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Montepeloso A Quo (2008) Tuscany

Date: Tue, Mar 9, 2010 Wine Tasting

A delicious Toscano IGT from Montepeloso, a 15 acre boutique winery owned by former professor of history, Fabio Chiarelotto. The Swiss-born Chiarelotto purchased the award-winning estate in 1998, and within a year, completely overhauled the vineyard in order to further improve their offerings. The grapes not selected for Montepeloso's critically acclaimed luxe wines; Eneo, Nardo, and Gabbro are used to make the affordable A Quo wine. The 2008 vintage is made from 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Montepulciano, 20% Sangiovese, 10% Marselan, and 10% Alicante Bouschet. Plush nose of brambled fruit (a little-used favorite word of mine; as in "My stomach felt brambled after eating Taco Bell's new shrimp taco.") Very smooth. Long finish. Aged for 3 months in aged oak barrels.

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Cantina Tollo Pecorino Terre di Chieti (2008) Abruzzo

Date: Sun, Feb 28, 2010 Wine Tasting

A unique Italian white wine from Cantina Tollo, a cooperative that was established in the 1960's by 18 farmers in the Abruzzian village of Tollo. Today, the cooperative has grown to over 1,200 members that produces about 9 million bottles of wine and 15,000 tons of table grapes a year. Cantina Tollo's Pecorino Terre di Chieti is 100% Pecorino, a grape native to the area that was recently brought back from the brink of extinction. The origin of the name is that the grape variety was once a favorite snack of the sheep that were often driven through vineyard lands on their way to lower pastures. In Italian “Pecora” means sheep. Fantastic nose of peaches and flowers. Light straw yellow in color with a tinge of green. Vibrant acidity. Aged in 100% stainless steel so the essence of the grape is unadulterated. The best (and only) Pecorino I've ever drunk!

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Pio Cesare Dolcetto d' Alba (2007) Piemonte

Date: Sun, Feb 28, 2010 Wine Tasting

An outstanding Dolcetto from the world-class Pio Cesare winery. The winery, founded in 1881 by Cesare Pio, owns more than 130 acres of vineyards, located in the most highly rated and better exposed areas. In addition to is own vineyards, Pio Cesare has fostered long-term relationships with growers for several generations and manages all aspects of viticulture in these vineyards. These growers have been selling grapes to the family for generations. Their Dolcetto grapes are grown in selected vineyards around the village of Treiso, Monforte d’Alba, Serralunga and Madonna Como. The wine is a beautiful ruby-red with purple hues. Aged for 5 months in stainless, the wine has a terrific nose of berries and pepper. Nice, smooth finish. A solid everyday wine.

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Vivalda Barbera D' Asti "L Clumbe" (2006) Piemonte

Date: Tue, Feb 16, 2010 Wine Tasting

A beautiful Barbera D' Asti from Vivalda, a Piemontese winery owned by husband and wife Massimiliano and Simona Vivalda. Located in Monferrato in the heart of the Barbera D’Asti region, the duo offers four styles of Barbera D’Asti that range from lightly frizzante to a Riserva that is barrique aged for 12 months. They also produce a Dolcetto and a Moscato D' Asti. The 2006 "L Clumbe"; Italian for "The Clumbe", is deep ruby-red/purplish in color with a nose of cherry and spice. Left long on the vine, the wine has a rich, full mouthfeel. No oak; the wine is aged for six months in steel and another six in the bottle. Long, smooth finish.

