Vall Llach: Exploring the Red Wines of Priorat in Spain

Posted on: November 28th, 2014 by


priorat vineyards
It’s hard to look at the grape vines in the rugged region of Priorat in Spain and not think, “How do they make wine here?” The steep hills, the gnarled vines, the “llicorella” (slate) soil. And to call it soil is kind of strange as it looks menacing, like it would slice you in half if you slipped on it. This ain’t no fluffy potting soil.

The folks at Vall Llach in Priorat sent a trio of wines for my consideration and exploration. The region is best-known for its old-vine Carignan and Grenache, in Spain called Cariñena and Garnacha. But you’ll also see some Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

And before I got any further, how about these photos? Big thanks to Rebecca Hopkins for letting me use her images. Please peruse more of her work here.

Now let’s get to the lineup:

  • 2011 Vall Llach Embruix ($25): 28% Cariñena, 23% Garnacha, 18% Cabernet, 17% Merlot, 14% Syrah. (15% ABV)
  • 2009 Vall Llach Idus ($50): 40% Cariñena, 30% Merlot, 10% Garnacha, 10% Cabernet, 10% Syrah (15.4% ABV)
  • 2011 Vall Llach Porrera Vi de Vila ($65): 70% Cariñena, 30% Garnacha (15.7% ABV)

vall llach vineyards priorat

Each wine was better on day two and all were extremely savory, rich, and dense. Sips of Porrera had the kind of deepness akin to drinking wine from the ocean’s pitch-black depths, where only National Geographic and your palate can confirm such a place exists.

vall llach priorat vineyardsI know the soil is called llicorella so you may roll your eyes when I say that I detected a lot of very pleasant licorice flavor in all three wines. (The black slate resembles licorice, thus the name.) Look the soil doesn’t taste like licorice. And if you tried to taste it, you’d probably lose your tongue and cut up your gums something fierce. Oh, and when I say licorice I mean black licorice, not Red Vines or Twizzlers. (Sidebar: I prefer the latter.)

I’d also like to say something about the alcohol levels in these wines. They are high, over 15%. I will admit that I tend to be a delicate flower when it comes to ABV in wine. I like lacy, elegant bottles that clock in under 13%. At the very least, under 14%. But none of these wines tasted boozy to me and I’m happy to say I got over myself. (Mark this occasion on your calendar. It may never happen again.)

Finally, for $25, the Embruix is a lot of wine for the money. Anyone looking to expand their global repertoire of intensely powerful reds needs to put it in their rotation.

Want more Priorat? Read about my visit there, as well as Barcelona and Penedes (aka Cava country). Also, get to know white wine from Priorat

Happy Thanksgiving: Sparkling Selections of Washington Wine and Cider

Posted on: November 27th, 2014 by

washington sparkling wine and ciderMy two themes for Thanksgiving refreshment? The first is Washington State. The other? Bubbles.

I couldn’t pass up the chance to snag a magnum of Syncline’s Scintillation Rosé, hailing from the picturesque Columbia Gorge. A big bottle is the way to go for a large crowd.

And, of course, how could I forget Finnriver from the Olympic Peninsula? I love their Artisan Sparkling Cider, which is made in the same method as Champagne. So light, elegant, and refreshing. Perfect for greeting your guests or throughout the meal. The cider’s modest 8% alcohol means it’s a good choice for a long day.

And hey, don’t forget I spent a month at Finnriver Farm and Cidery. Read all about my stay there. (It was magical and memorable.)

Want to know more about Syncline? Check out my interview with Winemaker James Mantone on Grape Collective.

Happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to have a super-fun family who will be happy to enjoy these bubbles with me.

syncline and finnriver

Magnum of sparkling wine, y’all. So I got two bottles of sparkling cider to make it even. And, yes, that’s my reflection, light switch, and pile of books.

20 Wine Bloggers Talk About Thanksgiving: 2006-2014

Posted on: November 22nd, 2014 by

I’m going back in the time machine and rounding up some of my top Thanksgiving wine posts as well as taking a trip around the blog-o-sphere to see what my fellow scribes have historically opined about when it comes to the most venerated of American eating and drinking holidays. Let’s do this! Starting with me, of course.

Deep-Fried Turkey and Zweigelt

I also highly recommend a big 1L bottle of Zweigelt, Austria’s signature red grape. Pair it with deep fried turkey and not burning down the house.

Foodista fueled a pumpkin kick, pairing wine with vegetarian savory and sweet recipes involving the festive orange gourd. I also had a trio of under $10 picks as well.

