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Italian Syrah Strikes Again!!

Leuta 2013 Syrah Cortonaimg_5780

There are days when you just have to say, “I love my life!!”  The wine tasting I went to last night gave me great reason to say so.  The owner/winemaker of Leuta Winery in Cortona, Italy, Denis Zeni,  was in town looking to move his distribution further west than the Northeastern restaurants that currently purchase much of his  export wine to the United States.  My life was further rewarded when I found that Leuta Wines grow Syrah and have a 100% Syrah in their portfolio (see my blog post The Rise(?) of Italian Syrah).  And even further upping my happiness ante, Denis makes kvevri wines with vines originating from Georgia (formerly of the Soviet Union).  Most people have heard of wines made in clay amphora (kvevri), but they are few and far between.  I had only recently read an in-depth article about this type of winemaking in Georgia and Portugal… and found it providence that I would meet a winemaker a week later employing similar methods for some of his very special wines.  Another future treat!!

Good wines are best served with good stories.  Denis knows that and he told his story well.  He grew up and spent large portions of his life with his grandfather in Trentino.  His grandfather was a farmer of  both food crops and grapes for wine.  His passion was for the wine.   He passed away and the land was sold.  Denis went into economics, banking, and investments for many years, but his spare time was spent pursuing his fascination with grape growing and winemaking in each hemisphere and many countries.  He eventually purchased the Cortona land that is now Leuta Winery and he is the hands-on decision maker, charting the course of his vineyards.  Denis explains that he chose the soil, the layout of his vineyards, the concentration of plantings, the winery equipment and how the grapes are grown, harvested and how wines are made.  Super organically, I might add!!   Denis is also working on making the process vegan, as well.

So, how good were the wines??  They were Very Good!!!!!  I am the frugal wine drinker, but I had no problem purchasing Leuta wines.  I am looking forward to the delivery of his Syrah, Sangiovese and Cab Franc.  The wines are very clean and modern in the best of ways.  New French oak is used judiciously, so these wines are not reeking of toasted vanilla.  The  2013 Leuta Syrah Cortona was big on blackberry, dark plum, pepper and spice with a little fresh potting soil.  The wine was refreshing.  I thought the Leuta Merlot was excellent, but I kept returning to the Syrah to freshen my palate and indulge my myself again!!  The Leuta Sangiovese was my second favorite — well crafted and elegant.

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My thanks to Bill & Stephanie Lloyd for including us in your gathering and to Christin Hartung for being a lovely hostess.  Leuta Wines have a wine club (a very wise business plan) that has nice benefits, especially if you are in the Cortona area.  I think Denis picked up quite a few new members (as he should!) from this gathering!  Check out the website leuta-wines-cortona.com    Although Leuta is a small, boutique, estate winery, you will see that Denis has used his business background to promote his beautiful wines in a very organized, user-friendly way.  As an American capitalist… I love it.

 

 

Tinsel, Pine and a Nice (Cheap!)Red Blend

Christmas has waned and the post-Christmas blues are waxing.  What to do.  My answer is to try something new!!

img_0001The 18th Man Red Blend vinted and bottled by Familia Nueva Vineyards just might do the trick!!  This 2013 Red Blend of Syrah 60%, Petit Verdot 19%, Malbec 19% and Cabernet Sauvignon 2% seems to hit the spot.  This blend comes from Paso Robles (which means BIG WINES!!) and seems fill up the post-Christmas void.  I get a total and complete Blackberry pie or cobbler which means you can just drink the wine and skip the dessert.  There is also a nice waft of cigar box– which I was happy to identify prior to reading the label.  Yea me!!

You don’t need to pair this with a meal.  This wine is heavy enough and rich enough to stand on its own.  It has the weight of some residual sugar to fill up those spaces in between your ribs.    But if you feel you need a little something…. the label recommends “aggressive appetizers in the form of nachos, corn dogs or even bacon wrapped jalapenos.”

For all my folks that contacted me about the Apothic wines, I would tell you to give this one a try!!!  I found it at Trader Joes and it was < $10.  Enjoy.   And be sure to let me know what you think!   I love your feedback.

Just to keep you in the loop, we drank Altamura, Caymus, Schafer, & Thumbprint for Christmas… but I couldn’t stop to talk.    They were all pretty big, too.

Rose & Remodel

Pushing through the final details!

The men are hanging the light fixtures and painting the ceiling while I’m dusting out and re-organizing the cabinets.  

It’s December and should be prime season for red wine, but it was 81 degrees today.  There are two young men outside spreading dirt and they are working up a sweat.  The wine fridge is booby trapped by a swathe of floor patch.  I already skated through it once today.  I’ve learned my lesson.

So Charles & Charles Columbia Valley Rose 2015.  Bursting with cherry, watermelon, woody stems, and a faint trace of bubble gum!   $12-ish as I recall!   Goes down boldly and easily.  It’s a blend of 61% Syrah plus Mourvèdre, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault and Counoise!   This Rose is just dying to talk to you and your palate!!  And after a day of remodeling, it’s a conversation I’m ready to have. 

The Rise(?) of Italian Syrah

So when we set our for the evening, I can’t say I was thinking about Syrah!  We are in Italy after all.  We are in Florence specifically.  And this region of Tuscany is the renowned for their Chianti Classico, their Brunello, and, of course, their Super Tuscans.  img_2264
The Wine… (sigh)

So when it came time to look at the wine menu to find something to go with our Involtini, thin slices of beef stuffed with cheese and asparagus, there were several wine list options to choose from.  Ruffino, Frescobaldi and Antinori are largely present on Florence restaurant wine lists, so I was up for other options.   We chatted with our waitress, who recommended the Sommelier to come to the table.  Using a trifecta of languages, English, Italian and some kitchen Spanish, we came to the brilliant idea of Syrah.  Tenimenti Luigi d’Allesandro “Il Bosco” Syrah 2011.

I didn’t take proper wine notes during dinner!  But I haven’t forgetten how good this wine was on this night!  Dark, dark fruit kept fresh and bright with  lively acidity.  Firm tannins balanced out the acid and gave the wine pleasing balance and structure.  And pepper–the wine had some black and green pepper notes that you would expect from Syrah.  This wine has some similarities to Rhone-grown-Syrah.  The price was 40-50 Euro. The wine paired well with the Involtini and our entrees of grilled steak and roasted duck.

It turns out that the Cortona area of Italy has proved itself well suited to the Syrah grape varietal.   It has long, hot summer days with cool nights.  The climate is considered similar to that of the southern Rhone Valley.  James Suckling and Janice Robinson have found favor with Syrah wines produced in this area, but I can’t say the wines have gained great traction here in the United States.  Not to mention, Syrah is certainly a bit of an outlier in the Tuscany region.  Luckily for me, Tenimenti Luigi d’Allesandro has been experiementing with Syrah since the 1980’s and has increased its plantings.  The Il Bosco is 100% Syrah and all Rhone clones grown in three different estate vineyards.  it is aged in used barriques and casks and is aged a total of 36 months.

I’ve done my due diligence on my favorite wine-about-town website:  SevenFifty.com and found only one offering of 100% Syrah from Tuscany.  Favorite Brands distributes Le Macchiole Toscano Scrio from the Bolgheri region.  It looks to be $100+ and therefore a little out of range for the EveryDayCabRene collection of wines.

Ciao!!