Rocca delle Macie 1998 Chianti Classico Riserva

Part 1:

I recently opened a bottle of 1998 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva. As this wine was 14 years old and has been in my basement for the majority of those years I was anticipating the quintessential perfectly aged wine to enjoy around the holiday season. I forgot to record the cost when I bought this so many years ago, but today it retails for around $20.

I was expecting some great tasting wine and upon opening the wine and sending it through my wine aerator I noticed a perfect hue of orange-brown on the edge of the wine while the body of the wine was a ruby red. This was a fantastic start to enjoying this wine and the aromas were pronounced but not a dominant bouquet. It opened with black currant, red cherry and earthy notes on the nose with hints of spice and pepper.

Then I tasted it and it was way too fruity (not what I was expecting) and it did have black currant, black raspberries, boysenberry, and black cherry flavors but they didn’t “pop” like I thought it would.

Lo and behold I realized I may have cellared this too long. So far I’ve been pretty lucky and have not had a bad bottle that I cellared for extended periods. After all, isn’t this part of the the whole wine experience? I figured my luck had finally run out. Well, there was nothing left to do but put the wine aside for some other purpose. And I opened a much younger wine to complete my wine drinking pleasure for the day.

Part 2:

The next day I decided to try the Chianti again as I’m not prone to throwing wine out unless it’s really bad. It wasn’t that this wine was bad, it just didn’t meet my expectations of the wine. Well, it was like someone had thrown on a light switch as the wine transformed from a so-so experience to something much more palatable as the wine wasn’t too fruity and the flavors were the same but did they “pop” this time. I guess the wine needed a little time to open up.

Anyway, I guess the moral to the story is not to throw out wine, that at first impression doesn’t meet your expectations, but let it sit for a day or two and try it again. I should know better as many times I open a bottle of wine and don’t finish it in one evening and when I try this again the next night it seems to get better.

Enjoy whatever wine you decide to pour to its fullest potential!

Abbazia Santa Anastasia 2008 Contempo Nero D’Avola

The Abbazia Santa Anastasia website is currently only in Italian verse with English coming soon so you’re on your own there. The winery however is located in Sicilia where the Nero D’Avola grape is grown.

I certainly enjoy Italian wines and the Nero D’Avola is one of my favorites as I’m a bit partial to Italian wines. Well, it’s pretty much what Gramps served to us when were at the dinner table, after all he did get more of the vino when us kids were around as we were the sparkle in our grandmother’s eye. So, I’m presuming he got away with a lot more when us kiddies were present and creating a ruckus.

Anyway, when I opened this wine I found it to be a very dark purplish color with aromas of black currant, ripe cherry, cedar, earth, and stone. this was full-bodied with rich fruit flavors of black cherry, blackberry, ripe plum and licorice. The wine was appetizing in its own right but went extremely well with homemade pizza on the Weber grill. At $12.99 for a 750 ml bottle it’s one that will be part of the Witless Whiner’s wine cellar.



Tavernello Vino Bianco

Part of the Caviro wine cooperative, this No. 1 selling wine in Italy prompted me to pick up a bottle and try this out, after all the price was right. The Tavernello Vino Bianco is a blend of the Trebbiano and Pinot Bianco grapes and has an alcohol content of 11.5%. The aromas and flavors were not overpowering and very slight in some but I got floral aromas on the nose with hints of melon, green apple, and lemon zest. The same flavors were found on the palate with a dry fruity finish. There was one issue though – this wine lacked depth and character and to put it bluntly it was bland.

Priced at $4.99 a bottle means you won’t expect a whole lot from this wine. I served this with baked grouper, which came out juicy, flaking off with a twist of the fork and steamed broccoli (my doctor tells me I can have all the broccoli I want, so I try to steer clear of potatoes and rice, but it doesn’t always work out that way) and the crispness of the white wine went okay with this meal. You won’t find this wine stored in the Witless Whiner’s cellar so what I have left I’ll probably cook with but normally if I won’t drink a wine I won’t cook with it either.

