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Tenuta Garetto Tra Neuit e Di Barbera d’ Asti (2007) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Jun 8, 2009 Wine Tasting

A terrific Barbera from Tenuta Garetto, a small (18 hectare) winery owned by Alessandro Garetto that produces about 100,000 bottles of mostly Barbera along with some Dolcetto, Grignolino and Chardonnay. High density (about 4,500 vines per hectare) planting. The winery has a range of vine ages from new (this wine) to 60-70 years old. 100% Barbera. Very deep, ruby-red color; nice fruit nose. Vinified and aged in stainless. Plush on the palate. Delicious with grilled meatstuffs.

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Barry's New "Stache"

Date: Thu, Jun 4, 2009 Wine Tasting


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Podere Rocche Dei Manzoni di Valentino Migliorini “Bricco Manzoni” Langhe (2000) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Jun 1, 2009 Wine Tasting

An unpleasant "Super-Piedmont" from Podere Rocche Dei Manzoni di Valentino Migliorini; an estate that dates back to the 1700’s. The current iteration of the winery came into being in 1974 when Valentino Migliorini and his wife Jolanda bought the property and spent significant sums on improvements. Today, the Migliorini’s own about 100 prized acres, mostly in Monforte d’ Alba. In addition to several single-vineyard Barolo’s, the estate also produces Bricco Manzoni, a noxious blend of 80% Nebbiolo and 20% Barbera. The wine is fermented on the skins for two weeks in stainless steel vats, followed by 12 months of aging in oak barriques, and an additional 12 months in the bottle. Dull red in color. Heavy oak with some fruit on the nose. 90 rating by Parker. Heavy alcohol/gasoline on the palate. Brandy-like burn on the way down. Way not worth the overblown rating and price. 14% alcohol.

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Marengo Valmaggiore Nebbiolo D’Alba (2004) Piemonte

Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 Wine Tasting

An easy-to-overindulge, headache-inducing Italian red wine from Azienda Agricola Mario Marengo, a low environmental impact/sustainable/natural practicing Piemontese winery. The winery is run by son Marco, who took over for his Father Mario after his passing in 2001. The winery produces about 5,000 bottles a year on their tiny, 1.5 hectare estate. They produce two, single vineyard Barolo’s; Brunate and Bricco Viole as well as small quantities of Dolcetto and the Nebbiolo d'Alba I enjoyed. The 2004 Valmaggiore (named after Marengo’s really tiny .38 hectare vineyard) is 100% Nebbiolo that I found unusually refreshing and fruity both on the nose and palate. The wine is vinified in stainless and aged for 18 months in oak barriques (30% new). Albeisa bottle. A couple of après-wine Advil knocked the headache right out. (maybe it was the lack of pesticides)

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Kris Allen; Italian Wine Lover, 2009 American Idol Winner

Date: Wed, May 20, 2009 Wine Tasting

The following is another imagined and partially plagiarized interview with Italian wine lover and 2009 American Idol winner, Kris Allen:

Kris, congratulations on your being voted 2009 American Idol. What was the first wine that made you realize you loved wine?

Damijan Ribolla Gialla 2002 made me change the way I look at white wine, and the first time I had Quintarelli Amarone I knew I’d never tasted anything even close to that before. However I have to say that the wine that did it for me, that truly made me realize that I love wine was Bartolo Mascarello’s 1989 Barolo (out of magnum). Like the Quintarelli it possessed layers and depth that I could draw few comparisons to, and definitely had the "what was that?" impact on me. However the one thing that made this one truly stand out was it’s elegance. To this day if you asked me to describe my idea of “elegance” I would have to say that that wine is an example that I would use.

Describe your perfect meal and the wine you'd pair with it.

Well, prior to Idol, I was in Piemonte, so how could I not mention white truffles on Tajarin with aged Barolo. But there is also something to be said about the simplicity of a white like Verdicchio from Le Marche (look for Sartarelli) that work their magic with the seafood of the Adriatic on a summer day. The zing and citrus nuances bring just about any fish back to life - no sauces needed here - just some grilled fish and lemon. A Rosso di Montalcino with some pici topped with wild boar ragu is also a nice, simple classic pair.

