Trevini Primo Merlot-Primitivo

August 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Price: $12.99 ($15.04 Taxes and Deposit Included)Trevini Primo

Score: 6.7

Overall this is a very simple wine to enjoy. It is fruit forward, soft and supple and if you are looking for something easy to go with a simple comfort food meal this is a good choice.

Having said that I personally want a little complexity for my $15. I love a good Merlot and a good Primitivo, and together there is a ton of potential. Outside of the fruit and texture it didn’t do much. Certainly it is better than a number of $15 competitors but is not my first comfort food/pasta choice in this category.

Purchased From: BC Liquor Stores (I suspect this is an exclusive to BC Liquor Stores)

Section: Italy

Foods: Pasta, Burgers, Mac N Cheese

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Rosso del Gello 2009 Montecucco

January 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 8.9  – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0718.png
Price: $15.99

If you are a regular reader you will know that great values are often found in the shadows of ‘celebrity’ regions. This wine is no exception. The Montecucco DOC of the Maremma appellation in South of Tuscany. It is central Tuscany (Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino) that gets most of the attention, however for those in the know, and watch vintages carefully, Montecucco is a place where you can find some amazing values. By the way this wine also certified organic.

Tasting Notes Sipping: You will immediately notice the colour of this wine; it is dark, dark ruby red which gives you a clue to the depth of this wine. The nose shows dark ripe cherry and berry, with some dried herbs and lavender highlights. The palate is deep and complex. Layers of flavours including the above and hints of earthy leather, unfold across the mid-palate right through the dark fruit and slightly hot finish. There is definitely a little grip or tannin on this wine, but the tannins are in check, but do ask for food.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this wine Roasted Rosemary Chicken, which, like it sounds is a whole roasted chicken stuffed with rosemary, lemons, carrots and onions. One of my favourite dishes and really easy to do. The wine was a perfect match for this dish, right from the aromas through the flavours. The weight of wine kept the palate fresh and alive, while the rosemary and citrus made the fruit flavours pop. The slightly hot finish vanished and was replaced with a long, complex finish that included dark berry, herbs and spices and just a hint of purple flowers like lavender and violets.

Value: If you are a fan of Chianti Classico or Sangiovese based wines in general, this is a keeper. I have chosen this over straight up Chianti at $16/$17 many times. I have even put down some Chianti Classico at $20 for this wine as it is in limited supply and really, really enjoyable. The depth and character of this wine is a good starting point for anyone looking to dip their toe into the pool of European wines. It’s just a small step from $13-$17 California or Aussie wines into this wine and the enjoyment is truly there.

Added Value: This wine really shines when the Foodies come over and it is a great option for Sunday dinner kinds of Comfort Foods like Roasted Chicken, Roast Beef, or Roast Pork.

More To The Story: 2009 through central and northern Italy, like that in the Rhone Valley and Bordeaux in France was one of the best vintages on record. The result is that there was a ton of top quality wine on the market meaning that many wineries in relatively unknown regions were having a tough time selling their stocks. The Rosso Del Gello is a one time buy here in BC. Once it is gone there is no more, and certainly not at this price. The winery was staring the bumper 2010 vintage in the face and needed to move through the last of the 2009. Fortunately the enterprising importer was Johnny on the Spot and grabbed whatever he could. In fact the 2009 sold out in the UK at £11-£13.

Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for a good 30 minutes. Alternatively run it through your Vinturi Essential Wine Aerator
a few times and enjoy.

Grapes: Sangiovese Grosso Store Section: Italy Appellation: Maremma

Available: Everything Wine Buy Online: Everything Wine

Alcohol: 14%

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Piccini Chianti

January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.5  – Good Drop2015/01/img_0717.jpg

Price: $14.99-$17.45

Proof that pricing is not always a great indicator of value. Fluctuations in currency values can have a huge impact on the price of a wine. Take this wine for instance. Note the variation in price. Over the last number of months the price of this wine has climbed due to the increasing value of the Euro against the Canadian Dollar. I really like this wine as it is a step back in history to a time when wine was made to go with food, be refreshing and, in Italy, was consumed more often than water. For those looking for a wine experience this wine Over Delivers. For those looking for big, powerful, fruit driven wine, look elsewhere.