If you’re so inclined to have this in your cellar it also comes in a Tetrapak which is better for the environment in a 750 ml package similar to chicken stock cartons. And you can get it in the economy “boxed” wine versions of either a 3 or 5 litre size.

Tilia 2008 Bonarda

There are days you get wine and don’t expect to get any but one day I was given a bottle of this Tilia 2008 Bonarda and usually when you get a wine from someone you really haven’t got a clue what it costs. Which is difficult to recommend or review to others without giving them an idea of what to expect to pay when they go to their wine merchant for a wine.

But lo and behold, right on the front of the bottle were two stickers, one white, one red (hmm, wonder if this means anything??). The white label lists the wine as $9.99 but upon closer examination we can see (well, at least I can) that a second discount price of 2/$14.00. Ohh, now this is a deal.

Once this was opened I found a dark garnet color opened with dark berry aromas with earth notes and hints of eucalyptus and licorice. This was beginning to be a nice find. On the palate were dark cherry, blackberry, raspberry, and pepper flavors. A nice mocha mouth-feel on the finish.

I had this with chicken pesto quesadillas with cheese and red onion and it went very well with the meal. This is a great wine at bargain prices, you’ll want to get a case if there are any left.

Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco

Sorry for the blurry picture (must have had too much of this bubbly 🙂 )

There are times you just want to have a sparkling wine without having to pay a ton of money for. I’m getting to be a fan of Cupcakes’ offerings of late and their Prosecco is the latest I’ve tried.

Produced from 100% Glera grapes this sparkling wine opens with honeydew melon, peach, and grapefruit on the nose.

On the palate the flavors of citrus and lemon prevailed, had a creamy texture, and had quite a bit of effervescence. The ABV is 11.2% so take it easy as bubblies tend to get into your bloodstream quicker making you giddy all the faster – so pace yourself. It had a toast finish that was very smooth.

Cupcakes’ website has a suggested retail price of $13.99 but I was able to find this at Table & Vine in West Springfield, MA for $9.99.

Callia Alta 2010 Malbec

Did you ever buy a wine on a whim? I do that every once in awhile and luckily more often than not it turns out to be a pretty decent wine. Well this didn’t disappoint as it was quite tasty.

With mulberry, wild blackberry, spices, fig, and earthy notes on the nose it was quite an array of aromas with no one particular aroma overpowering the other which can wreak havoc with your smelling senses. But to no avail, our schnozzola kicks into “wine” mode and delivers nothing but a sensible analysis of the wine’s aroma.

On the palate I found wild berry flavors, mostly blackberry with a slight blueberry finish on the mid-palate with a silky finish. At a price of $8.99 this is one of those wines you definitely want in your cellar and would go well with a variety of grilled meats although I had this as a stand alone wine just for the enjoyment of sipping a good wine.

Be sure to enjoy this on a summer evening on the deck as the sun is going down, maybe with a good book.

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

Castellani Poggio Al Casone La Cattura 2006 Toscana

I’m not that familiar with the Teroldego (teh-ROHL-deh-goh) grape varietal so I found that this grape is very similar to the Zinfandel grape varietal. Most of the research I have done on this points to the growing region of Trentino-Alto-Adige in northeast Italy. Although it is considered to be a warm climate grape it thrives in the sunny patches of northern Italy. I know, I’m stumped too!

However, the La Cattura hails from the Tuscany region (in the wine guru world I gather this is not normal) and is aged in oak barrels for 12 months, this red wine is a blend of 90% Teroldego and 10% Syrah and has a deep purple color which opened with plum, raspberry, blackberry, and black & white pepper notes on the nose.

