Quick Sips

A number of wine samples crossed my dining table in the latter half of 2011. Some were quite nice; others were amazingly good. Here are the highlights.

Italy Calling

The Frescobaldi Remole 2009, Tuscany, Italy ($10.00) is a country level wine (it’s labeled as IGT Toscana) that combines 85% Sangiovese with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. With leafy, cherry and vegetal aromas and flavors, the wine was in keeping with its Sangiovese origins, but the Cabernet Sauvignon was more evident on the palate, with black fruit lingering in the finish. A nice value at this price and an excellent foil for the homemade pizza we paired with which we paired it.

A more traditional “Super Tuscan” style wine, Frescobaldi’s Tenuta di Castiglioni 2008, Tuscany, Italy ($22.00) switches the blend to lead with 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and only 10% Sangiovese. The nose presents blackberry, mint, smoke and slight vegetative aromas, while the palate offers bright acidity, firm tannins, full body and black cherry, vegetal, mint and cedar flavors. Overall, it is nicely structured with some complexity.

From further south, the Xavier Flouret Quattro Canti 2007, Sicily, Italy ($24.00) offers an interesting 50-50 mix of the indigenous Nero d’Avola with the non-traditional Cabernet Franc, aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. This deep colored wine had aromas of plum, vanilla, oak, licorice and some spice with dusty tannins, ripe, jammy fruit flavors of plum, cocoa, black cherry, vanilla and oak, with medium+ length.

You had me at Pinot

A  Pinot Noir “taste off” pitted Foppiano Pinot Noir 2008, Russian River Valley, CA ($25.00) against Bouchaine Pinot Noir 2007, Carneros, CA ($30.00) with the following results. The Bouchaine showed cherry, black cherry and vanilla aromas, which were joined by spice and herbs with vibrant acidity, medium+ body, ripe tannins and long length on the palate. The Foppiano offering was a bit shier on the nose, with less pronounced aromas of cherry and herbs. Bright red fruit, spice and wood dominated the slightly lighter-bodied palate, culminating in long length.

Down by the bay

Shifting attention down under, a series of wines from Hawkes Bay were tasted in anticipation of a New Zealand wine seminar given at the American Wine Society’s annual conference.

Among the whites, the Decibel Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($14.00) showed citrus and grassy aromas on the nose, giving way to lemon, lime marmalade, slight grass and minerality with high acidity and medium+ body, while the Te Awa Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($18.00) displayed more grapefruit and pith with slightly less acidity on the palate. The Te Awa Chardonnay 2009 ($27.00) offered apple notes with slight oak and mineral character, which were joined by citrus and spice flavors on the full-bodied palate.

Moving onto the reds, the Te Awa Syrah 2009 ($27.00) had fresh fruit aromas of blackberry with a hint of oak followed by spice, earth, leather and black cherry flavors with medium acidity, full body,  med tannins and long length. The more unusual, varietally-labeled Decibel Malbec 2009 ($18.00) is a blend of blueberry, cranberry and slight spice on the nose with ripe tannins, medium+ acidity and rich blueberry and blackberry notes on the palate.

German Riesling and beyond

I ended the year with several German wines including Silvaner, Lemberger and Riesling.

The P.J. Vlackenberg Gewürztraminer 2010, Pfalz, Germany ($14.00) has pronounced aromas of spice, floral and pear, which persisted on the off dry palate with medium+ body and medium length.

With notes of pear, blossom and smoke, the Castell-Castell Silvaner Trocken 2010, Franken, Germany ($18.00)’s palate gives way to riper versions of these aromas on its light-bodied palate.

A nice red, quaffing wine, the Grafen Neipperg Lemberger 2010, Württemberg, Germany ($24.00) greets the nose with cherry, plum and slight spice and finishes with medium length.

The Liebfrauenstift Dry Riesling 2010, Rheinhessen, Germany ($15.00) is a good value, food friendly wine, offering  fresh citrus and candied lemon aromas, with good acidity on the dry palate.

Enjoyed on Christmas day and shared with close friends, the Baron zu Knyphausen Erbacher Michelmark Riesling Erste Lage 2009, Rheingau, Germany ($57.00) was a wonderful surprise. Displaying floral, citrus and tangerine aromas on the nose, the dry palate offered piercing acidity with rich, ripe flavors of peach, tangerine, citrus pith, lime zest, floral and minerality, finishing with a very long length. Truly amazing.

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