Bel Canto: Wines that taste as lovely as they sound

October 4, 2015 by Sean  
Filed under Inspired Posts, Monthly newsletter

It’s a little like an opera plot line: Family-owned winery in the Pacific Northwest spends five generations hand-crafting beautiful wines that seize on their love of the region and their unequivocal respect for the land’s heritage.

Cue the diva to begin her aria messa di voce. In a surprise twist, locally inspired winemaking is met with inspiration from afar. This small winery finds it is equally well suited to make a Tuscan-style red wine that will knock the socks off any gentiluomo that rides into town. Are we now in Washington State or sitting at a café at Piazza del Campo in Siena, Tuscany?

That is a question that Inspired Wine Club members must answer this month as they get to experience this lovely alongside a purebred Pinot Grigio directly from none other than one of the world’s favorite opera singer’s, Andrea Bocelli and his family’s vineyard in Veneto. However, we believe that this is where the opera analogy withers on the vine, as it were.  Afterall, we envision no deaths, wars or revenge resulting from our orchestrated wine tasting scenario – only love for newfound wines.

2013 Lady Hill Procedo Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington

With 81% Sangiovese, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Merlot, this wine has all the makings of a Super Tuscan, except that it’s not made in Tuscany! Additionally, the Pacific Northwest terroir only serves to tame the varietals with a suppleness that quite possibly make the wine even better! The Sangiovese provides a floral-accented cherry core to the wine. The Cabernet supplies tannins and another layer of depth.  And the Merlot offers a velvety finish that make this wine a luscious sipper, but also the wine to pair with venison steaks and wild mushroom sauce or perhaps Ossobucco served upon soft, buttery polenta.

2014 Bocelli Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy

Better known for his sensual tenor voice, Andrea Bocelli was raised in a wine family that has been making wine for three centuries. Andrea himself loves white wines, and this crisp, complex Pinot Grigio is an example of the family’s attention to detail and hands-on approach to making wine still today. The nose itself – Meyer lemon, mint, white flowers and sea salt – offer a harmonizing introduction to what opens up on the palate as a zesty, delicious wine. With a ripe fruit flavor to provide some zing to this wine, it marries perfectly with a saffron mushroom risotto or a salt-brined grilled chicken breast served on a bed of baby bok choy.

Photo credit: Souran5


The best kind of Argentine flip-flop

September 27, 2015 by Sean  
Filed under Inspired Posts, Monthly newsletter

Despite originating in France, Malbec wine may very well be the varietal that put South America on the proverbial wine map. While it is hardly the only varietal produced in Argentina, it is certainly its best known.  And many winemakers have found that Malbec is often made even better with a little help from its varietal friends – whether they are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Shiraz. As much as this sort of experimentation occurs, they have also found that a little bit of Malbec can also improve upon and add depth to a solid Cabernet.  The result is wonderful opportunities for winemakers to tinker with their winemaking and for us wine drinkers, new wines that highlight some of our favorite features of these varietal classics.

This month to our Inspired Wine Club members, we provide an interesting perspective on Argentina reds as we offer first a mostly Malbec wine that is complemented by other varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon.  Then we do a flip-flop and provide a second wine that is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, improved of course, with the wee bit of Malbec added in. Both are fantastic, hearty reds that we are sure you will enjoy comparing and contrasting.  And, by our standards, it’s one of the best tasting flip-flops around–

2010 Domaine Bousquet Grand Reserve Malbec, Tupungato Valley, Argentina

So here we go: 85% Malbec with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot and 5% Shiraz – while it’s technically a blend, it feels, looks and tastes like the quintessential Argentine Malbec – and an outstanding one, at that!  Is it possible that adding other varietals to Malbec makes it even more like a Malbec?  The purple-y, almost black, wine offers intense, rich aromas of blackberry, black currant and spicy black pepper, typical of top-quality Malbec. This sense of pedigree is confirmed at first taste, providing a very balanced, elegant wine with raspberry, blackberry, fig flavors exploding on the palate, accented by minerally notes of graphite and chocolate. It has excellent structure and lovely acidity with a supple mouth feel. Enjoy it with some Manchego cheese before dinner or save it for a main course of beef tenderloin with a portobello, Dijon mustard and red wine sauce.

2012 Domaine Bousquet Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Tupungato Valley, Argentina

So flipping the varietal distribution to the other side of the scale, this same organic winery entices you with a majestic reddish purple specimen that teases you first with its lovely aromas of black currant, tobacco and leather. Comprised of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Malbec, this quasi-blend is aged in 100% French oak barrels for 10 months, achieving a robust spicy, berry quality that is perfect for sipping or pairing with heartier meals. With fine tannins and hints of mocha, this wine’s elegance is abundantly clear, showing good intensity and a pleasant finish.  Marries as well with your grandmother’s recipe for linguine alla puttanesca as it does with a gaucho-styled skirt steak and garlicky chimichurri sauce.

Photo credit: Bermi Ferrer


Vini agosto: Fantastico e perfetto!

Steamy August. It’s the month that is indisputably the heart of summer. It’s bold. It’s hot. It’s intense.

Hmmmmm…kind of reminds us of – well – some of our favorite Italian wines. Italian winemakers do not shy away from greatness. They go all in. They take risks. And their centuries of making some of the most respected wines in the world has earned it a very secure place the world of wine. Sure, there’s Chianti and so many other familiar varietals that come from Italy, full of viticulture in nearly every corner. But, in the U.S., many other interesting wines escape our reach, remaining in small villages or limited regions.

This month, we have a special treat for our Hinsdale Inspired Wine Club members: a taste of Italy—one wine likely familiar, the other less so. This is a month for la dolce vita because as much as the heat gets under our skin at this time of year, the fall chill will be here before you know it! Saluti!

2013 Cantine Cellaro Lumá, Sambuca di Sicilia, Italy

Talk about a fresh wine that can handle the heat! With 60% Inzolia and 40% Chardonnay, this wine sings freshness. Inzolia grapes, known best for their fortified role in Marsala, add a lovely level of complexity when blended with the Chardonnay. The crisp, dry wine brings a minerality and faint spiciness, making it wonderfully quaffable in this stuffy humidity and cleanses the palate with its marvelous acidity. Pair it with a grilled red snapper or a mixed seafood risotto.

2011 Caldora Yume Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Ortona, Italy

Boasting 100% Montepulciano grapes, this wine is quintessential Tuscany. Barrique aging makes it special, offering great structure to a brilliantly fruity wine. Just one sniff of its intense nose and you inhale dry flowers, spices and licorice that beckon a taste. The ruby red coloring, too, has irresistible red highlights. But its earthy fruitiness with smooth tannins wins the day. Enjoy this wine with rich dishes – maybe alongside aged cheeses, a slow-roasted brisket from the grill, or a pepper-crusted, garlicky standing rib roast.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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