Sunday, April 1, 2012

Malbec Wines-Argentina's Wine

FYI: I belong to a winos and foodies group.
The wino's and foodies group is having an Argentina party. Some wines to consider for the upcoming party.

Dolce Vita

Malbec from Argentina
45 wines tried

Argentina is making some interesting wines at the moment. Its main marketing push has been Malbec, a grape whose home is the southwest of France, where it’s the main grape in Cahors and a bit-part player in many Bordeaux blends. Malbec doesn’t have the blackcurranty fruitiness of Cabernet; rather it is a bit darker, and a little more savoury, with spice and earth undertones. It has less of a tendency to go to lushness when grown in warm climates, which is probably a good thing.

Mendoza is the dominant wine region. Perched on the side of the Andes, this is a region that receives very little rainfall, and were it not for the ready supply of Andes meltwater, viticulture wouldn’t be possible here. Another important factor is altitude: the vineyards here are high up, and with the highest vineyards in the region the extra UV light that the grapes receives causes the grapes to develop thicker skins, with more tannins (and softer tannins, too), as well as more colour. The cooling effect of altitude means that the grapes preserve acidity even when they are allowed to hang for quite a while before harvest.

But it would be wrong to dismiss Argentina’s other wine regions. Two in particular are worth mentioning. First, Salta. Up in the hot north, these are the world’s highest commercial vineyards: were it not for the effect of altitude, it would be too hot for quality viticulture here. Second, Patagonia. Travelling far south, this is a cooler, windier, flatter region that’s beginning to turn out some really nice wines.

This tasting covered 45 different Malbecs, which sounds like a lot, but is only a quick sampling of a much broader offering. Some important wines are missing – Catena, Achaval Ferrer and Colomé, to name but three – and so this can’t be seen as a true ranking of Argentina’s best.

In terms of quality, I though this was quite high across the board. Remember, this is a mixture of commercial wines and then some high-end ones. Stylistically, I think Argentina would do well to go down the road of freshness, definition and structure, rather than super-ripeness and new oak flavours. I would also add that while Argentinean Malbec is great, it would be a shame for this country to become a one-trick pony: other grape varieties shouldn’t be neglected in a headlong rush to plant Malbec.

94Chacayes Malbec 2003 Tunuyán, MendozaPure, sweet fruit on the nose, which is smooth with a spicy underlay. The palate is concentrated with good acidity and nice spicy structure. A lovely wine that is quite refined and full. 94/100

O Fournier Alpha Crux Malbec 2003 La Consulta, MendozaDense, sweet, forward spicy nose shows lovely pure dark fruits. The palate is bold and full with good density and nice dark spicy fruit. Tannic, too. 93/100

Familia Schroeder Saurus Patagonia Select Malbec 2004 Neuqén, PatagoniaAmazingly deep, vivid colour. Lovely savoury, spicy nose of pure fruit. Vivid like a tank sample. The palate is intense, vivid and spicy with a savoury twist. A tannic beast. 93/100

Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo Malbec 2005 Tunuyan, MendozaDeep coloured. Beautifully aromatic nose showing spice, violet, sweet fruit. The palate is bold and rich but quite elegant with good acid. A striking wine that’s beautifully made. 93/100

Fincas Patagonicas Zolo Reserve Malbec 2004 MendozaPerfumed, fresh and bold with nice fruit freshness and good acidity. A lovely structured wine. 92/100

Finca Sophenia Synthesis Malbec 2005 Tupungato, MendozaVery open, sweet, perfumed nose is smooth and lush. The palate is open and rounded with sweet pure fruit. An elegant style. 92/100

Familia Cassone Obra Prima Malbec 2003 MendozaLovely vivid savoury nose with pure fruit. Quite aromatic. Nice structure and weight on the palate which is vivid and dense with amazing fruit quality. 92/100

91 Fabre Montmayou Malbec Gran Reserva 2005 Luján de Cuyo, MendozaDeep coloured. Smooth, pure, spicy nose leads to a dense palate with nice intensity and delicious spicy structure. A lovely wine. 91/100

