Monday, April 9, 2018

Valentin Bianchi - Argentine wines with Italian pedigree

In the 20th century, Italian immigrants came to Argentina in search of a new life, including Valentin Bianchi, who founded a winery in San Raphael, Mendoza in 1928.  After a few short years, the winery's efforts were winning awards, including the nation's Maximum Quality Prize in 1934.  Today the Bianchi family continues to make wine in Mendoza using rootstock from their ancestral home of Italy, as well as California and France.

The wines of Bodega Valentin Bianchi were poured at a media dinner at the Chimichurri Grill in Manhattan and wowed the participants with their high quality, variety of styles and varieties, and winning quality/price ratio.   

The wines poured are as follows: 
- Bianchi Brut Sparkling - This inviting sparkling wine has fresh, toasty nose from 12 months lees aging.  It is produced in the traditional method with second fermentation in the bottle. A crisp wine to celebrate with for only $21.99. 

- Elsa Torrontes - Named for the grandmother of the current owners, this expressive wine is highly aromatic.  The lush tropical fruit on the nose is rewarded with pineapple and mango on the palate.  It was a vibrant wine honoring a woman who was the same.  This terrific distinctive Argentine wine offers great quality for the low price of $11.99. 

- Valentin Bianchi Malbec 2016 - Delicious, well-priced Malbec with plummy notes, plush mouthfeel, medium tannins and leather and tobacco. Dark chocolate and cherries, too - all for $15.99

- L10 Premium Malbec 2015 - Complex layers of chocolate, plums, dark cherries with firmer tannins and good length.  This project was produced to benefit world-renowned soccer player Leo Messi's charity benefiting disadvantaged children. $29.99

-  Famiglia Bianchi Nebbiolo Malbec 2014 - And here the old and new heritage of the winery are both present in a blend of Italian Nebbiolo and Argentine Malbec.  Sweet fruit core of strawberries with spicy cloves, backed up by good acid and nice length.  $19.99

- Particular Malbec 2014 - Bright red fruit on nose and palate, well integrated tannins, long length, super plush mouthfeel. Highly recommend. $30.99 

- Enzo Bianchi 2013 - Dark black and red fruit, huge length, nice pepper spice as well.  This is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Mabec (20%), and Petit Verdot (7%).  Fantastic age-worthy wine. $54.99

In this tasting, participants enjoyed a range of flavors from this Neuvo Argentine restaurant - from oysters to empanadas to filet mignon.  We found the range of wines worked really well with all the bold flavors served.  Seek out the wines of Valentin Bianchi for well-priced wines of distinctive  character. 












Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Attilio Ghisolfi working magic with seven hectares of prime Langhe

The wines of Attilio Ghisolfi were recently poured at a media dinner in New York City at Bobby Van’s Grill. The tasting covered a range of wines from the portfolio, and there’s something for everyone there.  The winery intentionally is creating some entry-point Barolo and Barbera, as well as high-end single vineyard offerings from prime Piedmont real estate.

Founder Carlo Ghisolfi started out by buying a compact, nine acre property in 1895 where he began making wine.  Carlo's great grandson Gianmarco along with his father started producing wines under their own label in 1987.  Today, this family-owned winery is committed to farming organically, eschewing pesticides and chemical fertilizers in favor of organic soil enrichments.  The small winery itself is surrounded by vineyards that fall within “Bussia,” one of the best Barolo cru production areas.

The portfolio tasting included: 

Attilio Ghisolfi Barbara d'Alba Maggiore 2013 - A dark and lovely wine with firm tannins, juicy cherry, and nice acidity. Am a big fan of Barbara d'Alba as a moderately priced, high quality northern Italian red.  

Attilio Ghisolfi Langhe Nebbiolo 2015 - Fragrant nose of dried cherry and leather, with good acid and a long finish. A delicious entry point to the winery's Nebbiolo-based wines. 

Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo Bussia 2013 - Elegant wine with dried rose petals, cherries, good acid structure. Grapes are from vines grown in white tufa soil near Monforte d'Alba.

Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo Bricco Visette 2013- The 2013 shows good potential for development with ripe cherry flavors, firm tannins, and plenty of acid. The vines used in this wine range from 15 - 50 years old, and the maturation combines large and smaller French oak barriques.

Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo Bricco Visette 2011 - Seeing the development from this highly prized vineyard region, which is 300-350 meters high.  The 2011 is drinking great now - a rich wine with tart blackberries mingling with the cherries and firm tannins propped up by good acidity. Highly recommend.

Attilio Ghisolfi Barolo Bricco Visette 2010 - Nose offers hints of coffee, while palate is bright with lush ripe cherries as well as baking spices. Long finish. At eight years old, this Barolo from the Bussia area is drinking great now, highly recommend.

