Wine Briefs: La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino Fortunello 2013

La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino Fortunello 2013

La Fortuna Rosso di Montalcino Fortunello 2013

Another steal from Last Bottle Wines. A bit on the young side perhaps but I drank the first of the two bottles so lustfully, that I couldn’t wait to open the second — and make sure I got a tasting note in before it too disappeared.  I should have bought a case.  I did also buy a bottle of their 2010 La Fortuna Brunello, which I will be more responsible with.

On this one, a deep, luscious nose of baked cherries, earth, and elegant oak — not at all overpowering of the other components rather in complete harmony. On the palate: moderate and integrated acidity and tannins with deep, soft cherry fruit and a lengthy and slightly toasty finish. Also completely in balance in taste. It’s drinking like a god right now, can only imagine it improving with age. Everything you need is there. Too bad this is the only other bottle I have. But the producer has just made my favorites list. Can’t wait for the Brunello, but I should.

Around $25 a bottle, I think I paid $12 each. I give it 90 points.

Visiting Veramar and Bogati Vineyards in Virginia

Veramar Vineyards, Berryville, VA

Veramar Vineyards, Berryville, VA

A few weeks ago we went to celebrate our 5th anniversary in and around Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. As history, hiking, and wine fanatics, this area had everything we wanted all in one spot. You may know Harper’s Ferry from the famous uprising of abolitionist John Brown, which would eventually lead to our nation’s civil war. We stayed in a bed and breakfast in nearby Charles Town that was built on George Washington’s first land purchased in the area. In fact, Charles Town was named for his brother. Our first morning we spent in historic Shepherdstown and then crossed the Potomac into Maryland for a visit to Antietam National Battlefield, rendered all the more somber and powerful from an overnight snowfall. And the state of Virginia is home to over 200 wineries, with a long history of vine cultivation, but we will get to that in a minute.

With the unexpected weather we had opted to postpone our hike and winery visits until the next day when things would have melted off a bit. This was more for hike safety than for the winery visit, but nevertheless, 1,200 feet up on Loudoun Heights there was still several inches of snow to be found. After heading back down the Appalachian Trail route across the Shenandoah into downtown Harper’s Ferry, we hopped in the car to visit some of the nearby wineries of Northern Virginia.

A friend of mine who lives in the area recommended Veramar winery in Berryville. In complete contrast to the snowy mountaintops, the sun was shining down on the rolling hills and vineyards of the seemingly endless estate, with the expanse of the Blue Ridge extending in the distance as far as the eye could see. This area of the state’s wine industry is Shenandoah Valley AVA. Vine cultivation in Virginia goes back as far as the original Jamestown colony, and Thomas Jefferson himself was growing the first vinifera vines here at his home in Monticello. For more on that subject, read one of my favorite books, “Thomas Jefferson on Wine,” by John Hailman. On this beautiful day, the owner and family were enjoying the weather as well and it sounds like there will be another generation of winemakers in the family. The scenery here is one you could imagine not looking all that different 250 years ago.

Veramar Vineyards' Rooster Red and 2013 Cabernet Franc

Veramar Vineyards’ Rooster Red and 2013 Cabernet Franc

After the tasting we bought a bottle of the Cabernet Franc 2013 and ‘Rooster Red’ blend as well as a few whites we enjoyed, particularly the Seyval Blanc. I am writing this on day two for the bottle of Rooster Red I brought home, so that wine has  opened up a bit since and really is showing well on the nose and palate.

The Rooster Red is a red Bordeaux-style non-vintage blend. On the nose are black currant and a seductive smokey oak and baking spices along with distinct soil/earth notes — softer on the palate than yesterday for sure. Some fig in there, and coffee bean. It paired nicely with food yesterday and is standing on its own quite well today. It has a medal from the San Francisco Wine Awards as well as commendations from Decanter’s World Wine Awards and 83 points from Wine Enthusiast.

I also bought a bottle of the 2013 Cabernet Franc. Like the Rooster Red, the oak on this wine and the aromas associated with it are really dialed in and integrated. I don’t think I noticed as much at the winery. Though maybe that was a result of all the visitors that day and us just relieved to finally be tasting after waiting 20 minutes for a bridal shower before us to make room at the tasting bar. I was impressed — these smell like some of the best from the west coast and Europe. It is rated at 87 points on the winery site, though I am unable to find the source. On the palate, this Cabernet Franc is a balanced, elegant wine with very little of the under-ripe or green notes I usually encounter in reds from our part of the country. We enjoyed some warm bread and a gouda as well which you can buy at the tasting bar.

