A Piemonte Tasting Without Barolo and Barbaresco

You are probably wondering why you would have a Piemonte tasting without Barolo and Barbaresco?  Well, that is a good question. But there are other wines of distinction besides these two in Piemonte.

We were at Moore Brothers one of our favorite wine shops, and at one of their weekend tastings.  They’re located in Industry City in the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn, NY  and they had  decided this would be a fun theme to explore the other wines of Piemonte.  Admittedly it was raining cats and dogs that day, but what could be better than tasting wine on a very rainy Saturday afternoon?

The first wine was an Alta Lange Rosanna Extra Brut Ettore Germano. It’s a delicious sparkling wine from a great producer. The grape is Nebbiolo so right there it starts off with a positive, at least for me! The wine ferments 80% steel and 20% used barrels for about 6 months. The wine is bottled and after 18 months on the lees, the bottles are disgorged and topped up with the same wine, no dosage is used.

It has a pleasant fragrant nose with red berries shining through. The wine notes indicate you can drink this wine through 2025 and complement it with any cuisine you can imagine.

Next, was a Grignolino d’Asti from Gianni Doglia 2022

Grignolino, I learned, are very small berries with a lot of pits in each berry. This gives it a good bit of tannin from the pits (or seeds). Given that tannins, I suspect that you could lay this wine down for several years and see how it matures.

It is a complex wine even though the lighter red color of the wine would lead one to believe otherwise. If you like Nebbiolo and want to see how Piemonte terroir can influence another varietal, you will not be disappointed trying this one. And, if you get a chance to try a Grignolino from California (Heitz makes a very good one) you’ll be surprised at how different the grape shows in warmer California weather (and terroir), where you will find a fuller more rounded wine than you would see from the grape in Piemonte.

The Coste della Sesia Rosso Uvaggio from Proprietà Sperino 2019 was almost all Nebbiolo. It has a small amount of Vespolina which I’ve heard of (don’t know much about it), but I was not familiar with and a grape Croatina. I discovered this is a local varietal that has been in Italy for a while.

This is a Nebbiolo that you want to keep several years to get its full potential and could easily go for 10 to 15 years if you have the time. I’d give it at least 3 -5 more years as I thought it tasted pretty young in its current state.

The Dolcetto from Dogliani D.O.C.G. Superiore Maioli Anna Maria Abbona 2021 was delicious and ready to drink now. It had a fragrant nose and would go well with most Italian foods.

I have been told that the best Dolcetto is from the Dogliani area of Piemonte. So, this is a safe bet if you are looking for an Italian red that hits the right notes for flavor and your pocketbook. You can keep this for 3 – 4 years and not be disappointed.

The final “wine” – Roero Mosto Parzialmente Fosso Della Rosa Giovanni Almondo 2023 technically it is NOT a wine. Because it is very low alcohol content, (5%), it can’t officially be called a wine. It’s a frizzante with wonderful fragrance and a delicious “desserty” flavor and finish. You may just want to drink this like soda with a little bit of alcohol in it or drink it with prosciutto and melon.

It was raining when we got there, and it was still raining when we left, but it was definitely a pleasant way to spend some time on a rainy day!

Colares: A Great Portuguese Wine and Shakespeare

I’m a huge fan of Colares wine from Portugal. Part of it is the story, part of it is the scarcity and part of it are the flavors, aromas, and overall taste of this ancient and unique wine, and it can be both red and white.

In 2017 I visited Viúva Gomes in Almoçageme, a small and somewhat remote village in the Portuguese municipality of Sintra in the parish of Colares.  Their production is quite limited, and they produce their wine in 500 ml bottles, with both white (Branco) and red (Tinto) versions.

So, what makes this wine so special?  First, the vines grow several meters from the Atlantic Ocean which imparts a salinity that is unusual for most wines. Next, the vines are not on stakes or trellis’, the vines are lying on the sand dunes near the Atlantic Ocean. And their red wine is usually not offered for sale until it has aged for at least 8 to 10 years.

The white wines will show minerality, saline, salt, citrus, lemon, stone fruit, and a variety of other flavors and notes. Frankly, I usually can taste some of these flavors, but even after drinking and tasting wine all these years, I still find it a challenge to see how many flavors I can identify. It is a challenge I willingly accept!

The red wine exhibits earthiness, leather, red fruit, raspberry, cherry, raisin maybe fig. I had a vertical tasting of the Colares Tinto from Viúva Gomes from their 1938 vintage (or so, I forget the exact year) that still had so much fruit and freshness, that you would never think it was a wine that was more than 50 years old!

The reason for this preamble of Colares was also to demonstrate how an AI engine (ChatGPT 3.5) could describe this wine in the voice of Shakespeare, obviously a much more poetic voice than me??. I hope you enjoy the text and poetry. I know I will enjoy that bottle of Colares sitting in my wine cabinet, waiting, waiting…

How would Shakespeare describe a red wine from Collares, Portugal?

In Collares, whence this red wine doth hail,
A Portuguese gem, its tales we shall unveil.
From land of ancient vines and coastal breeze,
Comes nectar that doth put the soul at ease.
Its hue, a garnet cloak, rich and profound,
In goblets gleams like rubies ‘pon the ground.
From native Ramisco grapes, its heart is pressed,
A noble heritage, by time caressed.
The nose, a symphony of scents, doth rise,
With whispers of the sea and earthy ties.
Saline airs and forest’s ancient grace,
Mingle in this wine’s aromatic embrace.
Upon the palate, stories of the past,
Of sun-drenched slopes, and rugged vineyards vast.
Tannins, firm and sturdy, yet refined,
Like verses penned by poets, intertwined.
Oh, Collares wine, a treasure to behold,
In Shakespearean verse, thy tale is told.
Thy taste, thy lineage, thy coastal lore,
In every sip, a journey to explore.

Michael Gansl and Chad Eaves Talk Creating a Wine Business with Sheila Donohue

Please join Chad Eaves and Michael Gansl for a fascinating conversation with Sheila Donohue who shares her journey from a career in hi-tech to founding verovino.com, an international company selling undiscovered wines and food from small wineries and farms from around the world.

I think you will be as impressed as I was hearing how Sheila has used her passion to create a successful business. And don’t forget to subscribe here.

Wait…It’s a RED Wine!

Surprises, at least happy surprises when it comes to wine especially, help us enjoy it even more!

Such was the case, two days ago when our neighbor gave my wife a bottle of wine to thank her for a kind deed. My wife protested, but relented, perhaps knowing that a self-proclaimed wine buff like me would certainly appreciate it.

Since we were having roasted chicken for dinner that evening, I thought the gift of a bottle of Sancerre would be perfect with the chicken.

I got the bottle from my wine room, which used to be my daughter’s room (I somehow had convinced my wife that it was OK for me to turn our daughter’s former room into MY Wine Den), and I put it in our refrigerator to chill down the wonderful white wine to accompany our chicken that evening.

As I set the table, I opened the Sancerre and brought it to the table. After a bite or two of the delicious bird, I decided I should try this white wine (which I’ve enjoyed many times). As I poured the wine into my glass, I exclaimed, “It’s a RED wine! Wait, What!

Yes indeed, it was a RED Sancerre! Now I’ve drank and tasted hundreds or wines over the past few years and I’m sure I’ve had a red Sancerre before, but to say I was surprised this time is a gross understatement. This was not the white Sancerre that I am typically used to with its expressive nose and wonderful mineral quality.

Instead, I got a marvelous shock and surprise that a red Sancerre is a perfect pairing with roasted chicken. It had a fragrant nose, somebody, a bit of tannin, a textured mouthfeel, and a lovely mineral quality.

But what was it? What grape varietal could it be? In my Vivino app, I discovered it’s a Pinot Noir. WOW! Another pleasant surprise! I’m a huge Pinot Noir fan and have had Pinots from California, Patagonia, New Zealand, Burgundy of course, Tuscany, the North Fork of Long Island, and the Finger Lakes of Upstate New York, but it had been quite a while since I had a red Sancerre.

As I drank this wonderful surprise over two nights, I enjoyed it more and more. I love surprises, especially one where it totally challenged my expectation and I learned perhaps something not new, but something I had forgotten, and this entire experience reminded me of why wine is such a fascinating subject and why I enjoy it as much as I do!.

Matt and Michael Attend a Red Burgundy Wine Tasting of 12 Wines at Somm Cellars on 9/28

Michael and I had the distinct pleasure to attend a red Burgundy tasting recently at Somm Cellars, a lovely wine shop located in Waterline Plaza on the Upper West Side at 59th street and Riverside Blvd. As the sheets with the list of wines shows, the vintages were from 2010 to 2020.

