Category Flavor of the day

These four 2011 Brunellos are gifts to the early birds

CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino

CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino

La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino

La Fuga Brunello

Brunello di Montalcino is one of my favorite wines in the world.
It’s a gorgeous wine of great complexity and character that relies on Mother Nature and incredible patience to produce. Under Italian law, regular Brunello must be aged for five years before it can be released for sale; the riservas must wait six years. From a drinking standpoint, the 2011 vintage is the current release on the market just as Tuscan winemakers today are fermenting grapes for the 2016 vintage to be sold in 2021.
Recently, I attended an exquisite Brunello di Montalcino six-course wine dinner at David Maione’s Vino Italiano fine wine store located on Main Street in Waltham. It featured four of the 2011 Brunellos...

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Two wines that clear up the confusion on Montepulciano

What’s the difference between Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano D’Abruzzo?
The answer is simple: Both are wines made entirely from different grapes grown in different regions.

Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepuliciano is enjoyed with a caprese salad.

Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepuliciano is enjoyed with a caprese salad.


Vino nobile di Montepulciano is named for the town/region in Tuscany where ancient Etruscans first planted vineyards. The wine is made from a clone of the Sangiovese grape; it is called prugnolo. (The red-skinned Sangiovese also furnishes unique clones to make Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines.) According to Karen MacNeil’s excellent book The Wine Bible, the wine was popular among “noblemen, poets and popes” and in the 18th century picked up the name “vino nobile” (noble wine).
On the other hand, the wine Monte...

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Tenuta Sette Ponti’s Crognolo: A consistently elegant Super Tuscan

The 2014 viintage of Tenuta Sette Ponti’s “Crognolo” — a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot — was released several months ago and is now available in Massachusetts and New Hampshire wine outlets.

A solid Super Tuscan blend for the price: Crognolo 2014

A solid Super Tuscan blend for the price: Crognolo 2014


If you like full-bodied, dry Italian red wines with a lot of character and smoothness, this one is worth a try. As far as Super Tuscans go, the price is a bargain. The suggested retail price for Crognolo is $35 but it’s now being offered at several locations at a deep discount. (It’s $26 at Vino Italiano in Waltham and $27.99 over the border.)
Crognolo, named for the wild bush Cornus, has a track record for quality and taste dating to its debut vintage in 1998...

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Say ‘Ole!’ to Jorge Ordonez’ Spanish wines

If you know little about Spanish wines, today’s your lucky day. Craig Gandolf, a Lowell resident, is the USA Wine Director for one ofthe biggest and most respected production and importing houses in Spain — Jorge Ordoñez Selections.muga0
Ordoñez, who has strong roots in Massachusetts, including a home and office on Cape Cod, has helped to liberate and elevate the Spanish wine industry over the past two decades. He’s promoted innovative methods to improve quality, turning what was once a bleak global market for Spanish wines into a leading position among consumers. (Spain is the world’s No. 3 wine producer.)  And for 19 years, Gandolf’s been a go-to guy in the Ordoñez operation...

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Going coast-to-coast with race Rieslings

Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State is citrusy and smooth.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling from Washington State is citrusy and smooth.

I like my Riesling well-chilled, racy, overflowing with tropical flavor, and dry.
Match them with spicy Asian or Thai cuisine, and Riesling’s crisp acidity and citrus flavors produce a delightful sensation.
Riesling is also a refreshing, stand-a-lone beverage on hot, hazy summer days.
Two of the best I’ve tasted for the price are actually coastal opposites: Washington State’s Kung Fu Girl and New York State’s Salmon Run.
Both sell for under $12 a bottle in most local stores. (Salmon Run is on sale in New Hampshire for $9.34.)
Kung Fu Girl, developed by former British music promoter Charles Smith, is one of America’s top-selling brands. As a
winemaker, Smith has tapped into consumers’ taste buds to craft exciting, flavorful ...

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Napa Valley’s Purple Heart wine is in Lowell

Odd ’n ends …
• Purple Heart Wine, distributed in Massachusetts by United Liquors, is now available locally at Tutto Bene Wine & Cheese Cellars in downtown Lowell on Prescott Street.

