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Wine Blogging Wednesday #47: Brought to You by the Letter ‘S’


Welcome to the latest edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey!

This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday blog carnival has Plumboo and I contemplating the theme: “Wines Brought to You by the letter S.” Like a fine wine grape, that one is just ripe for interpretation!

Finding a wine that starts with the letter S was relatively easy. Making that find an interesting and educational read is a bit more difficult (at least for me – and a plush toy with a squeek for a head). So to significantly spice things up in the S-wines department, Plumboo & I sailed off to Sunny Southern Italy, to give you a taste of the Salice Salentino DOC.

Salice Salentino is located in the decidedly Mediterranean clime of southeast Italy – the ‘heel of the boot’ (see above). It’s part of the Apulia region, a relatively flat, fertile, and hot area that has been ruled by (in alphabetical – but not chronological – order) the Angevins, Aragonese, Bourbons, Byzantines, Hohenstaufen Germans, Moors, and Normans. Now, it’s ruled by wine; Apulia produces a ridiculously large volume of wine, even by Italian standards (up to three times as much as is produced by all of Chile). And a lot of it is total plonk

But… there has been a move towards increased quality in the region, and better wines can be found accross the price spectrum, including the value category.

With a hot climate, Salice Salentino needs a hardy grape that can take the heat. It’s found it in the thick-skinned Negroamaro varietal, whose name basically means “black & bitter.” The origins of Negroamaro are not conclusively known, but one thing’s for sure – it thrives in Salice Salentino. Negroamaro produces dark, tannic wines with flavors of black licorice and bitter tea, but for all their bitterness the better examples still exude softness and sultry black currant flavors. A good match for the spicy tomato sauces and garlic-laden cuisine typical of the region. Mmmm…. garlic…. [editor's note: drooling permitted ].


As for our wine review for this month’s WBW – we take a quick look at a widely-available and very accessible SS:

2005 San Marzano Salice Salentino (It): Sultry, sensuous & $ensible SS from sunny Southern Italy. Scents of black licorice sweeten the sale.

For more on Salice Salentino and the wines of Southern Italy check out:

Cheers!
(images: maps.google.com, italyis.com )

May I Be Franc With You (WBW #44 – French Cab Franc Review)

(images: nysaes.cornell.edu, artsci.wustl.edu, merchantwines.com)

This edition of Tales of the Purple Monkey has Plumboo and I tasting a French Cabernet Franc, as part of Wine Blogging Wednesday #44. This WBW theme comes to us courtesy of the irrepressible Gary V. over at Wine Library TV.

Before Plumboo and I head of to Chinon in France’s Loire valley (more on that later) & get tasting, the Dude needs to give you a bit of French Cab Franc background, lest you navigate these waters all-uneducated-like and get burned picking up a bottle of wine that you hate. Similar caution should be exercised whenever tasting any wine with a French label on it – not because French wines suck (they most certainly don’t), but because French wine labels (most certainly do) suck.

In France, the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system guarantees a wine’s place of origin. It (roughly) forms the basis of most other similar wine quality systems in many other countries. You may now be asking yourself, “wait a second Dude – place of origin or quality… which one is it?”

The answer is… “Yes”…

That’s because in France, they have (with few exceptions) the belief that over centuries of grape-growing (aka trial-and-error), they know what grapes work best for each viticultural area of the country. Which is why you will rarely see “Cabernet Franc” listed on the label of a French wine. Instead, you need to know which areas are permitted to grow and vinify which grape varieties. It’s one of the ways that the French like to use to piss off Americans (caution: joke in progress).

Most French Cab Franc is grown in Bordeaux. But you’d never know it, because it’s one of the grapes (along with the more well-known Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot) that goes into the classic Bordeaux red wine blends. Cab Franc is an easy-going grape (in terms of soil and climate), and it ripens earlier than it’s little-brother Cab Sav. In the Bordeaux blends, it adds some color, berry flavor, and even hints of floral and vegetable aromas to round out the softer Merlot and harsher Cab Sav.

However, Cab Franc has also found an AOC certified home in other areas of France, where it gets to shine all by its glorious lonesome self. Most notably, this vino-illumination happens in the Loire valley – a very big swath of land that runs along the (very long) Loire river. Along the banks of the Loire are many, many gorgeous castles, and many, many styles of gorgeous wines.

