Saturday, October 31, 2009

Banfi Centine, 2007

Banfi Centine, 2007

This red wine from Tuscany is a "Super Tuscan" blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. I was anxious to try this new vintage of Centine (pronounced "CHEN - TIN - AY", in Italian) to see if this wine was as good as the past 2 vintages. I am please to report that the 2007 is every bit as good and perhaps better. Castello Banfi is located in Montalcino, one of the best wine regions of Tuscany. The 2007 Centine has a newly designed label that proudly shows the Castello Banfi Estate. In the glass, the wine is a dark ruby red. The nose has fresh aromas of dark fruit and berries and earth. This is a fruit forward wine with ripe blackberries, cherries, cassis, subtle cedar notes and an underlying minerality. In the mouth this is a medium bodied wine with good balance, velvety tannins and vibrant acidity.This wine is quite elegant and delicious and has a long, smooth satisfying finish. This “entry level” wine from Castello Banfi makes a great house wine to enjoy with dinner or on its own. The Banfi Centine can be found throughout the Seattle area for about $12. This wine is an over achiever!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Crave Arizona, Scottsdale 2009

Crave Arizona, 2009

Thousands of food-loving people gathered together as Crave Arizona pulled off three days of food and wine events. Celebrity and local chefs, hundreds of wines, trendy cocktails and delicious food made for an unforgettable event. We had a great time and really enjoyed the Arizona Grand Tasting this past Saturday.




We attended cooking demonstrations by Top Chef Favorites Sam Talbot (Bravo’s season 2) and Stephanie Izard (Bravo’s season 4).

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The Grand Tasting was laid out on the Scottsdale Southbridge and showcased small bites from over 40 local restaurants and hundreds of wines from around the world. This year there was and entire section devoted to Washington State wines from over 30 wineries.
We tasted some great wines form Owen Roe, Novelty Hill, Amavi, Reininger Winery, Tamarack Cellars, Nicholas Cole Cellars and Northstar. The food bites were equally impressive as we noshed on delicacies like seared sea scallops, braised pork belly, veal ravioli and chocolate/caramel tarts.







Later in the day we attended a wine seminar entitled: Which One's Washington? With seminar moderator: Shayn Bjornholm, Education Director for the Washington Wine Commission and Master Sommelier. This was a high energy, interactive and educational game show format wine tasting that mimicked the TV show “Family Feud”. Shayn Bjornholm guided the festivities from the helm with his powder blue polyester 70's style tuxedo.




Local Sommeliers added to the fun with the whole audience participating in the spectacle. We enjoyed “blind tasting” numerous as wines as we tried to name the varietal and region. It was a blast for everyone there to try to determine if a wine was Riesling or Chardonnay, from Washington or France.



A big “Shout-Out" for Shayn…. Nice job!
We will definitely attend Crave Arizona again next year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poggio alla Sala Chianti Colli Senesi, 2007

Poggio alla Sala Chianti Colli Senesi, 2007

Yesterday, I decided to visit Total Wines at the Desert Ridge shopping mall in Phoenix. We are down in Scottsdale enjoying some great sunny weather and time with family. Our plan was to watch a video and to take home a large pizza from Yo Pauly’s. I was on a mission to fine a fun wine for the evening. I selected this DOCG Chianti from a producer from Montepulciano, Italy in the hills southeast of Sienna and hence the Colli Senesi designation.

This wine has a medium ruby color and appears unfiltered. This Chianti is highly aromatic with dried cherry, prune, dirt and cellar floor. This is old-world style with flavors of sour cherry, strawberry, figs, straw and cedar. This is a medium bodied wine with moderate acidity and gentle tannins. Overall, a good wine, but nothing to brag about. However, our pizza from Yo Pauly's ( half "Whitestone Bridge"/ half "The New Yorker" ) was fantastic!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon, 1999

