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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tasting Notes

Warning: if you don't like to read the kind of highly detailed, figurative descriptions of wine and beer that might be found in/on professional tasting magazines/websites, then this isn't the post for you. (Not that I'm a professional. I am, however, an enthusiastic amatuer.)

While we’re on the subject of wine and beer tastings (see previous post), I might as well share my thoughts on a few I tried this evening at my neighborhood store's Thursday tasting.


I tried two Carmignanos (Italy/Tuscany) from the winery Ambra. The Vigna di Montefortini (2004), a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and canaiolo, and the Santa Cristina (2004), a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, canaiolo, colorino, syrah, and merlot, are both nice but a bit young. The chianti-like, light-to-medium bodied Montefortini has straightforward and tasty cherry and oak flavors, with just enough acidity to give the wine some backbone and keep it interesting. The medium-to-full bodied Santa Cristina is more complex, with blackberry, currant, and dried orange peel and a more developed earth and oak quality than the Montefortini, though the young tannins could use a few years in the bottle to mellow.

But the showstopper—at $19.99, no less—is a wine that can and should be drunk right now. (In two to five years, though, go with the Santa Cristina). The Allegrini Pallazo della Torre (2003), a blend of corvina, rondinella, and sangiovese, has ripe, juicy blackberry and black plum fruit with oak and wet soil notes and an almost primally dark finish. The flavor arc may not be as seamless as a top southern Rhone or even a good Australian Shiraz, but it’s more than complex and interesting enough to be worth a try.


Tried two, and the only one really worth talking about is the Victor’s MemoriAle Altbier from Two Brothers Brewing in Illinois. It has a mellow, deep flavor of rich, toasty, slightly smoky malt, without being overly sweet, as is the case with many American craft beers. It also has enough hoppiness to create a clean finish that isn’t too floral or bitter (though, being American brewers, they do push both the malt and the hops right up to the edge). All in all, a beer of admirable restraint in an American craft beer market flooded with sugary malt and unrestrained hops. If you’re sick of gigantic barleywines and medicinally herbal hop-teas, check out this altbier.



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