Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Wow-me Wines!

Tasting wine is possibly my favorite thing in the whole wide world, I prefer this better than eating or anything else. Though these days, I do most of my tastings at home, slowly and surely, in person wine tastings are coming back, which is something I’m so looking forward to, just the smell of opened wine bottles has the magic of putting a smile on my face, thinking about what I’m going to taste/ discover next!
And of course, when tasting a new wine for the first time, I usually ask myself, will it wow me or not? and once this happens, I make sure to write all the information down, to take a picture of the bottle  with my phone, to put stars next to it and to find out its price, so that I can recommend it to all of you, my faithful readers.
So, what characteristics must a Wow-me wine have?
First, elegance or finesse, this usually comes hand in hand with noticeable acidity, but I’m not talking here about aggressive crispiness, but more about refreshing acidity, and vibrant tension, that adds life to any wine. I also like complexity in a wine, mostly when a wine has layers and layers of flavors, especially, after being decanted, and after they had a chance to open up, shooting even more aromas and flavors to you. For example, I like wines that offer herbal, spicy or mineral notes. I think these make any wine more interesting, and of course, let’s not forget the bouquet wines develop from reductive aging; those delicious notes of mushrooms/ truffles, forest floor, leather, ink, smokiness or musk have the wow effect on me, giving any wine the extra kick.  
Balance of the elements is another wow-me factor. I like it when there are subtleties in my wine, like the perfect marriage, where every part plays a role in the whole and everything sings in harmony. For example, if a wine has been aged in oak, I like, when it has a touch of oak and it is not so oaky that all you can taste is wood, like the kiss of oak in a good Burgundy Chardonnay. All wow-me wines must have their elements intertwined so that their fruit, acidity, tannins, alcohol and body complement each other and don’t overpower the others. 
Texture is another component of any wow-me wine, wow-me wines have a density you can feel all across your palate. Oftentimes, this is described as meatiness or savoriness, it’s a very similar experience to what I feel when eating authentic Argentinian beef (those that have been to my country know how tender and juicy our filet mignon is). In wines, we can feel the same sensation, a sensation of roundness, smoothness, and suave, velvety quality.
A long finish, most of my wow-me wines have long endings, it’s like they need to leave a trace in your palate of their impressive presence, even after you have swallowed them. A long finish is indeed special and usually connected to a wine’s essence.   
Ability to age, is true that I enjoy many wines that are recommended to be consumed when young, when all their fruit is fresh inside the bottle, but most often, wow-me wines have the capacity to age, to get better in the cellar,  to evolve in time.
Yet, above all, wow-me wines should give us pleasure, make us feel special and entice us to keep on drinking. I find that certain wine regions in the world have that magic of producing such wines, better than others, and at times it’s hard for me to find wines that I don’t like. Among these are Brunello and Barolo in Italy. I attended two pre-pandemic tastings and I remember how much I liked all of the wines there; though, I must have tasted more than 75 different brands in one seating, everything was sooo good, it was so hard to choose! And even harder to find something I didn’t like. This is related to craftsmanship and know-how of most producers who seriously invest in improving quality.
In the US, Napa Valley is such an appellation, the quality and standards of Napa wines is so unbelievable, that I can drink and drink and drink these wines and never get tired. Learn more about Napa and its terroir here.
My recommendations are an assorted selection of Cabernet Sauvignons sent to me from Napa Vintners. I invite you to give them a try, and to let me know what you think. I’m sure some of these selections will WOW you too!
*Silverado Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, $50
Polished red showing layers of ripe raspberry and strawberry notes. Smooth and flavorful tannins fine tune the elegant finish.
*Buena Vista Winery Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, $65
Solid Cab offers a core of plum and crème de cassis fruit with espresso and mineral notes, finishing smooth and opulent.
*Pine Ridge Vineyards Stag Leaps Cabernet Sauvignon 2018, $140
Muscular red, a true Powerbomb, full of fruit, body and oak! featuring ripe red currant, cherry and anise notes. Combines power and finesse!
*Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016,$55
Delicious red showing black cherry, licorice and cedar notes. Supple tannings provide structure and great length.
*Marston Family Vineyards Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, $150
Full-bodied and beefy red featuring plum, blackberry marmalade and tobacco notes. Its majestic/ chewy tannins will soften with time. Outstanding bottle to cellar! WOW

