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Jennifer Turner
January 17, 2014 | Jennifer Turner

Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese

Paired with: San Felice Chianti Classico 

$16.99 / $14.44  Save 15% with our mix-and-match case discount!

I presented this duo recently for dinner and was made to promise that I do it again! It's a perfect food and wine pairing for the depths of winter. Enjoy!

This recipe is sourced from Bon Appetit.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups chopped onion

1/2 cup diced carrot

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed in a spice mill or in mortar with pestle

1 pound spicy, Italian turkey sausages, casings removed

3 large garlic cloves, pressed

1/2 cup dry white wine

5 cups crushed tomatoes with added puree (from two 28-ounce cans)

1 cup chopped fresh basil, divided

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese

3 cups (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (12 ounces)

1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

16 6 1/2x3 1/4-inch no-boil lasagna noodles


Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrot, and fennel seeds; sauté 5 minutes. Add sausage and garlic; sauté until sausage is cooked through, breaking into pieces, 8 to 10 minutes. Add wine; boil 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 1/2 cup basil, and oregano. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine ricotta, mozzarella, 1 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup basil in medium bowl; stir to blend. Season with pepper. DO AHEAD. Sauce and cheese mixture can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately; chill.

Place noodles in large bowl; cover with hot water. Soak until pliable, separating occasionally, about 30 minutes. Drain well.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Cover with 4 noodles, arranging crosswise. Drop 1/4 of cheese mixture over by tablespoonfuls; spread out. Top with 1 cup sauce, then 4 noodles and 1/3 remaining cheese mixture. Repeat 2 more times with 1 cup sauce, 4 noodles and 1/2 of cheese mixture. Spread any remaining sauce over. Sprinkle with 1 cup parmesan.

Bake lasagna uncovered until heated through and puffed. about 50 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes and serve.



Time Posted: Jan 17, 2014 at 12:45 PM Permalink to Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese Permalink Comments for Lasagna with Turkey Sausage Bolognese Comments (1)
Eric Genau
September 21, 2013 | Eric Genau

Saturday Lunch with 2001 La Forra and 1967 Cos d'Estournel

Matt Cole has been a fixture at City Wine Merchant for almost three years, and this Saturday marked his last day working with us. Matt's first day was a Saturday in 2011, and it was a memorable Saturday afternoon because, as Matt reminded me, we opened a bottle of 1942 Lopez Heredia Tondonia Reserva Rioja. Hopefully Matt got over the disappointment of realizing that we didn't do that every Saturday. We've had some pretty good Saturdays though. Matt has been "Mr. Everything" at City Wine Merchant (wine guy, carpenter, chef) and he proved to be a pretty decent bowler. We'll miss having him around every day.

Along with a good friend, Matt and I shared a casual lunch of Italian coppa, along with Tomme Chebris, Brillat-Savarin and crusty baguette from Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile. We first popped open a bottle of La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001. While the wine didn't have much life left in it, it was outstanding. The essence of great Chianti Classico was definitely present. I have always loved Chianti Classico because it is one of those wines that nearly always transports me to its place of origin. This comes from a 14-acre vineyard on the Nozzole estate. The vineyard has been producing Chianti since the 13th century and it is a reliable wine from vintage to vintage. This isn't as traditionally styled as some of my other favorite producers from the region (Ama, Castell'in Villa), but it is nonetheless a great wine. Matt liked it, so that's good. It was especially tasty with the Tomme Chebris (50% goat’s milk and 50% ewe’s milk).

What can I say about Cos? It is one of the world's greatest wine estates for good reason. Even in this "off" vintage, and even after so many critics leave a wine like this for dead, the 1967 Cos d'Estournel Saint Estephe continues to deliver some joy. It still shows a lot red fruit, and just enough acidity to hold it all together. While it is somewhat dis-jointed, it is an interesting snapshot . With history dating to the 1700s, Cos continues to hold its own with the great first growths of Bordeaux (Cos literally "looks down" on it's neighbor Lafite). The '67 is a fun wine, but if you still have this one in your cellar, don't wait any longer to open it! 

