Category Archives: italy

Roman Style Wining and Dining in Chicago

There is nothing more awesome than a true Italian style dinner….multiple courses, good wine, and eating that spans several hours. It is pretty rare to find a restaurant that feeds you continuously for that long without requiring you to nibble and look ackwardly at your impatient waitress/waiter. But at Enoteca Roma the owners have created the ultimate Roman feast with 6 courses, serving more food that you can handle and the grand experience of eating what I like to call a “sprawling” European style dinner. All of it is for a swoon worthy $25. Count ’em…
1. Antipasta and Bruscetta
2. Appetizers- usually steamed mussells and stewed sausage
3. Salad
4. Polenta served hot on a cool slab of marble
5. Pasta
6. Pizza
(7. Dessert)

Dessert is a little extra, and we actually refused the pizza and went for the dessert instead. The various cheesecakes and gelato were a perfect way to end the meal. I greedily finished off the rest of the pana cotta that was silk smooth and topped with berries. It was nothing short of glorious. All of us couldn’t help but comment how great the meal was along the way. Each course was well made and definitely drool worthy. I am already plotting my next visit.

Bisson Prosecco IGT Valdobbabiene, Italy 2006- $13- Not bad- Damn Good

We started out with this bottle. It had a nice acidity and a good deal of carbonation that made it a good way to clean our palates and start the evening out right. With hints of citrus and pear and a light nose, I thought this was a pretty good prosecco.

Corregio Roero Nebbiolo Piemonte, Italy 2003-$18- Not Bad

This was a very fruit forward light bodied red. It had a little bit of an acidic, tanniny, dry finish but maintained its body. With the bitter savoriness of our arugula parmesan salad, it paired wonderfully showing a great complexity than at first taste. It also left a clean palate.

J Hofstatter Pinot Nero Valle D’Aosta, Italy 2005-$20- Damn Good

To me the best wine of the night, this bottle had a great fruity jammy nose with hints of cherry and a great taste to match. What made it interesting was its complex spicy finish. It went beautifully with our heavier more substantial pasta dishes. Less tannin than the previous wine, it had a medium body and was very drinkable.

Old World vs. New World Wines: Who Cares?


It was with equal parts delight and disappointment that I left WineStyles’ weekly Thursday evening tasting. Delight because the tasting was so overwhelmingly excellent, and because I’d bought a bottle from the tasting, along with another bottle of sparkling wine that promises almond notes that I felt I just had to try. Disappointment in myself, however, for not having the conviction and strength to stay true to my self-promise that I’d not buy any more bottles until I’ve whittled down my collection. And I was making such good progress too! Thirty bottles down to 22… AH! I really can’t afford to keep running out and buying new bottles – there will come a time when I can start a real collection and enjoy the luxury of lovingly counting out the dozens of bottles (e.g. when I have a bigger wine fridge/cellar), but now is really not it. Damn it. I should have known better to bring my wallet along. Oh well. What’s done is done. Now I have to recommit to my stand, and perhaps boycott non-BYOB restaurants in the meantime.

But man, the tasting! It was a very well thought out selection comprising of Italian and California wines. Sihao, Bruce, and I were so taken with all five wines we tried, that we had to re-taste all the wines – quite a few times at that – so we could pick favorites. In the end, Sihao left with two bottles, a beautiful example of a Gewürztraminer from Silverlake, and a delicious and what I call ‘lite-port’ dessert red wine from Cagnina di Romagna in Italy. I finally settled on the John Christopher Cellars 2003 blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Syrah because I was so taken with the heavy nose of black currants, black cherries, and all kinds of other fruit and spices. Jenel recommended pairing it with some BBQ pork tenderloin which I can totally see would make a delicious combination, but frankly, I’m more than happy to drink it alone.

My tasting notes:

Silverlake Gewürztraminer 2006: Beautiful floral notes in the nose, not so much the lychee, but the fruit was discernable in the body. Nice weight, and a long, pleasant finish.

Howling Wolf Pinot Grigio Lodi 2004: I think I have to rethink my stand that pinot grigios are simple white wines just meant as refreshing beverages for a hot summer’s day. In the last few weeks, I’ve sampled pinot grigios that have stood up for themselves, and asserted their uniqueness, including this example. I love to be proven wrong however, and I’m not one who tastes wines in the hopes of disliking them – what would be the point??? The Howling Wolf is a fuller bodied pinot grigio, with flavors of ripe fruit – peaches and melons perhaps – combined with some mineral notes. Again, I liked the weight of it.

