Villa Antinori Toscana “Super Tuscan”

Villa Antinori

Toscana “Super Tuscan”

(Tuscany, Italy)

On Bottle/Website:

* 60% sangiovese, 20% cabernet sauvignon, 15% merlot, and 5% syrah

* ‘Villa Antinori’ have been made under the Chianti Classico DOCG till 2001

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, garnet, rim variation, high concentration, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium minus intensity, pepper, dark berries, leather, tobacco

Palate: dry, medium bodied, young, licorice, smoky, leather, low acidity, low alcohol, low tannins

There is no law that regulates what grapes are used in a Super Tuscan.  In my mind, this can give the winemaker a bit more freedom in mixing different varietals to make something spectacular.  To my knowledge, the term “Super Tuscan” used to be used more infrequently to denote a high quality blended wine from the Tuscan region.  Now, it seems, that any blend of wine from the region slaps the label on as a marketing tactic.

After shopping for a baby gift for my cousin, the younger girls wanted to eat at The Olive Garden.  I am not a fan of chain restaurants in general, especially this one, but I can manage with the soup, salad and breadsticks.  I purchased a glass of this wine and was not impressed.  Maybe the ambiance skewed my perception, but I hardly thought this wine was worth the label “Super Tuscan” and I’m fairly certain the actual label does not even qualify it as such.

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Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico

Ruffino Aziano

Chianti Classico

2008

(Tuscany, Italy)

On Bottle/Website:

* Ruby red, vibrant & inviting

* Sangiovese based wine from the Chianti Classico region

* Sweet violet, red berries and wild cherries with slightly spicy undertones with hints of rosemary and tobacco

* 13% alcohol

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, ruby/garnet, high concentration, rim variation (ruby on the edges), medium/medium plus viscosity

Nose: clean, medium minus intensity, jammy fruits, raisin, blackberry, raspberries, black cherry, dark fruits

Palate: dry/off-dry (a bit of sweetness in the aftertaste), fruits confirm the nose, tobacco, leather, saddle/cowboy scents (no brett), medium alcohol, medium minus acidity, medium tannins, medium plus finish, medium complexity

I tried this Chianti with a mini-burger and it was too strong for the ground beef.  It would be more suited to a heavy pasta or an Italian dish with spices that can hold up to this wine.  It was also quite fruity without many spices to hold up on its own.

Cinzano Gran Cuvee Rosé

Cinzano

Rosé Gran Cuvee

2011

(Italy)

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On Bottle/Website:

* Blend of Durello, Garganega, Trebbiano and Pinot Noir grapes

* Distinctive natural pink color

My Notes:

* Appearance: clear, bright, pink, low concentration

* Nose: clean, weak intensity, red berries

* Palate:  confirms nose

I tasted this wine with spicy Chinese food to see if the sparkling wine would cut through the spiciness.  Unfortunately, the food was not spicy enough to fully test the theory.  I have not tasted many rosés, so it is possibly that this type of wine is simply not for me.  Or maybe the food pairing did not bring out the best in this particular wine.  Whatever the case may be, this wine is not one that I have a desire to purchase again.

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio

Tiefenbrunner

Pinot Grigio

2011

(Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)

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On Bottle/Website:

* Pale yellow in color with green reflections

* Exotic fruit notes, trace of meadow flowers

* Slightly spicy, well-structured, full in the mouth, lingering finish on the palate

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, straw, medium plus viscosity

Nose: sound/clean, medium minus intensity, aroma/youthful, pear, green apple, peach, wet rock, stone, honey, almond, white flowers

Palate: dry, medium bodied, green apple, grapefruit, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity, medium complexity, medium length

Marchesi di Barolo Barolo

Marchesi di Barolo

Barolo

2006

(Piedmont, Italy)

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On Bottle/Website:

* Garnet red with ruby shades

* Intense nose with clean scents of spices, vanilla, roasted hazelnuts, liquorices, cacao and wild rose

* Full, elegant flavor, austere and good-bodied, with recurring olfactory sensations

* Hints of spices and of wood blend perfectly

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, medium high intensity, garnet, goes to brown on rim, high viscosity

Nose: sound/clean, medium minus intensity, dried fruits, black cherry, cranberry, pomegranate, anise, tar, asphalt, cedar dust, dried flowers

Palate: dry, medium/full body, confirms nose, soil, high tannins, medium plus alcohol, medium plus acidity, high complexity, long finish

Castellare di Castellina Chianti Classico

Castellare di Castellina

Chianti Classico

2009

(Tuscany, Italy)

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On Bottle/Website:

* 90% Sangioveto, 5% Canalolo and 5% Cillegiolo

* 13.5% ABV

* Great aging capability

* Brilliant garnet color

* Red cherries, earth, rose flowers and leather

* Firm, integrated tannins

* Full bodied

* Plenty of spice

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, medium intensity, ruby, medium plus viscosity

Nose: sound/clean, medium intensity, aroma/youthful, plum, red cherries, dried red fruits, hay, spices, cloves, basil

Palate: dry, medium bodied, cranberry, dried red fruits, soil, spices, herbs, medium tannins, medium plus alcohol, medium plus alcohol, medium plus acidity, medium plus complexity

Moscato versus Moscato d’Asti

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I first discovered Moscato d’Asti when I was in college, having what I then considered a fancy dining experience at Biaggis.  The wine was light, crisp, and effervescent with the perfect touch of sweetness.  Although I have now tried many different brands of Moscato, I have never found any that rivals the original one I tasted, Bricco Riella Moscato d’Asti.

Moscato wines are produced from the muscat/muscadet/moscato bianco grape and are a sweet white wine, often considered a dessert wine.  When it is followed by d’Asti, that indicates that it has been produced in the province of Asti, in northwest Italy.

In my experience, most of the Moscato wines I have tried tend to be too sweet for my palate while the Moscato d’Asti wines seem to strike the right balance of being refreshing and crisp without too much residual sugar.

My favorite, Bricco Riella Moscato d’Asti tends to be reasonably priced, usually ringing in under $20.