Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "white wine"

Return of the Rhone

The Rhone tasting calendar has been pretty quiet this fall.  Budget cuts?  An effect of the impending global wine shortage? (I'm not kidding, read about it in this Huffington Post article). Whatever the reason, there hasn't been a huge promotional push this season and I only conducted one tasting.  But, here are three for your Rhone portfolio.  Try them before France runs out of wine.

E. Guigal Cote du Rhone Blanc, 2011 (approx $15)  - The sole white in the tasting smelled of golden delicious apple, lemon zest and a hibiscus note to add a floral intrigue to the nose. On the palate, the citrus fruits, particularly line, brought a zesty freshness to the round and lush orchard.  Medium bodied and noticeably acidic, this wine brought something interesting to each sip.

Delas Saint-Esprit Cote du Rhone, 2011 (approx $13) - Sometimes simple is good.  Case in point: this easy, uncomplicated red. Bright strawberry and cherry were dominant right away, but a bit of white pepper gave it a spicy edge that kept it from being a total juice bomb. The body was on the lighter side but moderate acidity kept it in check.  There was a ping of bing cherry on the finish, just for fun.  This was very easy drinking and was light enough to be a good summer red (file that away!).  Food need not apply.

Famille Perrin Cote du Rhone Village, 2010 (approx. $14) - This last red was a fun contrast to the Delas.  Immediately, you could tell a difference in the fruit - tighter, small berried fruits, such as blackberry, were dominant on the nose, as opposed to the cheery cherries on the other. Earth and animal came through in a big way, along with some vegetal funkiness, and black pepper added a kick to the profile. On the palate, the tannins were much more prominent than in the Delas, as well as the acidity. There was almost a chewiness to the wine, but wasn't quite chewy as it was still a medium body rather than uber-full. 

Keep tasting, friends...

Health Check: My Collection

After a harrowing tasting of one of my bottles the other week, I've been very concerned about the state of the others.  Did I royally fuck them up via poor storage? Nervously, I brought two bottles over to my friend's apartment as refreshments for a photo shoot.  One white, one red.  How'd they fare?

Hermann J Wiemer, Magdalena Vineyard, Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, 2011 - Yee-haw, this Riesling was just as amazing as when I first tried it over the summer.   It was all about the peach and apricot upon first sniff, but then limes and grapefruits came through, quickly followed by slate.  On the palate, it was like bushelfuls of orchard fruits had been dumped into the glass, but again, citrus to the rescue to keep it zesty.  Although it was classified as a dry Riesling, I did sense more residual sugar than anticipated. The high acid and viscous body gave it depth and interest and I'm sad that my sole bottle of this wine is gone. 

Domaine Anne & Jean-Francois Delorme, Mercurey, Burgundy, 2009 - This pinot noir started tight; I faintly detected blackberry, raspberry, a bit of plum and while the scents of soil and earth were apparent, the alcohol was rather prominent on the nose.  The first few sips didn't do much to boost my confidence; the alcohol was giving off some major heat and the whole thing tasted a bit flat.  Fuuuuuuccccckkkk. Luckily, it just needed a bit of time and air. As it evolved it became more lush and round on the palate.  The tannins and acid found they groove, giving the flowering fruits a richness to their flavor. I breathed a massive sigh of relief. 

I think they're going to pull through, but fingers crossed….

Arrigoni Private Wine Tasting

Forget April showers, the month was awash with tasting events. I capped off a busy week at the end of the month at a private tasting of wines by the producer Arrigoni. I met the very charming Davide at a Chianti tasting earlier in the week and he followed up with an invite to a private tasting a few days later. In addition to the reds featured at the grand tasting, they showcased some of their whites.  In total I tasted 6 wines but wanted to highlight 4 in particular and examine a pure Vermentino varietal to a blended one, as well as a classic Chianti to a 100% Sangiovese expression.

Colli Di Luni Vermentino DOC "La Cascina Dei Peri"
This Vermentino, blended with 5% Pigato, was a simple but accessible wine. Pear, kiwi and a ripe grapefruit appeared in this crisp white.  I've always felt Vermentino was overshadowed by the Pinot Grigio marketing machine; it is a very good Italian white that deserves more recognition.

Colli Di Luni Vermentino DOC "Vigna Del Prefeto"
This one is 100% Vermentino and one of my favorites from the tasting. The flavor profile was similar to the previous one but it showed a bit more complexity. There was a roundness and depth to it that kept me interested while sipping. The crisp acidity was still present but overall this wine had a few more embellishments than its simplified precursor.

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
A blend of Sangiovese, Malvasia Nera and Canaiolo (also known as petit verdot), this wine was exemplary of Chianti.  Ripe berries, licorice, earthy, and a little bit green. Fairly high in acid with pronounced, but integrated tannins, this was a very enjoyable red.

