Sangiovese, The Soul of Tuscany

Sangiovese

Below is an excerpt from the upcoming article we submitted to Social Vignerons as a guest post.  This is just a piece of the article, and some parts have been changed to maintain the uniqueness of the article on their website.  Enjoy!

Sangiovese is the soul of Tuscany and is the bedrock of the region, used in producing wines like Chianti Colli Fiorenti, Rippanuda Chianti Classico, Super Tuscan wines like Campomaggio, plus Rosso di Montalcino and the venerable Tiezzi Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese’s smell is often characterized by aromas of fresh tea, prunes, and sometimes fresh plum or cherries. The grape also has thicker skin, which lends itself to, for lack of a better term, easier wine making. With that said, it requires the deftest wine producers in order to create high caliber Sangiovese wines. The grape has a balanced acidity with the tannins, meaning that it maintains aging potential while being ready to drink younger. There is some consideration that the thicker skins also provide greater antioxidant potential, by allowing wine to be produced with a greater volume of resveratrol, the antioxidant often cited as the mechanism for wines “health benefits.”

ONABAY MERLOT, Another Flash Wine!

Onabay Merlot

Normally $19.99, now $15.99

When you’re talking about boutique wines, it doesn’t get much smaller than this merlot.  With only 350 cases produced each year, this wine is just about as boutique as it can get.  The small production and high quality also stand as a fantastic representation of what New York State wine is fully capable of. Styled and inspired by the Right Bank of Bordeaux, this wine can be rightly compared with the wines from that region.  Long Island, just like the right bank, provide a perfect environment for Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc to thrive side by side. The wine is thusly styled after the greats of Bordeaux, also includes Malbec, Cab Franc, and Petite Verdot.

All of the grapes were hand-harvested and macerated whole after destemming, soaking for 2 days before beginning fermentation. The wine was aged for 15 months in 25% new French Oak and the balance in seasoned French Oak. Tasting Notes are as follows:
aromas of plums, bing cherries, and a hint of licorice. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, with elegant tannins and bright acidity.

 


About Onabay Vineyards

Onabay Vineyard is a new name on the North Fork of Long Island, but it has a long history. The 18-year-old vineyard is part of a larger, historic farm located on Peconic Bay that is owned by the Anderson family. Brad Anderson is committed to producing small lots of hand-crafted wines with the help of winemakers Bruce Schneider and John Leo. The focus is on Cabernet Franc and Merlot with Cot (Malbec) playing an important role in blending. The North Fork’s climate moderating waters and Onabay’s well-drained soils of sandy loam, gravel, and clay provide exceptional conditions for producing fresh, balanced wines with minerality. Onabay’s goal is to achieve a pure expression of these conditions in their wines.

Wines for Spring!

Just in time, Wines for Spring!

Spring is officially here, and with it, white wine season!  

The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, so it is time to cellar the big bold red wines that warm us from the inside during the winter and switch to the perfect wines for spring, white wines that are crisp and refreshing during these warmer days.

Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Grigio are all fantastic varietals to reach for on the shelves this time of year. However, I am a firm believer in stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new. Here is a list of some interesting white wine varietals, some you may have heard of, and others maybe not, to try this spring.

Let’s start with Torrontes, a very interesting white wine from Argentina. Torrontes is one of the only grapes that is indigenous to Argentina, and is its most popular white wine.  Torrontes has a golden yellow color with a floral bouquet and a touch of spice on the nose. The flavor is fresh, with good body and light acidity, with hints of citrus and stone fruit. This wine pairs well with light flaky fish, and chicken dishes. Taymente makes an outstanding Torrontes, and a great value coming in under $13.  

Italy is home to two of my favorite different white varietals, Vernaccia and Falanghina. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is from just outside the village of San Gimignano in Tuscany. It is considered one of the finest white wines of Italy and was the first white wine to be granted DOC status. The wine is a pale yellow green color with medium intensity. Floral, lemon and melon notes hit you on the nose, with citrus notes and minerality on the palate. The wine finishes with refreshing acidity and minerality.  Fontaleoni is a great producer of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, at a reasonable price of $15.

Falanghina is from Campania, Italy, just north of Naples. It is an ancient grape that dates back to Roman times, with considerable character and substance. The wine is crisp and fruity with light acidity. Almond, lemon and nectarine shine through with a medium to full finish, elegant and smooth mouth feel make this an elegant white. Cantina del Taburno is my favorite estate producer of Falanghina, with a great price of $15.  

