Thursday, May 28, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Springtime with some Italian Frascati

Spring is finally here in northeast Ohio and if I may say, it took its own sweet time getting here. I know, I know, I shouldn't be surprised, but every year that one last frost warning has me running around the garden throwing towels and sheets on all the new plants and, well, expressing my thoughts about the weather in, um, some colorful words. And that's all I'm going to admit to say about that. 

My friends at Banfi wines, being the optimistic folks (and not Ohio residents)  that they are, had sent me a trio of wines to sip for spring. And although when I sipped the first one of these wines, it wasn't what you'd call "spring" outside, I sipped anyway. I'm no quitter. 

The first wine I chose to try was Fontana Candida's Terre dei Grifi Frascati DOC (2013, 13%, Lazio, Italy). It's a blend of 50% Malvasia Bianca di Candia, 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco, 10% Malvasia del Lazio (as an aside here, wine from the Frascati DOC of Italy has to have at least 70% Malvasia Bianca di Candia and/or Trebbiano Toscano). 

The word Frascati took me right back to the Winey Family's amazing trip to Italy last summer, where I first tasted Frascati at dinner with some of our dearest college friends.  Winey Tasting Notes: When In Rome....Drink Frascati

That night, the Frascati was a sparkler, but this one is a still wine. It started off with a nose of pear and kiwi and followed with a taste of apple, pear and some faint nutmeg and cinnamon. I was rather surprised by this, given that it's stainless steel fermented, but the winemakers say it "rests on its lees for 4 months". Lees are the dead yeast cells and other stuff that are left over after a wine ferments. They can be removed after fermentation, or left in to give a wine richness and more flavor. So it makes sense that this Frascati has a bit deeper in the pear and apple flavors. 

This was not a bad thing, by the way. I loved the fruit flavors with the touch of creaminess to them. Unlike an Italian Pinot Grigio, this wine feels softer in the mouth, but unlike a big oakey Chardonnay, the oak and tastiness doesn't take over. It hits nicely in the middle of these. 

Buy this wine if you don't like a big oakey white, but are looking for a bit more smoothness than a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. It would go great with chicken and fish dishes or salads and grilled veggies. It retails for around $13, so it's a totally affordable spring buy. 


I was given this wine as a sample. The opinions about it are all my own.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Portugal's Twin Vines Vinho Verde

Twin Vines Vinho Verde wine bottleI have not had a lot of wine from Portugal. In fact, I think I've only reviewed two Portuguese wines here and one of them was a Port. (The other was a red blend.) And I know that Portugal has a thriving wine industry, but I just don't run across their wines all that often. So when I saw a bottle of JM Fonseca's Twin Vines (2012, 10%, Vinho Verde, Portugal) and realized it was from Portugal, I decided to give it a sip.

This particular Twin Vines is a Vinho Verde. Vinho Verde isn't a varietal of wine, it's a blend and also a DOC region, which is simply a wine/area that is controlled by a wine commission. It's located in northwest Portugal. To explain Vinho Verde, I'm going to quote from the Twin Vines website, because they do it so well: "Vinho Verde is made from one or a combination of twenty five different white grapes. The best and most popular varieties are Alvarinho, Trajadura, Louriro and Pederña....The name Vinho Verde, or "green wine," refers to the youthful style of this refreshing white wine, not the color! Coincidentally, this "green wine" hails from the Minho region, among the greenest and most lush landscapes in all of Portugal. See, I told you they did it well..better than I could have.

I did notice that this wine had an ABV of 10%, which puts it on the sweeter side of the vine. I don't dislike sweet wines, but I am not always in the mood for them. But I really wanted to try a wine from Portugal, so I went ahead and bought it.

The first thing you'll notice about this wine is that it has almost no color at all. But it does have bubbles. Lots of teeny tiny bubbles.

The second thing you'll notice about Twin Vines is the bouquet of honeysuckle, lime and citrus. Oh did it smell good! The taste did not disappoint either, as sometimes happens with a very fragrant wine. I tasted lots of tart citrus and lemongrass all mixed in with a line of sharp minerals. The bubbles added nicely to the wine, making it lively and tart in my mouth.

