About “Gudarra” Aglianico del Vulture!

2 glasses of red wine & fireplaceGudarra, Bisceglia’s Aglianico del Vulture 2009, 14%.

Aged 12 months in French oak, this 100% Aglianico, whose name (Gudarra) means “to be enjoyed,” is a deep ruby and opaque at its core.  Tar, smoke, licorice, dark chocolate, earth, truffle, and a meaty note — all mingle with dark plum fruit, making it a full and rich wine.  The palate is smooth and all the flavors follow through to create an aftertaste that is long and perfectly balanced.  Acid and fine, but strong, tannins signal a long life and since the tannin has a slight bitter edge, it will enhance rich food and will itself be enriched.

For a perfect delight, drink it with Murray’s Irish Cheddar Cheese.  Steaks would rise to higher levels of pleasure, especially those with a good coating of succulent sauce ( but not too sweet).  Highly recommended for those who want a wine with power.  Available at wine.com price at time of writing $23.99 — a great buy, in my opinion.

Rating:  91

Emotional rating:  If you love big wines, 95!

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One Great Italian Wine: Aglianico!

harvest of blue grapeAglianico del Vulture

This is a wine that, when vinified at its best, can rival the top Sangiovese’s or Nebbiolo’s and stand proudly in the highest ranks of Italian reds.  Only 1,000 acres are planted — all at nearly 2,000 feet above sea level on the slopes of a volcano: Mt Vulture.  The elevation assures cooler nights in this warm southern region of Italy.  Often it is the last grape in Italy to be harvested and, if picked late with low yields, it can be very powerful and rich.  The use of new French oak is also a secret to its rising fame and beauty.  Powerful, fine-grained tannins mix with bursting, dark plum and chocolate aromas accompanied by lively acidity.  These characteristics are the features of these wines.

The grape is probably of Greek origin.  It is ancient, changing its name in the15th century from Ellenica to Aglianico (pronounced “ah-L’YEE’AH-nee-koh”).  

My most recent was the “Gudara” Aglianico del Vulture 2009.  Gustate il vino! Per la salute!

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This Red Wine Blend Is a “Fortune” Full of the Fruit You Seek!

Ruby Trust Fortune SeekerRuby Trust Fortune Seeker 2011 

Do you love a wine that has loads of fruit obviously evident on the nose and the palate?  Many people do.  Do you sometimes wonder if it has too much fruit?  Wines are being made with more fruit-forwardness than they used to be.  Fruit is important.  Remember the dictum, “No fruit, no future.”  I think no one wants a wine with no fruit flavors.  Here’s a simple wine experience to heighten your awareness, no matter what your level of wine knowledge.

Buy an inexpensive Australian Shiraz and compare it with Ruby Trust’s Fortune Seeker 2011.  Even though the Fortune Seeker (a red wine blend) is more fruit forward than some of Ruby Trust’s other wines, you should notice quite a difference between the two immediately.

Sometimes fruit can leave the impression that the wine is one dimensional.  By that I mean fruit is about all you can identify.  Maybe one flavor, like cherry or raspberry, is the wine’s dominant note.  Each mouthful is more cherry and the next more cherry and the wine keeps striking the same note.  It can become too much of a good thing.  Is this what you sense about the less expensive Shiraz?  If not, what?

Now, try the Fortune Seeker.  Notice a difference?  The fruit is abundantly there, but the presence of well-chosen oak adds many dimensions that leaves you wondering whether its layers of flavor are limited.  The flavors have blended into a mysterious whole and, although you can taste abundant fruit, there is the unmistakable presence of something that is harder to define: the marriage of fruit and oak.  Oak makes for more mystery in a wine and more complexity.  It creates a nondescript, interesting new set of flavors that keep you guessing and loving the mystery of it all.  Nothing is too much.  Vanilla (from French oak in this case), — oh, I love rising clouds of vanilla in a wine — but it is vanilla flavored with rich red and black fruit.  Maybe my pleasure comes from walking the vanilla fields in Tahiti and feeling the surge of emotion at its overpowering perfume.  And then as you keep tasting, you notice the fruit again and back to the chocolate and coffee (dark, of course) that comes from the oak treatment.  You can finish the rest of the taste experience for yourself.  You don’t need me.  See what you get.

Are both well made wines?  Yes.  But one is clearly a superior wine.  Depth, that’s it — the depth or richness from added and married flavors.  Oak and wine is a match made in heaven.

Ruby Trust’s Fortune Seeker 2011 is 68% Petit Verdot (which can impart quite a burst of fruit),  16% Syrah (more fruit), and 16% Cabernet Sauvignon (to add the power, structure, and the dark fruit flavors akin to blackcurrant and Montana huckleberries).  The fruits change with their continuing marination in French oak.  Lay this down and in 5 to 10 years, you will find a treasure trove of flavors yet undiscovered in this young beauty.

Rating — 90 plus

Emotional rating — Greater for the comparison, but either way highly stimulating to the endorphins.