You do realize that everyone wanted Danny Gokey to win, don't you?

Yes I do.

Well, congratulations again, and thank you for your time.

It was my pleasure.

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Borgo Magredo Pinot Nero (2007) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Thu, May 7, 2009 Wine Tasting

A fruity Pinot Nero from Borgo Magredo, a winery owned by Italian insurance giant “Generali”. At almost 620 acres in size and a production capacity of one million bottles per year, Borgo Magredo is one of the largest wineries in Friuli. The winery is located in the "Grave del Friuli" appellation of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The characteristic gravelly soil of this area is created by the Meduna River, which flows down from Carnic Pre-Alps bringing its pebbles and stones along for the ride. The stones make perfect soil for growing grapes; the Italian word "Magredo" means meager (feel free to Wiki “Borgo”). The stones in the soil also capture heat during the day and release it at night, protecting the grapes from low temperatures. In a final word on the area’s stones; they were used in a famous mosaic from the Romanic Cathedral of Santa Eufemia in Grado that inspired the winery’s logo. The wine is 100% Pinot Nero, violet red in color with a nose and palate of blueberry and raspberries. Nice, round finish. Aged for 3 months in Slavonian Oak casks. 12% alcohol.

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Alzelia Dolcetto d'Alba "Bricco Oriolo" (2006) Piemonte

Date: Fri, Apr 24, 2009 Wine Tasting

A knock-out Italian red from Alzelia, a small Piemontese winery owned by Luigi Scavino, cousin of Enrico Scavino; legendary owner-winemaker of Paolo Scavino, whose exceptional wines have been winning awards for years. The two cousins share the same rigorous principles when it comes to viticulture and grape selection. Both limit grape production and in difficult vintages, the whole lot may be subject to declassification to non-cru Barolo or Nebbiolo. In addition to an outstanding Barolo, Nebbiolo, and Barbera, Azelia offers more. They own 2.5 hectares of vineyards in the township of Montelupo, long famous for its Dolcetto. From this Luigi produces his stunning Dolcetto d'Alba "Bricco Oriolo", one of the most impressive Dolcetto’s I have ever tasted. The 2006 has a beautiful deep purple (uh uh uh - uh uh uh uh - uh uh uh – uh uhhhhh) color and a fruity, plummy, blueberryish nose. 100% Dolcetto. Both cool and warm on the palate. Nice soft, velvety finish. Unoaked.

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Tenuta di Ghizzano “Il Ghizzano” (2006) Tuscany

Date: Sun, Apr 19, 2009 Wine Tasting

A very good entry-level Super-Tuscan from Tenuta di Ghizzano, a family run estate located in the north-western part of the Tuscany, halfway between Florence and Pisa, in the Colline Pisane production zone. The estate currently extends over approximately 865 acres with 48 acres of vineyards, 75 acres of olive groves, 370 acres of cereals, and 370 acres of woods and poplar groves. The 2006 Il Ghizzano is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot that is aged in stainless steel. Intense ruby-red color. Black cherry, cola, plum nose. Nubile (my new favorite word) body. Nice balance of tannins, alcohol and acidity. The experience of this wine belies (my second new favorite word) its low price.

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Bocchino Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato (2007) Piemonte

Date: Fri, Apr 17, 2009 Wine Tasting

Another good everyday Italian white wine from Giuseppe Bocchino. Made from the Cortese grape which is mainly seen in the Gavi DOCG in Piedmont. The Cortese dell’Alto Monferrato DOC, bounded by the Bormida and Scrivia rivers and the Ligurian Apennines, received its status in 1979. Since then, wines from this area have made a big contribution to the expansion of Piemontese white wines. The 2007 is light, crisp, citrusy and priced for everyday drinking.

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Bocchino Arduine Barbera d' Asti (2007) Piemonte

Date: Mon, Apr 6, 2009 Wine Tasting

A very nice Barbera d' Asti from Giuseppe Bocchino, a family owned winery run by son Beppe and the grandchildren of patriarch Aurelio that is located in the town of Canelli in the province of Asti in Piedmont. 100% unoaked Barbera. 13.5% alcohol. Deep, ruby red color. Nice fruit on the nose. Nice body and balance. It's nice to be nice to the nice.

