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The 2012 Socré Barbaresco: An Italian Queen!

The 2012 Socré Barbaresco: An Italian Queen!

I love the Piedmont region of Italy! The beautiful landscape and lovely people are added bonuses to the glorious wines found throughout the region.

My husband and I were there a few years ago, and we absolutely loved it. We tasted in many of its regions, but visiting Barolo and Barbaresco was a dream come true!

While Barolo is often considered the “King” of Piedmont’s wines, Barbaresco is its “Queen”. Both 100% Nebbiolo, Barbaresco tends to be a bit more graceful and feminine than it’s Barolo counterpart.

For dinner last night I made fresh spaghetti with marinara sauce and burrata cheese, and I was determined to open a nice Italian red with which to pair it! So I went to our cellar and found a 2012 Socré Barbaresco. I was happy with my decision.

The wine has cherry, violet and baking spices on the nose. On the palate are the cherry, cinnamon, licorice and smooth tannins. This Barbaresco is very approachable right now and is nicely balanced. It’s easy to drink and yet complex as well, and paired beautifully with the simple marinara sauce on the pasta.

My husband gave me thumbs up on dinner last night, and I give Socré a definite stamp of approval on their 2012 Barbaresco! This pairing was a match made in heaven!

To find out more about Socré, check out their website:

My New Summer Wine? Pecorino!

My New Summer Wine? Pecorino!

The warm weather is already here in Florida. Yes … already! Along with warming weather comes the dwindling days and nights remaining to enjoy sitting on my deck at home with a glass of wine. Warm temperatures also mean starting the search for some fun and different white wines to enjoy along with the deck’s view! So I headed to my favorite wine store to see what they had.

I found a bunch and I cracked one open the other night for dinner. I couldn’t have been happier with my choice.

Pecorino is a white grape variety from Italy. Grown for hundreds of year in the Marche region, it was slowly replaced by more “productive” grapes, particularly Trebbiano. Rediscovered in the 1980s, Pecorino has made a comeback and is producing some lovely wines.

From Abruzzo’s subregion Colline Pescaresi, the 2015 La Valentina Pecorino is very aromatic with white flowers, pineapple and Meyer lemon on the nose. On the palate is exotic rich fruit, but with such great acidity, the richness is not at all overbearing. The palate also has some green apple, lemon, great minerality and an oily texture. Plus, the light golden color makes it look very pretty in the glass!

This wine sees no oak, and the richness is undoubtedly due in part to sur-lie aging, as well as some skin contact before fermentation. What’s not to like about a full-bodied complex white wine with great acidity that makes you keep wanting another glass?

For dinner, I had made a white pizza with roasted cauliflower and spinach. The acidity of the wine cut beautifully through the richness of the Béchamel sauce on the pizza. The fruitiness of the wine complimented the mozzarella and the vegetables. The pairing was a success!

If you want to change up your white wine world, and perhaps are looking for something other than a Sauvignon Blanc, check out Pecorino. In fact, why not try the La Valentina Pecorino. I can attest to it being a really nice wine, and at below $20, it’s also a great bang for the buck.

You can find out more here:

Can You Say … Sciacchetrá???

In a land of pretty little villages nestled among the mountains of the Italian Rivera is a lovely wine bearing a very fun name … Sciacchetrá!

The Cinque Terre (which translates in English to “Five Lands”) is a delightful grouping of five seaside-fishing villages with cliffs, hills and vineyards! The people of Cinque Terre (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) have been making wine here for about 1000 years.

The picturesque vineyards are planted on steep slopes overlooking the sea. Working these terraced vineyards is no easy task, as machines can’t be used. Modern technology, however, has made work for the modern man a little easier than for their ancestors in the years past. Cinque Terre now has a monorail system. These small trains can transport tools, grapes and people up and down the steep hills, which undoubtedly ease some of the strain of vineyard work and harvest.

This DOC in the Liguria region of Italy produces white wines, using the Bosco, Albarola and Vermentino varieties. Most of these wines are light and easy drinking, and pair well with local dishes of fresh fish, salads, pasta with pesto and many types of cheeses. The Sciacchetrá (pronounced SHA-KEH-TRAH), however, is the true star of the region.

While visiting the Cinque Terre a couple of weeks ago my husband and I discovered Vineria Santa Marta, a cute spot in the village of Vernazza, and plunked down for a tasting.

The 2015 La Polenza Cinque Terre is a blend of Vermentino, Albarola and Bosco. It is fresh and lively on the palate and a great everyday drinker.

The 2014 Luciano Capellini Cinque Terre is made up of 75% Bosco, 5% Albarola and 20% Vermentino. This wine is a bit more complex and lush on the palate. It was a great companion to the breads and pesto we tasted.

We then tasted the Polenza Sciacchetrá. Oh my! I’m so thankful that we had the opportunity to taste this special wine. Very difficult to find in the states, this wine is made from sun-dried grapes that become raisin-like. Normally drunk with cheeses and desserts, this “sweet” wine isn’t too sweet to my palate. The delicate kiss of sweetness quickly turns to a soft coating of loveliness and finishes dry. The acidity balances this wine out perfectly and I absolute adore it. I was excited to buy a bottle and wish that I could have brought home a case … or more!

