Tag Archives: Chianti

Winebits 271: Algerian wine, Michigan, Italian wine

? Even bigger than France: Those of us of a certain age will remember Algerian wine as really cheap and not very good ? sort of like Two-buck Chuck without any redeeming features. I once asked a French winemaker, who was working in Wisconsin, what that was like. His answer? Making wine in Algeria prepared him for anything. The point of this is a terrific piece by Beppi Crosariol in Toronto's Globe and Mail talking about the glory days of Algerian wine, when the French colony was the world's leading exporter.

? Another liquor law battle: This time in Michigan, which has one of the most restrictive three-tier systems in the country and was the defendant in the Supreme Court case that liberalized direct shipping. A bill has been introduced in the state ?s legislature, by a pro-business Republican, to allow increased retail sales and to lighten regulatory burdens on the state ?s winemakers. Needless to say, a spokesman for the state ?s distributors didn ?t miss a beat: ?There are proposals which threaten the licensed three-tier system which exists today as it relates to separation of manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Those provisions are what help bring about an orderly marketplace. Who knew Michigan ?s small wineries were so powerful?

? Cheap Italian wine: Another winner from the Italian Wine Guy, discussing how many wonderfully pleasant and inexpensive Chiantis are available: ?Anyone who has waited at a bar for a table in any number of Italian-American places knows there is a lot of crappy overpriced Chianti being poured. Probably one of the reasons why folks think the wine has seen better days. But this tasting, done blind, was different. The wines seemed to have a sense of place. Yeah, they were humble and every-day friendly. But they weren ?t pretending to be something they weren ?t. ? What more can we ask of cheap wine?

Mini-reviews 35: Anne Amie, Chianti, Raimat, Cline

Reviews of wines that don ?t need their own post, but are worth noting for one reason or another. Look for it on the final Friday of each month:

? Anne Amie Estate Riesling 2009 ($19, purchased): Lots of petrol on the nose, acid and lime fruit to balance what sweetness there is, and a nice slate-y finish. It’s not what I expected — a little more sweet and not as honeyed, but that’s more my problem than the wine.

? Fattoria Montellori Chianti 2009 ($13, sample): Thin but adequate, with black pepper and some red fruit. But there are better examples of Chianti that cost less.

? Raimat Castell de Raimat Albarino 2011 ($8, purchased): Simple, basic wine with lemon and some varietal character, but won’t be confused with better examples of albarino. A decent value and something to keep on hand if you want a glass for dinner.

? Cline Pinot Noir Cool Climate 2010 ($18, sample): Lots of red fruit (cherry and strawberry?), but not overly sweet, with some pinot earthiness and character. Just not sure if it’s $18 worth of wine.

Wine of the week: Coltibuono Chianti Cetamura 2009

image from www.coltibuono.comThe Wine Curmudgeon has always wondered how to approach Chianti, which is not only the one Italian red wine that most Americans know, but the one Italian red wine that wine snobs turn their noses up at. If I review it, I run the risk of alienating both groups — a neat trick, of course, but right up my alley. The former would think the wine was too obvious for them, and the latter would think I was naive.

But that hasn't stopped me before; there are handful of reviews and a variety of references to Chianti on the site (and, quickly, Chianti is the region in Tuscany where the wine is made, using mostly the sangiovese grape). And it won't stop me now, because the Coltibuono ($10, purchased) is well-made wine that offers lots of value.

In this, it's a simple, young, lighter Chianti with big dollop of cherry fruit (which apparently comes from a small percentage of the canaiolo grape, which also softens the wine). But there is still the telltale Italian acid, which means the wine cries out for tomatoes, pork and cheese. Or, in other words, pizza. I drank it with olive and tomato bruschetta, and that was terrific, too.