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG "Poggio al Vento"
The final wine in the tasting was 100% Sangiovese. Cranberry, ash and oak were all immediately present, but the oak was not as well integrated as it should be and muscled through the crowd of tasting notes to become the dominant factor. Obviously, this wine was undeniably tannic, which might have held up well with some food but in this context, felt rather unbalanced in the glass.

Arrigoni currently does not have distribution in the U.S. but hopefully will get picked up soon. I'd love to have that Vigna Del Prefeto on the table for an alfresco summer dinner.

Keep tasting, friends...

An Ode to La Spinetta

One of wine's most important elements is its ability to evoke memories. We tend to gravitate towards particular wines not only for the way they taste but for the way they can transport one to a particular moment. You may remember that beautful bottle that was served on your birthday and now, whenever you see it on a menu, you may smile with recollection.  Or what about that bottle of rose that you drank at dinner on a beach vacation, overlooking the ocean?  I'm sure you are more apt to select that bottle over any other in a wine store.

La Spinetta wines hold that special memory for me.  With that first sip, I'm instantly transported to our first dinner on the patio at La Villa, our hotel in Piedmonte, on what was to become a pinnacle trip in my burgeoning passion for wine.  Sitting amongst the vineyard-covered hills, the setting sun alighting the mountain peaks like small volcanoes, I felt an ease and fluidity in my being I had never experienced before. The marriage of land and wine became a crystalized concept and I knew this was the beginning of a passionate journey.

Now, at a crossroads in my life, La Spinetta brought me back to a place of peace. Recently, Eataly hosted a tasting of four La Spinetta wines, including a first vintage rose. Tasting through these, I was transported to that moment of happiness, felt in its purest form

Langhe Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 ($46.80)
This was a gorgeous, old-world style sauv blanc, a must-drink alternative to the popular Italian pinot grigio. A bit pricey, yes, but it oozed character. Green apple, citrus and a brisk minerality announced themselves right away on the nose and palate. The acid, high and bright, was somehow tempered by a softness and roundness that is often found in Sancerre. I adore this wine.

Il Rose di Casanova, 2012 ($14.80)
This was their premier effort at rose and I hope they continue production. This wine came from their Tuscany estate and was 50% Sangiovese/50% Prugnolo Gentile. More Provence in style than the full-bodied deep Rosatos of Italy, this one had fresh-picked wildflowers, light cherry, strawberry fields and an overall brightness. Again, there was a good amount of acid on this fresh vino. Summer, where are you already?

Ca' Di Pian, Barbera, 2009 ($27.80)
Looking back at old posts, I'm shocked I haven't written about this one yet, considering it's offered by the half bottle at many wine bars in the city and I drink it all the time. At any rate, this is what I consider to be a textbook example of a good Barbera. On the nose, black cherry, plum and violets give way to cherry, raspberry and a solid earthiness on the palate. Again, acid is very prominent and some moderate tannins. Classic, classic, classic.

Vigneto Bordini, Barbaresco, 2005 ($53.80)
This was a lighter, refined style of Barbaresco. Violets, cranberry and an almost strawberry note wafted in the glass, layered with tones of chocolate. On the palate, the cranberry was even more noticeable, along with well-structured tannins and acidity. This is a barbaresco that I think could be sipped on by itself, along with being a great food wine.

Dedicated to S.P.

Lebanese, Please

By now, I've preached my most fundamental tasting mantra, "drink what you like," enough times to put an om-chanting yogi to shame.  However, in times when I'm exploring an unfamiliar wine region, "pair like with like" and matching a wine with its country of origin is a great gateway to something new.

A recent dinner brought my friend and I to Almayass, a Lebanese/Armenian restaurant with branches across the the Middle East.  I'm not very familiar with Lebanese wines but this seemed like an opportune time to give one a go.

Ksara Blanc de Blancs, Sauvignon Blanc. Semillion, Chardonnay blend, Bekaa Valley, 2011
(head shot)

 The first thing that struck me about this wine was the fluted bottle.  Based on presentation alone, I wondered if this wine would resemble a Riesling, which is traditionally bottled in this shape.

(full body shot)

Riesling?  Not quite. Instead, this medium-bodied white had a honeysuckle, floral and almost honeycomb-like nose, balanced by some tropical fruit.  Very faint but still present was a bit of minerality, most likely due to the soils in the vineyard, a nice counterbalance to the luscious topnotes.

On the palate, much of what came through on the nose also appeared, but there was an unctuousness that I found very appealing, while still being rather elegant. I really dug this weird vino.

Hummus, let me introduce you to your new friend...