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2000 Labégorce, Margaux $39.99

A great value in Bordeaux! This bottle is mature enough to drink now, but has time in hand if you want to keep it in the cellar for the future. We love it for its laid back elegance and classic balance. A must try for your next nice steak dinner.

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All tastings will feature different products from the Spirits Department and take place on Wednesdays in Redwood City and San Francisco. Visit our events page on Facebook or the K&L Spirits Journal for more information.

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Entries in Piedmont (3)

Monday
Feb042013

The Oliver McCrum Piedmont Tour

By: Gary Westby | K&L Wine Merchants

The Oliver McCrum Piedmont Tour

Last Thursday night, K&L Redwood City was treated to a visit from three great producers from the northwest of Italy, Piedmont. They all make very different styles of wine from this high quality, diverse region but have one thing in common: very strong value for the money. Oliver McCrum brings all of the wines in, and he is an importer I look up to for his integrity, palate and belief in value wines.

Marco Porello

We started the tasting with Marco Porello’s excellent  2011“Camestri” Arneis from Roero ($16.99). This bright, aromatic white wine was light enough to make a great aperitif, but had enough stuffing in it to keep the interest of the most demanding wine fan. It is entirely from the small Camestri vineyard in Vezza d’Alba planted in 1980 at an altitude of almost 1000 feet on limestone and sand. High quality Arneis like this gives those looking for a Viognier like aromatic experience a basket of exotic fruit on the nose, but finishes dry and long because of the good acidity.

Marco PorelloHe also showed the elegant 2010 Marco Porello Nebbiolo d’Alba ($16.99) that is produced from two vineyards, one in Canale and one in Vezza d’Alba. The vines were planted between 1980 and 1985 at an altitude of 980 feet. This wine is vinified in giant 800-gallon Slovenian oak botti for one year. The wine shows the rose petal side of Nebbiolo more than the tar side, and is quite delicious to drink right now. It has plenty of perfume, a seamless texture and a nice finish that has grip with out being chalky. I need some of this for my cellar- I’ll start drinking it right away and hold onto a few for the next five years or so.

Maria Abbona in Dogliani

We were also honored by the presence of Federico Schellino from one of the best Dolcetto producers in the world, Maria Abbona in Dogliani. These Dolcettos have been favorites of mine for years, and getting a chance to meet the man behind them was a real treat for me. He showed the 2011 Anna Maria Abbona “Sori dij But” Dolcetto di Dogliani ($16.99) first. This rich Dolcetto comes from a selection of seven and a half acres of vineyards that average 45 years old. The 1600 to 1700 foot elevation of these sites explains the excellent snap that this full bodied wine has- this is not your average low acid Dolcetto! If you are looking for a full-bodied, dark fruited wine for rich dishes, this is it. I bought some immediately!

Federico Schellino

My personal favorite wine of the night was the powerful, impressive, perfectly balanced 2009 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani “Maioli” ($20.99). This wine comes from one four-acre site at 1640 feet that was planted in the 1930s. It wasn’t enough to just taste this with Federico, I had to buy some and bring it back home to Cinnamon for our pasta! Too many wine fans dismiss Dolcetto as simple, but a taste of the “Maioli” will dismiss that stereotype instantly. It is full of wild blackberry fruit and is very full bodied with a long, grippy finish. Most wines that are this big and rich come across as overweight, but this flagship Dolcetto has the acidity to finish with focus.

Marco Dogliotti

We finished up with two charming Moscatos from Marco Dogliotti’s excellent La Caudrina from Castiglione Tinella on the Asti/ Monferrato border. His father was the first producer of high quality, estate grown Moscato in Piedmont; most of the production in this area is sold off in bulk as juice to big negociants. Marco poured the La Caudrina Asti “La Selvatica” ($19.99) first, which at 5 atmospheres is almost at full Champagne pressure. It is produced from 37-year-old vines at about 900 feet. This spumante is perfect for wine lovers looking for something a little bit drier, more bubbly, and fuller bodied than Moscato d’Asti. I found it to have lots of exotic aromas, a nice mousse and a sweet but clean finish.

