Discover a new wine this week with our recommendation for something different, something surprising, something romantic!

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2015 Cantina Cinque Terre Bianco – The Italian Riviera in Your Glass

The Wine of the Week: Cinque Terre Bianco

by Annette Tomei

2015 Cantina Cinque Terre Bianco (Dry White Wine), Cinque Terre DOC, Italy

Cinque Terre is a collection of five little seaside villages along the Ligurian coast – the Italian Riviera. Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore are colorful jewels on the rugged coastline. They are connected by pathways, not highways – the entire area is nearly inaccessible by car. This beautiful destination, south of Genoa, north of Tuscany, is popular with tourists from around the world – more so with the growing interest in the region’s wines.

The Italian Riviera In a Glass

Though winemaking in Liguria dates back over 700 years, there are only a few DOC designated wine regions. This is mostly due to its steep, rocky hillsides and rugged coastline. Crisp, light white wines make up most of the local production.

Cinque Terra’s white wines are made from Bosco and Albarola, two grapes that are only found on the craggy steep slopes of this small region. The more popular grape, Vermentino, is also blended in the local wines. The most popular wine produced in Cinque Terre, however, is Sciacchetrà, a honey-like dessert wine. Locals, and tourists alike, are also fond of the locally made limoncello and grappa.

Cantina Cinque Terre is the wine of the Cooperativa Agricoltura – the local growers cooperative. The Cooperativo has produced wines for over 100 years. In 1982 they built a new facility and adopted modern technology to make the best wines possible from the extremely limited, hand-harvested grape production of this tiny region.

About this Wine

This is a deliciously aromatic wine. From the first sip, aromas of ripe melon and citrus blossoms bring images of the warm Italian sun on the steep terraced hillsides. On the palate this wine is lush and refreshingly tart. The juicy melon flavors linger with the aromas of white flowers, but the flavor is intensified by the rocky mineral notes and hint of salinity – or was that just a memory of the sea air? Obviously, it carried me away!

I enjoyed this wine with fresh-from-the-garden lettuces, heirloom tomatoes, and a buffalo milk burrata. I also enjoyed it with homemade linguine with clams. The fullness of the wine balanced well with the creaminess of the burrata and the buttery garlicky sauce on the pasta. Also try this wine with crispy fritto misto, arancini, or a simple grilled fish with fresh herbs.

The Verdict

At approximately $24/bottle this is on the high end of my price range for weekday white wines, but it is well worth a small splurge to enjoy a wine with so much character and sense of place. It was like a little side trip to the Italian Riviera in the middle of the work week! Also note, the Sciacchetrà (passito-style dessert wine) from Cantina Cinque Terre is considered their superstar wine – I’m looking forward to trying that one some day (you can read about it here when I do!).

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!

Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com

 

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Gazela Vinho Verde – Best Wine Value of the Summer

The Wine of the Week: Gazela Vinho Verde

by Annette Tomei

NV Gazela Vinho Verde, Vinho Verde, Portugal

Sometimes you just want something deliciously simple and easy on the budget.  We look for wines we can happily serve in abundance to satisfy all our friends (even the wine snobs!). We look for wines to open on a Tuesday evening for one guilt-free glass, then store the bottle for the next day. This wine was made for those times. Read more

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Acinum Extra Dry Prosecco–the affordable way to do bubbly

The Wine of the Week: Acinum Prosecco

by Annette Tomei

Acinum extra dry prosecco

NV Acinum Extra Dry Prosecco, Veneto, Italy

I’m taking a small liberty with my new mission to only write about first sips – I confess, this is not my first Prosecco. It is, however, one of the first I’ve enjoyed so much I wanted to write about it!

Bubble for Bubble

Contrary to popular misconception, not all Prosecco is sweet (most are not). Nor is Prosecco a low budget Italian knock-off of Champagne – though typically budget-friendly, most are great value for the price; and though Prosecco is a sparkling wine, it is made in a different style from Champagne – not a knock-off, but a wine that stands on its own merits that deserves proper consideration. In the world of bubbles, its like comparing apples and oranges – to each her own.

About this Wine

Refreshing fruit aromas abound in this wine. On the nose, green apple and white flowers. The palate is juicy with tropical guava, honey, and spice. The mousse is rich and creamy, and the flavor is bright with acidity. There is the slightest bit of residual sugar that contributes to the rich mouthfeel, as well as this wine’s affinity for a great variety of foods. Many people reserve their Prosecco enjoyment for Bellinis at brunch. I recommend you enjoy this one in its pure state – ice cold and refreshing… but it still goes great with brunch (and so much more).

The Verdict

Easy-going is the Prosecco way – easy on the wallet, easy on the palate, perfect for easy breezy enjoyment. Acinum Extra Dry Prosecco is on the high end of the quality scale, yet is still available for under $10/bottle. The brightness makes it a great pairing for salads, seafood, and veggies. The almost imperceptible sweetness helps make this wine a great pairing for spicy food, eggs and cheeses, and fruit desserts.

 

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!

Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com

 

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An Armenian Wine You Should Try–Karas Reserve Red

The Wine of the Week: 2013 Karas Reserve Red

by Annette Tomei

Armenian Red Wine recommendation2013 Karas Reserve Red, Armavir, Ararat Valley, Armenia

This week’s adventure takes us to Armenia – a small, landlocked country in the southern Caucasus Mountains between Europe and Asia. This region, which also includes the countries of Georgia, Iran, Turkey, and Azerbaijan, is believed to be the historic home of viticulture. There is evidence of grape vines dating to over 1-million years old, and large wine storage vessels dating over 6,000 years old. Read more

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The Wine of the Week: 2014 Dutton-Goldfield, Dutton Ranch Chardonnay

Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch ChardonnayThe Wine of the Week: 2014 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Chardonnay

by Annette Tomei

Some readers of a certain age may still drink by the ABC rule of “Anything But Chardonnay”. Others may worship at the throne of Big Oaky California Chards. Still more may find good California Chardonnays prohibitively expensive, preferring to cast their lots on lower priced imports. If you fall into any of these categories, please consider this as a public service announcement encouraging you to take the chance, make the splurge (albeit a small one, in this case) and give this wine a try! I’m happy I did.

There’s Something Special About Sonoma

Sonoma County is geographically and agriculturally diverse: Coastline, mountains, lakes, rivers; cool and warm climates, foggy and bright – Sonoma’s got it. And, this agricultural region is made up of farms of all sorts from heirloom apples to “happy cows” – so much more than just vineyards. This is not Napa – they are a mountain range and a whole world apart.

Dutton Ranch is situated, primarily, in the Green Valley AVA in the coolest part of the Russian River Valley. A cooler climate means the fruit has more time to ripen without sacrificing the acidity that provides the backbone for the flavor, or over-ripening the sugars that determine the wines alcohol content – it’s all about balance.

About This Wine

I confess to being one of those who often avoid California Chardonnay for fear of “oak bombs” (I can smell them from the first raise of the glass). So, from my guarded first approach, I was not just relieved but intrigued. The pale yellow color was the first hint that I was safe from aggressive use of oak. The initial aromas of tangy citrus and tropical fruit lured me in. As the wine opened in the glass, aromas of creamy apple, shiso, ginger, and a soy-like salinity took hold.

This is a complex and nuanced wine with toasty woody notes, mouthwatering acidity, flavors of pear, pineapple, lemon meringue pie, and gingersnap, a round, soft mouthfeel, and a clean minerally finish. Try pairing it with cracked Dungeness crab picked with your fingers, served with a good baguette and lots of lemon and melted butter; or on the East Coast, a traditional lobster bake! Also, this is worthy of a well-made classic risotto with or without seared scallops. Think rich seafood, savory creaminess, and simple preparations – or just that great baguette and sweet butter!

The Verdict

Dutton-Goldfield is a well-respected producer of some of the most sought-after and consistently high rated wines in Sonoma. So, quality, finesse, and deliciousness are all but assured – that I loved this wine is not a surprise. That this wine is available for only $35/bottle is! Do try this wine – do take the time to enjoy it thoroughly – do keep an open mind to all new taste experiences, even if it’s something you wrote off years ago, it could surprise you.
Note: It seems the 2014 vintage is nearing the end of availability, but I’m sure the 2015 will be equally enjoyable.

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!

Annette is a food and beverage educator and consultant. She is also a professional chef who frequently contributes delicious recipes to EatSomethingSexy.com. She can be found at ChefAnnetteTomei.com.