I have found this wine at $14.99 and for that price, under the scenario noted above, this wine Over Delivers… at $16.99 it’s a Good Drop.

Tasting Notes Sipping: The nose shows bright red cherry, some red berries and dried herbs (classic old school Chianti), while the palate has a light-medium body, is fresh and bright flavours of sour cherries and purple flowers. The finish is relatively short and shows some grip.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had the good fortune of having this with the Margherita Pizza from Pizza Prima Strada and it was tremendous! The fruit flavours came to the front and the freshness of the wine brought the heavenly flavours of the fresh basil and subtle creaminess of the Buffala Mozzarella. With simple foods this wine over delivers.

Value: This wine has great value and is worth the money as long as you are looking for a wine experience that takes you back in time. Setting out a red & white checkered tablecloth, have some mandolin music playing in the background and share a simple pasta or pizza and you have it nailed. If you are having the group over for a get together, stick with your usual Crowd Pleaser choice.

Added Value: As I said above this wine shows added value for Date Night, Comfort Foods or for the Foodies.

More To The Story: What do you think of the package? Classic hey? Did you know that for many years most wine was packaged like this. The basket allowed the rounded bottom bottle to stand on the table making it easier to serve. That all changed when along came a glass blower who figured out that if you push in the bottom you can have a bottle that will stand on its own.

Service: Pull the cork and let this wine breathe for about 30 minutes or run it through your Vinturi. You will notice how much more expressive the aromas are and the tannin, or grip, won’t be as pronounced on the palate.

Grapes: Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Chianti DOCG

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Tuscany Village

Buy Online: Everything Wine, Legacy Liquor Store, Metro Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 12.5%

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Monte Nobile 2013 Nero D’Avola

January 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 7.4 – Good Drop2015/01/img_0715.jpg

Price: $14.99

I rated this at the top end of Good Drop because it was a toss up whether it hit the Over Delivers category or not. Finally I came to the conclusion that at $13.99 this would be in the Over Deliver category for sure; at $14.99 it’s a pretty damn Good Drop.

Tasting Notes Sipping: This is blackberry pie on the nose and in the mouth. The aromas betray the wines origins. Blackberry, blueberry and savoury spices on the nose, while the palate shows some good weight, and a little grip. Flavours of blackberry, raspberry, savoury spices and custard/pastry (hence the Blackberry pie reference). The finish is short to medium and is a showcase for the fruit and the tannin.

Tasting Notes with Food: I had this with baked chicken leg and thigh that was seasoned with a touch of salt, pepper and thyme. On the side was rice with butter and parmesan, spinach salad with bacon, blue cheese, cranberry, olive oil & balsamic vinegar (seems like a long list, but really simple; made in a total of 40 minutes). If you love big fruit flavours coating your mouth, making it water, this wine is for you. I really enjoyed how the food made the fruit flavours pop, and the tannins worked to smooth out the texture of both the wine and the food.

Value: I have said for a long time that Nero D’Avola, like Negromaro & Primitivo, are Europe’s answer to California Zinfandel and Argentinean Malbec. If you get value from discovering new things then this wine offers great value to you. I would also content that it is worth spending a buck or two more for this wine than entry-level California Zinfandel, or if I were having a steak, from $12 Argentinean Malbec. As for saving, I would choose this over Dancing Bull Zinfandel or Apothic Red any day of the week, and pocket the $2 for something great like a good pretzel or shot of espresso.

Added Value: The wine really shines with BBQ. Whether it BBQ brisket or pulled pork, grilled steak or chicken this is a winner. I would also serve this to the Foodies when they come over, as they are always looking for a new experience and to save a few bucks.

More To The Story: Nero D’Avola has ancient roots. The Romans used to demand the wine of the black grape from the port of D’Avola on Sicily. Previous to the Romans, the Greeks held the island. The story goes that the reason the Greeks fought so hard to keep control of Sicily, was because of the quality of the wines.

