Category General Wine

Making a case for fabulous Italian wine at $8.11 a bottle

I went on a shopping trip last weekend to New Hampshire with the Wine Butler — my good friend and former Sun photographer Mike Pigeon — to see if we could cash in on a $25 discount coupon published in this newspaper and a 15 percent sale on Italian wines.

We did.

We purchased 13 bottles of red wine that regularly priced at $304.87.

We paid $196.72 — a savings of $108.15.

On a dollar-cost average basis, we ended up paying $15.13 per bottle, definitely the sweet spot of my price range.

The true value was in the wines we secured.

A Volpaia Chianti Classico rated 92 points by Wine Spectator for $16...

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Three unique wines that will change your mind about California

It’s not true that all California Chardonnay tastes the same. In fact, I’m going to suggest several white wines from different appellations to prove that vineyard locations do matter..

While I prefer unoaked Chardonnay (Chablis from France), my all-time favorite Chadonnays are from California. I can always count on Chateau Montelena ($40) and Rombauer ($36.99) to put me in a good mood on the special-occasion wines when I drink these premium wines.

But for everyday patio sipping with friends, California offers great value in the $12 to $25 range. I’ve written previously about Michael David’s Chardonnay from Lodi ($15.99), Au Contraire ($16.99), True Myth ($13.99), Hess Select ($13.99), Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay ($10.99), Stag’s Leap ($18.99) and others.

I’m adding two mo...

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A lesson in Chianti Classico from a Wine Novice

Chianti Classico 101. That’s this week’s lesson. Lesson? Well, I received notification from the Wine Scholar Guild in Washington, D.C., that I passed my final exam, taken March 31, and I am now a certified Italian Wine Scholar. My diploma arrived in the mail two weeks ago.

Nearly 18 months of class work, online study and tasting wines are over — for now anyway.

I want to thank my instructor and mentor, Jo-Ann Ross of Boston, for all her patient and inspirational instruction on the art and science of Italian viticulture. Of course, the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, deserves ultimate credit for lending me her support and palate when most needed.

So back to the lesson.

I fell in love with Chianti Classico during my studies.

It’s an intriguing red wine from central Tuscany whose history date...

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Want good and inexpensive wine? Rhone Valley is right up your alley

Some of the most impressive and wallet-friendly wines arriving in America these days are coming from vineyards in southern France’s Rhone Valley. There’s a reason: The location and conditions are exceptional for growing Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre — the backbone varieties of the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape red blend that is lusciously captivating.

Les Dauphins winery isn’t going to sell you a $90 bottle of wine. It would like to, but that’s not the winery’s style. It produces quality Rhone blends that you can buy by the case and without worrying about interest payments accumulating on your credit card.

Its red and white blends for the 2016 vintage year are hitting store shelves now. These are fresh wines and best consumed within a year of their release — which is now.

Les Dauphins is a big...

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Chateau Miraval: Shades of summer

If you’re looking for a dry and delicious rosé to get your summer sipping season started, try Chateaux Miraval Cotes de Provence Rosé. It’s one of my favorites for relaxing on the deck, reading a book in the pergola, or for welcoming guests before dinner.

Chateau Miraval is now on sale for $19.99 through Saturday, April 29, in New Hampshire wine outlets.

The rosé has a Hollywood story behind it.

In 2008, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, then a couple, bought the rundown Chateau Miraval estate in the south of France for $67 million.

They restored the property, including its 150 acres of vineyards, in a joint business venture with the famous Perrin family of Chateau Beaucastel in Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

The viticultural union has turned out better than the Jolie-Pitt marriage, which dissolved i...

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An event all Merlot and Cab fans will drink up

Hilary Goldschmidt “Charming Creek”

World-renowned winemaker Nick Goldschmidt will be showing some of his signature Napa Valley wines Saturday at the Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, from 1-5 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the complimentary tasting, which offers wine enthusiasts a chance to hear this extraordinary talent speak about his passion for single-vineyard Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chelsea Goldschmidt Alexander Valley Merlot

You never feel cheated from a Goldschmidt Vineyards wine; they’re all 100 percent varietal Merlot or Cabernet and built for power.

He’s got operations all over the world, including New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and California, and is a consultant for many leading wine producers.

Last February, when I wrote about Goldschmidt’s wines following a WC ta...

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Deal (or is that steal) of the week: Kirkland Chianti for $8.47 at Costco

Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva 2014

The best deal of the week? Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Riserva 2014, which is now on sale for $8.47 at Costco in Nashua.

This is a steal, and I thank the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, for her sharp-eyed shopping on a recent trip across the border.

I’ve been drinking a lot of Chianti lately to complement my Italian Wine Scholar studies. In my opinion, Kirkland’s version falls squarely in the middle of the best of the best on quality — yet it’s the price that just bowls me over.

This wine is 100 percent Sangiovese, Tuscany’s primary varietal and the essence of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

While Chianti is the name of both a wine and a town in Tuscany, it is the Chianti Classico zone that matters...

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These wines pass the test (hope I did, too)

The ruby-red color of the Argiolas Perdera Monica di Sardegna is stunning.

On Saturday, I took my Italian Wine Scholar final exam on the wines from Central and Southern Italy. It was more difficult than I had anticipated. It covered 12 regions, including Toscana, Campania, Puglia, Sicily and the island of Sardegna.

The Unit 1 exam, which I took last spring and passed, covered six Northern regions, including the wine-producing behemoths Piemonte and Veneto.

The Unit 2 test featured 100 multiple-choice questions and had to be completed within one hour.

Since Southern Italy wine growers take pride in their native grapes, my mind was a blur of some previously unfamiliar varietals — reds like Piedirosso, Vernaccia Nera and Ciliegiolo, and whites like Verdicchio, Malvasia di Candia Bianca and Ca...

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Going all in for Zin

By Jim Campanini, The Wine Novice

I am mixing wines from the Old World with the New World on Easter.

Two bottles of Zinfandel will be gracing sister Angela’s table (The Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, has a well-deserved day off from preparing the feast, although she will be baking her famous Limoncello lemon squares for dessert) — one from California and the other from Italy. (Recent DNA analysis has shown that Zinfandel and Primitivo are genetically identical.)

Angela is my oldest of two older sisters (Pamela is the other), and she’s taken over all capo di famiglia (head of family) duties since mom passed away two years ago. She’s also a very, very accomplished cook — in the true, simple and flavorful Neapolitan style established by our madre, Dorothea.

Angela tells me she’ll be baking a...

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Easter Wines You Won’t Want to Pass Over

Jo-Ann Ross

By Jim Campanini, The Wine Novice

Once again, I’ve called out my stable of experts to suggest a variety of pleasing wines for your Easter holiday enjoyment.

Jo-Ann Ross of Boston is a licensed wine educator (WSET) who has earned both Italian Wine Scholar and French Wine Scholar certifications, respectively. She is also my instructor in the IWS program.

Andrea Lewis, who is certified in several wine disciplines, is the legendary wine and store manager at Andover Classic Wines located in the Shawsheen Plaza in Andover.

Sam Messina is co-owner and wine buyer-director at the Wine ConneXtion in North Andover and a “maestro assagiatore” (master taster).

The following wines can be purchased locally.

Jo-Ann Ross

jrosswine.com

* Arnad Montjovet La Kiuva from Vallée d’Aosta (Italy), $18...

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