Review, Wine event  | Leave a Comment

My wife and I had several friends over for dinner before the Rhone Rangers events of last weekend.  The reason why I mention this here is that the food was fantastic and the paired wine was quite a treat!  We had been saving some very good wines we picked up in Tuscany during our honeymoon in 2003.  It seemed like a great time to share the wines. :)

Menu for the dinner
Appetizer
Crab Salad on Endives

Roederer Estate NV Brut, Anderson Valley

First Course
Spicy Squash Soup
Focaccia

Robert Sinskey 2006 Pinot Blanc, Los Carneros (1.5l)

Main Course
Osso Bucco with Gremolada
Wilted Collard Greens with Polenta and Onions in Port Sauce

Caprili, 1997 Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG Riserva (for 1998 not 1997 vintage)
Fattoria Del Cerro, 1999 Vigneto Antica Chiusina, Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano DOCG
Casanova de Neri, 1998 Tenuta Nuova, Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG
Whitcraft Winery, 2002 French Camp Vineyard, Lagrein, San Luis Obispo County
Amphora, 2006 Windsor Oaks Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

Dessert
Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mousse with Blackberries steeped in port with Almond Wafers

Robert Sinskey, 2003 Zinskey Late Harvest Zinfandel, Napa

The food and wine pairings were quite lovely!  I can highly recommend all the recipes used for this dinner.  The cab salad on endive had a great combination of lively lemon tang to go with the crab and the slight bitterness of the endive.  The champagne picks up the best parts of the appetizer. 

The Spicy Squash soup would be great on any cold evening but especially in the fall.  The cumin in the soup can be a bit strong but would make the soup a great combination with any beef dish to follow the soup.  The focassia had asseggio cheese baked into it which was a very nice touch.  Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc is some of the best made in the US; it is done with a light touch, well balanced, nice floral elements but good acidity — made in an Alsacian style. 

I was not what I was looking forward to more the Osso Bucco or the Italian wines…a good problem to have, in my opinion. :)   The Osso Bucco was slow cooked for 3.5 hours and made the house smell amazing.  The combination of the wilted collard greens and the fried polenta combined with a port reduction glazed onions was a fantastic counter-balance to richness of the gremolada covered Osso Bucco.  The food was tremendous — strongly recommend it to you!  The Sangioveses from Tuscany were all good but the Casanova di Neri and Fattoria Del Cerro was stunning!  It was a toss-up at the table as to which wine was the better.  Personally, I preferred the Fattoria Del Cerro just due to the fruit profile was a bit riper/slightly bigger.  Each of those wines will easily be very good upto 2025!  The wines have a tremendous level of complexity in the nose and on the palate.  I wish I had taken detailed tasting notes before dinner started.  The wines were quite good when we purchased them in 2003 but they have definitely improved with the 5 years of additional cellar aging.   I strongly recommend that you decant the brunellos at least 6 to 10 hours before serving; it could take up to 24 hours for the wines to really open up to their full potential. 

One of our guests brought over the Amphora Pinot Noir and the Whitcraft Winery Lagrein wines.  The wines were a nice change of pace from the Italian wines — a good lead in to dessert.  The Lagrein was very good — a huge wine not for the faint of heart or people concerned with having stained teeth!  The Lagrein was big, black, inky and delicous (blue and black fruit with high fine-grained tannins — 14.9% abv but not noticable).  The sad thing was that 2002 was the last year the Lagrein was made by Whitcraft; the varietal is very hard to find outside of northern Italy.

The dessert was very good and a great compliment to the main course.  The blackberries were soaked in the late harvest Zinfandel port during the day before the dinner.  Before dessert was served, Jen put all the fruit marinade left over back into the bottle to be served with dessert.  The combination of black berry juice with the late harvest zinfandel is highly recommended!

25 Mar 2009 2009 Rhone Ranger Grand Tasting – Fort Mason, SF
 |  Category: Wine event  | One Comment

I would like to thank everyone that stopped by the table to try to the wines!  We really appreciate your interest and support.

Lionheart Wines was pouring our wines at the 2009 Rhone Ranger Grand Tasting held on March 22nd at Fort Mason in San Francisco.  The turnout for the event seemed to be consistent with the last several years; I would guess 2500 people in attendance.  The tasting has two parts — media/trade tasting from noon to 2 PM and then the general public from 2 PM to 5 PM. 

Overall, I think the event was a fairly positive for Lionheart Wines.  I poured for a quite a few journalists, wine buyers and just interested people.  It will be interesting to see what type of publicity, web traffic and sales come from the event.  It is always a tough call in whether or not a winery should  attend large mass tasting as it is very difficult to track the net result from the event.   The issue of brand development is very important to a new brand like Lionheart Wines but developing a brand without supporting sales does not make sense.  So, I am going to do my best to keep track of the results from the event — write up something closer to harvest on what has been effective and what has not.

