Sunday, March 27, 2016

Castello di Gussago La Santissima Franciacorta

Castello di Gussago La Santissima Brut Franciacorta
Brescia, Lombardy, Italy
A new wine store, Grand Cata, opened in DC a few weeks ago. I stopped in for a visit and was thrilled to find -- in addition to all sorts of other wonderful things -- a gorgeous new Franciacorta!

This beauty from Castello di Gussago is made mostly from Chardonnay grapes, with a splash of Pinot Noir thrown in for balance. After the second fermentation the wine is rested on the fine lees for 25 months before disgorgement, contributing the wonderful richness of this wine!

Review: La Santissima is a golden color with fine, persistent bubbles and pronounced aromas of baked yellow apples and toasted hazelnuts. The palate is dry with bright acidity and a full, round texture. I love the rich autolytic flavors of yeast, brioche and pastry, along with apple and ripe pear. The length has impressive lingering richness.

Food Pairing: Perfect with Easter dinner of roast lamb and herbed potatoes.

Bottom Line: Rich flavors, balanced with bright freshness. Absolutely delicious.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Franciacorta DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
  • GRAPE: 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero
  • BOOZE: 12.5% 
  • AGEING: 25 months
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2018
  • Castello di Gussago
Where did I get it? Grand Cata
What's the damage? Super Premium 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Château Mukhrani Réserve du Prince

Château Mukhrani Réserve du Prince 2010
Mtsheta, Republic of Georgia

This is another gem I brought back from my visit to
Château Mukhrani a few years ago. The Réserve du Prince is a beautiful example of old world meets new world, where native grapes and native yeasts are combined with modern winemaking techniques. Goruli Mtsvane grapes are hand harvested from the Château Mukhrani estate and then gently destemmed. Skin contact is allowed for a few hours before pressing and fermentation by native yeasts. The wine then experiences a partial malolactic fermentation (converting hash appley malic acid into soft buttery lactic acid) and ageing in Caucasian oak. The result is a wine with Georgian roots that can hold its own next to a fine white Burgundy.

Review: The wine is an intense yellow-gold color with pronounced aromas of ripe peach, mandarin, and toasty oak. The palate is dry with bright acid and a creamy texture. Flavors of peaches, honey dipped pears, and white flowers. The oak notes of cedar and toast and expertly integrated. I love the finish where the sweet stone fruit ends and a hint of bitter grapefruit coats the tongue and lingers. Oh so pretty and pleasing.   

Food Pairing: Citrus roast chicken and herbed potatoes.

Bottom Line: Incredibly well made, balanced, and nuanced.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Mtsheta, Georiga
  • GRAPE: Goruli Mtsvane
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now

Where did I get it? Chateau Mukhrani Tasting Room
What's the damage? Super Premium

Monday, March 21, 2016

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Badet Clement & Co Pontificis

Badet Clement & Co Pontificis 2013
Languedoc-Roussillon, France

I came across the Pontificis at Trader Joe's, selling for a whopping $6.99. This Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre blend comes from the Mediterranean Languedoc-Roussillon region of France, not the Southern Rhone as the name might imply. But a Chateauneuf du Pape -esque wine for under $10? Totally worth a try.

Review: The Pontificis is a medium ruby color with mild aromas of ripe strawberry and violet candy. The palate is dry, with relatively low acid and little tannin. The star of the wine is the ripe fruit (strawberry, red cherry, raspberry) and slight floral and herbal notes. 

Food Pairing: Chill it down a touch and pair with your casual cookout. 

Bottom Line: I wish there were more tannin, acidity and concentration, but all in all, this is an easy and drinkable wine.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2013
  • PLACE: Pays d'Oc IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée)
  • GRAPES: 45% Grenache, 40% Syrah, 15% Mourvèdre
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now

Where did I get it? Trader Joe's
What's the damage? Low Priced

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Bartenura Moscato
Bartenura Moscato 2014
Lombardy, Italy

My first Kosher post of 2016! Bartenura is one of the more popular Kosher Moscatos, known by their "Out of the Blue" and "Hello Bluetiful" campaigns, seen on billboards across the country. I see this one every time I use the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel:

Northbound I 95, Baltimore, MD
Apparently the Bartenura Moscato was even featured in the "Backstage Creations Giving Suite" at the 2014 Emmy awards.

Well, that's a lot of hype... On to the wine! These Muscat grapes are sourced from the Pavia region of Lombardy, Italy. This wine is not only Kosher, but also Mevushal (remember that means boiled wine). Can the delicate floral and peachy aromas of Muscat stand up to flash pasteurization? Let's find out...

Review: The Bartenura is a pale straw color with very slight pétillance (spritz!). It has soft aromas of apricot, orange blossom, and honeysuckle. The palate is sweet with relatively low acid and a round, soft body. The stone fruit and floral notes from the nose emerge on the palate, with a ripe-peaches-in-syrup quality. 

The low acid gives the wine an almost oily texture, where I wish it had a brighter and fresher quality. That being said, I do like the sweet richness of the wine. Certainly dessert in a glass. 

Food Pairing: I would love some berries and grilled peaches to brighten up the wine!

Bottom Line: Rich and sweet. Not the most nuanced of Moscatos, but still tasty.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Provincia di Pavia IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
  • GRAPE: Muscat
  • BOOZE: 5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Bellavista Satèn Brut

Bellavista Satèn Brut Mellesimato 2009

Brescia, Lombardy, Italy

A few weeks ago I reviewed a delicious Franciacorta. Here is another Italian gem, made in a different style.

Satèn Franciacorta is one of my favorites. Made with Chardonnay (and sometimes Pinot Bianco), this category of bubbles is unique because of the pressure requirements -- a Satèn will max out at 5 atmospheres of pressure. This helps to create a creamier mouthfeel than a wine bottled at 6 atmospheres (like Champagne and other styles of Franciacorta).

The base wine for this vintage Satèn spends time in oak, adding richness. The wines then age for about 5 years in Bellavista's cellars allowing for exceptional flavor development.

Review: This sparkler has a pale golden color (showing evidence of its 2009 vintage) and fine, pin prick bubbles. Aromas of toasted hazelnuts, sweet mandarin, and toasty brioche leap from the glass. On the palate it's dry with fresh, racy acid and a soft creamy texture. The wine has beautiful flavors of toasted nut, honeysuckle, ripe peaches, and a hint of sweet oak spice.

Food Pairing: I paired the Bellavista with an arugula salad topped with roast chicken, marcona almonds, and clementine supremes. The nuts enhance the toastiness in the wine, and the citrus brings out the sweet stone fruit.

Bottom Line: Love the texture, flavors, and beautiful balance. A winner in my book.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Franciacorta DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
  • GRAPE: 100% Chardonnay
  • BOOZE: 12% 
  • AGEING: 5 years
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2020
Where did I get it? Astor Wines & Spirits
What's the damage? Super Premium