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
1967 Chateau Cos d'Estournel Saint-Estephe 80-84 Good Drink Now
2001 Tenuta di Nozzole La Forra Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 90-94 Outstanding Drink Now

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant only as a guide to help readers discover new wines. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. Eric generally only scores wines in ranges, with the following as a guide:

100 Flawless: a wine without any flaws that can be articulated
95-99 Classic: a great wine that displays the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
90-94 Outstanding: an outstanding wine displaying most of the best attributes of its varietal(s) and region
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
80-84 Good: drinkable and shows some positive characteristics
<80 Not recommended

Time Posted: Sep 21, 2013 at 12:00 AM Permalink to Saturday Lunch with 2001 La Forra and 1967 Cos d'Estournel Permalink
Lindsay Wicka
August 1, 2013 | Lindsay Wicka

Alois Lageder and his musical vineyards

As I’ve expressed before, my love of Italian food culture led me to my love of Italian wine. I was very fortunate while work for, in my opinion, one of the best NYC restaurant groups focusing around Italian food and wine. I was constantly learning, in pure bliss and in awe of everything new I tasted. I am always asked, “What is your favorite part of Italy?”. Without hesitation, my response has always been and is northeastern Italy. An area that I feel like I could spend the rest of my life learning about, and drinking wine from and still not get to the end of it’s offerings. 

One of the regions in this part of Italy is Alto-Adige, where the cool air of the Alps and the warmth of the sun near the Mediterranean create the ideal climate.  This region also possesses an enormous wealth of heterogeneous sites, soils, exposures and microclimates.

Here you’ll find Alois Lageder. A 5th generation wine making family holding true to their traditions, while also engaging the community of arts and music into what they stand for. A very unique aspect which you don’t normally see…and it show’s in their wines too. Ever hear the study about how playing music to plants had a significant positive effect on the plants growth and health?  Well I was told that Alois Lageder plays music in his vineyards…maybe that’s part of the reason why his wines are so awesome. But I conclude that it also has to do with their steadfast belief in Biodynamics.

“For the creation of extraordinary wines, one also needs something more than healthy, fully-ripened grapes from the best vineyard sites. There is also a need for the right philosophy and for true human commitment. One of our primary goals is to pay attention to the natural properties of our vineyards and to make the best possible use of them. Every location has its own particular merits and characteristics; for every variety of grape, there are particular conditions in which it prefers to grow. We see it as our task to create ideal synergies, supporting nature’s work, thereby taking on the role of “midwives” who facilitate the birth of wines of great elegance, clarity, body, strength, and authenticity.” –Alois Lageder

We are excited to share one of his wines with you! 2009 Tenutae Lageder Lagrein Merlot Beta Delta is an exciting blend of Lagrein, a grape native to the Trentino-Alto Adige region and Merlot. An absolutely lovely wine with a medium+ body, aromas of red/black berries paired with floral, minerals and black pepper. At only $15.99 a bottle, this is an absolute steal.  Pick up a bottle or two of this today, and experience Alto-Adige like you never have before

Time Posted: Aug 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM Permalink to Alois Lageder and his musical vineyards Permalink
Matt Cole
June 24, 2013 | Matt Cole

Awesome Pork Bolognese

with Ciacci Piccolomini Rosso di Montalcino 2010
Only $20.39/bottle through June 30th! 

