Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wine of the Week-Feudo Zirtari Rosso Sicilia IGT 2013-$12

A Red Hot Red From Sicily is perfect for summer Barbe


A Red Hot Red From Sicily is perfect for summer Barbeque

by Dwight Casimere

I know that summer is the time to think about refreshing Rose's, semi-dry sparkling wines and lighter-than-air Pinto Gris, but my preferred activity is heading to the grill with some spicy, marinated meats and a red hot red wine on the side. If youyre not familiar with the wines of Sicily, now is a good time to start. Feudo Zirtari Rosso is an I.G.T. blend of native Nero d'Avola and Syrah that delivers a wallop of luscious fresh red fruit flavor with a hint of delicate spice and a delicate aroma of fresh cut violets for starters---and all for just $12. Deep ruby red in color, the look alone gives you an idea of whats in store; lots of delicious fruit and a nice structure backboned by the limestone mineral-rich soil afforded by Sicily's volcanic mountains. Lamb or chicken marinated in Tagine spices, even a meaty white fish like grouper or Chilean Sea Bass, cooked over hot coals with a hint of wood,  makes for a perfect afternoon of al fresco dining. Add a mix of veggies sliced and drizzled with garlic-infused olive oil and a dash of coarse sea salt and you have the perfect lunch, Sicilian style. Start out of with an appetizer of grilled peel and eat shrimp or, for the adventurous, grilled rabbit smothered in fresh oregano, and you'll be eating just like the folks I met in Terreliade.
 The lush vineyards of Sicily with spring wildflowers and volcanic mountains as a backdrop
Ancient ruins left by the Moors dot the landscape and the vineyards

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Wine of the Week-Benziger Coelo Pinot Noir Terra Nuema-$75

2013 Benziger Coelo Pinot Noir-Terra Neuma-Sonoma Coast-$75

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

I normally don't recommend wines to my readers that are above the $35 price point, but Benziger Coelo Pinot Noir Terra Nuema is such an excellent example of how fine a wine can be made from this elusive and finicky grape, that I've made a rare exception. The aroma, first of all, is an enticing mix of crushed red flowers and hints of luscious, dripping ripe blackberries. The fruit flavors continue to caress the palate and blend with cranberry, pomegranate and black pepper, followed by hints of handfuls of black earth just after the rain. A sophisticated edge of English Breakfast tea and a whiff of newly oiled  leather completes the overwhelmingly satisfying flavor experience. This is a sterling example of the type of true-to-the-terroir wines that are being produced on the Sonoma Coast. With its rich, dark volcanic soil and climate of bright, sunny, hot afternoons, bookended by Pacific Ocean breezes and dampening fog, the Sonoma Coast is an ideal environment for growing this delicate grape variety. The region doesn't nearly get the glowing press that its cousins to the north in Washington State and Oregon get. Perhaps the arrival of this wholly balanced and appealing offering will turn some heads in Sonoma's direction. Perfect as a sipping wine for solace and contemplation or a magnificent companion with your favorite food indulgence (please, no burgers or pizza, splurge on the lobster, duck or fois gras, prime aged steak grilled on an open wood fire, or a simple homemade pasta dish drizzled in butter and shaved white truffles.
 Chris Benziger and his 2013 Coelo Pinot Noir-Terra Nuema
 Harvesting Sonoma County Pinot Noir
 The lush vineyards of Sonoma County-photos by Dwight Casimere

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WINE OF THE WEEK: LAMOLE DI LAMOLE CHIANTI CLASSICO 2012-$19

 NEW FROM TUSCANY JUST IN TIME FOR SPRING

by Dwight Casimere

Vistarenni, Greve in Chianti, Italy--There's a new Chianti Classico in town, and its a bright, intense, fruity wine with all of the floral aromatic sensations and sweetness associated with spring. Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Raccolto 2012 ($19)  starts with a deep ruby red color with hints of sparkling garnet jewel flecks along the rim followed by the fragrance of fresh cut violets, redolent of spring. This stunning  blend of Sangiovese, with a hint of Cabernet gives off the elegant perfume that is so characteristic of Chianti Classico. If you've never been to Tuscany, you can take a trip there just by opening a bottle. Swirl the wine in an appropriately large bowled wine glass with a narrowing rim to focus the aromas and you're in for a potpourri of sensations on the palate; baking spices, well integrated oak and tannic austerity reigned in by intense fruit. This is just the wine to serve with spring lamb, smothered in garlic and fresh rosemary or oregano and drizzled with olive oil and a dash of the wine and cooked quickly on a flaming grill to just the right temperature of semi-pink doneness. Serve with a side of grilled asparagus or gently sauteed kale or spinach with a hint of garlic and thinly sliced shallots or red onion for a heart-pounding flavor sensation. A cheese course of severely ripe Gorgonzola or fresh figs drizzled with balsamic and you have another food pairing idea altogether. Dare I mention that after dinner Cuban cigar that a good friend just brought back from their now-legal trip to Havana? I digress to the outer edge of hedonism!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

