Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Etude Lyric Santa Barbara Pinot Noir 2014

Etude Lyric Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2014

For a team meeting and planning session we all parachuted in to Columbus, Ohio for two days. In the evening, we had an informal causal pizza dinner at Dewey's Pizza. Dewey's promotes a selection of craft beers from the region and across the country. They have a minimal wine list of four reds and four whites offered by the glass (BTG). The reds selection features a cabernet, a red blend, a malbec and a Pinot. I tried the Pinot. Although I am not a big fan of Pinot, especially with pizza, I was intrigued by and interested to try this newly discovered label from Etude. The winelist described this as a California Central Coast Pinot Noir which didn't do it justice since this Lyric from Etude was from Santa Barbara County, a popular Pinot Noir varietal wine growing region.

Etude is based in the Carneros appellation, at the bottom of the Mayacamas Range that separates Napa and Sonoma Valleys, in the flatlands above San Pablo Bay. The area, with its milder micro-climate from the cool breezes and fog that roll in from the Bay is suitable for and known for Burgundy varietals, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, rather than the Bordeaux varietals more typically associated with the warmer climes up in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

Etude is known for Carneros Pinot's so it was interesting to find this secondary label from Santa Barbara County, near the cooling effects of the Pacific coast, another area known for and associated with Pinot Noir.

This provides reasonable QPR for a pleasant casual sipping Pinot Noir that is difficult to find in the sub $20 price point. According to on-line merchants, this is generally available in the $20-25 range.

This was ruby colored and light bodied, lacking in aromatics or distinguishable nose and that classic dusty rose of more sophisticated Pinots, this had moderate flavors of cherry and raspberry fruits with tones of subdued cinnamon and spice with soft tannins on the moderate finish.

RM 87 points.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Lewis Ethan's Syrah BYOB at Jack's Steak House Bloomington, Illinois

Lewis Ethan's Syrah BYOB at Jack's Steak House Bloomington, Illinois

Traveling this week through Bloomington, Illinois, we dined at Jim's Steak House and took BYOB the latest vintage release of Lewis Ethan's Syrah, one of our favorite labels from one of our favorite producers. Named for the grandson of Indy racecar driver Randy Lewis, we collect this, their line of Cabernets, and their oldest grandson namesake Alec's Blend, also the name of our youngest son. With the Laverne and Shirley-esque 'L' moniker on the label, this has become somewhat of a signature wine for our family with our family lineup of Linda, Erin Leigh, Lucy (grand-daughter) and namesake Lucy (grand-mother), and the Long family heritage.

Jim's Steak House is a welcome discovery in Bloomington, a regular destination for my business travels where I've been stymied in finding a nice fine dining establish in the tertiary city, until now.

Jim's is a classic midwestern steak house with a focused menu featuring dry aged beef and a selection of seafood entrees. A bit dated and showing its age, it has a somewhat awkward interior layout, but the food was good and the service hospitable, friendly and professional. Its ideal for a business dinner, upscale casual dining or a special occasion dinner outing - 'big city' dining experience in the heartland.  There are also Jim's locations in Peoria which I will look forward to visiting.

My New York strip was perfectly prepared in my favored 'Pittsbugh' style, and the dinner salad, potato and side of creamed spinach were appropriately prepared, presented, and were satisfying. Linda's black and blue steak salad was a bit disappointing with less the crisp fresh lettuce and a lesser mediocre cut of skirt or round steak.

A limited basic winelist offers a selection of generally available American wines from the range of core varietals at standard prices. Their hospitable corkage policy allowed us to pick up this feature label and try the latest release of a favorite label. The Lewis Syrah was a perfect accompaniment to our steak dinner.

Lewis Cellars Ethan's Napa Valley Syrah 2013

Dark inky garnet colored, full bodied, rich concentrated core of black and blue fruits give way to a layer of vanilla, spice, and a hint of what Lewis calls 'bacon fat', and a bit of alcohol heat that softens over the course of the evening, finishing with tongue coating tannins. Lacked graceful staying power as it was a bit flabby the next day, but delicious initially after given time to settle.

