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Inama Soave Classico (2007) Veneto

Date: Thu, Oct 8, 2009 Wine Tasting

I admit it. I never drank a Soave before. Maybe I’m a snob. Maybe I remember those bad Soave Bolla commercials from the 70’s. Maybe it’s all the bad press Soave gets. Boring. Cheap. Insipid. A commodity wine; mass-produced by cooperatives whose emphasis is on quantity rather than quality. While all that may be true about your supermarket variety, Inama’s Soave Classico is different. In the 1950s, Giuseppe Inama, the estate's founder, began purchasing small plots of vineyards in the heart of the Soave Classico region with the desire to produce top quality wines. In the 1990s, the winery purchased vineyards east of Soave in the neighbouring province of Vicenza and began making red wines from grapes such as Carmènere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Today, the winery has nearly 25 hectares under vine. I found Inama’s Soave Classico full of flavor and interest. Brilliant light yellow color. Wonderfully fragrant floral nose. 100% Garganega. Aged for 8 months in stainless steel before bottling. Delicious. I’m sorry I waited so long to try it.

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Mastrojanni Rosso di Montalcino (2004) Tuscany

Date: Mon, Oct 5, 2009 Wine Tasting

A delicious Rosso di Montalcino from Mastrojanni, a winery founded in the mid 1970's that today is recognized as being one of the better producers of Brunello di Montalcino. The Mastrojanni family has over 44 hectares of land under vine in the southeastern part of Montalcino, about 7o miles from Florence. Rosso di Montalcino is a wine made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso; the same grape that is grown in the same delineated region that is used to make Brunello di Montalcino. The wine, however, is required to spend only six months aging in oak and 1 year total aging before release instead of the longer aging required of the region's flagship Brunello di Montalcino wine. Although some Rosso di Montalcino’s are lighter in character than a Brunello, the 2004 Mastrojanni I enjoyed was very Brunello-like. Quite a bargain for $20. Enjoyed with grilled Italian sausage and gnocchi with sage brown butter sauce. Fragrant dark fruit and tobacco nose. Smooth tannins. Long finish. Aged for 10 months in slavonian oak casks before bottling. Jeeves and Wooster-style label.

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Castello San Sano Chianti Classico (2005) Tuscany

Date: Fri, Oct 2, 2009 Wine Tasting

In an Italian wine world filled with seemingly endless choices, it's hard to get excited about Chianti. The 2005 Castello San Sano Chianti Classico is no exception; It's simply Chianti. Located in the heart of Chianti, the San Sano farm, is home to olive oil production, Cinta Senese pig breeding, and sheep farming. 90 of their 230 hectare farm is planted in vines. 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo. Aged in oak tonneaux for 15 months. Given a choice, I'd take a pig.

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Ca’ Viola “Brichet” Barbera d’ Alba (2007) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Sep 28, 2009 Wine Tasting

A terrific Barbera from Ca' Viola, a small Piemontese winery that was founded in 1991 in Montelupo Albese, a town located on the hills surrounding Alba. Owner Giuseppe Caviola, along with enologist Maurizio Anselmo and agronomist Gian Piero Romana produce about 35,000 bottles of dolcetto and barbera a year. All of Ca' Viola wines are made exclusively from grapes grown in their 9 hectares of vineyards and are unfiltered. The 2007 Brichet has a deep violet-ruby red color, with a fragrant nose of fresh red, brambled fruit. (brambled is a new word for me; as in "Does this shirt make me look brambled?") Nice balance of acidity and tannins. Aged in oak casks and barriques for 10 months. The wine has a quiet 14% alcohol content. At $30 a bottle, the wine is a little pricey.

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Cusumano Benuara (2007) Sicily

Date: Mon, Sep 21, 2009 Wine Tasting

A solid, value-priced southern Italian red wine from Cusumano, a Sicilian winery created by third generation winemakers and brothers Diego and Alberto Cusumano who assembled a network of growers that previously contracted with cooperatives. The 2007 Benuara is 70% Nero d’ Avola, a funky Syrah-like grape that is native to Sicily, and 30% Syrah (many enologists believe the Nero d’ Avola and the Syrah grapes to be one and the same). A majority of the wine (80%) is aged in stainless steel with the remainder barrel aged for an old world/new world feel. Spicy, yet smooth. Has the finish of a well-made wine. Way-cool glass "Vino-Lok" stopper.