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Cloudy Bay 2013 Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc can be pointed and sharp and that’s the element that most people love

Rarangi Beach, Marlborough, New Zealand

Rarangi Beach, Marlborough, New Zealand

about this wine.  It’s refreshing with acids that make you salivate like no other.  Flavor in white wines in particular is all about the acids and how they showcase the aromas.

Some Sauvignon Blanc’s can burst with aromas that tingle all the way up your nose.  Grapefruit and pineapple laced with lemon is what makes them so dashing and refreshing.  Lemon is the basic flavor that forms the foundation on which other exciting flavors are built.  Cloudy Bay’s 2013  Sauvignon Blanc builds its complex citrus and peach flavors on a smooth structure of fresh acids that leave behind on the palate a touch of creaminess.  This creamy citrus is a wonderful surprise when all you may be expecting is a razor sharp burst of grapefruit.  The next step that some desire is riper grapes that produce the much desired tropical flavors like guava and passion fruit.  But cream that stays to pleasantly coat the mouth and temper the acids is what this wine offers.  This is a softer Sauvignon Blanc with a pleasant 13.5% alcohol.

Cloudy Bay, located in Marlborough, New Zealand, has always had its own winemaking philosophy that differs from the other wineries that fill the Wairau Valley.  It has succeeded in marketing its wines and developing a strong following.  Image is part of its magic.

Enjoying Marlborough’s Sauvignon Blancs in Marlborough is a beautiful experience!  But New Zealand, beginning with Cloudy Bay, showed the world what Sauvignon Blanc could be.  New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blancs are now sought after all over the world, yet they remain priced very reasonably.  This one was introduced to my wife (a particular fan of Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs) and me by the Estate Director, Ian Morden, recently in Boulder, Colorado.  Wherever you drink it, you will enjoy it.

Taste this wine alongside of Brancott’s Sauvignon Blanc and talk about the differences and similarities you find.  Experience wine!

Rating: 89

Emotional rating on a picnic with cold cuts, cheese and fresh breads, 95.  This wine can enliven food!

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A Riesling from Adelaide

Penfolds 2008 Thomas Hyland Riesling, Adelaide Penfolds 

I thought Germany was Riesling country.  Could Australia — way down under — make great Riesling?  Taste this one!!  At six years of age, it is already showing the diesel characteristics that some of the greatest Rieslings are expected to display.

This diesel aroma is a mark of the very best Rieslings and is in no way objectionable.  It increases with age and then, with yet more age, diminishes and is replaced with reminders of marmalade and wax.  In this wine, it is dominant on the nose and the flavors hide until you actually taste. Then they claim front and center.

The lime flavors and fresh vibrant acid with a tell-tale minerality that anchors the wine to its place saying, “I was grown here,” are what you may find.  See if you find other flavors.

Notice how the wine develops from the aromas to the taste and finally to the finish, where you get the indication of its possible longevity — the acid — that is loaded with flavor but readying the wine for a long journey.  Other flavors will develop in this wine and the complexity will deepen to make this wine a fantastic experience each year it is opened.

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A Colorado Syrah Worth Your Dollars

“Juiciness, with a Full Rounded Body”  2 Rivers Syrah

A Colorado Syrah (Two Rivers Syrah 2013) is worth your dollars.  The wine is opaque, inviting emotions of strength and richness.  There is an immediate raspberry aroma coupled with (to name a few flavors) butter, popcorn, and a little smoke on the nose.  The flavors are very juicy and mouthwatering.  It is complex on the palate with lively acids on an undertone of earth.  The tannins from the stems, seeds and skins plus the tannins from the oak are well integrated and soft.   The finish is also fresh, juicy, and long, leaving you with a longing for more.  All indications speak of its youth.

I like the wood notes and the way the juiciness weaves in and out of the structure of the wine.  The nose signals the juiciness and it, of course, is due to the acids that are in perfect balance on the palate and finish.  I also like the way the wine says something.  It firmly states its character of “round, juicy, balanced, and sophisticated with a note of power presented in a full body.”  Colorado can produce some gorgeous Syrah’s and this in one of them.

Buy a few bottles and lay them down (if you can resist the temptation to drink) and see how this wine, in the next two to three years, has developed.  I think you will be well pleased.

Do wines say something about life?  Sometimes.  This one says, “Keep the love of liveliness and celebrate with life with vibrancy.”

Rating 89+

Emotional rating:  Wanting more and more!

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Harvest Fest at Colorado’s Holy Cross Abbey Winery

The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey sits on the property of the Holy Cross Abbey in Cañon

Blessing of the Harvest at Holy Cross Abbey Winery Harvest Fest

Blessing of the Harvest at Holy Cross Abbey Winery Harvest Fest

City, Colorado.  A history of winemaking by the Abbey has now turned into a modern winery (owned by Larry Oddo) that honors the traditions of the past.  Each Harvest Fest is blessed by a Father of the Roman Catholic Church and this year’s event set a record at approximately 4000 in attendance for the two-day event.

