Saturday, May 29, 2010

Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Riserva, 2004

This Frescobaldi Chianti is made on the 11th century Castello di Nipozzano property located in the Chiant Rufina DOCG. This wine is made from 90% Sangiovese with small quantities of Malvasia, Colorino, Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon. We have been cellaring this wine since it was released in early 2007. Tonight we brought this bottle to the Purple Café, in Bellevue, and enjoyed it with a lovely cheese board and an order of Wild Mushroom Risotto. The wine exhibit’s a dark ruby color and has a beautiful nose of blackberries, cherries, wet earth, black pepper and cedar. This is a medium to full bodied wine that is rich and dense with flavors of blackberry, cassis, roasted espresso, cocoa powder, earth and black pepper. The dark berry flavors are balanced by firm acidity and fully integrated tannin giving a wine of extraordinary depth and length. This wine is really delicious and is aging very well. I am glad we still have a few more bottles in our cellar!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

FnB Restaurant

7133 E. Stetson Drive Scottsdale, Az 85251 (480) 425-9463

FnB… OmG. While down in Scottsdale this past weekend we finally found a good night to go check out this new restaurant near the SouthBridge Waterfront. This is a small restaurant with a warm inviting atmosphere and an open kitchen surrounded by a large wood rimmed counter for spectacular viewing of all the action. With textured white walls, crisp linens, dim lights and a “show-stopper” colorful mosaic floor, the space exudes a casual elegance. FnB (for “Food n Beverage”) is a co-venture between Chef Charleen Badman and Pavle and Emily Milic. Chef Badman has composed a seasonal menu of fresh ingredients, using organic and local, whenever possible. The front of the house is run by husband and wife Milic and they are extremely successful at providing great service and hospitality. With the exception of one sparkling wine from New Mexico, Pavle has crafted a wine menu of 100% Arizona State wines. We have tasted some excellent Arizona wines in the past and enjoy pairing local wines with local cuisine. The menu is small and precise with great choices for any food lover. Here is a listing of the wonderful food we shared:

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes with Green Goddess Dressing and Feta…. Great!
  2. Grilled Asparagus, Cauliflower Purée, and Crispy Beet Chips…. Great!
  3. Pan Roasted Jidori Chicken with Spaetzle and Beets…. Great! (we are still talking about it)
  4. Grilled Lamb Tenderloin, Snap Peas, Fingerling Potatoes, Olives and Mint…. Great!
  5. Warm Steamed Chocolate Cake, Rhubarb, Vanilla Ice Cream…. Great!

All of our food was expertly prepared with the finest ingredients and skillful hands. We loved our entire meals and are still talking about how delicious everything was.

We ordered two red wines from the small, hand picked wine list:

Arizona Stronghold Nachise Syrah Blend, 2008 This is a Rhone style blend of 52% Syrah, 27% Granache, 15% Petit Verdot and 6 % Mouvedre. This wine is very smooth, medium bodied with aromas of blackberry, earth and baking spice. Rich black fruit, cherry and cranberry flavors are enhanced by silky tannins, fresh herbs and black pepper on the finish. This wine paired well with both the Chicken and Lamb entrees.
Keeling-Schaefer Syrah, 2007 This is a big wine with a nose of blackberry jam and vanilla wafer. In the mouth there is ripe blackberry, blueberry, plum, cinnamon, vanilla and toasty oak. This Syrah is full bodied with gripping tannins, a touch of earth and a long, smooth finish. I did enjoy this wine, however I would love to try it again after a few years in the cellar. This wine will pair well with lamb, beef or a stinky cheese.

