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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These three Pinot Noirs will bring on spring

Erath 2015, $15.99

I know there are 16 inches of snow on the ground after the third nor’easter in two weeks slammed into Massachusetts this week, but don’t despair. Spring is just around the corner. And that means only one thing: Break out the Burgundy — or, as we say in America, the Pinot Noir!

Yes, my mind is on Easter, which comes on April 1 this year. It’s also April Fool’s Day, but I’m not going to joke around with my three early holiday selections for the upcoming festive occasion.

Think of chewy, red fruit flavors — cherry and pomegranate — rolling smoothly across your tongue, with a touch of raspberry and spice on the elegant finish, and soon images of cherry blossoms and warm breezes come to mind.

Yes, it’s time to wish the winter away with a glass of American-made Pinot Noir — an...

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Nerello Mascalese erupts with elegance in Zonin Rosé

The Nerello Mascalese is a thick-skinned  red grape that thrives in the volcanic soils of Mt. Etna’s vineyard slopes in Sicily. Sunny exposures and the warm Mediterranean sea breezes allow it to ripen fully, yet winemakers are always  on the lookout to make sure the grape retains its wonderful acidity.

In southern Italy, Nerello Mascalese is crafted as a 100 percent varietal and in red blends. It is often lighter in color than most thick-skinned grapes and slightly delicate in structure. It’s noteworthy trait is a dry, dusty sensation, and it is similar to Sangiovese which is the workhorse grape of Tuscany.

So I was pleasantly surprised when a three-pack of Zonin Rose, made from 100 percent Nerello Mascalese, arrived on the wind from Vicenza, in the Veneto province, where the Zonin esta...

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Big Cab blowout coming Saturday

Napa Valley’s Cabernet Sauvignons boast big, powerful luscious tastes and this /Saturday (Feb. 24) at the Wine ConneXtion in North Andover you’ll be able to sample some of the little known gems of recent vintages.

Sam Messina’s brought in 10 fruit bombs for your tasting pleasure. The free event, open to the public, runs from 1-5 p.m.

If you like Cabernets that express rich California black fruit character, toasted brioche, spices, and much more, you won’t want to miss this special tasting.

Here’s a short list of the featured  Cabernet Sauvignons:

Resolute ‘Red Hills’ 2014 – Winemaker Aaron Pott gets his grapes from vineyards located 2,400 feet high in the Red Hills of Lake County. Figs, cocoa, vanilla, cherry, plum and blackberry fill the senses.

Band of Vintners Consortium 2014 – Subtle ...

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Wine Novice will make a wine expert out of you

By Jim Campanini

Can white wine be made from red grapes?

What is the difference between oaked and unoaked Chardonnay?

How do I know what grapes are used in a bottle of French Sancerre?

If you want to learn the answers to these questions, and step up your wine-tasting skills, I’ll be teaching two fun courses in April in Middlesex Community College’s Adult Continuing Education program.

These aren’t just your regular — ahem — wine classes. The Wine Novice wanted elegance and comfort for his select students, and Middlesex officials have obliged with a most wonderful setting — the stylish Nesmith House on Andover Street in Lowell. Yes, white tablecloths, please, and bright, glimmering wine glasses.

There are two separate two-hour classes on white and red wines, respectively, each presented one...

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