This was a great opportunity to experience the way Colorado celebrates the vine.  A surprise (and “truly Colorado”) was the churning of home made ice cream, powered by a donkey on a “treadmill.”

 

This donkey is making real homemade ice cream!

This donkey is making real homemade ice cream!

The winery’s  new winemaker, Jeff Stultz, produced 2011 Revelation that won “Best New World Generic Proprietary Red Wine” in March of 2014 at the Jerry Mead International competition.

I tasted a vertical of their Cabernet Sauvignons and could clearly see the skill and experience of the winemaking.  Here are the notes from the evaluations of the current reds created by their current winemaker, Jeff Stultz.

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, 2012  A strong blackcurrant aroma, with light herbal edges and underlined with blackberry, greets you boldly.  The herbaceousness for which Cabernet is known is controlled.  While still juicy and fresh, the wine’s attack is very much like a young Bordeaux.  Its medium weight on the palate is supported by a strong structure.  The wine should develop more complexity as it ages, although it would dress a grilled steak very well as it is.  This is a wine to lay down for 2-3 years with a longevity of 10 or more, depending on how it develops.  It should reward wonderfully.  Allow it to breathe in the glass for an hour to smooth its power a little.  The wine is a quality wine with a food friendly medium finish.

A small portion of the 2014  record crowd at the Harvest Festival at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

A small portion of the 2014 record crowd at the Harvest Festival at The Winery at Holy Cross Abbey

Syrah, 2012:  Bluish red in color (sporting its youth), this Syrah is abundant with raspberry and pepper notes on the nose that lead to even more spice on the palate.  Notice that the fruit does not display its full power on the nose but increases through the palate to the finish like a grand crescendo.  The acids are racy and razor edged and the bite remains to the end for a real cleansing effect.

Cabernet Franc, 2012:  Beautifully graduated from the core to the rim with a youthful red color.  Dark fruits flood the aroma and a brightness gives indication of a lively wine.  A sleek balanced palate, medium in weight, is a platform for the brightness and blackness of the blackcurrant and raspberry fruit.  This is another excellent wine and it finishes with a balance of acid, fruit and tannin that leave you feeling like “more.”  Also, it displays a medium length on the finish with acid that refreshes but does not bite.  This is a very good Colorado expression of the grape.  Colorado is defining its expression of Cabernet Franc as having more of the richness of the new world, but still with hints of the stoniness of the soils in which it is grown.  Science can make no connection between soil and the flavors of the grape, but tasters can tell.  See if you can get hints of stone and dry rock.

Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012:  Deep ruby, the nose displays more of the fruit than the reserve wine and less of the herbs.  In fact, they are almost hidden.  No indication of VA tingles in your nose and you are quickly introduced to a rich mouthful of fruit.  The tannins are a little more pronounced than the reserve wine, but fine and mainly oak derived.  This is a good buy.  There is plenty of acid to make it a food-friendly wine and to suggest, like the reserve, that it can do with a year or more maturing in the bottle for even more rewarding flavors.

Merlot Reserve, 2012:   This is a Merlot worthy of a close examination.  Deep ruby and with acids that expand in the mouth, its strong tannins for a Merlot will please the Cab drinkers and its black fruit, led by blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum notes, create an aroma and palate that is plush.  The plum enriches the sensual delight that Merlot is expected to provide.  Silky sensations smooth out a strong structure.  This is another wine that can do with a little time and would love some food.  It is powerful for a Merlot and should enhance a steak meal and entertain the big and bold wine drinker.

Ratings:  All wines would rate in the 86-90 range.

Emotional rating:  Very good — will improve with age as the tertiary flavors develop.

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Tasting Old Tawny Ports Is a Great Experience!

Yalumba 50-Year Tawny Reserve

Yalumba 50-Year Tawny Reserve

Yalumba’s 50-year-old Rare Tawny, Museum Reserve

From the famous wines of Portugal we now go to the Barossa Valley in Australia and we taste a port with very different characteristics.  Made from Shiraz, Grenache, Dolcetto, Mourvedre, and Muscadelle, this wine has lost to the angels about 85% of its volume.

Its fruit is more pronounced due, I think, to its regularly being topped up with Amontillado to lessen the concentration of sugar and maintain a dry finish, as they tell us.  It has a greater attack on the nose, yet is again very, very soft and silky.  A pleasant musty aroma of old dry oak is yet another surprise, lending it a character like no other wine.  Burnt caramel and clove with cinnamon and coconut add to its depth and complexity.  The rich tawny color is edged with green and is an indication of very long oak aging.  A buttery, nutty, aldehyde note jumps at you from the first whiff.

It’s a little sweeter than the Graham’s 40-year Tawny Port.  They truly cannot be compared as they are so different and are made from such different grapes.  Tasting old tawny ports is an education in what an amazing elixir wine is and how it ages and changes to reward like no other drink.

Don’t let your education in wine be void of the wonders of port and especially of tawny ports.

Rating: 95

Emotional rating: If you want a rich port, the sky is the limit!

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You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

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Book entertains, educates, and entices readers to experience Colorado wine