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A Lively Corsican Red Wine

The Wine of the Week: Abbatucci Rouge Frais Impérial

by Annette Tomei

2016 Domaine Comte Abbatucci “Rouge Frais Impérial” Corsica, France

When you think of French wines, Corsica may not be the first (or even the third) place that comes to mind. That’s one of the reasons I was happy to try this wine. That, and the fact that it was highly recommended to me by the good folks at Kermit Lynch as a good gift for a somm-who-has-everything. I bought one for myself as well.

Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean that was part of  Italy until 1769. Actually, it is much closer in culture (and proximity) to Italy than to mainland France. Corsica may be better known as the birthplace of Napoléon Bonaparte.

Domaine Comte Abbatucci was founded in 1950 by Jean-Charles Abbattuci, a direct descendant of another Jean-Charles Abbattuci who was in league with Napoléon during the French Revolution. This current Jean-Charles carries a far better legacy for Corsica. He is credited with preserving the propagation of traditional Corsican grape varieties. The Abbattuci vineyards are certified biodynamic. Jean-Charles sees to it that they are maintained, to the letter, of the sometimes arcane biodynamic methods.

The Frais Impérial is made from the Sciaccarello grape (aka Mammolo), which is one of the native grapes that Jean-Charles is tending back into popularity. It is a dark-skinned grape that prefers growing in bright sunshine and granite soils. Wines made from this grape are typically lighter style reds or even rosé.

About this Wine

This wine is best served chilled – refrigerate it overnight then leave it out for about 30 minutes before drinking. I was not advised to decant – I certainly wish I had been. Unfortunately, my first experience was a bit disappointing – the nose was flat and a touch funky. The first sip was extremely metallic, no fruit, short uneven finish. But, given that there were no obvious major flaws (heat damage, TCA, etc.) as well as the recommendation it received, I pressed on. Sometimes you have to do that. Occasionally, the disappointment is warranted. Sometimes you wake up, try again, and it feels like Christmas morning. Thankfully, this was the latter! (and yes, I did taste again first thing in the morning!)

I was rewarded with aromas of fragrant ripe red berries and purple flowers. The real treat was on the palate – juicy, red berries, cranberry, pomegranate, and a touch of peppery spice. It was bright with acidity with a pleasant tannic astringency. As is common from this grape, this is a lighter style of red wine. The color is so very intense that I was captivated by its inner glow.

Later, I enjoy this wine with a dinner of spicy, sticky Korean barbecue that paired perfectly (and yes, do enjoy it slightly chilled). It’s light enough body, and fruity enough, to withstand the heat. It’s also bold enough to stand up to the funky aromatics of good Korean cuisine. I’d also recommend it with lamb, salumi, sheeps’ milk cheeses, and dishes that include warm exotic spices. Be adventurous!

The Verdict

Happily, this one worked out. In case you are wondering if I would have actually published this as a negative review, the answer is yes. I just would have taken a lot longer to write it, with a lot less exuberance. I do recommend buying this wine if you can find it (usually $25-35).

I highly recommend decanting this wine for at least a few hours before serving – splash the wine from the bottle to the decanter (or a glass pitcher), swirl it hard, put it in the fridge or ice bucket for a few hours before serving.

Do experiment by purchasing unusual wines that strike your fancy. But do so from reputable, trusted sources. Most respected wine merchants who convinces you to buy something that you would not normally try are likely to accept the return of a full-ish bottle for store credit if you truly don’t like it. As will most sommeliers in good restaurants.

 

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!

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Fall in Love with this Juicy White Wine Blend from New York’s North Fork

The Wine of the Week: Coalescence – a juicy white blend from Long Island

by Annette Tomei

2016 Shinn Estate Vineyards, “Coalescence” White Blend, North Fork, New York Shinn Estate Vineyards, "Coalescence," a juicy white wine from the North Fork

Long Island is east of New York City and may be best known for its seaside getaways for a century of rich and famous. Also, as being a large bedroom community of “The City”. For ages, the North Fork of Long Island has been an agricultural community where wonderful potatoes, sweet corn, and happy oysters come from. In the past 40 years, they’ve added world-class wines to that list. And ones that are producing some really interesting blends like this juicy white wine.

Shinn Estate was established in 2000, just as the North Fork was awarded AVA (American Viticultural Area) status. The first vintage was in 2002. In 2012, the vineyards were certified as sustainable by the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing authority.

