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.

Folie a Deux Zinfandel

Folie a Deux



(Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California)

On Bottle/Website:

* Intense, juicy and jammy

* Bright raspberry and blackberry fruit with black pepper spice

* Lightly blended with of Petite Sirah to enhance color and mid-palate flavors

* 14.3% alcohol

My Notes:

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

Nose: clean, medium, medium minus intensity, younger dried fruit, black cherry, blackberries, cinnamon

Palate: dry, medium bodied, spicy, fruit confirms nose, medium alcohol, low acidity, medium tannins, short finish, low complexity

Alamos Red Blend


Red Blend (Malbec, Bonarda and Tempranillo)


(Mendoza, Argentina)

On Bottle/Website:

* Displays deep, ripe flavors of blackberry and plum with layers of brown spice

* Vineyards lie in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, with intense sunlight and pure snowmelt water

* Embody the richness of this rugged, remote region

* 13.5% ABV

My Notes:

* Appearance:  clear, day bright, medium intensity, ruby/garnet, purple rim, medium plus viscosity

* Nose: sound, clean, medium intensity, aroma/youthful, dark berries, blackberry, brown baking spice

* Palate:  dry, medium bodied, confirms nose, medium plus alcohol, medium intensity, medium complexity, medium length

When I purchased this wine I was on my way to a friend’s house to enjoy a rigatoni dish filled with fresh garden vegetables.  I wanted to pick up a Malbec from Argentina to pair with this meal.  I recognized the Alamos bottle from a review I had recently read and struggled with the choice of the red blend or full Malbec.  Although I do not put a large amount of stock in wine ratings, as everyone’s tastes are subjective, the sign about this particular red blend getting a high rating from Wine Enthusiast did sway my decision.  It was a slightly older vintage than the Malbec, while also having Malbec as the primary grape varietal, so I thought I would take a risk.

I am glad that I purchased this bottle because we were both very pleased with the smooth, slightly spicy taste.  We had a difficult time pinpointing the actual spices, even after clearing out her spice cabinet and comparing the aroma in the wine with the smells of the different spices.  It was a great refresher in one of the tasting exercises I have completed about olfactory acuity.  Ringing in at just above ten dollars, I will certainly purchase this wine again in the near future.  It paired very well with the tomato, basil and other vegetables in our dish.

Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico

Ruffino Aziano

Chianti Classico


(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.

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Cabernet Sauvignon

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull

Cabernet Sauvignon


(Modesto, California)

On Bottle/Website:

* Intense flavors of black currant, dark spices, milk chocolate and vanilla

* Bold notes of dark fruit, cloves, brown sugar and herbs

* Pair it with anything you can throw on a grill

* Ready to be enjoyed right away

My Notes:

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

Nose:  clean, medium minus intensity, youthful, jammy fruits, plum, raisin, red raspberry, cinnamon, honey

Palate: dry, medium plus to full bodied, blackberry, earthiness, dirt, raisin, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity, medium/medium plus tannin, medium minus finish, medium minus complexity

The nose of this wine smelled like a port to me, with the deep jam flavored dark fruits and hint of sweetness.  The palate was surprisingly dry after the nose (although I clearly expected that because it was a cabernet sauvignon). Although it notes that it will pair well with anything you throw on the grill, I did not think it was a solid pairing with the mini-burger I had as an appetizer.

Trivento Amado Sur Malbec

Trivento Amado Sur



(Mendoza, Argentina)

On Bottle/Website:

* 78% Malbec: From Luján de Cuyo. The Soul – rich, enveloping texture and dark, luscious fruit

* 12% Bonarda: From Maipú. The Style – a touch of Old World structure and vibrant color
* 10% Syrah: From Tupungato. The Spirit – lively spice and flamboyant fresh berry flavors. It’s the stroke of madness that binds the soul and style
* Pairs well with breaded provolone, lamb ribs, mozzarella and prosciutto
* Deep red in color with violet and crimson
* Fresh red fruits, combined with notes of clove, smoke, vanilla and toast
* Smooth tannins and pleasurable finish

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, ruby, purple on the edges, high concentration, rim variation, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium minus intensity, youthful, leather, spicy (I need to refine my spice palate because I was unable to pinpoint specific spices), rhubarb, dark fruits, dried fruit flavors

Palate: dry, definitive wood flavor, tobacco, dark fruits, spicy, medium minus alcohol, low acidity, medium minus tannins, medium finish, medium complexity

This wine paired well with a mini-burger with aged cheddar and ranch style greens.

Tinto de Verano

Tinto de Verano is a simple Spanish red wine spritzer.  It literally translates to “red wine of the summer.”

Tinto de Verano

1/2 cup red wine, preferably from Spain

1/2 cup lemon-lime soda, such as 7-up or Sprite

lemon slice

* Fill a glass with ice.

* Pour in the red wine.

* Then add soda and top off with lemon slice.

* Enjoy immediately.

Stonecap Merlot




(Columbia Valley, Washington)


On  Bottle/Website:

* rich flavors of red berry, plum and ripe cherry with a note of mocha and spice

* 13.9% alcohol

* Under $10

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, day bright, medium low intensity, purple, pinkish rim variation, medium viscosity

Nose: sound/clean, medium plus intensity, aroma/youthful, red cherry, black cherry, baking spices

Palate: dry, medium bodied, cherry,  spiced, medium tannins, medium plus alcohol, medium plus acidity, medium complexity, medium length

The label of this wine caught my eye!  It is a nice, soft Merlot that is priced very reasonably.

Vina Borgia Garnacha

Vina Borgia



(Campos de Borgia, Spain)


On Bottle/Website:

* 100% unoaked with notes of big, ripe fruits

* Warm spices enveloped in blueberry and blackberry

* Great value, under $10

* 87 points Wine Enthusiast

My Notes:

Appearance: Clear, bright, purple, medium concentration, rim variation, medium viscosity

Nose: Clean, medium intensity, young, dried dark berries

Palate: Dry, light bodied, fruit confirms nose, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity, medium tannin, short finish, low complexity

I drank this wine with an amazing Osso Buco at a local restaurant.  I find the garnacha wines to have a bit of harshness to them and I wouldn’t be able to drink it without food, but as I tasted a sample of it before deciding what to order, I thought that it would pair well with the pork.  The softness of the Merlot I tried would be dominated by the flavors of the meal and I wanted something to stand up to this delicious dish.


Wine & Food Pairing Tip: Legumes

I am a firm believer that everybody should eat and drink what tastes good to them.  That simple.  Every person has a different palate.  Every person finds different tastes pleasurable.  Find what makes your tastebuds sing and go with it! That being said, there are many wine and food pairing tips that work beautifully for the majority of the population.


* Lentils, beans and other legumes can pair beautifully with white wines.  If prepared with herbs, it can swing a dish toward white wine.

* If prepared with meat (bacon, ham, pancetta, sausage), can swing a dish toward red wine.

* Legumes can provide a clean backdrop for fuller-bodied white wines.  Waxy white beans are a good example.

* Legumes can enable fish to pair with red as well as white wines.  Try serving fish over a bed of green lentils with a red wine.