The wines of Attilio Ghisolfi are widely available in both New York and New Jersey.  Seek them out for elegant expressions of age-worthy Barolo and delicious Barbara and Nebbiolo.







Saturday, February 10, 2018

Recent Bel Colle Barolos impress at NYC tasting

Piedmont’s Bel Colle winery was founded in the late 70’s and has grown to be recognized for producing award-winning wines.  The winery was purchased by Luca Bosio, from another Piedmont winemaking family, in  2015.  A trained winemaker, Luca was particularly excited to work with the rare native grape, Pelaverga, as well as the Barolo and Barbaresco vineyards. The wines of Bel Colle and Luca Bosio were poured at a recent media dinner at Sparks Steak House, where they were paired beautifully with the restaurant's signature prime sirloin steaks. 

Some of the highlights of the wines poured included:

Luca Bosio Langhe Arneis 2016 – A floral nose leads to rich flavors of peaches and lemons with great mouth feel. Arneis is a native white grape in the Piedmont region and a wonderful alternative white wine for only $19.99.

Bel Colle Verduno Pelaverga 2015 – This rare grape is only grown in Piedmont and is enjoyed there chilled as a light-bodied red with a peppery kick. ($29.99)

Bel Colle Barbaresco Roncaglie 2011 – Fairly light-bodied with fantastic acid/tannin/fruit balance. This wine showcases the Nebbiolo fruit with a long fermentation of 24-28 days. Roncaglie is a top Barbaresco area. ($54.99)

Bel Colle DOCG “Simposio” – We tasted through three vintages of this traditional Barolo.  2013, noted as a great vintage, was tight but showed its potential in a fragrant nose of leather, dried cherries and roses.  That fruit and spice continued on the palate. The 2012 was drinking well, with a pretty nose of dried roses and potpourri with cherries and a bit of sage. The 2011 was drinking beautifully, very lush midpalate with layered flavors of dusty flowers, cherries, raspberries and bit of tobacco. ($59.99)

Bel Colle Barolo Monvigliero 2011 – A showstopper single vineyard wine from one of the best vineyards in Verduno (200-300 feet above sea level).  With average vine age of 50 years old, this one showed sweet cherry fruit, spice, and very long finish. ($74.99)

Bel Colle Barolo Monvigliero 2009 – The same wine with more development. The dense cherry fruit had softened a bit and now tertiary aromas and flavors of mushroom, smoke, spice were coming forth.  The acid was still present and the tannins still firm – a great-drinking Barolo nearly ten years old now.  ($74.99)

The wines of Bel Colle are made with thoughtful aging in a mix of new and old French barriques as well as large format Slovenian casks.  Each vineyard and vintage is treated differently to bring out the best in the harvest.  While all the wines were delicious, I recommend purchasing the 2011 Barolo for immediate consumption and putting the 2013 away.




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Toasting 2018 Oscar Nominations with Piper Heidsieck

The luxurious iPic Fulton Street was abuzz this morning with wine media, all enjoying a decadent Champagne breakfast and waiting for the announcement of the 2018 Oscar nominees.  After gathering plates of caviar-topped eggs Benedict and flutes of Piper Heidsieck Champagne, we ensconced ourselves in the plushest of movie theaters for a live-streaming of the results. 

I was happy to see some of my faves from this year - including Lady Bird, The Big Sick, and Disaster Artist - all got nods from the Academy.  And myself and other attendees made notes on nominated films that we wanted to see before the 90th Oscars in March. 

After the excitement of the announcements, we enjoyed more Piper Heisieck from magnums with gorgeous art deco designs that commemorate the 90th Oscars. I found this Champagne to be balanced, crisp, and elegant, and it paired beautifully with the rich Hollandaise sauce as well as with decadent donuts from Under West Donuts. 

Piper-Heidsieck is the official Champagne of the Oscars, so when you watch on March 4 - this is what they'll be celebrating or drowning their disappointment with.  With Champagne this delicious in one's glass, even not being nominated would be a lot more acceptable I imagine. 

The best idea for those of us without tickets to the Oscars? Tune in with plenty of Piper Heidsieck on hand and enjoy a touch of Oscar glamour at home. 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Turkish delights - Wines of Vinkara

The wines of Turkey are unknown to most Americans, so I eagerly jumped at the opportunity to try them at a recent media dinner in New York City.  There I had the pleasure of meeting Ardic Gursel.  Ardic is the founder of Vinkara Winery, which is located an hour outside of the country's capital of Ankara on property owned by her family.   

Ardic is committed to promoting the indigenous grapes of Anatolia, which is the historic name for the country we call Turkey today.  One of the exciting aspects of her family's efforts is that this land is believed to believed to be the birthplace of wine, and it certainly is one of the world's oldest wine-producing regions.

On this evening of taste discovery we got to know these beautiful Turkish wines: 


Yasasin - Kalecik Karasi red grapes fermented as a white sparkling wine. Loved this aperitif wine, the first and only in Turkey produced in the methode Champenoise. Yasasin is a Turkish toast meaning "Long life!" 