Need a vegan Thanksgiving dessert? I highly recommend a surprisingly sweet and parsnip pie that also makes an incredible breakfast. (Paired with a spirited apple wine. Oh, and never mind that turkey carcass over to the right….)

Thanksgiving without rosé? No way. Try this pink wine with an unusual blend.

Head back to 2008, where I sung the praises of two South African wines from Mulderbosch. (I still recommend these wines.)

Whoa, let’s go back to 2006, when I was more fixated on gratuitously putting swears in my blog posts, saying “for reals”, and apparently drinking everything in site. I do recall there was a tragic amount of corked Champagne.

But enough about me. Especially because I’m afraid what I’ll find if I look back further in the history of my blog. Let’s check on other bloggers. Cue Kenny Rogers “Through The Years”:

Whitney A. has a video for you (2014):

Meg of Maker’s Table dives deep. And if all that information freaks you out a bit, don’t fear. She concludes, “After all, Thanksgiving is not really about the wine, but it is—consummately—about tradition.” (2013)

Jeremy Parzen of Do Bianchi warms the heart of this former retail wine pro with his “10 Things Your Mother Didn’t Teach You About Thanksgiving Wines“. (2014) Especially point #2: Trust your salesperson. He explains:

“No one ever got rich working in a wine shop. People who work in wine shops are generally passionate about wine, food, and conviviality. And they’re generally nice people who care more about eating and drinking well than making money. Yes, it’s true that some will try to ‘upsell’ you. But, for the most part, wine salespeople just want you to go home with a bottle of wine that you’ll like. Treat your salesperson politely and respectfully and you will be rewarded in kind.”

AMEN!

W. Blake Gray of The Gray Report is adamant about drinking American wine on Thanksgiving. (2013) And also took umbrage at Eric Asimov’s European-heavy suggestions. (They duke it out a bit on Twitter.) Blake reasons that if “…Thanksgiving means something to you beyond football and shopping, I don’t see how you can separate the land from its bounty.”

Mary Cressler of Vindulge is smoking a turkey and drinking bubbles. (2009, updated 2013) “I always begin any dinner or event (whether Thanksgiving, a holiday party, or brunch) with sparkling wine,” Mary says. Can you understand why I like her?

Ben Carter of Benito’s Wine Reviews talks capon castration and Italian rosé. (2008)

Frank Morgan from Drink What You Like beats the local drum, choosing a red blend from Virginia to enjoy with his turkey. (2008)

Fredric Koeppel over at Bigger Than Your Head goes unusual, with an Auxerrois from Oregon. (2013)

Head to WineOhTV where Monique Soltani reveals (surprisingly) a sweet wine for turkey. And nails the pronunciation of “aperitif”. (2013)

Sean Sullivan of Washington Wine Report advises steering clear of red wines with big oak or tannins. He deadpans, “No need to kill the turkey twice.” (2013)

Clive Pursehouse from Northwest Wine Anthem has a trio of, wait for it, Northwest wines. Also, he posted this at 6:04am. Dude’s up early, probably because his handsome regimen is rigorous. Or because he’s a father. (2013)

What does a Wine Harlot drink? First Nanette Eaton quotes Tolstoy, then moves on to suggest Vouvray among other things. And leaves you with this advice: “No matter what adult beverage you bring, make sure you bring an ample supply, the Wine Harlots motto is ‘excess is best.’” (2012)

Melanie Bianco Ofenloch, aka the Dallas Wine Chick, packs up 18 bottles of wine for her family’s enjoyment. I have one word for that: hero. (2012)

Considering brining with wine? Grapefriend’s Alyssa Vitrano has four words for you (and Martha Stewart): SAVE WINE; DON’T BRINE. (2013)

Although blogging in 2014, Aaron Nix-Gomez of Hogshead unearths an ad for Gold Seal Champagne from 1912. It features a smartly dressed woman with a coupe in one hand and a the reins of a giant turkey (which she is atop) in the other. And an axe-wielding airborne cherub ready to behead said giant fowl. So yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

Joe Herrig of Suburban Wino almost didn’t get to enjoy Thanksgiving in 2010 due to a sinus infection. But a doctor offered him two shots. What was going through Joe’s head? “Two fleeting pin pricks in exchange for rich, meaty mouthfuls of drumstick; buttery, fluffy potatoes; a nose full of cranberries in a fresh glass of Brouilly; the honeyed nectar that is slightly-chilled Sauternes, served with a slice of warm apple pie…” What happened next? “Needless to say, my pants were around my ankles. A shot of cortisone in the left cheek, and a shot of antibiotics in the right….24 hours later, I was on the mend, and digging into a 3-day bender of Crestor-ic proportions.” He even made a video. Not of getting the shots…. (Excellent use of “Roly Poly” by Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys, BTW.)