A downside to pouring at the event is that I do not get to go around and try new wines.  I really do enjoy wine tasting especially finding new wines and getting to know other winemakers.   I did get to try, the 2002 Tables Creek, Roussanne, Paso Robles, which was just lovely (thank you, Christopher)!  It shows what Roussanne can do with some age before it starts to shutdown.

I would love to hear about wines you tried at the event — please leave a comment with the wineries / wines that you enjoyed!

09 Mar 2009 Tre Bicchieri Italian Wine tasting – March 4th, Fort Mason

The Tre Bicchieri wine tasting event showcases wines from all over Italy.  The range of wines was tremendous — all the way from lowly Sicilian mass produced wines to the astonding Sassicaia wines.  Sassicaia is clearly one of the best wines in the world!  It was pure pleasure to be able to try it at last! 

The event was fairly lightly attended probably around 1000 to 1500 people in attendance.  It was easy to get around and taste the various wines which was a nice change from most of the mass tasting events held at Fort Mason.  The wineries did not bring many bottles so most of the wineries were out of wine and left the building by 5:45 PM. 

I was speed tasting mode so the level of information on the tasted wines is less than I normally would do.  I have also given each wine a snap judgement rates using 1 to 5 stars where 5 is perfection.  The rating can also be a range. 

Umani Ronchi
2004 Rubiesco Vigna Moticchio Riserva — 2.75 stars – $16
Nose: Medium+ intensity nose of cotton candy, mocha, black cherry; Palate: medium+ soft tannins, mocha, black cherry, slight espresso on finish.  The finish was a bit disjointed — the flavors did not transition well from one to the other.

Fontanafredda
2004 Barolo V. La Rosa — 3 to 3.25 stars – $49
Appearance: medium ruby with brickish hue core
Nose: Medium intensity of floral (violets), light tar
Palate: Medium- tannins, light body, medium+ length, flavors of black tea, floral, red cherry; with a enjoyable and smooth finish.

Il Molino di Grace
2005 Chianti Classico Il Margone Riserva — 2.25 stars
Nose: Pronounced intensity with flavors of cooked cabbage, plum, red cherry
Palate: medium soft tannins, high acidity, flavors of coffee, black cherry, tannins a bit drying on the finish. 
The aroma of cooked cabbage was very distracting from the rest of the wine.

Vigna Rionda – Massolino
2004 Barolo Parafada — 3.25 stars – $67
Appearance: medium ruby with slight brick core
Nose: medium intensity aromas of violet, date
Palate: high acidity, medium velvety tannins, long length, flavors of floral, date, fig and strangely ruby grapefruit on the finish.
The wine is clearly meant to be drank with a hearty Piedmontese or Tuscany style meal.  The ruby grapefruit finish was strange at first but helped the wine have a palate cleaning finish that was quite nice.

Bucci
2006 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Villa Bucci Riserva – 2.75 stars – $37
(this is a blend of 75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Appearance: Deep, ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of red and black fruit, anise, sour cherry
Palate: soft, medium+ tannins, mouth-coating, medium+ acidity, flavors of black cherry, stemmy, fresh herbs

Donnafugata
2005 Contessa Entellina Milleunanotte – 2.5 to 2.75 stars – $56
Appearance: opaque ruddy ruby core
Nose: Medium+ intensity aromas of rubber and overripe black fruit
Palate: Medium tannins, medium length with flavors of candied walnuts, date and mincemeat

Nino Negri
2005 Valtellina Sfursat – 3 stars – $43
(this was produced in the recutio (dried grape) style)
Appearance: medium ruby/brickish core
Nose: Medium intensity with aromas of raisins, dates and pretty floral (very nice)
Palate: medium tannins, medium+ length, flavors of date, raisins, floral with a very pleasant finish.

Santi
2005 Amarone della Valpolicella Proemio – 3.25 stars – $44
Appearance: deep ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of Christmas cake, warm spices
Palate: medium+ fine-grained tannins, flavors of Christmas cake, Marischino cherry, medium+ length but the tannins where a distraction on the finish of the wine otherwise I would have scored it higher.  The wine should improve with some more bottle aging.

Masciarelli
2005 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Marina Cvetic – 2.75 stars – $23
Appearance: opaque ruby core
Nose: medium- intensity with aromas of violets, anise, cherry
Palate: medium tannins, medium length, flavors of cherry, plum and coffee on the finish.

