2009 Cecchi Chianti Classico

Wine Wednesday – Go Italian with Chianti

2009 Cecchi Chianti Classico

2009 Cecchi Chianti Classico

A pleasant Chianti imported from the Tuscany region of Italy. Made with a blend of Sangiovese grapes, this red wine offers up floral and red berry aromas along with a well-balanced structure. It is on the dry side, although with a slightly fruity tang, has a nice minerality and flavors of cherry and oak. Decant prior to serving to open up the aromas and tone down the acidity.

A great Chianti for the price and one I will stock up on while still available.

Food Pairing: This spicy, fruity wine compliments most foods and pairs best with tomato-based foods such as lasagna, pizza, bruschetta and Veal Parmesan, light meats, Italian cheeses and the more pungent vegetables such as zucchini, asparagus and roasted garlic.

Price Range: $11.99-$14.99

3 and one half out of 5

Linda's Signature

2009 Veranda Cabernet Carmenere

A Delicious Chilean Wine – 2009 Veranda Cabernet-Carménère

2009 Veranda Cabernet CarmenereAfter my wine tasting in Chicago, I had to search out and find a Chilean wine that stood as a good example of the delicious wines that can be found in that region. The 2009 Veranda Cabernet-Carménère is an excellent example of just such a wine.

The Veranda Cabernet is an estate bottled wine from the Colchagua Valley of Chile where Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Syrah wines are predominant. It is a medium-bodied red wine blend with dark fruit and earthy aromas and just the right hint of smoky notes. Its flavors are well structured and primarily of blackberry and plum, courtesy of the Carmenere grapes, but the finish is all Cabernet, with the taste of black cherry coming to the forefront.  A wonderfully rich wine that will pair well with heavier meals. I recommend everyone stock up on this one while it is still available.

Food Pairing: As with the fuller Cabernet Sauvignons, this blend of Cabernet and Carmenere, pairs best with the rich and powerful flavors of grilled meats as the dark fruit and spiciness compliments the smoky taste of the grill.

Price Range: $16.00-$19.00

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Bin 36 Wine Flight

Wine & Cheese Tasting Chicago Style

Bin 36 Wine FlightLast week I took a trip up to Chicago to visit my sister and we wined and dined ourselves at some interesting and tasty restaurants. And one of the most fun adventures was our wine and cheese tasting at Bin 36.

Bin 36 is just a little off Michigan Avenue and is a popular place for early evening get-togethers. The restaurant is very spacious with tables for dining, at least 2 bars and a private party area upstairs. They have a menu which groups both cheeses and wines into regions where you can pair the wines with similar area cheeses or just order individually. We decided on a flight of wines, each to our particular tastes, and shared a cheese flight as well.

Cheese Flight BoardOur cheese flight, better known as Positive Algebra, consisted of 4 cheeses, Cocoa Cardona from Wisconsin, a creamy, mild goat cheese dusted with cocoa powder (excellent), Bella Vitano, also from Wisconsin, with a nutty flavor and bathed in balsamic vinegar (oh so excellent), a Spanish manchego marinated in olive oil and rosemary (again an excellent choice) and lastly Barely Buzzed from Utah, a heartier cheese with an expresso crust. All this is served with green apple slices and wonderfully crisp crostini.

2011 Hacienda Los Haroldos MalbecMy wine flight consisted of 4 red wines from Argentina & Chile. I have to say that the first wine was really the best of the four. The first was a 2011 Malbec from Hacienda Los Haroldos. The bouquet was not as evident as I would like but the fruit forward taste was definitely enjoyable. Flavors of dark cherry and plum were most prominent with balanced tannins and notes of vanilla, chocolate and toasty oak.  I would rate this a 3.5/5 and would order again. Purchase at the store for around $9 a bottle.
2012 Merino SyrahMy second wine was a 2012 Merino Syrah, a medium weight red wine from Chile. This was another fruit forward wine with a nice balance and some acidity. Not as rich in flavor as I would have liked following the Malbec but I could detect tastes of blackberries and raspberries with a long minerality and spiciness at the finish. Rating of 3/5. Purchase for around $17 a bottle.
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Crios red blendThird was the 2012 Crios Red Blend from Argentina. A long name for this varietal that encompasses the Malbec plum flavors (40%) with the cherries and raspberries from the Bonarda (40%), the blackberries and blueberries from the Tannat (15%) and spicy black pepper and cloves from the syrah (5%). As you can see it is a veritable fruit cocktail and is slightly different than your average blend, however it does hold its own and the finish is enjoyable. Rated 3/5 or maybe 3.5/5 and averaging about $12 per bottle.
2010 Morande CarmenereLastly was a 2010 Morande Carmenere from Chile. This red was the most complex of the four with flavors of ripe blackberries and hazelnuts and an earthy texture with hints of green peppers and smoke. It had a rounded mouth feel with soft tannins and a somewhat long finish but didn’t sit well on my palate. It also seemed out of order with the flight choices. Rated 2.5/5 and runs about $12 per bottle.
Cheers!
Linda's Signature