This tasting takes Plumboo and I (virtually of course) to Chinon, an old town that gained importance (dating back possibly to pre-recorded history) due to its location on the banks of the Vienne river where it meets the Loire. The area has been home to monasteries, forts, castles, and good winemaking.

For WBW #44, Plumboo and I chose a 2005 Jean-Maurice Raffault “Les Galuches” from Chinon. This Cab Franc is a gorgeous purple, with lots of dark berry, a bit of green pepper, and a smaller hint of vegetable (stalks) in your nose. There’s quite a bit of cheek-drying tannin and some blackberry in your mouth. A nice “everyday” wine that could end up being a crowd-pleaser at your next party. The Purple Monkey approved, anyway.

While you can find decent example of Cab Franc in many other locales, especially in the U.S. While these are also good everyday wines, they often lack the finesse of their Loire valley counterparts, who have set the Cab Franc standard (and are definitely worth the trip ‘down river’).

Cheers!

More Moore Wine Reviews

Vinted on March 28, 2008 binned in twitter, wine mini-reviews, wine review

Well, after nearly two months, I’ve (finally) finished off my sample case from the fabulous Moore Bros. As for why it took me so long to review these – hey, there’s a lot of wine to be had out there!

As promised in a previous post, I’ve recorded my thoughts on each wine in my Wine Mini-Reviews, available on twitter.

Below you will find the detail (such as it is on twitter, with its 140 character limit) on each wine. In summary, Mr. McDuff and friends certainly know their stuff; I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the majority of the wines in the sample case, especially when you contrast that with their relatively low price points.

My favs? France did well with the Dude this time around, as both of my favorite picks from this batch were French:

Read on for the twitter review round-up…


1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Ch. Bellevue (Fronsac): Progressing nicely. Soft for Bord’x, & approachable. Aroma is promising, palate doesn’t quite live up to it.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Emrich-Schonleber Monzinger Riesling QbA trocken (Nahe): Minerals galore but low on florals. Think my bottle was flawed though.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Ch. les Fromenteaux Muscadet de Sevre-et-Maine Clos du Poyet (Loire, Fr): Minerals. Fruit. Body. Nice – but not quite harmonious.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Corzano e Paterno Chianti (Colli Fiorentini, It): It’s what’s on *top* of the fruit – orange & spice – that makes it special. Decant it.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Corte Gardoni (Custoza, Italy): Fruity, austere, with a tiny bit of spice & nut. Who knew Garganega could be so bold? Killer with salad.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Domaine Georges Trichard Chenas (Beaujolais, Fr): Candied cherry, plum & flowers. But it’s got some heft as well & could age. Fine stuff.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Brunori Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi “Le Gemme”: Nutty, pleasing acidity & Chardonnay-esque fruit. I’m startin to like this producer!
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Rosso Piceno Tourquis Brunori (Marche, It): Classic Sangiovese nose, & the Montepulciano provides a little kick. Could get used to this!
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `04 Domaine André Bonhomme Viré-Clessé (Burgundy): Apricot & oak. Like meeting a bourgeoisie madam in a proletariat nightspot. Classy.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview ’06 Lorenzino Ettore Germano Dolcetto d’Alba (Italy): Cherries & tobacco in great balance. Nice, but I prefer Dolcetto to be a bit livelier.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `05 Le Premier Pas Domaine Le Pas de l’Escalette (Cot. du Languedoc): Harmonious blend of S. Rhone grapes. French red without the shackles.
1WineDudeReview 1WineDudeReview `06 Touraine Sauvignon La Pointe Domaine Ricard: A pink grapefruit grenade hurled from the heart of the Loire at your nose. Very good SB.

Cheers!

Wine Blogging Wednesday #43 – Wrap-Up

Vinted on March 13, 2008 binned in wine blogging, wine blogging wednesday, wine review

Hey everyone – the wrap-up of articles for Wine Blogging Wednesday #43 has been posted over at the Wine Life Today blog. Check it out – the wine bloggers involved wrote some great stories and reviews for this WBW.

The topic this time around was “comfort wines” and Joel over at WLT has done a great job summing up the submissions. I’m also very humbled by the kind words Joel offered up describing my article. Thanks, Joel!

Apparently WBW #44 will be hosted by the venerable Gary V. over at Wine Library TV. God help us! J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! (just kidding, Gary).

Cheers!

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