Friday, February 27, 2009

2009 American Wine Blog Awards

Yes its true. Another year, and no recognition from the great Tom Wark. This week I waited for some news, but it never came. Such elision weighs heavy on my heart. I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me. Why Tom? Why?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monte Volpe Primo Rosso (2006) Mendocino County, California

And the winner is….… In honor of the Academy Awards, I took a break from my “Italian-Only” policy to try a Cal-Italian blend from Monte Volpe, one of four labels owned by the Graziano family, who began planting Italian grape varietals in Mendocino County (north of Sonoma) in 1918. Gregory Graziano, founder Vincenzo's grandson, now carries on the family winemaking tradition. As they should, Italian grape varietals that were once an integral part of Mendocino viticulture are again drawing the attention of wineries in California as well as other regions in the United States. The 2006 Primo Rosso is an odd, quaffable, mostly Cal blend of 65% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 10% Petite Sirah, 5% Sangiovese 3% Negroamaro, and 2% Nebbiolo that is aged for 18 months in mix of American, Eastern European and French oak. The wine has a dark purple color, jammy nose and flavors of ripe blackberries, raspberries and plums. The wine has a nice mouth feel and balanced acidity that carries through to a surprisingly long finish. As Kunio Kato so eloquently said in his acceptance speech, “Domo arigato Mr. Roboto!”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cascina Minella Dolcetto di Dogliani (2007) Piemonte

Another wine from Piemonte?? Yes, when it’s as good as this Dolcetto from Cascina Minella, a small (just five hectares; four of Dolcetto and one of Barbera) organic winery in Dogliani (due south of Barolo) that was founded in 2002 by Livia and Gianluca Marchisio. Their 2007 Dolcetto di Dogliani is easy drinking. It has a very deep violet/purple color with a fresh, black fruit nose. Full, round finish. Surprisingly high (14.5%) alcohol content (aging potential?). No oak; vinified and aged entirely in stainless steel. Enjoyed with grilled skirt steak. Let’s hear it for the little guy!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Attilio Ghisolfi Langhe Carlin (2005) Piemonte

For most wine drinkers, the stars of Piedmont are the varietals; Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto and Arneis. But Piedmont is becoming increasingly known for its blended or "vini di fantasia" wines which are grouped together under the Langhe DOC. One such wine is "Carlin" from winemaker Attilio Ghisolfi. The wine is an unusual blend of Nebbiolo and Freisa, a light, high-acid, fragrant variety that is mostly made into fizzy reds. Like the eponymous, posthumous comedian, the wine is very dark red in color, with a terrific exotic nose. Soft tannins; smooth finish. Wonderfully food friendly. A very enjoyable wine.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Proprieta Sperino Uvaggio (2004) Piemonte

A knock-out from Proprieta Sperino, a small family winery located in the town of Lessona, in the foothills of the Alps of northern Piemonte. The father and son team of Paolo and Luca De Marchi produce their wines in vineyards that were abandoned in the 1950’s following a rural exodus to nearby Milan, Turin and Switzerland that saw the loss of nearly 100,000 acres of vineyards in the area. The 2004 Uvaggio (Uvaggio is a wine made from grapes that are blended before fermentation as opposed to a Vinaggio in which the grapes are fermented separately then blended) is made from a blend of mostly (60%) Nebbiolo, and Vespolina and Croatina (the cepage varies according to the vintage). The wine has a beautiful color and nose. Nice moderate use of wood. Very long, supple finish. Paired perfectly with cremagliera di agnello alla griglia. Pretentious, indeed. My writing, not the wine.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Michael Phelps; Role Model, Olympic Gold Medalist, Pot-Head, Italian Wine Lover

In a continuing series of celebrity and political interviews that puts TMZ to shame; the Italian Cellar has obtained an exclusive interview with joker, smoker, and midnight swimmer Michael Phelps.

The Italian Cellar: Michael, thanks for taking time out of your "busy" schedule to chat with us.

Michael Phelps: Dude… problem.

TIC: A lot has been written about your extreme training and eating regiment during the Olympics. We also heard Italian wine played a big role.

MP: Dude….training gives me the most intense munchies…..and after snarfing some Doritos and pudding, nothing quenches the thirst like a bottle of Puglian-Wowie, a delicious blend of Primitivo and Cannabis.

TIC: We’ve heard you’re being considered for a role in "Dude, Where’s my Car II".

MP: Very possible dude, very possible.

TIC: A couple of quick questions; ready? Favorite actor?

MP: Humphrey Bogart.

TIC: Favorite candy?

MP: Mary Jane’s.

TIC: Any comment on your Saturday Night Live performance?

MP: As I said in my recent statement, I apologize for my bad judgment.

TIC: Michael, thanks for your time.

MP: Dude…..

Monday, February 2, 2009

Castel di Salve Priante Salento Rosso (2006) Puglia

Another spicy Italian red wine from Castel di Salve, the most southerly estate in Puglia run by the husband and wife team of Francesco Marra and Francesco Winspeare. The two began estate bottling small quantities of wine in the late 1980's and today, they have over 100 acres under vine; producing about 12,000 cases of seven different wines. The 2006 Priante is 50% Negroamaro and 50% Montepulciano. Aged in barriques for 12 months. Nice fruity nose of black fruits; deep color. Super-ripe. Very smooth, long finish. A very nice wine.