Latest Tastes from France and Italy

Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons Millesime 2010

Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons Millesime 2010

Last week while in Florida on vacation, I absconded with 2 bottles of my father-in-law’s collection (with his permission, of course) for a short jot down to the keys. One was the Zuccardi Q Malbec I reviewed for Malbec World Day, and the other was a fine Chablis, which I enjoyed by the oceanside pool. It was a Simonnet-Febvre Chablis Premier Cru Vaillons Millesime 2010, and it was excellent.

Its appearance was a lovely lemon-gold. On the nose were citrus, some tropical fruit and grassy, dare I say ‘barnyard’ aromas. This is not meant to be derogatory, I have picked that gem of a descriptor up in several quality wines. How’s that for terroir? On the palate were crisp lemon-lime, more hints of tropical fruit, chalky/mineral accents and light vanilla from obvious time in oak. It had the full body and nice finish expected from French Chardonnay but the pronounced acidity and chalky notes expected in a Chablis. It was very enjoyable in the chaise lounge, as I’m sure it would equally be at the dinner table. As I hadn’t bought the bottle myself, I looked up the price and it averages around $25. This is a good price for a quality Premier Cru Chablis.

The other bottle, which I enjoyed last night was a budget-friendly yet delicious Cusumano 2011 Nero D’Avola from the Italian island of Sicily. It averages around $11 and they stock it at my local wine discount store, which is good news for me. It was deep ruby in color and on the nose were jammy red cherry and strawberry, cocoa and pepper spice. The palate echoed these aromas, with a bright acidity and tannin that were all very well balanced for a youthful wine (it also ages well). The body was full and satisfying and the finish provided more of the spicy edge.

2011 Cusumano Nero d'Avola Sicilia IGT

2011 Cusumano Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGT

Nero means black in Italian and it gets its name from the dark color of this indigenous grape as well as the town it is most associated with, Avola. There is some question as to whether its other name, Calabrese, means its from Calabria originally. But either way, it is an important and historical variety in Sicily. It has also been used to add color to lighter reds from the mainland though its enjoying success on its own as of late. I can see why. This is a favorite of mine, and at this price I will buy it by the case to enjoy with casual dinners and with my friends. I also like the glass cork the bottle uses.

I paired it with a delicous garlic and pepper-laden chicken fettucini alfredo and it complemented the savory sauce very well.

Speaking of Italian wines, later this week I will be going to an Alto Adige tasting in New York City. I am looking forward to sharing that experience with you.

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One response to “Latest Tastes from France and Italy

  1. Nice reviews!
    Regarding the moniker Calabrese to identify Nero d’Avola, the prevailing, most recent interpretation is that it does not relate to Calabria (Nero d’Avola is a variety that is indigenous to Sicily), but rather is a merger of two words that in the Sicilian dialect mean “grape from Avola”.

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