Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ciao! Bella!

HELLO BEAUTIFUL! The AGN Valentines Day Delight! is what our Italian night turned out to be. As a group of Grape Nuts I must say we hit a Grand Slam at our Valentines dinner with our wine/food pairings.
Since our plan was to have an Italian night we decided to do "CHIANTI". However, Randy called a couple hours before dinner with a good point, "Should we do chianti with every course?" He decided to pick up a Italian White to go with the salad course. He got me thinking so I decided to throw a curve ball as well, Pinot Noir.
Our four course valentines dinner started off Fantastic. Amanda made a fabulous Italian soup called "Ribollita". This Tuscan style soup is supposed to pair nicely with Chianti, but I must say (I think the whole AGN group would agree) the 2006 Canaletto Pinot Noir was made for Ribollita. This 2006 Pinot Noir comes from way up North in the Lombardy region of Italy. Its Cherryish (is that a word) bouquet hits your palate with bursting ripe summer berries and is light bodied. It was outstanding as a first course accompaniement.
Randy and Sandy's second course was amazing. It started with Sandy's incredible real Cesar Salad and was paired with the White that Randy called about. The wine was a 2006 Argiolas, Costamolino (Vermentino Di Sardegna). This pairing was amazing, the wine color was a yellowish color (Not your typical Chardonnay buttery color), and the bouquet very subtle. It was a fresh, dry, well-defined with pleasant delicacy and crispness. It was fabulous with the Cesar. GRAND SLAM! An interesting note about this wine is the varietal, Vermentino. Described by Wikipedia, Vermentino is a late-ripening white grape originating in Spain or Madiera, or perhaps Portugal, and now widely planted in Corsica, Sardinia, and the coastal arc running from Tuscany through Liguria and into southern France, around Nice (where it is known as Rolle). It is thought to be related to the Malvasia variety and to have been brought to Italy in the fifteenth century during the period of Spanish domination. The leaves are dark green and pentagonal. The grapes are amber-yellow and hang in pyramidal bunches. The vines are often grown on slopes facing the sea where they can benefit from the additional reflected light. Sounds like a place I would like to be.

Our dinner moved onto the main course. This was a Grilled Cornish Game Hen with Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto and grilled veggies. The main course was paired with (are you sittng down) FIVE different Chianti's!
They were all great in their own ways but I think the hits of the night were the 2006 Peppoli Chianti Classico that the Emsleys brought. Everyone thought this was a hit with the dinner and alone. Another hit was the 2005 Montegrossoli Podere Ciona "SUPERTUSCAN". The other 3 Chianti's, all very good were as follows: 2004 DaVinci Riserva, 2006 Felsina Chianti Classico and a 2006 Tenuta Mormoaia Chianti Colli Senesi. While all of these were great wines I have to say the first two really stood out to everyone based on the discussions.
I know I am running on and on but there is one more course that was an absolute perfect end to the evening. It was a beautiful raspberry tart that was too pretty to eat. But we did! It was incredible. We paired that up with (Ok it wasn't Italian but it has been in our cellar for 3 years and looked good) a Mission Hills 2004 Ice Wine Riesling.
What a night! All I can say is, CIAO! BELLA!

A Recap of all of the wines above:
Canaletto 2006 Pinot Noir Pavia
Argiolas 2006 Costamolino Vermentino Di Sardegna
Peppoli 2006 Chianti Classico
Montegrossoli 2005 Podere Ciona Super Tuscan
Mormoraia 2006 Chianti Colli Senesi
Felsina 2006 Chianti Classico
DaVinci 2004 Chianti Riserva
Mission Hills Family Estate 2004 Ice Wine Riesling

Next Stop: South America! with our new AGN'ers Eric & Nelly.

Monday, February 16, 2009

AGN Lite: Merlot

Whew! A month late and finally getting to the Merlot night. This was a fun evening with a mixed crowd. We did blind tastings of Merlot for under $20. A lot of casual wine drinkers really enjoyed the format and opportunity to disect and analyze what they like about the wine they were tasting.
We had one Shiraz show up in the group. And, we had 2 of the same bottle show up. Interestingly enough, some people rated those two bottles differently in their tasting notes.
Hence, my assertion that for novice tasters (like we all are) there are many many factors that go into our impression of a wine - where we're at, who we're with, our expectations, the music we're listening to, the food we're eating, etc., etc. Obviously good wine is enjoyable in its own right; but, the fruits of a wine life are family, friends, and fun.