It’s the time of year when distributors and/or importers have annual (or semi-annual) portfolio tastings. These are opportunities for breadth, not depth, as hundreds of current release wines (and occasionally some older ones) are put out on tables, often with the winemaker pouring. Yesterday was the Polaner Selections tasting and I dropped by for a while in the second half. Below are a few impressions and photos.
As the fall weather starts to arrive, here’s a great wine for the seasonal transition: SP68 red from Arianna Occhipinti. Hailing from an organic vineyard in Sicily, the wine blends the summer joy of Frappato with the more structure of Nero d’Avola. Serve it slightly chilled for maximum enjoyment. The 2010 is a bit more tannic than the 2009 but both are easy, fun drinking. (Search for this wine at retail)
In 2004, Arianna Occhipinti made her first Agricola Occhipinti wine at the ripe old age of 21. Her uncle, Giusto, makes the wines at COS, a traditional winery in Sicily. She makes her wines naturally; find out more about her in this Q&A. I poured this wine at a tasting in NYC recently and the group really liked it. I also showed them the picture of Arianna (right) and one person, commenting on her youthful looks, said it looked as if she’d never been up against a co-op board.
Ever since the Native Americans opened the first can of cranberry sauce for the pilgrims in 1621, it has been a part of the Thanksgiving meal. And ever since 1976, in the wake of the Paris tasting, we wine enthusiasts have been trying to pair wine with it–or find a wine that won’t be demolished by the combination of natural tartness and the added sweetness.
So what say you: which wine do you pair with cranberry sauce…or is it impossible?!?
But, in fact, it works. The key is to choose a red wine that is low in tannin, which explains why Beaujolais from the thin-skinned Gamay grape, often is the prime red candidate for chilling. Bringing the wine’s temperature down to say 55 degrees, gives the wine an added refreshment value (you can slip one of those ice sleeve things on for about 10 minutes). However, it does cut down on the wine’s fruity aromas–and also the perceived alcohol (which may be welcome depending on the wine in the glass). And if there are a lot of tannins in the wine, they stand out since that’s all that’s left.
Here are three reds worth a chill.
Clos du Tue-Boeuf, Cheverny (red), 2009. $15
The Puzelat brothers–leading natural winemakers–have made this delicious blend that combines the fruit and fun of gamay with a bit of the structure of pinot noir. I’ve poured this wine a lot this summer and it has won plaudits from wine geeks and newbies alike. Pour slowly or decant since this wine has thrown a sediment. (Bottled with extruded synthetic closure.)
Valle dell’ Acate, Frappato, 2008, $20
Similarly, I’ve poured this red native to Sicily wine a fair bit this summer–always chilled–and people love it! One group was intrigued by the idea of chilling red and the wine was gone way too fast. Another group suggested it reminded them of sangria–and meant that as a compliment. To me, it has bright red fruit but enough structure to be interesting. (Bottled with bright orange injection molded closure.)
Torre dei Beati, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo Rosa-ae, 2009 $18
Technically, this wine is a rosé. But it’s a dark a rosé as you’ll encounter, so we’ll throw it in here with the chillable red since it also likes to chill. Hailing from (red) Montepulciano grapes in Abruzzo, to the east of Rome, the juice gets “bled” off after a couple days maceration. The resulting wine has notes of ripe cherries overlay surprisingly good acidity for this juicy, fun wine. (Bottled with cork.)
Ray Isle posts an interesting question on his Facebook page. Since Facebook as all the appeal of a leper with cooties these days thanks to their recent privacy decision, why not bring it up here as well? Here’s his question: “if you want to convert a red wine drinker to drinking white, what do you think is the best white wine out there for the job?”
I’ve contemplated this very question several times. It probably matters which type of reds the person is accustomed to drinking. If it is a lighter-bodied red, the conversion is most likely painless since the shift would be changing some fruits on the same chassis of high-acidity. So it probably is someone who likes low-acid, “big” reds who doesn’t like the acidity of some whites. In which case, there are white Rhone varieties such as viognier, marsanne, roussanne that might fit the bill. It’s hard to say in the abstract, but that seems plausible in theory.
There’s also the context: put the red-wine drinker with lunch under an umbrella on a 90-degree day and see if the white wine doesn’t just have a little more appeal.
And Champagne is always a good fallback–perhaps a blanc de noirs, to be tricky! Any which way, there’s probably little chance of weaning a dyed-in-the-wool red wine-ophile to a steady diet of whites–I was aiming for admiring and ordering a glass from now and then.
What do you think?
jmolesworth1: Counting the empties: 2x NV Krug, mag ’98 Paul Autard CdP Côte Rônde, ’97 Montelena Estate Cab. ’92 Dalla Valle Cab, ’89 Ridge Monte Bello
MemMW: Good God- 1907 Blandy’s Bual opened 4 wks ago. Simply Transcendant. Beyond Leroy, beyond Krug. Talk about giving thanks!!!!!
