Travel plans and publication hiatus
Mixing grapes in modern wines
This traditionalism may be particularly strong in the Old World, where many of the greatest wines of France and Italy, for example, are strictly controlled by regulations intended to ensure that tomorrow's wines will be made in the same way as those of the last year and the last century.
But from time to time an innovation appears, and when it works, it can be exciting. The so-called "Super Tuscan" wines of the Chianti region around Florence, for example, have drawn much attention by blending Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the great grapes of France's Bordeaux, into the Sangiovese and other native Italian grapes that made up the traditional blend. Displaying Italian style with a high degree of refinement, many of these wines have become sought-after and expensive.
While Tuscany is best-known for these new blends, however, it's far from the only Italian region where this kind of experimentation is going on. Today's wine (reviewed below) offers another delicious example of what happens when traditional producers try something new.
Ca' dei Frati, a winery from Brescia in Lombardy, near Lake Garda in Northern Italy, rings the bell with its Ronchedone Benaco Bresciano, which includes up to 15 percent of the French Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot along with local red grapes such as Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese and Barbera. It's a luscious wine, not a blockbuster but elegant and complex, and a virtual steal for $15.
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New online auctions every month
Some examples of opening bids for this auction:
Get the idea?
Log on and get in on the action! Please note that new lots start with lot 2027.
Also, on Nov. 10, Acker Merrall will be holding its first Los Angeles auction at the Beverly Hills Peninsula. Free catalogs to the first 100 California residents! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for one.
Fine red from Italy's lake country
Dark ruby in color, this fine blend of Italian and French grape varieties shows pleasantly complex aromas of red fruit - strawberry and plum - with herbal and earthy notes. Rather light-bodied but full in flavor, it offers red fruit and earthy nuances on the palate, fruity and acidic. It might remind you a bit of a Loire red in style, but there's an exuberant warmth that's all Italian. U.S. importer: Vin DiVino, Chicago. (Sept. 22, 2001)
FOOD MATCH: The wine's lean fruit and crisp acid makes it a fine match with a simple autumn dish of lamb shanks long cooked with white beans.
WINERY WEBSITE: Avaialable only in Italian, there's a fact sheet on Ronchedone at http://www.cadeifrati.it/Pages/ronchedone.html.
Three Australian reds for October
This month we're featuring Australian Shiraz, and we're trying something a little different: You may take your choice among three wines that cover a range of prices, choosing any one, two, or even all three as you wish.
The featured wines are:
I have listed the retail prices I paid in Louisville; local prices may vary somewhat. You may choose whatever vintage is available in your market; mine are 1999 for the Bin 555, 1997 for the Wynn's, and 1998 for the Penfolds.
For more information about Wine Tasting 101, click to http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/wt101.shtml.
A progress report
We will definitely announce the winners soon, in an article featuring excerpts from many of the entries; and we'll definitely offer more challenges of this type in the future. Watch for the announcement, and details of a new challenge, later this month.
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All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Vol. 3, No. 37, Oct. 1, 2001