John Christopher Cellars Epic 2003: My favorite for the evening, though it was really quite difficult to pick and choose sides. It’s a classic example of California (and New World wines) – explosive aromas of black fruit that just leaps out of the glass. I picked out notes of black currant (my base standard of comparison being Ribena) and black cherries. And the fruit aromas extended to the mouth-feel as well. Smooth and velvety. Very full bodied wine, and again, very nice weight. The spicy edge of the wine from the Petite Sirah was further complemented by the pieces of salami we had.

Narciso Nero D’Avola 2005: I recently tasted two bottles of nero d’avola wines from Sicily at an Italian restaurant, so I was quite excited to try it again. Coming right after the Epic, this wine felt quite a bit lighter in weight, more restrained – not as full bodied and luscious. The nose was a lot more toned down as well, more mineral notes than bold fruits (as is usually the case for Old World wines). It smelt and tasted a little hot, and brought to mind images of hot tires on hot tar roads.

Adesso Cagnanina di Romagna 2007: As I said before, like a port in style, except lighter both in weight and alcohol content, thus, ‘lite-port.’ Much less syrupy sweet than port, a perfect after-dinner accompaniment, even for those who profess not to like sweet wines I reckon. It was quite simply sublime with the pieces of dark chocolate proffered. By the way, ‘adesso’ means now in Italian, so perhaps this 2007 bottle is not meant for keeping?

St. Patty’s Day, the Wine Way

In a very miscalculated move, we didn’t buy tickets to the Metropolitan Opera’s live streaming of Britten’s Peter Grimes, mistakenly betting that the seats wouldn’t sell out. Who knew. So, after a hurried cab ride downtown later, I found myself forlornly standing outside the theatre, clutching my brown paper bag of toasted sandwiches I’d picked up for the 4 hour marathon.

Since we were downtown already anyway, we decided to go wine tasting. Just Grapes, right by my workplace, has free wine tasting from 1-4pm every Saturday, so we headed on there. In between sampling the 5 different tastings offered, we enjoyed a good chat with the store manager and the wine distributor. Ah, for a different career change. Anyway, here are my reviews of the wines:

2006 Riff, Pinot Grigio, Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy $11
The store’s tasting notes: “The vineyard sources for most of this Pinot Grigio contain a substantial amount of dolomite limestone which has an obvious impact on the wine’s character and style. It is because of the contrinbution that these fossils (limestone) make to the wine’s character that they have been chosen to be incorporated into the label design as a reminder of its geological origin. Simple, with apple, lemon and light mineral character. Light body. Delicate finish. Drink now.” While I wasn’t too impressed with the body and finish (boring, with no obvious flavors or textures), I really liked its nose. I did get the scent of apple and some lemon, and could see it as a delightful cool drink on a sweltering summer day.


2005 Franz Karl Schmitt, “Niersteiner Hipping,” Riesling Spatlesse, Rheinhessin, Germany $22
The store’s tasting notes: “The estate was founded by Jost-Schmitt in 1546, and has been in family possession since those days. Riesling is cultivated in some of the prime vineyards in Nierstein, including the classic Hipping. The grandfather of the present owner, also named Franz-Karl Schmitt, was renowned for his striving to produce great wines. He was the first to produce Trockenbeerenhauslesse in the Rheinhessen around 1900!” It’s difficult right off the first sip to pronounce that you don’t like sweet wines (which can be really tiring on the palate after a couple glasses), so it was with my experience with this. I prefered the bouquet proffered by the Pinot Grigio, but the gentle sweetness of this riesline was hard to dislike. It wasn’t cloyingly sweet, but the taste lingered on in my mouth long seconds after the liquid had been tipped down my throat.