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Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut (NV) Veneto

Date: Wed, Sep 16, 2009 Wine Tasting

A dry, fruity Prosecco from Nino Franco, a third generation winery is located in Valdobbiadene, an area in Veneto known for producing some of Italy's finest Prosecco. Nino Franco produces a full line of Prosecco from bone-dry to slightly sweet,with their "Rustico" being their best seller. Unlike Champagne, Italians treat Prosecco as an ordinary, everyday drink that is served in unstuffy white wine glasses and enjoyed with meals. The Valdobbiadene Brut has a pale straw color and crisp, mouth watering acidity. Nice apple/floral nose. 100% Prosecco. Sourced from high and medium high vineyard sites. Available in half (375 ml) bottles so you can enjoy without overindulging.

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Mastri di San Basilio “Due Sicilie” Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Date: Tue, Sep 15, 2009 Wine Tasting

A benchmark EVOO from Mastri di San Basilio, 4th generation Sicilian producers of olive oil and almonds. Their "Due Sicilie" is a blend of Nocellara del Belice and Moresca olives. The Padova family uses certified organic agriculture methods, innovative tree pruning, and gentle, same-day, "continuous cycle" pressing to produce their product. The Padova’s are so "green" that they transform the olive pomace into a natural fertilizer and a green-energy fuel for domestic heating. They claim that their low oxidation processing results in a free oleic acidity level less than .2‰! Outrageous! The oil has a pronounced, rich, green, fruity flavor. Lux in a salad dressing, a topping on a slice of warm bread, or as a finish to grilled beef. A portion of the sale of each bottle supports the preservation of Sicilian arts and sites on the World Heritage List. Purchased at Whole Foods.

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Buglioni il Clandestino (2007) Veneto

Date: Mon, Sep 14, 2009 Wine Tasting

A beautifully floral Italian white wine from Azienda Agricola Buglioni, a small (14 hectares), young (1993) winery located in the Valpolicella Classico area of Veneto. Owner Alfredo Buglioni, son Mariano, and oenologist Diego Bertoni’s first Amarone, the 2001 vintage, won gold when it was shown at Vinitaly. The wine is named il Clandestino because it’s made from the same grape (Garganega) that a Soave is made from, although it’s not made in Soave. As previously stated, the wine has a beautiful floral nose. Nice lemon/citrus flavor. Crisp. On the palate, the wine has the feeling of depth. Terrific with food.

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Filomusi Guelfi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2006) Abruzzo

Date: Sun, Sep 13, 2009 Wine Tasting

A nice Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Filomusi Guelfi, a small, longtime winemaker. The Filomusi family, originally from the Marche region, moved to Abruzzo in the 16th Century. As is so often the case, a Filomusi married a Guelfi and the land; a 9 hectare plot where the present vineyard stands, was added to the patrimony together with the name. A majority of the vineyard (78%) is Montepulciano grapes. Filomusi Guelfi practices green farming methods; the soil is not tilled between the vines to utilize the "green manure". Filomusi Guelfi is the only estate in the area to produce and bottle wine exclusively from its own grapes. The wine was nearly the color of concord grape jelly. Spicy, cherry nose. Soft, warm mouthfeel. A good buy.

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Castelcosa by Furlan Ribolla Gialla (2007) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Tue, Sep 8, 2009 Wine Tasting

A nice floral Italian white wine from Castelcosa, a small family-run winery that owns approximately 6 hectares of estate vineyards and has another 40 under contract in three of the most viticulturally-important areas of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region—Grave, Collio, and Colli Orientali del Friuli. The Furlan family bought the property, which includes the magnificent “Castle of Cosa”, in 1976. Originally built in the year 1000 as a defensive structure, the castle was seriously damaged during WW I and was rebuilt in 1921 as a Palladian Villa. The castle (villa) has been lovingly restored by the Furlans who now use it as the center of their operations where they produce a wide range of wines from both native and international varieties of red and white grapes. The native Ribolla Gialla I enjoyed had a striking, gold-tinged straw color and a nose of pineapple, banana, and apple. Pleasantly dry in the mouth. In spite of being vinified and aged in stainless, it felt rich and warm.

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Fratelli Barba Montepulciano d‘Abruzzo “Colle Morino” (2006) Abruzzo

Date: Sat, Sep 5, 2009 Wine Tasting

An inexpensive treat from Barba, a small family winery situated in the north part of Abruzzo along the valley of the Vomano River and on the surrounding hills. In addition to grapes, the Barba family, which is made up of brothers Vincenzo, Giovanni, and Domenico and their families, manufacture bricks, grow fruit, lumber, and livestock. High-tech winery. The care in which the Barba’s farm their property is evident in their wine. Often, a Montepulciano d‘Abruzzo is a poorly made, high-alcohol varietal that is drunk with pizza. This wine, however, is terrific. Rich nose of dark berries and stone fruit. Velvety on the palate with nice acidity. Full, round finish and good length. Vinified and aged in stainless. Well made.

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Produttori del Barbaresco Barbaresco DOCG (2003) Piemonte

Date: Thu, Aug 27, 2009 Wine Tasting

A quality, affordable Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco. Produttori del Barbaresco is a large cooperative that was founded in 1958 which sources grapes from a growers association that dates back to 1894. At that time in Barbaresco, Nebbiolo grapes were either sold to make Barolo or simply labeled Nebbiolo. Domizio Cavazza, headmaster of the Royal Enological School of Alba and a Barbaresco resident understood that there were differences between Nebbiolo grapes grown in the Barolo district as those grown in the Barbaresco district so he created a cooperative known as the "Cantine Sociali" to produce a wine that identified Barbaresco as its place of origin on the label. The "Cantine Sociali" was forced to close in the 1920's because of fascist rule, but in 1958, nineteen small Nebbiolo growers again came together to form the Produttori del Barbaresco cooperative. The cooperative currently has 56 members and 250 acres of Nebbiolo vineyards in the Barbaresco appellation, which amounts to almost 1/6 of the vineyards of the area; each member being in full control of its land. They produce a Barbaresco DOCG; a blend of Nebbiolo grapes harvested from different vineyards, and a simpler Nebbiolo Langhe suited for earlier consumption. In great vintages, nine single-vineyard Barbaresco’s are produced from premium sites within the Barbaresco village boundaries. The cooperative produces around 420,000 bottles (35,000 cases) per year. In those great vintages, they are divided among Barbaresco (40%), single vineyard Barbaresco’s (40%) and Nebbiolo Langhe (20%). 2003 was a hot summer in Piemonte, so the wine does not have a particularly tannic bite that requires long aging. Nice, fragrant nose of black cherry and spices. Soft tannins. Aged for 20 months in oak casks. Very drinkable as a young wine. Widely distributed, so it’s a wine that is easy to obtain. Albeisa bottle.

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Albino Armani “Foja Tonda” Casetta (2005) Veneto

Date: Mon, Aug 24, 2009 Wine Tasting

A brooding Italian red from Giorgio’s pale brother, Albino. His small winery is located north of Verona, near Trentino. The "Foja Tonda" I enjoyed is made from the Casetta grape or "Foja Tonda" in dialect; a variety which is indigenous to the area and cultivated since antiquity. Spicy, musky nose of dried plums. Tastes wild and overgrown. Tarty acidity. Although I have no recollection what I paired it with, it was a good companion. Definitely something different and worth looking for.

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Inama Carmenere Piu (2006) Veneto

Date: Sun, Aug 23, 2009 Wine Tasting

A plush Italian red wine from Inama, a thirty hectare winery located in the heart of the Soave Classico district. In the 1990’s Inama decided to expand production to include red wines and, after much research, settled on the Colli Berici, 10 miles east of Soave in the neighboring province of Vicenza. ‘Più’ which means ‘more’ in Italian is an apt name for the wine, as it contains more then just Carmenere (introduced in the region in the 19th century). The wine also contains 20% Merlot and 5% Raboso Veronese. All three varieties are 100% de-stemmed. The wine is aged in used 225 Liter French oak barriques for 12 months. A final racking is followed by a gentle pad filtration before bottling. The wine is un-fined. Vivid ruby color. Dark fruit nose. Full body, smooth tannins. Very enjoyable.

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