A Mischievous Wine for Wine Wednesday

2011 Macchia “Mischievous” Zinfandel

2011 Macchia Mischievous Zinfandel

We were having guests over for dinner last night and I  was serving some delicious looking steaks with zucchini and prosciutto skewers and wanted a full-bodied wine that would compliment the meal such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or a rich Zinfandel. After perusing the wine store aisles I found this California Zin that had a high rating of 92 and also a recommendation from the wine buyer. What more could I ask for? And they were right on the money – a super fantastic wine for under $20 that tasted more like a $60 bottle.

Macchia winery, located in Acampo California, gives their Zins very interesting names such as Outrageous, Adventurous and Oblivious and I am sure each one lives up to its namesake and this 2011 Zinfandel is no exception. Blended from 5 different vineyards, using the grapes from the stronger older vines, Macchia has produced a classic fruit-forward wine with rich berry flavors, just the right amount of oak, some earthiness and a subtle hint of vanilla. It has a wonderfully smooth finish and is the perfect accompaniment to steaks, grilled dishes as well as rich pastas.

Note: This wine has a higher alcohol content than most wines coming in at 16%.

Price Range: $17.99-$19.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Singer/Songwriter Dave Matthews Becomes Winemaker

2010 Dreaming Tree CabernetWant to serve a nice red wine with your next steak dinner? Well, you can’t go wrong with this 2010 Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, especially if you like a more medium-bodied wine and one that is not too dry.

And there is an interesting story behind this wine. It has a very famous singer/songwriter to thank for its origin – Dave Matthews, as well as a famous winemaker, Steve Reeder. Dave & Steve were eager to create a wine that was both flavorful and “full of soul” as well as one that had the least amount of environmental impact. They achieved their goal by sourcing grapes only from sustainably-farmed vineyards on California’s North Coast, producing labels that are made of recycled paper, using a bottle that is 25% less dense than standard bottles and stopping with corks from sustainably grown trees.

Now, without a good tasting wine these noble ideals wouldn’t be that important but, thankfully, the wine is very enjoyable. Upon opening, aromas of dark fruit and plum meet the nose followed by a taste that is full of intense cherry and blackberry flavors and just a touch of vanilla and licorice. It has a nice smooth, velvety texture and a finish that has a hint of sweet spices and vanilla. Great wine for the money!

Food Pairing: Serve with beef such as steaks and standing rib roasts, grilled leg of lamb and pork loin as well as coal-fired pepperoni pizzas, Eggplant Parmesan and hard cheeses.

Price Range: $12.99-$16.99

Rating 4 out of 5

This Wine Wednesday Go Organic

2011 Natura CarmenereThis 2011 Natura Carmenere is a wonderful example of a true organically grown wine, allowing the true flavors of the grapes to shine through. The Natura vineyard, located in Colchagua Valley, Chile, is comprised of winemakers who understand that the best way to obtain healthier vineyards & wines, help protect the environment, as well as its workers, is to farm with organic and biodynamic agriculture. In other words, replacing the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers with natural products such as compost from the actual grape plants themselves, fertilization by planting grasses and legumes around the plants that help contribute nitrogen to the soil and allowing animals to graze to help control the weeds. This also serves to protect the soil from contamination and degradation and reduce the vineyards overall carbon emissions.

Their ruby red Carmenere is composed of 85% Carmenere, 8% Syrah, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot grapes and has repeatedly won awards through the years sponsored by such notables as Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate.

The wine has earthy aromas of dark cherry & blueberry and a touch of black pepper and is velvety smooth.  On the palate, there are prominent tastes of blueberry and boysenberry as well as hints of sassafras, black tea, vanilla, mocha and chocolate. The finish is fruity but not overly complex with a touch of mint and chocolate.

A medium-bodied, dry red wine that has light spices and a smooth texture and makes a perfect everyday drinking wine. A steal at $8.99! Serve chilled between 60-65 degrees.

Food Pairing: Serve this wine with grilled red meats as well as poultry, ham, pastas and ripe cheeses.

Price: $8.99

3 and one half out of 5

Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – 2009 Baronia Del Montsant Flor D’englora Roure

2009 Baronia Del Montsant Flor D’englora RoureWhen I first saw this wine on Total Wines’ Top 15 Summer Wines under $15 and listed at #5, I wondered what type of red wine it actually was. It turns out that it is a combination of 5 different grapes, 60% Red Grenache, 35% Carignan, 2% Merlot, 2% Syrah and 1% Ull de Llebre, some of which I had never heard of, but thought with such a high recommendation I would give it a try.

