Saturday, December 3, 2011

Recent Wine Roundup

I'm thinking of this post as being "housekeeping" in the sense that I have a backlog of wines that I want to write about and a finite number of blog posts that my fives or tens of readers will pay attention to.  So welcome to the roundup of the wines I've enjoyed in the last week or two.  Many of these were excellent QPR bottles that I'm looking forward to trying again.

First up is the 2009 Martilde Oltrepo Pavese Barbera.  This retails for around $12 in the Boston area.  Barbera is the grape, and is one of the most widely grown grapes in northern Italy.  Most Barbera is grown in the regions of Alba and Asti, but this wine hails from Oltrepo Pavese in Lombardy.  Lombardy is a region that produces a lot of wine, very little of which makes its way to the US.  It is most famous for the sparkling wines of Franciacorta, which are some of the best outside of Champagne.

Barbera is a very food friendly grape, as it makes wines with good fruit but also solid acidic structure.  I find that it pairs well with almost anything, from pasta to pizza to burgers to chicken.  this was an excellent example of Barbera and showed good red fruits and juicy acidity.  This wine could likely age another year or two, but in my opinion Barbera is best drunk when young and vibrant.  Bottom line is that this a wine I'd recommend seeking out, but more than that, drink more Barbera (especially Barbera d'Asti, but that's another blog post).

Next up is the 2006 Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino. Had this with some awesome pork ribs and the pairing was tremendous.  As with all BdM, we're working with 100% Sangiovese.  Sangiovese is the most famous grape of Tuscany and provides it's signature dusty cherry flavors to the wines not only of the Toscana IGT, but of Chianti Classico as well.

Brunellos are known to be long aging wines, and opening this bottle was a bit of infanticide, but after an hour in the decanter this wine was rocking.  It had a strong sangiovese core of cherry fruit and earth and incredibly deep and complex flavors.  I find Brunello to be best enjoyed with food and I'd recommend this with something like a roast chicken or, of course, any sort of Italian cuisine.

Third in line is the 2008 Truchard Vineyards Cabernet Franc.  Truchard is a small winery in the Carneros district of Napa Valley.  I've previously had and enjoyed their Cabernet Sauvignon, Rousanne, Pinot Noir, and even their Chardonnay, so I was very excited to taste this.  Cabernet Franc is my favorite red variety, but I've had negative experiences with most Cab Francs from California.  The grape's spiritual home is the Loire Valley in France, where it is vinified into a light bodied, high acid red wine that screams to be drunk with food.  Those are some of my favorite wines in the world.  Too often in California (and Bordeaux), it is treated like Cabernet Sauvignon (it's son) and smothered with oak in an attempt to create a soft, opulent wine.  Those wines suck.

This was somewhere in between the Loire style and Cali style and was very enjoyable.  There was an oak presence but it was firmly in the background, letting raspberry and some blackberry fruit take center stage.  I'd say this was one of the most successful CA efforts I've had.  It needed about 3 hours in the decanter to be approachable at all, so I'd recommend giving this one significant air time or holding it for a few more years if you've got a bottle.

I still have three more wines to talk about, but I've probably rambled enough already (shocking).  I've got to go get ready for a wine and cheese party, where I may or may not be bringing a 2008 Couly Dutheil Chinon "Baronnie Madeleine" to continue my cab franc chronicles.

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