Marco DogliottiFinally we tried the 2011 La Caudrina Moscato d’Asti ($17.99) from slightly younger 34-year-old vines also at about 900 feet of elevation. This is one of the very best Moscato d’Astis that I have had the pleasure of trying. Effortlessly light, full of charming perfume and welcoming sweetness, this is the perfect dessert wine for an elegant meal. At only two atmospheres of pressure and 5% alcohol it won’t make you feel full of bubbles or knock you over the head.

I can’t wait to get back to Piedmont and see these guys again!

Cheers,

-Gary 

Wednesday
Oct102012

Food & Wine Pairings: Short Ribs & Nebbiolo

By: Gary Westby | K&L Wine Buyer

Nebbiolo Dinner

With fall here, Cinnamon decided to make our short ribs from the ½ steer that we bought from Fred Manas and Manas Ranch. That inspired me to brush up on the wines of Piemonte- specifically the great Nebbiolos from this rightly famous wine region. As you will see in today's video, Greg St. Clair, K&L's Italian Wine Buyer recommended a great pair of Langhe Nebbiolos to go with this extremely rich dish.

Because of the heady power and slow developing nature of these wines, the steps that you take at home with these bottles to improve your experience make all the difference. The size of these wines lends themselves to drinking a bit cool- just over cellar temperature. They also need a lot of time to open up, so decant well in advance of drinking. I put our two wines into carafes 2 ½ hours ahead of time, and the Ruggeri didn't show at 100% until the second half of the bottle! Glassware also makes a big difference. The Burgundy/Pinot Noir glass is the way to go for these wines.

2010 Ruggeri Corsini Nebbiolo Langhe ($17.99)The 2010 Ruggeri Corsini Langhe Nebbiolo ($17.99; K&L Direct Import) was poured first- which was a mistake. This is Nebbiolo at its purest, with aromas of meat, tar and roses. It took a long time to open up- we decanted it way ahead, but it was only after 3 hours that it really started to show. This is incisive wine and a perfect partner to short ribs. The high acidity and tannin in this bottle will be great with all manner of braised meats, but certainly not a bottle to have by itself in front of the TV. The light color is very deceiving- this is a powerhouse. At the end of the meal the understated class of this wine showed through… It was delicious!

The 2006 Aldo Conterno  "Il Favot" Langhe Nebbiolo ($26.99; K&L Direct Import) took me completely by surprise. This dark, almost thick red shows a lot more oak and extraction than wines that I generally enjoy, but it fit the fruit so well that I loved it. I just bought a case for the cellar! Taming the Nebbiolo beast with a few modern winemaking techniques is not such a bad thing- this wine was still all Piemonte, and very identifiably Nebbiolo, as a matter of fact, this journeyman Italian taster would have guessed Barolo rather than Langhe due to the high level of polish and care that went into this wine. The Conterno managed to have sweet black berry fruit to balance out the meaty tannin and finished long and fine.

Italian wine must be enjoyed with food in order to fully appreciate it. The short rib recipe that we paired with these Nebbiolo’s comes from Cinnamon’s mom, Margaret. It was adapted from a Sunset magazine article. It really makes a big difference to use homemade beef stock, luckily, our ½ cow came with plenty of bones!

Margaret's Short Ribs Recipe (Adapted from Sunset Magazine)

Ingredients:

4#s boned, fat-trimmed beef short ribs (I always just use bone in and remove the fat after cooking)

1 orange (With vegetable peeler, pare orange part of peel from orange and sliver it)

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

About 1 cup beef stock

1 cup dry red wine

½ cup port or cream sherry (I use port)

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2TBS soy sauce

1tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme (I use fresh)

3 or 4 very thin slices (quarter size) peeled fresh ginger

½ tsp Chinese five spice

1# mushrooms

2TBS butter or olive oil

2TBS cornstarch

Salt and Pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh chives

Preparation:

  1. Rinse meat and place in a 5-6qt slow cooker
  2. Cut mushrooms in half lengthwise and place in a 10-12inch frying pan; add butter

 Enjoy the Nebbiolo!

–Gary  

 

 Check out more educational wine and spirits videos from Gary and the experts at K&L on YouTube!

Monday
May032010

Embrace the Chaos: Italy

K&L Personal Sommelier Online

May 2010

Adventures in Italy: If you’re interested in getting to know a variety of Italian wines, or if you have specific regions of interest, you can create your own personalized Italian wine club through the K&L Personal Sommelier ServiceGet started today!

