Tag Archives: Falesco Vitiano

Wine and food pairings 3: Bratwurst and sauerkraut

Wisconsin-style bratwurstThe Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this new, occasional feature. This edition: three wines with Wisconsin-style bratwurst and sauerkraut

There are bratwurst, and then there are local, butcher-shop brats prepared in the Wisconsin bratwurst style. That means brats poached in beer with onions, peppers, garlic, and spices. Yes, you can use grocery store brats, but it’s that much better with the local product. Can I recommend Lake Geneva Country Meats, a long-time pal of the blog?

Since this is a wine blog, I poach the bratwurst in wine instead of beer. Use one-half bottle of a fruity, dry white wine; almost anything but an oak-infused chardonnay will work. The other key? Add a well-drained can of sauerkraut to the poaching liquid after you take the bratwursts out and simmer. I use 69-cent grocery store kraut, which works as well as the more expensive, plastic-bag version. The sauerkraut picks up the flavors from the poaching liquid, and becomes something other than just sauerkraut. Plus, you don’t waste all the flavor in the bratwurst-infused poaching liquid.

A tip o’ the WC’s fedora to Nick Vorpagel at Lake Geneva, the third generation of the family business and a fine wine guy, too. Who else would hold a cava and Wisconsin-style bratwurst tasting? Hence, cava works with this dish, so enjoy the blog’s legendary $7 Cristalino. Click here to download or print a PDF of the recipe.

But consider these wines, too:

Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2017 ($12, purchased, 12%): This Italian white is one of the blog’s all-time favorites, and pairs with sausage as if it was made for it. Imported by The Winebow Group.

Foncalieu Le Versant Rose 2017 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): One more $10 French pink that does everything rose is supposed to do. Plus, it doesn’t cost as much as  bottle of white Burgundy. The Foncalieu is crisp, has a hint of red fruit, and ends with a pleasing, almost stony finish. Imported by United Wine & Spirits

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti 2015 ($8, purchased, 13%): This Italian red is usually one of the best of the cheap Chiantis, though I noticed some bottle variation this vintage. Otherwise, competent as always — lots of tart cherry, earthiness, and soft tannins. Imported by TWE Imports

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 2: Roast chicken salad with Chinese noodles
Wine and food pairings 1: Chicken, okra and sausage gumbo
One chicken, five dinners, five wines

Wine of the week: Falesco Vitiano Rosso 2014

Vitiano RossoEven with a difficult vintage, this is still another quality $10 Vitiano Rosso

The three Vitiano wines were some of the first great cheap wines I tasted when I started the blog, and they remain standards of quality and value aw we celebrate the WC’s ninth birthday. It also means I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt if something seems different, which is the case with this vintage of the Vitiano Rosso.

It’s not that the Vitiano Ross ($10, purchased, 13%) isn’t worth drinking; it’s that the 2014 doesn’t taste exactly the way I think this Italian red blend should taste. That’s not a problem with the wine, but with my expectations after a decade of tremendous vintages.

In fact, Italy’s 2014 “black harvest” hurt the quality of wine throughout the country, including Umbria, where the Vitiano Rosso is made. Which probably explains why the wine isn’t as sharp and to the point as it usually is. Rather, it’s softer and more New World than previous vintages, and you can taste the smidgen more of merlot in the blend with sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. Not coincidentally, one of the wine magazines gave it 91 points – a couple of points higher than it got for the vintages I enjoyed most.

Having said that, it’s still nicely done and worth drinking, with quality cherry fruit, a little plum aroma, and lots of finish. It’s pizza dn spaghetti and drinking because you want a glass of red, and we know how much we need one of those. I just want more earth and acidity, but who am I to argue with 91 points from the Winestream Media?

Wine of the week: Falesco Vitiano Bianco 2014

Falesco Vitiano BiancoMy tasting notes for the Falesco Vitiano Bianco are simple and to the point: “Cheap wine doesn’t get any better than this.”

The Falesco ($10, purchased, 12.5%), an Italian white blend, has been that way since I first tasted it 10 or 12 years ago. The red and the rose have been equally as impressive, an example to the the rest of the wine world that it’s possible to combine value, quality, and terroir in a cheap wine. This wine is so well made and so dependable that a distributor friend of mine practically went into mourning when his company lost the rights to sell the brand.

What else do you need to know about this blend of verdicchio and vermentino from Umbria in central Italy? Look for some citrus aromas, white fruit flavors (somewhere between apricot and peach) and a pleasing Italian minerality at the end. Drink this chilled on its own, whenever you want a glass of white wine after work. It’s also a fine food wine, pairing with almost anything, be it Chinese takeout or spaghetti with clam sauce.

Highly recommended, and the Falesco Vitiano Blanco will return to the 2016 $10 Hall of Fame next month. And, in this, the perfect wine of the week to introduce the third annual Best Cheap Wine Poll, which starts tomorrow.

Wine of the week: Falesco Vitiano Rosso 2009

Falesco_vitiano_rossoConsider these quotes from the Wine Curmudgeon ?s previous reviews of the various Vitiano wines:

? "I sound like a gushing school girl. ? ?

? ?Riccardo Cotarella is a genius. ?

? ?How does Ricccardo Cotarella produce a wine of this quality, ship it to the U.S., overcome the high euro, and sell it for about $10? ?

Needless to say, I like the wines.

The 2009 Rosso ($10, purchased) is yet another triumph ? a red blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot that is not too fruity, not too alcoholic, not too tannic, and not too acidic. In other words, balanced, as all great wine should be, whether costing $10 or $100.

The 2009 is more rustic than previous vintages, with some heft and a leathery feel, but this variation is one of its charms. Most cheap wine is made to taste the same from year to year, but Cotarella ?s wines are better than that.

Drink this with any red sauce or any combination of beef or chicken with red sauce. It will be back in the $10 Hall of Fame when it appears next week, a testament to the concept that cheap wine does not have to taste cheap.