Sunday, August 29, 2010

Terredora di Paolo Falanghina 2009

Ahhhh, summer...the wonderful time of year where on the good days the temperature goes up and the pace of life slows down. These care free but warm days are no time for your favorite big reds or even an oaky Chardonnay. They call for something cooler, crisper, and more refreshing. I typically find myself drinking a lot of Sauvignon Blanc in the summer with some Albarino, a Vouvray, or a dry rose mixed in every so often. Not being a fan of Pinot Grigio, Italy was never on my radar for white wine. This year, however, that has all changed for me with the discovery of a wine and a varietal that are new to me. Falanghina is grape that is indigenous to Southern Italy. Once relegated to being a blending grape for many years, some producers have discovered in recent years that they can make some outstanding wines from 100% Falanghina. Thanks to some of my favorite retailers, I was introduced to the Terredora Di Paolo Falanghina this spring. If you happen to be in New York City, you can also find this by the glass at Wine:30 ( ), one of my favorite wine bars in the city.

Terredora di Paolo Falanghina 2009 comes from the Irpinia IGT which sits within the region of Campania in Southern Italy. In your glass the wine is pale straw in color. The bouquet brings aromas of citrus and pineapple. In your mouth you get a wine with a light-medium body with wonderful flavors of pineapple and lemon with hints of pear and light stone fruit. What I like best about this wine, though, is the crisp acidity that works together with the fruit to make this wine so enjoyable and refreshing on a hot summer day.

From a pairing standpoint, the Terredora di Paolo Falanghina 2009 would be perfect with some grilled mahi-mahi or any light fish or shellfish. At a price point of around $14, its also a pretty nice value.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Catena Alta Malbec 2005

When I think Malbec, I normally think "good to very good wine and great value." There are so many pleasant Argentinian Malbecs out there in the $15 and under category, that it's almost too easy to find good values. Lets face it fellow wine geeks - part of the thrill of a great value is the hunt itself - right? So a few years ago I asked my friend Ryan Seward, currently the Wine Education Director at City Wine Merchant ( ), to set up a South American tasting for me and some of my friends so we could try to discover some more unique Argentinian and South American wines. Among other things we discovered a crazy Chilean Pinot and a really interesting Argentinian Syrah, but the star of the show was clearly the Catena Alta Malbec 2005.

In your glass you will see a very intense inky purple color and you will breathe in aromas of dark berries, plum, and leather. This is a wine that I could swirl and smell for a good half an hour without even taking a sip. In your mouth you get dark berry and black cherry fruit with a mix of mild spice and a hint of chocolate. The wine has a beautiful, rich mouthfeel without being overwhelming, and the well integrated tannins are just perfect.

I have to confess that this wine has single handedly changed my perception of what Malbec can be. I always thought of it as a really nice everyday wine that really had no place at the table for special occasions, but this Catena Alta Malbec is one of my all time favorite reds. It brings the great fruit that Malbecs can have, but underneath all that fruit there is additional depth and complexity that take this to a higher level. Here is a Malbec that would pair beautifully with grilled red meats. For a true Argentinian food and wine experience, put some flank steak on the grill and make a nice authentic chimichurri to spoon over it. You won't be disappointed.

You can find this wine for just under $50, and it would hold its own against many Cabs that retail for twice the price.