Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wine of the Week: Banfi Centine 2012-$10

Dwight The Wine Doctor

Rome, Italy--Turkey Day is here! Across the United States, families are gathering around the Holiday Table for a stomach-filling meal with turkey and all the fixin's. One of the most problematic meals to match a wine with, because of its kaleidoscopic blend of savory and sweet dishes,  Banfi has scored a home run with its 2012 Centine Rose ($10) from its flagship castle estate in Tuscany. This is a truly top-quality wine, delivered at a bargain-basement price. A blend of local treasure Sangiovese grapes, combined with the International varietals Merlot and Cabernet, so familiar to American wine lovers, Banfi achieves a bright, easy-drinking wine with a vibrant, eye-catching  color that literally dances with flavor. Along with that intense pink color comes some equally intense and delicious fruit.  Clean and fresh with hints of maraschino cherries, its flavor unfolds the more you drink it. It's kind of like the effect of stargazing  where, the longer you look into the nighttime sky, the more stars and constellations you see. For example, a second sip of Banfi Centine reveals mouthwatering wild strawberries and ripe raspberries. Then later, you detect a touch of kumquat or orange zest on the finish. This is a Rose' that defies your previous perceptions of what a rose' should be. This is definitely not your Aunt Susie's rose' or any of those dreadful "eye of the swan" permutations that were foisted upon an unwitting public a few decades ago. Rather than delivering a cloying sweetness, as you might expect from the color, the wine is full bodied and dry with an aroma of crushed red flowers, derived from the Cabernet and an intensity of flavor and even structure, provided by the Merlot. It also has a rich, earthy character, derived from that Tuscan king of grapes, Sangiovese. I guarantee that people who say they don't like Rose' wine will love this one. It's the perfect blend of indiginous grapes and international varieties that speaks to the best of both Italy and America. It goes perfectly with the Holiday Turkey and, what's even better,  at a great price!


Thursday, November 21, 2013


Dwight The Wine Doctor with Dennis Cakebread-VP Marketing, Cakebread Cellars at Greystone

Vineyards in the Carneros with grapes ripe for the harvest

NAPA VALLEY--Carneros District grapes are among the most coveted among winemakers in the Napa Valley. It's unique location makes it the ideal place to grow quality grapes that are lush in flavor with the perfect balance of sugar and tannins.  Walking through the vineyards of ripened grapes which are ready for harvest, the aroma is heady and almost overwhelming.

Coveted because of its unique location at the southern tip of the Napa Valley, Carneros District lies at the mouth of San Pablo Bay, which gives it cool, foggy nights and mornings, and tremendous sun exposure and warmth during the day, which makes for a long growing season. Grapes from the area make some of the most complex, flavorful wines imaginable. That is precisely where the winemakers at Cakebread Cellars source grapes for their outstanding Carneros Pinot Noir 2011 ($50), which is our Wine of the Week. Jack Cakebread founded the winery in 1973, it was with the idea of producing limited production, handcrafted wine that would reflect the land from which it came. He has achieved that and more with his newly released Pinot Noir.

A Harvest Moon rises over the Napa Valley

Grapes are harvested in the cool cover of night to preserve their rich flavor. Fragrant, with aromas of black cherries, strawberries and dark red plums, and a hint of pomegranate, the wine has a backnote of rosehips, sandalwood, vanilla and baking spices that speaks to its careful, long aging in small French oak barrels. It's fragrant nose speaks of the Holidays and reminds one of the potpourri often used in table centerpieces with a redolence that fills the room. Full in the mouth, its the perfect partner for the Holiday Turkey, Roast Duck or Pheasant and Sage-infused stuffing. At a price well below that of comparable Pinot Noirs from the regions, this is a real bargain that delivers "Grand Cru" flavor at a very reasonable price.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dry Creek Foggy Oaks Chardonnay $20


Estate Grown Russian River Valley Chardonnay lets grape flavor shine through

Sonoma County, CA--It's hard to believe that time is here to order the Thanksgiving Turkey and start buying the wine that will grace the Holiday table. The harvest is in in Sonoma County and the new vintages are being released just in time for Holiday enjoyment. Russian River Valley is famous for its warm sunny days and cool, foggy nights and mornings which yield perfect grapes at harvest that produce lush, flavorful wines. Dry Creek 2010 Foggy Oaks Chardonnay is made from 10% estate grown grapes from the winery's famed DCV10 vineyard in the Russian River Valley. The wine is a dream come true for lovers of the Chardonnay grape who have tired over the over-oaked taste that has marked many of the best-known California Chards of the past. Foggy Oaks brings forth the true bright apple and Bosc pear flavor of this new styled Chardonnay without masking it in an avalanche of oak and buttery flavors. The wine is 100% barrel fermented under cool conditions to preserve its delightful fruit flavor, then aged 10 months in French and Hungarian oak. Only 45% of new oak is used so that the toast doesn't overpower the lush fruit flavors of the wine. Get ready to dig into a symphony of fresh fruit flavors, from ripe Golden Delicious apples to Meyer Lemon peel and hints of guava and Lychee with just a hint of apricot and vanilla that moves in perfect harmony with a seamless acidity that makes it the perfect accompaniment to the Holiday Turkey and sage and roasted chestnut dressing. This is a beautiful wine with structure, balance and elegance. The best part is that it costs only $20, leaving plenty in the budget to splurge on a fancy dessert for the evening's finale.  At that price, you can afford to order a case. Go online at to learn more.
 Dwight The Wine Doctor at the Russian River Valley harvest