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Falesco Merlot (2006) Umbria

Date: Tue, Feb 9, 2010 Wine Tasting

A not-so-great offering from Falesco, a winery founded in 1979 by brothers Riccardo and Renzo Cotarella. Together, the brothers produce nearly 3 million bottles a year on over 900 acres located in both Lazio and Umbria. I'll admit that Merlot is not my favorite grape, so I didn't give it much of a chance. The wine reminds me of a scene from the '70's British sitcom "Are you Being Served?" when Captain Peacock finally gets to have lunch in the executive dining room and shares a bottle of wine with Mr. Rumbold. Captain Peacock: (Reading the label) "Peruvian Beaujolais." Mr. Rumbold: "Amusing little wine, isn't it?" Captain Peacock: "Hilarious." But I digress. Made from 100% Merlot that is grown in various estate vineyards in Umbria and harvested in early September. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in Nevers barriques for 5 months. Nice ruby color and full nose of blackberry's and stink. Too tannic, however, for my tastes.

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Jasci Montepulciano d' Abruzzo (2007) Abruzzo

Date: Sun, Feb 7, 2010 Wine Tasting

A much better than most Montepulcino d' Abruzzo from Jasci, a 90 acre winery founded in 1970 by Donatella Jasci. In 1975, Donatella began experimenting with organic and biodynamic farming when his mother became allergic to pesticides. Since 1980, Jasci wines have been certified organic by the Soil and Health Association, which guarantees the organic production of their grapes, as well as their winemaking processes. Jasci is also one of only a few wineries to hold organic certification in every country in the world that offers such certification. Dark ruby-red in color. Nose of ripe, jammy-red fruits. Aged in a mix of third-time-around oak tonneaux, cement vats, and stainless steel. Very smooth tannins. Rich tasting.

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Chiusa Grande Tommolo Montepulciano d' Abruzzo (2008) Abruzzo

Date: Mon, Feb 1, 2010 Wine Tasting

A drinkable, affordable, organic Italian red from Chiusa Grande, a 50 hectare estate comprised of three farms perched high in the hills of Abruzzo. Deep red color. Spicy, fruity nose. A little Sunoco on the finish, but considering the price; they are forgiven. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. 100% Montepulciano; organically grown. As is typical of the varietal, very food friendly (particularly anything tomato-based). Around $5 at Trader Joe's.

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Tenuta Rapitala Piano Maltese (2006) Sicilia

Date: Sat, Jan 30, 2010 Wine Tasting

A unique Sicilian white from Tenuta Rapitala, a seventy acre winery located in Camporeale, a commune about 20 miles southwest of Palermo; 'nuff said. Made from 50% Grillo, 50% Catarratto (grapes I never heard of previously) which are picked and vinified separately as they ripen at different times; the Grillo in mid August, and the Catarratto (which are grown at higher altitudes) towards the end of September. The name of the winery comes from the Arabic Rabidh-Allah “river of Allah” for the stream which flows through the vineyards; 'nuff said. Bright yellow color. Summer fruit nose. Seafood friendly acidity. A wine worth seeking out. Inexpensive.

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Villa Calcinaia 'Comitale' (2008) Tuscany

Date: Tue, Jan 19, 2010 Wine Tasting

A nice Italian white from Villa Calcinaia, a 75 acre winery that has been around since the 1524. Villa Calcinaia produces the full range of Tuscan varietals including Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, a renowned I.G.T Super Tuscan called Casarsa, Comitale, and a Vin Santo. In addition to wines, they also produce produce olive oil and vinegar. Their Comitale is an I.G.T. Bianco made from 90% Grechetto and 10% Vernaccia. Pale straw-yellow in color with some hints of green. Light, floral/fruit nose. Fermented and aged (for five months) in stainless steel. Crisp acidity.

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Suavia Soave Superiore Classico (2008) Veneto

Date: Tue, Jan 12, 2010 Wine Tasting

A delicious Italian white wine from Suavia, a top tier Soave producer from Veneto that was established in 1982 when owner Giovanni Tessari and his wife Rosetta decided to stop selling grapes to the local cooperative in order to produce their own wine. Today, the winery is operated by their daughters Arianna, Meri, Valentina, and Alessandra. Together, the sisters produce about 100,000 bottles annually on the 12 hectare estate. By the 1970's, Soave was widely dissed by the American market (and for good reason) so a producers' association, the Consorzio del Soave, established a series of rules to improve the quality of the wine. They also established rules for the "Classico" designation for wines that are grown in better areas with more carefully chosen grapes. A "Superiore" designation was also created for the best, most carefully made wines. The 2008 Suavia Soave Superiore Classico (say that ten times fast!) is 100% Garganega, that has a beautiful straw-yellow color and a floral nose of citrus. Crisp acidity. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Definitely not your 1970's Soave!