Alfonso Cevola of On The Wine Trail in Italy takes us back to Thanksgiving in 1976. He had an amazing mustache. He discovered the wines of Ridge. And tells what it’s like to have worked Thanksgiving Day at a restaurant full of wealthy conservative types lamenting the election of Jimmy Carter. It’s a very thoughtful rumination on family. (2011)

One more trip via the wine blogger wayback machine (vintage 2008) , Alder Yarrow at Vinography penned the provocatively titled “Stop The Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations!“. But lest you think him a wine curmudgeon (there is only one Wine Curmudgeon, Jeff Siegel), his post ends on a fine note:

“There are no perfect pairings for everyone, only perfect pairings for you. So relax, experiment, but above all, enjoy your Thanksgiving and make sure it includes lots of wine.”

Finally, Elaine Chukan Brown from Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews recommends not a bottle but that we all be grateful. I also learned about the genesis of her love of, and for, pie. As well as her childhood furniture-rearranging habit. (2012)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Adventures With Spit Buckets and More Life Lessons at Wine Tastings

Posted on: November 20th, 2014 by

What have I learned attending a decade-plus worth of wine tastings all over the country and world? Well, I’ve certainly accumulated a lot of knowledge and experience. But I’ve also developed some, shall we say, neurotic tendencies. Here is one circumstance that, at some point, will strike all wine tasters. Both casual and veteran:

wine spit bucketWhen spitting a wine into a bucket, you will eventually get splashback onto your face.

I know, it’s so gross. But it even happens to a pro like me who has spit out more wine than he has consumed over a legal drinking lifetime. (Ok, that’s a lie.) I, on numerous occasions, have suffered the indignity that begins when leaning in to expectorate, say, a fine red Burgundy.  Concurrently, I anticipate making a pithy and insightful statement on the profundity of Gevrey Chambertin to a wine luminary who made the trip across the pond just to pour this bottle. Actual result? I flee in shame as I coat my glasses with a Burgundy cuvée augmented by the saliva of dozens of strangers and little bits of chewed-up food dislodged by swishing and spitting.

But wait, there’s more! Head over to Grape Collective for the rest:

5 Unavoidable Realities You Endure at Wine Tastings

Thanks to Carrie Dennis of Thrillist for the use of the illustration. 

Exploring The Red and White Wines of Northern Italy

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by

Bastianich

You ever insisted on something being true even after, time and time again, all your suppositions prove misguided? This happened to me while I was treated to a wine-tastic meal by Wayne Young. He’s the Sales, Communication, and Marketing Manager for the wines of Bastianich and La Mozza.

We started out exploring the Adriatico series of white wines of the former winery, a trio of Sauvignon Blanc (2012), Friulano (2011), and Malvasia (2010 and actually Croatian). All these wines had a wonderful presence on the palate that kept me asking if each wine saw some time in oak. It’s not that they were buttery, cotton-candy type of oaky. There just seemed to be something beyond the work of the stainless steel tank happening.

Here’s pretty much how it went:

ME (timidly): “Is there some oak on this Sauv Blanc, maybe a little used, neutral oak?”

WAYNE: “Nope.”

ME (more assertively): “Surely, however, this Friulano is imbued with some of the richness-giving powers of judicious oak use.”

WAYNE: “Again, no.”

ME (going off the rails): “HA HA. THAT’S VERY INTERESTING. BUT IN ALL SERIOUSNESS I KNOW WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT SUCH A LUSHLY TEXTURED MALVASIA HAS GOT TO HAVE BECOME VERY INTIMATE WITH SOME OAK AT SOME POINT IN ITS LIFE.”

WAYNE (slowly backing away): “I’ll e-mail you the tech sheet. Uh, I think I hear my car being towed.” (Exit stage left, post-haste.)

Ok, it didn’t go down quite like that. It was more like this:

Wayne regaled me with a tale how he came to make wine in Italy and how he returned to his current role. I also calmly asked, if it ain’t oak, what the heck is going on with these white wines? A red wine grape, Refosco, was discussed. A quick trip to Tuscany was undertaken. Finally, more geekiness was achieved by considering the Picolit grape. Here’s my interview with Wayne conducted via e-mail and after I had returned to the world of the sane.

JF: Along the wines of “Go west, young man”, Joe Bastianich told you to “Go make wine.” Except you went east, to Italy. How did this brief mandate transpire and tell me a little bit about your resulting winemaking experience.

WY: “Basically I was burning out on the restaurant and sommelier work in NYC. Nights and weekends were getting me down and I needed a change. I had a good rapport with Joe as my boss so I decided to tell him I was looking to leave. He basically asked me if I wanted to “Go make wine”. I had no idea what I was in for. It was the first vintage of the winery and we were making our wine in our Friend Valter Scarbolo’s small cellar. It was the wettest, physically-hardest and longest in terms of hours-per-day work I have ever done in my life. Nonetheless, there is something deeply satisfying about it. The fact that you survived, the idea that you had a direct hand in the creation of something great and enduring. And I learned so much about the mechanics of making wine, the effort required, the attention to detail.

“Then it was over and I decided to stay through the season and work more in the vineyards, which was less of an enlightening experience (and honestly I wasn’t very good at it.. I was too slow!) but the most important thing was the nervous excitement and anticipation of the NEXT harvest during the slower summer period! How could I be excited about getting my ass kicked 7 days a week for a month or so? But there it was, and I attacked the nested vintage ready for what it had to offer and it fought back with the single most difficult and physically demanding harvest I have ever done. 1998′s harvest lasted almost 40 days from first grape to last, due to cool weather and bouts of rain. 1999 was a hot year and almost everything ripened at the same time. First grape to last was about 3 weeks, half of the previous year, and there were nights where we worked non-stop, 2 of us staying until 5am and 2 of us leaving at midnight only to return at 6am. It was grueling, but again, I had survived and after that vintage, everything seemed easy.

“I went on to do 2000, 2001 and 2002 in the cellar. After 2002 I felt as if I had done and learned all there was to do in the cellar as a cellar-hand. I knew press and filter inside out, know the foibles of every tank and pump. Yet, I was not educated enough to look at lab analysis and understand what was going on. It was then that I either needed to start studying enology or think about moving on.

“Again, a conversation with Joe led to the idea of my working in promotion, PR and Marketing, which is where I find myself today.”

The lineup of “Adriatico” wines I tasted with you (Sauvignon Blanc, Friulano, and Malvasia) all had a richness and texture that I kept guessing had something to do with oak…but that’s not the case. How is it that this trio of wines have a viscosity to them without the benefit of barrel-aging?

“For the Friuli wines (Sauvignon and Friulano) it’s all about the soil! The ponca we have here is the key to the weight and longevity of wines from Friuli Colli Orientali (and Collio too). Calcareous marl, with calcium as it’s most important element gives the hillside wines here the body you felt in these wines. Clay and rock, good drainage, great exposition, ripe fruit.. all of this contributes to the weight you feel in these wines. There may also be a small portion of skin contact with Sauvignon and Friulano, and some vats may rest on the lees for a little longer, but really I think the soil is key.

“The Malvasia is slightly different since it is made in Istria. There is a type of soil there called ‘terra bianca’ which is a chalky soil that is ALSO calcium rich. This is the key element in the creation of great white wines.”

I found the Vespa Rosso to be very refreshing and was curious about the role that Refosco plays in the wine. What makes this grape unique and what does it bring to the table?

“Refosco is the perfect foil for the Merlot in Vespa Rosso. Merlot in Friuli is beautifully round, fruity and polished. But it lacks a little character, a little acidity and tannic structure. Refosco is an acidic variety with good tannins. It definitely gives the Merlot the “nerve” it lacks, along with a little wild berry and some leafiness that adds complexity… That’s the beauty of blends. Refosco also has incredibly stable colour. I have opened bottles of 10-year-old Refosco that have the fresh colour  like they were bottled yesterday.”

The Maremma area of Tuscany is best known for its “Super Tuscan” wines composed of Bordeaux grapes and sometimes Syrah. The La Mozza Aragone, though, has a good chunk of Alicante. Along the lines of my question about Refosco, why Alicante?

“It’s adaptability to the hot, dry climate of the Maremma is key. It needs a long hot season to grow well and ripen, and that’s what we normally have here. We also wanted to spiritually connect with Spain, Sardinia and Southern France, in keeping with the ‘Super Mediterranean’ blend concept of Aragone. We wanted to be different and not do another Bordeaux blend in Tuscany.”