WINE OF THE WEEK: TORRESELLA PROSECCO NV FROM VENETO, ITALY-$16

TORRESELLA PROSECCO-THE FRANGRANCE OF SPRING IN A GLASS

by Dwight Casimere


VENICE, Italy--Welcome Spring with the taste of Torresella Prosecco, a bargain at only $16 a bottle. It immediately has the aroma of fresh spring flowers, followed by ripe flavors of pears and green apples.  Looking at it in the glass, it has a fine "perlage" of tiny bubbles that float up from the bottom like a string of pearls. That lets you know right off the bat that this is a finely made sparkling wine. The impact in the mouth is one of soft creaminess, with hints of honeyed fruit and a bit of almond extract to round things out. This is a perfect sparkling wine served as an aperitif or with light cheeses, seafood, salads or a lovely frittata. in other words, order a case for your next garden party to welcome the beautiful season and a viewing of your new tulips and cherry or magnolia blossoms in the garden! 







The aroma brings a fragrance of spring flowers, pear and apple, while on the palate, a fine string of bubbles is your first indication of the quality of this Prosecco. The flavor is soft, with a creamy fruitiness that hints of almond. This wine is great as an apéritif or with dry sweets and soft cheeses. Serve well chilled.

Monday, March 21, 2016

SPANISH WINE'S GRANDES PAGOS: CAN RAFOLS DEL CAUS IS THE CANVAS FOR THE WINEMAKING ART OF CARLOS ESTEVA





CAN RAFOLS WINERY OF CATALONIA, SPAIN A LEADER IN BIODYNAMIC WINE

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

 The stone entrance to the new Can Rafols winery, built entirely underground

The spectacular wines of Can Rafols

Can Rafols owner and winemaker Carlos Esteva

SPECTACULAR WINERY BUILT IN A HUGE CALCERIOUS ROCK USES GRAVITY, NATURE AND UNIQUE MICROCLIMATES TO MAKE DARING AND AWARD WINNING WINE

Story and photo gallery by Dwight Casimere

CATALONIA, Spain--Carlos Esteva is the owner and winemaker of one of the most  innovative wineries in this rich, fertile subzone of Garraf in the Penedes near Barcelona. Just a 45 minute drive from the heart of Barcelona lies one of the most amazing winery tour experiences which gives an intimate and personal view of the winemaking process using both old traditions and new technologies.

The winery uses both organic and biodynamic practices to the nth degree to produce its innovative wines, which are all hand-harvested, aged in both oak barrels and in the bottle for extended periods, and then aged in cavernous aging cellars that are carved out of the side of a calcereous rock mountain that is lined with art work.  It is a unique environment for winemaking and the resulting wines are equally distinctive and noteworthy.

Employing both international and local varieties, the wines display a character that bear the mark of both the winery's terroir, that unique combination of soil, climate and natural environment, but bear the unique signature of the winemaker. Esteva was perhaps the first winemaker in the area to begin training his vines using a trellis method. He was also among the first to use carefully developed clones, such as the Incrocio Manzoni, a cross-breed of Pinot Blanc and Riesling develooped by Professor Luigi Manzoni at the famed oenology institute at Conegliano in the Veneto region of Italy.Cabernet Ranc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc are developed form old vines from 15 to 70 years old as well as grapes native to Spain such as  Macabeo and Parellada.
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Dwight Casimere withe Carlos Esteva at the winery in Catalonia

Can Rafols winery Artist-In-Residence Kiko Ruiz of Abstraccio Biomorfica and (below) the murals that will dominate the walls of the underground winery and aging cellars


THE UNDERGROUND WINERY AT CAN RAFOLS

The winery is built completely underground in natural rock. It is an amazing feat of modern construction. The concept behind  the winery is a stroke of genius put into action. It combines old traditions with modern technologies, making use of natural gravity and the unique properties of the complex rock formations and soil compositions that line the walls of the fermentation rooms and aging cellars. The walls of the winery will be lined with artwork, created by Abstraccio Biomorfica Artist-In-Residence Kiko Ruiz, whose artwork graces the main house of the winery, along with ancient tiles, scuptures, friezes and artifacts.  Can rafols lifts Eco Tourism to new heights, combining the spectacular views of the topography of the winery with fine dining and tapas using locally grown organic produce and meats with expertly paired with their astronomical wines.

The futuristic entrance to Can Rafols underground winery and (below) the spectacular vista from the tasting rooms and vernada
 The spectacular modern art within the winery




 An ancient stove from the 1800s provided a logo for one of the wines
The romantic view of the vineyards from the tasting room
 The "James Bond" entrance to the underground winery and aging cellars with its mobile concrete door
 The fossilized rocks that line the walls of the underground winery
 The futuristic stone entrance to the winery and tasting rooms
 The vineyards are planted in calcarious soil embedded  with limestone


 Our hostess, Rosa Aguado, Directora General Can Rafols dels Caus


The original carved wood door to Can Rafols main house and tasting room circa 1864


THE WINES OF CAN RAFOLS

Xarel-lo white wine 2008- $18
Varel-lo Pairal- $18

                                                   
La Calma - $29-notice the fossilized sea shell in the limstone soil. The region was underwater in prehistoric times






Bull manure and bulls horns are used to fertilize and enrich the soil in the vineyards