Luigi Bosca Malbec 2004 Luján de Cuyo, MendozaFrom 54 year old vines, this spends 14 months in French oak. Concentrated, firm and tannic with nice ripe fruit allied with the structure. There’s a bold, savoury edge to the sweet dark fruits. 91/100

Bodega del Fin del Mundo Malbec Reserva 2004 Neuquén, PatagoniaInteresting stuff. Savoury, spicy nose leads to a palate with dense spicy fruit and oak. Lots of presence here: a nice wine. 91/100

Filipe Rutini Malbec 2005 La Consulta, MendozaLovely fruit here: juicy, vivid, bold fruit with nice weight and spice. Delicious. 91/100

90Pulenta Estate Malbec 2004 Alto Agrelo, MendozaDense, spicy and extracted with nice freshness and some class. Bold stuff. Delicious with lots of presence. 90/100

Finca el Retiro Malbec 2004 MendozaVivid purple colour. Aromatic spicy nose leads to a high-acid palate with good structure. Vivid and full. Long lived? 90/100

Eral Bravo Malbec 2005 Agrelo, MendozaRich, extracted style with concentrated, dense, ripe spicy fruit. Some oak is evident, but its nicely done in an unashamed new world style. 89/100

Trivento Golden Reserva Malbec 2004 Vistalba, MendozaBig, dense, ripe and extracted with lots of spicy, oaky fruit. In yer face. 89/100

Familia Zuccardi Q Malbec 2003 Maipú, MendozaQuite structured and spicy with some oak influence. Quite refined in a full flavoured style. 89/100

Finca Las Moras Mora Negra 2004 Tulum Valley, San JuanDeep coloured with vivid fruit. Ripe but with a savoury, spicy edge. Bold but balanced. 89/100

Trapiche Tributo Felipe Villafañe Malbec 2003 La Consulta, MalbecSmooth, sweet pure fruit but lots of vanilla oak on the nose. Vivid, bold, oaky palate. 89/100

Valentin Bianchi Particular 2004 MendozaRipe, rich, spicy and chunky, with good weight. A nice rich style. 89/100

Luna Llena Malbec 2004 MendozaVery sweet, soft fruit here. Open and rounded. A striking, distinctive wine. 89/100

88 Bodega NQN Malma Reserve Malbec 2004 Neuquén, PatagoniaA very rich, full wine with sweet fruit and nice supporting oak. Substantial stuff. 88/100

Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2004 Vistalba, MendozaSweet, liqueur-like fruit on the nose. Some oak influence on the palate. Modern styled. 88/100

87 Viña Fundación de Mendoza Malbec 2006 Santa Rosa, MendozaQuite vivid and spicy on the nose. The palate has savoury, spicy structure and good fruit. Good concentration. 87/100

Michel Torino Don David Reserve Malbec 2004 Cafayete, SaltaJuicy, bold and rich with good acid and structure, and pure dark fruits. Lovely. 87/100

San Polo Auka Malbec 2003 La Consulta, MalbecNice full and dense with spiciness and freshness. Tasty. 87/100

Norton Malbec Reserva 2004 Lunlunta, MendozaJuicy, ripe easy drinker with red fruits and a touch of spice. 87/100
86 Navarro Correas Colección Privada Malbec 2005 MendozaVivid and intense, with lots of fruit. Good acid. Tasty. 86/100

RJ Viñedos Jaffe e Hijas Grand Malbec 2004 Valle d’Uco, MendozaFresh, quite perfumed nose is spicy and full. The palate is dense and full with nice spicy structure. Vivid stuff. 86/100

85 Bodega Felix Lavaque, Finca El Recreo Quara Barrique Aged Malbec 2004 Cafayate, SaltaVivid and juicy with nice freshness from the high acidity. Tasty 85/100

Viento Sur Malbec 2005 Tupungato, MendozaQuite aromatic and full with sweet red fruits. The palate is bold and juicy with nice fresh herby fruit. There’s a herbal edge. 85/100

Finca Flichman Reserva Malbec 2005 Tupungato, MendozaSweet, spicy, slightly tarry edge. Nice dark fruits. 85/100

Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2004 Luján de Cuyo, MendozaNice weight and density here. Rich, modern and spicy. Slightly oaky style. 85/100

84 Telteca Antá Malbec 2004, Lavalle, MendozaJuicy and rich with ripe fruit. Very drinkable. 84/10

Mendoza Vineyards Malbec 2005 Mendoza96% Malbec, 4% Viognier, some staves used. Juicy, fruity, fun and quite nice. 84/100

Graffigna Centenario Malbec 2004 Pedernal, San JuanBold, rich and quite oaky with lots of presence.

