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

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

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 – Gordon Brothers Chardonnay

2010-Gordon-Brothers-ChardonnayI love trying new Chardonnays, especially in the summer when I want something light and refreshing, and this 2010 Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards Chardonnay really hits the mark.

The wine is comprised of 100% Chardonnay grapes and produced in the oldest estate winery in Washington state, and let me tell you, it is absolutely fabulous! Upon opening, you will be greeted with aromas of apples, pear and melon as well as some toasty floral notes.  On your first sip, you will find a wonderfully complex wine with flavors of butterscotch, or maybe it’s caramel, tangerine and pineapple and a rich, smooth, lingering finish. A great wine to stock up on and enjoy during the heat of summer.

Food pairing: An excellent wine to accompany turkey, fish, pork, cream-based pasta sauces, salads and a variety of cheeses.

Price: $14.99

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

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Catena Malbec

2011 Catena MalbecThis past weekend I celebrated my wedding anniversary and on Saturday my husband and I stopped by Legal Seafood for a late afternoon drink and appetizer. We both decided to try one of the bartender’s recommendations, the 2011 Catena Malbec, Vista Flores. It was a great decision as this wine was not too dry like a Cabernet and not too light like a Merlot.

Catena Malbec is a medium to full-bodied red produced in the Mendoza region of Argentina known for their Malbecs, Cabernets, Syrahs and Tempranillos. This particular wine was a nice dark ruby color, had a slightly peppery nose and flavors of rich plum and blackberry with hints of mocha, fennel and vanilla on the finish.  It was well-balanced and pairs well with many different foods. We thoroughly enjoyed it along with our hot crab dip and wonton appetizers. I will definitely look for this malbec next time I shop for wines and stock up with a bottle or two.

Food Pairing: Malbec is a very versatile wine which can accompany lean meats, lamb, pork , spicy dishes from Mexico, India, Thailand or Italy as well as the sharper, harder cheeses.

Price Average: $15  

rating 4 out of 5

Linda's Signature

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Navarro Correas Malbec

Navarro Correas Malbec Coleccion PrivadaWhat a surprise this wine was when I had it recently. We were having a dinner of grilled steak and vegetable shish kabobs and I wanted something that would complement the beef. This versatile wine fit the bill perfectly.

This Argentinean wine, grown in the Mendoza region known for its superb Malbecs, greets you with aromas of herbs, flowers, cherries and plum and then the intense flavors of wild berries, cherries, plums and figs with hints of chocolate, vanilla and smoke explode on your palate. There is a spicy intensity to this wine, along with a slight oakiness, that carries its flavors right through to the lingering finish. Not only will you find this is a better than average wine but also a bargain at under $10. Stock up on this one if you enjoy an aromatic and spicy Malbec.

Food Pairing: Malbec is one of those wines that go with just about anything. Whether it is a filet mignon, spicy Mexican, Thai or Italian meal, lamb, game, semi-hard cheeses or even barbecue, this wine won’t disappoint.

Price:$9.95

3 and one half out of 5

Linda's Signature