Ok, one more grape nerd question. The Vespa Bianco is primarily Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, but there’s also a percentage of Picolit in the mix. You called this unfamiliar grape the wine’s “secret weapon”. Tell me why.

“Actually, Sauvignon is ‘Friuli’s Secret weapon’ according to Bobby Stuckey. Picolit is only known as a dessert wine, but vinified almost dry it is very interesting. Picolit is ripe, with very good acidity with this honeyed aroma that I think really comes out in Vespa Bianco. It adds richness without flabbiness, adds complexity without weighing the wine down, which is already pretty big and structured! We always remark on how Vespa Bianco is never complete without Picolit. I taste through with the enologist and consultant during all of the blending sessions and it’s only when we start getting near the end and we begin blending in the Picolit that the try character of that vintage’s Vespa Bianco begins to become apparent. The wine would not be even close to the same without it… Amazing what a difference 10% makes!”

The Definition of BBQ with Jack Timmons of Seattle’s Jack’s BBQ

Posted on: November 13th, 2014 by

How do you define BBQ? I posed this question to Jack Timmons of Jack’s BBQ in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. He answers on my Wine Without Worry podcast.

Also discussed:

  • The recipe for Jack’s top-secret, laboriously constructed brisket rub? REVEALED!
  • When pulled pork goes wrong.
  • Do sides matter?
  • My pick for the #1 BBQ wine, which you can enjoy at Jack’s.

Here’s the show, recorded at Jack’s on a Saturday right when they open the doors. Enjoy:

Photo of humongous beef ribs courtesy Jack’s BBQ Facebook page:

jacks bbq seattle

Salud: Providing Healthcare Access for Oregon Vineyard Workers

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by

“¡Salud!’s mission is simple and straightforward. We work to provide access to healthcare services for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.”

This succinct statement sums up why you should know about ¡Salud! I sent a few questions about this organization to Donna Morris of Winderlea Vineyard and Winery. Along with her husband, Bill Sweat, she founded this Willamette Valley winery. And she’s volunteers for ¡Salud!, helping out with its steering and marketing committees.

The organization’s big Oregon Pinot Noir Auction is this weekend. If you can’t attend, Morris offers some other ways you can lend your support to this collaboration between winemakers, vineyard owners, and healthcare professionals.

JF: Seasonal vineyard workers don’t get talked about a lot. How critical is their work when it comes to the Oregon wine industry?

winderlea wine

Donna Morris and Bill Sweat of Winderlea. Photo from their website.

DM: Our seasonal workers are critical to the success of the Oregon wine industry. The health and welfare of our vineyards rest, in large part, in their hands. From pruning in January and February to hand harvesting our grapes in September and October, it is our seasonal workers who make up the core of our workforce during our growing season. Growing Pinot noir in Oregon is very labor intensive. In fact, on average, each vine in our vineyards is touched 11 times per year from pruning to harvest. We couldn’t tend our vineyards and grow the quality of grapes we do – without our seasonal workers.

What are the challenges that seasonal workers face when it comes to obtaining health care?

Most of the seasonal workers are not employed by a single vineyard or winery. They may work in 3 to 5 vineyards over the course of a week or a month. In addition, many of our workers move from state to state adding an additional layer of complexity. This makes their ability to obtain health care very difficult if not impossible.

Concurrently, what obstacles does ¡Salud! encounter in providing care for a migrant population, not just the workers but their families as well?

¡Salud! must first identify and enroll workers in order to provide services. There is a trust factor that must be established. Next, ¡Salud! provides a lot of education around how to most effectively access and use healthcare services in the US. Some of our seasonal workers do have their own healthcare plans, but they are not always sure how to use the services or are wary of providers. Teaching them how to use their plans and helping them to understand their benefits for themselves and their families is a key role ¡Salud! has assisted with over the years.

Tell me about your personal involvement, and Winderlea’s, with ¡Salud!. What is it about this organization that you find particularly inspiring?

My husband, Bill Sweat, and I were introduced to ¡Salud! in 2006 when we first came to Oregon and purchased our vineyard and started our winery, Winderlea. We were introduced by fellow vineyard and winery owners and were immediately impressed with the mission and the execution of healthcare services that we being offered. It was clear to us after owning a vineyard for just a few months that the health of our vineyard was in our workers hands and that we had an obligation to keep our workers as healthy as they were keeping our vineyard. We decided we wanted our primary philanthropic focus as vineyard and winery owners to be with ¡Salud! and made the commitment to use our tasting room fees to fund a monthly contribution to ¡Salud!