2006 Rex Hill, Chardonnay, Oregon $22
The store’s tastings notes: “A crisp, yet complex wine, the 2006 Rex Hill Chardonnay represents the sixth vintage of Oregon’s original ultra-premium unoaked Chardonnay. To highlight the wonderful fruit and underlying minerality in some of the Wilamette Valley’s best vineyard sites, we ferment in small stainless steel to retain the fruit’s bright transparency and then age the wines on the lees to achieve a creamy mouthfeel. Aromas of candied citrus, plums, green apple. Good richness on the attack, with broad palate-coating flavors that echo the nose. The brisk acidity adds structure and freshness, focusing the mineral notes, and lengthening flavors.” It was quite exciting to identify the candid citrus (sort of like those sugar covered jelly beans one finds during the Chinese New Year festivities) and the green apple in the nose, but I couldn’t taste the same flavors in the body. I actually found the body and finish to be quite boring, but not achingly so – within seconds, no trace of its ever being there was left. I’m still not sure whether I prefer the oaked, buttery types of Chardonnay… should do a tasting sometime to tease out my taste.


2006 Paraiso, Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, Central Coast, California $24
The store’s tasting notes: “Paraiso’s flagship varietal. Wonderful Burgundian character: rich cherry and plum flavors with hints of spice, smoke, and toasty oak. All wrapped by structuring tannins and acidity. Amazingly food-versatile: salmon, roast chicken, beef tenderloin, you name it.” I profess to be quite partial to Pinot Noir, my interest in the grape stemming from a road trip Peirui and I made, oh, two years ago now (!!!). The nose exhibited the characteristics of the grape, but I was quite disappointed by the finish, which I found weak, almost watery. Chatting later with Janel from WineStyles, she confirmed my tasting notes, saying that the area saw too much rain in 2006. Ah.


2005 Chateau Saint Andrew Corbin, Merlot blend, St. Emilion, Bordeaux, $23
The store’s tasting notes: “Garnet with a violet rim, spicy cedar, blueberries and tobacco on the nose. Medium weight with spicy cedar, blueberries and tobacco, great structure.” If I closed my eyes and sniffed really hard, I could just pick out the scent of tobacco and cedar, but my god, the blueberries! It just jumped right out at you, unmistakeable and completely in your face. I loved the nose. But alas, the body was almost unbearably tight, the tannins completely sucking out the moisture from my lips. I suspect though, that a few years in the cellar might do wonders for this wine.

It was still early when we were done, and the revellers were still crowding the hundreds of Irish bars in the city. So we made our way over to Randolph Wine Cellars right down the street, and engaged in an entertaining tasting with another distributor.

My notes:

2006 Licia Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain $14
Heh, this tasting was right down my alley, since we tasted both the Albarinos and plenty of Grenaches, both grapes of choice right now. I thoguht the Rias had a very light nose, such that I couldn’t quite place the smell. Or maybe sensory fatigue was setting in already. But even so, I could definitely place the lemony structure in the body and finish, almost akin to lemon juice with a kick. Would be a delicious combination with a lightly sauteed fish – mmm, need to do another canoeing trip down the Wisconsin River this spring…


2004 Atrea “The Choir,” Mendocino County $20
It’s a rhone varietal blend, with parts of viognier and roussanne. This one had quite a pungent nose of wood and earth. The heavier body would make it an unsuitable pairing with fish, but the distributor suggested heavy aged cheeses.


2005 Moulin D’Issan, Bordeaux $16
A Bordeaux Superior wine, which doesn’t fall under the 5 growth system, this wine can be found in the Margaux region. Blend of 70% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. Lots of bright fruit in the nose, with a little bit of oak. I thought it tasted a little green.

2005 Domaine du Grand Tinel Chateauneuf-du-pape $30
My favorite tasting of the day, very smooth and balanced, with a hint of orange peel and black plum in the nose and body. It’s a blend of grenache, syrah, and mourvédre.

2004 Domaine Raspail-ay Gigondas, Rhone $22
Eh, to be honest, I’ve forgotten the taste of this, and didn’t take down any notes since I was busy enjoying a long conversation with the distributor about how she fell into wines and the various wine trips she’s taken in France (damn the weak USD right now). I do vaguely remember thinking that it was quite delicious though…

My palate was a little tired by this point, but the green clad revelers were still out on the streets, so we decided to continue the celebrations in our own way by making our way over to WineStyles, where Denise and Janel gave us two tastings of “green wines,” wines made the organic and environmentally friendly way. Erm, I don’t have any notes of those tastings either… but I did leave WineStyles armed with a bottle of Australian Grenahce that Janel says would go great with lambshank or spicy fish. Mmm.