2004 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Villa Gemma – 3 to 3.25 stars – $58
Appearance: opaque ruby
Nose: medium intensity with aromas of licorise/anise, black cherry, eucalyptus
Palate: medium+ tannins, long finish, nice mouth coating texture, flavors of red cherry, black cherry, and fresh floral.

Fattoria Le Corti
2005 Chianti Classico Cortevecchia Riserva – 3 stars – $19
Appearance: deep ruby core starting to show signs of brick
Nose: medium intensity with aromas of violet, eucalyptus, black cherry
Palate: high acidity, medium drying tannins, medium+ length with flavors matching the nose, the finish is a bit hot.

Fattoria Le Pupille
2005 Saffredi (Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Alicante) — 3 to 3.25 stars – $65
Appearance: opaque ruby with some brick starting to develop
Nose: Medium+ intensity with aromas of sour cherry, plum, milk chocolate
Palate: medium+ acidity, medium+ tannins, medium+ length with flavors of dill, oregano, black currant, black cherry

Agricoltori del Chianti Geografico
2005 Chianti Classico Montegiachi Riserva – 3.25 to 3.5 stars – $21
Appearance: bright, deep+ ruby core
Nose: medium intensity with aromas of floral (violet), sour cherry, black cherry
Palate: medium+ to high acidity; medium, fine-grained tannins, medium+ length, medium alcohol, flavors of floral (violets), red & black cherry, plum; the finish was very clean and pleasant.

Tenuta di Capezzana
2005 Carmignano Villa di Capezzana – 3.5 stars – $13
(80% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Appearance: deep+ ruby/slight purple core
Nose: prounounced intensity aromas of tar, slight rubber (blew off a bit some some air), sour cherry
Palate: medium+ acidity, flavors of sour cherry, hint of anise and eucalyptus; with a mouth-coating viscosity.

Perticaia
2005 Montefalco Sagrantino — 2.75 stars – $20
Appearance: deep ruby with some brick in the core
Nose: medium intensity of menthol and artifical cherry
Palate: high powdery tannins, high acidity with flavors of cherry, eucalpytus

Damilano
2004 Barolo Cannubi – 2.75 stars
Appearance: Brick red core
Nose: medium intensity with aromas of cherry, earth
Palate: medium + soft tannins, flavors of cherry, forest floor

Feudo Principi di Butera
2005 Deliella (made with Nero d. Avila varietal) – 3.75 stars – $47
Appearance: opaque- ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity aromas of licorice, black tea, red & black cherry
Palate: medium+ acidity, medium tannins, flavors of jasmine, black tea, cherry (red and black), earthy, beets and warm spice.

Castello di Ama
2005 Chianti Classico Castello di Ama – 2.25 stars – $28
Appearance: deep ruby/slight brick at core
Nose: medium intensity aromas of toasted marshmellows, red cherry
Palate: medium slightly green tannins with flavors of cough syrup (articial cherry), cherry, silty earth

Cantina Convento Muri-Gries
2007 A. A. Lagrein Abtei Riserrva – 3.75 stars – $12
Appearance: opaque ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of raisin, dates, floral, blueberry, roses and plum
Palate: medium+ acidity, medium_ tannins, long length, medium+ concentration; flavors of plum, date, floral and slight bitterness on the finish.

Frecciarossa
2005 OP Pinot Nero Giorgio Odero (Pinot Noir varietal) – 2.25 stars – $30
Appearance: deep- ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity aromas of red cherry, eucalyptus and warm spice
Palate: med tannins, flavors = aromas, medium length.
The wine does not come across as a Pinot Noir but more like a Sangiovese

Hilberg – Pasquero
2006 Nebbiolo d’Alba – 3.75 to 4 stars – $38
Appearance: opaque-/deep ruby
Nose: medium+ intensity aromas of roses, tar, black cherry, violets
Palate: medium+ slightly green tannins (clearly from Italy), medium+ concentration, flavors = aromas and a long finish.
This wine is a very good example of what Nebbiolo should taste like!

Cusumano
2006 Sagana (Nero d’ Avila varietal) – 2.25 stars – $22
Appearance: opaque ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of overripe plum, raisin, rum balls, rubber, dates
Palate: medium acidity, flavors of overripe fruit, medium+ length with a finish of slight cooked cabbage.

Palari
2006 Faro Palari – 3 stars – $44
Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of cherry, slight lactic note and warm spices
Palate: medium+ powdery tannins, medium+ concentration, flavors of earth (silt), warm spices and cherry.