About this Wine

Coalescence is a unique blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Riesling with a touch of Semillon. Though the Riesling is not the primary grape, it really comes out in the floral aromatics. Each grape in this blend is fermented separately. The subsequent wines are blended in stainless steel.

The aromatics of this medium-bodied wine are super floral – roses, jasmine, honeysuckles and a hint of butter. On the palate, juicy citrus, ripe melon, and apricots come together deliciously. The finish is a touch astringent with herbal, green notes coming from the Sauvignon Blanc.

I enjoyed this wine with a mild creamy cheese and salty Marcona almonds. In keeping with the sense of place, I’d recommend this wine with delicate white fish (flounder), oysters and other shellfish. I’d also recommend this a a great pairing for the so-called difficult vegetables to pair – asparagus and artichokes, because of the bright acidity, lush mouthfeel, and the astringent finish.

The Verdict

I like that this is a unique blend that doesn’t take Chardonnay so seriously… I’d recommend it for that alone (Chard needs to be taken less seriously – it’s more fun that way!). This has been a go-to wine for me since I first tasted it over 5 years ago. It continues to bring a smile to my face, as well as memories of sunny days on the Long Island Sound ala The Great Gatsby! Though this may be a difficult wine to find, even in New York, it is available on line for $15-20 per bottle.

 

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!

Discover Spectacular Wines from Emilia-Romagna–this region’s not just for Parmesan!

amy reileyWoman on Wine with Amy Reiley

Of all Italy’s glorious food and wine regions, Emilia-Romagna may be one of the least known. But it’s a food lover’s dream! If you’re familiar with the name, it’s probably because it’s the origin of Parmigiano Reggiano and Prosciutto de Parma. Those are names we know. But what most of us don’t know about are the wines from Emilia-Romagna.  Read more

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This Garnacha is a Spanish Bargain Wine

The Wine of the Week: Monjardin Garnacha

by Annette Tomei

2016 Castillo de Monjardin ‘La Cantera’ Garnacha, Navarra DO, SpainSpanish bargain wine from Castillo de Monjardin

Navarra is located in the north of Spain, separated from France by the Pyrenees Mountains. Winemaking in this region pre-dates Ancient Rome. Aside from its wines, the region is probably best known for the famous “running of the bulls” in Pamplona.

Garnacha makes up one-third of the grapes grown in Navarra DO. Traditionally, the Garnacha grapes were used in making rosado (rosé), for which Navarra was best known. Today, red wines made from Tempranillo are taking over.

Castillo de Monjardin is located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, just across the border from France. The mountain air provides a cooler climate, best for even ripening. All of Castillo de Mojardin’s wines are produced from single vineyards. The La Cantera vineyard is known for its 70+ year old garnacha vines, from which this wine is made. The name, La Cantera, means “the quarry” – so named because of its rocky soil (great for wine grapes).

About this Wine

The grapes for this wine are hand-picked, fermented in stainless steel, then aged briefly in second-year oak barrels. This is a young wine with bright ruby red color, and luscious aromas of ripe red berries, juicy plums, and a hint of violet. Maybe because it’s that time of year, this wine had me thinking of Beaujolais Nouveau… only better! On the palate, juicy-fruity plums and raspberries with a fresh, clean finish. A hint of fruit tannins, tight on back of palate, made me think this wine may do well for a few years.

I thoroughly enjoyed this delicious Garnacha on its own. However, I’m looking forward to enjoying it again (and again) with some Spanish-inspired dishes – hearty lamb stew (Navarra is known for lamb dishes), paella, stuffed piquillo peppers. Also try with the local cheeses: Idiazábal and Roncal.

The Verdict

Find it, buy it, order it in restaurants… enjoy it on its own or with a delicious foods. With a retail price under $15 you can’t miss. Also, try their Chardonnay (I’ll probably write about it soon, as well – just to remind you!).

 

 

My new mission… to taste things I’ve never tasted before – either because I’m a snob, I can’t afford it, or it’s just a little too weird. I’ll let you know what I thought, and then you can decide for yourself if you will make the splurge, or take the leap into the strange but potentially delicious unknown!

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This Brut Rosé from Chile Will Make Your Mouth Happy

The Wine of the Week: Valdivieso Brut Rosé

by Annette Tomei

NV Valdivieso of Chile, Brut Rosé, Curico Valley, ChileValdivieso Brut Rosé from Chile

Valdivieso was the first producer of sparkling wines in South America (Chile), and has been doing so for over 130 years. The grapes for this wine are sourced from the foothills of the Andes mountains where the cool climate allows the fruit to ripen evenly while preserving a balance of acidity. Read more