We made a pit stop at Binny’s next, but boo, they didn’t have any tastings available. Disappointed but not deterred, we pressed on next to Sam’s Wine. By that time, I think the tastings were already concluded, so instead I tasted some cheeses (and picked up a slab of pate), and a pizza beer (beer brewed with pizza ingredients such as tomato, mozarella etc. very authentic!). And I also got the bottle of El Tesoro (thank you Cristalle!). 🙂

And then, I was done. 🙂

Great Leap Wines

Sihao, Bruce, and I stopped by WineStyles last night, ostensibly so that Sihao could pick up the bottle of wine he had bought on back order, but really so we could partake in the store’s “Great Leap Wines” tasting. The theme was entitled as such to take note of the rare leap year of course, but the wines in of themselves fitted the bill perfectly. Each of the four wines we tasted had gigantic noses that simply jumped out at you.

First up was the Allegrini La Grola Veneto, Italy 2004 ($28 at WineStyles, $24 at Sam’s): A blend of 70% Corvina Veronese, 15% Rondinella, 10% Syrah and 5% Sangiovese, the wine was aged 16 months in French oak. Big nose – lots of earth, chalk, and some plum. Need to start paying more attention to these Veronese wines…


Next up for the Punto Final Malbec Reserva 2005 ($25 at WineStyles – seems to retail online for ~$15): This wine was also fermented in French oak for 16 months (smell a trend here)… super dark color, almost violet. You could totally smell the oak on the nose. Quite a smooth finish – we debated for a while about picking up a bottle to go with Naples-styled pizza.


Third on the list, and my second favorite of the tasting, was the Nieto Senetiner Cabernet Shiraz 2004 ($18 at WineStyles, appears to retail elsewhere for about $10): The wine, yes, again, was aged in French oak, this time for about a year. Also a deep red. Big, almost gripping smell – first of aged cheese and some pepper. After a few minutes of talking, I sunk my nose back into the glass and was surprised to smell faint notes of citrus, then some herbal notes. Quite a delight.


Last, and my favorite of the night is the rare Mio Amarone DOC 2004 ($66 at WineStyles; couldn’t find a price quote online): Made of 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara, the wine had a strong raisin-y smell, with just the slightest tinge of sweetness. I loved it – it was a big wine, with 14.7% alcohol, and very concentrated. It should go well with aged cheese at the end of a big meal, but I definitely wouldn’t eat it with my meal as it’s too overwhelming. I took but two tastings of it, and could feel my palate tiring from all the explosions of flavors.

A brief overview of the Amarone grape from the Wine Lovers Page:

© by Tom Hyland

Amarone is one of Italy’s wine treasures that is loved by wine drinkers looking for ripe fruit, power, roundness and a sense of adventure in their red wine. Put a combination like that together and it should come as no surprise that Amarone is so popular these days.

Why is Amarone enjoying such renown and acceptance these days? Being a big – read 14 percent alcohol – wine doesn’t hurt and either does the name which most people can pronounce, unlike some Italian words. But it may be the singularity of this wine that makes it such a favorite.

Amarone is produced in the region of Veneto by estates that make Valpolicella, one of the most popular wines of this area in Northeastern Italy. The same grapes, primarily Corvina (usually the leading component in the blend) along with Rondinella and Molinara, are used to produce Amarone. But the difference between the two wines is usually striking; where Valpolicella is a medium-weight wine meant for consumption with lighter fare with in its first 3-5 years, Amarone is a much more robust wine that is perfect with game birds or other such sturdy fare over the course of 7 to 15 years.

The reason for the stylistic difference in these wines is in the winemaking. To produce an Amarone (properly known as Amarone della Valpolicella Classico), a winemaker will take the harvested grapes and lay them on a straw mat, often in an attic or other warm room. The grapes then dry over the course of several months creating a raisiny flavor that is a distinctive character of Amarone.

As Amarone comes from the Italian word amaro (“bitter”), most examples have a tartness or slightly astringent edge to them. Alternatively, you may notice a sweet edge to them that can be explained in the concentrated sugars the grapes pick up during the drying process. Certainly, the combination of raisiny and sweet black fruit can make Amarone an irresistible temptation.

That slightly sweet edge in the finish can also come from the fact that a particular Amarone may not be entirely dry. Amarone is actually a recent innovation, dating back only from the 1950s. Before that, the process of drying grapes in this fashion (known as appasimento) resulted in a sweet, super-rich wine known as Recioto. Legend has it that the first Amarone was a mistake, as a winemaker had let a barrel of wine ferment too long and the wine’s residual sugar had been eliminated. Recioto is still made today and its sweetness and richness make it a perfect choice at the end of a meal, often with powerful cheeses. (Many producers of Amarone also produce a Recioto – the official name is Recioto Della Valpolicella – with Masi and Tedeschi among the best.)

