Tag Archives: red wine

2001 Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romagna – Riserva

2001 Umberto Cesari Sangiovese di Romagna

Here’s the wine tasting for the Emilia-Romagna region. As mentioned previously, when you read and see Sangiovese, think Chianti (and vice versa), because they’re essentially the same thing. Terroir may play into it a tad, but the taste shouldn’t have that great of a variance.

Eyes:Although a quick swirl reveals that the wine holds the glass nicely, I’m curious about the translucence of the rim. The color reminds me of a burgandy red, rather than the inky violets I’ve seen in Chianti’s.

Nose: Dark, and peppery. The alcohol overwhelms any fruit smell that may or may not be present. I’m a bit hesitant about this wine.

Taste: Starts off nicely, but quickly becomes astringent upon the tongue. As I’ve tasted in other reds, the tannins here remind me of an oversteeped tea. Bleh. It finishes quickly, but leaves a peppery-tannin aftertaste.

Overall: I’m not impressed. I’ll cop to a bias in that I had my heart set on another wine, and that this Sangiovese makes me feel like I won the crappy, first-level stuffed animal at the carnival. The pity prize. I’ll give the wine the benefit of the doubt and give it a two on a 1-3 scale. (3 being I’d search it out, 2 is that I’m indifferent to it, one would be a “oh- god-I-need-to-avoid-putting-this-in-my-mouth-in-the-future). In short, I’m not impressed and probably won’t remember this wine a month from now.

2000 Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva

One of the things about wine that isn’t explained enough is that until you have a good wine, you don’t know what the wine is generally supposed to taste like. To extend the metaphor a bit, if one has only eaten industry Cheddar cheese, one doesn’t really know what true cheddar is all about. Never has this idea been better illustrated to me than when I’ve started tasting Chiantis.

The basic problem I have with Chiantis (and a fair majority of red wines) is that they contain tannins, a substance in which I seem to have a particularly sensitivity toward (probably from being a bit of a tea snob). Unless the tannins are held in check, or developed properly, most reds end up tasting simply bitter to me.

Chiantis were/are especially guilty of this. Back in college, when money was most certainly an issue when purchasing wines, I thought I’d be cool and buy one of those wines that comes in those famous chianti bottles. Unfortunately, these wines were so bitter to me that I quickly swore off reds.

Flash Forward a decade or two – I have a good Chianti at the prodding of a friend. I drink it, and have an epiphany: Wine as spice! This Chianti I was drinking was thick with tannins, but they were there for a purpose. Flavorful and spicy, this wine begged to be enjoyed with a pasta with tomato sauce.

Which brings me to this wonderful piece of work: a 2000 Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva.

Eyes: Deep Violet within the glass, a dark ruby upon the rim. It quickly slips off the side of the glass when twirled.

Nose: It has the aroma of black cherry Kool-aid with a bit of a kick. It has a bit of an oaky smell to it which is not unpleasant.

Taste:Peppery is the strongest taste there, with a bit of cherry beneath it all. It holds the tongue quite well and finishes smoothly many seconds after you’ve swallowed.

Overall: From here on out, this is my baseline Chianti. Anything below this is simply not worth my time (as I am not a huge fan of reds). Are there better Chianti’s than this? Most Likely. Are they worse? Absolutely. On my scale of 1-3, I’d give this a three (Would buy again).

WBW: Sicilian Reds: 2003 Planeta La Segreta Rosso

2003 La Segreta Rosso It’s Wine Blogging Wednesdays! A chance for all of us little folks to provide a tasting report on newly found wines.

Now I’m a big Italian fan, so imagine my thrill when I learned that this month’s theme was Sicilian Reds, hosted by the good folks over at Love Sicily. Now I may like Italian cuisine, but my knowledge of Sicilian wines is/was nil. So I headed out to Madison Cellars and asked the gentleman there to point me in the right direction. His choice? It was the only Sicilian red left in his establishment: a 2003 La Segreta Rosso from Planeta.

La Segreta Rosso literally translates into “The Red Secret”. I’m unsure if the secret is the blend of the wine, but if it is, it’s a fairly well known secret. Made with 60% Nero D’Avola, 20% merlot and 20% Syrah grapes, you can imagine the punch that this wine should have as far as tannins are concerned.

Eyes: The wine has a dark violet color at it’s core, but turns a nice cherry red at its rim. Giving it a quick swirl shows the wine to be very viscous, hanging on the side of the glass like a red velvet curtain. When the legs do appear, they fall slowly and purposefully.

Nose: A quick whiff brings forth a strong alcoholic aroma, but not in a negative sense. Beneath that, a bit of menthol, or so it seems.

Taste: Others have tasted strong fruits, and I suppose that’s correct. Currants is apparent, but I couldn’t place anything else. There’s a strong peppery taste here, but not as much as in a Chianti Classico. The taste holds the tongue well, as the astringency of the wine keeps the taste buds alert.

Overall: I think this is a good dinner wine. It’s not a keeper, but certainly one that shouldn’t be turned down for dinner. The tannins tend to stand out, and one must search for the more subtle tastes. But they are there. No grade.. just a simple “yes”.

Wine 101 – Reds and White

This is really basic, but it still needs to be noted. Why? Because red wine and white wines are not the same thing. Once a person understand that difference, then they can start training their palate accordingly.

The difference comes down to the skin. To make a red wine, a vintner will let the juice of the grapes mix with the skins. White wines are made without skins (or seeds). As noted elsewhere… red wine is the outcome of crushed, fermented grapes. White wine is the outcome of fermented grape juice. Why is that a big deal? Easy…grape skins contain tannins that the meat of the grapes do not. It is the skins that give the red wine its color, its bite and its body.

