Foppiano Lot 96

A melange of petit sirah, zinfandel, granache and other grapes. Palate of chocolate, black currant, and dried cherries. A thin nose, an acidic early attack, and a balanced finish. This is an enjoyable wine, maybe not a memorable one, but a staple for table wine.

Cost: $9
Rating: 86-87


Don Miguel Gascon 2007 Malbec

With a 90 pt rating from Robert Parker, this wine is inky as expected, but unexpectedly well rounded with a full mid-palate (nearly unheard of for a varietal malbec), and most importantly a shockingly good value.

Plum, nutmeg, cassis on the palette with a heady spiced nose that demands equally good wine food. My pairing was pork chops pan fried in duck fat with sage, pancetta stuffed dates glazed in cassis, and goatsmilk bucheron. The cheese and especially the dates (with the pancetta note) were uncanny with this wine. I'm not convinced this is age-worthy, so drink it now.

Rating: 90-91
Cost: $10-12


Tenuta delle Terre Nere "Etna" 2005

Following a long conversation with a wine distributor I was recently turned onto a shockingly good wine from Sicily, a region with a somewhat unenvious international wine tradition.

The Tenuta dell Terre Nere producers grow grapes on Mount Etna, vines that apparently live at the highest altitude in Europe. Well the rarified air and volcanic soil have produced something that is very reminiscent of a Cru class Burgundy. The identifying grapes are Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio. We enjoyed this with a grilled steak, but the complexity will accommodate a number of food pairings. For those of us who are fatigued by the spotty success of finding a pinot under $20 that's worth drinking, this is highly recommended.

Cost: $16
Rating: 90


Pedroncelli Mother Clone Zinfandel 2003

A Sumptuous aroma of vanilla is followed by cedar, black currant & tart berry flavors on the palette give way to mushroom and black tea. Pedroncelli is one of the very few wine producers who was around before prohibition in the California area. Some of their zin vines are over 100 years old. This wine comes from their dry creek valley vinyard which is using younger cuts from the old mother vines. Perfect as an everyday table wine and good on its own, this wine shows the structure to get better in a couple years but is not really a cellar-worthy wine. This can be had for about $12, but if you have the option, spend another $3-5 for the old vine Pedroncelli.

Rating: 86-87


Yellow Tail Merlot

Someone left a bottle from our Christmas party, so we opened this for dinner. Not bad honestly, as much as I have a general disdain for merlot. Single dimensional an unbalanced acid limit it's viability. Not awful on it's own but ok with red meat.

Rating: 83


2004 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Beautiful wine, paired with linquine with portobello mushroom broth (en brodo). This is a very accessible fine italian wine in the $20-25 range. Consistently good producer and readily available here in Denver. It's a tannic age-worthy wine that is full of dark berries, leather, spice and violets. Rating: 89-90


Poliziano Vino Nobile

Rating: 91
Price: $20
Wine: 2001 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

First of all, if you ever have the opportunity to visit Montepulciano, GO!

It's a small town in southeast Tuscany, close to the Umbria region. It's situated on the top of a tall hill dividing two gorgeous valleys, and you can walk from the east side to the west in about 5 minutes. The sunsets in fall are amazing, and this is certainly off the path of tourist traps something which can no longer be said for some of the wonderful Chianti Classico wine areas closer to Florence, like Greve.

Montepulciano is best known for Vino Nobile and the DOCG name is sometimes confused with the more expensive Brunello di Montalcino.

Drinkable now, but the somewhat heavy tannin will smooth out within a couple years. Smells of blackberry, licorice, and sage. The mouth is austere early, with notes of raisin and plum, and a long chewy finish.


Cline Mourvedre

Rating: 88
Price: $9-14
Wine: Cline 2003 Ancient Vines Mourvedre
Region: USA, California

The mourvedre grape is principally used in French Southern Rhone wines, such as Chateauneuf du Pape. However, it is best showcased in wines from the Bandol AOC, often showing a note of "barnyard". In this form, coming from California (Carneros I believe) the wine is much more fruit forward, so the banyard is in the background. This is a fantastic wine for the money, very vibrant fruit and balanced tannin. It's sturdy enough to stand up to some spicy foods, and very enjoyable on its own.

Cline is known as a consistent producer of quality Zinfandels, and there are terroir notes in this wine that also show up in the Zins. The most exciting thing is that this wine will expose many new people to this wonderful, and largely unknown grape.

A Votre Sante!