Monday, November 30, 2015

Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon

Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
Galilee, Israel

Recanati is an Israeli wine label with deep Italian roots. The family had a long history of wine-making in Italy prior to settling in the region in the 1930s. in 2000, Lenny Recanati revived the family business and opened Recanati in Israel's Hefer Valley.

Review: The Cabernet is a rich ruby color. It has intense aromas black currant, plum, bittersweet cocoa, and a hint of mint. It's a dry wine with a medium body, soft tannin, and flavors of  rich black fruit and sweet toasty oak.

I'm pretty pleased with this Cab. It certainly doesn't have the big power of a California Cab or Bordeaux, but it does have a lovely approachable softness. I particularly like the integration in this wine, where the fruit and oak play so nicely together.

Food Pairing: Lightly minted lamb sliders to play off of the hint of mint in the wine. And the relatively low tannins will allow you to spice it up with a bit of harissa.

Bottom Line: A wine with some complexity, but still an approachable simple quality. Solid in my book.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Galilee, Israel
  • GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • BOOZE: 14%
  • AGEING: 5 months in French Oak
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2017

Where did I get it? Planet Wine
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Barone Pizzini "Animante" Franciacorta Brut

Barone Pizzini "Animante" Franciacorta Brut

Brescia, Lombardy, Italy

When Americans think Italian bubbles, most think Prosecco. But there's a whole wide world of Italian sparkling wine out there. In my humble opinion, Franciacorta is its king.

These beautiful bubbles hail from the province of Brescia in Lombardy, Italy. Franciacorta is made in the Metodo Classico -- the same process as Champagne! The grapes are even the same, except most producers substitute a bit of Pinot Bianco in place of Pinot Meunier.

A small point of differentiation that can make a big difference is the minimum ageing period: non-vintage Champagne must spend 12 months on the lees before disgorgement, where Franciacorta must spend 18 months. While many producers in both regions go above and beyond the minimum, you can be guaranteed an extra boost of autolysis in even entry level Franciacorta.

The Animante is made of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco. Following the secondary fermentation in bottle, the wine rests for 20 to 30 months on the lees, bringing out a lovely toasty character. As with all products from Barone Pizzini, this wine also happens to be organic.

Review: The Animante is a gorgeous golden color with small, persistent bubbles. The nose is full of quince, pear, and ripe apple; toasted hazelnuts and almonds; fresh pastry, popover, and brioche. The palate is dry with a round texture and a generous mousse. All of the notes from the nose are present, plus a hint of minerality. The finish is long and lingering. 

This wine is truly spectacular. Integrated fruit and autolytics; balanced structure of moderate alcohol, zest acidity, and teeny tiny bubbles. Long, long finish.

Food Pairing: Anything from oysters to lamb! I put this with a rich goat cheese and roasted fennel salad.

Bottom Line: Complexity and intensity abounds. An amazingly rich alternative to Champagne.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Franciacorta DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
  • GRAPES: Chardonnay 78%, Pinot Nero 18%, Pinot Bianco 4%
  • BOOZE: 12% 
  • AGEING: 20-30 months on the lees
  • CELLAR: Drink for up to 5 years post disgorgement (it has the date on the bottle!)
Where did I get it? I picked this up at as a sample at a tasting. 
What's the damage? Super Premium 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Villages Nouveau

Domaine Manoir du Carra Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2015
Beaujolias, Burgundy, France

Le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivé! Well, it arrived on Thursday. I'm a little late to the party, but better late then never... Feel free to see this post for a reminder of the style of Beaujolais Nouveau.

A few years ago I set to tasting 5 on the auspicious day. This year, I'll simply taste my favorite: Domaine Manoir du Carra's Villages level Nouveau.

Review: As expected, this wine has a bright purple hue and aromas of fresh, ripe black cherries, raspberries, and a hint banana skin. On the palate, the Nouveau is dry and light bodied, with moderate acidity and no tannin to speak of. The fruit flavors persist, with just a bit of spicy cinnamon. The finish is short and easy. 