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Frecciarossa “Sillery” (2007) Oltrepò Pavese; Lombardy

Date: Sun, Mar 29, 2009 Wine Tasting

An unusual and delicious Italian wine from Frecciarossa, a family run winery that has been in the game since the early years of the nineteeth century. The estate encompasses some 35 hectares in the town of Frecciarossa in the Municipality of Casteggio where the Odero family organically grow Riesling Renano, Pinot Nero, Croatina, Barbera, Uva Rara and Merlot. The 2007 "Sillery" is a complete delight. The wine is 100% Pinot Nero, gently harvested by hand in small crates and vinified as a white wine by soft pressing to avoid color extraction. As a result, the wine is nearly clear. The nose, however, is fruity, richly intense, and long lasting with hints of white flowers and citrus. Well balanced acidity. A very elegant wine.

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Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti (2007) Alto Adige

Date: Tue, Mar 24, 2009 Wine Tasting

A terrific Italian white wine from premier winemaker Alois Lageder that almost made me forget it’s a Pinot Grigio. From Alto Adige; one of the smallest of Italy’s viticultural regions, and because of its geographical placement, also one of the most diverse. The Alps to the north, which give protection from cold winds, also makes for cool nights. This promotes a slow, even ripening of the grapes that allows for the preservation of their aroma and acids which give the wine its freshness and elegance. Mediterranean influences also stream up from the south and bless the region with over 300 days of sunshine a year (just like Chicago) to help add further richness to the grapes. The 2007 Dolomiti is 100% Pinot Gris from vineyards in Magrè, Salorno and the northern part of Trentino. The wine is a brilliant straw yellow in color with some light green highlights. Nice flowery/citrusy nose. Crisp acidity. Rich, full mouthfeel. Vinified and aged in stainless steel. 12.5% alcohol. Artist Elizabeth Holzl’s photograph on the label "shows the passage of light through a perforated surface, and thus refers to respiration, to the porosity of the soil and the leaves of the vine, to the exchanges always taking place between the earth and the surrounding atmosphere." Porosity, indeed.

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Castello di Fonterutoli Badiola (2007) Tuscany

Date: Sat, Mar 21, 2009 Wine Tasting

An eponymous Super-Tuscan from Castello di Fonterutoli, one of Italy’s top wine producers, operating on an historic property just south of Castellina in Chianti, in the heart of Chianti Classico. The estate has been in the hands of the Mazzei family since 1435 and is today led by Lapo Mazzei and his sons, Francesco and Filippoa. The Fonterutoli estate (nearly a town) comprises over 1,100 acres, of which 195 acres are devoted to four distinct vineyard sites: Fonterutoli, Siepi, Badiola and Belvedere. The 2007 Badiola is a 75% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot blend from grapes grown in the Badiola and Fonterutoli vineyards. The hand harvested grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in a combination of French and American oak barriques (10% new) for 9 months. The wine is "Smoke on the Water" in color, with a strong dark fruit and cocoa nose. The wine is very soft and plush. Nice fruit. Well balanced with a smooth, pleasing finish. 13.4% alcohol. Cool orange synthetic cork. Perfect for a man-date.

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Tormaresca Neprica (2007) Puglia

Date: Thu, Mar 19, 2009 Wine Tasting

A spicy Italian red wine from Tormaresca, an investment vehicle for the Antinori’s who established the winery in 1998 after purchasing the vast (1,200 acres) vineyards of Bocca di Lupo and Masseria Maime in Puglia. With the help of Antinori enologist Renzo Cotarella, the wineries first wine debuted the following year. The wineries collection now encompasses a wide variety of both reds and whites. The 2007 Neprica is a blend of Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Cabernet Sauvignon (hence the name). Vinified and aged in stainless steel. Very dark, ruby-red in color. Peppery, black fruit nose and palate. A tannic bite on the finish. Good pizza wine.

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