Cheers! Silvina
#thoughtsoflawina #WOWmeWines #WineWednesday
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Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Prosecco Rosé for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day and bubbly wines always go hand in hand. Yet, I must admit I enjoy sparkling wines all year around and agree with what Coco Chanel used to say: “I drink Champagne on two occasions when I’m in love and when I’m not”. So, whether you are lucky enough to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your soulmate or with your friends, there’s no time like the present to open a bottle of elegant Prosecco Rosé.
Officially approved as such, only about two years ago, Prosecco Rosé offers the deliciousness of a crafted sparkling wine at a very affordable price. It is made mostly from Italian native Glera grapes with up to 15% Pinot Noir, which provides its beautiful pinkish color. 
Stylistically, Prosecco Rosé is made dry, either Brut Nature or Extra Dry. It features a medium body with balanced alcohol (11% is the minimum by law, but most samples will be around 12.5%), showcasing juicy peach, golden apple and pear notes with red fruits such as raspberry, wild strawberry and cherry; all of that framed by a refreshing, crispy finish. In general and compared to other sparkling wines, Proseccos both white and rosé are fruitier than say Cava, Cmant or Champagne
The Prosecco area of production is located to the north east of Italy, west and east of the city of Venice, covering nine different provinces (Belluno, Gorizia, Padua, Pordenone, Treviso, Trieste, Udine, Venice and Vicenza), which are spread in two very well known wine regions: Friuli-Venezia Giulia and the Veneto. See map below, courtesy of the Consorzio di Tutela della Denominazione di Origine Controllata Prosecco.

Most vineyards are planted on flat valleys but there are plenty of hill sites in the DOCGs, where the best Glera is grown.  The soils are mostly alluvial, rich in clay, silt and minerals. The climate is tempered by the Alps located to the north that act as a barrier but also influenced by the Adriatic sea and the Sirocco winds. Hilly vineyards benefit from altitude too. Most Prosecco
Rosé available in the US market, falls under the generic Prosecco DOC category. Yet, the best Prosecco wines come from the DOCGs within Treviso: Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive and Asolo Prosecco Superiore. (You will see these appellations, more often on Prosecco white bottles).

Like with every sparkling wine, vinification plays a huge role here, specifically the method used to produce the bubbles that we enjoy so much. In the case of Prosecco Rosé, the second fermentation happens using the Charmat or Martinotti method, i.e inside a pressurized tank for a minimum by law of 60 days, but winemakers can keep them for longer. Like other sparklers, Prosecco Rosé will start its life as a still wine, to which more yeast and sugar are added to create the bubbles, once the second fermentation is over and the yeasts consumed all the sugar and died, the wines are briefly aged on their lees to add complexity, filtered and fined before being bottled.

According to Prosecco regulations, Prosecco Rosé is mostly a vintage wines (
Millesimato in Italian) with 85% of the blend sourced from grapes harvested during the year indicated on the label. The leftover 
15 % allows producers to include wines from other vintages too, emulating the practice of non-vintage Champagne.

A whooping 500 million bottles of Prosecco was produced in 2020 alone  (this number includes also Prosecco white), of these close to 17 million were bottles of Prosecco Rosé. That number was expected to reach up to 50 million in 2021. 78.5% of the total Prosecco production is exported, and the US is after Europe, their second most important market, a popularity that is expected to keep growing in the coming years.
Enjoy your Prosecco Rosé when young, within a year from the vintage, when its fruitiness is still intact. Most Prosecco Rosé is in the market sooner than other sparkling wines (Cava or Champagne, that are usually aged for longer). In the case of Prosecco Rosé, they can be released for consumption after January 1st of the year following the harvest.  
My recommendations, that I hope you will enjoy soon are:
* Val D'Oca Prosecco Rosé NV, $14.99
* La Rughe Prosecco Rosé 2020, $13.99
* La Marca Prosecco Rosé NV, $15.99 (widely available in the US)
* Perlino Prosecco Rosé 2020, $14.99
* Zardetto Prosecco Rosé 2020, $14.99 (widely available in the US)
* Beato Bartolomeo de Braganze Prosecco Rosé 2020, $13.99

Salute and Happy Valentine's Day! Silvina
#thoughtsoflawina #WineWednesday #proseccorose #proseccodoc #italiangenio #drinkprosecco #tasteprosecco.