I love the fresh, fruity quality of this wine. I know some of my wine colleagues think Nouveau is a bit of joke, but I really like it. It's simple and easy. Accept it for what it is -- and if you like it, enjoy!

Pairing: A crowd pleaser at your Thanksgiving feast. With all those heavy foods on the table, who doesn't want to reach of a light, easy red. Serve with a bit of a chill for the most flavor!

Bottom Line: Light and fun.

Wine Geekery:

  • VINTAGE: 2015
  • PLACE: Beaujolais Village AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPE: Gamay
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through December 31, 2015

Where did I get it? Planet Wine
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hai "Ely" Emerald Riesling

Hai "Ely" Emerald Riesling 2014
Galilee, Israel

Hanukkah is right around the corner, so that means it's time for another round of Kosher wine posts! For a refresher, you can see this post on what makes a wine Kosher.

Hai (often Chai) means life! And this light white is a little toast of life, indeed. It's made of Emerald Riesling, a man-made crossing Muscadelle and Grenache. This high-yielding variety is known for making light, fragrant wines. While Emerald Riesling has fallen out of popularity, I'm pretty pleased with this little wine.

Review: The Ely has a bright lemon-green hue and aromas of white and yellow blossoms, green apple, and lime zest. The wine is dry with bright acid and a medium body. The flowers persist on the palate, but the fruit changes to ripe golden apples and tart grapefruit. The finish is short and easy. 

Food Pairing:  I would serve as an aperitif. 

Bottom Line:  Fresh, light, and fruity.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Galilee, Israel
  • GRAPE: Emerald Riesling
  • BOOZE: 11.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Fairway Wines & Spirits
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Domaine de la Mordoré Dame Rousse Rosé

Domaine de la Mordoré Dame Rousse Rosé 2014
Tavel, Rhone Valley, France

Fall may have fully fallen, but won't stop a rosé lover! And this Tavel can certainly hold up to a little cooler weather.

Review: The Dame Rousse (translated to the Redheaded Lady) is a gorgeous deep salmon pink. The nose shows vibrant aromas of ripe raspberries, currant, floral orange blossom, and a hint of sweet citrus. On the palate, it presents as dry with a full, round body and mellow acidity. The citrus really pops for me -- mandarin and Valencia oranges with a touch of meyer lemon. These flavors play brilliantly with the red fruit and floral notes. The finish is moderate in length.

I love the depth and concentration of flavors in this wine. It has the intensity and purity I've come to expect from Tavel, and I couldn't ask for more. I'm not big on point, but Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate gave the Dame Rousse 93 points and I certainly can't argue with that.

Pairing: Citrus roast chicken, highlighting the mandarin notes in the wine!

Bottom Line: Pure, intense fruit and layers of flavor, all wrapped up in a soft, lush body. I'm pleased to know you, Redheaded Lady!

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Tavel AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 60% Grenache, 10% Cinsault, 10% Syrah, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Clairette, 5% Bourboulenc
  • BOOZE: 14.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2018

Where did I get it? It was a gift!
What's the damage? High Priced

Thursday, November 12, 2015

B.R. Cohn Late Harvest Sémillon

B.R. Cohn Late Harvest Sémillon 2009
Herrick Vineyard, Russian River Valley, California

Every time I'm in Sonoma I make a point to stop by the B.R. Cohn tasting room. They make some of my favorite California Cab, not to mention my favorite olive oil of all time.

Tonight, however, I have a little something different! A delicious late harvest Sémillon!

Review: This little gem is a deep lemon color with pronounced aromas of honeysuckle, orange marmalade, and ripe apricots. On the palate it is richly sweet with a soft round body. The flavors of honey, candied citrus and preserved stone fruit linger for a long finish. This wine is simple, round, and luminous. I especially like the clean finish, and how the brightness of the wine complements the sweetness.

Food Pairing: Blue cheese stuffed figs. 

Bottom Line: A delightful little dessert wine, perfect for the early fall in its simplicity and lightness.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Russian River Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Sémillon
  • BOOZE: 11%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? B.R. Cohn Tasting Room
What's the damage? High Priced, 375 mL