Argento Malbec 2005 MendozaNice bright juicy fruit with no rough edges. An easy drinker. 84/100

Chakana Malbec Reserva 2005 Agrelo, MendozaVivid, toasty, chocolatey nose. Lots of ripe fruit. Quite oaky, but good fruit. 84/100

Trapiche Broquel Malbec 2004 MendozaChocolatey, spicy, oaky nose. Dense, spicy, oaky palate. Good in its style. 84/100
83 Etchart Gran Reserva Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Cafayate, Saltra50% Malbec, with 30% Cabernet and the balance Merlot and Tannat. Sweet, ripe and approachable. Nice. 83/100

Tamari Malbec Reserva 2005 MendozaVivid and juicy with high acidity and ripe fruit. 83/100

San Huberto Malbec Crianza 2004 La RiojaSpicy and quite structured with good acidity. A fresh, drinkable style. 83/100

Don Christobal Oak Reserva Malbec 2004 MendozaQuite a big oaky style with sweet fruit. 83/100

La Riojano Coop Raza Limited Edition Malbec 2003 La RiojaVery fresh and juicy with nice acidity and some plummy bitterness. 83/100

Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2005 Luján de Coyo, MendozaFresh and vivid with high acidity. Juicy and full. 83/100

82Jean Bousquet Malbec 2005 Tupungato, MendozaOpen, sweet spicy fruit. Quite distinctive with an slightly oxidative note. Approachable. 82/100

Santa Ana Malbec Reserve 2004 Cruz de Piedra, MendozaJuicy, fresh and fruity with a bit of spice. 82/100

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crush Season in CA

Are you thinking of going to the wine country this Fall? If so check out some of the events tied into CRUSH Season. I went a few years ago and plan to go again this fall. Dolce Vita

In Sonoma Valley, 16 area wineries will host Sonoma Valley Crush Festival on September 18 and 19. Festivities include wine tastings and food pairings, discussions with winemakers, live music, exclusive tours and more.

Napa Valley also welcomes visitors to its harvest celebrations. Raymond Vineyards invites guests to crush grapes with their feet and sample Raymond wines during the Harvest Stomp and Pick-up Party on September 25. The Cruisin’ Calistoga Beer & Wine Festival, featuring custom and classic cars, pasta and chili cook-offs, and beer and wine tastings, is also scheduled for September 25.

Napa Valley September Events

  • CALISTOGA FARMERS MARKET: This weekly event is in full swing by September with the Wine Country's bounty available in all its glory. From fresh fruits and vegetables to flowers and herbs and from homemade Tamales to Indian Somas, the sensory delights are endless. There is often live entertainment and one may sample some of the local wares while enjoying resident musicians. Handcrafts and gift items can also be found so don't forget to take a little bit of the Napa Valley Home. This event takes place Saturdays from 8:30am to 12:30pm from June through September in downtown Calistoga. Call 707.942.0808 for information.
  • ROMANTIC FALL GETAWAY: In September one of the most popular romantic getaways is a weekend for two at one of the Wine Country's premier spas, dinner and wine at a world renowned Napa Valley restaurant and last but certainly not least, a once in a lifetime balloon ride over the Napa Valley during the fall harvest. There are several ballooning companies to choose from but it is important to note that they all have early sunrise flights as this is when conditions are best so do stay overnight the night before. Visit for reservations.
  • THE CRUSH: September in the Napa Valley is synonymous with the grape harvest. By the middle of September the Crush is in full swing and there is no better time to experience the Wine Country at its finest than during the fall harvest. The leaves on the vines are beginning to change to bright red, yellow and orange providing a beautiful backdrop to your Wine Country experience. During September many Napa Valley wineries have barrel tastings, unique winery tours, and wine and cheese-parings as well as allowing visitors to view the Crush up close and personal. For winery listings, individual events and more information, visit

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pinot Grigio!

