Red Red Wine!

     I would like to tell you about a wine that I have always kept in my wine rack, while others have come and gone this one has never disappointed. The wine is Cantina Zaccanini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This wine is a Proprietary Blend Dry Red that has an alcohol content of 12.5% to 13% depending on the vintage. The first thing you will notice is the beautiful dark ruby-red color with a touch of violet. The nose is one of ripe red berries and the taste is that of dark fruit and well-balanced tannins that gives way to a dry oak finish. This wine is made from Montepulicano d’Abruzzo grapes that are pressed and fermented with their skins on in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. It is then aged in oak barrels for 6 months then left to bottle refine for an additional 3 months. Bottles are released for sale 2 years after harvest and can be cellared to bottle refine for 3 or more years. This selection is a good match for dishes with a hearty Italian red sauce and entrée’s of roasted meats. You don’t have to remember that long name just look for the bottle with the little grape-vine clipping tied to it and you will have found one of my favorite reds. Item number 4560 and $14.99 at PA LCB stores.

To Age or Not to Age

     When I was growing up I can remember old Hollywood movies of  G.I’s in WWII finding wine cellars in french chateaus that were filled with cobwebs and dusty old wine bottles. It was from those images that most of us got the idea that any wine just got better with age. That idea just isn’t true. The truth is that wines are like people, they come into the world young and underdeveloped. The next phase is the prime years, that is when they have achieved the most character and depth of flavor. Finally they reach a stage that is past their prime and go down hill from there. Most wines are made to be consumed within 2 to 3 years from their production. The time frame from harvest to your glass has so many variables that it is mind-boggling. Every wine maker has a vision for each wine that they will make and this plan is fluid so that adjustments can be made as needed. I would say that any wine you buy today is ready to drink and enjoy because it wouldn’t have been released if it wasn’t. You can find vintage charts online that will tell you if a wine is ready to drink and the time horizon for its prime years. Now take that bottle  your Great Uncle Joe brought back from the war and clean it up and use it as a decoration.  

Mission Accomplished

I am pleased to report that I have a new bottle of Riesling resting safely in my wine rack at home. I bought a Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Riesling, which is a blend of Riesling from the Columbia Valley of  Washington. Blending the best qualities from several different wines allows a wine maker to use the strong attributes of one wine to complement the short comings of others. When done with a skillful hand you end up with a wine that is greater than the sum of its parts. This product is always a consistent example of a off-dry that is pleasant to drink and matches a wide variety of foods. The Wine Enthusiast gave it a 90 point rating and I would agree with that assessment. The other choice I considered was the Chateau Ste Michelle 2010 Harvest Select Riesling, but it had a R.S. of 4.98 compared to the 2.29 R.S. of my purchase. The much sweeter style of the Harvest Select would have been a good pick for asian dishes especially Thai food so I will remember that for another day.

Riesling hunting

Ripe grapes of Riesling.

Ripe grapes of Riesling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     I will be going to the State Store soon to look for a bottle of Riesling. That in itself doesn’t seem like a difficult task but considering the last bottle I bought was a Hermann J. Wiemer 2009 Semi-Riesling it may prove to be a challenging search. The Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard and Winery is the premier Riesling producer in the New York Finger Lakes Region and perhaps the entire country. Riesling is one of the few varietals that is good in all ranges of sweetness. This wine uses its sweetness (2.4 Residual sugar) and acidity to show off its true flavor. It is a good choice for those who can’t seem to decide on a white wine. Fruit forward with a citrus fruit nose and finish makes this a balanced well made wine. The usual pairings include poultry, shellfish and asian dishes. These are all good pairings and you can’t go wrong with any of them but I have found it very drinkable at a family holiday gathering where ham is the main course. I will do my homework and follow my own guidelines that have appeared in previous posts and will try to pick the best Riesling available for my taste. I will let you know if I score a hit or a miss. 

New LCB app

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

LCB offering free app

     The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has released a new free application for the Apple iPhone. Droid users will get their app in a few weeks. The app will allow the user to look through a wine list and other products, locate stores, order wine for home delivery and find the closest store to buy the selected bottle. The app uses just four buttons but will be continually evolving. The app is called Fine Wine & Good Spirits.        

You are correct

     There was an interesting article in the Greensburg Tribune Review today. It reinforces the theme of this blog and my personal opinion. The Bloomberg article cited a report in the American journal of Enology and Viticulture that wine makers and critics surveyed in Canada had a much better ability to sense the tiny differences in wine  than the average human can. The main point that I got out of this article was summed up in a quote from John Hayes director of Pennsylvania State University’s Sensory Evaluation Center. John said “But to me the simplest rule in wine is if you like it, drink it”. I totally agree and I like his attitude but just one question “How do you get a job like that?” If it is true that we mere mortals can not enjoy all the subtle nuances of truly great wines then I have to ask why should I pay a lot for wine when I am not going to able to taste the small differences. This theory leads me to share my search to locate very good wines between $10 and $20. The economics of the wine market makes for the pricing of these wines below others of lesser quality because of simple supply and demand. When I find a candidate I will be sure to share it with you for your consideration.

     Let’s start with a favorite of friends and neighbors that populate my deck during the summer. J Lohr Estates Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon is a steady sure pick and at $15.99 is available at Pa State Stores or by special order code number 8785. Check store availability and location online at 

Late winter at Ripepi winery

I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Rich, Mike and Anthony Ripepi on the passing of their mother Adelaide. I had known Mrs Ripepi for over 30 years and she was a wonderful and kind person that loved her family dearly. She will be sadly missed by all who knew her.

     Rich Ripepi is the owner of the Ripepi winery in Monongahela Pa. I stopped by the winery today and talked to Zach and Mike as they were pruning vines in the vineyard. The vineyard looked good and well maintained coming out of this unusually mild winter. I couldn’t help thinking that with a little wine makers good luck this years harvest could be something special.