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Why Wines Deserve a Second Chance: #MWWC22

19 Jan





Yesterday was a day I planned for months and worried about for weeks in advance. It was a wine tasting of a group of wines outside my normal scope of expertise. Traditionally when I host a tasting, I do ONE thing specifically: I serve wines I know personally, whose vines and trellises I have paced aside, whose barrels I have touched, whose flavors and colors I know intimately.

This was not one of those times.

Sure, on my ten wine list I hand-picked a few bottles that had been waiting in the cellar for just such a day. But by in large, I researched and shopped regions I didn’t know as well, and looked more closely at wines that often get a bad rap. For examples, the wines we scoot past quickly in a restaurant list when we see them. Such as: Italian white wines, and chianti.

“Why?” you cry out, outraged and distressed, “What have Chianti and Italian white wines done to you?”


That’s exactly it, they did nothing for me, and nothing TO me.

And it’s my own fault.

Because we first taste these wines in a family-style Italian restaurant where cheap wines are served by the gallon. We learn, early in age, to be dismissive of cheap pinot grigio and cheap chianti. As a result, later on in our lives,  we don’t even bother look for quality versions of these same things. It’s as silly as hating cars as an adult, just because your first teenage car was a cheap junker that smoked from the exhaust, had bald tires, and barely got you where you needed to go. It’s not the fault of the vehicle, to be honest.

It’s time to give these wines a second chance.

For white wines, I turned to Friuli-Venizia Guilia.



I served these four white wines, in order:

Venica 2013 Malvasia from Collio,

Borgio Del Tiglio 2011 white blend from Collio,

I Clivi 2014 Verduzzo from Collio Orientali del Friuli DOC, and

I Clivi 2001 Galea from Collio Orientali del Friuli DOC.

These four wines changed all our preconceived notions of Italian white wines. Crafted with obvious expertise, love and care, these wines displayed depth, complexity, minerality, and body. They told stories. They enticed our palates, and they left us wanting more.

The 2001 Galea showed its age, grace, and deep color beautifully, on par with some of my revered and aged Bordeaux or Burgundian wines. The color alone was stunning; photos just don’t do it justice.

Clivi Galea

I found it funny: one of my guests (almost as a rule) dismisses white wines. He was not as quiet as I expected during these first four bottles, and eventually, I learned he was impressed and enjoying himself! And he made a point to speak up and admit both of these points to the group.

And we moved on to the red wines, and we laughed, and we loosened up. And at the 9th bottle, I poured a chianti.

But not just any chianti.

Thought a relatively young wine, I served a Chianti Classico Gran Reserva Selezione, a DOCG wine with the tell-tale black rooster on the bottle. I said little about the wine, and I said nothing about the Rooster.

Chianti rooster




My guests said it all for me. They told me this wine was stunning, eye-opening, not what they expected from a chianti. They shared pairing notes, talked about the color, the nuances they found.

Even after I served the 2000 Brunello Di Montalcino, we ooh’d and ahh’d about it and thoroughly enjoyed it… but eventually we went back to discussing the chianti.

And I thought that maybe it was really us who needed the second chance.


à votre santé!

Submitted to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #22


Qualcosa di vecchio e qualcosa di nuovo (Something Old, Something New)

3 Dec

Two Montepulciano Wine Reviews!

First, a bang-for-the-buck you will enjoy that is easy to find:

Citra Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2010

Billed on their label as America’s #1 Montepulciano (according to Neilsen 52-week Rating ending 4/2/11,) $8/bottle, I found this locally at The Wine Room of Forest Hills.


A light ruby color throughout, the nose has red and black fruit with some pepper. Cassis, black cherry and blackberry dominate the palate with hint of  spice and a bit of sulfur on the dry finish. I paired this for a family dinner with meat loaf and we finished the bottle in record time. At such a low price it offers a good deal. Seen available online for as low as $4/bottle it may be useful to know that the 2009 is the highest-rated vintage to date.

Here’s our second wine, a hard-to-find but mind-blowing treat:

Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1997


The 1997 has a garnet color in the glass with the edges just starting to brown. Very notable nose of aging red fruit, dusty rose, and oak. In the mouth, this is a stunning wine, great balance of elements with reserved red and black fruit, moderate acidity and tannins, this offers a velvety experience similar to those of Margaux fame. The finish lingers with perfectly red plum and raspberry, saddle leather and earth.  $30/bottle, rare.

Dei Wine

Some Backstory for procuring the ’97: I purchased this when NYC’s Chambers Street Wines offered the remains of a private cellar “ready to drink” via internet. I scoured the offering, came up with ten bottles I wanted, and managed to procure five of them when I called. The kicker for me was the offering had bottles ranging as low as $15, with most in the $20-40 range. Of the bottles I bought, all are rated 90 points or above, have great reviews, and had hit the mark for prime time to consume.  I’m quite happy with this approach and will keep my eye peeled for similar offerings in the future, and for Dei Vino Nobile Riserva Montepulciano in general which usually sells in the high teens for recent or current vintages and routinely scores 91 from Robert Parker or  James Suckling. I plan to buy and cellar some more of this and see if I get similar results!

à votre santé!

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