-Serves 4-6
2 Pounds Ground Pork
3 Slices of Bacon or Pancetta - cubed
1 Large Onion fine diced
2 Carrots fine diced
3 Cloves Garlic – smashed and diced
1 Small Can Tomato Paste
1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes (29oz)
1 Large Can Tomato Puree (29oz)
2 Cups Dry Red Wine
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 ½  tsp Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese to Garnish

1. In a large heavy bottom saucepot, place the bacon in and turn to a medium high heat, and cook until fat is rendered.
2. Add the Onions and Carrots and cook until Onions are translucent.
3. Add the ground Pork and the Garlic, cook until the pork is cooked through and is beginning to brown.
4. Add the Red Wine, Crushed Tomatoes, Diced Tomatoes, and Tomato Paste.
5. Reduce heat to simmer
6. Add nutmeg and milk
7. Salt and pepper to taste
8. Simmer for at least 2 hours stirring occasionally
9. Adjust seasoning
10. Serve with your favorite pasta or gnocchi

It’s even better if simmered, cooled and refrigerated and warmed up the next day!

Take a peak at a few other great bottles of 2010 Rosso di Montalcino!
"2010 is the next great vintage for Montalcino...the best 2010s are fabulous wines that deserve serious attention."  -Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate


Time Posted: Jun 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM Permalink to Awesome Pork Bolognese Permalink Comments for Awesome Pork Bolognese Comments (1)
Lindsay Wicka
May 25, 2013 | Lindsay Wicka

Fritole Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli // Citrus Fritters with Raisins and Pine Nuts

FrittersFritole Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli // Citrus Fritters with Raisins and Pine Nuts
courtesy of La Cucina Italiana

Wine pairings: Felsina Vin Santo or Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito

Having a past career as a baker/pastry chef & my love of all things Italian, I can't even explain the depths of my saddness when I learned I could no longer have anything with gluten in it. I love fresh baked bread, freshly made pasta...and I could go on and on about my sincere love for cannolis. Determined not to have to give all that up entirely, I started my journey to recreate all my favorite things, but gluten free. It has been a challenge, but I have had several successes. My latest creation, Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli from La Cucina Italiana, was so incredibly delicious and perfect, no one knew that it was made with gluten free flour blend. I will admit, I did a happy dance in my kitchen I was so excited. These little guys are just one example of street food that you'll find in Venice during Carnevale- a celebration treat if you will. Lightly fried, super moist, and oh so flavorful. Pair these fritters with an Italian dessert wine like vin santo from Tuscany, or sangrantino di montefalco passito from Umbria.

Here at City Wine Merchant, we have Felsina Vin Santo which is quite a lovely expression of this wine, and at a great price as well.

So go ahead, gather friends and family together and make this delicious treat. It is sure to put smiles on many faces!


45 mins plus rising. Makes about 80 fritters.

3/4 c raisins

1/2 c dry white wine

1 1/2 c whole milk

3 1/2 t dry yeast

1/3 c sugar

4 c flour (i replaced this with Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour) 

1/8 t salt

3 eggs

1 lemon

1 orange

1 c pine nuts

1 t grappa

1 qt vegetable oil for frying

confectioners sugar for dusting


In a bowl combine raisins and wine- set aside. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 c milk over medium heat to luke warm. Then remove from heat and add yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy (10 mins) (If yeast mixture does not become foamy, start all over. You will be able to tell within 5 mins)

In large bowl whisk together remaining 1/3 sugar, flour, salt. Form a well in center. Add eggs to well. Whisk together eggs incorporating a little bit of flour from inside rim of well.

Strain wine through a fine mesh sieve into bowl with flour mix, set aside raisins.

Add yeast mix and remaining 1/2 cup milk to flour mix.

Whisk the batter to combine.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let bowl rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. approx. an hour. Add reserve raisins, pine nuts, and grappa. Fold to combine.

Line two large plates with paper towels. 

Heat oil to 325 in a 4-5 qt pot on medium high heat.

Working in batches of 5-7 drop tablespoon size batter in the oil, turning once until puffed and golden. (2-3 mins)

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out fritters and place them on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy while still warm.

