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Some friends and I got a chance to get a sneak preview of two soon-to-be-released wines from Tre Anelli:   2007 Lagrein and 2007 Centellinare (a Super Tuscan inspired blend).  Wow!  Winemaker Brett Escalera does not disappoint – both of these wines are incredible and very food friendly.  Here are the draft versions of the tasting notes:

2007 Lagrein

Lagrein, (aka Lagarino) hails from the Alto Adige region of northern Italy.  Whereas in Italy Lagreins are often made into intense, dark, tannic reds, Tre Anelli’s garnet colored, smooth drinking wine is a decidedly New World take on this largely unsung grape.  Hints of baking spices and florals on the nose lead to flavors of red berry fruit and a smooth mouthfeel on the palate.  With good balance and acidity, this wine tastes best when paired with food – like fish, poultry, cheese (Gruyere, blue, Gouda), and especially grilled meat.   How about a bottle of Lagrein and a pancetta wrapped, mustard rubbed pork tenderloin?   Lagrein is the perfect wine for any day that ends in “y”.

2007 Centellinare

Philosopher and wine drinker Aristotle is famously quoted as saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.  Case in point is Centellinare, Tre Anelli’s Super Tuscan style blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel.   Each varietal on its own is good, but put them all together and you get a complex wine with a nose of dark berry fruit with subtle earthy notes and flavors of black raspberry, cassis, fig and spice.  Its long flavorful finish invites you back to take another sip.  Best of all, the softer tannin structure and well-balanced acidity levels make this a supremely good “food wine”.  Experience the romance and history of Italy without ever needing a passport!

These wines will have their “official debut” in about a month at Tre Anelli’s tasting room (in Los Olivos, CA) on Saturday May 15, 2009 at the wine club pick up party -wine, food, friends, FUN!  Come on in and taste them for yourself!

Tre Anelli 2007 Centellinare

Tre Anelli 2007 Centellinare

Tonight we got together with a few friends to taste some selections from a new wine club (our friend Gary is the wine buyer).  My favorites were two reds from Kaleidos Winery. The 2004 Kaleidos Morpheus is a blend of 67% Syrah, 23% Grenache, 10% Mourvedre.  It had a silky mouth feel with flavors of dark chocolate, mocha and black cherry.  Robert Parker gave it 90-2 points.  With a price of around $28, this one drinks as though it is much pricier.  Definitely a good value!  They only made 266 cases though – so carpe diem!  Or better yet, carpe vinum!   The 2005 Kaleidos Oak Rock is a blend of 62% Syrah, 16% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 11% Petit Verdot.  Earth, smoke, chocolate, black currants and spicy pepper flavors dominate this dark purple wine.  After picking up a few bottles, we then headed over to Los Olivos for dinner at Patrick’s Side Street Café.  As always, the “specials” were all enticing.  I eventually decided on halibut with wasabi tobiko and saffron rice.  WOW!  We shared a lovely bottle of the 2006 McPrice Myers L’Ange Rouge Grenache.   If you’re into scores, The Wine Spectator gave this wine 91 points.  I don’t care about a wine’s scores as much as its taste – I like the spicy, berry flavors and the long, long almost herbal finish.  Yum!

