Tomaiolo 2003 Chianti Reserva

The Tomaiolo Chianti Reserva is made with the Sangiovese grape harvested in Italy in the Tuscany region and has always been one of my favorite wine varietals. This $14.99 2003 vintage opens with aromas of dark cherry, plum, chocolate, vanilla, and earthy notes on the nose. The palate experienced much the same with plum and dark cherry being the predominate flavors with 12.5% alcohol by volume. You must decant this before consuming to enjoy the flavors of this wine.

I paired this with an Italian sausage soup my wife made earlier in the week and it was tough for me to decide if the soup or the wine was better so I figured they complemented each other quite well. BTW, on the second night this wine seemed to blossom.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

Piccini 2009 Chianti

It is now your 7th date with the perfect partner and you want them to know how versatile you are pairing several dishes with only one wine varietal for another small group of both of your friends and maybe a family member or two from each side. So, you decide to prepare a pasta dish with a marinara sauce consisting of a 26 oz can each of tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and whole peeled tomatoes, a 6 oz can of tomato paste and one 26 oz can of water. Prior to pouring the tomato concoction together saute a few chopped garlic cloves right in the same sauce pot with two tablespoons of olive oil. Then dump all the cans of tomato “stuff” into the pot plus the can of water and set on the lowest heat setting. Brown up some hamburg to add to the sauce, drain the excess grease and add to the mixture.

Then prepare your meatballs the way you’d like and add them to the mixture. For spices I use a very small amount of sea salt. Then to taste, add black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano. Let simmer for about 3-4 hours, then taste and add more spices, stir and now add basil to the sauce. Let simmer for another 3-4 hours, then spice as needed and simmer 2 more hours. Have the sauce mixture and meatballs with Italian bread or serve over your favorite pasta.

The second dish you prepare is a white pizza (go to the web and Google white pizza for recipes). The third dish will be a chicken cacciatore (here’s a good one from “allrecipes” http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/moms-chicken-cacciatore/detail.aspx).

Now the wine that you’re going to woo everyone with is the Piccini 2009 Chianti that has a nice ruby color with fruit on the nose – red berries mostly. The palate was predominately cherry flavor with a touch of earthiness. Priced at $8.99 it is a very good buy, probably 4 corks.

Connecticut Valley Winery

The day I visited the Connecticut Valley Winery I drove in the driveway to see their winery name emblazoned on the front of the gray building in white letters and what is it I see just below the letters – a tour bus and another van similar to the rental car shuttles parked just in front of the winery entrance. I contemplated as I drove while thinking “quick, turn around and come back another day” but said to myself “remember, it’s the small things in life that are worth living for”.

Plus, as I turned into the driveway there was a great big banner with the words “Grape Vines in Training” on the front side of rows and rows of new grapevines. This had to be a sign that I was destined to stop and face whatever it was inside the tasting room – tour bus or no tour bus – it was karma.

Well, when I walked in all the tables (about five) were completely full seating about twenty tasters sitting by the fireplace although not lit and the wine bar was two deep which meant there were at least sixteen tasters having a lot of fun. Alas, the tour people were everywhere but one of the owners (I recognized him from their website pictures) beckoned for me to join him at the wine bar saying as I approached that he would make room at the end.

Wow, was it a festive mood once I scuttled through the sea of glasses, tables, and chairs with the occupants of the tables getting up and adjusting their seating arrangement so I could get by. Not a bad sort, these tour people. I was beginning to like them as they were jovial and quite pleasant to talk with. They were asking what winery I just came from, how did you like it, where was I going next, etc. Several of them urged me to join them for their next winery stop but knew I was not destined for that trip at this time. So, I respectfully declined and they understood but they wish I would still come along so they could hear more stories about the Wit Is Out wine blog.

Once the tour people were safely tucked away in their coach another one of the owners began pouring the wine for my tasting pleasure. The woman behind the bar reminded me of my own Italian aunts in the way she smiled and used her hands to speak to me. I didn’t get the cost of the wine tasting and in all the fuss they decided not to charge me the tasting fee – karma – catchin’ my drift?

For each of the wines she had a quick memory of how it was made, what the weather was, the day of the week, etc. However, it was her rendition of the black bear that really caught my attention. Seems that awhile back a black bear would visit their Port grapevines and eat at his will when the mood struck him. As the family was unwilling to have the bear killed or trapped they allowed the bear to come and go when he got the urge to eat the Port grapes, hence they named their Port – Black Bear Port. Yes, I bought a bottle for a couple of reasons, one the story intrigued me, the Black Bear Port was really tasty, and I love Port. Karma, what was that about karma?

Here are the wines I tasted while I conversed with the tour people and later alone as they left for another adventure:

Chardonel: This wine opened with melon aromas, was very crisp and abounded with grapefruit on the palate.

Chianti: This is a blend of four grape varietals producing earthy aromas and plentiful on the nose with dark cherry flavors with a plum finish. Not quite the Chiantis from Italy but it’s close. An everyday good table wine.

Ruby Lite: A blend of 60% Chardonel and 40% Chianti and I experienced the aromas and flavors of the Chardonel and Chianti except for the earthy aroma, that wasn’t present. But I did get the melon aroma and cherry flavor but not as pronounced as the Chianti.

Deep Purple: You guessed it, this wine was a deep purple color and had reasonably good clarity. Produced from the Chamborcin grape which not all wine lovers are in love with. I got plum and raisin on the nose with blackberry flavors.

Midnight: Made from the Frontenac grape, this wine produced a boysenberry aroma and pepper and mocha flavors. This wine had nice tannins and good acidity.

Just Peachy: Peaches galore as you would expect from the name. Can’t tell you much more than that – peachy.

Raspberry Delight: Oh yeah! Everything raspberry. A really good dessert wine for after the evening’s meal.

Dolce Vita: Sweetness abounded in this wine with citrus flavors. I wasn’t crazy about this wine but you know me and white wines…

Black Tie Cabernet Franc: This delectable wine had fruity notes with pepper and smoke aromas. On the palate I found a cherry flavor with a hint of chocolate.

Orange Vidal: This wine started with an orange zest aroma. The flavors were tropical and citrus notes – kind of weird, huh? Although this was a decent tasting wine it was not my cup of tea.

Black Bear: This red dessert Port named after the bear noted above had a black currant aroma. The palate however found black cherry and black berry flavors with that pungency of Port I so enjoy. My only regret with this wine is I only bought one bottle. Another wine trip perhaps?

The winery also let me try a Sangria but it wasn’t ready for sale yet. I can’t wait for the release as this wine is laced with brandy, yeah, you read this right. Not like any Sangria I’ve ever had.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…