December 2005 Newsletter
Wines evaluated last month: 217
Rejected: 209 Approved: 8 Selected: 4
The holidays always come with so many details. Well, we are here to eliminate at least one worry - which wines to serve at all your dinners and gatherings. Our December selections fill many shoes. Sparkling Wine can be served anytime, and Port is always an after dinner favorite. Have a great Holiday season!
La Delizia 'Demi-Sec', Friuli, Italy.
This is sparkling wine from the beautiful Friuli region in Italy. Slightly sweet, creamy, with notes of citrus, this is the per¬fect wine for toasting and to accompany all your holiday festivities.
2004 Bodega de Leon Syrah Port, Paso Robles, California.
Paso Robles boasts the per¬fect warm climate for
growing Syrah. San Antonio Winery presents us with their stunningly delicious Syrah Port. Serve with nuts and strong cheeses for the ultimate pairing.
Fantinel Prosecco, Non-Vintage, Friuli, Italy.
Prosecco is the drink of parties and symbolizes fun and frol¬ic. Elegant, light and full of fruit and flavor, Fantinel Prosecco is sure to enhance every toast and gathering. Three generations of Fantinels ensure its quality and craftsman¬ship.
2000 Presidential Port, Late Bottle Vintage, Oporto, Portugal.
Noted as being one of, if not the greatest vintage since 1961, this Port has a "do not miss" status. Six years in cask make it very drinkable now, but it will cellar for many years to come.
Friuli-Venezie Giulia is one of the smallest regions in Italy. It has a very attractive landscape ranging from alpine scenery to hills, plains, beaches, lagoons, and vineyards. La Delizia is situated in the center of the DOC Friuli Grave in the easternmost region of northern Italy. It was founded in 1931 by 70 passionate vine growers who joined together "to make wine together" and thus formed what is now Viticoltori Friulani la Delizia. Today there are over 850 members who cultivate 1800 hectares of vineyards. The soils are made of clay and gravel. The cool climate of the region make it ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes for sparkling wine. There is one warm trade wind, the "Bora," which brings warm air from the southeast. The grapes are grown with a high trellising pruning technique with low density spacing called Casarsa. This allows the grapes to be quickly and easily harvested by hand since the bunches are at shoulder height. The vinification process is overseen with precision and passion. Merlot, Refosco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tocai,
Pinot Grigio, and Verduzzo are also made here, but the award-winning sparkling wines are the highlight of the region. The wine is made with the Charmat Method from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. The Charmat (pronounced shar¬mah) is a way to make bubbly by letting the second fermentation take place in large tanks rather than individual bottles. It is also called Cuvee Close or the Tank Method. The color is a clear, bright yellow. La Delizia (the delish?) has a robust and bubbly structure. The nose is delicate with tangerine and peach with a citrus squirt. The palate is creamy and soft with a touch of sweetness. There is a bit of floral, citrus, and honey as well. The finish is light and refreshing. This wine is at home as an aperitif or to offset the bite of a gorgonzola cream sauce atop linguine, prawns, and prosciutto, or as a dessert wine with some fresh fruit. In Adventures in Food on page 13, we have printed a recipe for Sparkling Wine Sabayon, a classic dessert for your special holiday meal. The best trait of this delicious sparkling wine is its ability to make any event even more special with just a few sips.
Color: Bright yellow.
Nose: Tangerine, peach,
Flavor: Creamy, soft,
floral, citrus, honey.
Finish is light and
The San Antonio Winery is a "City of Los Angeles Cultural Historical Landmark," estab-lished in 1917. Since 1917, when Santo Cambianica left his home in Northern Italy, the San Antonio Winery has graced the landscape of Los Angeles and hosted thou¬sands of dinners and wine tastings. It is the last of more than one hundred producing wineries that once lined the Los Angeles River Basin. It is a popular restaurant and leg-endary banquet location, with a great tasting room, and an international wine shop with hundreds of domestic and imported labels. San Antonio Winery remains the only pro-ducing winery in Los Angeles. The winery is an oasis of good living in the heart of the city. Four generations have carried on Santo's tradition of making fine wine. Santo's nephew Stefano Riboli expanded the company, and his family has dedicated their lives to honor-ing the winery built several generations before.