The Cinque Terre is a delightful place to visit, but for me the highlight was its wines. What a pleasure to try wines so unique that, unfortunately, are hard to find here at home.

What’s my new favorite Italian word? Why Sciacchetrá, of course! Not only is it fun to say, it’s fun to drink!


A “WOW” Wine from Sicily

I had a beautiful wine last week. I lucked out, because a friend shared it with me after a tasting session that I didn’t even attend!

There are some nice wines coming out of Sicily, but I’ve never had one that truly wowed me. Until this one!

The 2012 Girolamo Russo San Lorenzo from the Etna DOC has the color of a concentrated Pinot Noir. After a three-hour decant, I found raspberry, violets and some vanilla on the nose. The texture reminds me of satin, with dusty raspberry and blackberry on the palate. It has a long finish and is very well balanced with good acidity and smooth tannins. It may LOOK like a Pinot Noir, but it reminds me more of a medium plus bodied wine from Piedmont.

This lovely wine is made from the Nerello Mascalese grape (along with 2% of Nerello Cappuccio), grown on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Girolamo Russo has 16 hectares of vineyards and is Certified organic.

Nerello Mascalese is a dark-skinned grape that ripens late, and is grown in areas as high as 1200 meters on the slopes of Mount Etna. Harvest is often not until late October or sometimes even early November and holds its acid well, has gentle tannins and can be consumed in its youth or held to age.

I’m definitely going to be searching for more bottles of this wine, other wines from this producer, and also wines in general from the Etna DOC.

To learn more about Girolamo Russo and Giuseppe Russo (a trained pianist with a degree in Italian literature who has managed the estate since 2004!) check out their website here:

Canlis Restaurant in Seattle

While in Seattle a couple of weeks ago for the Society of Wine Educators annual conference, some friends and I hit some “must dine” restaurants before leaving town.  They all proved to have great food, wonderful service and fabulous wine lists.  That, of course, was our main focus:  WINE!

Today I’m going to tell you about Canlis, a Seattle landmark designed in 1950 by the well-know architect Roland Terry.  I love the design, which reminds me a lot of a Frank Lloyd Wright style building.  There are huge windows all across the back of the restaurant that looks out at Lake Union, as well as a special events room and some private dining areas above with breathtaking views.

My friends and I started in the bar with a bottle of Fergettina Franciacorta.  This sparkling wine, from the Lombardy region, is Italy’s answer to Champagne.  The Fergettina has a lot of character, with good brioche aromas on the nose.  The palate is very alive, with lots of elegant fruit and a nutty quality.  This non-vintage bubbly is well worth the list price of $65.

Once we were seated at our table we were introduced to their head sommelier and wine director Nelson Daquip.  What a great guide to help walk us through their list.  He is not only exceptionally intelligent about all things wine; he is also a really cool guy.

Canlis has one of the finest wine cellars in the world, and is the recipient of the Wine Spectator Magazine Grand Award for the past 17 years in a row.  With 18,000 bottles and 2,500 selections we definitely welcomed some advice from Nelson!  We knew we wanted a local wine, and we knew we wanted something good.  Together with Nelson we picked out some gems, the 2005 Cayuse and the 2009 God Only Knows, both out of Walla Walla, Washington.  I was very excited.  I’ve been on the waiting list for Cayuse’s mailing list for a few years now.  It may be the longest winery waiting list in North America!

We were served the wines together, so that we could try them side-by-side

Christophe Baron, who is originally from the Champagne region in France, makes both of these wines.  His family owns the Champagne house Baron Albert and has worked the land there since 1677.  He fell in love with the wines of Burgundy and had plans of opening a winery in Oregon to focus on the Burgundian varietals.  After doing an internship in Walla Walla Washington, however, he discovered a vineyard that reminded him of the Rhone Valley in his home country of France.  Being unable to resist this unique terroir of softball sized stones, reminiscent of the Southern Rhone, Monsieur Baron set up shop in Washington State!

The wines certainly didn’t disappoint.  The ’05 Cayuse Cailloux Vineyard Syrah is a dark ruby in color with aromas of ripe blackberry and black cherry, anise and smoky meat.  The palate has the lush sweet dark fruits along with cassis and olive brine.

The 2009 God Only Knows Grenache is another wine from Cayuse Vineyards.  The name comes from the fact that no one knows the true blend in the bottle (except for the 75% Grenache required if it is labeled a Grenache, which this is), or so they say.  Baron claims that this particular vintage is made with roughly 90% Grenache and the rest “God only knows!”

This wine has some fabulous old world funk on the nose, along with sweet strawberry and black tea.  On the palate are ripe red fruits along with meatiness and a hint of the black tea.  This is a well-balanced wine with a lovely finish!

After dinner we were fortunate enough to get a tour of their lovely restaurant.  As I mentioned earlier, the building is beautiful.  My favorite part of the tour (OF COURSE) was their wine cellar!  Their selection is almost overwhelming.  I could have spent hours there looking at their vast bottles from every region in the world.

The food was great as well, but again, I was really there for the wine list.  My final conclusion of the wines?  I sure am looking forward to my name leaving the Cayuse waiting list and showing up on the mailing list!

My final conclusion of the evening???  I highly recommend a visit to Canlis the next time you’re in Seattle.

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