TN: good QPR Italians, rocking Roumier, slightly disappointing Germans

Betsy made puttanesca over spaghetti Monday, we had a 375 of the 2001 Felsina
Chianti Classico. Medium-bodied, good cherry fruit, with a bit of raspberry and
dried cranberry (am I in post-Thanksgiving mood or what?). Plenty of refreshing
acidity. Some air leads to some earthy/mushroom/leathery notes. Fun easy yet
interesting wine, a steal at $8.xx a half. B++
Tuesday I met my friend Joe the Italianophile at Zachys to pick up some sale
stuff, and to look through some bins they had of assorted Italians from a
private cellar at blowout prices (all sales final, etc.). Afterwards he joined
us for dinner. He brought the stuff for the appetizer- sauteed brussel sprout
leaves topped with scallops, winter squash, bacon, apple, and a drizzle of a
balsamic reduction. While we were all peeling sprout leaves, we sipped on
Betsy's cooking wine, the 2003 Castelvero Cortese (Piemonte). I was worried
that the hot 2003 vintage would have left this wine flabby, but while a bit
softer than 2002, this still had plenty of zip. A squeeze of citrus over white
fruit, a light mineral/floral edge to the finish. Not exciting, but a good
cooking and drink the rest $7 wine. B
With Joe's appetizer, the 2001 J.u.H.A.Strub Niersteiner Orbel Riesling
Kabinett. Quite disappointing, the acidity I remembered was either hiding or
had fled to Canada. Left the sweet white peach fruit just hanging there. B-/C+
We had discussed the match here - tough with the cabbage, scallops, apple and
bacon all pulling in different directions. This was ok, a better Riesling
might have shown quite well, but I think if Betsy tries to replicate this
(which she should, it was quite tasty), I'll try a sec-tendre to demi-sec
Chenin next time.
From a food standpoint, hard to match challenge of the first course, but Betsy
came through with flying colors. She made quail (from my brother), roasted on
pear and stuffed with currants, with a sauce of brandy, drippings, and cream.
The side dish was a "risotto casserole" (all this from a Silver Palate book) -
rice, porcini, cremini, parmesan and cream baked in a dutch oven. The wine was
the 2001 Roumier Chambolle-Musigny. I was a little worried this wine might have
fallen into sleep mode, and indeed it seemed quite tight on opening. But I
poured 3 small glasses an hour before dinner (to let air in bottle), and by
main course time the wine was singing. Clear clean raspberry/redcurrant fruit,
an obvious spice and flower note on the nose, long clean finish with a mineral
edge to it. By the time the aged Gouda made its rounds there was a forest floor
aroma dancing around the edges. Best of my several tastings of this wine. This
is what I love in Burgundy -clean, bright, yet complex. Excellent for level.
Hell, excellent period. A-
While the Burg was ok for the Gouda, there were also some other cheeses
floating around- Livarot, Cowgirl Red Hawk, and Colson Basset Stilton. I
thought about Port for the Stilton, but fortified wine seemed a bit much (Joe
did have to drive). So I opened a half of the 1997 Basserman-Jordan
Ruppertsberger Reiterpfad Riesling Auslese (Pfalz).
Really nice yellow fruit- reminded me of these spiced peaches my Southern
grandmother used to can. But this is rather fat, and the sweetness kind of
hangs in the mouth. Good, not compelling. B
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a
good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where
it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy,
and certainly not of consistency.
Dale Williams
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