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Kante Carso Vitovska (2005) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Mon, Aug 17, 2009 Wine Tasting

A spectacular Italian white wine from Kante, a small winery in the Carso D.O.C. of Friuli. Carso, which was granted its D.O.C. status in 1985, is located on a plateau above the town of Trieste near the Slovenian border. It is here that owner Edi Kante produces some of the best white wines in Italy. The 2005 Vitovska is made from an indigenous grape of the same name that has been cultivated in the area for generations. The wine is a brilliant straw yellow color that sparkles in the glass. Vibrant acidity. Wonderfully fragrant. Beautifully balanced. A terrific wine. The only problem is that the 500ml bottle does not provide enough to enjoy.

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Ermacora Friulano (2007) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Sat, Aug 15, 2009 Wine Tasting

A traditional Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano) from Ermacora, a small winery located in the D.O.C. Colli Orientali of Friuli. Specialists in Friulian whites, Ermacora’s wines are made with a "green" touch. The land is interspersed with wooded areas populated with wildlife and a stream providing diverse ecology for the vineyards. They also rely on an aggressive use of clover and dandelions to protect their vines. The wine exhibits the classic Friulano characteristics; apple and pear on the nose and palate, with perhaps too much of the bitter almond notes. Crisp acidity. Aged in stainless steel. Clean, long finish.

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Casali Aurelia Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso (2007) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Mon, Aug 10, 2009 Wine Tasting

Something different from Casali Aurelia, a family-owned Friulian winery that is member of the Consorzio DOC Friuli Annia, whose geographic area lies along the old Roman Strada Annia. The wine is made from the Refosco dal Peduncolo (meaning “Red Stem”) grape, an indigenous sub-variety of the Refosco grape that purportedly was praised by Pliny the Elder in the first century for the quality of wine it produces. (Even if this is not true, it’s fun to give Pliny the Elder a mention) The wine is ruby-red in color and violet highlights with an herbaceous nose of dark stone fruits and berries. Tannic. Slightly bitter. I have not had enough of this grape to know whether its unpleasant characteristics are the varietal or the winemaking. Could Pliny the Elder be wrong?

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Belisario Terre Di Valbona Verdicchio di Matelica (2007) Marche

Date: Mon, Aug 3, 2009 Wine Tasting

A Twitter-like review of a great summer wine from Belisario, a co-op started in the early 70’s that has become the world’s largest producer of Verdicchio. To lend a small-town feel to the wine, each label in Belisario’s portfolio is from its own vineyard. The Terre Di Valbona Verdicchio is a brilliant straw yellow color with hints of greenish-yellow. Fragrant nose of apple, pear and peach. Crisp acidity. Terrific food wine. Aged for two months in stainless steel. Inexpensive, but doesn’t drink like it.

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Tenimenti La Lepre Dolcetto Diano d’ Alba (2004) Piemonte

Date: Tue, Jul 28, 2009 Wine Tasting

I know, I know, not another wine from Piemonte. The bottle however, caught my eye. Purchased in Winestyles, a bad franchised wine store, Tenimenti’s La Lepre; Italian for "The Lepre" (hare, actually), looked formidable. "We serve this wine at our, blah, blah, blah" said the franchisee. "2004 is pretty old for a Dolcetto" I responded. A blank stare followed. I later learned that Tenimenti is a new brand from long-time winemaker Fontanafredda that showcases wines made from grapes grown on the estate's own vineyards or by growers supported by Fontanafredda's 125 years of technical know-how. Fontanafredda’s "Mad Men" state that "The new logo - incorporated into an original line of labels - also appears on the bottle, which is itself brand-new. The change in the bottle is destined to be the most striking element: for the first time in its history, Fontanafredda is leaving behind its unmistakable, traditional burgundy bottle for a wide-shouldered Bordeaux bottle." As full of crap as that sounds, it worked. I picked up the bottle from the shelf and admired its heft. "What power this wine must have" I thought. So in spite of its age and knowing nothing else about the wine; I bought a bottle. I was quite surprised. The wine was a delight. 100% Dolcetto, grown on a 2.55 hectare vineyard located in the village of Diano d'Alba, the wine was a beautiful deep ruby-red with violet highlights. Fruity nose of plums and cherries. Very slight tannins; well balanced. Fermented in stainless and aged a short time (four months) in barriques. Very enjoyable. I’d buy it again.

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Vietti Perbacco Nebbiolo (2005) Piemonte

Date: Wed, Jul 22, 2009 Wine Tasting

A delight from Vietti, a family owned Piedmontese winery that produces nearly 20 different wines from estate-owned vineyards (about 80 acres) and contract growers. The family’s involvement in the winery dates back to 1919. They were one of the first wineries to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards, one of the first to export wine to the United States and are credited with rediscovering and promoting the Arneis, a now famous white wine from Roero area, north of Barolo. The 2005 Perbacco is 100% Nebbiolo, with the grapes being selected from different vineyards in the area of Scarrone of Castiglione Falletto and from Ravera in the Village of Novello. Following its fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine is moved into barriques for 10 months, and then transferred in oak cask for other 16 months. Prior to bottling, the wine rests for a few months in steel tanks. The wine is a haunting (not really; I just wanted to write that) pale ruby color with aromas of ripe cherries, dark fruit and spice. Well-balanced with a hauntingly (again; not really) smooth finish. Since 1974, certain Vietti wines have been adorned with original works of art inspired by the wine of that particular vintage. The print run is the same as the number of bottles produced, and the first hundred labels are signed by the artist. Certainly wines worth looking for. I have enjoyed every Vietti wine I have tried. Albeisa bottle.