Narince - Made from grapes of the same name, this white wine showed ripe peach nose, creamy palate, and a dry finish with slight almond notes.  The unoaked version of this wine showed particularly well as a fresh medium-bodied white wine of character. 

Kalecik Karasi - The Pinot Noir of indigenous Turkish grapes. The wine was translucent with elegant cherry notes.  We also had the Reserve version, aged 14 months in French oak, which was richer,  more velvety and boasted riper cherries and a bit of chocolate. 

Bogazkere - A full-bodied red wine that offered both black and red fruit and notes of spice with firm tannins.  Excellent with full-flavored meat dishes.  

Okuzgozu - A wine known as "Bulls Eye," this was a big bold red wine with stewed red fruits and baking spices and a touch of smokiness.  

This line-up of indigenous Turkish wines was eye-opening in that they were all high quality. In addition, they were pleasing to American palates, yet all unique in their flavor and aroma profiles.  To have a taste of Vinkara wines, pay a visit to East Pole in New York City, where some of these special pours are on the list. 

 
  


 

 

 

Wine Blogger Impressions of a Beer Blogger's Conference

This August I seized the opportunity to attend my first Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference in the iconic beer city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

From start to finish it was fun, educational, friend-filled, and tasty.  Here are some of the highlights of my hoppy weekend:

Historic Pabst  - The BBC educational sessions were in the historic Pabst "Best Place" reception hall - a piece right out of American beer history.  Our lunch explored the Pabst Microbrewery - which seems like an oxymoron but a tour with one of the brewmasters and tasting of a number of their small production brews including a Forst Keller, Augsburger Godeln and Van Damme Good Tripel convinced me that this place was the real deal.

Educational Sessions and Tastings: I was most excited for Randy Mosher's Identifying and Describing Flavor, Smell, and Color in Beer.  Because it was at this session that my biggest question would be answered:  Is beer tasting essentially different than wine tasting?  The answer is that the process is pretty much the same, but the flavors and aromas are going to be different.  Never described a wine as "dank" or "resinous" and never had to consider the assortment of ingredients that make a beer.  It's a lot different thinking about the effect of hops rather than the characteristics of grapes.

Randy told us that all parts of the beer should taste good and to consider: Is it too astringent? That would give it a rough finish rather than clean. He talked about different kinds of malts such as Vienna, which gives a light sweet caramel aroma.  Randy acknowledged that beer tasting wasn't too different than wine tasting although the approach to aromatics was different.  "There are chemicals in beer you can't smell until they're in your mouth." That's because your mouth has enzymes in it. One of the best parts of the presentation was Randy set out a selection of Stone Brewing beers to taste through as he presented including Ghost Hammer (we picked up marigold and lemon) , Stone IPA (grapefruit), and Arrogant Bastard (toasted marshmallow and caramel).

Spontaneous learning: As I've always found with wine, the best way to learn is by hanging out and tasting with others.  I very much appreciated Carla Jean Lauter explaining to me the difference between lagers and ales.  Her point that lagers are brewed cold was brought home at our dinner stop where we got to see the pretty fantastic beer caves at the historic Miller Brewery - where their crisp lagers were indeed cold fermented below ground.

Fantastic welcoming Milwaukee:  The city of Milwaukee was fun, friendly, and fabulous for beer lovers. BBC participants went to so many inventive, high quality breweries and drank so much good beer - this is really a top destination for craft brew lovers, especially those who want to see a big part of American beer history.  I have to end with a shout out to the favorite brewery we visited: Lakefront Brewery which has capacious seating both inside and outside, a hilarious brewery tour, excellent range of beers (love their Pilsner - a much maligned style that they do so well), and gorgeous water-side location.

All and all, this wine blogger was impressed by her first Beer Bloggers Conference.  I'll be back!




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

NJ Native Danny Marcus Brings His Italian Wine Dream Home

Danny Marcus moved to Italy for romance, but soon had a second love in Bella Italia – the country’s wine. With years of effort, he now has his own wine label and he’s seeking distribution in the United States.

The whimsical name, Mood, conveys Danny’s idea that wine tasting notes aren’t that useful to the average consumer. Instead, being able to tell imbibers that this wine is great for this mood is what Danny’s wine vision is all about.

The first wine under the label is “Sweet on You” – and, no, it’s not a sweet wine at all. The name is meant to evoke a little romance, which Danny believes is a good pairing for it.  It’s actually a
blend of Sangiovese and Syrah.  Danny works with winemakers in Emilia Romagna to develop the blend of his wine, is looking to create a white wine next. For now, he’s focusing on spreading the gospel of wine that evokes a certain feeling. Best of luck to this Jersey native as he lives his Italian wine dream!