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A few weeks ago, one of my business trips took me to Pittsburgh, PA where I experienced something quite weird. In Pittsburgh there seemed to be no wine shops. Instead one of my clientsI went with me “wine shopping” after work at the a store of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. (PLCB) Now I think that no state should regulate the selection of wine because this reminds me of Soviet communism. I believe the state should never regulate the availability of certain goods. Anyways, so we went to this PLCB store because the next day I was invited to a party where I was supposed to bring a (good) bottle of wine. and I have to say that the selection was quite disappointing. I’m so happy that I don’t have to buy wine in Pennsylvania everyday!
The problem I had was that the wines where either really crappy or completely overpriced. At the end I went with a 2004 Tezza Amarone del Valpolicella. I used my phone to do a quick winery check because I was not familiar with Tezza and I wanted to know a little about the wine I was going to take to the party – the store employees weren’t very competent..
Tezza 2004 Amarone retails at PLCB for $49.99 + tax. An okay price compared to most other wines the store carried.
The next day I brought the Amarone to the party where we uncorked it right away. We gave the wine 90 minutes of breathing. The Tezza Amarone has an intense ruby red color. The wine has very strong oak aromas – caramel, cocoa, tobacco – but also red fruits. On the palate, very dry with pleasing tannins. Medium-bodied and easy-to-drink. Wine still tastes quite young with fruit notes. Strong acidity and even stronger alcohol notes. Long finish.
I don’t think i will buy this wine again – at least not for $50 but the wine did it’s job. It was alright for the occasion but next time I’m invited to a party I make sure that I don’t buy the wine in Pennsylvania.
Have you had similar wine buying experiences?
Last week I shared with you my tasting notes for the white wines that I tried at a wine dinner. You can find that post here.
Today I want to talk about the red wines that we drank. Most red wines that we drank were decanted for some hours.
The first red wine we drank was a “leftover” Vino Novello, which was obviously not decanted. I wasn’t impressed at all by it. A friend of Jack, the host of the dinner, brought the wine to the dinner. I have the feeling that he was more of a beer drinker. We tried a 2012 Montferrato Novello from Piedmontese winery Terre Da Vino. If you don’t know what Novello is then let me explain it real quick. To my understanding it’s the first wine of the new vintage. These wines are usually young fresh wines that are drank within the first months after release which is around Novemember. The Monteferrato tasted like strawberry juice with alcohol. I quickly moved on to another wine and it was and still is hard for me to understand why people drink Novello and why wineries produce it. I’d say stay away from this wine unless it costs like less than $8 – then buy it and use it for cooking.
The next wine that I want to talk about comes from Abruzzo. Maybe you remember in one of my first posts here on Winetalks that I travelled to Abruzzo last year. I visited Agriverde and bought took some bottles back to the States. Follow this link for my tasting notes for the Agriverde Solera. To the dinner I brought the flaghsip wine of Agriverde. A bottle of 2000 Plateo Montepulciano di Abruzzo. The wine is made with Montepulciano grapes (until recently I always thought that Montepulciano was just a town in Tuscany) and aged 24 months in stainless steel followed by 24 months in French oak and by additional 24 months in the bottle before being distributed. The wine has a dark ruby red color. I expected something more similar to a garnet red. The nose has intense aromas of vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon, cardamon, ripe cherry and blackcurrant. Full-bodied and well-balanced. Intense fruit notes but also dark chocolate on the palate. Lingering finish. I love this wine! The only other time I had it was at the Agriverde estate in Abruzzo during my vacation. I think I had a 2007 vintage back then. The Gambero Rosso rated this wine with 3 glasses. Average price on wine searcher: $59. I think that is an excellent price. I paid like around €40 ($52) for this wine at Agriverde.
