Nicosia 2010 Nero D’Avola

The Nero D’Avola grape varietal is one of my favorites and I’m particularly fond of Italian wines and the wine label was written entirely in Italian so I couldn’t resist buying it. I was able to translate about half of it as my Italian is limited to the darker side of speech (due to my grandparents always cussing at each other in Italian, hence I got to learn those words quite well) but nonetheless I was able to put the correct proper words from Italian to English. However, if I thought of it I could have used any one of a multitude of apps that would have done the translation easier and probably in a fraction of the time it took me to work it out.

The Nicosia 2010  sells for around $14 and has an ABV of 12.5%, rather low on the red wine scale but very tasty nonetheless. The wine was a dark ruby color with a purpleish rim which on a young wine yielded dark plum, spice, chocolate, and a hint of pepper, but not too peppery on the nose. The palate however exhibited more of a red fruit concoction of red plum, red raspberry, red cherry with nuances of earth notes and pepper accents on the finish.

This was quite an enjoyable wine as we paired this with sausage al forno and it fit perfectly with the acidity of the sauce and the sweetness of the sausage topped with Romano cheese (me), or Parmesan cheese (my better half), or shredded Mozzarella would have also sufficed (next time). Enjoy the wine and the food.

Tommasi Rafael 1999 Classico Superiore Valpolicella

It’s been awhile, but now that the holidays are behind me for another year and I’m not on any extended business trips and the inevitable recycled air gushing through the aircraft’s well-designed “air circulators” doesn’t get me sicker than a dog I should be able to get back to one of my passions – you got it, drinking wine.

I don’t mind going on business trips for a couple of weeks at a time. But the aftermath of plane rides is what throws me underground for a spell.  First it’s rush to get to the airport, pay $25 for checked baggage, take everything out of your pockets per the TSA agent at the security checkpoint including my belt and removing my shoes has been second nature to say the least, then raise your hands above your head only to be pulled out of the line and asked by the TSA agent in an accusatory tone “What do you have in your left pocket?”

By nature, I’m a bit of a smart _ss but I know when not to be one. And this isn’t one of those times to be a smart _ss. I replied rather seriously “Nothing, the other TSA agent asked that I remove everything from my pockets, so I’m curious as to what your X-Ray picked up”. Of course I didn’t get a response but did get a pat down from the top of my left shoulder to my left ankle paying special attention to my left pocket. Then he said to “Move On” in the same tone as Yul Brenner said to Eli Wallach in “the Magnificent Seven” when he told him to “Ride On”. I’ve decided never to fly on a plane again (except maybe for going across the pond)!

Okay, I’m off my soapbox and on to the wine.

A blend of Corvina, Molinara, and Rondinella grapes from the Rafael vineyard makes this Valpolicella a delectable red wine. And one that I have not had in awhile. The last time I had this wine it would have been considered a young wine. Upon opening this and pouring it through an aerator to open the bouquet a bit I noticed the wine was a dark ruby color with an orange-brown hue on the rim of the wine. So far I’m happy with what I see.

On the nose I found a lot of cherry and fresh ripe plum – lots of fresh ripe plum, maybe some blackberries too. On the first taste, juicy plum was the dominating flavor with dark cherry and black currant. On subsequent sips the flavors were more dark cherry with hints of blueberry. The finish was very smooth and velvety. If I remember correctly this tasted as good as when I tried this as a young wine in the early 2000’s. So, this seemed to cellar quite well.  Unfortunately I won’t be able to see how this cellars for another five years or so as I’m all out of the 1999 vintage. As a matter of fact, I’m out of the wine altogether. Guess I’ll have to buy several bottles of another vintage and start the experiment all over again.

We paired this with grilled chicken, spaghetti squash, and steamed broccoli. To my surprise it went very well with this meal although I’m sure it would go well with red meat and red sauce pasta dishes too. At only 12.5% ABV this wine still packed a punch or is this because I haven’t had wine in awhile, or am I still reeling over the TSA experience? Reasonably priced at $21.


Messapicus 2001 Primitivo di Manduria

I picked this wine up on a recommendation from the wine store I visit on occasion. It cost $12 and has an alcohol by volume of 14%.

Although I’ve had this for awhile (I still have about 60 bottles of wine in my cellar that I have yet to try) I figured now was as good a time as any.

Once poured it exhibited a deep purple color with nose notes reminiscent of black licorice, tar, leather, and earthy tones.  So far, so good.

On the palate I found blackberry, dark plum, black raspberry with a hint of dark cherries. It did have a nice velvety smooth finish but it didn’t last as long as I would have hoped for.

I had this stand alone so I would presume this would go with hearty pasta dishes, game meats, lamb (although I can think of some other wines in my cellar I would prefer with lamb).

The wine was good but it didn’t quite hit my flavor palate so the value of the wine for the price is lower than average.

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.

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.

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!

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??


Porta Sole 2010 Sangiovese

Don’t you wish all wines were pretty decent to drink but did not break the bank? Well, sometimes you come across a wine that might just fit the bill.

The Porta Sole 2010 Sangiovese wine produced red berry aromas with hints of thyme on the nose while a red cherry flavor was revelaed on the palate with nuances of toast and clove. An earthy finish made this wine a decent red table wine.

The best part of this wine was the $3.99 price tag that will sure to please anyone’s pocketbook or wallet.