In the end, after many rounds about the store in search of the perfect pizza accompaniment, we settled on a bottle of Castellare di Castellina 2004, a Chianti Classico ($29 at WineStyles, seems to retail online for around $20 – BLEAH): I couldn’t find a picture of the 2004 label – the bird on the label changes every year (ala Mouton Rothschild with the paintings on the label commissioned to different artists every year). Supposedly, the winemaker is a bird lover and donates a portion of his proceeds to the conservation of the birds. Anyway, we thought this was the perfect example of a Chianti Classico after it’d opened up through the course of our meal (the truffle oil and pruciutto pizza, btw, was to die for). At first, I was a little surprised by how smooth and a little sweet the wine seemed, but after a bit, the tannins began to shine through.


Cheers: Wines of the (or my) holidays

Wines of choice this holiday season (so far):

1. Tamellini Soave 2004 ($12):Damn good
Over dinner with the girls Maggie, Kayla, and Peiyun. Our shared Italian meal was excellent – simple, yet flavorful and tasteful. Peiyun admired the Soave too, which incidentally, I have another bottle that’s sitting in my fridge. Made of 100% Garganega grapes, the wine is a light gold in color with a heady apple and apricot perfume. Strong, luscious mouthfeel and finish, an elagant wine.

Eat – seafood pasta


2. Domaine Weinbach Gewurztraminer Clos des Capucins Reserve Personnelle 750ml 2005 ($33)Damn good
This was one of the dozen bottles I picked up at the beginning of December, and actually, the most expensive one. Which was a little odd, considering my preference for reds, but the wine experts at Sams helped me put together my case, and they couldn’t help going on and on about the Alace wine. I broke it out last Thursday night, after a heavy dinner at Broadway Cellar with my favorite peeps who were in town. Peiyun wasn’t a fan though; I guess she didn’t quite enjoy the more restrained body with the slightest peppery finish. I thought it quite austere, a little chewy, and on hindsight, perhaps a wine better served with food.

Eat – asparagus methinks


3. Susan Balbo Malbec 2005 ($16)Damn good
We opened this last Friday, post-dinner at Barbareebas, when we were lounging on my landing, playing my various board games. Definitely an easy to drink wine; lots of fruit in the nose – blueberries, rasberries. Very lush, and complemented the sponge cake that the girls got for Peiyun’s belated birthday.

Eat – chocolate and rasberry cake


4. Turnbull Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($47)Orgasmic
If the Malbec was a youthful, exuberant wine, then the Turnbull could be likened to as a more grown up version. The Cabernet wasn’t as packed heavy with fruit as the Malbec – it was a thinner, more svelte, and much sexier version. Think slinky silver dress with those long gloves. Alright, I know I’m over the top with my descriptions, but I stand by my point: the Turnbull was sultry. The first sip took me by surprise: it was smooth, silky, slid down my throat, and I was smitten. I brought it over to Sandy’s for Christmas eve, and yes, it went well with the smoked turkey.

Eat – turkey! Or even on its own


5. Clautiere Estate Viognier 2004 ($23)Damn good
I picked this bottle up on a whim over the summer. I remember the wine shop well: it was a small, boutique shop near UIC. We had stopped in after dim sum on Saturday afternoon, looking for some tastings, and I fell into conversation with the people working in the store. We gushed over viogniers, and she let me taste this one bottle. Last night, I popped the cork, rationalizing that no matter that I was alone at home, it was Christmas. A deep, golden yellow in color, it has a heavy nose of honeydew and melon. Thick, creamy body that just sits so right in your tongue, and rounded off with an earthy finish.

Eat – erm, I had it with instant noodles the first night, and then kebab the second. Mmm.


Two glasses: Montepulciano and Pinot Noir

Sorely tempted to whip up a dinner and open a bottle of wine to wash the food down with. But I made sort of an informal pact with myself, that I’ll only buy a new case of wine after December 1st. So, in the meantime, I have to make do with a just a couple glasses of wine to go with dinner.