The next wine was again from Piedmont but this time it was something much better. It was a Barolo from Cantina Terre Del Barolo (2008 vintage). Unfortunately, this wine disappointed me almost as much as the Novello. 100% Nebbiolo grapes. Wine aged 2 years in Slavonian (never heard of this before. Can someone please tell me what it is?). Anyways the wine had a weak bouquet. It was dry and extremely tannic. The oak notes dominated too much. The finish was long but I couldn’t deal with the tannins. The wine wasn’t very well-balanced in my opinion. Maybe I should stay away from Barolo, Barbaresco and all the other Piedmontese wines! Average price on wine searcher: $29
The last wine that we drank was something special – at least for me. Some of you might remember my horrible experience with Tenuta San Guido. If you don’t then let me reshare it with you: I bought a 2008 Sassicaia for over $150 at Sokolin.com, after reading a very interesting article about Super Tuscans on Vino in Love. The wine was spoiled. Sokolin.com refused to take the wine back. So I wasted all the money for nothing… I thought that I will never ever try Sassicaia again because I was really upset about the situation (and still am). However, Jack uncorked a double magnum bottle (3 liters) of 2005 Sassicaia. In case you wonder, Jack told us that he has around 900 bottles of wine in his cellar. It was his 40th birthday so that’s a way to celebrate isn’t it?
Everybody got a small glass of Sassicaia (we were around 30 people). The Sassicaia was great and I absolutely loved it! It is produced with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. The wine aged for 24 months in French oak. Sassicaia has a dark ruby red color. Intense bouquet with leather, violets, dark fruit and smoke. Sassicaia is pretty dry and full-bodied. It is not as well-balanced as the Plateo though. The oak notes are a little bit too dominant. Nevertheless, the wine was spectacular! Silky tannins and an incredibly long aftertaste. Average price on wine-searcher: $237 (for a regular bottle, not for the magnum bottle).
The Sassicaia concludes this post. Hope you enjoyed the tasting notes. I loved the wine dinner. Out ouf all 8 wines that we had throughout the evening only the two Piedmontese wines disappointed me. Plateo still remains my favorite out of all of them. Sassicaia was a great experience but the Plateo rocked a little bit more and it’s almost $180 cheaper! My favorite white wine was the Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan. You won’t regret trying either of the two : )
Last weekend my wife and I were invited by friends to an Italian wine dinner. Usually our wine dinners tend to be focused on a single wine or a single region. You can read about our Brunello di Montalcino wine dinner here. I’ve also blogged about a Montepulciano di Abruzzo dinner. It was the birthday party of a good friend of mine and since most of his friends enjoy a good glass of wine he decided to uncork some of his Italian gems. Some people brought wine, too that we opened right away. Since we were around 30 people we went through a lot of wines
We started with two white wines from St Michael Eppan. Jack, the host, travelled to South Tyrol a few months ago and after visiting the winery he took back a few bottles of 2011 Sanct Valentin Gewurztraminer and some 2010 Sanct Valentin Pinot Bianco. After seeing the bottles I immediately thought about Stefano from Flora’s Table who wrote about the Pinot Grigio from St. Michael Eppan. Sadly I did not get to try that one. His wine review for the Pinot Grigio is worth reading.
The Sanct Valentin Gewurztraminer aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Bright yellow color, intense nose with aromas of peppers, cloves and flowers. The palate was spicy with a lingering finish. Not my type of wine but worth trying. Average price on wine searcher: $32
I liked the Pinot Bianco from Sanct Valentin a lot more but of course Gewrztraminer is one of the most important grapes for wine production in South Tyrol. Nevertheless, I found the bouquet of the Pinot Bianco to be much more interesting with aromas of green apples, melons, hints of pear, butter and vanilla.
It has to be said that 50% of the wine aged in small barriques and 50% in in large oak casks. The palate convinced me with a good structure, soft oak notes and and a lingering finish. Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan is an excellent white wine. Average price on wine searcher: $32
We continued with a white wine came from the Marche. We had a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore (I really hate long wine names) from Pievalta which is owned by Barone Pizzini, a winery from Lombardy. Lime, pear, pineapple on the palate. Full-bodied with exotic fruit on the palate. Persistently long finish. The wine won the 3 bicchieri gambero rosso award in 2012. Average price on wine searcher: $20 Excellent PQ ratio!
The last white wine was a Sicilian Chardonnay from Planeta (2010 vintage). It was one of two wines that I brought to the dinner. This was only the second time that I had this wine. The first time I really liked it.
100% Chardonnay that aged in small oak barrels. Golden yellow color. Apricots, almonds, butter, bananas on the nose. Loved it. Well-balanced oak and fruit notes. I tasted some mango, too! Long aftertaste. The wine won the 3 bicchieri gambero rosso award, Average price on wine searcher: $36 I have to thank Julian, for this recommendation. Great wine. If you don’t know his blog then make sure to check it out.
