2008 Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio

2008 Italo Cescon Pinot GrigioPrice: $14.99 @ Vintage Wine & Spirits imported by Bacco Wine & Spirit

What They Said:

Per Italo Cescon “A deep yellow, straw-like color. Intense aroma with slight hints of nutmeg, peach, and acacia. A dry, fresh wine with strong, fruity overtones and orange peel. It has a rich, persistent flavor. Is best served with seafood dishes.”

What I Think:

After a haircut I was wandering around town and the magnet drew me into the local wine shop. Given that I hadn’t come in for anything in particular I asked the folks there to share their favorites under $20 with me. This is one of those they identified as being a staff favorite, so even though a bit pricey for me, I decided to give it a go. This one is light in color and shows some bubbles in the glass. On the nose I get mostly floral aromas with hints of lemon. The front of the palate is crisp and clean with stony white fruit flavors appearing towards the middle. From there the zingy acid and mineral component come to the fore leading into a finish that shows notes of nutmeg. This is a pleasant wine for sipping on a warm afternoon.

As I was writing this post I came to a realization that while I find most Pinot Grigio’s from Italy very agreeable they rarely capture my full attention. As I followed this thought a bit further I was reminded of memories of fantastic Pinot Blanc’s I’ve had from the Alsace (disclaimer: As long time readers know I have a soft spot for the region). Once upon a time, Trader Joe’s had a fantastic Marcel Hugg offering from the region which I enjoyed immensely. I’ll have to grab another offering from the area soon. Let me know if anyone has any recommendations.

Rating: Pricey

NV Zonin Prosecco Brut

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Americal Beverage Group

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast “An enjoyable bubbly with good creamy froth, white peach, mineral and hard candy tones that are nicely balanced and spread throughout. It has a thick consistency and a snappy, crisp close.”

What I Think:

My second endeavor into the bubbly section at Trader Joe’s. The first time I grabbed a Sekt, now a Prosecco and I also have a Cava in the fridge now. Guess I should grab one from France next time! As for Prosecco, raise your hand if you knew that was a grape… That is only one of the interesting things I learned in this brief Wikipedia article. I also learned that this grape is grown in northern Italy and often used to make Asti. That give anyone else flashbacks to high school or just me?

Could this wine be any smoother? Wilder on Wine calls it easy-going. I couldn’t agree more. The wine is frothy in the glass and shows floral aromas with hints of citrus on the nose. On the palate you are greeted by what other than bubbles, not much fruit to be found as this one is dry throughout. Towards the end it shows traces of mineral that disappear as fast as they arrive. The finish is very clean, nothing lingers on.

As much as I would like to compare this to the Sekt I cannot. They don’t share much in common beyond the bubbles. Oh yeah, that and the fact that I will be buying more of both of them!

Rating: Buy It

2005 Blason Cabernet Franc

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Giovanni Blason and his consulting enologist Andrea Rossi have turned this 37-acre property into a juggernaut of affordable quality wines. Giovanni and his wife Valentina own this winery in Gradisca d’Inzonzo, 3.75 miles from the Slovenian border and about 20 miles north of Trieste. Generally I write about the easier-to-sell wines before the more difficult-to-figure-out. This time, I have to write about the 2005 Blason Cabernet Franc. This one is so good you won’t believe it! The flavor just bursts out of the glass, spice laden, black pepper, red fruits, vivacious, fresh and curvy all at the same time, and at an unbelievable price. Please try this wine if you haven’t or even if you have had Italian Cabernet Franc. (Greg St.Clair, K&L Italian buyer)”

What I Think:

I grabbed this one when my wife told me we were having hamburgers for dinner but by the time I got to the table the plans had changed. Not sure that it mattered…This wine was funky! On the nose the earthy, barnyard aromas seemed fairly typical but that is about where it ended. The wine seemed hot on the tongue and had a tart sour finish. Perhaps I need some food after all I thought. Not much difference. Still sour in the mouth, let me try and cleanse my palate to ensure the Amaicha Torrontes wasn’t throwing things askew.

Is it tart? Hot? Musty? Where is that wine aroma wheel. Unfortunately there is nothing pleasant resonating here. Chemical? Microbiological? Not even vegetal. It is bad but what is it? Nary a hint of fruit here. Headed towards the worst in a while. I’m even thinking I may dump the rest. I resisted and a few days later it started to show some fruit. Glad I didn’t dump it as it improved. That said it only made it to so/so by the end.

Rating: Skip It

2006 Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio

Price: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by D’Aquino Italian Imports

What They Said:

Per the distributor ” This wine is ideal outside of a meal. It is delicious with hors d’ oeuvres and fish dishes, particullarly lobster and crabmeat. Also an excellent companion for soups and white meats. Serve chilled at a temperature of 8°-10° C.”

What I Think:

This one has been in the fridge for a while as I was keen to try it. I came home from a business trip to find my wife had opened it in my absence. No worries, there is plenty left for an opinion. I pull out the stopper and don’t get the sound I like, it hasn’t been pumped. I now realize I can’t pass negative judgment on this experience even if I want to. Not to bother, it must be good. Even in this state at a bare minimum it was very quaffable. Many of the flavors had been muted but at this price it was still well worth the money. Looking forward to seeing what the next bottle brings.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Blason Pinot Grigio

Price: $8.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Premier Wine Company

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Giovanni Blason and his consulting enologist Andrea Rossi have turned this 37-acre property into a juggernaut of affordable quality wines. Giovanni and his wife Valentina own this winery in Gradisca d’Inzonzo, 3.75 miles from the Slovenian border and about 20 miles north of Trieste. The 2005 Blason Pinot Grigio is the best Pinot Grigio Giovanni and Andrea have made to this day. The vines are maturing, and the addition of the temperature-controlled fermentation has added a level of spice to the already wonderful fruit, with body, freshness, balance, and well… it’s just damned refreshing. Last vintage we sold our 200-case allotment in 10 weeks. This year we’ve ordered 400 cases, but with the addition of our new Hollywood location this wine won’t last long. Buy now!”