This wine is from Spain and made from grapes grown at the foot of the Montsant in the Siurana Valley. Most of the vines at the vineyard actually date back more than 80 years. This blend has a high percentage of the Grenache grape, which is the grape primarily used in Riojas and light Rosé wines, but with the addition of the Carignan and Syrah is much more full-bodied than its counterparts.

Upon opening, aromas of black cherry, plum, Asian spices, smoke and licorice drifted to my nose while the first sip brought flavors of plum, dark cherry, a  hint of mocha and some complex minerality to my palate. It is definitely a full-bodied Spanish red but with a little too much of a sour taste for my liking. I did find that after letting it breath for an hour it was a little less sour but I  would probably not purchase this wine again as I feel there are better full-bodied red wines available for a more reasonable price.

Food Pairing: Serve  with red meat, heavier fish, pizza, pasta, tapas selections and hard cheeses.

Price:$14.99

3 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Tipsy Tuesday – Wines & Hot Dogs

variety of hot dogsOK, that is one strange title but I thought it would be fun to tie in my wine posting with National Hot Dog Day (and incidentally National Hot Dog Month) and see where it took me.

2010 Cooper Station Pinot NoirThere are three perfect choices for those lovely grilled dogs, plain or with just a little mustard and sauerkraut on top, and they are Rose, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir. All are full of fruitiness and crispness that compliment the sausage itself as well as the sour character of the sauerkraut. So this week I bring a delicious and inexpensive Pinot Noir to your attention that goes perfectly with your outdoor barbecue.

And a little extra info for those that like their favorite dogs in other than the classic style.

Chicago-style dogs – stick with a light to medium-bodied crisp white wine that matches the saltiness of the pickles and peppers and choose a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc.

Chili dogs – opt for a full-bodied Zinfandel or Shiraz that helps cool down the spiciness and cut through the fat.

2010 Cooper Station Pinot Noir

A wonderfully crisp medium-bodied wine with musky floral aromas and smooth berry flavors of  cherry, strawberry and blueberry. Notes of spice, cloves and herbs give this Pinot Noir a nice complexity and the hint of toasty oak adds just the right touch. It is a great wine for your backyard barbecue that can hold its own against many of the pricier brands.

Price Range: $9.99-$14.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Blackstone Merlot

Ah, all is good, another Wine Wednesday! I know you are saying – A MERLOT – that is so out of fashion, but it still remains a classic grape that produces some wonderfully delicious wines. Did you know that it is still the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux region of France? And the French know something about wine! So give this one a try, you won’t be sorry.

2011 Blackstone Merlot

2011 Blackstone Merlot

This wine is a blend of several different grapes, predominantly Merlot at 82%, followed by 4% Petite Sirah, 10% Syrah, 2% Cabernet, 1% Cabernet Franc and 1% Rubired. The grapes for this wine are blended together from many of the high quality wineries across central and southern California.

The wine itself is deep red in color with aromas of dark cherry, plum, spicy pomegranate and a rich earthiness. I liked this wine because it was on the dry side and very delicate with cherry and plum flavors and that wonderful hint of vanilla. The finish was pleasant, a lingering crispness with a slightly tangy bite . It is an easy to drink wine and a great value at under $10 and one I will definitely stock up on for my everyday wine.

Food Pairing: Merlot is very much like a Pinot Noir in that it pairs with almost any meal. Serve with dinners of Italian spaghetti and lasagna, pork and veal roasts, dishes with heavier cheese sauces and even barbecue.

Price: $7.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – A Fantastic French Cabernet Franc

Total Wine ran an ad on the Top 15 wines of summer that were under $15 which, of course, intrigued me.  I am always looking for great wines under the $20 price point, many of which are covered under my wine and food blog, shecooks-hecooks or, as I like to call it, SipSauteSavor.  This 2010 Reserve des Vigerons Saumur Champigny from the Loire Valley in France  ranked #9 on their list.

2010 Reserve des Vigerons Saumur Champigny

The wine turned out to be one of the best Cabernet Franc wines I have had and to have a French wine this good, and in this price range,  is truly remarkable (and a lucky find).

In general, Cabernet Francs have herbal characteristics highlighted with dark spice and tobacco and often have a green bell pepper taste, which is usually what I don’t like about this type of wine. However, this cabernet franc subdued the taste of the green bell pepper and brought out the taste of ripe red fruits, blackberry and herbal accents making it so much more palatable. Its midrange continues to delight with a mild minerality and it finishes with a tasteful blend of fresh flowers edged with spices and cloves.

All together, it is a very light-bodied, earthy and fresh tasting wine that makes an excellent partner to almost any food.

Food Pairing: Pair with pork and poultry, vegetable lasagna, risotto and any meal where you would normally choose a Pinot Noir.

Price: $12.99

Rating 4 out of 5

Cheers! Wishing everyone a wonderful and safe 4th of July!

Linda's Signature