Thursday, March 27, 2008

Allegrini Palazzo della Torre or La Grola, which one to choose?

Looking for an Italian red from the Veneto region, I found these two wines from one of Veneto's top producers, at my local
Beverages and More!
store: the 2004 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre and the 2004 Allegrini La Grola. Since I could not decide which one to buy, I bought the two wines. Then later, we tasted them side by side in order to determine which one we liked the best.

Although both are from the same producer, the two wines seemed pretty different, on paper at least. The producer is Allegrini, a family estate making wines in the Valpolicella Classica area since the XVI century. Valpolicella or val polis cellae, meaning the valley of many wine cellars, is located in the Veneto region, north west of the City of Verona. The climate is generally mild and temperate. All of Allegrini's wines are produced from estate-grown fruit.

The Allegrini Palazzo della Torre comes from a vineyard of the same name, beautifully terraced with dry stone walls. The wine is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Sangiovese made in an innovative ripasso style: 70% of the grapes are vinified immediately after the harvest, while the remaining 30% are left to dry until the end of December. They are then vinified and re-fermented with the wine from the fresh grapes.

The Allegrini La Grola comes from the La Grola vineyard, a 24.26 hectare vineyard located on a hill that dominates the entire Valpolicella area. It has a mixed terroir of alluvial origin, with volcanic soils at the foot of the vineyard, extending up the slope. The hill is well exposed to the sun and enjoys an ideal microclimate thanks to the influence of Lake Garda to the west and north and Mt. Baldo (Verona's highest mountain), which protects the area from the cold winds. The wine is a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Syrah, and Sangiovese aged in French oak and does not use dried grapes.

Well, could we find any difference between the two wines? They had a dark red color and a nose of sweet plums, raisins, and spices. On the palate they were smooth and luscious with some nice acidity and a lingering finish. Was the La Grola slightly more aromatic and fuller-bodied? Hard to say, but we liked them both.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is your nose worth any $$$?

I think my olfactory abilities are pretty average. Of course, I love to taste good wines and appreciate the rich flavors of good food and I would be really sad if one day I lose the sense of smell. But I am not planning to do anything about it.

Some wine professionals have a different opinion: their nose nose is essential for their work.

“I thought it must be a horror to lose your smell,” says Ilja Gort, winemaker at Château de la Garde in Bordeaux. “It would mean that you cannot taste wine anymore.”

USA Today reports that Ilja Gort has insured his nose for $8 million.

“The custom policy covers Gort for the loss of either his nose or his sense of smell ” reports the newspaper, “and has some conditions for protecting his nose. Among other things, he is barred from riding a motorcycle or working as a knife thrower's assistant or fire-breather.

And he can't be a boxer.”

Here is the complete story: Winemaker's nose insured for $8M

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mai Tai is not the only option with Hawaiian food

What do you drink with Hawaiian food? Usually tropical drinks and beer. At least, that's what is typically served with traditional Hawaiian food. But my friend Laurence had prepared an Hawaiian luau menu of Lomi-Lomi Salmon and Kalua Pig and I was supposed to bring a wine that would work well with the food.

I happily found a 2006 Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc-Sémillon, a wine from the Margaret River appellation in Western Australia. Surrounded by water on three sides, the region enjoys a maritime climate and is therefore much cooler than some other notable wine regions in South Australia and New South Wales. It is also home to some of my favorite Australian wines. The producer is Cape Mentelle, one of the first wineries to be established in the Margaret River region in the 70s. It is now owned by the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group.

The wine had a light straw color and a zesty nose of citrus and tropical fruit. The palate was medium-bodied, aromatic, and refreshing, with a nice and crisp finish.

Much better than a Mai Tai, in my opinion.

Lomi-Lomi Salmon

Kalua Pig, baked in the oven

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

WBW #43: 2004 Chinon Domaine de la Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens, a comfort wine

I just came back from a trip to France yesterday. So last night, I was tired, completely jet lagged, and not sure I could stay awake for dinner. But a glass of the delicious 2004 Chinon Domaine de la Noblaie Les Chiens-Chiens raised my spirits up and brought my energy back. I was even up until 9pm!

The Domaine de la Noblaie is one of the oldest winery in Chinon. The 40 acre vineyard, planted with Cabernet Franc (95%) and Chenin Blanc (5%), is surrounded by a forest that protects the vines from cold winds and occasional spring frosts. The soil is mostly lime and clay. The winemaker is Jérôme Billard, the son of the owners, an oenologist with extensive experience and who has worked for Pétrus in Pomerol, Dominus Estate in Napa Valley and in New Zealand.

The Chiens-Chiens is a 100% Cabernet Franc cuvée made for export only. It shows a deep ruby color and a nose of bell pepper with gamey notes. On the palate, it offers a good balance of acidity and tannins. With strong bell pepper flavors, the wine is not fruity at all but it is very pleasant, refreshing, and extremely food friendly. The perfect comfort wine.

Comfort Wines: that's the theme of the 43rd edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted this month by Joel from the Wine Life Today Blog.

Joel, sorry I am 1 day late but thanks for hosting!

Previous WBW posts:
•  WBW #42: a Rosso Conero in just seven words
•  WBW #41: the exciting wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia region
•  WBW #39: a wine from Silver Burgundy, the 2005 Viré-Clessé Maison Chanson

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