This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Monday, Aug. 20, 2007 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20070820.php.
How simple is that?
The other day, browsing a local wine shop, I spotted a label on the shelf that takes minimalism about as far as it can go: In simple black letters centered on a plain white background, it read:
Just down the shelf from the Good Chianti, another label looked just about as basic, featuring only an abstract design with the name of the wine and the vintage at lower left:
Casamatta (which translates, literally, as "Crazy House") is a Toscana IGT, a Chianti-like Tuscan wine made predominantly from Sangiovese, one of the lower-price wines in the portfolio of artist-turned wine maker Bibi Graetz in Fiesole, just northeast of Florence.
The secret of the simple label, as we've discussed occasionally before, is a quirk of wine-label law: As long as all the legally required information is on the bottle somewhere, regulatory authorities like the U.S. Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau don't really care if it's on the front or the back of the bottle.
As far as the front label goes, these two wines easily pass the minimalist test.
Casa Liliana 2005 "Good Chianti" ($9.99)
Dark ruby, reddish-violet glints against the light. Spicy black cherries and a whiff of brown sugar. Light-bodied, juicy tart-cherry fruit and zippy acidity. Decent food wine, simple and fresh and mouth-wateringly acidic. Not a great Chianti, but yeah, okay, I'll go along with the label: Good Chianti. U.S. importer: Viniliandia USA, Deer Isle, Maine. (Aug. 19, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: In the mood for a summer salad but needing a food match that would sing with Chianti, I came up with an Italian variation on Thai beef salad: Thin-sliced cold rare beef tossed with romaine, fresh tomatoes and basil, Vidalia onions, Gorgonzola and Pecorino cheeses and a olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.
VALUE: A good Chianti for 10 bucks? No problem!
WHEN TO DRINK: This lightweight Chianti won't fade in a year, but it's not made for the cellar. Keep it on the wine rack and enjoy it until it's gone.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Casamatta 2004 Toscana ($15.99)
Dark ruby, reddish glints. Dark cherries and kirsch cherry liqueur. Juicy and surprisingly ripe, tart-cherry fruit and a touch of anise, well shaped by bright, snappy acidity and a hint of red-clay earth. On the simple side but appealing and fresh, very good food wine. Loses much of its fruit within an hour of opening, suggesting limited aging potential. U.S. importer: Michael Skurnik Wines, Syosset, N.Y. (Aug. 18, 2007)
FOOD MATCH: Couldn't ask for a better match with a char-grilled local free-range hen.
VALUE: Decent table wine, but frankly pushing the edge of value in the mid-teens.
WHEN TO DRINK: Drinking well now, but as noted, the wine's behavior in the glass, particularly with its undersize, synthetic-plastic plug, advises against cellaring. Drink soon.
FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Taste an "Example of American Greatness" this month at The California Wine Club!
Grab your corkscrew, because this month's selection from The California Wine Club features an incredible Old Vine Zinfandel and rare Viognier from Gnekow Family Winery.
Gnekow's Campus Oaks 2004 Old Vine Lodi Zinfandel has earned two Gold Medals and was awarded "Example of American Greatness" at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. With a fruit-forward nose, this jammy Zin never quits with raspberry, blackberry, cherry and boysenberry flavors. This 100 percent Zinfandel was aged in American oak for eight months.
This month's selection is just $32.95 plus shipping and handling and sales tax where applicable. You may also reorder your favorites and save up to 50 percent off normal retail prices. To order this month's selection from The California Wine Club, call 1-800-777-4443 or visit:
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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:
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Quick chill (Aug. 15, 2006)
Many faces of Sauvignon Blanc (Aug. 13, 2006)
Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
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Wine Advisor Foodletter archive: