Donnafugata Lighea 2011

Two weeks ago I had a conversaion with a friend about Zibibbo, an ancient grape from the Mediterranean. Zack, my friend told me that he recently had a dry Zibibbo and I was like what? All the Zibibbo I had were extremely sweet. It’s worth knowing that Zibibbo is part of the Muscat family and as well all know Muscat is that sweet, syrupy wine that is now heavily consumed in the States. I thought it would be quite interesting to try a dry Zibibbo and because Zack said he really liked the wine he tried I decided to buy a bottle of it online, to be precise I ordered a bottle of Donnafugata Lighea. 2011 vintage because I found no US online shop that carries the 2012 vintage.

Donnafugata is an Italian winery from Sicily. Sicily is one of the world’s most important regions for Zibibbo production but the grape is actually of Egyptian origin. Next to Cosumano and Planeta, Donnafugata is one of my favorite wineries  from Sicily. The two flagship wines from Donnafugata are Ben Rye, a sweet Zibibbo and Mille E Una Notte, a Nero d’Avola.

Lighea ages in stainless steel and 2 months in the bottle before it’s released on the market.

The wine has a pale yellow color. Medium intense nose with aromas of tropical fruit, candid citrus, rosemary, pear and melon. Smells just like the Ben Rye and the wine pretty much fools you because you think it’s a sweet wine when you smell it but it’s not. In the mouth, Linghea is very, very, very, dry. Almost too dry! The wine has a low acidity and is fresh. There were flavors of peach. Linghea is light and the finale was persistently long.

Linghea is a complicated wine because its nose is so misleading but I strongly recommend that you give this wine a try. It’s available for just $16. Outstanding QPR. According to Donnafugata, professional wine critic Luca Maroni rated this vintage with 95 points.

I’m looking forward to try the Linghea again. It was truly spectacular! What’s your opinion on dry Zibibbo?

Almond Biscotti With Vin Santo And TBA

On saturday I was having a dinner with my wife and some friends. A 3-course menu. For dessert we had almond biscotti and because I was unsure with what wine to pair them I asked you, my readers, in my last post what wine you would pair with them. Fellow blogger Talkavino suggested an aged TBA (Trocken Beren Auslese) whereas Stefano from Clicks & Corks and Julian from  Vino In Love recommended to pair the almond biscotti with vin santo, a sweet wine from Italy.

Because I couldn’t decide between the two wines I decided to buy a bottle of each. I also never had a TBA before so that was another reason for me to buy both wines.

Almond biscotti are a cookies that are especially popular in Italy. Julian and Stenfao pointed out in their recommendation that the traditional pairing with these Tuscan biscotti is vin santo. If you are not familiar with what vin santo is then let me redirect you to this post from Julian which explains quite well the origins of that wine.

The two wines I picked to pair with the biscotti were: 2004 San Felice Vin Santo del Chianti Classico from Tuscany and 2001 Hopler Trocken Beren Auslese from Austria. I wanted to buy a TBA from Germany but the stores that I went to didn’t seem to carry any.

Hopler’s TBA comes from Austria’s Brugenland region and is a blend of 50% Samling, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Gruner Veltliner. To be honest I was not familiar with the Samling grape before trying this TBA. Have you tried any wines from Samling before? Let’s move on to my tasting notes for the Hopler TBA.

In the glass, the wine has a golden-yellow color. On the nose, intense aromas of apricot, honey, cloves and caramelized oranges. In the mouth, quite sweet, very smooth with notes of apricots. The finish is extremely long. Highly recommended but also quite expensive. The 0.375 liters bottle sells for around $100. Luckily we were only 4 people otherwise one bottle wouldn’t have been enough..

But fortunately I also bought that San Felice vin santo. A 0.375 liters bottle retails for around $25. The vin santo is produced with 75% Trebbiano and 25% Malvasia grapes that are planted in the Chianti area of Tuscany. Here are my tasting notes for it.

In the glass, the wine has an amber golden color. The nose is not very intense but there are a soft aromas of dried fruit, hazelnuts and almonds. In the mouth, acid but also sweet. Reminds me a lot of mead. Lingering finish.

All in all the vin santo did not taste as good as the TBA but the vin santo paired better with the biscotti than the TBA did. The TBA is “too good” for any dessert but the vin santo worked just fine.

That’s all for today! Have a good sunday evening folks!

2004 Tezza Amarone – Or Wine Buying In Pennsylvania

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?

Italian wine dinner part 2

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 : )

Italian wine dinner part 1

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.

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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..

Montenisa ‘Brut’ – Italy

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.