Wednesday, August 28, 2013

New Wine for an Old Dog - Prunotto Barbera d'Asti "Fiulot" 2011

I've never been a huge Barbera fan. Even though my all time favorite grape Nebbiolo hails from the same region of Italy, Barbera has just never thrilled me. It's an acidic grape that frequently makes very high-toned, acidic wines that really need food - especially something like pizza, where the acidity of the tomato sauce lends itself to a wine made from Barbera as a companion. There are a lot of single vineyard Barberas nowadays that sell for $25 or so, but good entry level, everyday versions are especially hard to find. Well, not any more I guess.

Barbera is the third most widely planted grape in Italy, coming in behind Sangiovese and Montepulciano. The most common bottlings bear the Barbera d'Asti and the Barbera d'Alba designations with the versions from Asti usually being lighter and more delicate than the bolder Alba versions. Prunotto is one of the great names of Piedmont, having produced top bottlings in the region since 1905. Their sought after Barolos fetch high prices all over the world and it is a winery that always seems to produce quality product.

Such is the case with this wonderful $11.99 version. It's got all the dark plummy fruit aromas you expect from this grape, along with complex supporting notes of black pepper and earth. This really is a very aromatic wine. In the mouth it's got plenty of plum and dark berry flavors to balance out that typical Barbera acidity. Make no mistake, this is a food wine but I''m having no trouble sipping this beauty while I'm sitting here logging this post. It's absolutely the best everyday Barbera I've ever had.
Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. Cheers.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Spanish Value Again! Los Dos 2012

I don't know how they do it, but there is something amazing about the level of quality coming out of Spain. When you can find a $6.99 wine like Los Dos you begin to realize that you can drink more wine without your finances taking a major hit. So what if it's Monday, we'll open a bottle anyway! Another great find of one of the best importers we have here in the States, Winebow, Los Dos is a sure everyday winner.

This blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah is produced for Winebow by the Bodegas Aragonesas, a co-op in the Campo de Borja DO of northeastern Spain. Grenache is common here but Syrah is not, so this blend is a bit unusual for the region. This is high altitude fruit as the 35 - 50 year old vines sit at around 2000 ft. in rocky soils that are rich in clay and iron. Campo de Borja is a very hot and dry region, but night time cooling breezes from the Mediterranean slow down the ripening and keep the acidity of the grapes from dropping to low. There's no wood on this wine. It's fermented entirely in stainless steel and bottled quickly to maintain it's aromatic freshness.

As the wine consultant for the popular and wonderful Nomad Pizza in Philadelphia, I can't tell how thrilled I was to find Los Dos. Pennsylvania has a state controlled liquor system and restaurants have to buy their product from the state at full retail markup. It's quite a challenge finding wines that are both cheap enough and good enough to pour by the glass.

Los Dos features forthcoming aromas of blueberry, blackberry and a bit of Grenache peppery spice. It's fruit forward, offering up soft, mouth filling dark berry and plum flavors while retaining enough acidity to keep it fresh and lively tasting. It finishes long, with coffee and a roasted fruit note on the back end. This is absolutely one of the best bargains I've come across this year and may just be the perfect pizza wine. Cheers everyone!