reviews, recommendations, recipes, and The Bar Project

Archive for the 'Italian' Category

 

Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2002 Riserva)

Posted by dave

CantinaZaccagnini.jpg

I love a wine that works well in all kinds of situations. I love a wine that you pick up because of a cool label and it ends up being a great find. And I love a wine that comes with a piece of wood tied to the bottle. That last part really makes all the difference.

So we’ve been on a bit of an Italian wine binge recently. The Davinci Chianti, and the Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico are two we’ve reviewed and really enjoyed. On a whim, we picked up a really neat looking 2002 Cantina Zaccagnini il vino “dal tralcetto” montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva. (Gotta love all those Italian words. Cantina means “Wine Cellar”. Our Italian is staggeringly mediocre, and we’re happy to help with the translation.) It’s called a “Red Dry Wine”, and it’s really good.

“Really good.” Yeah, ok, it’s late tonight and I’m a bit too tired to think of good metaphors and thesaurus thingies… ya know… words…

Point is, this wine is both cool in show and super tasty. I expected it to be really strong based on the initial smell, or “nose” as it were. It caught me off guard by the degree of fragrance, and I almost expected the wine to be equally as strong. That would have meant that it wouldn’t have been as universally appreciated. However, the flavor was something else all together.

It does come on a touch strong on first sip, but it almost instantly cools off. It’s certainly dry, but it’s rosy and soft and almost a touch sweet. It has a hint of a woody flavor (perhaps the reason for the twig attached to the front of the bottle) and that just adds to the understated complexity of the wine.

This is a short review – I’m otherwise engaged in enjoying this wine. You will too, if you pick up a bottle. It goes well with dinner (especially a pasta in a red cream sauce), works well with snacks (great with a sharp cheddar – or even better, a sharp Italian cheese, like a pecorino romano) or is even spectacular on its own.

And despite the accolades thus far, here’s the best part – $14 a bottle. Beat that.

Posted in Italian, Red Wine | 53 comments »

Da Vinci 2005 Chianti

Posted by dave

davinci2005chianti.jpg

It’s been a while since we’ve offered up a really decent wine to those of you who – like us – appreciate a bottle that won’t require dipping into the kids’ college funds. We’ve made an effort to bring you wines that we like that are below an average of $15/bottle – many have been below $10.

We’re happy to have another to add to the list – and believe it or not, this one’s not Australian. If you follow The Bar Project, you know that we love our Australian wines, and it’s not just the cool accents or man-eating lizards. Australia has proven itself quite the vineyard indeed.

However, for this one, we’re returning to a land dear to our hearts. Italy.

This Italian wine isn’t hard to pick out as Italian. If it were an Australian wine named “Da Vinci”, we can only imagine the Italians would be pissed. But that’s not the situation, so I’m just gonna go ahead and stop talking about the Australians already.

This wine is really good. There, I’ve said it. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say in the way of taste that’s explanatory. In a previous life, I’ve tried to emote what it was I tasted. Cherries here, berries there, a smoked salmon or something… But honestly, I’m not a wine connoisseur, so to try to be one would be wrong of me. (Please don’t read any previous posts.)

Here’s what it is I do like – it’s smooth and cool and bites back just a tiny bit. It’s not afraid of itself, and I’m not afraid of it. At $11, this is a table wine that now frequents our little condo. It’s not as full-bodied as the previously reviewed Rufino Aziano, nor as sweet as the also previously reviewed Little Penguin Shiraz. But then again, it’s not a Shiraz, so the comparison may not be fair.

However, as with all reviews we do at The Bar Project, I am currently drinking a glass of this wine as I review it – and as plain as I can put it, I plan to follow up with another, because although I have difficulty putting my finger on why it is I do like it – I really DO like it.

Perhaps I like that it’s light and doesn’t try to conquer your mouth. Perhaps I like that it’s almost cool on your tongue. Perhaps it’s the little reminder it leaves behind that it was just there – or the fact that despite its cool entry, it’s warming to the person.

Either way – go ahead out and pick up a bottle. It’s inexpensive – but that doesn’t degrade this Chianti from Italy at all. If anything, it simply makes it more accessible to those of us with limited disposable income, and for that, we thank Ernest and Julio Gallo. That’s right, the American staple and largest wine distributor is responsible for purchasing a large portion of the stock created by Alberto Antonini at Cantine Leonardo da Vinci, a wine grower’s cooperative, and bringing it to the United States (in, no doubt, an effort to add more upscale wines into it’s portfolio.)
But the mess that is the distribution chain is of little concern – the wine is effortless, and we plan on drinking more.

Posted in Italian, Red Wine | 29 comments »

Ruffino Aziano Chianti Classico

Posted by dave

Herein also known as “The Wine My FiancĂ© Picked Out”, Ruffino’s Aziano Chianti Classico is a wonderful addition to our small but growing catalog of drinks that if you haven’t yet enjoyed, you darned well should. At $11 a bottle, you really don’t have any excuse for not trying it.

I’m going to try to keep this short and sweet – there isn’t a thing to not like about this wine. Well, maybe one thing. If you, my friend, are the kind of person that enjoys a wine that kicks like a pissed off Clydesdale, this isn’t for you. But if you are like me – a person that appreciates both a hearty wine as well as one that goes down easy, then this is one for the books.

read more…

Posted in Italian, Red Wine | 17 comments »