Getting My Bubbly On

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample.

I decided a few weeks ago that it is spring. Regardless of the fact that it snowed in DC in April. It’s spring. I have switched to flip flops and I am stubbornly wearing dresses and short sleeves even though the high was 55 earlier this week. With spring, my mind turns toward bubbles on an mostly daily basis. Sparkling wine and spring make me happy. Tonight we tried the Asolo Prosecco Superiore Millesimato Venegazzù Montelvini.  The wine has a traditional closure, clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $15.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) This is an extra dry Prosecco, which means it does have some residual sugar. I’m not usually the biggest fan of extra dry sparkling, but it almost didn’t register to me that this wasn’t a brut sparkling until I read the tech sheet.

2.) I chilled this down and drank it as an apertif on the porch. Because I’m classy that way.

3.) Prosecco is one of my favorite non-budget busting sparklers.

4.) I’ve never seen wine in this bottle shape before. I asked the PR guy for the brand and he said it’s called an “Astro” and is designed to fit better in an ice bucket with its squatter shape and short neck.

On the nose I got lemon, orange citrus, wax, spice, and apple. In the mouth I found green apple, citrus, melon, and spice. Overall I thought the wine was well done and I was surprised by the acidity given that it is described as extra dry.




My Glass Doth Overflow

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample for a live Twitter tasting.

With bubbles of course! Bubbles make for one happy wino and I love this time of year as my local wine shops expand their selections and bubble samples arrive on my doorstep. I always like to grab a glass and toast friends and family and usually welcome guests to our house by popping open a bottle of bubbly. Tonight we chose the Contadi Castaldi Brut Rose. It has a traditional Champagne closure, retails for about $23 and come from my new favorite area for sparkling wine, Franciacorta.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Franciacorta. If you aren’t drinking it, you are missing out. Really. Why are you still sitting there? Go buy some.

2.) The Contadi has a beautiful nose with just a hint of almonds that I found very intriguing.

3.) If you are seeking a dry brut rose with nice acidity and a lovely toasty note, this is it.

4.) Did I mention how you should get yourself a bottle of Franciacorta?

On the nose I found flowers, cherries, almonds, and toast. In the mouth I got cherries, strawberries, and toast.  Overall I found the wine to be dry, with good toast, excellent acidity, and a nice finish. My notes say “I’m loving it.”



A Halloween Treat

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Fredrick Wildman.

Boo! Long time no see. Life, at times, gets in the way of things we want to do. As you know, I spent several weeks furloughed, which zapped my energy as I am not used to spending all day every day chasing after an almost 3 year old, then I had to travel to a funeral, and then off for a fun visit to family. Thus, my absence. But I’m back with a what I consider just a lovely wine that pairs well with jumping up to answer your door all evening. Tonight we chose the Lamberti Sparkling Rose to grace our Champagne flutes.  The Lamberti retails for about $14 and has a traditional Champagne closure.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Honestly, I had to keep checking to make sure this was really a $14 wine.

2.) The color on this wine is quite pretty.

3.) Not only for Halloween, this wine would be excellent with a large upcoming meal involving turkey.

4.) Seriously? $14? You are seriously winning something with this wine at that price.

On the nose I got raspberry, jello, yeast, and flowers. The nose is light and delicate and the color is so pale and pretty. My pictures do not do it justice, at all. I’m a pretty terrible photographer.  In the mouth I got raspberry jello, cherry, and raspberry. I found the wine to be bright with good acidity and a nice mousse. I love it.




Scarpa via NYC

*Disclaimer: Snooth provided transportation and lodging so I could attend this conference.

Where is Scarpa Winery, you might ask? On this particular night, it was found at Peking Duck in Manhattan, but in reality, Scarpa is in Piedmont, Italy. When I traveled to NYC a couple weeks ago to attend the Snooth People’s Voice Awards blogger conference, we were able to try quite the line up from this winery, which is not currently imported to the US, but is looking to come to the market ASAP. The Scarpa tasting kicked the conference off with a bang, with almost a dozen more tastings to follow. Lucky for Scarpa, being first, our palates were fresh and ready to taste.

Our first flight.

Our first flight.

