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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Folie a Deux Zinfandel

Folie a Deux

Zinfandel

2010

(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

Chandon Brut Classic Sparkling Wine

Chandon

Brut Classic Sparkling Wine

(California)

On Bottle/Website:

* Made using méthode traditionnelle, this wine goes through second fermentation in the bottle

* Made from the traditional Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier

* Displays apple and pear flavors and aromas with a hint of spice that leads to a soft, dry finish

* Recommended to refresh the palate when eating salty, creamy, or nutty foods such as Caesar salad, fried calamari, oysters, or fresh sashimi and sushi

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, day bright, clear/light straw, low concentration

Nose: clean, medium intensity, pear, apple

Palate: Off dry, medium bodied, fruit confirms the nose, medium alcohol, medium minus acidity, medium plus finish, medium complexity

This sparkling wine tasted divine with the creamy, decadent crème brulee and strawberries that I paired it with for dessert.

Alamos Red Blend

Alamos

Red Blend (Malbec, Bonarda and Tempranillo)

2010

(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.

Wine & Food Pairing Tip: Aged & White Wine

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.

When the wine is aged and white:

* Serve with dishes that feature similar flavors (nuts, sherry and dried fruits) to mirror the flavor profile.

* Compensate for the lost acidity in the mature wine with acidity in the dish (a squeeze of lemon or a splash of vinegar).

Toasted Head Chardonnay

Toasted Head

Chardonnay

2011

(Dunnighan Hills, California)

On Bottle/Website:

*Brilliant, gold straw color

* Pears, citrus, apple blossoms, lemon, toasty coconut, peach, pineapple and cinnamon

* Barrel fermentation and aging on the lees contribute a creamy mouth feel and toasty finish

* Tastes great with poultry, seafood in a lemon-butter sauce and creamy pasta

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, gold, low concentration, no rim variation, low viscosity

Nose: clean, medium intensity, youthful, oak, white flowers, peach, nuts, honey, spices, mushroom

Palate: dry, medium bodied, peach, red apple, banana, honey, spices, mushroom, medium alcohol, medium acidity, medium plus finish, medium plus complexity

This is a solid wine that was smooth, mild and enjoyable.  It did not pair well with seared rare ahi tuna (which I assumed would be the case!), but I perceived a hint of honey and sweetness in the wine after eating.

Tasting Exercise: Alcohol Levels

My goal while learning about different wines is to become proficient in all of the aspects of tasting.  There are a plethora of tasting exercises that can be completed to help accomplish this goal.  This week I will be focusing on learning about alcohol levels in wine.

 

* Pour one low alcohol (9.5% to 11%) white wine with no residual sugar (Mosel Kabinett Trocken, Muscadet) and one high alcohol (14% to 16%) white wine with no residual sugar (certain New World Viogniers or Chardonnays) side by side knowing what they are, then in a blind fashion five times.  There should be a low alcohol and a high alcohol level.  Repeat five days in a row.

* Repeat exercise with a Beaujolais Villages versus a Dry Creek Zinfandel or a Sancerre Rouge versus an Amarone della Valpolicella.

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.

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Cabernet Sauvignon

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull

Cabernet Sauvignon

2010

(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.

Wine & Food Pairing Tip: Aged & Red Wine

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.

 

When the wine is aged and red:

* Serve rare preparations of meats to fill in the flavor gaps left by the drying out of the youthful fruit that occurs as the wine develops in the bottle.

* Remember that because tannins soften over time, an aged red gives you a broader range of food options than a tannic young wine.

* Remember that wines become more delicate as they age; choose simpler preparations to show them off rather than make them compete with complex recipes.