Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo '07

   Montepulciano is a fairly ubiquitous Italian grape that makes easy drinking and delicious red wines for everyday use. It is a late-ripening grape that makes wines that are generally big in fruit, low in acid and go very well with any tomato based sauces, stews or grilled meats. An indigenous varietal, it is second only to Sangiovese in terms geographic spread. Abruzzo lies just south of the Marche on the east coast of Italy. Apparently, Thomas Jefferson had a fondness for Montepulciano as well, though I'm getting the idea that there weren't many wines that he didn't like. This user-friendly $9.99 version from Masciarelli, a top producer in the zone, is one of my favorites year in and year out and the bold and fruity '07s can still be found on the shelf. The aromas of this Montepulciano present classic smoky cherry scents along with earth and a note of licorice. Big, mouth-filling baked cherry flavors and bright, balancing acidity make this beauty an excellent choice for Friday night pasta. Cheers!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Clos du Mont Olivet "Font de Blanche" Cotes du Rhone '07

   I still love Cotes du Rhones. There are very few wines that serve up such complex aromas and flavors at their price point and are so versatile in terms of what you can pair them with. We've had CDR's many times with salmon, shrimp or tuna as well as just about any meat preparation. '07 was a great vintage in France's Rhone Valley as is the case with '09. But the '07's are special and now that they have had the benefit of resting for a year or two, they have smoothed out a bit and they are drinking really well. I am thrilled every time I walk into my primary wine shop and see that the owner still has the '07 Mont Olivet on the shelf. He either bought a ton of it or I'm the only one drinking it, which would be a shame. These wines are blends that are usually based on the Grenache grape with other grapes like Syrah, Mouverdre, Cinsault and Carignan filling out the blend. This particular beauty serves up quintessential Grenache aromas of cherry, raspberry, pepper and garrigue, which is kind of an amalgam all those Provencal herbs like lavender, rosemary and marjoram. This wine is sweet and smooth with bright cherryish fruit and a finishing note of licorice. An import of Michael Skurnick, this house favorite cost me $12.99. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Another Great Spanish Value - Panarroz '09

   Here is another $7.99 Spanish bargain that I have to rave about - Panarroz. A three grape blend of Monastrell, Grenache and Syrah grown in the Jumilla DO, this great little wine serves up aromas of cherry, blueberry and a distinct earthy note. It's aromas are quite large and complex for a wine at this price point. In the mouth, it delivers bold berryish fruit, medium-bodied textures and a finishing note of pepper. A private label product of the fine importer Hand Picked Selections, this great value can be found almost everywhere. Year after year, Panarroz is one of the finest values on the market.

....and while I'm here, I have to give some props to our local artisanal pizza place since one of their pies is what I enjoyed the Panarroz with. Nomad Pizza in Hopewell, NJ is without a doubt the best pizza I have had in a long time - maybe ever. Owners Thomas Grim and Stalin Bedon had their wood-fired oven built in and then imported from Italy. Below is a pic of their Margherita with shitake mushrooms. They use as much local and organic ingredients as possible and their thin crust pies remind me of the individual pizzas you get in Rome. The salads are also great and it's a BYO but beware... they do not take reservations so if you are going on a warm summer night on the weekend, there will probably be a wait. I suggest going early, late or during the week. No matter when you go though, this place is definitely worth the trip!!