We tasted through the following line up, in this order:

  • Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona, 2007, $72
  • Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona, 2006, $52
  • Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona, 2005, $68
  • Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona, 1998, $58
  • Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona, 1997, $95
  • Scarpa Barolo, Tettimora, 2005, $74
  • Scarpa Barolo, Tettimora, 2004, $88
  • Scarpa Barolo, Tettimora, 2003, $98
  • Scarpa Barolo, Tettimora, 2001, $130
  • Scarpa Barolo, Tettimora, 1999, $105
  • Scarpa Barolo, Tettimora, 1987, $250
  • Scarpa Barolo, Le Coste di Monforte, 1978, $500

As you can see, we were able to taste through a couple different verticals, as well as even older vintages of both verticals. And yes, the last bottle really does retail for $500, which may be the most expensive wine I’ve ever tasted. I’d have to go back through the last 6+ years of notes to check, but I’m pretty positive that tops my list.

One interesting thing I learned about the winery involved the use of large oak tanks to age the wines, rather than the smaller barrels most wineries in the US favor.  Their idea of the life-span of a tank is also quite different than the American notion that barrels need to be replaced every 2-3 years. The Scarpa tanks are on average currently 12-13 years old and they will use them for at least 30 years. They also use no temperature control in the winery, just open the doors when the weather is nice!

My two favorites of the tasting were the 2005 Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona, and the 1978 Scarpa Barolo, Le Coste di Monforte.  When I’m looking for Italian wine, I often go for a Barbera d’Asti, just because I find it to be a delicious and more affordable alternative alternative to Barolo.

2005 Scarpa Barbera d’Asti, La Bogliona: Spice, herbs, orange zest, chocolate covered orange, crushed violets, black cherry, raspberry, fresh and vibrant, lots of acidity.

1978 Scarpa Barolo, Le Coste di Monforte: Mint chocolate, min, espresso, eucalyptus, coffee bean grounds, anise notes, fresh vanilla, red fruits, cranberry, bright fresh red fruit with excellent acidity. I was really surprised by how much life this wine has in it and can imagine  it could age for years to come given the acidity.

Overall, the strong line up of wines impressed me. In general, I could easily recommend all but the 1998 Barbera because I thought that particular glass had oxidized and so I didn’t get a fair impression of the wine. Here’s hoping Scarpa Winery will find its way to a wine shop near me soon.

Lunch with Sella & Mosca

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a wine lunch with Beppe Caviola, the consulting winemaker with Sella & Mosca at Acqua Al in DC. Sadly, I forgot my camera and my phone pictures didn’t really turn out. I hadn’t been to Acqua Al before so getting a chance to try it out was also an excellent side benefit to attending the lunch. I’m fairly certain the restaurant simply has a standard menu when people reserve the back room, which, while the food was tasty, it didn’t feel like any thought was put into how the food would actually match with the wine. Generally, red sauce with a white wine doesn’t do much for me…or the wine!

However, the wines themselves were interesting. As was the company. Since I took the whole afternoon off from work I was in no hurry to rush out of the lunch and go to enjoy some extra one on one time with Beppe and the team from Pam Bay Int’l.  We tried 9 wines over the course of lunch and dessert, which I believe is most of the portfolio from Sella & Mosca. I got to add yet another grape to my list of unique grapes tasted, with the winery’s 100% Torbato, which I understand might be the only 100% Torbato produced in the world.

2011 Teruzzi & Puthod Terre di tufi Toscana (80% Vernaccia, 10% Chardonnay, 10% Sauvignon Blanc): $15. Lime and other citrus on the nose, heavier on the palate with toasted coconut, nuts, lemon, green apple, good acidity. The oak influence seemed to dissipate quickly.

2011 “La Cala” Vermentino di Sardegna: $12. Light nose with lemon, honeysuckle and melon. Tropical notes, spices, lemon, lime, and some sort of orange citrus on the palate with good acidity.

2011 “Terre Bianche” Alghero Torbato: $21. Stones and a light fruit I couldn’t identify on the nose. Light citrus, rocks, minerals and flowers on the palate. I really can’t even compare this grape to anything else as I couldn’t pinpoint what I thought it tasted like.

2007 “Terre Rare” Carignano del Sulcis Riserva: $15. Dark fruit, oak, plums, very dry, spice, black cherry, dusty earth (I wrote that down as dusty dirt in my notes…), chocolate, almost port-like.

2008 Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva: $16. Spice, earth, black fruit, plum, dry, olives, pencil lead, barnyard.

2006 “Tanca Farra (50% Cannonau, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon): $30. Fruit nose, darker palate, plum, blackberry, earth, drying tannins, very dark overall.

Up last was the comparison of 3 vintages of Sella & Mosca’s 100% Cabernet Sauvignon which is aged for 18 months in small casks, then 18 months in oak barrels, and finally 18 more months in bottle before being released. We tried the 2004, 2005, and 2006 Marchese di Villamarina Cabernet Sauvignon, all of which retail for $75.

