Wine Picks – November 2012

Our wine column is a bit different this month. Instead of the 3 or 4 wines that we normally showcase, we wanted to include all 8 wines that we featured at our Italian Varietals Wine Dinner last week. At the dinner we presented Italian varietals grown in Washington and Oregon in a traditional Italian dinner format. These wines are not only well crafted and produced domestically, they are best enjoyed with food. Chef Bill deftly chose dishes that paired well with the wines; rich, fatty dishes were juxtaposed with more austere wines and visa versa. We’ve  included the food pairings along with the wine reviews to help spark your holiday meal planning ideas.   Rive Della Chiesa, Prosecco Extra Dry NV, Valdobbiadene, Italy $13 Delicate bubbles with a bit of peach on the nose and citrus on the palate. Perfect as an aperitif or for Bellinis. We paired it with a raw oyster with a cucumber mignonette and garnished with a fried julienned parsnip.   Anne Amie Vineyards, Cuvée A Amrita 2011, Oregon $13 This classic northern Italian blend made up of 10 different grapes including pinot blanc, pinot gris, vermentino and chardonnay amongst others has aromas of quince and rose petals, with white peach, pine and lime on the tongue. There is a dry minerality that paired beautifully with the richness of the olive oil marinated and grilled polpo, fennel, fresh figs and arugula salad.   The most exciting part of the dinner was the flight of sangioveses. We enjoyed the Cana’s Feast Sangiovese Grosso, 2007; it uses the same VCR-6 grape clone as the celebrated Brunello di Montalcino wine from Italy, produced by the revered wine maker Livio Sassetti (2004). We paired this flight with Pan Seared Venison Medallions, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Wilted Kale, Veal Jus, Pear & Celery Salad. These are big wines, so remember to pull the corks a good 2 hours before pouring, or gently aerate or decant.   Cana’s Feast Sangiovese Grosso 2007, Ciel du Cheval, Red Mountain, WA $45 The 2007 Sangiovese Grosso reveals concentrated aromas of black cherry and red fruit integrated with a sweet tobacco and barrel spice. There is a refreshingly bright acidity that fills the mid-palate. This wine is drinking well now, but can benefit from cellaring.   Livio Sasssetti, Brunello di Montalcino 2004, Tuscany, Italy $47 Dark garnet core with cinnamon, red berries, coffee, chocolate, earth, dried leaves and spices. Smooth and viscous, with good fruit concentration and plenty of structure. This wine is just entering its drinking window but will cellar as well.   Mannina Cellars, Cali Red Blend 2010, Walla Walla, WA $18 This blend of 54% cabernet sauvignon, 38% merlot and 8% sangiovese has a beautiful nose full of plum, fig and florals. It is lean with a balanced acidity and tannins. Chef Bill paired this austere red with the richness of braised oxtails and a white bean & butternut squash agnolotti.   Hard Row to Hoe, Primitivo 2010, Wahluke Slope, WA $30 Primitivo, cousin to Zinfandel, is jammed pack with raspberries, chocolate spice and black fruit, ending with herbaceous notes of cedar and thyme on the finish. This course was paired with roasted rack of lamb, goat cheese, roasted red pepper and grilled eggplant pacchetti and a sweetheart cherry and red wine demi. In order to be true to our second premise for our dinner, creating a traditional Italian dinner, we jumped the border to California to find a Moscato.   Vino Noceto’s, Fivolo Moscato Bianco, 2011, Shenandoah Valley, CA $19 This spritzy, refreshing low alcohol moscato is a perfect partner with spicy food or a traditional cheese course.   Cana’s Feast, Chinato d’Erbetti NV, Columbia Valley, WA $43 Chinato, the Italian liqueur, formally known as Barolo Chinato from the Piedmonte region, can be traced back to 19th century medicine. Today it is typically enjoyed as digestivo.  The fortified exotic elixir Cana’s Feast Chinato D’Erbetti, infused with 18 different herbs, spices and flowers, allowed our guests to sip and savor every last bit of their evening with a chocolate truffle. It couldn’t have been a finer selection to round out the evening. Consider using the Chinato as a base in a Negroni Cocktail or holiday punch – 1 part gin, 1 par chinato, 1 part aperol or compari, 1 part limonato, garnish with orange twist.  

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