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Category Archives: Italian Wines

The California “Love Child” of Bordeaux and Piedmont: 2007 Valeriano from Jacuzzi Winery

Ever have one of those days that was so dreadful even Murphy’s Law wouldn’t get near it?  Where you had the Midas Touch, except things didn’t turn to gold, it turned to…well, you get the idea.

Today was one of those amazing days.  I’m not sure which stung more: the arm covered in blisters from stinging nettle, or the 8 year old explaining that I look like one of the Angry Birds when I’m scolding her.

I know I’m probably showing my age here (for you young little darlings, you’ll have to Google this), but today has been a day where, if I had Calgon, I would throw the whole damn box into the tub and scream at it to not only take me away, but to make it one way, and lose the passport afterward.

Sadly…I have no Calgon.

But I do have something better.

I have France and Italy uncorked.  I have California Dreamin’ in my hands…

…I have the 2007 Valeriano from Jacuzzi Vineyards in my glass.

I’ll admit it, I had no idea what this wine was about.  I’ll even confess, I had not heard of this winery before (I live with an 8 year old that shames me, cut me some slack).  But with the stress and humiliation I have endured the past few days, those two magical words caught my eye: Valeriano and Jacuzzi.

I figured Valeriano should maybe be the Italian name for Valerian, an herbal relaxant, and we all know what a Jacuzzi is.  I know, it’s not terribly intellectual, but in my overworked mind, it equaled a stress-free nirvana in a bottle.  I took the bait.

It turns out that Valeriano is the first name of Valeriano Jacuzzi, the man responsible for the much coveted Jacuzzi tub.  He and his family also grew wine, and did it well…Valeriano is the Grandfather of Fred Cline of the highly regarded Cline Cellars.  They actually run Jacuzzi Winery in the Carneros area of Sonoma and make this red beauty.  All in all, with all of this new found information, I figure things were looking good where this wine was concerned.

‘Valeriano’ takes the best of Bordeaux by using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot grapes, then adds that renowned California ‘creativity’ by blending it with the Italian grape Barbera.  The ‘love child’ produced is truly spectacular!

In the glass, deep ruby with a mix of dark cherry, blackberry, basil, cocoa, and what I refer to as ‘dusty soil’ (which I find pretty typical of Italian wines) on the nose.

The taste is enough to make me do a little happy dance.  Blackberry pie and cherry fruits mix with mocha, spice, and even a little black olive on the finish.  I know, it’s not something you’d whip together in the kitchen, but trust me, IT WORKS!  It has enough tannin to give die-hard red fans something to hang on to, but they are smooth and soft on the tongue to appease those that like a lighter red.  Just a great mouth feel…and a great taste…on a great deal of a wine.

Now when I say great deal, it is not one of my ‘Around the Wine World for Under $20′ finds.  This one you’ll find around $35-40, so it’s not what I would call an everyday wine.  But given the great expense of California Cabernets, Bordeaux, and the finer wines of Piedmont, this is a steal!  You don’t find a wine of this quality at a bargain like this every day.

Pair it up with Italian (that’s a no-brainer), a big ol’ steak, brisket (BBQ season is upon us), pulled pork, venison, and, if you’re a heathen like me, the biggest bacon and blue cheese burger you can wrap your hands around.

Cheers!

~CC

 

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A Wine With A Dual Personality (and lots of it!): 2009 Kris Pinot Noir

Another holiday season has come and gone. Time to put away the decorations, break all of the new resolutions I’ve made, and reflect on which traditions are outdated, and which are worth keeping. As I wearily walk down the lane of recent memories made, I laugh a bit at the dual personality I don during the holiday season: I’m happy, excited, and full of love and a giving spirit, all while I’m cussing, stressing, and absolutely HATING all of the work, rushing around, cleaning, cooking, and struggling to find the perfect gifts in an over-commercialized cacophony of forced generosity. I decide that perhaps it’s time to pick one personality and stick with it…until I remember the KRIS Pinot Noir I tried for the first time over Christmas.

If ever there was a dual personality wine, this is it. Even as I write, I’m still not exactly sure how to describe this wine, other than to say I am truly smitten.

When you think of Pinot Noir, you don’t think of Italy. You think of the big, bold Super Tuscans, or the brazen Sangioveses and Nebbiolos. You don’t think of subtleties or light fruits. You think of wines that will wrangle you into submission. Pinot Noirs are subtle and delicate and complicated and oh-so-very French. If not French, then they at least have the savvy and sophistication of Northern California, Washington, and Oregon…they just don’t have the boisterous Italian ‘personality.’

Apparently no one told KRIS wines that.

Ruby red in the glass, a little lighter than I’d have expected, and lovely Pinot aromas of black cherry, and something reminiscent of wet stone.

It’s the taste that’s got me wondering what wine I’m drinking.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s DIVINE, but it’s unlike any Pinot Noir I’ve ever had before. Tart cherries, cranberries, balanced tannins, and what I can only describe as ‘red dirt.’ I don’t know how to explain it. Rusty? Dusty? That doesn’t sound good, and yet, it IS. The only way to describe it is to say it tastes like ‘Italy.’ That certain characteristic flavor you find only in Italian wines…it’s in this one…but yet, it’s still got all of the characteristics of a delightful, light, Pinot Noir.

It’s got a dual personality…a double secret life, if you will.

And with that duality comes an incredible ability to pair it with darn near anything! I paired it with the Christmas spaghetti…ground beef and sausage, rich marinara sauce with mushrooms…and OH how it works with mushrooms. I could just as easily pair it with salmon, chicken, veal, steak, pork chops…well, you get the idea…and OH how it works with cheese…lots of glorious cheese.

To say this wine has versatility is an understatement. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE this wine???

Unlike the majority of Italian wines, or good Pinot Noirs for that matter, you won’t have to sell your first born child to enjoy this romantic taste of heaven. At right around $13 a bottle, heaven just became an affordable luxury.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in Italian Wines, Pinot Noir, Red Wines

 

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