EvanDawson: Food coma: better late than never. http://yfrog.com/35zc5j
And from CellarTracker, the top ten most uncorked bottles yesterday (as of this moment, by producer) were: Turley, Louis Roederer, Marcassin, Seghesio Family Vineyards, Kistler, Ridge, Kosta Browne, Kosta Browne, Gary Farrell, and Wiliams Selyem. See the whole list.
What did you uncork? How did it go?
I tasted with Gregory Smolik yesterday at the Domaine Select portfolio tasting in New York City. You may remember Greg from last year’s Real Wine World project. Greg is now the Midwest Regional Manager at Domaine Select.
Although he’s no longer on his own, he still has his passion for the wines of Italy. I recorded us tasting the wines from the biodynamic producer COS from Sicily. COS owner Giusto Occhipinti (pictured right) was there but he does not speak English. As with the philosophy of biodynamics, the wines are made in an extremely natural style complete with respect for the lunar cycle. These wines from indigenous grape varieties are also fermented in terra cotta amphoras.
We taste three wines:
1. Rami 2005, a white wine made from insolia and grecanico grapes (find this wine)
2. Pithos 2005, a light red made with nero d’avola and frappato. This was my favroite wine of the three. (find this wine)
3. Cerasuolo di Vitorra, a red aged in old oak barrels (find this wine)
Listen to Greg from the floor of the tasting talking about food pairings, using wood in winemaking, and descriptors such as “the inside of a walnut shell.” Find out which wine Greg says “you and I could drink three bottles each of this and we wouldn’t get a headache!”
Listen here (12 minute mp3 file)
Thanks for the audio help, Tim!
In this age of air conditioning, wine consumers may be forgiven for feeling disconnected from summer. But there are still times when the heat is inescapable and the word of the season becomes light. Not devoid in taste, but simply light in style. Oh, and cold. Nothing spells relief like c-o-n-d-e-n-s-a-t-i-o-n (hmm, not quite as catchy as Rolaids). When the condensation appears on the outside of a wine glass, you know you are in for some refreshment. Light, unoaked, fruit-forward and cold: those are all excellent things in a summer wine. And as with all Dr. Vino picks, these wines are easy on the wallet and on the palate.
Boniface, Apremont, vin de savoie 2004, $13 find this wine
From the Alpine region of Savoie comes this refreshing dry white for summer. Impress your friends with not only with a wine from a distant corner of France but also made from the obscure jacquere grape. Try it on the deck one evening with a salad while contemplating if the Alps would make a good place for your summer house given the ‘inconvenient truth’ of Al Gore’s movie.
Naia, verdejo, Rueda, 2005 $9 find this wine
There was a day that a white wine from Spain meant simply pain; but no longer. Zip right up to this crisp white that would be great for those who are looking for something a little more exotic than kiwi sauvignon blanc.
Don David, torrontes, Cafayate, 2005. $12 find this wine
The torrontes grape from Argentina is relatively unknown but you should rush to greet it to your local wine shop. This Don David captivated a group that I poured it for this spring with its unusual aromas of honeysuckle blossoms—yet it is completely dry.
La Ferme Martin, Wolffer, chardonnay, Long Island, 2004 $10 find this wine
Ah, bitter irony. As the French get maligned for not having enough English on their labels, this American producer uses French as a selling point! However, this is no California chardonnay since it is crisp and clean.
Pepiere, Muscadet, 2004 $8 find this wine
A great summer white that goes down easy—thanks not only to the aging on the lees, which gives it more heft than your typical Muscadet, but also to the gulpable price.
Domaine Sorin, Coteaux de Provence, 2005. $12 find this wine
Coteaux de Provence produces some excellent dry roses ; in fact it might be the benchmark for quality in roses. This one, light in color but with excellent notes of strawberry rose petals, has the added benefit of being organic. I found this one in a 5 liter bag-in-a-box in France—too bad we have to stick to the regular bottle size since they don’t seem to export the big format to the US.
Jean-Luc Colombo, Pioche et Cabanon Rose, Cote bleue, Coteaux d’aix en provence controlle, 2005. €7.25 at Casino hypermarche find this wine
Light in color, this is a classic rose—summer in a glass. Try this with a salade nicoise, close your eyes, and you will be transported to the Riveria. OK, if only it were that easy. Try this combo at home and it will be like being there without the jet lag. (Palm Bay Imports)
Vall dell’Acate, Il Frappato, Sicily, 2004. $14 find this wine
From the traditional blending grape, frappato, comes Sicily’s answer to Beaujolais—chill this light red and serve it on a hot summer evening.
French Rabbit, pinot noir, Languedoc, 2004 1L $10 find this wine
The box format makes this light red a great picnic wine. No corkscrew needed!
Clos de los Siete, 2004. $15 find this wine
This is a big red and so it may seem out of place on this list. But hey, sometimes it is possible to find air conditioning or you need something to stand up to the finger lickin BBQ sauce. This will do the job with its big extracted flavors—though the 15% alcohol may make you want to drink it under a deck umbrella.
Most overrated rosé: Domaine Ott, 2004. $30. find this wine Expectations were sky high along with the price tag—but the weakness of multiple bottles of this wine made me wonder if $12 is my limit for rosé.