There are many great wines that don’t have gold-plated pedigrees. Some may be made from unfamiliar varieties in well-known regions. Others are produced from familiar grapes in unfamiliar locales. One commonality they often have is that, because of uncertainty among the wine buying public, the consumer can pay less per bottle as compared to more standard offerings yet receive higher quality in return.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately writing about wine country trips and feel bad that I’ve neglected the basic premise of loving wine and drinking the good stuff. So this week’s column is about various fun reds that I’ve had the pleasure to recently taste, usually from samples or at an industry gathering. I include my tasting notes at the end of the column in shorthand that goes like this: appearance (if relevant)/aroma/taste/acidity & finish. If I can find a retail U.S. price then I list it, with “N/A” meaning that the wine is not generally available in the U.S.
CAMPANIA UNFILTERED WITH ANDREA FRIZZI AND IL POSTO RESTAURANT: SEPTEMBER 14-21, 2014
Immediately after Wine On The Road’s Champagne-Burgundy Unfiltered tour, I’m leading an exploration of Campania, Italy, another of the world’s most renowned wine regions, with behind-the-scenes access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines. With Wine on the Road tours, Il Posto’s chef/owner Andrea Frizzi and I have created the ultimate in wine-focused, behind-the-scenes wine country experiences, combining award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor. Check it out at www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php.
Highlights of the Campania Unfiltered tour include:
• Seven days in Campania during the heart of harvest focused on acclaimed wine estates, wineries selected by Andrea and me for their distinctive expressions of local terroir and culture
• Up-close-and-personal time with well-known winemakers, as well as one-of-a-kind, winery-focused tours, tastings, meals and lodgings
• Superior accommodations at the Radici Resort in the heart of wine country
• A cooking class with Andrea focused on regional specialties and techniques
• Privately guided tours of bustling Naples (the “Great Pizzas” excursion) and hallowed Pompeii
• Unique non-wine experiences such as helping to make world-renowned Mozzarella di Bufala in its hometown of Caserta, attending cultural events, and joining up with locals for evening activities
• Optional activities such as visiting local markets, personal appointments with select artisans who handcraft unique local products, golf, and spa treatments
Price is $5,995 per person, paid in U.S. funds ($), based on double occupancy for between eight-and-twelve paid attendees, land only, excluding airfare, gratuities and other optional activities. For additional information on this extraordinary touring opportunity, or to download the Preliminary Itinerary and Booking Form, go to www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php.
OREGON WINE COUNTRY WITH DAVIDSONS LIQUORS: MAY 15-19, 2015
Davidson’s Fine Wine Specialist Aaron Maher, who leads this tour with his special knowledge of Oregon wines, and Davidsons Liquors have partnered with international wine writer Ben Weinberg and Wine on the Road to offer this extraordinary opportunity. This is the ultimate in wine-focused, behind-the-scenes wine country experiences, combining award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor.
Highlights of our Portland and Willamette Valley tour with Fine Wine Specialist Aaron Mayher of Davidsons Liquors include:
• Five days and four nights in Portland and the Willamette Valley focused on acclaimed artisanal food producers and wineries selected by Aaron and Ben, based on distinctive expressions of local terroir and culture
• Up-close-and-personal time with well-known artisans and one-of-a-kind, tours, tastings, and meals
• Accommodations in upscale hotels
• Special access to cultural events, including joining up with locals for evening activities
• Free time in the picturesque towns of Newberg, Dundee, and McMinnville
• Optional activities such as visiting local markets, personal appointments with select artisans who handcraft unique local products, spa treatments, golf, and other cultural events
Price is $2,995 per person, paid in U.S. funds ($), based on double occupancy for between 16-and-24 paid attendees, land only, excluding airfare, gratuities and other optional activities. For additional information on this extraordinary touring opportunity, or to download the Preliminary Itinerary and Booking Form, go to www.wineontheroad.com/oregonwithdavidsons.php.
WINE ON THE ROAD’S LUXURIOUS, BEHIND-THE-SCENES WINE TOURS
With Wine On The Road (www.wineontheroad.com), my wine-focused touring company, you can enjoy the ultimate wine country excursion with special access to top winemakers and their incomparable wines. Wine On The Road offers intimate wine country tours that combine award-winning wines and exquisite dining and lodging with uniquely local flair and flavor. We lodge at excellent and luxurious wine country estates (in the past we’ve occupied ancient yet completely restored castles as well as five-star resorts, all with modern amenities). We eat at amazing local restaurants and visit wineries that embody the best, most authentic expressions of local wine grapes.
Planned excursions in late 2014 include a combined visit to Champagne and Burgundy (www.wineontheroad.com/champ-burgunfiltered.php), and another to Italy’s Campania (www.wineontheroad.com/campaniaunfiltered.php). Early 2015 tours include Chile/Argentina (www.wineontheroad.com/chile-argunfiltered.php), Piedmont, Italy (www.wineontheroad.com/winebeesandcheeseinpiedmont.php), Oregon’s wine country (in conjunction with Davidson’s Liquors, www.wineontheroad.com/oregonwithdavidsons.php), and Seattle and Eastern Washington (www.wineontheroad.com/washingtonunfiltered.php). You can learn more about these trips, book private groups in wine country world-wide and request more information on any of these extraordinary travel experiences by visiting www.wineontheroad.com, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling me at 303-522-6738.
Frisk Prickly Rosso 2012 (Victoria, Australia) $11
Light raspberry/dark cherry, milk chocolate/pith, red raspberry, smoke/slight fizz, himod
Loukatos Mavrodaphne of Patras NV (Peloponnesos, Greece) $13
Red purple/red cherry, black licorice/raspberry, cola/himod
Las Rocas Garnacha 2012 (Calatayud, Spain) $14
Black-red/cherry, black plum/pomegranate, tobacco, green herbs/himod
Campo Viejo Rioja Riserva 2007 (Rioja, Spain) $20
Dusty purple/tea, lime, black raspberry/pomegranate, ash/hilong
Vina Pomal Rioja Riserva 2008 (Rioja, Spain) $21
Black red/black pepper, red currant/Turkish coffee, almond, vanilla/hilong
Montes Purple Angel Red Wine 2009 (Colchagua, Chile) $50
Dark purple/black plum, dark cherry/Asian spice, iron/hilong
Wirra Wirra Scrubby Rise Red Blend (Shiraz/cabsauv/pverdot) 2012 (Fleurieu, Australia) $14
Dark purple/blueberry, cherry, vanilla/creamy raspberry, black tea/modmed
Verse & Chorus Red Wine 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $30
Black red/black raspberry, cola/nutmeg, black cherry pie, dark chocolate/hilong
Turley Zinfandel Rattlesnake Ridge 2012 (Napa Valley, California) $42
Black-red/tangerine, chalky red cherry/red raspberry, ginger, dark chocolate/hilong