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Andrea Oberto Langhe Nebbiolo (2006) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Dec 7, 2009 Wine Tasting

A solid, affordable Langhe Nebbiolo from Andrea Oberto, a small (40 acre) family winery that produces about 100,000 bottles of Nebbiolo, Barolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto a year from some prime vineyards located in the communes of La Morra, Barolo, Alba, and Cherasco. The 2006 Langhe Nebbiolo is 100% Nebbiolo grown on 15-18 year old La Morra-ese vines. Meant to be drunk young, the wine is aged for six months partly in wood casks and partly in stainless steel vats and for two months in the bottle. Almost brown in color. (with my bad eyes in poor light) Nice fruit nose. Long, smooth finish. Enjoyed with cherry and port glazed Cornish hens. (something we just threw together) Albeisa bottle.

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Sammy Sosa; Former Black Slugger, Italian Wine Lover, Idiot

Date: Tue, Dec 1, 2009 Wine Tasting

Newly white Sammy Sosa recently sat down with the Italian Cellar for a brief chat about his life since retiring from the Major Leagues.

The Italian Cellar: Sammy, thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us.

Sammy Sosa: It’s a pleasure to be white, I mean here.

TIC: Since retiring have you been watching a lot of baseball?

SS: Not too much; I’ve been busy with several projects.

TIC: Such as?

SS: My new candy bar; it’s made with white chocolate, nougat, and blanched almonds. I’m also writing a biography about another baseball great; Whitey Ford.

TIC: Sounds fascinating.

SS: Well it’s not all work for Sammy. I still find time to take strolls on the white sand beaches of my native Dominican Republic; I collect sand dollars and starfish and bleach them out. I've also taken up surfing; we have great whitecaps here.

TIC: We also hear you’re quite the wine aficionado.

SS: Oh yes; especially Italian whites. I love Verdicchio; it's so seafood friendly. I had a Sartarelli with some grilled whitefish last night; it was terrific. I also recently paired a Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi with some linguni and white clam sauce; Delicious.

TIC: What happened to your face?

SS: No comprendo.

TIC: Sammy, thanks for your time.

SS: It was great speaking with you.

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Poggio Argentiera Morellino di Scansano “Bellamarsilia” (2007) Tuscany

Date: Mon, Nov 30, 2009 Wine Tasting

A nice Morellino di Scansano from Poggio Argentiera, a fairly new (1998) winery founded by Gianpaolo Paglia and his wife, Brit, Justine Keeling. Together, they own 22 hectares near the coast in the Maremma and produce nearly 250,000 bottles of wine a year. Morellino di Scansano was granted its DOCG status with the 2007 vintage. To be classified as a Morellino di Scansano, the wine must contain at least 85 % Sangiovese (Morellino is the local name for the Sangiovese varietal). The 2007 Bellamarsilia is made from 85% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo, and 5% Alicante grown on newly planted, high-density vines. Dark ruby red/purplish color. Strong cherry/berry nose. Three-quarters of the wine is aged for four months in stainless steel; the remainder in cement vats. Perhaps some oak could add the element that’s missing; or maybe the wine is what it is; affordable, fruity, and fresh.

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Le Salette Valpolicella (2006) Veneto

Date: Tue, Nov 24, 2009 Wine Tasting

A delicious everyday Valpolicella (if there can be such a thing as an everyday Valpolicella…like being too rich or too thin; or in my case, neither) from Le Salette, a 25 hectare Venetonese (is that a word?) winery owned and operated by husband and wife, Franco and Monica Scamperle. (what an opening sentence!) Made from a blend of 50% Corvina, 40% Rondinella, 5% Molinara, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon for good measure. (followed up by a not so great sentence) Brooding, brick red color. (even worse) Dried fruit and spices on the nose. (why are you still reading?) The finish was soft and smooth. Enjoyed with food and by itself. Aged in stainless steel for 6 months. Under $15; a great value. (next time I will start slow and finish big)

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Copertino Riserva DOC (2001) Puglia

Date: Fri, Nov 20, 2009 Wine Tasting

A delicious, spicy Italian red wine from Copertino, a Puglian cooperative of 1,000 growers that crank out 1.2 million bottles of wine annually. The cooperative, established in 1935, has in recent years been producing higher quality wine from the regions traditional indigenous grapes. The 2001 Riserva, crafted by respected enologist Severino Garofano, is a blend of 95% Negro Amaro and 5% Malvasia Nera. Inky, brick-red color. Blackberry nose. Tannins are softened by two years in oak. Rustic yet refined. Nice finish.

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La Bellanotte Armonico (2008) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Tue, Nov 17, 2009 Wine Tasting

A white Italian blend that I didn’t really like from the folks at La Bellanotte, an eight hectare artisan winery located near the border with Slovenia. Under the direction of Paolo Benassi and his business partner Cristina Visintin, La Bellanotte produces a full range of white and red wines, along with a Picolit desert wine. The 2008 Armonico is a blend of 30% Malvasia Istriana and 70 % Friuliana (previously known as Tocai Friulano). Bright straw gold color with green highlights. Nice nose of citrus fruit. Acidic to the point of astringency. The percentages in the blend changes from year to year; i.e. the 2007 was a 50/50 blend…..perhaps this makes a difference. Synthetic cork.

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Bastianich Sauvignon “B” (2008) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Thu, Nov 12, 2009 Wine Tasting

A very refreshing Italian white wine from Bastianich, a 70 acre Friulian winery founded in 1997 by superstar TV chef Lidia Bastianich and her newly svelte, but still follically-challenged son Joe. (Joe, you look like you’ve lost significant tonnage; I hope nothing is wrong, bro)

Joe "Before"

Joe "After"

Deliciously crisp, the 2008 Sauvignon "B" is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc that is fermented and aged entirely in stainless. The wine gains some extra complexity because the grapes have been given some extra hang time on the vine. Nice tropical fruit nose, vibrant acidity, and a long finish. Stelvin screw cap.

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De Angelis Vesuvio Lacrima Christi Rosso (2007) Campania

Date: Mon, Nov 9, 2009 Wine Tasting

WWJD? He sure wouldn't cry (Lacrima Christi translates to "tears of Christ") - this wine is terrific! From De Angelis, a Campanian winery located on Sorrento Bay that has been producing Italian whites, roses, and reds since 1936. The 2007 Rosso is made from 40% Aglianico and 60% Piedirosso, a rustic grape named for its red feet or red roots that is found in a variety of Campanian wines. Ruby-red color. Berry fruit on the nose. Very smooth, soft mouth feel. Aged for three months in barriques; just long enough to mellow the rustic grapes.

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Tavignano Rosso Piceno (2007) Marche

Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 Wine Tasting

Real garbage from Tavignano, a small Marche winery owned by the husband and wife team of Beatrice Lucangeli and Stefano Aymerich. The winery, better known for their Verdicchio, is located within the municipality of Cingoli and lies within the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi appellation. About half of their 30 acres is planted with Verdicchio, the other half in Sangiovese and Montepulciano. The 2007 Rosso Piceno is 70% Montepulciano and 30% Sangiovese. Fermented in small oak barrels, and aged in large oak casks and French oak barriques. To say the wine is oaky would be an insult to all things oak. Very tannic. Rough. Astringent. No finish. Watery. Cheap, short cork. Do not even attempt to drink without food.

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Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis (2006) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Nov 2, 2009 Wine Tasting

A wonderfully expressive Italian white wine from master winemaker Bruno Giacosa, whose family has been making wine in the Langhe region of Piedmont for three generations. Giacosa credits his winery's success to his respect for traditional winemaking methods which enhance the characteristics of the grapes. The Giacosa property covers 37 acres that are entirely cultivated in vines. Made from 100% Arneis, an indigenous varietal cultivated in Roero area of Piedmont. Fermented and aged entirely in stainless steel. Elegant nose of apples, peaches and pears. Sparkling in the glass. Vibrant acidity. Enjoyed Saturday with my family's traditional Halloween meal of Chicken Diablo.

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Pieropan Soave Classico (2008) Veneto

Date: Mon, Oct 26, 2009 Wine Tasting

A terrific Soave Classico from a benchmark producer. Family owned since its founding in 1890, the estate covers about 30 acres in the Soave Classico DOC. Pieropan’s Soave Classico is 90% Garganega and 10% Trebbiano di Soave. The Garganega provides the structure and acidity to the wine, while the Trebbiano di Soave provides the perfume. Brilliant straw yellow color with a slight greenish hue. Floral, marzipan nose. Nice fruit on the palate that is balanced by a bright acidity that enhances its length. The wine is aged for a short time in oak casks for some extra weight and depth. Stelvin screwcap.

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Albino Rocca Vignalunga Dolcetto d’Alba (2008) Piemonte

Date: Fri, Oct 23, 2009 Wine Tasting

A knock-out Dolcetto from Albino Rocca, a 15 hectare estate that was established in 1960 by Giacomo Rocca. Now run by grandson Angelo, the estate produces about 100,000 bottles of wine a year; about half Barbaresco, and the other half split between Barbera, Dolcetto, Chardonnay, and Cortese. Rich, deep purple/red color. Very floral nose of ripe red fruit. Aged in stainless steel for 8 months before bottling. A very smooth, well-made wine. Priced for everyday drinking. I have read that Rocco’s modern-style Barabaresco’s are also great; I must try to find them. Albeisa bottle.

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Authorities Investigate Link Between “Balloon Boy” Hoax and Obscure Italian Wine Blog

Date: Mon, Oct 19, 2009 Wine Tasting

Denver - Just days after the world watched a giant silver balloon fly through the air as a tearful family expressed fears that their 6 year old son Falcon could be inside, authorities announced the whole thing was a hoax. Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden stated that Richard Heene admitted that the ill-conceived plan was just an idiotic publicity stunt to promote "The Italian Cellar", an obscure wine blog. Heene, a past participant on the TV show "Wife Swap", and a self-proclaimed meteorologist (with a high school education) claimed that his combined passion for both media exposure and Italian wine drove him to concoct the plan. "The Italian Cellar’s wine reviews are both informative and fun." Heene stated. "The blog has exposed me to many terrific Italian wines that I never knew existed. I wanted to tell the whole world about this blog." Heene stated that he had been working for weeks on a banner that would be hung from the balloon which had the Italian Cellar’s web address on it. But the media stunt was not to be. "I forgot to attach the banner to the balloon before I released it." Henne said sheepishly. Heene stated that he and his wife, Mayumi, often enjoy a nice Valpolicella after putting sons Falcon, Eagle, and Buff-Crested Bustard to bed. "The wine really helps me with my proposals for reality show pitches." Heene said. The Italian Cellar vehemently disavowed any knowledge of Mr. Heene or his actions.

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Salvatore Molettieri Aglianico Cinque Querce Irpinia (2005) Campania

Date: Tue, Oct 13, 2009 Wine Tasting

An intense Italian red wine from Salvatore Molettieri, an 11 hectare family owned Campanian winery run by Salvatore (a trained farmer) and son Giovanni (a trained oenologist). 100% Aglianico, a grape thought to have been planted centuries ago by the Greeks who colonized the area. The estate bottled their first wine in 1988. The 89, 90, and 91 grapes were all sold to buy barrels for future vintages. Very dark, brooding, purple color. Named after the Cinque Quere vineyard in the Irpinia DOC. The wine is called Taurasi when it's from the Taurasi DOCG. (see how simple Italian wines are?) Organically farmed. Aged in oak casks and in French oak barriques for 16 months and for 6 more months en botti. Spicy, cherry, cocoa. Tannins lose their bite with food. Enjoyed with beef and pork ragu. A nice wine.

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