Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Easy Drinking Caldora Montepulciano D'Abruzzo

Sometimes when I open a bottle of wine, I sip and savor it and relax. Other times that first sip quickly leads to a second without thinking and I’m full of energy. That’s what I call an easy-drinking wine. It’s a wine that doesn’t require deep thinking or decanting and will pair with most everyday foods and events. Caldora 2016 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is just that, an easy-drinking wine that will pair with everyday foods and events.

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo was classified as a DOC region in 1968. What Montepulciano D’Abruzzo means is that it is the Montepulciano grape grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy. You might see other wines with the Montepulciano on it, but only if it’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is it from the Abruzzo region of Italy. The region is warm Mediterranean climate with the Appenniness on the western side of the region and the Adriatic Sea on the eastern side.

Caldora 2016 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC
Caldora is part of Farnese Vini family and one of the largest cooperatives in the Abruzzo region. They source their grapes from small family growers in Teramo and Chieti. Their aim is to make wine for consumers that are seeking good value and good taste.
They certainly live up to the good value and good taste. It’s a very easy drinking wine with soft acidity and soft mouth-feel. Hints of vanilla, black licorice, plum, wild cherry lurking in the background and a hint of cocoa. The wine paired very well with our home-made pizza. Drink now and enjoy. Price ranges from $10 - $14.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 3 - C is for Chenin Blanc

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 3 C is for Chenin Blanc. Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and I work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions one letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

This month we learn about the Chenin Blanc grape. It is believed that the grape was established in the Anjou region of France. The Abbey of Glanfeuil a French Benedictine Monastery in the village of Saint-Maur-sur-Loir wer growing these grapes.

The DNA of Chenin Blanc was always in question. However, in July 2019 at the First International Chenin Blanc congress it was revealed that the DNA of the grape is Savagnin and Sauvignonasse.

Chenin Blanc is a very versatile grape. It can and is produced dry, semi-sweet, sweet and cremant style. There is a Chenin Blanc for every palate.

2016 Chappellet Chenin Blanc

The wine I chose for this episode came from my wine cellar. A Chappellet Chenin Blanc. Full disclosure, I am a Chappellet wine club member and have been a member for a very long time.
Chappellet was founded in 1967 after Don Chappellet settled his family on Prichard Hill. His goal was to create world-class wines. Although they produce predominately red wines and are known for their Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc grapes were originally on the property when they purchased it. They did replant the Chenin Blanc in 2004 and re-introduced it as a signature designation with Molly Chappellet’s signature on every bottle.
The wine is elegant, bright and lively with notes of tropical fruit, citrus, meyer lemon, honeydew. It’s balanced and soft with a burst of acidity.

Learn more about the Chenin Blanc and the wines we tasted by listening to the podcast or watch the webinar.



For more episodes of Winephabet Street visit http://winephabetstreet.com/

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Ventisquero Grey Label Named After a Glacier

Photo: https://torresdelpaine.com/

Ventisquero, Grey label is named after the Grey Glacier in Chile’s Patagonia region. The Glacier is part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field located in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. It is 17 miles long beginning in the Patagonian Andes Mountains and ends in Grey Lake. It is one of the most spectacular glaciers in Chile. Hence the [Glacier] on the label.
Ventisquero has been making wine since 1998. They own vineyards in Chile’s main wine-producing regions: Coastal Maipo, Casablanca, Colchagua, Leyda and Huasco. The Grey label represents single-vineyard wines from the various regions.
They recently released two new vintages, The 2014 Carménére from the Maipo Valley and the 2017 blend of Garnacha, Cariñena and Mataro from the Apalta Vineyard in the Colchagua Valley. Both wines are made under head winemaker Felipe Tasso who joined the winery in 2000. The Carménére has been aged in oak for 18 months, because according to Tosso “When the wine is concentrated, Carménére goes very well with oak. Otherwise, the toast overpowers the fruit.” The decision to age the Carménére in oak is based on the power of the Carménére from vintage to vintage. The Grey GCM doesn’t require as long a time in oak.

2017 Grey [Glacier] Garnacha, Cariñena, Mataro SRP $20
This blend consists of 62% Garnacha, 19% Cariñena and 19% Mataro. The majority of the grapes, Garnacha come from Apalta, Block 28. Here you will find the soil full of colluvial and stones with some clay and orange granite. The wine was aged in fifth use French oak barrels for 6 months. After oak aging the wines were bottled and aged for a month. Although this wine is a great drink now wine, it should age pretty well for the next 3 to 6 years.
Tasting Notes: Lots going on in this complex wine that shows many flavors. Nice notes of red fruit, red raspberry and some black pepper escape the glass with an earthy note. The palate is medium-bodied with soft tannins and easy drinking. Flavors of red an black fruit with a hint of cocoa. The finish is a beautiful soft black pepper that lingers a bit. Paired well with grilled beef kabobs.