Poggio Bonelli
2006 Poggiassai – 2.75 stars
Appearance: opaque ruby core
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of slight raspberry, rhubbarb, cooked strawberry
Palate: medium+ velvety tannins, medium+ acidity, flavors of bleu cheese, lactic, black cherry, rhubbarb

Tenuta San Guido
2005 Barrua - 4 stars – $42
Appearance: opaque ruby/purple core
Nose: medium+ intensity aromas of black tea, jasmin, plum
Palate: high soft, fine-grained tannins, long length, flavors of black tea, plum cherry (red & black) with a slightly green finish

2005 Bolgheri Sassicaia — 4.25 to 4.5 stars – $140
Appearance: deep ruby/ slight brick core transitioning to ruby rim
Nose: medium intensity with aromas of cherry (red & black), black tea, currant (red & black)
Palate: medium+ velvety tannins, high acidity, long length,  flavors of black tea, black cherry, red currant, rose.
The wine is very complex layered, perfectly balanced which transitions from the fresh fruit elements to the more dried elements with time.

Tenuta Fontodi
2005 Flaccianello della Pieve – 2.5 stars – $50
Nose: medium- intensity with aromas of floral(slight), dried sour cherry
Palate: medium+ acidity, medium+ drying tannins (slightly green), flavors of red fruit

Vietti
2004 Barolo Lazzarito – 3.5 stars
Appearance: medium+ ruby core
Nose: prounounced intensity aromas of violet, cherry, eucalyptus
Palate: medium+ acidity, medium+ tannins, flavors of sour cherry, violets, red grapefruit on the finish

Monfalletto – Cordero di Montezemolo
2004 Barolo Enrico VI – 2.75 stars – $56
Appearance: medium- ruby with slight brown core
Nose: aromas of red currant, red cherry
Palate: dry; light tannins, aromas of dried cherry, cranberry — on the thin side

Cav. G. B. Bertani
2001 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico – 3.5 stars
Appearance: medium ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity aromas of date, dried cherry
Palate: medium+ to high acidity, long finish, aromas of date, cream sherry, walnuts

Feudi di San Gregorio
2007 Greco di Tufo Cutizzi – 3.25 stars – $24
Apperance: bright, light copper
Nose: medium+ intensity aromas of mineral, almond, white floral
Palate: medium+ acidity, medium length, flavors = aromas

Giancario travaglini
2004 Gattinara Tre Vigne – 3 stars – $21
Appearance: medium- ruby slight brick
Nose: medium- intensity aromas of sour cherry, cinnamon, licorice
Palate: medium- tannins, flavors of sour cherry, warm spice

Poliziano
2005 Nobile di Montepulciano Asinone – 2.5 stars – $38
Appearance: deep+ ruby core
Nose: medium+ intensity with aromas of earth, sour cherries
Palate: high, fine-grained tannins; medium+ alcohol, medium finish, flavors of sour cherry, earth and euculptus on the finish.

02 Mar 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Grand wine tasting – 2/28/9

The San Francisco Chronicle Grand Wine tasting was held at the Herbst Pavillion in Fort Mason on the 28th from 2 to 5 PM.  The Pavillion was packed with a large number of wineries and attendees.  The event sold out of the 5500 tickets well in advance.  The crowd was big but I do not think all 5500 people were there at one time — maybe a peak of 4500 or so.  I was sharing a table with Eric Kent Wine Cellars.  Kent was pouring his 2007 Chardonnay, Russian River Valley; 2007 Kalen’s Big Boy Blend (syrah) and 2007 Bennett Valley Syrah.  All of Kent’s wine were fantastic as usual.  It should be noted that the Kalen’s Big Boy Blend won a gold medal at the SF Chronicle and a score of 94 from the Wine Spectator.  So, you can imagine that the wine easily lived up to its name. :)  

I was pouring the 2007 The Angel’s Share, white Rhone Blend, Russian River Valley; 2007 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley.  The Angel’s Share was showing particularly well on Saturday while the Pinot Noir was a bit tight but opened up with some decanting.  I had just brought along one bottle of the Cabernet Sauvignon just to let interested people try it.  As it turns out, the Cabernet Sauvignon was very well received.  I was very happy that all of the wines were showing quite well especially The Angel’s Share.  We were fairly busy pouring samples the entire time.  So, I was not able to really go do any tasting of the other wines at the event.  It is a bit of bummer to not be able to go taste other wines as that is a key part of the wine industry — competative analysis, finding new blends and training your palate. 

Several bottles of my 2007 Pinot Noir were donated for the media tasting area.  I am curious to see if any press / wine reviews come out of the event.  It would be nice to get some media coverage out of the event.

The event was a very good event and a great way to try some outstanding wines from all over the country.  The competition had entries for 26 states and over 4700 total wines spread over 50 category.  I would suggest that you look to attend this event next year.  You will not be disappointed.