RM 92 points.




Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clos du Val Napa Cabernet 1991

Clos du Val Napa Cabernet 1991 BYOB at Ozark Bloomington

During our trip this week through Bloomington, IL, we dined at two different steak houses, Ozark House Restaurant and Jim's Steak House which I write about in a follow on blogpost. We discovered and stopped at Ozark House Restaurant and took BYOB this 1991 vintage Clos du Val Stags Leap District Napa Cabernet.

We had a reservation at the Ozark House and we were warmly welcomed on arrival by Nathan, the gracious and hospitable host. Ozark is a quaint setting with rustic knotty pine cedar paneling that feels much older than its 70's era founding. Its situated in a picturesque residential neighborhood opposite a city park.

The dining room is warm and inviting with the paneling, stylish artwork and corner booths with mood lighting and linen tablecloths.

The menu offers a broad selection of beef, chicken, seafood, porkchops, lamb and BBQ. The wine list is minimalist. Hence, we brought a special selection of vintage Napa Cabernet from 1991. I look forward to returning for the BBQ, especially given their BYOB friendly policy.

The dinner was homey with modest entrees and imaginative salads and sides but was highlighted by the attentive friendly personable service.

Clos du Val Stags Leap District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1991 

There is a case of this vintage label on closeout in the premium wine cellar room at Binny's in Bloomington. Being one year removed from our son's birthyear, of which we hold a horizontal collection, and the birthyear of his girlfriend, we were drawn to obtain and taste this vintage selection.

The label represented on the '91 release is the vintage design which has in recent years been replaced by a distinctive differentiable design for the premium Stags Leap District label, versus the Napa label. Also, it was interesting to taste this relative to their current vintage release which has achieved high marks, which we've obtained for our cellar.

This was bright ruby color, medium-light bodied, bright expressive tart cherry fruit accented by tones of cigar and hints of earthy leather showing classic character from its age of 25 years.

RM 88 points.



Monday, September 19, 2016

Le Cadet de Larmande St Emilion Grand Cru 2012

Le Cadet de Larmande St Emilion Grand Cru 2012

We picked up pizza for a stopover quick dinner with the kids and grand kids, so I picked up this second label Grand Cru for casual sipping. We're big fans of the primary Chateau Larmande label and this was the first time I've seen this second label so was I anxious to try it.

The second label carries the same distinctive design and branding of the mauve colored foil and similar styled label as the main label (shown below).

Chateau Larmande is one of the oldest producers in the Libourne dating back to the 14th century.

In the eighties they created this second label le Cadet de Larmande which actually raises the quality of the Grand Cru Classe first label, since the lesser portion of the crop is bottled separately here. One-fifth of the production, 20k of 100k bottles end up in the second label. At roughly half the price of the prime label, even the second label provides reasonable value QPR.

The 2005 vintage of the first label is one of the better drinking labels in our cellar right now and provides great QPR for the vintage.

Le Cadet de Larmande St Emilion Grand Cru 2012

Open and allow it to breath for a while to let off the heat and funky fruit, which after settling, loses its flabbiness and is much more approachable. In fact, it was better the next day. Dark inky garnet colored, slightly lean, medium bodied, bright forward black berry and black cherry fruits with lively acidity are a bit tart on the front palette with a bit of alcohol 'heat' on the initial opening, but it settles down to a layer of tangy spice which turns to tones of creosote, smoke and a hint of anise on the moderate tannin finish. Drink it with pasta, pizza or hearty cheeses.

RM 86 points.