2014 Grey [Glacier] Carménére SRP $20
This wine is 100% Carménére from the Maipo Valley. The soil consists of clay and coarse sand and stones. Malolactic fermentation happens in the barrels. Aging is for 18 months in French oak where 34% were first-use and 66% were second or third-year use. After bottling it is aged in the bottle for 8 months. It can be aged up to 10 years.
Tasting Notes: Lots of black and blue fruit coming from the glass with a hint of green pepper in the distant. The palate is strong and smooth with velvety tannins. Hints of graphite mix in with the black fruit. Paired wonderfully with a flat iron steak.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Terlato Pinot Grigio Inspires Riedel Wine Glass

What happens when the father of Pinot Grigio and Riedel Crystal collaborate? Pinot Grigio gets their own Riedel wine glass. Yes, Terlato’s Friuli Pinot Grigio is the inspiration behind the Riedel Pinot Grigio wine glass and why not, every wine deserves their own glass.

This glass is designed with a leaner bowl to capture the aromas before it moves through the smaller mouth at the top of the glass to touch your senses. This enhances the aromatics of the wine and the crisp clean flavors.

When a wine gets its own glass it needs new clothing. The Terlato 2018 Pinot Grigio is sporting a new label and bottle. A slightly tinted bottle ensures the wine is protected from the light which protects the wine quality. The Terlato logo and family crest are embossed with gold foil for an elegant look.

Truth be told, I am not a fan of pinot grigio. However, I do think a glass makes a difference! The Riedel glass really allowed the aromas to escape in such nice layers. Rich in stone fruit, peach, green apple and a hint of lemon. The wine had nice minerality with subtle hints of white flowers and honeysuckle followed by a creamy texture balanced with crisp acidity.

Personally, I really enjoyed the wine! Yes, I liked it! I always say to keep an open mind and for $23.99 it is well worth the experience. Taste test for yourself in a Riedel glass and wine glass of your choice. Let me know what your thoughts are.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 2: B is for Barbera

Welcome to Winephabet Street Season 2 Episode 2 B is for Barbera

Winephabet Street is a monthly series where Lori Budd of Draceana Wines and I work our way through the alphabet exploring wine and wine regions one letter at a time. The show is live on the third Monday at 8pm and is free, but you must register to attend. Put it on your calendar, pour yourself a glass of wine and hang out with us.

This month we visit Italy and the Barbera grape. The Barbara Grape is grown in the Piedmont region of Italy. The hills of Monferrato are considered its native home. It is said that the best Barbera comes from Barbera d’Asti - DOCG and Barbera d’Alba. Barbera is a late-ripening grape and retains acidity even when fully ripe. The high acidity is the hallmark of this grape. It’s light-bodied with low tannins.

Flavors you can get from Barbera are: Strawberry, raspberry, red and black cherry, blackberry tartness, plum, toast, vanilla, sour cherry, spice. Interesting that winemakers began introducing Barbera to oak in the 1980s and it tames the acidity. It also brings some vanilla, spice and oak to the wine. The oak makes the wine rounder, softer, a bit more complex and makes it age-worthy.

Join us in this episode as Lori and I both have wines from two different regions. See how we compare and learn a little about Barbera.

Terre del Barollo - 2017 Barbera d’ Alba

For this episode, I visited Viscount Liquor in Fishkill, NY and purchased a bottle of 2017 Terre del Barolo Barbera d’ Alba.
Cantina Terre del Barolo was founded in 1958 when Arnaldo Rivera who was Castiglione Falletto’s mayor decided to set up a cooperative with 21 local growers. Today they represent all 11 villages that make up the appellation with more than 300 members and 650 hectares.
This Barbera is grown in the Langhe area in calcareous clay. It was handpicked and the maximum yield is 10 tons hectare.No oak - it spent 3-4 months in stainless steel before bottling.
Tasting notes: Raspberry, blackberry with minerality on the palate. The wine is light in body with light acidity.

Learn more about the Barbera and the wines we reviewed by listening to the podcast or watch the webinar below.