Time Posted: May 25, 2013 at 7:00 AM Permalink to Fritole Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli // Citrus Fritters with Raisins and Pine Nuts Permalink
Eric Genau
April 4, 2013 | Eric Genau

Great Pairings at Ristorante Lombardo

I enjoyed a fantastic pairing diiner with a colleague last week at Buffalo's Ristorante Lombardo. Bravo to Tommy Lombardo, Jr. and his team for a great meal and great wine pairings. While Lombardo's remains one of Buffalo's classic Italian restaurants (over 35 years in business), Tommy is helping to transform the restaurant into an exciting vinoteca with one of the most exciting wine programs in town. He recently returned to Buffalo after spending time in New York City working around some of the hottest wine destinations in the city. He is clearly bringing a progressive approach with him, and I am excited to work with him and Lombardo's on wine events in the near future. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out their themed wine pairing dinners. On our visit, we were treated to a partial preview of an upcoming Sicily-themed dinner. Some of the highlights were Murgo Brut Rose pairied with Blue Point Oysters and Horseradish Marmalata (one of the best pairings I've had in a long time), and Venturini Baldini Lambrusco with Tagliatelle Bolognese. Look for some of these wines at City Wine Merchant soon!

Our menu for the evening:

Murgo Brut Rose, 2009
with Tuna Tagliatta, blood oranges, fennel, arugula
and Blue Point Oysters with horseradish marmalata.

'Zagra' Valle dell'Acate 2011
with Grilled Octopus, pickled fennel, smoky white beans

'Quadrio' Valtellina Superiore, Nino Negri, 2009
with Wood Roasted Figs, gorgonzola, prosciutto

Venturini Baldini Lambrusco NV
with Tagliatelle Bolognese

COS Pithos Rosso, 2011
with Veal Marsala

Vigna la Miccia Marsala, Marco de Bartoli, NV
with Biscotti

Time Posted: Apr 4, 2013 at 9:30 AM Permalink to Great Pairings at Ristorante Lombardo Permalink Comments for Great Pairings at Ristorante Lombardo Comments (1)
Matt Cole
April 12, 2012 | Matt Cole

Braised Chicken Thighs with Toscana Rosso

We love Tuscany, and the regions's signature Sangiovese is one of the most food-friendly grapes out there. Whether a wine is 100% Sangiovese or blended with another variety such as Merlot, great food pairing options are abundant. With hundreds of Tuscan producers and wines to choose from, Rosso di Montalcino is a good place to start to find something reliable and budget friendly. These wines are great options while waiting for Montalcino's flagship and age-worthy wines, Brunello di Montalcino, to be realized and ready to drink.  Uccelliera is one of the most notable Montalcino producers, making some of the most age worthy and collectable wines in the region. It is located in the south of the Castelnuovo dell’Abate part of Montalcino, and all of their vineyard work is done by hand.

The limited Uccelliera Rosso di Montalcino 2009 has the same flavor profile and structure as its older sibling, but it is simpler, fresh, and more immediately approachable. Medium red in color, this wine offers dark fruit aromas of black cherries and cassis intermingled with some smoke and tobacco, with a balanced finish and interlaced tannins. It's a great example of the style of wine coming from Southern Montalcino, and it complements meats especially, from salumi to steak to burgers.

Another great choice is Fattoria Rodano's Toscana Poggialupi 2010, a delicious blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot, from Castellina in the heart of the Chianti Classico district. It's an outstanding value at only $11.89 with our feature discount.  

For a great pairing with either wine (or both!), I have made Braised Chicken Thighs with a Rich Mushroom Roasting Sauce.  It is delicious, simple, and uses only one pan.


  • 4lbs bone-in Chicken Thighs
  • 1lb sliced Mushrooms (i.e. Button, Crimini, Shiitake)
  • 3 Minced Shallots
  • 3 Cloves Smashed Garlic
  • Half Bottle of Marsala or Perez Barquero Gran Barquero Fino Sherry (only $11.99 and tastes great)
  • 2 Sprigs of Thyme
  • 1 Sprig of Rosemary


  • First pour yourself a glass of wine!
  • Preheat oven 425 degrees F.
  • Pat dry chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper. Sear skin side down in an oven proof skillet until golden and crispy. Remove from pan.
  • Use the rendered fat to sauté mushroom until browned; if not enough fat add olive oil.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and sauté together until the shallots are clear.
  • Add thyme sprigs and wine.
  • Place the chicken back in the pan skin side up and roast in the oven for 30-45 minutes.
  • Enjoy! 
Time Posted: Apr 12, 2012 at 9:15 AM Permalink to Braised Chicken Thighs with Toscana Rosso Permalink Comments for Braised Chicken Thighs with Toscana Rosso Comments (2)
Traci Lee
February 21, 2012 | Traci Lee

Recap: Winter Wine Dinner

Last night we partnered with O'Connells American Bistro for an outstanding seasonal Winter Wine Dinner, featuring five very creative courses, paired with hand-selected wines.  Chef O'Connell's knock-out menu had a Southern, low-country theme and the wine pairings worked well with each dish.

The evening began with Montsarra Cava, a sparkling wine, produced from a careful blend of native grapes in Penedes, Spain, along with passed hors d'oeuvres, including Outerbanks Crab with spicy slaw and aioli, Braised Pork Shoulder with creamed corn, crispy onions and Crispy Fried Chicken, arugula, cowboy caviar (a tasty bed of beans).  The bright, small-bubbled cava did a good job of refreshing the palate for the wide variety of flavors.

The atmosphere of O'Connells Bistro is warm and inviting, as well as stylish and sophisticated, which is also a great description for Chef O'Connell's menu - familiar foods with a twist.  As we found our seats, the second course was served - "The Buffalo Fish Fry", paired with Chateau Musar Musar Jeune Blanc 2009.  Let's start with the wine.  This incredibly aromatic white wine from Lebanon is made of 40% Viognier, 30% Chardonnay, and 30% Vermentino.  Musar is legendary,  one of the most written and talked about wine producers in the world today.  The wine is greenish-yellow in color and has an intriguing nose of peach, apricot and pineapple.  The palate is dry, but has a subtle hint of sweetness from the stone and tropical fruit flavor.  Musar Jeune is a food wine, and its medium-body worked well with the Fish Fry - a tempura dipped wild salmon, over a butter poached lobster hash with smoked nova salmon tartar sauce.  As I was eating this dish, I had a hard time deciding which I enjoyed better, the salmon or the lobster hash, because a new favorite flavor came out in every bite! 

The third course, Southern Style Grilled Duck paired with Castell'In Villa Chianti Classico  2008arrived on the table and Eric Genau, our Wine Director, described his recent visit to this estate in Tuscany.  It is a village, not a winery, at the southern edge of the Chianti Classico zone, owned by Princess Coralia Pignatelli della Leonessa.  The estate has been in existence since the 13th century and much of her land is used primarily for hunting game and the region's famously delicious wild boar, which they serve in the village restaurant.  The vines here are incredibly low yielding and Princess Coralia releases wines only when ready to drink, which is not common in the wine world today.  The Chianti is big, with earthy flavors, which is a perfect match for Southern Style Grilled Duck, a sausage and roasted mushroom "stuffing", house sausage gravy & duck rinds.  This dish is awesome.  The seasoning and salt in the stuffing surround the duck, while bits of sausage jump out like flavor diamonds.  The rustic, primative qualities of Castell'in Villa shine through this pairing, and I am magically transported back to Italy, tasting the local environment where this wine comes from. 