Wines For Spring, Falanghina

Off to the northwest of Spain’s Rias Baixas region is where we find Albarino. This interesting white varietal produces a wine that has floral notes and high acidity. Flavors of apricot and peach are prevalent, with medium body and a crisp finish. Columna and Granbazan are two great producers, with prices ranging from $15-$22.  

Pinot Gris from Oregon is another fantastic white wine that I believe shines this time of year. Although Pinot Gris is originally from the old world, I find that the wines from Oregon are exceptional. Cristom is hands down my favorite producer. Their organic farming practices are one reason and the other is the fact that their estate bottled Pinot Gris is delicious. This full bodied white wine has citrus notes on the nose that are contrasted with flavors of apple, pear and melon on the palate. The finish is long with a touch of minerality and spice. The complexity and balance of this wine are exceptional, and all this for around $20

The final wine on my list that doesn’t get enough recognition is dry Riesling. Germany may be home to this great wine, however right here in New York is home to one of the best Riesling estates in the world, Herman J. Wiemer.  This aromatic, mineral driven wine is exceptional, and should be a must try for all of us New Yorkers this spring and summer.

Now is the time to get outside and enjoy all the beauty that the Hudson Valley has to offer. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new this spring.  Ask your local wine professional what suits your palate, or what wine pairs well with the lighter fare we all enjoy during the warmer months.   

2015 Provence Rosé Wine Vintage Review

2015 in Review, Provence Rosé Wine

Producer Charles Smith said, “This isn’t your Grandma’s Rosé.” No offense meant of course to anyone’s Grandma, as I’m sure your grandma is just as lovely as the next kindly woman out there. But you get the idea. As our own venerablRosé Wine, Charlies Bieler e Rob Accordino stated in a recent article on the wine, Rosé has evolved greatly in the last 10 years.

This year we’re picking up several Rosé wines, but one we wanted to feature here is a wine produced by Charles Bieler in Provence. The vintage in Provence this year was very promising with a great growing season and overall very fantastic weather. The harvest was about a week earlier, but the fruit maintained great acidity and did not over ripen, so all is well that ends well. Rob had the chance to taste the wine a few weeks ago, and it was nothing short of stunning. In his own words, it was “off the chain.” This one is what we’d call a “serious Rosé,” not so much a party in your mouth as it’s something that asks you to stop and think for a minute about what you’re drinking. Any Rosé wine that does that (or any wine for that matter,) and tastes great on top of it is not to be taken lightly.

Overall we think you’ll be pleased with the wine this year, and look forward to sharing it with you. Here’s to your Grandma, and the awesome 2015 Rosé.  Happy Drinking!

CVNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva, 2008

Our Price: $31.99

CVNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva, 2008

 

About the Wine

The CVNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva is a wine we’ve been talking about for a few weeks now to do for a Flash Wine, and we’ve been getting very excited. This Rioja from CVNE is nothing short of exceptional, and from one of the premier producers in Spain.  This is a wine of serious character, with a little fight to it. On the nose there is a strong sense of fresh red and dark fruits along with spicy aromas like nutmeg and smokiness Featuring fine tannins on the palate, it is a medium-bodied wine, with excellent acidity and balance, and an especially notable weight of fruit with a strong mineral finish. Great intensity, incredible harmony, and incredibly age-worthy… the Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva is one of the prime examples of a classical wine, and one surely not to miss.

 

 


 

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About the Producer

CVNE (Compañía Vinícola del Norte de España) is one of the most renowned and historic bodegas in all of Spain. Founded in 1879 by the Realde Asúa brothers, Eusebio and Raimundo, the company has been an integral part of the Rioja region’s ascendance in the world of fine wine. With their combination of traditional roots and innovative vision, CVNE has been one of Rioja’s most reliable sources for high quality wine. The company is still run by descendants of the Real de Asúa brothers, now represented by the fifth generation with current CEO Victor Urrutia Ybarra.

Since its founding, CVNE’s goal has been to increase the scope of production while maintaining the level of quality on which their reputation was built. Forty years after the original bodega was created, CVNE expanded into the Alavesa region. Today, CVNE is comprised of three separate bodegas: Cune, Viña Real, and Contino. Each of the three estates produces a distinct style of wine from a distinct terroir, and each of their flagship bottlings occupies a well-deserved place in the pantheon of great Spanish wine.

CVNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva, 2008

About the Vineyard

Viña Real is CVNE’s Rioja Alavesa-based winery.  The winery released its first vintage in 1920, and has been producing continousouly ever since.  The Viña Real style is incredible and a bit of a juxtaposition… the style shocases the forward fruit of Alavesa while simultaneously possessing the structure to age for half a century and more. The original fruit source was in the Elciego area, in the heart of Rioja Alavesa. The vineyards were located adjacent to the old Camino Real, from which the wine takes its name. In the more recent years, the grapes are principally sourced from sunny south-facing slopes which run from the Sierra de Cantabria mountain range down to the Ebro River. As is also the case with the Cune line, the Viña Real wines are produced from over 50% estate fruit, an unusually high percentage for Rioja.  The winery produces Crianza, Reserva, and Gran Reserva wines.  The CVNE Vina Real Rioja Gran Reserva is one of the best values of the producer.

The new Viña Real facility was completed in 2004 from a design by the Bordelaise architect Philippe Mazieres. The winery is situated on top of the hill known as Cerro de la Mesa and commands sweeping views of both the Alavesa vineyards and the town of Logroño, Rioja’s commercial center. The heart of the facility is a huge circular chamber which, when viewed from the outside, resembles the upper portion of a giant wine barrel. Inside, the facility is a marvel of modern technology. The above- ground portion houses the winemaking facility, which was designed with the goal of complete reliance on gravity-flow, made possible in large part by a rotating central crane. Below this is the main ageing room where the barrels rest in concentric circles around the central axis. The facility also features twin tunnels dug into the center of the hill where the bottle ageing takes place.

If the Cune bodega represents CVNE’s commitment to tradition, the Viña Real bodega demonstrates their forward-thinking philosophy and their embrace of modern technology.

St. Patricks Day Wine Pairings

With St. Patricks Day around the corner we wanted to give a run down on our picks for the top St. Patricks Day wines.  You can find some Corned Beef and Cabbage recipes in our blog as well.  

For white wine lovers, two similar varietals come to mind, Pinot Gris, in particular from Oregon, or a Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige, Italy.  For the red lovers out there, Pinot Noir, in particular from the Sonoma Coast will work well.

Pinot Gris is a fantastic medium to full-bodied wine, and although it originates from Alsace, France, you can find some great examples from Oregon, in particular, the Willamette Valley. This varietal has a nice weight to it, with good tree fruit, such as apple and pear that will match well with the fatty meat. Pinot Gris also has nice acidity and spice on the finish that will go well with cabbage. For right around $20 Cristom Estate Pinot Gris is an outstanding bottle of wine that will work well with this meal.

Pinot Grigio from Alto Adige in the northeast of Italy will work well with corn beef and cabbage for many of the same reasons that Pinot Gris does. Medium to full-bodied, with good fruit characteristics, and good acidity, it pairs perfectly with the stew-like method of cooking this dish. San Pietro Pinot Grigio is a great bottle for around $15, it is crisp with lighter fruit notes, good body and plenty of acidity. For those who like a slightly sweeter version, San Giorgio Pinot Grigio would work well, lots of apple and pear, with less acidity, for under $10.  

For the red wine lovers, Pinot Noir is the wine that you must go with to complement boiled corn beef and cabbage. I like Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast of California in particular. The light to medium body, cherry flavor, earth and spice that these wines exhibit will work perfectly with this meal.

Three Pinot Noir’s come to mind – The Pinot Project Pinot Noir for $13, Rickshaw Pinot Noir for $17 and Wind Gap Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for $37. All three of these great wines showcase pure Pinosity that would work well with your St. Paddy’s day feast. It just depends on your budget.  

Other recommendations for those of us using a more festive Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe include an off-dry Riesling.  It’s full bodied, semi-sweet fruity, with minerality nice acidity.  I’d recommend Kung Fu Girl Riesling from the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

With the bolder flavors of a new age cooking style, you will need a bolder red wine to pair. Syrah, Red Zinfandel or even a Malbec will work well. All three wines share similar profiles of full body, bold fruit, and spice on the finish.  

Dos Minas Malbec from Cafayate, Argentina would be the perfect bottle for someone looking for a sweeter red. Notes of sweet ripe plum are complemented by a slight earthy tone and pepper, perfect to complement the herbs and garlic of this dish. For $13, it is hard to find a wine with this depth and complexity.  

For a Zinfandel, I recommend Teira Zinfandel from the Sonoma Coast of California. It may be the best I have ever had for under $17. The wine is a deep ruby red in color, with a lovely nose of ripe red fruit, spice and earth. The palate is filled with red raspberry and currant, followed with baking spice, a touch of citrus and herbal notes.  The finish is long and pleasant.  