 The most popular wine today but often wine snobs snub it. Pinot Grigio- Mi Piace!

Of course are plenty of people with very positive feelings about Pinot Grigio. One well-known Pinot Grigio snob is Ramona Singer from the NY Housewives tv show. I started to drink Pinot Grigio when I was dating Alessandro who lived outside of Venice, Italy. I became a big fan and just recently made my own Pinot Grigio. It will be ready to drink in December just in time for the holidays.

After all, it's the most popular imported wine in this country: More than 6 million cases were sold in 2002, accounting for an impressive 12 percent of all imported wines. And those numbers have only increased: Sales of Pinot Grigio rose almost 40 percent that year and have likely grown larger yet as a boom in domestic Pinot Grigios gets under way (more than 7,000 acres of Pinot Grigio were planted in California in 2004, an increase of 20 percent from 2003). Indeed, Pinot Grigio may soon be more fashionable than Sauvignon Blanc, a grape that's been planted in just about every viable piece of vineyard land in the world (Uruguayan Sauvignon, anyone?).
 Pinot Grigio
Yet Pinot Grigio remains more consistently maligned by wine professionals and collectors than Chardonnay and Merlot combined. It's hard to find a serious wine drinker, let alone a sommelier, willing to put in a good word for the grape.

Most of these wines come from northern Italian regions like Trentino-Alto Adige. (In fact, the most popular Pinot Grigio sold in the United States, Santa Margherita, comes from the Trentino-Alto Adige, where, as the legend goes, importer Tony Terlato tried 18 different bottlings before finding the one that would win him a devoted following and a small measure of fame.)
Pinot Grigio is produced in other parts of Italy too—Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Friuli, which is home to some of the country's best wines (as well as some of its worst). In general, Pinot Grigio is a light-bodied, high-acid, delicate white, although the top producers turn out wines that have more of everything: more intense aromas, flavor and weight—though no Pinot Grigio is ever as rich and full-bodied as a Pinot Gris, the French wine made with the same grape. Yet the Italians dominate by virtue of amount: There's a lot more Grigio than Gris

Often Pinot Grigio is served with seafood, fish and chicken. I hope you will give Pinot Grigio a try!

Best places to buy Pinot Grigio are Surdyk's in Minneapolis, and Haskell's wine shops across the Twin Cities. Both have fall and spring sales. I recommend stocking up when the sales are on. Store your wine in a cool dark place.



Saturday, August 13, 2011

History of Sushi

The original type of sushi, known today as nare-zushi (馴れ寿司, 熟寿司), was first developed in Southeast Asia, before introduction to Japan.[1] [2] Fish was salted and wrapped in fermented rice, a traditional lacto-fermented rice dish. Nare-zushi was made of this gutted fish stored in fermented rice for months at a time for preservation. The fermented rice was discarded and fish was the only part consumed. This early type of sushi became an important source of protein for the Japanese. The Japanese preferred to eat fish with rice, known as namanare or namanari (生成, なまなれ, なまなり).

During the Muromachi period namanare was the most popular type of sushi. Namanare was partly raw fish wrapped in rice, consumed fresh, before it lost its flavor. This new way of consuming fish was no longer a form of preservation but rather a new dish in Japanese cuisine.
During the Edo period, a third type of sushi was introduced, haya-zushi (早寿司, 早ずし). Haya-zushi was assembled so that both rice and fish could be consumed at the same time, and the dish became unique to Japanese culture. It was the first time that rice was not being used for fermentation. Rice was now mixed with vinegar, with fish, vegetables and dried foodstuff added. This type of sushi is still very popular today. Each region utilizes local flavors to produce a variety of sushi that has been passed down for many generations.

When Tokyo was still known as Edo in the early 1800s, mobile food stalls run by street vendors became popular. During this period nigiri-zushi (握り寿司) was introduced, consisting of an oblong mound of rice with a slice of fish draped over it. After the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, nigiri-sushi chefs were displaced from Edo throughout Japan, popularizing the dish throughout the country.
Today the sushi dish internationally known as "sushi" (nigirizushi; Kantō variety) is a fast food invented by Hanaya Yohei (華屋与兵衛; 1799 - 1858) at the end of Edo period in today's Tokyo (Edo). People in Tokyo were living in haste even a hundred years ago. The nigirizushi invented by Hanaya was not fermented and could be eaten using the fingers or chopsticks. It was an early form of fast food that could be eaten in public or in the theater.