Kiona Cabernet Sauvignon, 1999

Kiona Vineyards and Winery was started after the Williams family, in 1975, planted the first vineyards on what is now known as the Red Mountain Appellation of Washington State. Since then, Kiona has developed a world-wide reputation for great fruit and producing wines of extraordinary quality. Over the past few years the Red Mountain Appellation has gained great respect. Not only does Kiona make their own wines, but they also sell their excellent grapes to other fine winemakers such as Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery. Last night we decided to pull this 10 year-old Cabernet form our cellar. We brought this wine with us to the new Bellevue Purple Café. What a great night! The new Purple Café is a Mecca for wine and food lovers. With a lively modern-urban design, great food choices and walls of wine (literally), it is a welcome addition to downtown Bellevue. We were seated at the tasting counter where we enjoyed some tasty “small plates” that paired well with this wine. This Kiona Cabernet made the Wine Spectator “Top 100 List” back in 2002. The wine had a dark ruby red color with a scarlet rim. The nose is lovely with complex berry notes and some dusty earth. The wine delivers a broad mouthful of mature fruit with cherry, cassis, espresso and smoke. This is a full bodied, chewy and concentrated wine with layers of fruit and smooth tannins creating an elegant and delicious finish. There is subtle oak and acidity that complete the profile of this lovely wine. We had purchased two bottles back in 2002, and this is the last one from the cellar. Oh well!
PS ... Check out the new Barrio Restaurant and Purple Café and Wine Bar in downtown Bellevue!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Novelty Hill Red Wine, 2006

Novelty Hill Red Wine, 2006

Novelty Hill wines are made by Mike Januik, one of Washington’s most acclaimed Winemakers. He was head winemaker at Chateau Ste. Michelle for ten years before starting his own winery in 1999 and he’s been making wine in the Columbia Valley since 1984. This 2006 Novelty Hills Red a blend of 33% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, 18% Cabernet Franc, 13% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot. The result is a wine with a deep red color being nearly opaque. On the nose are spicy cherry, blueberry and currant. The mouth feel is full and rich with flavors of dried black cherries, ripe blackberry, and dark chocolate with cinnamon spice. There is subtle oak, good acidity and smooth tannins that complete the package. This is a rich red wine for lovers of chocolate covered cherries. There is no real evidence of terroir. This wine will pair well with a nice brick of quality dark chocolate or a big rib-eye steak. This wine is available at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $13. This is an interesting Washington State blend.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bodegas Ateca Garnacha de Fuego, 2008

Bodegas Ateca Garnacha de Fuego, 2008

This Garnacha from the Calatayud region of Spain represents another great value wine that proves you can get interesting and delicious wines on a tight budget. The Garnacha grapes are from old vines that really excel in the high elevation and gravely soil vineyards of Bobegas Ateca. This is another fine wine from the Jorge Ordonez Selection. This is a medium bodied wine with a deep red color and a nose of fresh raspberry and fresh orange. On the palate there is ripe red cherry, raspberry and some spicy black pepper. There are supple tannins and crisp acidity with no evidence of oak or earth. The fruit driven style is delightful and refreshing without being too much like candy. This wine shows a zesty, focused personality that will pair well with any spicy dish. This is a great value that can be found at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for about $7. If you are a New World fan, give this a try.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Poyares, 2005

Poyares, 2005

Earlier this year we tried a bottle of this Portuguese red wine and were impressed by the quality and flavors. We bought two bottles from ambassadorofwine.com and cellared one until this weekend. This is a blend of grapes indigenous to the Douro including Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinto Roriz. The 2005 Poyares has a dark blood red color with purple hues. The nose is packed with blackberry, toast and earth. This is a full bodied wine with abundant tannins and moderate acidity. The flavors are bold and intense with dark fruit, roasted herbs and espresso with nuances of licorice and coco. This is a well balanced wine that finishes dry and firm. Although more “New-World” than “Old”, this wine deftly controls the abundant fruit and tannins to create a full-throttled, multilayer palate. This wine should cellar well for many years. We are hoping to obtain a few more for that effort!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Monte Antico Toscana, 2006

Monte Antico Toscana, 2006

The 2006 Monte Antico Rosso is a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from various Tuscan vinyards. This wine is blended then aged in oak for about one year. This everyday Italian red is imported by Neil Empson and created by acclaimed oenologist Franco Bernabei. The wine has a deep ruby color and a nose of dark berries and earth. This is a medium bodied wine with flavors of ripe plums, chocolate covered cherries and dried currents. Tannins are soft and supple and there is gripping acidity that lingers on a mineral accented, toasty finish. This wine screams out for a wood fired pizza or a bowl of Pasta Bolognese. This is a great “go-to” wine for any casual Italian dinner. This wine is available at Pete’s Wine Shop, in Bellevue, for around $12.