Syrah is one of my personal favorite varietals, and I found a great one from Morocco by the name of Syrocco Syrah. I love the creative name and the juice in the bottle. This wine has an intense nose of exotic spice and fresh game, however with time, the aromas develop into a perfume of delicate floral & dark berries. Around a core of supple, but powerfully textured tannins, the wine flows through an array of complex flavors. From lavender to black currant, the profound and concentrated flavors drift seamlessly into a balanced, long finish, and all this for under $19.  

St. Patricks Day Corned Beef and Cabbage

On March 17 we all pretend we are a little Irish. We wear green and “Kiss me, I’m Irish” pins. It is also the day where drinking Guinness, green beer and Jameson is the norm and corn beef and cabbage is served in every restaurant.

The Irish are well known for their great beer and fantastic whiskey, which pair well with corn beef and cabbage, but what about wine?  There are no wines to speak of that are from Ireland, so we need to look elsewhere to find wines to pair with our traditional St. Patrick’s day fare.

The first question to ask is: How is your corn beef and cabbage prepared?  Is it boiled in traditional fashion, or is it roasted with herbs, in a new creative fashion?

Boiling corn beef and cabbage is the traditional method of cooking, and with this stew-like method, the flavors of both the beef and cabbage meld together. The challenge of pairing wines with this dish is finding something that will stand up to the fatty meat, and work well with the cabbage at the same time.

The chefs of the world are always coming up with new and innovative ways to cook traditional fare, and corn beef and cabbage is no exception. One of my favorite ways that I have seen this dish evolve is an oven-roasted corn beef, encrusted with garlic, herbs and dijon mustard, paired with sauteed cabbage. This gives the dish a new flavor profile, more robust and flavorful meat, and sweeter style cabbage, so now we would want to pair it with different wines.  

The best wines for spring, Rosé of course!

Rose wines are bright, fresh, crisp and refreshing

Here we are in the beginning of March already. Where does the time go?  This was a nice mild winter here in the Hudson Valley, great for those of us who don’t like the cold, and not so good for those of us that like the cold and snow.

We have already had some days that feel like spring in February, and in just a couple weeks, it will be here to stay.  That excites me for a number of reasons. It’s almost time to plant our gardens, enjoy great outdoor activities like hiking, boating and golf, and most of all the release of the 2015 Rose wines.

Rose wines have come a long way in the past five-10 years. Gone are the sweet, sugary wines that our grandparents and parents used to enjoy. Not that there is anything wrong with those, if that’s what you like.Several_Rhone_and_Provence_roses

Now we have bright, fresh wines that showcase the fruit that makes them, and the terroir in which they are grown. These wines are crisp and refreshing, making them perfect for the spring and summer months, and they pair wonderfully with the lighter foods that we indulge in this time of year. These wines are meant to be consumed young. That’s why it is so exciting for when the new vintages come out every spring, and from everything I’ve read and been told, the 2016 wines are fantastic.  

The home of Rose wine is Provence, France, and year after year Bieler Pere et Fils is one of the best Rose wines from Provence. This lovely salmon-colored wine is a blend of 40 percent Grenache, 25 percent Syrah, 25 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and rounded out with Cinsault and Rolle.

The vineyards are located in the rolling hills just outside the town of Coteaux d’Aix. The beauty of this wine is that it includes all the rich flavors of a red, with the refreshing qualities of a white. There is s nice combination of red fruit and floral notes on the nose, on the palate, the wine shines with strawberry, raspberry and bing cherry. The finish is crisp with herbal notes and refreshing acidity. The value of this wine is undeniable, coming in under $12.

The Rhone Valley is another great French location for Rose wines, and Paul Jaboulet Aine is one of the most famous producers, for all his wines, in the Rhone. Jaboulet’s vineyard is located just outside the town of Pont de Ilsere and two miles south of the 45th Parallel, for which the wine is named. This light pink wine consists of 50 percent Grenache, 40 percent Cinsault and 10 percent Syrah. The complexity and finesse of this wine amaze me, with ripe red berries, melon and minerality being the focal point. This beautiful wine is a little more pricey, at $15 a bottle, but worth every penny.  

The Rioja region of Spain is well known for its’ fantastic reds, but you don’t want to overlook their Rose wines. Cortijo is a fantastic producer from the town of Hormilla in the Rioja Alta sub-region. Their Rose, made from 100 percent Garnacha, is a superb wine made with extreme care.