 

  

Embrace the Chaos

Italy leads the world in wine production and consumption per capita, alongside France.  Yet the French make it relatively easy to know what to expect where, thanks to strict enforcement of Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) laws, the system of wine quality regulation based on place that they invented and do a good job enforcing.  Italian wine, however, is anything but predictable.  With more than 800 grape varietals in production, from 20 regions ranging geographically from the foothills of the Alps to the southern end of Sicily, varying levels of quality and constantly changing laws, it's pretty much chaos.

But the chaos that is Italian wine is also what makes it so special...and addicting.  In a world where marketing dollars and high gloss media drive consumer taste, a world that is becoming increasingly populated by terroir-less Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons, I appreciate the adventure and authenticity that Italian wine promises.  New discoveries - wines made from obscure regional grape varietals, in styles that range from the obvious to the bizarre - await the enthusiast at every turn. One must be prepared for disappointment (too much money + too young Barolo = too bad), frustration (Montepulciano is a place AND a grape BUT not the same grape or place at the same time, ok, now I'm confused) and even downright mad (is that Merlot in my Sangiovese?) but you are guaranteed to be wooed, seduced, and fall passionately in love at least once, and that makes it all worthwhile.

Northern Exposure

Riesling? Blaufrankisch? Petit Rouge?

The regions near the northern border of Italy (Piedmont, Valleée d'Aoste, Lombardy, Fruili) the cool climate, Alpine conditions, and Slavic, German, or French language and cultural influences result in lighter-bodied red and crisp, aromatic white wines that are stylistically more similar to the wines of neighboring countries than the Italy we think we know.  From traditional wines made from obscure, regional grapes to modern wines made from international varietals, this part of the boot has a lot to offer the adventurous palate. 

2008 Germano “Herzu” Riesling Located in the hills outside the city of Alba in the Langhe subregion of Piedmont, the Germano winery produces some outstanding Barolo. They also produce small amounts of razor-sharp, tangy Chardonnay and Riesling. Who knew?  Though Chardonnay has been in production in this region since the demand for international varietals began in the late 1980's, Riesling is not common here. And yet, it makes sense.  The steep, chalky, hillside vineyards suit the needs of this noble grape just fine. In the Herzu we have a classic style cool-climate dry Riesling with a nose of lime and minerals, high acidity, intense fruit concentration and a clean, stony finish. Pair this dry beauty with anything from fresh seafood dishes to the traditional Filetto Baciato (a special Piedmontese style of prosciutto) and you’ll wonder why they don't plant more Riesling in Italy.

2008 Blason Franconia In Friuli, just outside Trieste near the Slovenian border, Giovanni Blason produces excellent, crisp white wines and balanced, medium-bodied reds made from the varietals common to the region like Cabernet Franc and Blaufränkisch. The 2008 Franconia (100% Blaufränkisch) has a nose of juicy red berries spiced with anise and herbs. On the palate, meatier flavors come forward, adding complexity to the essence of just-ripe red and black berries. Young, lively and fresh, this red has slightly higher acidity and is lower in alcohol, making it ideal with the famous regional prosciuttos, salumi and cheeses. This wine also complements the traditional Fruilian dish of seasoned boiled pork sausage and turnips known as musetto with brovada.

2008 Di Barro Vallée d’Aoste Petit Rouge The influence of French language and culture is strong in this Alpine region, where Europe’s highest elevated vineyards are planted primarily to Pinot Noir, Gamay and the light-bodied, fruity “Petit Rouge.” Softer and more generous than Pinot Noir, but with more structure and complexity than Gamay, this is the little red that can—and does—make a delightful divergence from the full-bodied tannic monsters farther south. Meant to be drunk young and fresh, the classic pairing is fondue made from local Fontina cheese, but this soft, red-fruited wine has just enough earth and smoky spice nuance (without the high tannins) to also complement vegetarian, pork or poultry dishes that feature heat and exotic seasonings

So what's stopping you? With a corkscrew and a sense of adventure, you can embrace the chaos in the comfort of your own dining room.  Grab a glass, dim the lights, and it's on.

Salute!

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