January 2011

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Arinto is my choice for world’s most underrated grape. Yes, I’m uninformed but for acid lovers, this grape has all kinds of car battery and a long finish on the front of the mouth. Most wines have that long, tannic finish or round out the back of the mouth with a dollop of chewiness, but not Arinto. Arinto’s a front of the mouth lingerer, a grape that likes the incisors and is kinda into the canines, but mostly the incisors. Very front of the mouth, which I respect since that’s where a kiss is best.

Wine of choice when it comes to Arinto isn’t really known since I think I’ve tried about 3 in my life. That said, this particular one from Bucelas is the first wine that caused me to buy a case. It’s got all kinds of lime, lemon and little flowers (had to finish that alliterative line). Also, grapefruit lovers will gobble this wine up at $10.

Also, history. Back in the days when the English hated the French (18th century in case you think that’s always been the case), the Brits were all about Portuguese wines since Napoleon barricaded the continent with one exception. Portugal, crazy Portugal not only had an alliance with the Brits, they had really kick-ass wines. Duke Wellington (yes, that Napoleon-defeating guy) used to offer this wine to his court friends. Somehow between then and now, the Bris lost their way and moved on to gin and Irish beers. Nonetheless, Bucelas thrives still and heads up the list of awesome Portuguese wine regions. Thanks to the French and their blockade we have that random historical tidbit.

Detail Up!
Quinta da Romeira – Arinto 2008 for about $10

Random Googles
* Arinto shows up in Vinho Verde sometimes. Code-named Pederña.
* All of Portugal loves Arinto. Think of it as the Cristiano Ronaldo of wine.
* Arinto begs for food like a hungry puppy. People eat clams with this wine, not puppies.

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Hello Nero D’Avola, we meet again. You sound dirty, you look filthy, and yet I see you on every Italian menu. Somebody must have a serious fetish or you’ve bribed the right people.

Tonight’s choice (by the restaurant, as there was really only one Nero d’Avola on the menu) was Sedara Donnafugata, which is included solely to help me remember since there is nothing I know about the vineyard.

As for the wine, it’s dark enough to dye my tongue a deep-hued twilight and fruity in all kinds of crazy ways. Smelling it, I’m certain it’s a blackberry, tasting it it’s a blueberry and bramble, and thinking about it afterward, it’s some kind of raspberry. Seriously, I’m at a loss to describe it as anything other than fruity. Fruity in all kinds of ways that aren’t giving it adequate description. It’s not even that it’s so subtle (it’s not) or comlex (really pretty simple actually), it’s just that there’s loads of fruit and I’m inept enough not to know what kinds of fruit.

Nero D’Avola… is in fact a grape. Was kinda worried since Italy seems to mess around with regions and grapes so you’re never sure quite what’s going on but you’re generally happy with how it’s going. Figure it’s sort of like dating an Italian guy. Anyway, the grape’s popping up on the popularity charts and the Meatpacking District has a bar named after it, so it’s only a matter of time until Sicily can’t grow enough and the Hong Kong market starts exploding with overpriced bottles of Nero. In conclusion, Nero was an Italian emperor (a crazy one) and Nero d’Avola is an Italian grape (only crazy dark, not crazy delicious).

Random Googles
* Nero d’Avola – easiest to think of it as Italy’s Syrah
* Sicily is where Nero d’Avola lives. NYC is where it parties.
* Nobody has much more to say about Nero on the internets so I’ll do it. It’s a hot grape, both in that Paris Hilton way from the early 2000’s and in that 90 degree, sweltering can-grow-in-Australia way.

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New Year’s Eve could be the most overhyped day in the year (yes, i’m a curmudgeon), and if there’s one thing that’s even more overhyped than NYE it’s Champagne on NYE. Bubbly, festive, champagne. Either it’s ridiculously overpriced or it’s dreadfully wretched (wow, that sounded very British, even in the hating on France).

Better Bubbly

Fortunately however, there’s plenty of other bubbly that still tastes good and leaves you without a debt the size of the US deficit. Cava’s been my standby since the muni government days of yore, and Prosecco’s another that I found during the grad school days later on. Champagne though has just been awful.

Still, it was Chardonnay (the principal grape in Champagne) that I bought after the wine tasting at my local LIC haunt – Vine Wine – a neighborhood wine treasure. True to the NYE joy, their free tasting the Wednesday before the ball drop had bubbles. Really excellent bubbles too. So I bought my fave and busted it open (without my saber) that night. Truth be told, it was three days before NYE but totally worth the celebratory splurge.

Gruet: Ugly Name, Excellent Rose

Strawberries galore and a bit of raspberry. Unfortunately, no name of grapes on the label but thanks to winegeeks, there’s an answer. Gruet (from New Mexico – seriously?!?) only puts Chardonnay and Pinot Noir into their roses it’s easy money that this one has Chardonnay. From somebody who really detests the grape, this bottle is changing minds. Nice work New Mexico!

In sum
Rose bubbly for a night in with your special ballerina.

Detail Up!
Gruet Rose

Google Randoms
* Chardonnay is the most over-planted grape in the world. Didn’t even have to google that one. It’s just true.
* Apparently, because it grows everywhere, like dandelions.
* Champagne grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, pretty much in that order.
* Spread the Champagne myth of Marie Antoinette’s breasts. Better hype than NYE.

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