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Vietti Dolcetto d' Alba Tres Vigne (2006) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Jan 4, 2010 Wine Tasting

A everyday delight from Vietti, a family owned Piedmontese winery that produces nearly 20 different wines from estate-owned vineyards (about 80 acres) and contract growers. The family’s involvement in the winery dates back to 1919. Vietti was one of the first wineries to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards, one of the first to export wine to the United States and is credited with rediscovering and promoting the Arneis, the now famous white wine from the Roero area, north of Barolo. The 2006 Dolcetto d' Alba Tre Vigne is 100% Dolcetto that is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. The wine is a very deep purple/red color with a strong nose of black cherry and raspberry. Perfect balance of acidity and tannins. Wonderfully smooth. Since 1974, certain Vietti wines have been adorned with original works of art inspired by the wine of that particular vintage. The print run is the same as the number of bottles produced, and the first hundred labels are signed by the artist. A terrific producer. Life would be better if every wine at this price level (less than $15) were this good. I have enjoyed every Vietti wine I have tried. Albeisa bottle.

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Fattoria La Parrina Rosso (2006) Tuscany

Date: Sun, Dec 27, 2009 Wine Tasting

Sort of a blah wine from La Parrina, a 450 hectare estate located along the Tyrrhenian coast of extreme southern Tuscany. The name Parrina is derived from the Castilian word Parra, meaning vine or pergola; which gives a hint to the areas past Spanish influence and wine-making history. The estate also operates a hotel and produces fruit, vegetables, olive oil, flour and many other 100% natural, organic foods for sale. The 2006 Rosso Parrina is 100% Sangiovese with a deep purple/red color. Very light nose. Fermented and aged in stainless. Nice balance of acids and tannins. Nothing here however, to make me race out and buy more.

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Damilano Barbera d’Asti (2008) Piemonte

Date: Sun, Dec 20, 2009 Wine Tasting

A terrific Barbera from Damilano, a small producer whose family holdings include pieces of the Liste and Cannubi vineyards that is known mainly for their ready-to-consume Barolo’s. The wine is from a recently acquired vineyard in Asti. Their Barbera d’Asti replaces the Barbera d’Alba, which was made from rented vineyards, and which will no longer be produced. With it’s high acidity, Barbera is a great food wine, especially anything made with tomatoes. Deep ruby/purple color. Dark cherry on the nose. Excellent balance and length. 100% Barbera. 20% is aged in new French barriques, 40% is aged in used barriques (2nd passage) and the remaining 40% aged in Tonneaux, all for 6 to 8 months. Albeisa bottle.

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Trullari Primitivo Del Tarantino (2007) Puglia

Date: Tue, Dec 15, 2009 Wine Tasting

A very bad wine from I’m not really sure who. I did an internet search for the producer and importer and was led in circles; it seems no one wants to take credit (or blame) for this wine. Named for the mortar-less, conical-roofed houses of Puglia, the 2007 Trullari Primitivo is a thin, watery effort; not at all like the bold, spicy way Primitivo and its genetically identical cousin, the Zinfandel grape, is supposed to taste. It’s as if it was made in the same manner as Curly of The Three Stooges cooks chicken soup; by pouring hot water over a chicken and serving the run-off. ("How was your meal, sir?" "The soup was watery, the meat was tough, and the coffee tasted like mud." "I’m glad you enjoyed it, be sure to tell your friends.") Made from 90% Primitivo and 10 % Montepulciano. Aged in stainless steel - and tasted like it; literally.

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