The flavors were of raspberry, cherry hard candy, ripe plum, coffee, strawberry jam, and hints of clove. This really had a lot going for it, in my mind anyway which is fodder for another story in the future 🙂

Pair this with almost any grilled meat – beef, pork, lamb, chicken. This wine goes well with pasta and marinara sauce. But my favorite is with pasta fagioli. I prefer the pasta fagioli with ditalini instead of farfalle, elbows, or any other small pasta they choose to use.

This just might be a staple on the table in this household as it is great at room temperature or 60-65 degrees. This bottle cost me $14.99 so it is an affordable wine to keep stocked in my wine cellar. I knew my rabbit’s foot I won at the Carnival was going to be lucky one day!

Dona Paula 2007 Estate Malbec

As you should know Saturday Sarsaparilla posts are reviews of wines produced in countries other than in the U.S.  So, I have been drinking the Dona Paula Malbec (various vintages) for at least a decade.

When I researched this in the Witless Whiner archives I was surprised to find I had not reviewed this wine. I must be slowing down (note to self: drink more wine).

The Dona Paula Malbec is an estate wine produced in Argentina. Does anyone make a Malbec better than the Argentinians?

It is a fairly inexpensive wine at a cost of $13.99 and available in most liquor stores. The deep garnet color leads into black cherry, smoke, bacon and tobacco aromas. On the palate you’ll find jammy black and red berry flavors with a slight, but delectable, chocolate mocha finish.

You can serve this with a variety of dishes, especially grilled ones. We had this with grilled tuna, baked sea scallops, and broccoli. It went very well with this meal. You just never know. We have also had this in the past with grilled tenderloin fillets and grilled chicken with a good BBQ sauce.

Santero 1998 Borolo

The wines from the Piedmont region of Italy are truly one of my favorites although I’m partial to Italian wines overall seeing as my grandfather hailed from southern Italy.

The small Italian village my grandfather called home is Bracigliano and is located approximately 35 km east of Naples and 20 km north of Salerno and though I’ve never visited this little town it’s on my list of things to do. This is where he learned to make wine, so when I say I love Italian wines it runs through my veins or is that vines?

As I poured this wine made from the Nebbiolo grape it had a reddish orange hue around the rim of the wine indicative of an aged wine. The aromas were of blackberry with hints of fig, black cherry, earth, woody, and leather on the nose.

My anticipation of tasting it could be delayed no longer so I gently raised the glass to get a taste of the wonderful aromas I just experienced. Black cherry, boysenberry, and red cherry mingled delicately to produce one of the better wines I have ever tried. What was even better was the mocha finish like having an espresso and the end of a great meal.

Costing just $28.99 it’s a fantastic deal as wines harvested from the Nebbiolo grape and the Piedmont region in general, are higher priced and with such a great tasting wine I think this is an excellent wine. I have a 1997 vintage that I’m waiting to try in the future. Are you interested??


Estela Armando Vineyard 2007 La Posta Bonarda

The Bonarda grape varietal is the second most planted in Argentina with the Malbec grape being the most widely planted grape varietal. Malbec has become one of my favorites but let’s not discount the Bonarda grape and the delectable juice it produces. It is believed this was brought to Argentina in the 19th century from Northern Italian immigrants.

I guess you could call this grape varietal a well kept secret as the Malbec varietal gets all the credit when we speak of Argentinian wines. Although I thoroughly enjoy the Malbec wines produced in Argentina I am fast becoming a fan of the Bonarda wine.

This particular vintage had an alcohol by volume of 13.5% costing $12.99 had a lot going on when I popped the cork on this one. BTW, let this one breathe a bit before tasting. On the nose I found blackberry fruits, smoke, bacon, leather, earth, and vanilla aromas. Wow, a lot of activity here.

I wasn’t disappointed when I tasted it either. With blackberry, cherry hard candy, black raspberry and plum flavors with hints of raisin and fig with a finish of raspberry mocha this has become one of my favorites and will definitely keep a few of these in the wine racks for when I get the urge.