Service: Twist the cap off and let breathe for 15-20 minutes or run it through your Vinturi.

Grapes: Nero D’Avola

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Sicily

Available: Everything Wine, BC Liquor Stores,

Buy Online: Everything Wine

Alcohol: 14%

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Ca’ Montebello Barbera

January 16, 2015 § 2 Comments

Score: 7.9  – Over Delivers2015/01/img_0686.jpg

Price: $13.99-$15.99

About the Wine: To me this wine is a Best Buy, if only because of the story of how this wine got to BC, however I believe that the story shouldn’t influence the scoring, so it is a solid Over Delivers. See below at More to the Story.

Dark/Blood red cherry in the glass with wonderfully engaging ripe plum and cherry aromas that are highlighted with floral tones of violets.

Barbera is a very low tannin wine. The key to a quality Barbera is the acidity. This wine shows bright acidity on the palate which enhances the fruit flavours. Medium weight with layers of savoury spices and purple flowers.

The finish is fresh and clean with a big juicy, slightly herbal but happy ending.

Value: Those who like red wine, but not the grippy texture of wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, this is the wine for you. If you are looking for something different from your usual Shiraz or Zinfandel, give this a whirl as I think you will really enjoy it. As a softer, discovery wine I would easily choose this over Ravenswood Zinfandel or wines like Apothic Red, Dreaming Tree Crush or Cupcake Red Velvet.

Added Value: This wine really shines on the BBQ and with the Foodies. It’s juicy supple character means it is great with grilled chicken, pork or burgers off the BBQ. The foodies will love the nuance and finesse, especially when you wow them with a fish dish like Halibut.

More To The Story: A few years back I was invited to a tasting of Lombardian wines in Vancouver. Each supplier was hoping to find an importer. The Ca’ Montebello wines grabbed my attention because of the packaging. Classic and eye-catching. I tasted through the wines (word to the wise, their Pinot Nero Bianco is outstanding $15-$16) and was duly impressed. I thought if I could get these wines into the stores under $20 it would be a big win.

Luigi Lorani, the owner and winemaker, was standing behind the table so I asked him about pricing. Turns out he doesn’t speak any English and my Italian is sketchy at best (I’m your man if you want an espresso, but that’s about it). A good friend of mine is an importer and speaks Italian so I got him on the phone to see if we could work out a price in exchange for a volume buy. Within seconds Luigi’s voice was raised, ears bright red and arms thrashing through the air. Heads were turning in the room to see what the commotion was about as I tried to slip back from the table to no avail. After about 10 minutes Luigi handed me the phone back, I spoke to my friend and his only words were “deal is done, should be here in June.”

As it turns out Luigi’s wines had been in BC before and were priced in the high $20’s, so when I said before that this would be a Best Buy if you knew the whole story, this is what I meant. This wine sold at $28 and at that price I would give it a Dead Average rating, dropping it down $10 leads to a Best Buy rating. However knowing the price drop influence ones rating although it, perhaps, shouldn’t.The rating should reflect the wines ability to deliver enjoyment and quality as it increases in price, hence in an effort to compensate for this fallibility, I have given it an Over Delivers rating.

Service: Serve at room temperature, however you will want to run this through your Vinturi or leave to breathe for about 30 minutes. See above for food pairing recommendations.

Grapes: Barbera

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Oltrepo Pavese (Lombardy)

Available: Metro Liquor Tuscany Village, Cascadia Liquor Stores

Buy Online: Metro Liquor Online

Alcohol: 13.0%

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Giancondi Sangiovese Merlot 1.5L

January 11, 2015 § 1 Comment

Score: 9.2 – Best Buy2015/01/img_0681.jpg

Price: $12.79  ($6.40 750ml equivalent)

About the Wine: Bright ruby-red in the glass with aromas of sour cherry, plum and dried herbs. The palate is of mid-weight, round and shows juicy plum, cherry and savoury herb flavours. The finish is short to medium in length with ripe tannin and spicy fruits. Granted this is not a juice bomb and it shows remarkable finesse and complexity for a wine at this price. If you are looking for a juice bomb then this is not your wine, if, on the other hand you are looking for the best value for your red wine dollar, this could be it.