My favorite white wine was the Pinot Bianco from St. Michael Eppan but the Planeta Chardonnay was fantastic as well. The next post will focus on the red wines that we tasted. The list includes wines from Abruzzo, Tuscany and Piedmont. Also if you noticed I was busy over the last week so I didn’t post anything. But I’ll try to post more regularly again..
I’ve been quite busy over the last week (hence there was no “wine readings” last week) but now I have more time for blogging.
Regulars already know that I love Franciacorta sparkling wines. Only recently I had a Montenisa NV ‘Brut’ Franciacorta DOCG. The wine retails for around $28. Surprisingly, Montenisa is a brand of the Tuscan winery Marchesi Antinori (famous for Tignanello).
It’s produced with Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and small amounts of Pinot Nero, I didn’t know that they use Pinot Nero in Italy for sparkling wine production. Always though that it was just used for Champagne. Montenisa ‘Brut’ aged for 30 months in French oak. The wine is considered as the flagship sparkling wine of Montenisa.
The wine has a golden yellow color. The perlage lasted only for a short time. On the nose aromas of tropical fruit, minerals, almonds, pear and flowers.
On the palate dry with lots of fruit. Stoney minerality. Rather short after taste.
This “Champagne-like” sparkling wine has clearly its own character. It was alright but not mind-blowing. If you get a chance to try it then you might as well go for it but it’s nothing too special and for almost $30 there are better Franciacorta available. Since I love Franciacorta I was quite happy to try it though.
Alright after reading an article about the history of Super Tuscan on Vino in Love I got curious about Sassicaia. I could be wrong, but I believe that the Sassicaia (2006 vintage) from Tenuta San Guido was my very first Super Tuscan.
Sassicaia is one of the most prestigious wines in the world. According to wine-searcher, Sassicaia is the #14th most popular wine in the world. I was looking for a good vintage and according to many sources 2008 is supposed to be the best vintage since the legendary 1988. The wine is a blend of Bordeaux-style grapes (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc) and it aged for 24 months in French oak.
Average price for 2008 Sassicaia in the US: $198. I was able to buy the wine online at Sokolin.com for $169
Ratings: 97 JS 97 WE 96 WS 96 WA
Further more: 3/3 ‘biccheri’ by the 2012 Gambero Rosso (Italian wine book)
I invited a few friends over and we all were very excited. We decanted the wine for 2 or 3 hours or so.
Since I wanted all of the wine to be at its best I decided to not try the wine before decanting it. That turned out to be a major mistake.
After taking a sip, I noticed that “something” was wrong. The wine was aweful. It tasted bitter. I should have concluded by the brick-red color that the win oxidized. You can’t imagine how sad I was. I just found out that I spent almost $170 on an undrinkable, alcoholic beverage. I called the Sokolin customer support and they said there was nothing they could do – no return – nothing. They said there is no insurance for corked/oxidized wine. A big warning: Don’t buy wine from Sokolin. I had good experiences in the past with them but after having wasted $170 on this oxidized wine. I cannot believe that they do this. Actually I’m shocked.
I will stop my rant now but I thought I will share my sad experience with you. That said I want to tell you that the evening still ended with a good wine. In my cellar I found a Rioja which turned out fine. I will write about that wine in the next days.
Have you had similar experiences? If so please share them with me. Nevertheless, I want to thank Julian from Vino in Love for his Super Tuscan post. Without it I would have never even considered trying one. I hope my next Super Tuscan will be better – certainly it won’t be another Sassicaia . . .
I have a few interesting readings for you that I stumbled over this week.
Interesting read of the week
- Robert Parker on the Past, Present and Future of Wine – Food & Wine
Very good article about the life of Robert Parker
- Why Chardonnay is back in Fashion – Telegraph
If you want to know why Chardonnay is booming again then this article is for you.
Blind tasting of the week
- Perfect Winter Fare – Shiraz and Cassoulet - Talk A Vino
You like blind tasttings? So does Talk A Vino. Read about his Shiraz blind tasting experience.
Food matching of te week
- 5 Tips to Perfect Food and Wine Pairings – Wine Folly.
There wasn’t that much going on this week and I also spent a few days out of town were I was unable to look fur interesting readings therefore all I have for you today are these four articles. If you haven’t red them already then make sure to check them out.