The big Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular is coming right up (next Thursday, Jan. 29), and today we’re continuing our preview of some of the wines that will be offered for tasting.
Let’s look at some of the bigger reds that will be available:Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano, 2012 IGT Italy. There are two things I really like about this wine: One is that it is widely available here in New Hampshire, and the second is that it tastes really good. We are several decades now into the world of the “supertuscsan,” a wine that is a blend of the classic Tuscan Sangiovese with other grapes. In order to get the regular Italian wine permissions the grape has to be 100 percent varietal, but the IGT category was created to allow for some experimentation by winegrowers.
One of the early consequences of that was the blending of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon to make some truly memorable wines. This particular example is 80 percent Sangiovese and 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown in central Tuscany, home of the great Chianti grape. Those of you who are Chianti lovers know that grape’s classic flavors include sour cherry and an ethereal dustiness (pardon that wacky paradox, but if you love Chianti, you know exactly what I mean) characteristic of the Tuscan hills. The addition of Cabernet Sauvignon has the effect of giving the wine a bit more weight, allowing it to be paired with some heavier foods.
I will tell you that I am not an entirely unbiased reviewer of this wine since we usually have several bottles of it on hand at home. The 2012, still young, is bright with a youthful purple hue in the glass, with a pink rim that becomes clear just at the edges.
The nose is a pleasant combination of sour cherry, that wonderful Tuscan earthiness, and some dark berry from the Cabernet Sauvignon contribution. It’s a dry red that maintains the Sangiovese’s high acidity, allowing it to be paired with heavier red sauces, but also has the added weight from the darker berry flavors that call for pairing with roasted meat. The alcohol is well balanced at 13.5%, integrated into the whole profile.
The body is medium, and the flavor intensity is medium-plus and reflects the nose with dark berry, a hint of cassis, and a steady, pleasing finish. It is usually priced in the low teens locally, and makes for an excellent everyday drinking wine. 88 points.
Next, a word from the Godfather — that is, Francis Coppola, whose Diamond Series includes this 2012 Black Label Claret. Claret, you recall, was a British term for French Bordeaux wine, made from a combination of grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others. This one is 13.5 percent alcohol by volume, and the label tells me that it is Cabernet Sauvignon based, but neglects to identify the other grapes or their proportions. I was first introduced to this one a few years ago by my good friend Steve, who brought a bottle over one night that we were having pizza. So I am again not totally unbiased.
Dark purple and glass with an opaque core, the nose is of medium intensity with dark fruits including black currant and blackberry as well as a hint of ripe plum and some earthy/herbal notes. This is a dry, dark red, powerful, with good acidity, alcohol that is a bit insistent at the outset, but that mellows when it gets some air and falls into a better balance, medium-plus body and medium flavor intensity encompassing black currant, black currant leaf, blackberry, some bramble fruit and earthiness.
It makes one think about stakes of various kinds, on the grill, as well as some heavy-duty roasted meats. 90 points.Silverado Vineyards 2010 Estate Grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley California. Silverado Vineyards has been making wine since 1981 from their own estate-grown grapes. This wine is 100% Cabernet. Not surprisingly, it has an inky black core, a purple rim, with just a hint of clearness at the edge reminding us that it is still fairly young.
The alcohol content (14.7 percent) is higher because the grapes can stay on the vine and become very bright in that part of California. The nose is much darker than the previous two wines, with rich black fruit and pencil shavings/graphite (for those of you who are not regular Cabernet drinkers, comparing it to a pencil is fact a very good thing). On the palate, the components are in balance. This is a wine with intense but well integrated tannin, tending toward coarse on opening, and calling for some rich red and roasted meats to go along with it. The acidity is medium, and the flavor intensity is medium plus, entered into a competition between graphite and black fruit, one emerging over the other on the way to an intriguing and balanced finish.
The Silverado has a little less structure than some California Cabs, a bit toward the softer end of that spectrum, but this doesn’t really detract from it. You know the pairings, you know the flavors; go forth and try it. 90 points.