Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Celebration Dinner - A wine-tasting adventure diverts from usual fare

Thanksgiving Celebration Dinner - A wine-tasting adventure diverts from usual fare.

 Thanksgiving feast is a special celebration dinner that happens once each year on the last Thursday in November.  The traditional menu is uniquely American and is a particular combination of offerings that seldom occurs at any other time. Even the main course of turkey is rarely featured at any other time during the year. Hence, its no surprise that the wine tasting selections to accompany the Thanksgiving meal always offer an adventurous challenge since it is a once a year feature-set.

The characteristics of turkey and stuffing lends themselves to a more neutral, acidic, non-tannic, clean and crisp fruit filled flavorful wine. Suggested offerings tend towards white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc Semillon or a more outgoing forward varietal such as a Riesling or a spicy Gewurztraminer. For red wine lovers, fruit filled moderate bodied reds go well with the dark turkey meat, sweet potatoes and stuffing.

Of course Rose wines fit this offering well but they're wide diversions from our normal drinking selections and are conspicuously absent from our cellars so only through a direct purchase or gifting will they find their way to our table.

Ryan and Michelle brought this proscuitto and cheese plate (shown left) - Bellavitano, goat cheese, cranberry sharp cheddar with red pear.  

Finally, there is always a place for Champagne, especially on festive holidays, and most suitably with the white meats, hor d'ovres, appetizers and cheeses.

We pulled a somewhat eclectic flight from the cellar, highlighted by some special wines brought by Bill C and Ryan ....

NV Pierre Gimonnet Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuis 1er Cru






 La Sirena Napa Valley Moscato Azul Dry Musat Canelli 2006 

From the legendary winemaker Heidi Barrett's own label, she makes six wines including this one. Whimsically packaged in a blue bottle with a blue synthetic cork, this is an interesting wine that takes a while to characterize as its evolves on the pallet.

Light straw colored, medium light bodied, dry with a medley of fruit flavors, opens with a a bit of pink grapefruit that gives way to tropical fruits, lychee with hints of papaya and green apple on the finish. 

RM 89 Points.


Château Haut-Bergey Blanc Pessac-Leognan Bordeaux 2005 

Dark straw colored, medium bodied, aromas and somewhat subdued flavors of wet stone, nut, melon and grapefruit - opened up a bit more with moderate peach flavors with citrus and lemon on with a crisp finish.

RM 89 points.






Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Burgundy 2010

Bill also brought this from his cellar. This was a great complement to the Thanksgiving dinner features.

Light butter color, medium-light bodied, crisp and clean, complex tones of  citrus, pear, nut and hints of smoke with a complex lingering finish.

RM 90 points.




Domain Saint Damien Gigondas 2007

Bill brought this from his cellar. His tasting notes from Cellartracker. We visited Gigondas during our Rhone Valley wine experience. Sitting up in the foothills overlooking the fabled Chateauneuf-du-Pape region, Gigondas produces expressive full flavored wines that provide some of the best QPR (Quality to Price ratio) values in French wines.

Thanksgiving dinner with all the spicy dishes presents a challenge to find an appropriate accompanying wine that will not be overwhelmed by all the strong flavors. The Domaine St.-Damien nicely fit the bill. Medium red and crystal clear in the glass. Limited nose with a hint of pepper and ginger foretells what to expect. Pepper and spice on the palate, big mouth feel and a lingering finish.

WCC 90 points.

 Lewis Cellars Ethan's Vineyard Napa Valley Syrah Wine 2009

Ryan brought this Syrah from Lewis cellars, producer's of one of our favorite Cabernets. It went well with the pre-dinner proscuitto and cheese plate (shown above), and even better with the chocolates after dinner. We loved it and promptly arranged to obtain some for the cellar.

Dark inky purple color, full bodied, concentrated supple tongue coating fruit filled ripe black raspberry, boysenberry and plum with tones of vanilla, spice and sweet oak with hints of licorice before yielding to a layer of mineral on the lingering smooth tannin finish.

