Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Issue VII: Colosi Sicilia Rosso [Nero d'Avola] Edition

Colosi Sicilia Rosso

I mentioned in the Navarro Correas Issue (#2) that I wasn’t sure if it was the most frequently purchased, but was right near the top. That would also apply to this one and they’re probably pretty close to neck and neck. I have definitely bought this wine off-SPA more than any other entry in the list, though, that much is certain.

For a long time, I wasn’t much of a wine fan and would drink only French wine. When I started off, it was hard liquor; mostly Seagram’s VO, only for a long time, then eventually beer and then reluctantly wine. I tried a couple times to get going on the wine, but those were hard drinkin’ days and myself and a friend managed to really do a number on ourselves one night. We both got tremendously sick and I gave all my bottles away and foreswore the wine for several years. Fast forward to meeting my wife, who wasn’t much a fan of anything BUT red wine and it came back to the process of building the wine list I’d always wanted to do, since restricting to one country, regardless of the country, is mostly folly.

I say mostly, because if that country is Italy, you’re probably not going to go too far wrong. By having such a narrow view of the delectable liquid, I deprived myself of many years when I could have been enjoying bottles from what is now my overall favorite wine region; the southern part of Italy. This particular one hails from the island of Sicily.

If I had to choose only one wine to drink for the rest of my life, I would be hard-pressed to do better than this. It is always consistent, incredibly delicious and smooth, yet has a dry aspect to it that never gets into astringency. This was a marvel when I found it; full, rich, vibrant, very fruit forward and almost entirely absent of bite, just nearly pure silkiness. This, in fact, is nearly exactly what I was looking for as the ultimate for the under $20 aspect and considering that this, at normal price, is slightly over half of that price, it really makes it near-incomparable. It is also very well-stocked and is sort of the standard bearer for the Standard rating.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Issue VI: Bouchard Chardonnay Edition

Bouchard Chardonnay

I suppose it is inevitable that the whites we use for cooking should come up this near the front of these columns for my vaunted list. This is the other half, along with the Fat Bastard, of the duo that will generally be seen in the refrigerator for cooking wines, though this one is my own personal preference. Both are from France and unlike the Pinot Noir from Bouchard, this one is always on the money. Both again also have the screwcaps.

One of the biggest differences between the two is drinkability. This one is very smooth, velvety and indeed is almost buttery. It has a silkiness I find very appealing, yet it strong-tasting enough to assert itself in cooking. It has a dry element, to be sure, but when testing, I found myself at the bottom of a bottle of it solo and would have been happy to keep soldiering on, which is unusual for a white…for me, anyway. If something is that good to drink and also cooks as well as it does, it could be a godsend – I’m not saying it isn’t – but it’s definitely a keeper.

We had gone through a number of bottles of whites, of varying qualities, with me rejecting them for one characteristic or another and I was extremely pleased when I found this one. I didn’t exactly run out to the street to do cartwheels, but I can’t say it didn’t cross my mind. Though the price has gone up slightly, it’s still moderate enough to make this a fantastic value.  I almost considered making a new category called “Standby”, which would contain this and maybe one or two others, but terms like that and “Fallback” and so on are usually covered well enough by the Standard rating.

Another point of separation for this might come in the fact that this one is a lot more easily found than the Fat Bastard. For a long while, I would not drink a wine if it didn’t come from France. Though I learned the error of my ways some time ago, I still find it a bit of tickling amusement that, unintentionally on my part, both of the cooking wines come from there, especially considering that country’s rich culinary traditions. Perhaps it is coincidence, considering their equally rich winemaking traditions, perhaps it is something more…

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Issue V: Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet Edition

Penfold Koonunga Hill Shiraz-Cabernet

When it comes time for yours truly to do some recommendations, which people will often request of me, sometimes giving me a dish to complement, sometimes just for an all-around good pick, I invariably will lean on Penfold’s. There are a few good reasons for this. Some of them are practical, such as this is a very smooth, very drinkable wine after it gets some air and the astringency has a chance to depart (15 minutes airing minimum) and it’s generally well-received. It’s also usually easily accessible and is one of the most commonly found wines regardless of state. The price point is such that it’s not going to break the bank, but is obviously a far cry from bottom of the barrel rotgut. It speaks value, generally and Penfold’s is a pretty good name, as far as wineries go. It also makes a nice addition to dinner parties.

Some of those reasons have more to do with me. Syrah/Shiraz (same grape) is one of my favorite varietals and though Penfold’s does a fantastic Koonunga Shiraz, I somewhat prefer the Shiraz-Cab, though when recommending, I don’t generally make a huge distinction between them, telling whoever it is to just pick up whichever they can find. The grape I find is very adaptable and generally it goes well with whatever protein is on for the night. I don’t use it for that, obviously, but I do like to know those things to a degree, in case someone does want to use it for such an occasion.

One of the best things about that grape is that I find it falls squarely in the middle. When done right, such as this gem that hails from Australia, it has good body (somewhat moreso with the addition of the cab here), neither too heavy nor too light, a nice balance between a touch of bite and a velvety smoothness, a very pleasant and round taste and can probably be considered, when done well, to be almost the “perfect” medium grape, as in splitting the difference of the extremes when it comes to red wine grapes.

For $12 or less a bottle (often you can find this for below $10), this makes it easy enough to pick up, even when not on SPA. This is another easy pick for a Standard, as it’s one of the better fallbacks on this list and an easy recommend.