Before, during, and after Prohibition, so much of the California wine production was centered on dessert wines more so than table wines. Yet, today, very few American
wineries produce dessert wines. Sam Balakian began his career at the Italian Swiss Colony in Asti, Italy, and then moved on to Madeira, Portugal, to enhance and per-fect his love of making dessert wines. Today he is the President and Wine Master of the San Antonio Winery in Paso Robles, California. His mission is to produce and pro-mote the fine art of making and drinking dessert wine. After many years of experi-menting with different grape varietals, Sam decided that the Syrah grapes from Paso Robles make the best port wine; the warmth of Paso Robles ripens the grapes per-fectly. Bodega de Leon is pro-duced from 100% Syrah grapes grown in Paso Robles. The color is a deep, black blue. The nose is assertive with exotic spice, cardamon, cinna¬mon, and red roses. This Port has a lot of weight and mouth-feel, a creamy texture, and soft tannin to balance the sweet¬ness. The finish is endless! This is a wine to enjoy now, but will also improve in the cellar for three to four years. Port is always great with a cheese course of gorgonzola and roquefort with almonds and cashews, but you should also try a small glass with osso buco or roast beef.
Bodega de Leon
Color: Deep, black blue.
Nose: Exotic spice,carda
mon, red roses.
Palate: Rich mouth-feel,
creamy, soft tannins.
Limited SEries Selection
Friuli is well off the beat¬en path in the easternmost region of northern Italy. It is officially known as Friuli Venezia-Giulia. Austria is to the north and the hills of Slovenia are to the east. To the west is Veneto and to the south is the northern end of the Adriatic Sea. The southern half of Friuli is protected from the cold winter weather by the Alps. Winds from the Adriatic Sea, particular¬ly the warm trade wind "Bora," brings warm air from the southeast. The climate is cool, with a long growing season. Friuli is blessed with just the right climate for growing white grapes. Here there is a large fluctuation between the warm day and the night temperatures. The night temperatures can be as much as 20 degrees cool¬er and this is significant for preserving the grapes acidity. Prosecco is a wine produced from the Prosecco grape in the Treviso hills north of
Venice. The best bottles are fresh, floral and full of juicy, foamy fun. Fantinel was founded in 1969, with the enthusi¬asm of Mario Fantinel. His sons, Luciano, Gianfranco, and Loris, have followed in their father's footsteps with the same passion and enthusiasm. The Fantinels have set up a partnership in Canada and are the first to mar¬ket wines to the Cuban market. With pride and motivation to do even better, the third genera¬tion of Fantinels are also involved in the family tradition. This Prosecco is a light, straw-yellow color. The nose is pleas¬ant and very elegant, not aggressive, with fresh floral smells of jasmine and gardenia. The flavor is smooth and fruity, with melon, peaches, and toast. Prosecco is a lively wine that is suit¬able for any occasion. Recommended as an aperitif, between meals, with panettone, and with sweets without cream. Salut!
Color: Light, straw
Palate: Smooth, fruity,
melon, peaches, toast.
Lively, crisp finish.
Limited Series Selection
"Such aromatic wines are like the ambrosia so beloved as love," wrote Luis de Camoes, the great lyric poet of Portugal. Portugal is famous for two styles of wine, Port and Madeira. Portugal has widely varied growing conditions and uses many grapes that are unique and indigenous to the region. In the seventeenth century, English merchants began sailing up the Douro River to establish trade with Portugal. To keep the wine from spoil-ing on the long sea journey, brandy was added to stabi¬lize it. These "new" fortified wines were able to withstand the rigors of a long journey in the hold of the ship and the fluctuating temperatures of the tropics. Fortified wines generally have between 17% and 21% alcohol. Ports can be made from either red or white grapes. Dozens of red grape varieties are used to make Port, but the primary types are Touriga Nacional, Tinto Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Barroca, Touriga Francesca, Tinta Cao, and Tinta Amarela. Port grapes are grown on the deep valley
walls sloping down to the Douro River. The climate is hot and dry, which stresses the vines and coaxes them to produce better grapes rather than more leaves. The soil is granite and soft schist. Port's name comes from the city of Oporto at the mouth of the Douro. There are many estates or "quintas", and Presidential is ranked as one of the ten leading brands of Port in the United States. It has won several international awards. Late-bottled vintage Ports spend up to six years in wood before release and are ready to drink. 2000 is possi-bly the most spectacular year ever in the history of vintage Port after 1961. The wine is delectable! The color is black ruby with purple. The nose is perfumed with an abundance of nuts, raisins, plums, choco-late, cherries, and spice. The palate is rich and crammed with ripe blackberry, choco-late-covered cherries, light tannin, and moderate sweet-ness. The finish is long and tastes of almonds. Stilton, Gorgonzola, or St. Jorge are great pairings. Chestnuts, cashews, and hazelnuts bring out the best. Melons, berries, tarts, and ice creams are deli-cious desserts to pair with it.
Late Bottled Vintage
Color: Black ruby.
Nose: Nuts, plums,
Palate: Rich, blackberry,
Long almond flavored
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