Cortijo is a family-owned estate that uses 100 percent organic farming practices, and only estate fruit. This wine has nice rose petal and cherry notes, with strawberry and spice on the palate. The finish is dry and refreshing. This wine pairs well with light foods and salads and is the best value at right around $10.  

Last but not least is one of my personal favorites, Charles & Charles Rose. This deep pink wine comes to us from the Columbia Valley of Washington State, and is a blend of 72 percent Syrah, rounded out with Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Cinsault, and Counoise.  This is a big bold Rose with lush red fruit, border lining on sweet, it turns dry, with a touch of citrus, minerality, and refreshing acidity. This wine is bold enough for BBQ meats, and delicate enough for lighter fare as well. I find it to be a fantastic wine for $13.

So here is to the warm weather of Spring, and the great Rose wines that come along with this time of year.  They are perfect for that first backyard BBQ or picnic.  

What a response!

Wow, what a response! We were floored by the feedback we got from everyone on our last email.  We sent out an email and a link to a blog post all about the pains of shipping and online ordering.  As a boutique retailer dealing in some really incredible wines, we always are focused on things that over-deliver in terms of value.  That includes our service.

Before the New Year, we sent out a survey detailing what everyone expected when it came to online wine shopping.  When people order online, usually the concerns are convenience and shipping costs.  Rob and I started telling everyone about our offer recently, and we’re happy to officially announce that starting in February 2016 the VinoVin Members Program will open up, adding free shipping as an option to our service in conjunction with the ability to have packages held at UPS Will Call (as well as the option to request a delivery date.)

For every person that joins the VinoVin Members Program, you’ll receive free shipping on all orders, along with exclusive access to hard to find wines, and the ability to have your packages held at UPS Will Call if needed. Let us know what you think on Twitter @dandanwineman, Instagram vinovin_online or just shoot us an email back! Thanks for all your input in helping us design our wine club with your specifications.

Winter Whites!

Chilled yes, but these wines warm the soul and pair well with hearty dishes

Here we are with our worst cold spell of the winter so far in the Hudson Valley, and the question arises of what to drink to keep warm. Many people like spirits for the cold, such as brandy and whiskey, others reach for red wine during the cold weather, however, there are some white wines that work well when the temperature is below 32 degrees. Even though these wines are served chilled, their full body and minerality can help warm the soul, and pair well with the hearty dishes we crave when the ground is frozen solid.  

New York, especially in the northern parts of the state, can be unforgiving during the month of February. One of my favorite whites, Riesling thrives here in New York, in particular in the Finger Lakes region of the state. I find that a nice dry Riesling, with its’ vibrant, aromatic scents and minerality on the palate, can stand up well with hearty stews and earthy soups that help warm you this time of year.  Herman J. Wiemer is one of the best wines in this category, not only in New York but the world.  

Austria is a country that has some cold winters as well, so it is no surprise that Gruner Veltliner, Austria’s greatest wine fits well in this category. Gruner is a dry, full bodied white wine with floral and grassy notes. It pairs well with a wide variety of foods, in particular, a nice broccoli cheese or butternut squash soup. E.M. Berger makes a fantastic Gruner that is an outstanding value for under $15.

The Italians make a great winter white in Vernaccia de San Gimignano. This Tuscan white wine has a medium to full body with nice intensity. Hints of citrus notes, plenty of minerality and high acidity help this wine pair well with roasted chicken with rich sauces, perfect for the winter months. Fontaleoni makes a fantastic Vernaccia for under $15.

Pinot Grigio is usually associated with the the summer months for its light crisp flavor, but some Pinot Grigios from Alto Adige in the Northeast of Italy can be big boned, and pair well with rich cream sauces. San Pietro is one of these Pinots, with good body and nice acidity this wine pairs well with polenta of all kinds, perfect for the cool weather.  

Chardonnay is perhaps one of the best winter whites, but not the super ripe heavy oaked California variety.

The Chards from Burgundy France tend to work best. The Chardonnays from Chablis tend to steer clear of oak, and use stainless steel to make their wonderful juice. This creates a full-bodied, yet crisp wine with wonderful minerality that goes well with the rich sauces of winter. The ideal match is the winter-warming pauchouse, a Burgundian fish stew with butter and cream, but any shellfish dipped in butter will create an impeccable match. Try Domaine Vincent Dampt Petit Chablis, you will be pleased that a bottle for $16 can be so well balanced.
While most of us may choose to grab a big red for these colder days, options are always nice. If red wine isn’t for you, these wines are all great choices for late winter and early spring.