Cyber Tuesday: Snowpocalypse Edition!

Well, it’s noon and I haven’t seen a snowflake yet… But the lists of cancellations and closings just keeps on coming!  What better time to surf the interwebs and check out some new wines!  Here’s some fuel for your fodder- in another brush with internet fame (err.. it’s my second), these two wines were submitted as samples from www.winechateau.com.  They’ve certainly made my weekend a little brighter…

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Castello Banfi Belnero, 2010 Italy, Tuscany

The first thing that puzzled me about this wine was that on the website, a customer has posted an (although very favorable) review, referring to it as a Chianti.  I would not call this a Chianti.  Not to nitpick.  This borders on Super-Tuscan status.  Which is great!  It’s a fun category.  I’ve always respected the idea of a Super-Tuscan- I like the “eff this noise, we’re gonna put whatever grapes we want in our wine and DOC/DOCG be damned!” mentality.  How can you not?

It’s a dark, rich wine that has a giant nose of vanilla and dark fruit upon opening.  It shows nice depth, color concentration and will definitely fill your “big red” niche.  Additional layers of tobacco, coffee and mocha offer complexity, followed closely by luscious black cherry, blackberry, fruit compote, roasted herbs and maybe a hint of balsamic.  A pleasant grip of acid reminds you that this baby is all Italian.  I dig it.  It’s one of those New-meets-Old-World styles that accomplishes it’s mission quite deftly.  Furthermore, it’s a definite overachiever for the $19.99 pricetag.  *please note- as of 1.28.14 this wine is sold out via winechateau.com, but they expect to re-up very soon.*

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Fratelli Recchia Ca’ Bertoldi Amarone della Valpolicella, 2005 Italy, Veneto

I was looking forward to this one for two reasons; 1.) it got a 92-point rating from Wine Spectator and 2.) it’s $24!  These two reasons in and of themselves are not earth-shattering, but combine them AND consider that this is an Amarone?  Cha-ching!!  For those that don’t know, Amarone can often be a verrry spendy category.  It’s also an interesting style of wine because it can be a bit divisive.  There are plenty of people out there who might never like Amarone, stylistically.  Speaking personally, I’ve had some that I didn’t care for despite the fact that I recognized them as “good wine.”  However… I can say that one of the most, if not *the* most, knee-buckling wines I have ever tasted was an Amarone.  Granted, it was a $400+ retail bottle of 2006 Dal Forno.  Sort of like saying, “Yeah, I was never the same after I drove that Lamborghini.”  Duh.

So what’s the deal with Amarone?  Why do I call it divisive?  Well, they are made in a specific style- appassimento– in which the grapes (Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara) are allowed to partially dry.  This causes them to lose a large portion of their weight, and concentrates their sugar content.  Hence, the resulting wine is almost always rich, heady, and just plain intense.  And some people just aren’t into that…

But I’ll tellya- you find a good one and it’ll just plain blow. you. the. eff. away.  Like seriously, you’ll feel as if one of the secrets of the universe has been revealed to you.  In one moment, you’ll comprehend why so many have chased the dream of winemaking like Captain Ahab for so many years.  I’m not even exaggerating.

Alright, so that was a fun trip down memory lane, but now on to this wine!  And let me start by saying I’ve tasted this wine over the course of three days, and it is still freaking beautiful on day three.  Upon first open it was maybe a little restrained; the nose showed typical notes of preserved/dried fruit, cocoa, some nuttiness (nut brittle, even), anise and figs.  The palate isn’t weighed down or clumsy in it’s fruit/alcohol content.  It’s really a perfect introduction to this style of wine; it doesn’t break the bank and it’s balanced enough to appeal to a broad wine-drinking audience.  On day two the wine seemed to relax significantly, and bloomed with some additional spicy notes and fruity finesse.  All-in-all, I’d call this wine darn good.