Our entire evening at FnB was exceptional. The service and food were flawless and the cozy dining room was both classy and relaxing. We truly enjoyed getting to meet Chef Badman and Host Emily Milic ( Pavle was off with visiting family). Next month we will return to FnB to celebrate some birthdays! (yeah)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Castello di Neive Grignolino, 2009

Last night we stopped in at Grazie Pizzeria and Wine Bar located in Canyon Village of North Scottsdale. We were seated at the wine bar and ordered a couple of glasses of Italian wine from the cheerful and attentive bartender, Tommy. I decided to order something a little different so I ordered a glass of Grignolino from Castello di Neive. Grignolino is a red grape variety that can be found in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy. This grape makes wines with a very light red color, fresh fruit aromas, piercing acidity and strong tannins. The name Grignolino derives from the word grignole which means "many seeds” in the local Piedmontese dialect of the Asti region. The abundance of seeds, contribute to the strong, bitter tannins associated with the wine. The Castello di Neive Grignolino has a light, translucent ruby color with a orange hue. On the nose there is fresh strawberry, raspberry and apple with a hint of cut grass. This is a medium/light bodied wine with fresh fruit flavors of strawberry, pear and tart red cherry. There is bold acidity and a cloak of smooth tannins that make this wine quite unique. The is no evidence of earth or oak and the finish is long and persistent. The pizza we shared was called “Complimenti alla Mamma!” and it was Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Ricotta, Ham, Salame and Parmigiano Reggiano. This light, crisp red wine was a good match for this excellent pizza.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pico Maccario Barbera d'Asti Lavignone, 2007

Barbera is one of the classic grapes of Italy's Piedmont region and is popular throughout much of Northwest Italy. Barbera has gained a following in California and Washington State where this grape does well. Searing acidity has been a trait of Barbera and has helped to give these wines a reputation as being "good food wines”. This Lavignone Barbera has a deep ruby color with a filtered appearance. There is a beautiful bouquet of red fruit, currents and a hint of perfumed violets and some musty cellar floor. This is a medium bodied wine with a winning flavor combination of dark berry, plum, cranberry, chocolate and lead pencil. True to Barbera’s reputation, there is gripping acidity and a whisper of smooth tannins. The finish is long and lingering. This wine will pair well with any hearty Italian fare or a great pizza. We purchased this nice Barbera at QFC, in Bellevue, for about $14. Erin, thanks for the recommendation.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Le Bine Valpolicella Classico Superiore, 2006

This red wine from the Veneto region of Northern Italy is produced by Giuseppe Campagnola. The Le Bine is the “Selection” of their best Valpolicella produced from single vineyards of Purano. The wine is made from Corvina and Rondinella grapes in the the traditional ripasso method. This wine is a deep violet red color with an unfiltered appearance. A heady bouquet evokes ripe red berries with notes of mineral, licorice and tobacco. Dark cherry, blackberry, cocoa and coffee flavors mingle in this elegant red. Robust, yet smooth, this is a medium bodied wine with gentle acidity and well integrated rich tannins. There is nice complexity and structure and this Valpolicella is very versatile with food. One of the foods I made was fresh Focaccia with Rosemary and Sun-dried Tomatoes; here is a picture while it is still raw. We enjoyed this wine at a “Good Neighbors” Pizza Party we hosted last night. Good neighbors…Good Food…Good Wine. This lovely wine can be purchased from “Wines from Italy”, for about $18.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Wrongo Dongo, 2008

We just popped the cork on another value priced wine from Spain. This latest vintage of Wrongo Dongo, a 100% Monestrell wine from the Jumilla region, has a bold new label with a modern Spanish flair. This wine has a bright, deep red color and aromas of dark berry, green grass, baking spices and roasted nuts. This wine is medium bodied with straightforward blackberry and cherry flavors along with some bitter almond, minerality and black pepper on the finish. There are soft, silky tannins and gentle acidity that add to the overall package. The finish is smooth and persistent. This wine tastes like a new-world Monestrell, so no surprises here. If you want to broaden your horizons, pick up a bottle of Wrongo Dongo for any casual dinner. This is another great value from importer Jorge Ordonez that is available in the Seattle area for about $8.