For more episodes of Winephabet Street visit http://winephabetstreet.com/

The Webinar  

The Podcast

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Harveys Bristol Cream - Not Your Grandmothers Drink

When you think about Sherry, what first comes to mind? For me it was always cooking. That is what I used sherry for. It wasn’t until I judged the Ultimate Wine Competition that I found a new love for Sherry. It was a sherry flight and I doubted myself as a judge because I didn’t know much about sherry and thought you just cooked with it. What I did not realize was the different types of sherry and that you can sit and enjoy it, like a port or cognac. That aha flight there were 4 different sherries. The WOW Sherry for me was the oloroso sherry. Such a WOW that all 3 judges on my panel gave it a gold medal and I didn’t let them take it away. I savored and enjoyed every last drop.
Since that day in 2012 I really haven’t enjoyed a glass of sherry, but I am so intrigued with it I want to learn more. I did enroll in the Sherry certification course at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2018, but had to cancel because of the restaurant.
This year, I got asked if I wanted to participate in Sherry Week and I couldn’t turn it down. They supplied me with a bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream. This is another Sherry AHA moment for me because I thought of this sherry as an old person's drink. Takes me back to my grandparents day where I saw the bottle on their bar for after-dinner drinks and personally, thought it was cream-based. NOT.

About Harveys Bristol Cream
Harveys began in 1796 as an importer of foreign wines in an old house on Bristol’s historic Denmark Street. During this time sherry was imported to Britain in oak casks on a ship and then blended in Bristol.
In 1882 John Harvey II and his brother Edward created Harveys Bristol Cream by selecting over 30 soleras of sherries aged between 3 and 20 years. These are blends of Fino, Oloroso, Amontillado and Pedro Ximenex and aged in American oak using the traditional method of soleras and criderias. It is still produced today in the same manner.
In 1895 Harveys was awarded a Royal Warrant from the Queen of England. What is in the bottle hasn’t changed but what has is the packaging. Harveys has new clothes! It’s sporting a new label that is printed thermochromic ink. This ink will turn blue when the Sherry in the bottle reaches the perfect drinking temperature which is between 50 and 55 degrees.

Here is what you need to know about Harveys Bristol Cream:

1. It is not a “cream” liquor like a Baileys. It’s a Sherry. The called it a cream Sherry because the richness rivaled that of cream
2. It first came to the United States in 1933
3. Best served chilled
4. Best served in a white wine glass (I failed at this and served it in a cordial glass)
5. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a month
6. Today the blend remains the same with the 4 different styles of sherry but they are aged for an average of 7 years. Each wine is aged separately then blended together.
7. The blend is mainly Palmino based with 80% of the wine Fino, Amontillado or Oloroso and 20% Pedro Ximenex
8. It is the #1 selling Sherry in the world.

Pairing Notes:

I paired Harveys with 3 types of foods: potato chips, jalapeño poppers and Oreos. It did well with the potato chips and the Oreos, not so well with the poppers. The Sherry cut down on the saltiness of the chips and you didn’t feel as thirsty as you do when you are done eating them. The poppers were a fail. Of course they were. You can’t pair something spicy with something high in alcohol. This Sherry clocks in at 17.5%. The Oreos were a great pairing. My only disappointment is the Oreos aren’t made the same way today as they were 20 years ago. The chocolate with the little cream filling complimented the Sherry in your mouth.

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of sweet raisins and caramel lead to a palate that is smooth and creamy with nuisances of fruit dancing with elegance.


Sherry makes great cocktails. I would have never thought. I challenged my inner bartender and made an Adonis found on the Harveys website , however, I lacked the orange bitters and substituted a dash of Worcestershire Sauce and orange peel. I will be making these again.
Harveys Bristol Cream will be a great addition to your holiday festivities. Might even surprise some people who never thought they would like Sherry into Sherry lovers.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Exitus - Bold and Fearless

Looking for something different to bring to that New Years Eve party? You want to begin the new year right and in a badass way with class. Bring a bottle of 2017 Exitus Bourbon Barrel Aged Red wine to the party. The bottle is classy, a Wild West whiskey bottle out of the 1800’s that might have that bourbon drinker reaching for it. I brought it to a Halloween party, but any party will do.

The Bourbon Barrel
What does bourbon barrel age bring to the wine? A new complexity to the wine. A barrel is charred on the inside to a certain toast. After the bourbon is aged in the barrel, the caramelization of the sugars of the bourbon get into the char. When the wine is aged in this char, it brings some sophisticated fun adventure to the wine in the form of smoky and caramel notes.

2017 Exitus SRP $20
This is a powerful and adventurous wine combining Zinfandel, Merlot and Petit Verdot fermented in American stainless steel before being aged for 3 months in Kentucky bourbon barrels. It clocks in at 15.9% alcohol. Bold aromas of blackberry compote, vanilla and toast come from the glass. One sip puts that grin on your face with flavors of blackberry, caramel, vanilla and baking spice. Pair it with chocolate biscuit bread and it brings out the caramel notes in the wine. Pairs well with chocolate.