Chateau Larmande is one of the oldest estates in St. Emilion. Documents exist that help date this Right Bank property all the way back to 1585!
Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/lamande/

Chateau Larmande is one of the oldest estates in St. Emilion. Documents exist that help date this Right Bank property all the way back to 1585!
Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/lamande/

Chateau Larmande is one of the oldest estates in St. Emilion. Documents exist that help date this Right Bank property all the way back to 1585!
Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/lamande/

Chateau Larmande is one of the oldest estates in St. Emilion. Documents exist that help date this Right Bank property all the way back to 1585!
Read more at:http://www.thewinecellarinsider.com/bordeaux-wine-producer-profiles/bordeaux/st-emilion/lamande/

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Pour Boys Cityscape Fall Classic Wine Dinner

Pour Boys Cityscape Fall Classic Wine Dinner

The fall gathering of the Pour Boys was hosted by Lyle and Terry on their West Loop cityscape deck on a picture perfect early autumn evening.

Big Reds were the order of day to compliment the dinner of ceasar salad, mushroom soup, grilled steaks, puffed potatoes, stripped zuchini, and cheese veggie ravioli.

The Antipasta course (shown below) featured a plate of mixed proscuittos, deviled eggs, assortment of olives and a selection of artisan cheeses, highlighted by Lyle's grilled sea scallops.

Red wine flight
The main course red wine flight (shown left) featured Sangiovese, Bordeaux blends, several Syrahs, a couple Zins and a vintage port.

John served a champagne and white wine flight with the starters of Salon and Veuve Cliquot, and a Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru.

There is always room for bubbly, and the whites were spectacular with the scallops, antipasta and cheese selection.

The cheeses included aged cheddars from Fair Oak Farms - 5 and 6 year olds and a Wisconsin;  a pair of aged Goudas from Wisconsin and a Dutch, Bellavitano and some others.

Cheese selection


The white flight -

Salon Blanc de Blanc Brut Champagne 2004

At a dozen years of age, this premium vintage label showed its class - straw colored, medium bodied, elegant, rich, crisp and clean, full bright flavors accented by a layer of zesty yeast, vibrant flavors of pear, apple, nut and hint of zesty citrus.

I wish my palate for Champagne was more discriminating to appreciate the nuances of this elegant polished, nicely balanced label.

RM 93 points 



Veuve Cliquot NV Champagne

Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru en Clos 2009

As a follow on to our recent Vivere wine producer dinner, Ernie brought a Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino and Fluris, which he procured from the Italian Village wine cellar when the distributor/retailer couldn't fulfill our order for a shared case of the dessert wine. Following the pairing of this with the orange cake at the dinner, this was a priority to compliment Terry's classic orange cake dessert.

The Brunello Sangiovese was an ideal compliment to Terry's mushroom and celery root soup. She and Lyle had this on their recent river cruise on the Danube River to Budapest and Terry coerced the chef to give her the recipe. 

Lyle grilling the scallops.

The Red Flight -

 Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino Sangiovese 2010

100% Estate grown Sangiovese.

Deep intense dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, subdued black cherry fruits, tones of leather, tobacco, anise and hints of floral, spice and vanilla.

RM 90 points.


Eric and Cathy brought Flower Merlot from Yates Family Vineyards which they discovered and obtained at our our winery visit during our Mt Veeder Appellation wine experience 2011. This was a great transition wine from the white to red flight with its soft approachable easy sipping bright acidity and vibrant fruits, before moving to the Big Reds.

Yates Family Vineyards Flower Merlot 2005

While predominantly Merlot, this includes in the blend some Cabernet Sauvignon (4%) and Cabernet Franc (2%).

Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, bright vibrant black berry, black raspberry and black cherry fruits, lively acidity, dark spices on a long moderate tannin finish.

RM 92 points.



For the dinner course, we started with Bill's Chateau  Lascombs to align with the grilled strip steaks.

Château Lascombes Margaux Bordeaux 2000

Contrary to my earlier tasting experience with this wine, tonight this was surprisingly un-Bordeaux like ... while this was lacking the floral and earthy notes I associate with Margaux, it showed much brighter and more forward, vibrant tangy fruits, more like a Napa Cab, than a left bank claret.

Dark deep ruby colored, medium-bodied, bright forward blackberry, black currant, and black cherry fruits with a layer of tangy spice and tones of soft oak on the moderate tannin finish.

RM 91 points.


Continuing in the dinner course, I brought another 2000 vintage label as part of a mini vertical of Rosemount Balmoral Syrah, 1999-2000.

Rosemount Estate Balmoral McLaren Vale Syrah 1999-2000

We have about a half dozen contiguous vintages of this label. I think this '99 label is a bit bigger and more forward and fruit filled than the others which have more predominant non-fruit tones. 

This vineyard is one of the few in Australia with vines dating back a hundred years. The concentrated fruit is akin to the Chateau Tanunda with its legendary 100 year old vines. The story of  we Pour Boys discovering and then capturing the US allocation of this wine is written often in these pages. 

Dark inky purple garnet colored, medium-full bodied, forward  currant, plum, blackberry fruits turning to blueberry on the mid-palate, accented by a layer of anise, raisin and fig with hints of clove and spice.

RM 92 points. 


2000 Vintage - 

Consistent with previously reported tasting notes from 2010 and 2012. 

Dark inky purple/garnet colored, medium-full bodied. Aromatic, leather, slightly earthy aroma that gives way to complex flavorful blue fruit and ripe black raspberry fruits that turn to raisin, black cherry, cassis, tar, and tobacco turning to an aftertaste of smoke, currant and a hint of plum. Over the course of the evening, the wine seemed to age as the berry fruits gave way to the more fig raisin aged feel while the deep aromatics lingered.

RM 92 points. 


The Syrah flight continued with John's classic Cayuse Shiraz from Washington State.

Cayuse Vineyards Cailloux Vineyard Walla Walla Valley Syrah 2012

John brought the 2007 vintage of this big hitter to our Cityscape wine of the deck dinner in 2013 when I wrote on this label and producer more extensively.

Like that earlier event, I saved this wine for the end of the meal to pivot to the dessert course as it is suited more for the dark chocolate desserts and more than even the grilled beef steaks. And, like before, it provided a perfect set up to the Vintage Port. Thanks again, John for offering up this classic Washington State Syrah, a real treat.

Not for the feint of heart ... no wimps here ... Dark inky garnet colored, full bodied, huge powerful concentrated, complex thick chewy black berry and black raspberry, bramble, bacon fat, game, tones of dark mocha and tobacco with hints of tar, black pepper and anise turning to vanilla on the tongue coating finish.

RM 93 points. 



Orange cake with berries and whipped cream

Finally, the dessert course featuring Terry's orange cake with mixed berries and fresh whipped cream, and a selection of dark chocolates and dark chocolate covered berries, accompanied by Ernie's Floris and Lyle's Croft Port.

Castello Banfi Florus Late Harvest Moscadello 2011

Golden colored, medium bodied, bright vibrant bouquet and flavors of sweet apricot, honeysuckle, tones of raisins, almonds and honey on full lingering unctuous finish.

RM 91 points.


Croft Vintage Port 1994

From Lyle's collection of vintage ports, the 1994 vintage was a classic vintage, even for vintage declared Ports, as two were selected as Co-Wines of the Year for that vintage. 

Dark blackish garnet colored, full bodied, moderately sweet with an essence of cognac, gripping tannins are pervasive with thick tongue coating richness, yet the power is refined and polished rendering this big wine approachable for smooth sipping. One of the top performances for this label.

RM 92 points.  



The Pour Boys Story-

UGC Bordeaux 2013 Release Tour Chicago 2016

Pour Boys Serve Grands Crus Classes of St Emilion 2015 Chicago Tasting

Friday, September 16, 2016

Fox Valley Winery and Vineyard

Illinois Wineries and Wine Production Progressing - Fox Valley Winery and Vineyard

Touring the Fox Valley river communities recently, we happened upon Fox Valley Winery tasting room. Illinois is not known for or thought of as a wine producing state, yet it is one of the leading agriculture producing states, mostly known for corn and beans. It has rich fertile soils that lend themselves well to specialty crops such as pumpkins, fruit trees and grapes. This is actually somewhat detrimental since wine grapes often thrive in poor rocky soils unsuitable for more rigorous crops.

The dichotomy of wine grape growing is that some of the most famous or best known wine regions actually are known for arid regions with minimal rainfall, rocky soils, and or steep mountainous or valley overlook hillsides where the little rainfalls drain well or run off.

Indeed, some of the most storied wines are named for or associated with rocky, even volcanic soils. Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou,  premier grand cru producer in Bordeaux actually translates to 'tiny pebbles', a tribute to the rock filled terrain which drains exceedingly well. Diamond Creek Vineyards, one of the premier wine producers in Napa Valley are known for vineyard designated wines with distinctly different vineyards that yield premier Cabernet Sauvignons. The famous legendary vineyards of Diamond Creek are Gravelly Meadow, Red Rock Terrace and Volcanic Hill.

Rocky vineyards of Chateauneuf du Pape
The most concentrated richest grapes are those that are starved for nutrients, especially in years starved for rainfall during the latter part of the grape growing season.

Shown left is the vineyard of Chateau Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf-du-Pape appellation of the Southern Rhone River Valley. The soil is almost completely rocky pebbles down to twelve feet deep.

Hence Illinois is challenged with it agricultural friendly climate of seasons, rainfall and rich quality soil as a wine grape producing State. Never-the-less, wine production in Illinois is growing albeit from small empirical numbers, especially in the last five years. Last year, 80 wineries farmed 200 vineyards and produced about 500,000 gallons of wine generating about $21m in revenue. The average vineyard is relatively small, about 4.6 acres on average.

Most major popular wine regions around the world are known for specific varietals of grapes that are synonymous with those regions, such as the Bordeaux varietals associated with the famous Bordeaux wine growing region - Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The legendary Burgundy wine growing region in central France is known for or associated with Burgundy varietals Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Italy is famously known for growing over 500 varietals of grapes. Sangiovese is Italy's most planted red varietal, grown in the central Italian regions of Tuscany and Umbria, and others, it is the major grape of Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and the only variety in Brunello di Montalcino.

Nebbiolo grapes are grown in the Italian Piedmont region and is the primary grape in two of Italy’s  greatest red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco.

The old wine regions of the world are known for specific grapes as a result of decades or even centuries of learning, experimenting and fine-tuning grape production to their specific terroir - that specific essence of 'place' - terrain, climate and soil.

So it should not be a surprise the the selection of grapes in Illinois is still evolving and being refined, as producers learn what grapes grow best in their specific locales. At this time, the grapes mostly grown in Ilinois are Chardonnel, Chambourcin, Norton, Traminette and Vignobles.

Such is the backdrop of our recent visit to Fox Valley Winery in nearby Oswego, Illinois. We live near the Fox River that winds through the far western exburbs west of Chicago down to where it meets the Illinois River in north, west, central Illinois. The Fox River winds through river towns such as Elgin, St Charles, Geneva, adjacent Aurora, and Oswego, down to where it meets the Illinois River in Ottawa.

Fox Valley Winery sources grapes from 25 acres of vineyards farmed by the Faltz Family Vineyard and farm near Sheridan, IL. Their vines were first planted in March of 2000, along the south-facing rocky ledges of the Fox River Valley. They also source grapes from growers from various regions of the midwest including Southern Illinois and Southwestern Michigan - two more established and growing wine producing areas.

We had a chance to taste several Fox Valley wines in their tasting room at the winery on the western outskirts of Oswego, where they offer about thirty different wines. Their range of wines is broad, from dry whites and dry reds, off-dry to sweet whites and reds, to sweet wines and ultra sweet or fortified dessert wines.

We focused on their flagship Reserve and their Estate wines - those sourced from grapes grown in their own vineyards. I must admit, their wines exceeded my expectations which here-to-fore, have been set by Midwestern wines (with grapes sourced) from Michigan, Missouri and Indiana. These were more balanced, complex and sophisticated wines that did not succumb to the detrimental non-fruit flavors such as grass, wet wood and mustiness that too often predominate or infiltrate Midwestern wines.

Fox Valley Estate Grown Unoaked Chardonnay 2013

Light straw colored, medium light bodied, modest green apple fruit with hints of pear and wet stone with a crisp clean finish.

RM 85 points. 

Fox Valley Estate Grown Barrel Aged Chardonnay 2013

Almost indiscernible from the unoaked label, a slight oak tone may differentiate the two, but it is oh so subtle. In a blind tasting, only the most discriminating might pick up the difference.

RM 85 points.


R. A. Faltz Vintner Reserve 2011

Their flagship or signature wine, as it is named for the proprietor / winemaker. Like expensive premium wines from around the world, this wine is aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels for fourteen months. Other recent vintages were aged for ten and eighteen months respectively.

Garnet colored, medium bodied, as one might expect from red wines from this part of the country, the fruits were modest and rather subdued, especially when compared to big forward fruit bombs from some of the world's leading wine regions. However, it was surprisingly approachable, reasonably balanced, and almost bordering on sophisticated drinking, with earthy leather, tones of tobacco and hints of cedar, with impressive moderate tannins on a lingering finish.

RM 86 points.


Fox Valley Illinois Cabernet Franc 2011

Perhaps reflecting the cost of the fruit for this is sourced from 100% Illinois grown Cabernet Franc, which is one of the Bordeaux varietals, this was the most expensive wine on the list at $45.

Like the Faltz VR above, dark garnet colored, medium bodied, the fruits again were rather modest and subdued with a slight astringency turning to earthy leather, slight spice and black pepper, with moderate firm tannins on the finish.

RM 86 points.


Fox Valley Heritage Collection 2008

A blend of Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin and Corot Noir. Dark garnet colored, medium bodied, nicely balanced, modest black cherry fruit turning to earthy leather with hint of creosote on a moderate lingering tannin finish.

At around half the price of the flagship wine, and almost a third of the Cabernet Franc, this represents a more appropriate price-point and reflects reasonable value in this approachable easy drinking red sipper.

RM 84 points.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2004

Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2004

For a casual Sunday evening grilled steak dinner with pomme frittes we opened this Sonoma Cabernet. I have two left in the cellar and I wish I had more. At a dozen years old, it must be at the apex of its drinking window - it was delicious and a perfect compliment to the steak and to the anti pasta caprese salad.

We often turn to Sonoma County Cab's for more casual sipping as they are thought to be a bit lighter and softer than their Napa counterparts. There was nothing wimpy or second class to this Big Cab.

While the Arrowood winery and vineyards are located in Sonoma Valley just north of the town of Sonoma, they source the fruit for this label from three different Sonoma County AVA's - Knights Valley, Alexander Valley and Sonoma Valley. We consider Arrowood to be a benchmark, representing the best of Sonoma Cabernet.

We have visited the Arrowood properties on several of our trips to Sonoma Valley. 

This wine represents great value, high QPR as Arrowood seem to have held the price on this label as similar Napa and Sonoma labels have risen by 30-40% over the decade.

Dark blackish garnet color, medium-full bodied, the berry fruit aromas filled the room on opening, bold expressive black cherry accented by a layer of leather, mocha and hint of cedar and spice on the long smooth soft tanning finish.

RM 90 points.



Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Castello Banfi Producer Wine Dinner at Vivere Italian Village Chicago

Castello Banfi Wine Producer Dinner at Vivere Italian Village Chicago

We've written recently about Jared Gelband, the new wine director at Italian Village in Chicago, and his efforts to revitalize the historic cellar and wine program there. An element of the wine program is a series of wine dinners featuring storied wine producers. The inaugural wine dinner of the new era featured the American owned prolific Italian producer, Castello Banfi which translates to English Banfi Cellars.