IMG_6339As we were looking over the options for one more stop in the region’s winery list, the staff suggested their sister winery just 7 miles down the road, Bogati.The Bogaty family runs Veramar, hence the name of their sister winery Bogati. (I am unsure of why the spelling was changed in the winery name – perhaps to be more chic?) When they told us it had a modern, Argentian flare, we decided it was defintely worth a visit. I had yet to come across a winery in this part of the country that did South American wines (or rather, a South American style of Malbec, a French native grape finding much success in Argentina of late.)   A quick drive through a gap in the Mountains led us to Bogati. On the outside it looks like a modern art gallery space with some lovely views of its own. But inside it’s all about the wine, and plenty of style. Their wines have a few medals of their own, namingly for their Seyval Blanc, the light Pinot Gris-based wine known as “B-thin,” the “Tango Blu,” and their Malbec.  The Malbec is really what I was excited about most though and it was a tasty and promising example. But equally as unexpected and unique as a Virginia Malbec, was their Touriga Nacional. You may know this as the principal grape of Portuguese red wines, and this one completely surprised and delighted me. As much for the uniqueness as the taste. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by both of these fine wineries – they are each within an hour’s reach of Washington DC.

Anthony Nappa Frizzante 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013

Anthony Nappa Frizzante Sparkling Wine 2013- It’s so hot today even the bottle is sweating!

It’s hot. It’s humid. I want something light and refreshing that will cool me off and relax me, not that I’m that un-relaxed. Enter Anthony Nappa’s sparkling Frizzante. A member of their wine club, this was a new one that came in our latest shipment that we haven’t seen until now. I’m sure you’ve read about Anthony Nappa in the blog before. He’s the creator of the Winemaker’s Studio on the North Fork of Long Island. I’m a fan of many of their wines, and was pleased to receive another I haven’t yet tried. I don’t drink sparkling wine regularly, as it goes to my head a bit quickly. But right now, it fits the bill, and is tasty with some cheese and crackers.

It is a blend of Pinot Noir (78%), Riesling (10%) and Gewürztraminer (12%). It’s made by a secondary fermentation in bottle and aged on the lees to add depth and body like a Champagne. It’s not filtered so does give a slightly cloudy appearance but keeping on the lees is to it’s benefit. It’s dry but has many of the aromas you’d expect in the Riesling and Gewürz like flowers, peach, and apricot and these continue on the palate. It goes for $20 and can be easily found in the NYC metro area. Bottoms up!

Malbec Day Review: Zuccardi Q 2010

Zuccardi "Q" 2010 Mendoza Malbec

Zuccardi “Q” 2010 Mendoza Malbec

Today, April 17, 2013, marks the third anniversary of Malbec World Day. This year, Malbec will also be represented as a cultural and artistic expression using street art as the medium. In over 30 countries around the world, tastings, dinners and parties will be thrown to celebrate the grape. Known by other names in its native France — both Cot and Auxerrois, it is believed to have originated in either Cahors or northern Burgundy.

Why today? On this day in 1853, Argentine president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento proposed diversifying and expanding the country’s wine industry, including a school of agriculture. Malbec and other varieties were brought to the country on behalf of this effort, and it was not long after this time that Malbec’s storied history in Mendoza would really begin. Ten years later, as Phylloxera was wiping out most of the Malbec vines in France, the variety was thriving in the rugged, hot and high-altitude terrain of Argentina, with perhaps even better results than its homeland. The intense sunshine allowed the grapes to ripen fully, and the sandy soils were inhospitable to Phylloxera. And while the school of agriculture didn’t last, Argentine Malbec would begin to make headlines in the wine world. In the 1950’s, a major frost in France also destroyed large quantities of French vines, including 75% of the Malbec in Bordeaux and surrounding regions. While it has since recovered and is still popular in Cahors and other regions around the globe, it has been the most celebrated red variety in Argentina ever since. It is known for highly tannic, plummy and deep-colored wines on its own, or used in blends where it is employed to add depth and color.

Rating at an average 90 points from Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator and priced at about $20, this is a fine example of Mendoza’s pride that won’t break the bank. 12 months in French barrels round out a very likeable Malbec, with jammy black fruit, white pepper, subtle oak and hints of wildflowers. Fully-ripened vines also means these wines have more alcohol. This one reaches 14.5% abv and has a nice full body. You can feel the heat but it is not overwhelming. The tannins are astringent and the acidity bright, but all very well-integrated. It is amazingly smooth and dynamic at once.

If only I had a steak.  Happy Malbec day!