That’s it. That’s the one hard and fast difference. Every other difference between red and white are general rules of thumb rather set in stone dictums.

The “red wine with red meat – white wine with white meat” rule? Eh…more of a guideline. As said before, if you like white wine with beef, by all means drink white wine with beef (and there are some that probably go very well with beef…I’ll discuss that more when I cover food paring).

The “Let red wines age – drink white wines young” rule? Again, more of a guideline. There have been some German whites that have lasted centuries.

The “Red wines complex – white wines sweet” rule? Even less of a guideline than the others. There are sweet and fruity reds and some whites that have had tannins infused from oak fermenting.

My point here is that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to reds and whites outside of the whole “grape skin” process. The rest depends on the wine varietal, it’s terroir and the process in which the wine is made. But these are 200 level topics to be discussed at a later date.

WBW #6: South African Reds: 2001 KWV Cabernet Sauvignon

The things we learn.

For example, did you know that the Cabernet Sauvignon grape is the result of a cross between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

Now if I only had some context to which apply that knowledge.

As you can guess, for this round of Wind Blogging Wednesday (South African Wines), I chose a Cabernet Sauvignon,specifically a 2001 from the KWV winery. Generally speaking, Cabernet Sauvignon ends up a complex and deep red wine, with several layers of flavor and full of body.

Generally, but not always.

The 2001 KWV Cabernet Sauvignon is not a bad wine. It’s light and simple and ends well on the front of the tongue. Then it just…well…stops. It doesn’t fill the mouth, and ends with a succinct alcohol taste. It does taste of black currants and a bit of vanilla under current.

It has a strong color, almost a raisin color. In the right light, one could almost mistake it for Welch’s grapejuice on sight. Giving it a swirl leaves thick trails of sugar on the glass.

I’m not one for pairing food with wine, because of my own knowledge of wine (or lack there of), I tend to think that one shoul ddrink what they enjoy, rather than what goes good with which food. But if pressed, I would leave this as a dessert wine, pairing it with chocolate. There’s no long aftertaste with this wine which lends itself for enjoying deeper and richer sesserts.

WBW: Wacky Wine Names: 2003 Wolf Trap


Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh.

That’s all I can say in regard to the wine I chose for this round of Wine Blogging Wednesday. I walked into Larry’s, up to the person in charge of wine, and asked “Which wine name makes you giggle?”

Her response?

A bottle of 2003 Wolftrap.

I can hear you now….”Huh? WolfTrap? How is that name wacky?”

Well, you see. Wolftrap is a South African wine. And it’s name comes from the fact that when the Dutch moved into the area back during their colonial phase, they brought a fair amount of wolf traps in order to protect themselves. There was only one problem with this:

There are no wolves in South Africa.

So you have a wine so named because it pokes fun at the Dutch. Ha Ha.. ha…ha…



Okay, it’s kinda lame. To add inury to (Dutch) insults, the wine is fairly horrible. I should have noticed that right off the bat when no varietal is mention on the wine label. Although I was able to find out that the 2003 WolfTrap is a detailed blend of 7.1% Syrah, 11.78% Ruby Cabernet, 12.4% Pinotage, 45.33% Cinsault, 9.39% Grenache and 13.99% Cabernet Sauvignon. Which equals 100% liquid bile. Those who claim that this wine ‘is powerfully aromatic with soft, jammy, lush, and spicy redcurrant aromas and an edge of smoky bacon’ obviously got a batch that I did not. The after taste of this wine was as bitter as Condoleezza Rice’s attitude towards Senator Barbara Boxer. It tastes both watered down, and the tannins are overwhelming.

Foods to eat with this wine? Twinkies…three day old pizza…road kill.

What a horrible wine.


Chianti – The Tuscan Wine

When you talk about wines in the Tuscan region, one varietal dominates: Chianti.

For me, everytime I hear “Chianti”, I think of Hannibal Lector and his penchant for red wine with beans. Those of us who may be a bit older, may think of Chianti as the wine that is bottled with wicker adorning the bottom of the bottle. It’s due to this image that some folks think that Chianti is on the lower end of wines.

But Chianti is far more complicated and esteemed than that. It has a history that goes back to before 1000 AD. The territoy of Chianti starts just south of Florence
and ends just north of Siena. This is the Chianti Region, and many wines come out of here claiming (rightfully or wrongly) as Chiantis. But as with most wines, it’s not that simple.

To be qualified as a true Chianti, a wine has to be more than made from the grapes within the Chianti region. The wine has to be comprised from at least 80% of the Sangiovese grape, and the rest of the composition has to meet with the production standards set by the Consorzio del Marchio Storico-Chianti Classico. Once these standards are met, the wine can be called Chianti Classico, and wear the seal of the Consortium (pictured above). If you don’t see that seal, you’re probably taking a leap of faith.

Chianti, as with most Italian wines, is best when paired with food. That’s its raison d’etre (or should I say “motivo essere”). Below are some some basic tips when dealing with this most Tuscan of Tuscan wines.

Colour: bright, ruby red.
Bouquet: good grapey with a perfume of violets.
Flavour: dry, smooth and velvety.
Temperature: serve at 64°F.
Suitable with: almost all foods and meats.

Chianti Riserva(Riserva indicates a wine which has been aged in the barrel at least three years.)
Colour: deep red.
Bouquet: full bodied and subtle, with a hintof violets.
Temperature: serve at 68-72°F. The bottle should be opened an hour before serving.
Suitable with: roast meats, duck game and hard, mature cheeses.