This was so much more crisp and tart than I had expected! I wrote down that this was the perfect "light, zesty summer wine." And since it's priced at below $10 a bottle (I paid $8!), I'm going to suggest you have a party just so you can buy a lot of it. It would be perfect for a patio supper! And it would please those who like a sweeter wine and those who like a crisp, citrusy wine. That's not an easy pair of pleasings to carry off, either. And you also have the bubble effect, which is just plain fun.

Buy this wine if you like a light, lively, not too sweet, not too dry white wine.

You do need to serve this very cold. My wine refrigerator only goes to a certain temp, and I found that a few minutes in the freezer really did justice to this wine.

Cheers!! Pin It

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: The Empty Nest Series and Mother's Day with Chloe

maltese dog
Our Chloe
I have been writing an Empty Nest series of reviews for the past 8 months. The reason for this is that my Winey Household became an empty nest once our youngest left for college. All the wines in this series are dog themed. The reason for this is because the Winey Dogs are the ones who stayed with us and didn't leave the nest. So my empty nest still includes the doggies, and I thought the series should honor those little sweeties.

Today I am going to review the last wine in the Chloe collection of wines. And it is fitting that I do it today, right before Mother's Day. First off, any of these wines would be a great Mother's Day gift. The folks at Chloe are suggesting the Chloe Pinot Grigio for the day (and they sent me a bottle of it to underscore that idea - smart people). I love the Pinot Grigio!  Let me quote from myself:

"This wine is crisp and lively. Flavors of peach and lemons lead to a touch of honeysuckle. The tangerine shows up again in the finish. Overall, this is a flavorful Pinot Grigio, as opposed to a tart Pinot Grigio. None of the flavors overwhelm the others, so you have a nice blend of sweet and citrus fruit and some flowers. You'll like Chloe Pinot Grigio if you like a white wine that refreshes, but isn't overly tart."

I have also sampled Chloe Chardonnay and found it equally as yummy:

Chloe Red Blend No. 249"A classic Chardonnay: pear and vanilla and cinnamon with a touch of mellow oak to finish it all off. The finish was smooth and lingering and it felt creamy and full in my mouth. Another winner for Chloe. A little refresher course here: according to the Chloe Collection website, the word "chloe" is an ancient word that means "blooming". That's just what this wine did - it started off with the pear flavor and then bloomed into the vanilla and cinnamon spices and opened up fully at the end, adding in the oakiness. Another great one from the Chloe folks. And at $12.99, it's very affordable. Buy this if you like your Chardonnay lightly oaked and full of flavor as opposed to big and oakey and buttery."

The last wine in this collection is Chloe Red No. 249 (2012, 13.5%, North Coast of CA). The wine is a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, and Petit Verdot. Chloe Red starts off with a nose of cedar and a tinge of wood smoke. The taste is full of mocha java coffee, black plum and a hint of oregano. I would call it sort of fruit forward...not so much that it turns into a syrupy blend, but enough so that the kick of oak doesn't hurt you - it just feels full and bold in the mouth. Oh, the number 249? That refers to the 249 wine lots that the winemaker tasted before making Chloe Red. Is that dedication or what?

So why is it so appropriate that I am doing the last bottle in the Chloe collection for Mother's Day 2015? 

dog and wine bottles
Chloe was always willing to help me as
I worked on The Winey Mom blog!
A little history: Chloe is the name of the older of our two doggies. And just two weeks ago, after a long illness (I talked about it in the Chardonnay review), our sweet baby Chloe crossed the Rainbow Bridge and left us. She had been failing for so long and had reached that point where her pain was unbearable - for her and us and her little doggie sister, Rory. It broke our hears to say good bye to Chloe, who had been part of our lives for nearly 12 years. It was our honor to have her as part of our family and it is now our pleasure to have her as part of our happy Winey Family memories. I'm not sure when the ache will go away or when I'll smile over little memories of her instead of tearing up, but I'm so glad that we had the privilege of loving her. I was so happy to be her Mommy. She was my faithful little buddy for many, many years. She loved to cuddle with me and kiss me and basically, she treated me like I was perfect. What else could a Mom (doggie or otherwise) ask for?

I know I'll be buying wines from the Chloe collection for a long time. Great wines to toast a wonderful doggie with.

Cheers to the four-footed members of all our Winey Families. And Happy Mother's Day to Winey Moms everywhere, whether your kids are human or doggie (or other cuddle friendly species)!

I was sent a bottle of Chloe Pinot Grigio for review purposes. The opinions and the love of my doggies are all my own. 

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