My Italian heritage gave me the basics to wine tasting and as a food critic as well. As a young child my grandfather would give us wine in a jelly glass (which probably amounted to about an ounce of wine but kept us quiet afterward) while my grandmother would simmer a marinara sauce from 5 am in the morning till sometime around 4 pm in the afternoon where we would gather at the dinner table to savor Grandma’s great spaghetti sauce over our favorite pasta while Grandpa poured our homemade wine. However, prior to the 4 pm ritual of eating pasta, Grandma would give us a sneak preview of the simmering liquid with a bowl of sauce with a meatball or two with Italian bread to soak up anything left over. The best part of the whole ritual was waiting for the wine prior to dinner. I could remember how that wine smelled and tasted and I’ll never forget those times. Think back to the first wine experience you had. How does it compare to now?
So, on with the wine reviews…
Banfi 2002 Col di Sasso. I believe this translates into “Stony Hill” where this is grown in Italy. This 70/30 blend of Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon opens with cherry, licorice, and chocolate aromas with a hint of spice & leather. Black currant, red raspberry and red cherry flavors finally succumb to a smooth mocha finish. $8.99 and an 89 rating. And yes, pair this with spaghetti and meatballs.
This wine reminds me of those days Grandma would cook and all the beautiful aromas reached every sense you could muster while Grandpa (or Pop as everyone called him) poured our small indulgence of wine. Of course all I can remember from those days was that the wine smelled like LifeSavers – that isn’t such a bad thing, is it? I always try to keep a bottle of this wine in my collection, should you? Let me know what you think.
Continuing the effort to find the low priced reds I came across this Australian wine (Mike’s Cellar Emporium vows to find me an Australian wine I really like), that is, wine that I would actually keep in my cellar.
Lindemans 2007 Bin 55. This 60% Shiraz & 40% Cabernet Sauvignon yielded mulberry, black pepper, & earthy aromas with black cherry & black pepper on the palate and a slight mocha finish. I’m not crazy about Australian wines but I like this one. I had this with snacks – nuts, chips, pretzels, & crackers and it actually went pretty well. This would probably go well with a grilled burger or steak or just to drink. I think the Aussies are the only ones that refer to this as Shiraz, whereas everyone else calls it Syrah. $7.00 and an 82 rating although I may change/challenge the rating at a later date depending on how the second glass matches the first.
Although I will always kid white wine drinkers, I still remember being chewed out by a white wine drinker so I have found this little gem of some fairly unused grape varietals in a blend that awakens the senses.
Cline Cellars 2008 Marsanne Roussanne. Made with 74% Marsanne and 26% Roussanne grapes produced floral notes on the nose leading to apricot and nectarine flavors with a hint of lime and a subtle mineral finish. Serve this wine slightly chilled with Herb or Rosemary Chicken, rice pilaf, and a medley of pearl onions, sweet baby peas, and sautéed mushrooms. You can substitute the chicken with blackened fish (sea bass, haddock, flounder, etc. – you make the choice). This $20 bottle of wine yielded a 90 rating. Does this mean I’m starting to like white wine?? Or am I a red wine drinker going soft?
Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends….