All my wine blogs, All wine reviews, Italy, Red wine, Sangiovese, Tuscany

Montellassi IL CANNETO 2011

Winemaker/Director of Eonology: Marco Stefanini  Mantellassi Il Canneto
Variety: 100% Sangiovese
Region: Tuscany, Italy

One of those lucky finds, when for $8 you get a perfect Sangiovese to accompany your tortellini dinner.

IL CANNETO is made from a blend of various clones of Sangiovese, cultivated on the hills of Maremma. The hot and dry climate in the province of Grosseto, with a very low rainfall, results in limited yield. Therefore the Sangiovese here has the premium concentration of flavors and color.

The wine aged for 6 months in stainless steel tanks to preserve the freshness of the fruit.

The Montellassi winery makes a number of wines, red, white and rose – and I am looking forward to grab some other bottles of their portfolio the next time.

moje logo small3Tasting notes:

Bright, ruby color and fresh aroma of dark cherries. On the palate, this is medium body red with lively fruit, bright flavors. I like the fact that the wine has enough weight on its own to accommodate even heavier meals, although it’s not supported with oak.  An excellent value!!! I will definitely go back for more!

All my wine blogs, All wine reviews, La Mancha, Red wine, Spain, Tempranillo

Pallas 2011 – a very cheerful wine

Winemaker: Rafael CoñizaresPallas Comp
Grape: 100% Tempranillo
Region: La Mancha, Spain

See other wines from this winemaker:

I was excited to find this new Jorge Ordoñez/Rafael Coñizares join venture (Venta Morales project), a new wine from La Mancha, called PALLAS.

When I saw its label, it brought back some memories. The memories of my visit to Span, region of La Mancha, and my first meeting with the winemaker Rafael Coñizares. He seemed to be very shy, soft spoken man, who didn’t like to talk about his wines much. Or, could it be that I didn’t speak Spanish and he didn’t hold a conversation in English? Either way, we both preferred to drink those wines rather than talking about them.

Rafael Coñizares
Rafael Coñizares

The label of this new, 100% Tempranillo wine, is full of stones. Just like the large river stones, an underlayment of unique La Mancha sandy soils, with lots of iron, clay and chalk. La Mancha, the largest wine region in the world, with around 474,000 acres of higher altitude land devoted to vine growing, is “nurturing” its vines with rough winds, cold winters and hot summer days, turning into cold nights.

Combine that with almost no rainfall, and Rafael’s devotion to keep vine’s yields very low – and you have the recipe for concentrated, deep colors and superb flavors in wine.

moje logo small3Tasting notes:

Although this wine was stainless steel fermented, and didn’t age in oak, it offers surprisingly dark, ruby, almost purple color. Lovely aroma of dark berries and perhaps a little dust of cocoa.

On the palate it was fresh, full of yummy fruit flavors, reminder of dark cherries, sweet and acidic blackcurrant from my mom’s garden, with a little spice of black pepper. When you got to drink a greatly made wine , without oak, it actually shows you the bare, clean, unmasked wine flavors in its best glory. I loved what my husband said about Pallas, when he took his first sip: this wine is cheerful!  Yes, it’s rich fruity flavors with silky tannins made our dinner cheerful event.La Mancha

Incredible value wine for hard to believe $8.00.  I left my second bottle opened till next day, and almost liked the wine better than when I first opened it. Which is sometimes the case with some really expensive, big reds, when the wine is not “opened” enough yet. But it hardly happens with wine in this price range. Kudos to Jorge and Rafael for this one!!!

By the way, if you follow my blog for a while, you know that I am crazy about Spanish wines. Especially those that I can consider “house wine” based on their, more than reasonable, price. Jorge Ordoñez, my favorite Spanish wine importer, put his seal on many great, affordable wines from different parts of Spain. Its common denominator is the uncompromising quality, no matter what the price tag. You can imagine why I felt like a kid in the candy store, when I saw this shelf at Boca Raton’s Whole Foods. Wow, they have some wise wine manager there!


All wine reviews, Red wine, Ribera del Duero, Spain, Tempranillo

Barco de Piedra 2009

photo: Friederike Paetzold

Last year, during my Spanish wine classes, we had a very unique opportunity to taste several Tempranillo wines, from different regions of Spain, in the row. As you might know, Tempranillo is one of the best grapes to express its terroire. Although I enjoy classic Tempranillo from Rioja region, I am always excited to taste a difference, coming from variety of soils and elevations. One of my new favorite Tempranillo expressions from this wine tasting was quite special Barco de Piedra 2009 from Ribera del Duero.

Quite special? Here are just few reasons why it stands out:

* As there is a lot of effort these days to create “universally loved” big, bold reds, some of Tempranillo wines coming from Spain suffer from its winemaker’s tendency to fit in that category. How? By adding unnecessarily too much of oak which sometimes results in masking the true, unique style of Tempranillo based wines.

photo: Friederike Paetzold

The founders of Bodegas Barco de Piedra – business partners Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata, together with Borja Osborne, decided to go the exact opposite direction.Their goal was to let the grape variety, grown on the hillside of the Quiñón Estate, shine on its own. The partners and its winemaker, Alvaro Trigueros, were well aware of the fact that Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero shows enough tannins and power on its own – so why would you over perfume and over power it with an additional prolonged oak aging?

photo: Friederike Paetzold

The weather conditions (the cool nights and hot days) at their vineyard, located in the western area of Ribera del Duero, result in Tempranillo grapes (called here Tinto Fino) with thicker skin, translated into wines with much more intense and concentrated color and flavors, than anywhere else in Spain. No need to put heavy makeup on already beautiful girl!

* Ribera del Duero became a very sought after region lately, and it’s quickly becoming as popular as perhaps Rioja or Priorat. Unfortunately, with that fame usually comes unpopular side effect – higher prices of wines. Here, too, Bodegas Barco de Piedra goes the other way, against the flow. This superb, small production, single vineyard full of organically grown 25 years old vines, seriously over-delivers for its $15 price tag!

* All the effort, invested in the labor intensive vinification of this wine, usually results in much more expensive wine in the bottle. As the winery publishes, only the best bunches from three different sites are selected during the harvest. All clusters are then carefully  de-stemmed and crushed. The not yet fermented juice mixes with the skins for 2-3 days and after that, cold fermentation takes an additional 11 days. Extended post-fermentation maceration is carried out for another 8 days.

Fermentation and malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is finally ages for just 5 months (!) in 300-liter 85% French and 15% American oak barrels. All that work for about 5000 cases of wine. There are much more expensive wineries, calling themselves boutique, producing 20+ thousand cases per vintage. But Bodegas Barco de Piedra is truly boutique, organic and pretty much hand made wine!

* All the effort to pay attention to every little detail results in an incredible red wine, a true showcase of the superb Ribera del Duero wine region. Yes, their Tempranillo tastes completely different than the one from Rioja or perhaps from La Mancha. But that’s how it is supposed to be! That’s what I love about it. Despite the short time spent in the oak, Barco de Piedra charms with deep color, beautiful aromas of dark fruit and spices and enough concentrated flavors to satisfy even the “full flavors, big reds” lovers. I appreciate the notes of dark plums, spices and earthy flavors in this wine. The complexity and balance promises an aging potential for another few years.

Now tell me, where you can get all that for 15 bucks?

All wine reviews, Cabernet Sauvignon, California, Red wine, Sonoma

2006 Moon Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Produced: Moon Mountain
Grape: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot
Region: Sonoma County, California

From vineyards, located in the Mayacamas Mountains, on the western side of Mt. Veeder – this wine could be considered as one of the best values known.

Moon Mountain vineyards, spread high above the fog line, (at nearly 2,000 ft elevation) are overseeing Sonoma Valley. It would be fair to say that they have some of the most difficult wine growing conditions in California.  Vines are growing on the steep, south-facing slopes, in a very unique soil punctuated by volcanic rock outcroppings, consist of thin, well-drained soils derived from volcanic ash and lava.

The combination of soils and more than generous sunshine stresses the vines to produce small crops of superbly concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. Vines are farmed organically and get as much personal attention, as possible.

Grapes are harvested by hand, in early morning hours, before the heat kicks in to preserve the rich flavors. After crushing the whole berries it underwent a hot fermentation to better extract color and rich tannin from the skins.

The wine was aged for 18 months in small, medium toast American and French oak barrels deep in the winery’s caves. It’s constant temperature of 60°F and very high humidity enhance the concentration of fruit flavors.

Tasting notes:
One of my colleagues used to call wines like this PRETTY. That’s what came to my mind, when I first tasted Moon Mountain. Wine, that makes you smile.

A beautiful dark ruby color in the glass, and sweet aroma of ripe dark berries. In my mouth it was a superb, impressive but silky wine, full of concentrated rich flavors.

It reminded me of sweet black currant, my mom grew in our backyard. The rich fruit flavors were gently dusted with cocoa and light spices of the oak. I loved the sweet mouthfeel of this wine, with never ending, generous finish.

I would say this is a very unique Sonoma Cabernet that would impress a lot of wine lovers. Approachable right now, but it can also improve with 3-5 years in the bottle.

No, this wine is not a collectible, it wouldn’t last for 10-15 years (my guess), but it also doesn’t cost $80-$100 per bottle. You can get this superb Cabernet Sauvignon for around $15 or less. Isn’t that an incredible value!

I just recently learned that Moon Mountain winery operates under the new management. I only hope that they will take full advantage of that unique place high in the mountains, and keep producing the same high quality, amazing wine.

Dry – Off dry- Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: around $15.00

Suggested food pairing:
Not so Greek Musaka,Beef Brisket with roasted grapes, Flank steak with shitakee sauce, Pistachio crusted leg of lamb, Beef Bourguignon and many more