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Abdul Mulls Offer From “The Italian Cellar”

Date: Mon, Jul 20, 2009 Wine Tasting

David Sonenberg, manager for American Idol judge Paula Abdul has reportedly confirmed today that the former singer is mulling an offer to not return to Idol for a ninth season and instead write for an obscure, little-known Italian wine blog.

“The near total anonymity gained by writing for The Italian Cellar would be a refreshing change of pace from the pressure and crush of publicity associated with American Idol.” Abdul said “It’s read by practically no one.”

Reports state that Abdul would be a perfect fit for The Italian Cellar, as her affinity for Italian wine is well known. “I enjoy the grippy tannins of a properly aged Barbaresco as a counterpoint to the truffle-like essence of a handful of large animal tranquilizers or the vibrant acidity of a Tocai Friulano when paired with anything by GlaxoSmithKline.” Abdul said.

News of this possible career change for Abdul apparently has Idol officials reeling, as they would not return any requests for comment.

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Piazzo Dolcetto d' Alba "Scaletta" (2005) Piemonte

Date: Thu, Jul 16, 2009 Wine Tasting

A tasty Italian red wine from Piazzo, a small multi-generational winery located on the hills of the Langhe. Selected from the best lots of of Piazzo's Dolcetto, the wine is wonderfully fragrant, with a deep-hued ruby red/violet color. Aged four months in oak. Very nice for what is usually a simple wine. Albeisa bottle.

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Stimulus Package!

Date: Fri, Jul 10, 2009 Wine Tasting

You go Barry! (and Nicolas!)

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Domenico Clerico Barbera d’Alba “Trevigne” (2005) Piemonte

Date: Thu, Jul 2, 2009 Wine Tasting

A fantastic Barbera from Domenico Clerico, who Robert Parker calls "One of the most gifted winemakers in Piedmont...these are wines of extraordinary richness, amazing aromatics, and sensual personalities that satiate both the hedonistic and the intellectual senses." Bob’s lyrical prose aside, Clerico IS one of the most respected names in all Barolo, and his wines are renowned for both winemaking of the highest quality and for exceptional character derived from outstanding vineyard holdings in some of the greatest crus of Monforte. As with the other greats of Piedmont, Clerico’s Barbara and Dolcetto are an easy and affordable way to enjoy the genius of the winemaker, and represent two of the greatest wines made from those varietals. An agronomist first, Clerico practices "green" farming methods; he uses no systemic plant protection products; no herbicides; and when needed, only the lightest touch of organic fertilizer (manure). Clerico’s single-cru Barbera d’Alba "Trevigne" is 100% Barbera that is matured for over a year in French oak barriques, 40% of which are new. Intense, purple/red color. Strong nose of red berries and fruit. Very soft, velvety mouth feel. Effortless to drink. Because of my brother-in-law’s diet, I was forced to drink it all myself.

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Bastianich Rosato (2008) Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Date: Mon, Jun 29, 2009 Wine Tasting

A refreshing summer Rose from Bastianich, a 70 acre Friulian winery founded in 1997 by superstar chef Lidia Bastianich and her follically-challenged son Joe. The wine is made from 100% Refosco, a grape known for producing spicy reds with dark fruit flavors. To make their Rosato, winemakers Emilio Del Medico, Maurizio Castelli, de-stem, soft press, then ferment in stainless steel 40% of the grapes. 50% of the grapes are then de-stemmed, soft pressed and fermented using some whole grape clusters with some brief skin contact to impart added aromas. The remaining 10% of juice (which imparts additional complexity to the wine) is derived from the Salasso method (a method whereby some juice is taken from the macerating Refosco that is used for Bastianich’s Vespa Rosso and Calabrone). After fermentation, the wines are blended and left to age in stainless steel for 4 months. The wine has a beautifully bright pink hue, with a terrific fruit nose and palate. Heavier than expected mouth-feel. Vibrant, refreshing acidity. Great on its own as a summer quaffer or with spicy foods. Stelvin screw cap.

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Masseria Li Veli "Passamante" Salento IGT (2007) Puglia

Date: Wed, Jun 24, 2009 Wine Tasting

A terrific Italian red wine from Masseria Li Veli, a small (66 hectares) Puglian winery, consisting of partly owned and partly leased vineyards, cultivated with Primitivo, Negroamaro, Susumaniello, Aleatico and Cabernet Sauvignon. Li Veli’s "Passamante" is 100% Negroamaro (which means dark-dark in the local dialect) that is aged for six months in wooden casks. Intense, dark ruby red color; highly perfumed with a strong, bright, red berry fruit nose. Well balanced acidity and tannins. Soft, velvety finish. Was great with grilled flat iron steak and grilled vegetables.

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Pertinace Dolcetto d’ Alba (2007) Piemonte

Date: Thu, Jun 11, 2009 Wine Tasting

A very nice, clean Dolcetto from "Cantina Vignaioli Elvio Pertinace", a small cooperative of 15 Piemontese growers. Founded in 1972, Pertinace has been a long-time supplier of grapes to other top producers. Recent investments in their winery now allow them to take full advantage of their excellent vineyard sites under their own label. Traditionalists, Pertinace uses a combination of low yields in the vineyards, and TLC to allow the character of their fruit to be expressed in the wine. Critical acclaim has followed with positive reviews from the great oracles. The 2007 Dolcetto d’Alba is ruby red/violet in color and terrifically smooth to drink. Vinified and aged in stainless. A great every day, Italian wine.

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