They also said this in the May 2007 newsletter,”One of our BEST VALUE wines at K&L! Simply sensational! Perfect balance of acidity and is very aromatic, loaded with pear, apple, citrus and tropical fruit in an elegant, concentrated and superbly balanced wine. This is a perfect wine to serve for Mothers’ Day.”

What I Think:

After seeing this wine pimped at me from so many different angles I had to give it a try. So when I concocted a clam sauce pasta (my first) I thought I would give it a go. White wine with white sauce seemed like a good idea. On opening this the nose seemed racy. There were hints of fruit but it was clear this wine was going to have a zing to it. On the palate there were nice citrusy notes that quickly gave way to a tight-knit acidic backbone. The wine was very light and it was most certainly crisp and refreshing. I could have imagined drinking this on a sunny patio with a burger or something of the sort. This pairing was not made in heaven. In hindsight, checking my favorite pairing site an Arneis would have been a better call. Darn, should have checked ahead of time as I have been wanting to try one of those!

On a side note, in a recent post I was lamenting my ability to pick good wines over at The Wine Club. Given that I figured I would check on how I was doing over at K&L. I bought a couple cases back in May and have so far had 7 of the 24. Three of the four reds have been a hit while only one of the whites has delivered. Much better ratios here, especially with the reds. When I buy at K&L it is usually from reading their new arrivals email or newsletter. Then I order online and pick it up in the store. Seems to work better. Not sure why I care, sometimes I like doing analysis for the sake of doing analysis.

Back to this wine, it is a good effort. I didn’t find it nearly as riveting as the folks over at K&L seemed to. I find myself likening it to the Kono Sauvignon Blanc which I would certainly prefer to this. Given that I can get that one a few bucks cheaper, I’ll be sticking to that. That said if you love Italian Pinot Grigio feel free to give this one a go.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Vigna del Gelso Malbech

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Santini Fine Wines

What They Said:

Per quaffability “Quick – I say Malbec, you say… ?

What did you say? Argentina, probably. Maybe Cahors. Perhaps Bordeaux or Napa, if you’re a student of wine history, as the grape has fallen out of favor in both.

Did you know a little Malbec is grown in Veneto? I didn’t, until I spotted this wine at Trader Joe’s. The Italians call it Malbech. Evidently, the warm climate there helps to tame the grape’s notoriously firm grip.

This wine has a plumy nose with a minor herbal element of black tea and tobacco. In the mouth the wine isn’t brooding, like one expects, but supple and surprisingly light. Tannins are soft, the finish is clean. This is interesting and drinkable at this price, though not remarkable, so I would buy one but hold off on buying a case.”

What I Think:

Again, grabbed this when shopping to for the Rocking Horse last week. I had this grand idea of side by side tasting of Malbec from four different countries as I currently had bottles from the US, France and Argentina. It was a thought but it didn’t make it beyond that stage.

I grabbed this for the fajitas the other night when the Riesling wasn’t doing it for me. It did an okay job there. Over the next few days as I tried this wine I found it to be very light bodied. The palate seemed to mainly consist of black cherries that bordered on the sour side. There was nary a tannin to be found. Given that it was Italian and Malbec I thought this had the potential to be of interest but there is nothing to see here besides a simple, light wine. I’d recommend trying another.

Rating: Skip It

2005 La Cappuccina Soave Classico

Price: $7.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Vinity Wine Company

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “The wine is produced from Garganega grapes, harvested during the first ten days of October, carefully selected to insure that only ripe and healthy berries are used for the wine, and pressed softly with a whole-bunch pressing. The must undergoes a static, cold settling and the fermentation temperature is controlled. The wine is then aged for five months in stainless steel tanks. Tastings of older vintages have demonstrated that the wine ages well and attains an even greater complexity. Ripe, rich and opulent in style. Far fuller than most Soaves, and fairly New World in character, it’s got bags of rich flavour with some lovely tropical fruit tones. A classy glassful on its own and a good companion on the dinner table.”

They also said this in the May 2007 newsletter,”The main grape of Soave is garganega, which is believed to be of Greek origin. Citrusy fragrance and floral tones will be found the bouquet of the wine, while the palate is rich with ripe apricot and peaches and a long creamy finish.Try with fresh water fish or grilled poultry.”

What I Think:

For starters I really wanted to like this wine. The story above was very compelling to me. Affordable, Age-able and Italian all seemed like good things. So when it landed in the fridge it did so with higher than average expectations, especially for a grape variety that I had never tried before. After giving it some time to chill we pulled it out and pulled the cork.

To the eye the color looked deep and golden. On the nose my expectations start to look more reasonable. The citrus notes on the nose were overpowering. I’m not sure that you can smell richness or opulence but I sure thought I could with this one. My mind racing, imagining the complexity… On the palate it seemed a bit racy with citrus flavor up front leading to a mineral laced mid-palate and finish. My wife actually thought it taste like beer (Hefeweizen to be exact). For me it tasted slightly Sauvignon Blanc-ish. After my first taste I actually got up from the dinner table and put it back in the fridge as I was worried it may have been a bit to warm as it lacked crispness. Looking at the bottle said that it should be consumed at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That seems really cold. Upon taking it out a bit more chilled I found some melons aromas and flavors present. I certainly never found the creamy finish which leads me to believe this may benefit from aging. It definitely seemed to be clashing now; perhaps some time to become integrated would be beneficial. As I don’t plan on giving this a second chance I will never know…

Rating: Skip It