For those who can’t attend the Oregon Pinot Noir Auction and the events surrounding it, what is the best way to help?

For those who cannot attend the ¡Salud! auction in person, they can help in a number of ways.  First, they can make an online contribution via the ¡Salud! website at www.saludauction.org. Or, they can contact the ¡Salud! office and make a silent bid on a one of a kind case of wine, one of the ¡Salud! Cuvees made by one of the ¡Salud! Vintner Circle Winery members or on any of the items in our live or silent auction.

Guacamole with Pomegranate, Tomato, Mango Verde, Chile de Arbol, and Walnuts

Posted on: November 9th, 2014 by

Guacamole Nogada Puesto.I’m a guacamole purist. Over a decade ago I dated someone who had a profound influence on how this iconic dish should be made. The recipe involved three ingredients and three ONLY:

Avocado, lime juice, salt.

So I’m skeptical of attempts to guild the lily when it comes to my guac. Don’t be putting stuff in it and diminishing my avocado per bite ratio!

That’s why I was mightily impressed with San Diego’s Puesto. I was there as part of a most excellent assignment for Dabble Magazine. (Stay tuned.) Myself and ace photographer (and wonderful traveling companion) Angela Auclair were treated to a magnificent meal highlighted by the consumption of numerous fresh seafood dishes in taco form and beyond. Please check out her fantastic work:

Angela Auclair Photography

But back to the guac. This creative take, named Guacamole Nogada, had these additions not muddled together (BOO!) but rather prominently placed on top (YAY!)

And those add-ons were: pomegranate, tomato, mango verde, chile de arbol, and candied walnuts. (Though our nuts were un-candied, which I actually think is the way to go.) For purists you can still seek out an avocado-laden bite or get a little playful with all of the additions. The latter of which I found surprisingly delightful.

So what do you drink with your Guacamole Nogada? A Margarita, DUH! But you know this is a wine-friendly dish as well. I have two suggestions on Dabble, the second I ended up ordering. You can peruse the whole issue or jump to my contribution.

Note: Puesto also has a location in La Jolla.

Thanks to Angela for use of the photo.

Harvest Moon Over Sagemoor Vineyards at Dawn

Posted on: November 3rd, 2014 by

sagemoor vineyard harvest moon

As a photographer, what does it feel like when you watch an image come together…perfectly? Richard Duval shares the story behind this astonishing photo capturing the harvest moon at dawn over a portion of Washington State’s Sagemoor Vineyards.

Also, how about my Wine of the Week? I’ve been flipping for the Fossil & Fawn Pinot Gris from Oregon. Find out why.

But wait, there’s more Richard Duval. Check out my extended conversation with him at Woodinville, Washington’s Barrage Cellars:

And there’s additional Fossil & Fawn over on Grape Collective.

Please head to Richard Duval Images for more inspirational images. Thanks to Richard for use of the above photos.

This Wine Has Three Cats On The Label And It’s Awesome

Posted on: October 29th, 2014 by

san lorenzo rosso conero la gattara

Dang, is this wine for real? YES! It came recommended from a highly trusted source and did not disappoint. The story of how it all transpired started like many others in the year 2014: Facebook.

My buddy Cameron posted that this wine is available at the restaurant he manages. (Tavolata in Seattle; excellent, do go there.) And it’s good. (Duh, like he’d hype it just for the felines.) Naturally, I needed to find out how good. So this scene played out when I stopped by for dinner:

Me: “Hi, I’m looking for a red wine from Italy and, uh, it has cats on the label.”

Server: “Uhhhhh…I’ll have to ask someone about that.” [Backs away slowly, prepares to dial 911.]

Luckily, Cameron was there that night to retrieve the bottle, assisting the (justifiably) puzzled waitress. And it turned out to be fantastic:

2008  Fattoria San Lorenzo Rosso Conero La Gattara

It’s from the Marche region in central Italy. And it’s a big, rich red. No shrinking violet here! Yet never over the top. It also got better and better the longer it was open. I ended up buying a sixer of this three cat wine for the purposes of squirreling (!?!!) awaw a few bottles for a spell. If you crack one open now definitely give it a big decant. I guarantee you by the second glass it will be purring like a…well, you know. (Hint: Not a squirrel.)

In conclusion, this blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese unites two things that make life grand: wine and cats.