Tonight was the Stolpman Industry Open House at the tasting room in Los Olivos.  Tom Stolpman was behind the bar pouring barrel samples and Peter Stolpman was pressing the flesh with other industry folks, in his new role as National Sales Director.  I saw a number of people from Consilience and Tre Anelli including Jodie Boulet-Daughters (one of the owners), Brett Escalera (winemaker / one of the owners) and Janeen (tasting room manager).   I have a confession to make – I am a rabid fan of Stolpman wine –all the red and rosé wines for my wedding were Stolpman.  I think that winemaker Sashi Moorman is very, very good at his job.  With that disclosure, I have to say that I enjoyed many of the wines at Stolpman including the Hilltops Syrah and the soon-to-be-released Sauvignon Blanc.  The Sauvignon Blanc is lovely – totally done in steel, which preserves its wonderful white grapefruit flavors and citrus nose.  This is definitely a wine I’ll be pouring at backyard barbeques this summer.  Also, the recently released Grenache tastes really good right now; it has evolved in a very positive way since I tasted it a month ago.  After tasting through the wines, I walked down the street for an impromptu dinner with Louise (from Brander), Janeen (Tre Anelli) and Joy (Janeen’s sister) at the Los Olivos Café.  We shared a few appetizers – spring rolls, mini sliders with horseradish sauce and a fresh green salad.  The food from Los Olivos Café is always good – and the wine was wonderful.  We shared a bottle of the 2006 Dragonette Sta. Rita Hills Pinot.    I’ve been hearing good things about Dragonette and was excited to try out their Pinot.  I was not disappointed.  Dragonette is a partnership of two brothers, John and Steve Dragonette and their close friend Brandon Sparks-Gillis.   The ’06 vintage is only their second – but the wine from this triumvirate doesn’t taste like a new kid on the block.  How did they pull off this feat?  First and foremost, hard work and a lot of research; plus they sourced fruit from very high quality growers.  Case in point, this vintage is made of fruit from the esteemed Gaia (formerly Ashley’s) Vineyard (Fess Parker) and Fiddlestix (Fiddlehead) Vineyard.  Then, using tried and true, time consuming methods, they hand harvested, cluster sorted and then destemmed the grapes.  You could taste the passion in the end product – it was delicate, with a nose of strawberry, cherries and juniper berries.  The finish alluded to dried red fruit like cranberries and Bing cherries.  Dragonette only produced 144 cases of this Pinot Noir – so get it while you can!

Jason and I shared a fabulous dinner with friends Nicole, Lolly and Lee tonight in Tempe at House of Tricks.  I highly recommend this restaurant / wine bar if you’re in the Tempe/Phoenix Arizona area.  Tricks offers a wonderful selection of wines by the glass and bottles from around the world.  I tried to order a red blend, but our waiter asked if he could suggest a wine.  So, we put ourselves in his hands – Jason and I do this a lot and generally it works beautifully.  The waiter feels good that you trust his guidance and you get the benefit of his vast (one hopes) knowledge of the wine list.  Oddly enough he returned to the table with a Merlot…I thought that his was a strange choice since we were told him we really liked blends.  So, with intervention from our waiter our first bottle was the 2005 Three Doves Merlot.  It had nice raspberry flavors and hints of cocoa on the finish, but I have to admit that I tend to enjoy Merlot more when it is a component in a blend as opposed to a stand-alone varietal.  With that said, it was light enough to pair with the appetizers:   seared fois gras with apple cinnamon chutney, cornbread dust and lavender honey (when fois gras is done right, it is so RIGHT!), vegetarian portabella eggrolls with purple cabbage, daikon radish sprouts, and Mongolian barbeque sauce (sounds like a weird combination, but it was really quite tasty), green chile salmon and shrimp cakes with citrus jicama slaw and smoke yellow pepper remoulade and seafood stuffed poblano pepper with goat cheese, creamy Baja sauce and red pepper coulis.  I really loved these last two because they included fabulous spices that are used in local, Southwestern cooking.   We decided to order another bottle for our wildly varied entrées (we made the decision without help from our well-intentioned waiter), this time we went with a food-friendly, fruit forward Spanish wine with soft tannins, the 2007 Spanish Granrojo Garnacha.   I had an incredibly difficult time making a decision because so many entrées sounded fabulous.   I was really torn between the a) lychee marinated duck breast on pineapple rice with shaved vegetable salad, lychee nuts and spring onions with soy honey reduction and the b) “everything spiced” ahi tuna on toasted couscous with avocado tangerine fennel slaw in ginger chile vinaigrette and white miso sabayon.  Ultimately, I decided on a pumpkin seed crusted filet mignon with potato masa cake, guajillo chile glaze, haricot verts and roasted poblano aioli.  This was so unbelievably good, I passed around tastes to everyone at the table.  I loved how the traditional local flavors of the guajillo and poblano chilies were incorporated into the entire meal.  WOW!  Jason ordered the herb crusted lamb porterhouse with roasted eggplant, garlic whipped Yukon gold potatoes, and star anise au jus.  The earthy, savory side dishes complemented the taste of the lamb perfectly. We topped off our dinner with some lovely desserts and some late harvest wines.  I am not much of a dessert person (I would rather have a glass of Cognac or Armagnac) but everyone at the table loved the sweet ending to our meal.  If you are in the area, definately go check out House of Tricks.  You won’t be disappointed!

I haven’t been sick in years, but somehow I’ve managed to come down with bronchitis, strep throat and ear infection simultaneously.  Since I cannot even taste food, wine is totally lost on me.  In light of this turn of events, I am taking a hiatus until I am feeling better.

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