Value: This is not the best wine in the world, just one of the best values on the market. This wine really shines with Comfort Foods like BBQ burgers, pizza, pasta with tomato and meat sauce, or a hearty grilled cheese sandwich.

More To The Story: Giacondi was a wine that I snickered at as a buyer and wine whanker. It has been around for as long as I can remember and it has always been at the low-end of the price scale, which of course means that it can’t be good right? Not! Over the last year my income has dropped significantly and I could no longer afford the $15-$30 wines I was used to buying, but dinner without a glass of wine is silly. Food just tastes better with wine.

So my choice was to find a lower end wine that I could get behind. I tried a number and happily landed on Giacondi Sangiovese Merlot. The moral of the story is that there are great wines for every budget, I just had to get past my mental limitations to let real wine shine through.

Service: Twist off the cap and let it breathe for 10 minutes or so so. I know, I know, let a $8 wine breathe?! Yes this wine is remarkably complex and has good structure, letting it breathe will open it up and let the fruit aromas and flavours fully express themselves. Have this will simple everyday Comfort Foods. Casseroles, leftovers, pizza, burgers, pasta, grilled cheese, that sort of thing.

Grapes: Sangiovese, Merlot

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: Rubicone

Available: BC Liquor Stores, Legacy Liquor Store, Beverly Corner Liquor Store, Everything Wine

Buy Online: Legacy Liquor Store, Everything Wine

Alcohol: 12.5 %

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Ogio 2013 Primitivo

January 8, 2015 § Leave a comment

Score: 6.9 – Good Drop2015/01/img_06681.jpg
Price: $12.99

About the Wine: Think of a blackberry, plum pie. Rich in ripe and baked fruits, with very subtle undertones of spice and white pepper grab the nose and palate. The texture is lush and lacking in fresh acidity which means it won’t last that long after opening (24-36 hours) and is not designed for ageing. The finish is juicy and gives you a parting kiss of sweetness in hopes that you will be back. Overall a good, hedonistic drop that provides decent value for the price.

Value: This wine is a direct competitor for the likes of Yellow Tail and Apothic. Priced the same as Yellow Tail and thus, for my money I would buy Ogio Primitivo every time. As for Apothic, I think the $4 spread between the two makes the Ogio a better buy, however I’m not so sure if the price gap were to be reduced to $1 or $2, which, given the shifting value of the Canadian dollar against the Euro and the US, is possible.

Added Value: The wine has added value for those that are wanting a sipping wine and aren’t to interested in food to go with it. That means it works well when serving the crowd. If food is to be involved then make it BBQ and then you definitely have a winner.

More To The Story: Primitivo is native to the Puglian peninsula of southern Italy; the heel of the Italian boot. ‘Primi’ in latin means early and Primitivo is an early ripening grape, but its background is the story of Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Italy and the Balkans were a plethora of principalities. Political alliances were often consummated by marrying of a princess to a prince and that is exactly how Primitivo took root in southern Italy.

To form an alliance with a Puglian King based in Lecce, the Croatian King was prepared to marry off his daughter to the Puglian King’s son. The dowry included some livestock, gold, silver and grapevines which were often used as currency. In Croatia the vines are called Crljenak (Krel-yen-ak) Kastelan-ski. The name was ‘latinized’ to Primitivo and because they were ‘royal’ vines, enterprising vignerons started planting them throughout Puglia.

DNA testing has suggested that Primitivo is the European cousin to California’s Zinfandel and there are many flavour and aroma similarities.

Service: Twist the cap off and let if flow. There is no need to let this wine breathe. As for food a big juicy BBQ steak or burgers is the way to go.

Grapes: Primitivo

Store Section: Italy

Appellation: There isn’t an appellation on the label but I do know that the winery is from the Puglia region of Italy, the home of Primitivo.

Available: BC Liquor Stores

Alcohol: 14.0%

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