2004: Mint, cherry, plum, red fruit, berries, earth, slight green notes, spice, good acidity, and firm tannins on the finish.

2005: More reserved, barnyard, spice, black raspberry, softer, fruitier, cocoa, espresso, spice, black cherry, black fruit. This was my favorite of the 3 vintages.

2006: Mocha, red fruit, red cherry, very soft overall, soft tannins, sage, ripe fruit.

Barolo for a Cold Winter Night

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Wine Chateau.

I don’t drink a lot of Barolo.  Mainly because I oddly don’t drink a ton of Italian wines in general, which is a shame.  There was a time there where I was in love with Negromara. I should probably revisit Italy through wine as I’ve had some fun ones lately, including a new grape to add to my list of grape varieties tried.  In any event, we plucked the 2007 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Tortoniano from the cellar to enjoy by a roaring fire one cold night.  The Chiarlo clocks in at 13.5 percent alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and retails for $37.09 from Wine Chateau.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I generally don’t drink much Barolo because I find it expensive. But I do love it, and this one is wonderful in the price point.

2.) I always want to put on a smoking jacket and play some refined card game when I drink Barolo. The roaring fire fit nicely with how I imagine Barolo should be consumed.

3.) While it was lovely on its own, I could easily see if with a duck ragu or a mushroom risotto.

4.) The wine felt a little young, it definitely got better and better as it aired in my glass.

On the nose I got cherry, raspberry, wood, anise, flowers, some earthy notes, spice, and other red fruits.  In the mouth I found tarter red fruit, with raspberry, wood, black cherry, spices, dried roses, dried cherries, and more black cherry. It felt expensive on the palate.

2010 Fontana Candida Frascati

Up second for the speed dating round of WBC is the 2010 Fontana Candida Frascati. Mostly made of Malvasia and retails for $13. Honey, honeysuckle, tangerine, and lime up front on the nose. On the palate, more lime and lemon, nice acidity.

Pair with the pool or a crisp green salad.

Sparkle Some More

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Natural Wine Merchants.

I have been all about the bubbles in the last couple of weeks. It must be the holidays. Picture me singing, totally off-key because I’m pretty tone deaf: “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…. .” Yes indeed, I have the holidays and sparklers on my mind. Tonight we tried the Pizzolata Fields Prosecco, which has a kind of cork that was part way in the neck of the bottle and part out…in any case, it took me forever and a day to open the bottle, it clocked in at 11% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $11.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Damn that cork was IMPOSSIBLE to get out. Removing it involved me whining and almost ready to slam the top of the bottle against some bricks.

2.) Other than the cork, this was an excellent Prosecco.

3.) $11. Need I say more?

4.) Bready with notes of candle wax and green apples, combined with fine bubbles, which rocks my world.

On the nose of the wine I got lemon, green apple, candle wax, and bread.  In the mouth I found notes of honey, lemon, and pear.  Overall I found the wine to be quite dry with tiny bubbles, though I would honestly describe it as more prickly than bubbly. At the price point, serve it at your next party or with dinner on Tuesday.


Speed Tasting #8

2008 Tabarrini Adarmando from Italy. Smells like pear and fresh peach. $17-$22 and available across the US. Smells like very fresh fruit. Totally done in stainless steel. This grape has a lot of heft to it. Nice acidity to counter the heft of the grape. Very peachy with some tropical notes. Very interesting grape and I think one to add to my Century Club list!

Wine with Dad

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the brand.

I got a pitch from a PR person a few months back for a wine for Father’s Day. Now personally, I think the person who you are celebrating should get to choose the wine, but since I happened to be going to visit my parents at the same time as the wine was arriving, I thought, why not? I’ll take it with me and see if my Dad would like to have this wine as his Father’s Day wine. Dad gave it a big thumbs up and wanted to know where he could buy some because he thought many of his friends would also really like the wine. The wine in question? The 2007 Lucente Toscana.  It retails for around $20 and had a real cork closure. I forgot to record the alcohol content in my sleep deprived state.

On the nose I found berries, black cherry, earth, leather, spice, and herbs. I thought this was a big, powerful red wine based on the nose, and it followed through on the palate. In the mouth I got tart cherry, blackberry, earth, leather, more black fruit, and some creamy vanilla. With air the wine smoothed out nicely and displayed some sweet tannins and good acidity.

So grab a bottle and enjoy with your dad! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, especially my own and to Mr. Wannabe Wino on his first Father’s Day!

Dad and me toasting!