Purple Heart wine makes a great impression with its velvety smooth dark cherry flavors.

Purple Heart wine makes a great impression with its velvety smooth dark cherry flavors.

I wrote about the Bordeaux-style blend (Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot) several weeks ago when it first hit the East Coast(http://blogs.lowellsun.com/winenovice/?p=3141). The Napa Valley wine
is crafted by winemaker and Vietnam veteran Ray Coursen in collaboration with C. Mondavi & Family. It has a limited production. Amajor portion of sale proceeds go the nonprofit Purple Heart Foundation, which assists veterans’ families in need.
The wine retails for $19.99 but is selling at a discount right now.
• The Wine ConneXti...

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Zin-Phomaniac: Big, bold, sexy wine for the Fourth

Barbecue, fireworks and American-made red Zinfandel. What could be better on the Fourth of July?

The Zin-Phomaniac label serves as a precursor to an arousing California red wine.

The Zin-Phomaniac label serves as a precursor to an arousing California red wine.

Since the black-skinned grape was introduced to America in the mid-19th century, Zinfandel (also known as Primitivo) has become the closest thing to natural in California vineyards. It’s where some of the world’s most luscious Zinfandel wines are crafted.
When I drink Zinfandel, I go for the big, bodacious, jammy fruit bombs that elevate summer cookouts to memorable status.
My find of the week is the Zin-Phomaniac Old Vines Reserve 2012 from Sonoma County ($27.99 at Tutto Bene Wine & Cheese Cellars, Lowell).
Don’t let the sexy name or its arresting label (see photo) fool you...

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Purple Heart Wines: Bold blend for the brave

For If you’re holding a Memorial Day cookout this weekend, consider making Napa Valley’s Purple Heart red wine the guest of honor.

Purple Heart red wine features a simple yet distinctive label. The wine's dark ruby color is eye-catching too.

Purple Heart red wine features a simple yet distinctive label. The wine’s dark ruby color is eye-catching too.

It’s not only good, it serves a worthy cause. The Bordeaux-style blend recognizes the sacrifice and service of U.S. military members and promotes the Purple Heart Foundation, a nonprofit which provides assistance to veterans and their families. The foundation, in collaboration with C. Mondavi & Family, receives a major contribution from wine sales.

The winemaker is Ray Coursen, a Vietnam War veteran from New Jersey with Bay State ties: He attended college in Massachusetts, met his wife in Boston, and lived on Cape Cod before heading west in the early19...

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Lefty or Righty?: Six seductive Chablis Premier Cru

chablis cru

Premier Cru Chablis’ pale gold color is a stunning sight.

There’s Chardonnay and then there’s Chablis, a dry white wine and also the name of the Bourgogne’s northernmost district from which it comes.
Chablis is a wine that easily accentuates a sense of place (terroir).
While Chablis typifies feminine elegance — seductive floral aromas, pure flavors — it’s structured around high acidity (a result of the cooler climate) allowing it to pair well with seafood, white meats, cream sauces and soft cheeses.
Where most California Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels to produce creamier, vanilla-flavored wines, French Chablis is fermented in steel tanks and rarely oaked. The process delivers a purity of green fruit and white flower expressions plus a distinct minerality...

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Wine for the course: 14 Hands Kentucky Derby Red Blend

By Jim Campanini
jcampanini@lowellsun.com
The 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby is 16 days away, and I’m excited. That’s because I already have a winner — not the winning horse — but the winning wine.

14 Hands has another winner in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Limited Edition Red Blend.

14 Hands has another winner in the 2013 Kentucky Derby Limited Edition Red Blend.


Once again, I’ll be drinking 14 Hands Winery’s Limited Release Kentucky Derby Red Blend with grapes sourced from Washington State’s Columbia Valley. The 2013 blend features Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and other select varietals, according to winemaker Keith Kenison.
The 2012 vintage was good and this one, the result of a warm summer and cool fall, is even better..
If you’re planning a Derby party with grilled burgers and steaks or simply ordering pizza, 14 Hands is the wine for the day...

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