Ca’Stella Pinot Grigio, Friuli Italy 2009

Ca’Stella Pinot Grigio, Friuli Italy 2009 ($13) – Hailing from Italy’s most North-East Region of Friuli, an area well known for white wines, this affordable Pinot Grigio embodies everything I look for and expect in an Italian Pinot Grigio – the wine-makers (I believe wisely) ferment their fruit only in stainless steel tanks to maintain freshness, which allows the citrus and fruity aromas to be followed by a crisp and fresh wine that is light and pleasing in all aspects.   The light, slightly tart stone fruit flavors, with slight minerality and generally light body, follow through to a crisp, clean finish.   While many contemporary Pinot Grigio wines are becoming rich and heavy, this competitively priced Ca’Stella Pinot Grigio delivers a simple, fresh, clean and traditional Pinot Grigio experience.

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Tenuta del Priore, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2008 DOC

Tenuta del Priore, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2008 DOC ($13)  This red wine from the red clay soils of Central Italy’s Eastern Abruzzo region flows into the glass with strong dark red color, the nose expresses some red and dark fruit aromas.   All flavors of savory, rustic red fruits and underlying notes of raspberry come through with a cleanness (and noted absence of oak) that I always look forward to when tasting food-centric Italian wines.   This Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is clean yet well concentrated for this price point, with a fine and balanced finish – a great wine to pair with rich and/or savory pastas.

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Wine events week of 28Mar11 (Braddock’s and Squonk Opera)

Tuesday Tasting 530-730p Braddock’s (Renaissance downtown Pgh) $5 per glass – incredible value! (look’em up if you want!)   White – Erath Oregon Pinot Gris 2008   Red – Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley Cabernet 2007

Wednesday 6-8p Squonk Opera “Behind the Mayhem” exclusive preview party!   Come to the New Hazlett Theatre to see how Squonk Opera creates the performance of “Mayhem and Majesty” starting with a social hour featuring foods from a number of local restaurants and caterers and two Portuguese Wines and three beers from Penn Brewery:   Pegoes Vinho Branco White 2009,  Quinta do Encontro Red 2008

Tickets available at:

See  for more information

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Wine events this week 21Mar11…

Kathryn Hall bottle signing – Tuesday 4-6pm East Side Wine & Spirits Store (Penn Circle South near Whole Foods)   If you are a fan of California Wines (I am) – here is an opportunity to meet Kathryn Hall, proprietor of Hall Wines (, who will be conducting a bottle signing & wine tasting at the Penn Circle Wine & Spirits store.  A limited number of HALL Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, which garnered #18 on the Wine Spectator’s Top 100 Wines of 2010, will be available for purchase ($39.99) and signing.   These wines are highly sought after – so this may be the only opportunity we have to get them AND meet the winery owner! 

Tuesday Tasting 530-730p Braddock’s (Renaissance downtown Pgh)   $5 per glass – incredible value! (look’em up if you want!)   White – Codorniu Brut NV (Spanish Sparkler we’ve tasted before and enjoyed!)   Red – Beringer, Knights Valley Cabernet from the stunning 2007 Vintage      (don’t forget to try the $7 Lobster Gnocci!)

Wednesday Stateline Fine Wine (Weirton WV) 7pm – The Rhone Report with Greg and Dave    –    Just a few months ago Kate and I and our friends Manny and Debra enjoyed a few days in France’s Rhone Valley…   But Dave DeSimone (the Trib Review Wine writer) was in the Rhone only a few weeks ago and he tasted a HUGE number of wines so that he could come back and let us in on the upcoming releases of Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and more  – Plus, Greg Godels is Western PA’s legendary French wine importer who will share his vast knowledge as you taste and experience some fine Rhone Wines!    Incredible value at $15.00/person – please call or email to rsvp Martha Shaver, Proprietaire  Stateline Fine Wine  Store phone number is: 1.304.723.45813520 Pennsylvania Avenue Weirton, WV 26062-4028

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:   Squonk Opera “Mayhem and Majesty” Exclusive Preview Party Wednesday March 30 6-8pm.     If you haven’t already heard – there is an exclusive preview party for Squonk’s new show “Mayhem and Majesty” at the New Hazlett Theatre – – only a limited number of tickets will be sold to experience “Behind the Mayhem” including discussion with the musicians ON STAGE to see how everything happens then have a reception with the Squonk crew – VERY cool opportunity AND Kate and I donated wine for the event too (whole party is only $20 per person) – details and tickets available

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Wines for French Happy Hour this Wednesday 16Mar11

In anticipation of great attendance for this Wednesday’s 5-7pm French Happy Hour at Brasserie 33 – we have chosen four high quality wines to go with the authentic French Happy Hour Menu – here they are:

White Chateau Richard Bergerac
White Domaine Philemon Gaillac
Red Domaine Guicharde Cotes du Rhone
Red Chateau Gobert Bordeaux

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Tuesday Tasting at Braddock’s 15Mar11

Just a quick note about this week’s Tuesday Tasting at Braddock’s (  – we have two high quality Californian wines to taste at a fantastically priced $5 per glass – hope to see you there!

White:    Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay 2008

Red:     Honig Napa Cabernet 2006

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American Syrah – 2009 Tensley Santa Barbara County Syrah

The wine makers around Santa Barbara gained ’mindshare’ with the general public after the movie “Sideways” depicted its main characters rolling from one winery to another in search of the finest wine offerings. This attention gave the region instant celebrity and legitimate respect as a wine region. Of course, there is truth to the statement that “hot” wine regions draw lots of attention, and sometimes more than is deserved. But the wine-truth that matters the most is that, regardless of a region’s “hotness” or “coolness”, a quality wine is always worth seeking out. I would not presume to judge whether or not the Santa Barbara region deserves the current level of attention, I have enjoyed wines from this region, so that is enough for me… So here we have what I consider a quality wine – the 2009 Tensley Santa Barbara County Syrah. Concentrated but not sweet – sleeker than many of the wines I consider overly extracted – an aspect quite common in California Rhone style wines. This wine has serious weight, but not at the expense of becoming jammy. Dark raspberry fruit notes dominate with undercurrent floral notes intertwined with smoky chocolate and mineral flavors. The finish rounds out with savory mineral notes, but nothing too angular. The wine is nicely balanced through the entire flavor profile – a great example of an American Syrah and worth seeking out for your next Syrah experience.

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