Red Burgundy is a favorite of ours and it was with anticipation that we looked forward to discovering some older vintages than we normally don’t get to taste.

As there were about 30 people there, a couple of people were pouring. We actually started with a 2021 Bourgogne which was not on the list, but we noted it as 1A. It was definitely very young and probably needed more time. The fact that it was just a Bourgogne (meaning the classification was from a generic Burgundy wine and not from a specific area in Burgundy, that would require it to be designated as a village AOC).

We worked the list backwards, starting with the #11 wine, a 2010 which we rated to be the lowest (5 on a scale of 10) according to my own personal preference. Bear in mind my rating could change depending on what order I’ve tasted each wine or just my preference that day. I liked the 2011 and 2012 better as I rated them 7.5 and 7 respectively. The 2013 was a challenging year and was not a likeable as the ’11 or ’12 vintage. 2014 was decent and poured from a Magnum, so it probably was aging a bit slower than a 750ml bottle.

I have a soft spot in my palate for any Morey St. Denis. So, I rated the 2015 my third highest at an 8. It had a bit more fruit than the prior vintages and the weather was hot so that probably helped give it a more fruit forward profile than the older vintages I tasted.

A note here from Michael, who agrees with me most of the time, but does not have a numeric scale, but he definitely agreed with me on the 2015, which had some very nice fruit up front, and a reasonable finish.

Then, with a different pourer, we started in the opposite direction with the 2020, which was a hot year, and a really dark purple color, and was 13% alcohol.  I liked it very much with a 7.5, while Michael did not really like it. See what I mean – we don’t always agree!

The 2019 was my favorite! The vintage had a 30-50% loss of yield because of frost. This made the grapes that remained more concentrated, thus more complex and for my palate much more interesting. I gave it an 8.5. (BTW, I had this a second time, and I loved the funky nose of this wine after it had been opened a bit longer). Believe it or not, Michael agreed with me that this was the best wine of the night!

The 2018 was very nice. It was a hot and dry year with a lot of sun and an early harvest. This was a 7.5 for me.   Overall, I rated this the 4th best wine of the night, while Michael rated it the 3rd best for him.  The 2017 was blessed with perfect weather, and had a nose similar to black tea, and was very approachable to drink now, but it didn’t quite do it for me, and I rated it a 7, and again, Michael agreed with me.

Finally, my second favorite was the 2016. It was a cold and rainy year with cold nights, producing lower acidic and was a very clean tasting wine.  I think this gave the wine its character and made it more interesting for me than most of the other vintages. I gave it an 8.25. Michael also agreed with me and rated this his 2nd best choice of the tasting.  Admittedly, this was the 10th wine he had tasted in the evening, but we did spit from time to time, and so we were still pretty clear eyed at that point, and with some water in between tasting each wine, we still were able to discern the differences in each of the wines. At least, we thought so?

We learned how important the weather is for the vintage and how it determines when the wine is harvested, how thick or how thin the grapes are, how structured are the tannins, and how soon you might want to drink the wine, or how long you might want to put it down to see how it ages and tastes over time.

The other thing we learned from this tasting is that both of us tend to like slightly younger wines that are fruit forward, fresh, energetic, have a bit of a funky nose, with a long finish. We particularly like it when each time you sip the wine again and again, the taste continues to change ever so slightly!

Want to read more about what we each thought of each wine? Click here for Michael Gansl’s tasting notes and click here for Matt Plociak’s tasting notes.

Michael Gansl Holds First Wines Of Reason Wine Tasting Event With 9 California and Oregon Wines

We tasted nine wines plus we started with a Sharffenberger Sparkling wine from Mendocino, California to open up our palettes.

The goal was to compare the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from the Sonoma Coast, Santa Barbara, Paso Robles/Sta. Rita Hills and the Willamette Valley/Oregon and understand the expression of the two varietals in each region, and compare their similarities and differences.

It was a great evening for all, and I could tell which wines people enjoyed most, by seeing how much or how little was left in each bottle!

Want to learn more about what wines we drank? Click here for our tasting list and click here for a tasting notes worksheet.

What a Wine Collection! Billionaire Selling $50 Million Worth of Wine

Talk about a wine collection for the ages! And it could be yours for only $50 million.