RM 94 points.

Selection of pie and cake desserts

Wine Bottle Sizes...Bigger is Better

Right Bottle Sizes...Bigger (or Smaller) is Better

Rick with Salmanazar served
at daughter Erin's wedding

There is great novelty and fun in opening and serving wine or Champagne from a large bottle. For parties, business dinners, special occasions, private dining, any gathering of a group, there is a bottle size to fit the occasion. 

As mentioned in my last post, "Large format bottles serve festive celebration dinner", we're big fans of serving large format bottles for special occasions. As noted, our collection of large format bottles commemorating the birth years of each of our kids was the basis for our large bottle feature in Wine Spectator Magazine. Those bottles were a big hit and great fun as well as a tribute at our kid's weddings.  

For a large gathering, besides the utility of not having to open so many bottles, a large bottle also affords another unique opportunity - its also fun to have all the quests sign the label of a large bottle as the labels are proportionately larger with the large bottles.

Michelle & Sean - 6L Napa Cab
for their rehearsal dinner

From my blog posting from a recent wine tasting (see Half Bottle Mania offers twice the tasting options), I chose half bottles that allowed for a more extensive tasting. While the fun of big bottles is evident, its not as widely known or practiced that opening half size bottles offers twice the number of tasting experience options in the same setting.

Opening small format bottles that evening allowed us to taste seven different wines instead of perhaps three had we opened regular or standard size bottles. You've no doubt see such small format bottles where they are used for single servings such as for individual consumption on airplanes or in hotel mini-bars. 

Just this week, there was a news feature about  Moët & Chandon unveiling a vending machine offering single serving wine bottles for swank shoppers at tony upscale department stores in London.

Bottle Shapes 

For starters, there are different shape bottles for different wine types. The most common shape bottles are those associated with red wines from Bordeaux or California. These 'Bordeaux' bottles have straight sides and tall shoulders (shown left). 

Notably, many of the popular California wines from Napa and Sonoma are of the Bordeaux varietals, that being, made from grapes generally grown in Bordeaux and comprising Bordeaux wines - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot.  White wines using the same bottle shape are Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon. 

Wines grown from grapes most common and popular in the Burgundy wine region of France are Pinot Noir  and Chardonnay. Those wines are associated with bottles with gently sloping shoulders (shown right), often sturdy, heavy bottles, with a slightly fatter girth than the Bordeaux style wine bottles. 

For the most popular wine bottle shape, that associated with Bordeaux and Napa/Sonoma varietals, there are 13 different bottle sizes. The larger sized bottles are produced in less quantity than the standard size bottle, and are always worth more than just double or proportionately the price of the regular size bottle. 

Many California Cabernet Sauvignons, Red Bordeaux, and Red Burgundies are produced and subsequently collected in these larger formats. It is generally accepted that wine will age better - longer, more gracefully and uniformly in a large format bottle - hence another reason for their popularity with collectors. 

I recall seeing several Nebuchadnezzars (12 to 16 liter bottles) and a couple Sovereigns (50 liter bottles) in one California wine producer's cellar for his personal collection as well as to serve their library (shown left).

Horizontal Selection of 1981 Bordeaux and California large format bottles from Rick's Cellar that were served at daugher Erin's wedding.
Not shown: 1981 Chateau Palmer, Lynch Bages, Ducru Beaucaillou, Cos' d_Estournel, Chateau Beaucatel and Silver Oak large format bottles.
The 13 Standard Bordeaux/California Bottle Sizes

Made only for Sparkling Wine.
187 ml.
1/4 of a standard bottle
375 ml.
1/2 of a standard bottle
750 ml.
1 standard bottle
MAGNUM 1.5 liters Equal to 2 standard bottles.
DOUBLE MAGNUM 3 liters Equal to 4 standard bottles.
JEROBOAM - This is what Champagne and Burgundy call their 3 liter bottles. Equal to 4 standard bottles.
REHOBOAM About 4.5 liters. Equal to 6 standard bottles.
JEROBOAM 5 liters Equal to about 6 3/4 standard bottles.
IMPERIAL 6 liters Equal to 8 standard bottles.
METHUSALEM - This is what they call an "Imperial" in Champagne and Burgundy.
This one is a case of wine in one bottle.
9 liters
12 standard bottles.
12 liters.
Equal to 16 standard bottles.
12 to 16 liters
Depending on the country of origin this will be from 16 to 20 standard bottles. 
50 liters
67 standard bottles.

Champagne has its own distinctive popular shape and also comes in its own range of sizes. The design of the Champagne bottle also has gently sloping shoulders. Because of the pressure inside a sparkling (bubbly) wine bottle (as much as 90 psi or three times the pressure in a car tire), they have thicker glass and have a deep 'punt'  or indentation on the underside. Champagne is the most popular and most common in using small and larger bottles. The magnum is a double sized bottle (1.5 liters) and is one of the best selling sized bottles for Champagne. We've all seen the winner of a Formula One race spraying the crowd from a large format, Jeroboam (4 liter bottle) of Champagne. Or more likely, one has see the locker room scene of the World Series or NBA champions, spraying the room from magnums of Champagne. 

Display of range of bottles offered at Moet Chandon Champagne House in
Epernay, Champagne, France

Standard Champagne Bottle Sizes
Bottle Name Bottle Equivalency Capacity
1/4 bottle
18.7 cl
1/2 bottle
37.5 cl
1 bottle
750 ml
2 bottles
1.5 l
4 bottles
3 l
6 bottles
4.5 l
8 bottles
6 l
12 bottles
9 l
16 bottles
12 l
20 bottles
15 l

So, for your next special occasion where you'll be serving wine, that being a gathering of one, or four or more,  think to right-size the bottle to the occasion, seek out a large (or small) bottle for the utility, novelty and for fun.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Large format bottles serve festive family and friends celebration dinner

Large format bottles serve festive family and friends celebration dinner

For the christening of our new grandson, namesake Richie, following the christening of our newest granddaughter, Marleigh, a few weeks ago, we hosted a celebration dinner for over twenty family and friends (plus a half dozen kids) at home after church.

To accompany Linda's homemade lasagna, we opened two large format bottles of Merlot, a magnum from the new world Napa Valley, California, and a double magnum from the old world, Bordeaux, Southern France. From the 1996 vintage, we opened a Liparita Howell Mountain Merlot in magnum, and a Chateau Pitray Côtes de Castillon Bordeaux in double magnum.

Horizontal collection of 1981 vintage large format bottles -
six liter Imperials and nine liter Salmanazar
Indeed our collection of large format bottles (see my Winesite page explaining wine bottle sizes) commemorating the birth-years of our children was the basis of our cellar being featured in the Collecting column of Wine Spectator back in June 2001.

For each of the kids birth-years we held or hold large format bottles of signature wines for their year of birth. These represent horizontal selections for their birth-year (multiple bottles from the same vintage is known as a horizontal), and vertical collections (multiple vintages of the same label) across the four kids' birth-years.

Needless to say, we haven't yet collected any birth-year bottles for the two youngsters born in 2013, but we're following the vintage and harvest reports carefully to determine what to acquire to commemorate this year. And we're just now acquiring a horizontal collection to commemorate our first grandchild, Lucy's birth-year 2010. Already two of our collection holdings have received 100 points ratings for their 2010 release, Chateau Pontet Canet, Pauillac Bordeaux, and Dominus, Napa Valley Red Wine, ageworthy collectables, indeed.

Those that know us well, know about our serving our daughter Erin's birth-year vintage large format bottles at her wedding (shown above), and the same for son Ryan at his wedding. And we're still holding large format bottles for sons Sean and Alec's birth-years.

Today's selection:

Liparita Napa Valley Howell Mountain Merlot 1996

We discovered this wine and tasted it from the barrel at the custom crush facility in Oakville with winemaker Gove Celia during our Napa Wine Experience back in 1998. From our cellar in magnum. Notes consistent with earlier tasting.

Dark color - medium-full bodied - black cherry, black berry fruits still holding for this seventeen year old - perhaps aided by larger format magnum, tones of cedar, spicy oak, subtle leather and earth - moderate smooth well integrated tannins on a lingering finish. $66 at Dean & Deluca in Napa (upon release)

RM 89 points.  

Château Pitray Côtes de Castillon Bordeaux 1996

Today the Chateau, located about thirty miles east of the town of St Emilion, is a B&B, bed and breakfast, as well as a wine estate. The property has a total about 36 hectares (65 plus acres) in vines with an average age of 29 years. The varietals of grapes consist of Merlot (75%), Cabernet and Cabernet Franc (25%). The estate produces an average of 240.000 bottles a year.

The Pitray estate has been in the same family for 600 years. As early as 1969, Louis de Pitray, began modernising the estate and established long-standing commercial relationships with the United Kingdom and the United States.  Jean de Boigne, his grandson son has been in charge of selling Pitray wines since 2003, as its quality is increasingly recognized around the world.

Medium-light bodied, dark garnet colored, slightly tart astringent black cherry gives way to tones of earth, tar and leather with hints of spicy black licorice and woody-cedar, turning to tart fruit layer lingering on a tight tannin backbone finish.

RM 86 points

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bad Impersonator vs Flinders Run Shiraz - Reveals Hint in Wine Reviews

Bad Impersonator Reveals Hint in Wine Reviews - Pair of Aussie Shiraz' for hearty Angeli's Italian Dinner

With son Alec home from NYC/Hoboken for the weekend and holiday, and Aunt Dr Pat visiting for the weekend, our Italian fest this week continues with another dinner at Angeli's, our local neighborhood Italian eatery. Tonight, we shed the Italian wine for a pair of big bold fruit filled Aussie Shiraz' from Flinders Run and Two Hands 'Bad Impersonator' Single Vineyard Shiraz. Perhaps this comparison is a lesson in the subtleties of reading wine reviews. (See my earlier Winesite page on Wine reviewers and reviewers).

Two Hands Bad Impersonator Shiraz 2005

From a perennial top rated Shiraz producer, Two Hands, comes this single vineyard select label with the whimsical name 'Bad Impersonator' and faux Groucho label artwork. The winemaker writes - The charm of this label is the fact that it is not typical of Barossa Shiraz at all, it is the most finicky but perhaps one of the most interesting wines that Two Hands makes. The fruit comes from a single vineyard of mature vines on deep red sand at the top of Kalimna Road near Angaston in the Barossa Valley.

Winemaker notes - 
"Deep purple black in color to the core. Lifted notes of charcoal and dark cherry emerge from the glass, followed by some excellent spice and dark plum, complex and interesting. The palate starts out focused with great definition and weight. Pronounced flavors of warm chocolate cake, licorice and blackcurrant explode over the palate. The highlight of this wine is once again the very seamless tannins. This wine has great balance and will reward with extended cellaring."

This label received wide acclaim and high ratings including 94 Points from the and 90 Points from and theThat Wine Advocate rating should have been a clue to this wine since they often 'over rate' these wines, giving them higher ratings than even I would afford them. Over time, tasting, reviewing and rating a large number of wines, I have found consistency in my reviews. In light of the consistency of the professional wine reviewers, there are natural correlations between my reviews and there's. Here is one of those rare cases where we diverge. Simply put, despite the acclaim and top reviews of this wine, we didn't like it. 
Reviewers' indications that this wine may be 'off' from our preferred tasting profile is references to "bouquet of cedar, spice box, pepper, clove, and blueberry", and in the earlier winemaker's review, 'charcoal'. Note five different references before mention of fruit - the very trait we love about these (South Central Australia Barossa Shiraz/Syrah) wines. 
Another reviewer says, "Dark ruby. Smoky, graphite-accented blackberry.....". There it is again, the fruit subordinated to smoke and graphite! 

We found this wine predominantly graphite and metallic elements overshadowing the fruit so much that we capped and it and set it aside. Perhaps not a fair fight against the huge forward unctuous fruit of the Flinders Run below. We'll reopen it today and see if its Bad Impersonation of an Aussie Shiraz continues.
RM 85 points. 

Flinders Run Southern Flinders Ranges Shiraz 2006

We love this wine and consider it a benchmark representation of Southern Australian Shiraz at its very best, and at a pricepoint between $25-30 it offers a relative great QPR (Quality to Price ratio). I wish I could find more of it. Not sure what happened to Flinders Run. It appeared on the market selectively and we haven't see it since.

Overall hit of this comparison tasting of varied big reds. Consistent with earlier notes, the 2006 Flinders is dark inky purple, full bodied, powerfully scented bouquet of dark berries, smoky minerals and fresh flowers bursting with flavors of thick chewy black raspberry, blueberry and cassis with layers of nut, vanilla and hints of mocha flavors on a tongue coating lingering finish. As much as we like this wine, the 2005 may be even better.

RM 93 points.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cal-Ital Del Dotto Giovanni Tuscan Reserve

Italian Wine/Dine Fest Continues with Cal-Ital Del Dotto Giovanni Tuscan Reserve Alongside Hazy Blur Barossa Shiraz

Following our gala Italian wine tasting dinner last weekend, we pulled a 'Cal-Ital*' Del Dotto Giovanni Tuscan Reserve for dinner with friend Mark and Gayle at Angeli's, our local neighborhood Italian eatery. To compliment the hearty Italian fare and contrast with the Sangiovese based blend, we also took along a Hazy Blur Australian Barossa Valley Shiraz 2006.

Del Dotto Giovanni Tuscan Reserve 1997

This is a Sangiovese based blend named after Giovanni Del Dotto, son of the Del Dottos. David and Yolanda Del Dotto were featured producers at several of winemaker dinners during our Napa Valley Wine Experiences including those 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2003. Del Dotto was one of the Up and Coming Napa Producers featured back in "The Undiscovered Dozen" 1994 Wine Spectator article. We discovered them then and started collecting their flagship Napa Cabernet and eventually adding this Tuscan Reserve and their Cabernet Franc. We still collect and hold a vertical of Del Dotto Cabernets going back to their 1992 inaugural vintage. They continue to amaze and reward us with their aging longevity.

Today, Del Dotto have a magnificent cellar tasting facility in the heart of Napa Valley that is a must visit for those wanting an immersion tasting and tour experience.

Del Dotto, working with then winemaker, legendary Nils Venge were one of the first producers to experiment with Sangiovese in Napa Valley. Indeed, their first plantings were at the Estate along the Highway 29 at Zinfandel Lane just south of the town of St Helena.

Consistent with earlier tasting notes ... Medium body - aromatics of black berry and woody cedar, slight earthiness starting to show age but a couple years life left - slightly tart black cherry fruit with tones of anise and spice turning to moderate silky tannins on a pleasant lingering finish.

RM 89 points.

* Cal-Ital refers to wine produced in California from grape varietals historically from and associated with Italian wines,  in this case Sangiovese. Another example of a Italian grape varietal that is finding its way to California is Nebbiolo.

HazyBlur The Baroota Shiraz 2006

Dark inky color, big, firm and full bodied, rich thick tongue coating, super ripe raisin fig fruits, hints of cedar, pepper, violets, and blueberry. This is too ripe and raisiny for my tastes but the bride likes it this way - and so does Wine Advocate who gives it a 91.

RM 91 points.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Taste of Italy - Gala Italian Wine Dinner

Taste of Italy - Gala Italian Wine Dinner

This draft of my wine experience review is a work in progress... check back again for updates...

Dr. Dan hosted our latest wine dinner extravaganza and selected an Italian theme. Despite the fact that none of us focus on Italian wines in our collections, we were able to assemble a extensive flight including some extraordinary top rated vintage labels.

The wine collection included selections of Chianti, Barolo, Brunello de Montalcino, Amarone, Bolgheri Superiore and Super Tuscans. Top ranked and well known producers' labels included Antinori Guado Al Tasso, Ornellaia, Tignanello, Banfi, Nippozano, Villa Massetti and Poderi.

Prior to dinner Dan offered a spectacular flight of top ranked Champagnes and sparkling wine including Moet Chandon Dom Perignon, Piper Heidsieck Millésimé, Veuve Doussot and Sea Smoke Sea Spray.

To accompany the whites he served a broad array of appetizers - Shrimp Scampi. Chicken Piccata, Antipasto Platter ( Assorted salami, panchetta, meats, cheeses, artichokes, roasted peppers,  olives), tapenade, vegetable tray, Italian bread, and Capresse Salad.

Dan and Linda prepared five major courses including main course of spaghetti with 3 meat red sauce , Cioppino (fish stew) served over fettuccini, Tortellini served with a pesto sauce, green beans with slice almonds and garlic cheese bread..

After dinner there was a broad selection of deserts including Terri's mandarin orange cake, Linda's homemade chocolate almond truffles, and a broad selection of chocolates, caramels and fresh fruits.

Finally, to close the evening, Dan serve a flight of rare single malt Irish and Scotch whiskeys including:

Midleton Very Rare Irish Whiskey Blend Aged and Released in 2004 
Middleton's Legacy Barry Crocker Signature Release
Bushmill's 10 Year Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch Whiskey

The Champagne / Sparkling Wine Flight - 

2004 Veuve Doussot Champagne Memory Cuvée Guy Joly

Moët & Chandon Dom Perignon Champagne, Epernay France 2002

We visited the temple of Champagne, Moët & Chandon during our Champagne Wine Experience in 2006. It was one of our highlights of the trip.

 Even in blind tasting I would've picked this out as my favorite. It was extremely vibrant and expressive with a rich full body. Normally, I don't have a lot of discrimination from one champagne to another. But then again, rarely if ever have I tasted a flight of such exceptional Champagnes.
RM 94 points. 

The 2002 is the 2nd Highest Rated Dom Perignon ever by Wine Advocate affording it a 96 rating.

The Ladies
Piper-Heidsieck  "Millésimé" Brut Champagne France, 2002

This was another stop on our Champagne wine experience 2006.  This is a classic vintage release label from this premier producer.

Rich, complex yet delicately elegant - fresh acidity with lively fruit, pear, nut and smoke with a hint of honey on the crisp clean finish. 
RM 93 points. 
Wine Spectator rated this 95 points.

NV Veuve Doussot Champagne L by VD

Sea Smoke "Sea Spray" Santa Rita Hills, Central Coast, California, Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine 2011 

A challenging tasting with so many great selections .... is it heresy to say this Californian may have been the consensus favorite against such top rated Champagnes?


The white flight - 

With the seafood cioppino Dan served two premium chardonnays - one a classic California Sonoma and one a Burgundian style Napa Carneros.

Ovation Joseph Phelps Freestone Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2007

Fantesca Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005

I picked this up from the winery as part of my allocation that I shared with Dan. This chardonnay was the art work of legendary Nils Venge in collaboration with son Kirk.


The OTBN Crew - Lyle, Dan, Bill, Ernie, Rick

The red flights - 

Flight one ... 

Marchesi de' Frescobaldi Chianti Rùfina Nipozzano Riserva 2007

Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico 2007 

From Lyle's cellar, this was rated 92 points by Wine Spectator. 

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, Italy, Tuscany, Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino 2000

From Lyle's cellar, this hearty Brunello showed very well with the red meat sauce and hearty pastas.

Inky purple colored, medium-full bodied, black cherry fruit flavors gave way to earthy leather with hint of cassis and violets on a moderate finish.
RM 90 points.

I brought these two classics from my cellar, a '97 and a '99 vintage wine that both received huge ratings and rankings upon release. I found the Tignanello to be my second favorite of the evening following the Ornellaia's.

The Guado Al Tasso was much lighter than I remember from earlier tastings, but then such comparison tastings such as tonight help calibrate wines and put them into perspective relative to their peers - hence the fun of a comparison tasting.

Antinori Tignanello Toscana IGT, Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT 1999

Sangiovese based blend with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Franc.

Deep Ruby colored, huge floral bouquet, medium-full bodied, forward bright vibrant mouthful of black cherry predominates with notes of currant, spice, and hints of tobacco and leather on a lingering silky tannin finish.

RM 92 points.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso (Antinori) Bolgheri Superiore, Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Belvedere 1997

One of the 'Super Tuscans' that are largely Bordeaux varietals. We acquired this wine upon release back in '99 when it received huge ratings from all the reviews including a 96 points from WS who chose it #12 out of the WINE SPECTATOR TOP 100 for 2000. This was the top label of the Guado Al Tasso line-up.

Guado al Tasso, means literally "Badger's Ford", named for a common sight at the estate of Tenuta Guado al Tasso, Bolgheri, where it is produced.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso is located 60 miles southwest of Florence, near the medieval village of Bolgheri, in an area known as the Maremma. The 2,200 acre estate stretches up from the shore of the Tyrrhenian Sea to the hills. In addition to extensive vineyards, the estate also grows wheat, corn, sunflowers, tomatoes and olive trees. The Guado al Tasso label was first produced in 1990 with  successive vintages in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996 and this 1997. All the vintages were produced in limited quantities.

Winemaker's notes - "Intensely fruity, more of cherry than cassis, with hints of toast, coffee and dark chocolate. Finely structured and complex; balanced, with soft tannins and a lingering finish. Displays unmistakable varietal flavor while retaining strong regional character."
Alcohol : 13,5% Vol. 

Deep Ruby colored, medium bodied, This wine was much lighter and more subdued than I expected, was soft, smooth and polished with subdued berry fruits, hints of cassis, tea and toast on a moderate soft tannin finish. 
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 10% Syrah
RM 90 points.

Arcanum Il Fauno Toscana IGT 2007

My two favorite wines of the evening were these two big powerful classics, Ornellaia - the 02 from Bill's cellar and the '09 brought by Ernie.

The 2009 may have been the biggest and most complex wine of the evening but it was too young to reveal its full majesty. The 2002 was more approachable and showed more elegance and polish having had an extra five years to settle itself. No doubt the '09 will present itself thusly in the years to come. Tonight, the '02 was my favorite of the flight.

These wines stood up well along with the hearty cheesy pasta and the beef cubes in the sausage, meatball and meat stew with red meat sauce. They begged for a big juicy beef-steak and were over-powering to much of the cuisine but wonderful none-the-less.

Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia, Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore 2009

Dark inky colored, full bodied, tightly wound, full firm, concentrated black fruits, black currant, blackberry, and plum with hints of  tea and dark chocolate with a long lingering structured tannin finish.
RM 92 points. 

Tenuta dell' Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore Ornellaia, Italy, Tuscany, Bolgheri, Bolgheri Superiore 2002

Between the 2002 and the 2009 wines tasted, although the lesser rated and cited to have the lesser aging potential, this 2002 was the wine most ready to drink now and was far more expressive and expansive of the two. Garnet colored, full bodied, complex, smooth and elegant with black berry fruits, tone of mocha and cola with layer of leather, coffee and olive tapenade turning to smooth soft tannins on the finish. Tasted almost like a mature Bordeaux.
RM 93 points.

Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo Costa Grimaldi 2000

Villa Mattielli Amarone della Valpolicella 2009

Lacking the big body and complexity of many Amarone, ruby colored, medium bodied, still has that signature raisin and fig tones with hints of anise, cola, vanilla and nut on a modest tannin finish. 

RM 87

Serafini & Vidotto Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2008