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 California Wine Club
Enter our raffle to win Monterey County's 9th Annual Great Wine Escape Weekend!

In This Issue
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition Subscribe now for an exclusive report on a pre-arrival tasting of a dozen 2003 Burgundies, Rhones and Italians.
 WT101 - Tuscany Our wine-education forum's monthly feature takes us to one of the world's most beloved wine regions and tourist destinations.
 Ocone 2001 VinGiocondo Vino da Tavola Rosso ($7.99) Not a Tuscan wine but an easy-drinking, low-price Italian red that evokes the spirit of the old-style everyday Chiantis of yore.
 California Wine Club Enter our raffle to win Monterey County's 9th Annual Great Wine Escape Weekend!
 Favorite Wine Links What's happening? Check
 This week on A forum debate on sweet wines: Is it a waste to serve them with dessert?
Last Week's Wine Advisor Index The Wine Advisor archives.
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Wine Advisor's Premium Edition:
2003 Burgundy, Rhone and Italian
Tomorrow's Wine Advisor Premium Edition will cover more than a dozen recent high-end French and Italian imports (including a number of 2003s from Burgundy and the Southern Rhone) that I had occasion to sample in a pre-arrival tasting by a Northern California importer.

The Wine Advisor Premium Edition is my only fee-based publication. A subscription is just $24 for a full year of biweekly Premium E-mail bulletins, which focus on finding the best values among wines in more upscale price ranges. This modest charge, only $1 per issue and less than the price of a single bottle of high-end wine, will more than pay for itself in savings over the course of a year's quality-and-value recommendations ... and it's a great way to express your tangible support for everything we do here at

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Free sample: Read last year's high-end tasting report.

WT101 - Tuscany

Tuscany. Few place names in the world of wine evoke the same level of romance or the same feeling of warm anticipation as that of this ancient Italian region. Whether you've traveled there in person, read the many books that lavish loving attention on its scenery and lifestyle, or merely enjoyed a taste of Tuscany in your wine glass, it's hard to imagine anyone not being touched by the fantasy of life, well, under the Tuscan sun.

I know I've loved Tuscan wines as far back as I can remember, all the way back to wicker-wrapped Chianti with pizza back in college days at restaurants with red-checked tablecloths, plastic ivy vines and menus that invariably advised, "A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine." And no matter how wide a world my wine journey has opened up for me, I always feel that I'm coming back home when I pull the cork from a Chianti or other Tuscan wine.

This month we're celebrating Tuscany and all of its wines in our Wine Tasting 101 Forum, where forum participant and Italian wine importer Oliver McCrum has kindly consented to serve this month as expert guest host.

To participate in Wine Tasting 101, you're invited to visit the forum at
to share your opinions on any Tuscan wine, ask questions and participate in online conversations on the subject. If you would like to compare notes with other wine lovers on specific "benchmark" wines, you're invited to taste and comment on three wines that we've selected as good, typical examples of their style:

  • Ruffino Chianti Classico
  • Villa Antinori Toscana
  • Terruzzi & Puthod Vernaccia di San Gimignano

Oliver has prepared a brief introduction to Tuscan wines on the entry page of the Wine Tasting 101 Forum,
and he'll be available there all month to share information and respond to comments and questions.

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at I'll respond personally to the extent that time and volume permit.

Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

Today's tasting isn't a Tuscan wine but comes from farther South, a simple, inexpensive Italian table wine with a warm, appealing and food-friendly character that reminds me of the role Chianti filled as a companion to pizza and tomato-sauced pasta back in those wicker-basket days. Designated "Vino da Tavola" or "table wine," it's a blend of Sangiovese with regional varieties including Aglianico, Piedirosso and other local grapes from Campania, around Naples. Its name, "VinGiocondo," means "The smiling wine," a moniker that seems to fit.

VinGiocondo Ocone 2001 VinGiocondo Vino da Tavola Rosso ($6.99)

Very dark reddish-purple, almost black. Warm and plummy, aromas of black plums and juicy cherries with a distinct hint of raisins. Similar on the palate, warm and seemingly soft, but snappy acidity becomes more evident on the palate, and the wine finishes crisp and dry. A bit short in the finish, but hey ... What do you want for $7? U.S. importer: Vin DiVino Ltd., Chicago. (Oct. 2, 2005)

FOOD MATCH: As noted, it's a natural match with pizza or tomato-sauced pasta, but its soft, plummy yet appropriate acidity worked very well with a slightly more refined dish, roast pork loin studded with garlic and fresh sage.

VALUE: It's a simple wine, but at this price, what's not to like?

WHEN TO DRINK: Not really a keeper, but it's holding up perfectly well in its fourth year, and there's no reason it shouldn't last another year or two.

Online information is limited, but here's a description of the producer Ocone (Agricola del Monte). It's in Italian only, unfortunately, but if you're a fan of Italian wines, chances are you'll have enough vocabulary to get some of the gist of it.

To find vendors for Ocone wines, check the databases on

California Wine Club
Enter to win California Wine Club's Raffle: Monterey County's 9th Annual Great Wine Escape Weekend!

This event package, valued at $1,600, is for Nov. 10-13, 2005, and includes Thursday's Opening Gala, Friday's "Pairings at the Plaza", Saturday's winery open houses and a winemaker dinner, and Sunday's Grand Finale at the Inn at Spanish Bay, where more than 35 wineries will pour their finest selections. Additionally, The California Wine Club package also includes three nights accommodations at the luxurious Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa. California is beautiful that time of year! Enter today at
or call for more details at (800) 777-4443.

Favorite Wine Links:
What's happening? Check

There's a simple, pragmatic reason why I don't include a comprehensive calendar of wine events among the features on There's no point. One of our longtime friends and fellow Internet wine-information publishers, Eric Orange, fills this niche so well with his impressive that it makes more sense to refer readers in his direction if they want to list - or learn about - wine-related events anywhere around the world. has just unveiled a major renovation and update that adds a number of new sections to its worldwide calendar of events. New features include information about Wine and Food Educators, Ongoing Events in specific cities, event Ticket Discounts, and a new weekly wine quiz presented by the author and wine educator Kevin Zraly, available only in "The Juice," the free weekly newsletter from

Here's a link to the site. I highly recommend bookmarking
For more information and to subscribe to "The Juice," click:

This week on

Here are links to some of our recently published articles that I think you'll enjoy:

Wine Lovers' Discussion Group: Thoughts on food with wine
Here's a provocative opinion from a reader, outraged by a fancy wine dinner at which a memorable old Sauternes was served alongside a sweet dessert: "It is insane to even consider having a dessert in a serious wine meal - one where the focus is wine rather than food." What do you think? On target or off base? Visit our online forum to read the discussion and join in.

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 Corked what? (Sept. 30, 2005)

 Corporate wine (Sept. 28, 2005)

 What color is your Zin? (Sept. 26, 2005)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Midwestern chili (Sept. 29, 2005)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:

 30 Second Wine Advisor, daily or weekly (free)
 Wine Advisor FoodLetter, Thursdays (free)
 Wine Advisor Premium Edition, alternate Tuesdays ($24/year)

For all past editions, click here


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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.

Monday, Oct. 3, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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