Tag Archives: wine reviews

Wine of the week: Felluga Pinot Grigio 2014


felluga pinot grigioMichele Pasqua, the winemaker for Italy’s Marco Felluga, is passionate about Italian pinot grigio. “Most Americans don’t know what pinot grigio tastes like,” he says, “because 85 percent of the pinot grigio they taste is not pinot grigio.” 

His example? The Felluga pinot grigio ($15, sample, 13%), which is mostly everything that the tonic water pinot grigios that are so popular in the U.S. aren’t. For one thing, it has fruit — lemon, and some lemon peel on the finish and just not the sort of almost minerality that is one of grocery store pinot grigio’s reason for being. For another, it smells good, as un-wine as that sounds, with an enticing, flowery aroma. This is wine, and not something devised to sell to American women of a certain demographic.

And, yes, it’s worth the couple of extra bucks. Chill this and drink it on its own, and you’ll smile at how much you enjoy it. It’s also a food wine; pair it with anything grilled that would pair with white wine — shrimp would be terrific, as would chicken thighs marinated in herbs, garlic, and olive oil.

Wine of the week: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc 2014


Line39 Sauvignon Blanc Line 39 is one of five labels owned by Cecchetti Wine, which makes it a sort of Big Wine company brand. In this, the sauvignon blanc can teach the rest of Big Wine a thing or two.

That’s because the Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc ($12, sample, 13%) does something too many Big Wines don’t — offers more than the one flavor that dominates everything else, on the theory that’s all cheap wine consumers want or understand. Instead, it makes the step from the quality $10 wine that it has been over the years to outstanding $10 wine that we don’t have enough of. This may be the best Line 39 sauvignon blanc vintage yet.

Look for muted citrus (lemon-lime) in the front, some tropical fruit in the middle, and a richness that previous vintages didn’t have. This is exactly what quality sauvignon blanc should taste like, regardless of price, and that the citrus is muted puts in squarely in the California style. Plus, the wine doesn’t have any of the bitterness in the back that too many $10 wines expect us to endure as the cost of paying that little.

Highly recommended, and a candidate for the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame (since it’s $10 in many parts of the country).  Drink this chilled on its own or with anything with garlic and parsley — grilled shrimp, for instance, or spaghetti olio.

Wine of the week: Straccali Chianti 2014


Straccali ChiantiThe retail market, despite years of producers wishing otherwise, is still awash in cheap Chianti, the Italian red wine made with sangiovese from the Chianti region of Tuscany. Most of it, save for a couple of brands like Melini, tastes like you’d expect: harsh and bitter, with little reason to drink even though it costs less than $10. 

Add the Straccali Chianti ($8, purchased, 12%) to the first group. It’s not just a better value than the Melini, which I love, but a well-made wine that embarrasses all those $15 grocery store red Italians with their cute names and shiny labels. One of the great questions in Italian wine: Why, if the country’s winemakers can do something like the Straccali Chianti, do they do so many dull, overpriced, Paso Robles-style wines on the theory Americans prefer them? Trust me — we want quality, not marketing.

Look for more depth than the Melini, so that you have to swallow twice to get a hint of everything that’s going on. It’s also less rustic, with black pepper, red cherry, a little more grip, and the acidity that Chianti is famous for. One key to this wine: a touch of merlot is blended with the traditional sangiovese and canaiolo grapes, which rounds out the flavors and mouth feel. Plus, no oak, which lends more freshness than you expect.

Highly recommended, and almost certain to be added to the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame. Drink this as the weather cools on its own if you want a glass of red, or with pork or beef that will complement the crisp red fruit, as well as red sauce.


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