Seattle Wine Blog

This blog is dedicated to commentary on all aspects of wine, especially short entries to help you find the best wines without the usual hype and spin. These are my frank, independent opinions, usually based on tasting wine at a public event, off the shelf or at the winery. "All creative acts must arise out of a specific soil and flicker with a spirit of place" -D.H. Lawrence

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Nick's Wine: Amarone

Cousin Nick gave my wife a bottle of Amarone which we saved until his visit. Amarone is a fascinating wine made mostly from the Corvino grape in the Valpolicella region of Italy close to Venice.
Traditionally the grapes are laid out on bamboo racks to dry, thus concentrating the flavor. NIck brought us a 2004 Amarone Classico from Cantina Negrar. We served it with grilled quail over a bed of farro salad at room temperature. I must say it was a perfect pairing for lunch. The wine was big, rich, and complex, full of nuance and not at all jammy - a real treat! Thanks, Nick.

An Offer You Can't Refuse From The Wall Street Journal

No, it's not a one year subscription to the Wall Street Journal for $1. When "The Wall Street Journal" offered 15 wines for $75, I couldn't resist. The offer was slick and made me wonder if this was the next new Geerlings & Wade. The strong UPS man struggled to get the 15 bottle case into the house. Opening the box I found three bottles of my "bonus" Italian Chianti, several other Italian reds, two Spanish Riojas, one French Bordeaux, one Calfionia Pinot Noir, one Calfornia Cabernet, and I think two Australians.There were wine notes, a loose leaf folder, and a sign up sheet for my friends. Fifty bucks for me, if you sign up! Wanna sign up?

The wines looked amazingly kosher, amazingly correct - nice shiny new bottles with impeccable labels, all the right language - vintage, wine name, country, region ,and certifications A.O.C., D.O.C.G., etc,.Very impressive, though I must admit I was skeptical. So far I've tasted three of them.

The first wine we tasted was a 2006 Torre Ercilla Reserva Rioja from Spain certified as a Rioja Reserva by Denomenacion de Origen Calificadaand garbed in the golden wire netting so often associated with Rioja.  All we could taste was acid, no resemblance to a Rioja or Tempranillo. Actually, one of the worst wines I've ever tasted. Give it a 65.  Not off to a very good start , but wait, there's more.

The second wine was a 2010 Chianti apparently from Collezione Di Paolo, Denominazione Di Origine Controllata e Garantita. This wasn't bad at all. Medium-bodied with lots of good berry fruit and just the right amount of tangy finish for a Chianti. Better than many Chiantis I've tasted in the past. This certainly was a worthy bonus. Give it an 84.

The third wine was a 2009 William Knuttel Sonoma Pinot Noir "Epee Cuvee". Light to medium-bodied with earth tones and cherry flavors. A little flat but in the same league with Erath Pinot Noir at $15-$20 a bottle. Give it an 86.

So, so far, batting two for one. Not a bad batting average at all. You will probably never read about these wines in Robert Parker, but for  five bucks the good ones are a real bargain, for $12 or more the value is about the same as in the supermarket.Will the WSJ wines go down the drain the way Geerlings and Wade did? Who knows? Only the shadow knows! Stay tuned! There are six more wines to go.
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