One cool perk about Wine Chateau is that on your first order, you get a coupon for $10 off shipping.  Additionally, they offer a Mix-&-Match free shipping on many (not all) wines.  As I maintained on my last post that involved wines available for internet purchase- I can’t see myself as someone who would purchase wine online that often, but once and a while it’s fun to mix it up.  And sometimes online retailers do offer very competitive pricing, and occasionally exclusives on wines you might not find elsewhere.  In the case of one particular wine that comes to mind, it has actually become easier in the last few years to find online than it is for (at least in SC) on-premise accounts to get it.  So, I’d be remiss if I did not say- don’t forget about your small, local wine store!!; but there’s room in the wine world for more than one way to purchase.

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Alright so that’s it for Snowmageddon morning!  Best of luck to y’all in the impending doom.  I hope you have enough wine.  I sure do!

One Wine to Rule Them All- Verso Rosso Salento, 2012 Italy

THIS is your big Winter Red!!

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I’m 1000% serious.  This is absolutely THE wine you are gonna fall head over heels for during the chillier months that are upon us.  The best part?  You’ve probably never heard of these grapes.  You might not know how to say Verso or Salento (VAIR-so and sa-LAIN-to).  Heck, you might not have had an Italian wine quite like this before.  But trust me, YOU’RE GONNA FLIP!!

This wine is special for several reasons– first, it comes to us from one of my favorite portfolios, Small Vineyards.  In order to be included in Small Vineyards, the wine must be hand-harvested, from a family-owned estate, and be farmed in an ecologically friendly manner.  Note the word organic is not in use here; in my opinion it’s a bit irrelevant- you can trust that this wine comes from people that really cares about their impact on the environment as well as making the best wine possible, which I trust over a USDA certification eight days a week.

Raisins are tasty.

Raisins are tasty.

Second, this wine is big and sexy for a cool reason; a portion of the grapes (no, I’m not sure which ones) were allowed to “raisin”- which is exactly what it sounds like!  Also known as “appassimento”, it is a process of allowing the grapes to hang out and dry a bit- concentrating their sugars.  It is a labor-intensive process, which results in the reduction of the yield.  A labor of love, I would call it.  So it means they end up with LESS total wine to put into bottles, BUT the wine that results is so rich and flavorful it’ll leave you speechless- and (AND!) it it not weighed down with a high alcohol content!  This wine comes in at a solid 14% abv.  That’s a full 1.5-2 percentage points less than your average Cali Cab, Zin or Shriraz- the typical wines “big red” drinkers tend to like.  Balance, people- balance!  And it means you can drink a bit more of this guy without that thick, heady feeling you get after two glasses of Zinfandel.

Alright, so I got wine-nerdy there for a minute- so let’s get moving with HOW IT TASTES!  Because that’s what’s gonna keep you coming back for bottle after bottle.  But before I forget, this wine is a blend of 60% Negroamarao, 35% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel’s parent grape) and 15% Malvasia Nera.  A giant nose of figs, cloves, anise, vanilla, raisins (go figure), a hint of olives and black peppercorns, a nice lift of dried flowers and red berries and blueberry.  The texture is silky, polished and mouth-coating.  There’s some unique spicing at work here that I can’t quite pinpoint… I want to say it’s Sumac, but I can’t be positive.  It’s taunting me.  The wine finishes with elegance and a tangy little pop.

So I saved the BEST FOR LAST!  This bottle will cost ya just $16!!  

To add to the fun, this wine is available as part of TURKEY PACK #2 at Cellar on Greene this year!  That means you can have it along with three other swell bottles to take to your Thanksgiving feast quickly and effortlessly.  Never heard of a Turkey Pack?  Well, you must click here and check them out.  They’re only our most popular wine club item every year!  Good news is, you can absolutely grab them as a walk-in purchase- it’ll take 2 seconds for us to pack you one.  So you can leave it til last minute, if you’re at all like me!  

Happy Thanksgiving, wine-lovers!