Wine Director Jared Gelband
with Erin & Johnny Fort
Presenting the wines and representing Banfi was Lars Lecht, Director of Communications and wine ambassador, Castello Banfi (shown left).

Preparing the evening dinner were Executive Chef, James Giacometti and Sous Chef Kevin Lundy. Also in attendance to welcome guests and oversee operations was Italian Village third generation owner Gina Capitanini.

The dinner featured six courses, each paired with a Banfi wine selection - three red and three whites including a sparkling wine and a late harvest dessert wine.

First course - Cocomero -

Grilled Watermelon, sea salt flakes, cherry Heirloom tomato (grown on the urban rooftop garden atop the restaurant), baby frisee, black sesame seed vinagrette, fresh Buratta cheese and shaved radish.

The course wine accompaniment -

Castello Banfi Alta Langa Cuvée Aurora Rosé 2011

 Produced from 100% Pinot Noir fruit sourced exclusively in Banfi Estate vineyards located on the Piedmontese hilltops in the provinces of Cuneo, Asti and Alessandria.

Full bodied, darkish pink colour, silky smooth elegance with notes of toasted almond nut accented by smoke, apple, hints of citrus and whisper of vanilla.


RM 91 points. 

The second course - Capesante -

Iron eared Diver Sea Scallop, eggplant caponata, toasted hazelnuts, citrus froth. This was so good, any wine would have been a nice accompaniment. The crisp clean Pinot Grigio was wonderful.

The wine accompaniment -

Castello Banfi Pinot Grigio San Angelo Toscana IGT 2013

Straw colored, light bodied, lively acidity, dry, subdued modest flavors of lemon citrus fruits, wet stone, and lychee.

RM 87 points.


Third course - Pasta

Housemade tomato flavored half moon shaped pasta filled with braised pork shoulder, hand dipped ricotta cheese, Parmesan-Reggiano, rooftop grown cherry tomatos, purple basil. The sweetness of the sauce was a perfect balance to the acidity of the brilliant red wine.

Castello Banfi Rosso di Montalcino Sangiovese 2013 

100% Sangiovese - Banfi calls this their 'baby Brunello'. Ruby red colored, medium bodied, subdued black cherry fruits, bright acidity,  tones of leather and tobacco leaf with nice silky tannins on the moderate finish.

RM 87 points.


Fourth Course - Anatra

Pan seared Maple Leaf Farms Duck breast, Bourbon honey glaze, carrot mango spears, parsnip pur'ee, rooftop grown greens, lemon, extra virgin oil.

Castello Banfi Belnero Toscana IGT 2012

This wine discovery, a blend of Italian and Bordeaux varietals was one of the highlights of the evening. Unique blend of 85% Sangiovese with moderate amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Deep intense dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, sweet black cherry fruits with tones vanilla, leather, tobacco leaf and hint of expresso turning to nicely balanced smooth soft tannins on the lingering finish.

RM 91 points.


Fifth course - Agnello

Roasted loin of lamb, raspberry truffle jus, heirloom carrot, charred baby turnips. 

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2010 

100% Estate grown Sangiovese.

Deep intense dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, subdued black cherry fruits, tones of leather, tobacco, anise and hints of floral, spice and vanilla.

RM 90 points.


Sixth course - Dolci

Meyer lemon, toasted almond bread pudding, lemon honey sorbet. This dessert was delicious and was a perfect accompaniment to the sweet late harvest dessert wine below.

Castello Banfi Florus Late Harvest Moscadello 2011

Golden colored, medium bodied, bright vibrant bouquet and flavors of sweet apricot, honeysuckle, tones of raisins, almonds and honey on full lingering unctuous finish.

RM 91 points.




Vivere dinner setting
Sous Chef Kevin Lundy and Executive Chef, James Giacometti.

Diners and blogger, Rick McNees and Linda

Vivere Diver Sea Scallop

Vivere Braised Pork cheese pasta

Vivere Duck Breast

Vivere Roasted Loin of Lamb