[edit] Funazushi

Funazushi is a rare type of nare-zushi still prepared near Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture. Eighteen generations of the Kitamura family have been preparing the dish at Kitashina since 1619.[3]
Fresh funa (crucian carp from the lake) are scaled and gutted through their gills keeping the body (and often the roe) of the fish intact. The fish are then packed with salt and aged for a year before being repacked annually in rice for up to four years. The resulting fermented dish may be served sliced thin or used as an ingredient in other dishes.[4][5]

Sushi in Japan

The earliest reference to sushi in Japan appeared in 718 in the Yōrō Code (養老律令 Yōrō-ritsuryō). As an example of tax paid by actual items, it is written down as "雑鮨五斗 (about 64 liters of zakonosushi or zatsunosushi?)". However, there is no way to know what this "sushi" was or even how it was pronounced. By the 9th and 10th century "鮨" and "鮓" are read as "sushi". This "sushi" was similar to today's Narezushi.
For almost the next 800 years, until the early 19th century, sushi slowly changed and the Japanese cuisine changed as well. The Japanese started eating three meals a day, rice was boiled instead of steamed, and most important of all, rice vinegar was invented. While sushi continued to be produced by fermentation of fish with rice, the time of fermentation was gradually decreased and the rice used began to be eaten along with the fish. In the Muromachi Period (1336 to 1573), the process of producing Oshizushi was gradually developed where in the fermentation process was abandoned and vinegar was used. In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 - 1603), namanare was invented. A 1603 Japanese-Portuguese dictionary has an entry for namanrina sushi, literally half-made sushi. The namanare was fermented for a shorter period than the narezushi and possibly marinated with rice vinegar. It still had the distinctive smell of narezushi.
The smell of narezushi was likely one of the reasons for shortening and eventually skipping the fermentation process. It is commonly described as "a cross between blue cheese, fish, and rice vinegar". A story from Konjaku Monogatarishū written in early 12th century makes it clear that it was not an attractive smell, even if it tasted good: In the early 18th century, oshizushi was perfected in Osaka and it came to Edo by the middle of 18th century. These sushi were sold to customers, but because they still required a little fermentation time, stores hung a notice and posters to customers on when to come for a sushi. Sushi was also sold near a park during a hanami period and a theater as a type of Bento. Inarizushi was sold along oshizushi. Makizushi and Chirashizushi also became popular in Edo period.
There were three famous sushi restaurants in Edo, Matsunozushi (松之鮨), Yoheizushi (興兵衛鮓), and Kenukizushi (けぬき寿し) but there were thousands more sushi restaurants. They were established in a span of barely twenty years at the start of the 19th century. Nigirizushi was an instant hit and it spread through Edo like wildfire. In the book Morisadamanko (守貞謾稿) published in 1852, the author writes that for a cho (100 meters by 100 meters or 10,000 square meters) section of Edo there were one or two sushi restaurants, but that only one soba restaurant could be found in 1 or 2 cho. This means that there were nearly 2 sushi restaurants for every soba restaurant.
These early nigirizushi were not identical to today's varieties. Fish meat was marinated in soy sauce or vinegar or heavily salted so there was no need to dip into soy sauce. Some fish was cooked before it was put onto a sushi. This was partly out of necessity as there were no refrigerators. Each piece was also larger, almost the size of two pieces of today's sushi.
The advent of modern refrigeration allowed sushi made of raw fish to reach more consumers than ever before. The late 20th century saw sushi gaining in popularity all over the world

Today sushi is consumed by millions of people across the world. I love to eat sushi and so do many of my friends. In the Twin Cities there is a group called " I can't Eat Enough Sushi", this is a fun group. We go try different sushi restaurants once a month. I enjoy this group people we all share one thing in common we like to eat Sushi!

I plan to eat sushi next week with a group of sushi loving friends!

Enjoy your Saturday and maybe you will be luck to eat some sushi today :)

Lucy's Mama