From Yahoo! News:

“Taiwanese billionaire Pierre Chen is auctioning off 25,000 bottles of wine from his vast collection, with some of the rarest items expected to fetch as much as $190,000 each.”

Read the Full Article

Are Paper Wine Bottles Coming Soon? You Be the Judge

A new article from CBS News notes “Are paper wine bottles the future? These companies think so.”

Per the article:

“A British company is replacing glass wine bottles with a unique paper alternative, and bringing the product to the United States. Frugalpac designs and manufactures paper wine bottles in an effort to help decarbonize the drink industry.”

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

Bordeaux vs. Burgundy Wines: Unveiling the Distinctive Terroirs

Wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs around the world have long been captivated by the exquisite tastes and aromas of French wines. Among the most renowned regions are Bordeaux and Burgundy, each offering a distinct character that reflects the land, climate, and winemaking techniques. While both regions produce exceptional wines, they do so in ways that highlight their unique terroirs, resulting in wines that are a testament to the artistry of winemaking.

Terroir: The Essence of French Wines

Before delving into the differences between Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, it’s crucial to understand the concept of terroir. Terroir encompasses the geographical, geological, and climatic factors that influence a wine’s flavor, aroma, and overall profile. This notion is at the core of French winemaking philosophy, emphasizing the deep connection between the land and the wine it produces.

Bordeaux Wines: Elegance in Blend

Bordeaux, located in the southwest of France, is synonymous with some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after wines. The region is famed for its red blends, which typically consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Bordeaux wines are celebrated for their structured complexity, characterized by a harmonious interplay of fruit, tannins, and acidity.

One of the key features of Bordeaux wines is the classification system, which places an emphasis on the estates and their historical significance. Wines from Bordeaux often showcase a distinctive balance between the influence of the Atlantic Ocean’s cooling effects and the warmth of the sun, resulting in wines that have aging potential and a broad range of expressions. The Left Bank and Right Bank of the Gironde River each contribute their unique styles—Left Bank wines tend to be Cabernet Sauvignon dominant, displaying power and longevity, while Right Bank wines lean towards Merlot, offering softer textures and earlier drinkability.

Burgundy Wines: Elegance in Single-Varietal Expression

Burgundy, situated in eastern France, is a region revered for its dedication to the expression of individual grape varieties and the concept of “terroir.” Unlike Bordeaux’s blends, Burgundy places a spotlight on single varietals, primarily Pinot Noir for red wines and Chardonnay for whites. The region’s intricate patchwork of vineyards, known as “climats,” underscores the emphasis on terroir-driven wines.

Burgundy wines are known for their finesse, elegance, and delicacy. The cool continental climate, coupled with diverse soil types, imparts a unique character to each vineyard plot. As a result, Burgundy wines are often described as having an unparalleled ability to reflect the specific location in which they were grown. The hierarchy of appellations, ranging from regional to grand cru, further underscores the importance of place in Burgundian winemaking.

Comparing Bordeaux and Burgundy

While both Bordeaux and Burgundy produce exceptional wines, several notable differences set them apart:

1. Blend vs. Single Varietal: Bordeaux emphasizes blending multiple grape varieties to achieve complexity and balance, while Burgundy showcases the pure expression of a single varietal in relation to its terroir.

2. Terroir Interpretation: Burgundy’s emphasis on terroir is exceptionally detailed, with individual vineyards having distinct characteristics, while Bordeaux’s terroir influence is often expressed through the broader appellation-level characteristics.

3. Aging Potential: Bordeaux wines often have extended aging potential due to their structured tannins, whereas many Burgundy wines are best enjoyed in their youth, although some premier and grand crus can age gracefully.

4. Classification System: Bordeaux’s classification system focuses on the reputation and history of individual estates, whereas Burgundy’s classification is intricately tied to vineyard plots.

5. Flavor Profiles: Bordeaux wines commonly display flavors of cassis, blackberries, tobacco, and cedar, while Burgundy wines offer flavors of red berries, earthiness, and floral notes.

In the end, the choice between Bordeaux and Burgundy wines comes down to personal preference.

Bordeaux wines allure with their complex blends and aging potential, while Burgundy wines captivate with their singular focus on terroir and elegance. Both regions, steeped in tradition and innovation, offer a journey through the French artistry of winemaking, making them an integral part of the global wine landscape.