Next up, Grilled Beef Tenderloin paired with White Rock Vineyards Napa Valley Claret 2007.  Certified grass fed, hormone free, Montana range beef, bacon, green chili, dry cheddar grits, creamed greens and aioli, paired with a highly-rated wine from a small family estate located in the southern foothills of the Stag's Leap Range rising above the Napa Valley.  Wow.  White Rock's Claret has a distinct Bordeaux-like personality, which is not surprising since this is a classic left-bank Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot.  The wine is smooth, sophisticated and approachable.  It is a big, powerhouse wine, but it is really well-made and balanced. The well-intergrated tannins melt into the Beef Tenderloin and the earthy flavor marries the bacon, cheddar grits and greens elegantly.  

Just when I thought I reached my limit, the All American Cupcake changed my mind - double sweetgrass valley chocolate and bacon cupcakes, with a peanut butter and maple mousse filling, and creamed peanut butter frosting. I expected the cupcake to be very dense and extremely rich, but it was actually quite light, with just the right amount of sweetness.  We paired this decadent treat with Ferreira Tawny Porto, from the largest (and most popular) producer in Portugal.   This tawny Port resembles a Ruby more than Tawny, offering a nice balance of fruit, oak and spice.  Absolutely delicious.  

If you joined us at the dinner, please comment on your favorite dish, wine or pairing!  And if you missed this event, we hope to see you at another soon.  For the most up to date schedule, check out our Monthly Events Calendar.  

Time Posted: Feb 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM Permalink to Recap: Winter Wine Dinner Permalink Comments for Recap: Winter Wine Dinner Comments (1)
Eric Genau
February 12, 2012 | Eric Genau

Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports

Vias is one of the most renowned Italian wine importers in the US, and on Friday we were joined by our old friend, Maurizio Clemente to taste and talk about some great wines and producers from the Vias portfolio. I was particularly excited about this tasting because it gave me a chance to revisit and share some of the most memorable wines I tasted during my trip to Montalcino and Montepulciano in September. It also gave us an intimate setting to check-in on a couple great wines from the 2004 vintage - Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino and Damilano Barolo Cannubi. I was especially impressed with these wines and am even more convinced that wines from 2004 (both from Piedmont and Tuscany) will provide great pleasure over the next 5 to 10 years.

If you weren't able to join us, here are my tasting notes and a bit of information about the wines that we opened.

Damilano Arneis Langhe 2010
We have carried a few vintages of this wine, and it was the perfect wine to kick-off a great evening. Winemaking by the Damilano family dates back to 1890 when Joseph Borgogno, great grandfather of current owners, began to cultivate grapes and make wine on their beautiful beautiful countryside property in the town of Piedmont Vezza Alba. This wine is 100% Arneis grape, which is often referred to as the "white Barolo" because of its richness and growing area around some of the most famous areas of Barolo. This was fresh and vibrant with tons of peach and passionfruit, balanced acidity and a really interesting almond hint on the finish. I've always liked how this wine manages to be both crisp and rich at the same time, and it definitely showed that way on this night. This is such a great value.

Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 2009
I only recently discovered this wine and immediately found it to be one of the most enjoyable seafood matches I've had in a long time. The Feudo di Santa Tresa estate lies along the Mediterranean Sea, where the vineyards benefit from cool sea breezes and the fruit is perfectly ripened under the Sicilian sun. Rina Ianca is a unique blend of Viognier and Grillo and the name translates to "white sand" in the local language. This refreshing wine has a bouquet of pineapple and mango, and a beautiful straw yellow color. This is a great match for seafood, salads and pastas because of its perfect balance of citrus and tropical fruit flavors and bright acidity. Following the Arneis, this showed slightly more richness and texture, but the two wines complemented each other nicely.

Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 2009
This was the best value red I tasted during my time in Montepulciano in September. Cerro is one of the most beautiful properties in this region, and Manero is the estate's first wine from revered oenologist Riccardo Cotarella. A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot, it has very concentrated and intense aromas of wild berries, spices and a hint of truffle. The flavors here are well-rounded and decisive, and this delivers a big punch for this price point. What I like most about this wine is that you can really pull out the varietal characteristics of both the Sangiovese and Merlot, and this wine tastes Tuscan. Manero pairs well with roasted red meats and stews and aged cheeses, especially the many varieties of Pecorino produced in this area. This wine impresses me every time.

Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2006
I love this wine! This is one of Cerro's flagship wines, and one of my top 10 favorite wines tasted during my recent trip to Tuscany. The estate boasts 93 hectares of beautiful Vino Nobile vineyards, and the Riserva uses fruit from the best plots. This shows intense and concentrated wild black cherry, violet and spice aromas. Its flavor is full and persistent, with powerful, yet elegant and integrated tannins. This has really great structure, and should drink extremely well for the next 5-8 years. I had a chance to also taste the 2007 Riserva in Italy, and that is a similar, outstanding wine.

Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 2007
This is very well-priced blockbuster Sagrantino. Colpetrone is one of the most important wine producers in the Montefalco DOCG area and the tannin-rich Sagrantino grape is one of the most ancient varieties in Italy. This is strong and concentrated with an almost impenetrable ruby color, and an intense, ample perfume of wild berries and espresso. Red and black fruit, spices and vanilla really explode on the palate here, but it is the big, broad tannins that stand out most; this wine begs to be paired with food. It's a steak wine. This is just so big and structured, it should drink well for the next decade or more if the fruit can hold on. Even if it doesn't, this will be a treat over the next few years. It has both a rustic charm and a big modern forward character.

Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 2004
Fossacolle is a little family run estate owned by Sergio Marchetti. Along with this family, they take care of all the viticultural tasks throughout the tiny five acre vineyards and Marchetti's son-in-law, Adriano Bambagioni, is the winemaker. They literally consider the vineyard just an extension of their family garden! The small estate sits in a little Village called Tavernelle, in the south of Montalcino, where the vines are influenced by the sun and breezes from the Maremma coast to the west. This was the first real experiment of the night, because I hadn't tasted too much 2004 Brunello over the past year, opting to let this vintage evolve a bit more in bottle, and instead enjoy the more pretty and approachable wines from 2005 and 2006 After about two hours in a decanter, this wine started singing. Fine tannins were present but starting to give way to flavors of cherry and cranberry fruit and wild mushroom. This is a very focused and polished wine, especially considering its young age, and is both powerful and elegant. This wine was aged for a year each in large oak casks, smaller barrique and concrete tank, and I think the balanced method has created a wine that is very well integrated and put together. This seems to be entering a sweet spot, and it should stay in it and continue to get better over the next 5 to 10 years. The tannins are already very fine and polished. It may turn out to be one of the best surprises of the vintage.

Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2004
It has often been said that if Piedmont had a Grand Cru classification similar to Burgundy, the Cannubi vineyard – which covers a total of 15 hectares in the municipality of Barolo – would surely be considered one of the few true Grand Cru vineyards in Barolo. The Cannubi cru is one of the oldest in Italy, and the oldest known bottle in existence with Cannubi on the label is dated 1752. This 2004 edition continues a long line of delicious wines I've tasted from the vineyard. Damilano now makes more than 60% of the Barolo from this vineyard, so it makes sense to use this wine as the real measuring stick for all wines from Cannubi. We had this in the decanter for an hour and then back into the bottle for another hour before tasting. It had a really pretty medium red color, and pretty aromas of blackberry, mineral and licorice. The licorice turned more menthol as I swirled this in the glass. It is a beautiful wine to smell! On the palate, the tannins were fine grained and a bit dominating, but not so much that the fruit couldn't leap out of the glass. This has some great cherry pit and plum flavors. It is long and polished, and it should fully come together over the next year or two. Overall, this is a Barolo of medium body and good structure. There is a lot to like here, and it should remain a beautiful wine for the next 7-10 years. 