I had two glasses this weekend (well, three, if you count the half glass of Prosecco I shared on impulse). On Friday, I had a glass of Umani Ronchi Montepulciano D’abruzzo, an Italian wine from the Abruzzo region. Having no prior expectations, I was very impressed with the wine. It was lush and very fruity, from the nose to the mouthfeel, of cherries and blackberries. A simple, but deliciously full and smooth wine; and I was almost sad when I drained my glass. But I was sad when I forgot my leftover rigatoni and sausages and left it at the restaurant. Boo.

On Saturday, I checked out La Madia, a new pizza and wine bar downtown (On a side note, I’ve not ventured to new restaurants in a while, and I fear I may have gotten too lazy and comfortable, and no longer adventurous, boo). It was hellish finding parking downtown on a weekend night; I had known that from the start but loathe to take the bus/train. Finally, after driving around in circles for 20 minutes, I found a parking garage that charged the cheap price of $10 for 2 hours; the restaurant charged $12 (not including tips) for valet. Anyway, the Neapolitan pizzas were amazing, and brought back the happy and heady memories of Rome and Italy so many years ago now. Of late dinners where we lingered for hours over jugs of house wine all the while breathing in smoke from all the other diners’ tables (sometimes even from our own); of standing on a dark street corner outside our favorite pizza joint that’s down the street from our hotel, hastily wolfing down the fresh, hot slices so we could go check out the bars in the piazza down the hill; of Naples – that humungous villa where we stayed, the foggy Mt. Vesuvius, the tragically beautiful and beautifully preserved Pompeii. Just what we needed, was what we kept gushing throughout the dinner. Forget the rich and heavy Chicago style pizza that ooze cheese, cheese, and more cheese. I loved biting into the crunchy thin crust of my La Madia pizza, loved savoring the nuttiness the pine nuts brought out in the cheese, and the bitterness of the arugula against the salty prosciutto (yay, leftovers to enjoy today; can’t believe I almost forgot to take it with me again).

I was still thinking about that Umani Ronchi from the night before. Alas, I’d decided to try a different wine this time, a Pinot Noir from Burgundy, from Mischief & Mayhem. With a memorable name like that, I was almost certain I’d had it before, but I can’t find any records of it. Shrug. That was an almost disappointing glass (7 oz to be exact): the wine was thin, and sharp, and the tannins made it seem a little too astringent. I’m not sure if age would have helped mellow the wine, because it seemed too thin already. Where was my earth, mushroom and meat?

Back to earth: Hearty Reds


I visited Bin 36 with some friends last Thursday where I tried a “Down to Earth Reds” flight – I was very impressed with the selection. At $14 for a flight of 4 wines, it was not only good value for money, it was also one of the more thoughtful selections I’ve seen put together in a long while. All four glasses of wine offered their own unique aromas and body; fascinating and interesting. I’ll not hesitate to buy any of these wines in a heartbeat; perfect to bring to a party – and my next climbing trip!

Words in italics are tasting notes from Bin 36.

2006 (Grenache / Syrah / Mourvedre), Cotes-du-Rhone, Domaine Montirius, Rhone Valley, France $14: “This complex little wine manages to exhibit plush texture with chewy, dark minerals and fruit.”
-> I thought the nose was somewhat similar to an Oregon Pinot Noir – some damp earth, but softer and also a little sourish, some cherry. Definitely chewy. Hot finish.

2005 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Quattro Mani, Abruzzi, Italy $11: “Elegant and restrainted with earthy currants and hints of cedar.”
-> I LOVED the nose – interesting blend of spices and sweets. Whiff of strawberries.

2005 (Cabernet / Carmenere / Cab Franc) Vina Maquis, Calcu, Colchagua, Chile $13: “This one is all grown up with sophisticated flavors and a mineral driven profile, with dark fruit and dark chocolate.”
-> Lots of oak in the nose; tannic mouthfeel; deep red fruit – blackberries. Sweet fruit with a minerally finish.

2004: (Cabernet Sauvignon / Grenache / Syrah / Mourvedre / Carignan), Mas de Gourgonnier, Les Baux de Provence, Provence, France $19: “Smooth texture, earthy ripe and dark berriers, cassis and a plummy, mineral core.”
-> Loved the nose, though it was slightly maddening because I just couldn’t place the particular scent of spiciness. Thyme, sandalwood, cuimin, liqourice, Chinese herbal shop?!?! I need to pick up a bottle to more intensely sniff it out. Strong tannins in the mouth.