Vintage Wine Score Maturity
2010 Damilano Arneis Langhe 89 2012-2014
2009 Tenuta Santa Tresa Rina Ianca Grillo Viognier 90 2012-2014
2009 Fattoria del Cerro Manero Rosso di Toscana 90 2012-2014
2006 Fattoria Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 93 2012-2020
2007 Colpetrone Sagrantino di Montefalco 92 2012-2016
2004 Fossacolle Brunello di Montalcino 92 2012-2020
2004 Damilano Barolo Cannubi 91 2012-2020

Note: Wine Record posts are Eric Genau's reflections and tasting notes on food, wine and conversation enjoyed with friends and family. This is the only place you will see Eric formally "score" a wine. As with all scores, they are meant as a guide to help readers discover new wines that suit their own palates. Readers may find they have a similar palate to Eric's, or not at all, but hopefully these notes and scores provide some valuable guidance in any event. Likewise, drinking windows are provided only as a guide, and based solely (unless otherwise indicated) on a single bottle and singular experience. 

Time Posted: Feb 12, 2012 at 4:44 PM Permalink to Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports Permalink Comments for Wine Record: An Outstanding Evening with Vias Imports Comments (2)
Traci Lee
January 19, 2012 | Traci Lee

Surprising Flavor from a Perfect Pairing

I'm very excited about my first wine and cheese pairing of 2012, because both components are complex and flavorful: suberb on their own and marry together in a super surprising (and delicious) way - which is the #1 goal when creating a perfect pairing! 

2010 Pighin Pinot Grigio Collio is a beautiful golden color and very aromatic with hints of hazelnut, white fruit and subtle spice.  The palate is delicate, but expressive with layers of flavor, literally each sip brings out something new - if you don't think of enjoying white wine with food, give this a try!  It is rich and earthy, medium to full-bodied and has a hint of peach, a ton of minerality and a textured mouth feel that is a very different from many Americanized, flat/light Pinot Gris you may have tasted and said "yuck".  Azienda Fratelli Pighin is a magnificently beautiful family-owned estate located in the prestigious D.O.C Collio zone of Grave-del-Friuli, in northeast Italy, and they remain a benchmark producer for Pinot Grigio. 

After enjoying a few sips of Pighin, I pick up a piece of very stinky Grayson, a gooey, golden, washed-rind cheese from Virginia.  Meadow Creek's Grayson looks like Tallegio and smells like feet, which is great, considering this cheese is produced by the Feete family.  This cheese smells dirty and straight from the barn, but tastes mild and amazing.  It is creamy, with a thick paste that coats your mouth and I immediate think of using it in mac + cheese.  The flavor is deep and hearty with onions and meaty beef on the palate, it could be a meal.  The taste tames the scent and although it does smells like feet, Grayson will knock your socks off.

Once I have covered all of my tastebuds with the cheese, I take a hearty sip of the wine.  It tastes like banana! In a good way.  Thankfully I'm tasting with a number of others, confirming the banana burst and full-bodied tropical fruit that I find within this wine and cheese combination.  The hazelnut flavor in the Pinot Grigio is also amplified when paired with the cheese and the meaty character of the cheese is humbled by the layers of fruit in the wine. 

While both the Pighin and the Grayson are outstanding on their own, this pairing truly brings out the best of each other, while creating a new flavor together.  That being said, a perfect pairing like this is able to work because 3 tasting principles are at work:  the weight -  each component is similar, medium to full bodied, with big aromatics, that greatly play into the what you experience while tasting.  The texture - the wine and cheese "feel" similar in your mouth, they coat your tongue with creamy, smooth layers.  Finally, the flavor - the wine is hearty and earthy, which is a great clue that the taste will be enhanced with food.  The cheese is tastes like a meal itself, and of course, meals are always better with wine - I can't wait for you to try this combination!  When you do, please post your thoughts here or share with our Facebook community!

Time Posted: Jan 19, 2012 at 5:00 AM Permalink to Surprising Flavor from a Perfect Pairing Permalink Comments for Surprising Flavor from a Perfect Pairing Comments (1)