Wednesday, August 23, 2017

La Quercia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (2015)

My basil plant has become a basil bush.  What does that have to do with this week’s Wine Wednesday feature you ask? Well, it has to do with how I arrived at serving it. You see, I decided to use some of my fresh basil to make a double batch of my homemade marinara. 

Whenever I’m making “sauce” I usually freeze most of it for future meals, but after smelling it slowly simmer for a good part of the day, I had to reserve some for dinner that night.  So, I browned some hot Italian sausage, sautéed some mushrooms and heated it with my marinara – then decided to choose my wine.
 I had used some Chianti in the sauce, but when I noticed that my wine fridge was now void of Chianti, I spotted the bottle of 2015 La Quercia Estates Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I thought to myself “Montepulciano – Sangiovese – Chianti – same thing – that’ll work”. That could all be true if not for the d’Aburzzo part I had hastily overlooked.
To clarify, Montepulciano is a town in Tuscany. It is also a red wine grape varietal. The key grape varietal grown in Montepulciano, the town,  is Sangiovese which is also the key grape varietal in Chianti.  However, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the Montepulciano varietal grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The good news is that though the wines are uniquely different they do share some common characteristics which still made my choice a delightful pairing for spaghetti with marinara.
Both wines tend to be very fruit forward and this one certainly was. On the nose, blueberry with a hint of spice and cassis. It was slightly sweet on the tongue but exhibited a well-balanced acidity with pleasant pepper on the finish. I actually preferred this over a Chianti with my sauce as my sauce is on the zesty side and with the addition of the Italian sausage, the wine stood up nicely to the bolder flavors. This wine is fermented in stainless steel with no barrel aging which in my opinion usually makes the wine a little brighter and more lively on the palate.
With a price point of $11 - $12 a bottle, this versatile wine for pairing makes for a great weeknight choice.
I would also recommend with pork loin or Baked Chicken and Wild Rice. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Aveleda Praia Vinho Verde Wine Review

Vinho Verde is one of my favorite summer pleasures and this week’s Wine Wednesday feature the Aveleda Praia Vinho Verde is among the best I’ve had. 

Vinho Verde translates as “green wine”, but really means “young wine” as there are red, white and even rosé Vinho Verde.  It is “young wine” because most are meant to be consumed within a year of bottling. Therefore, most bottles don’t show a vintage year, though some list a bottling date. When shopping for Vinho Verde, the younger the better. Vinho Verde is not a varietal, but rather a growing region in the northwestern most area of Portugal.

The word Praia means beach in Portuguese and the name was possibly chosen because of the vineyards proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Or maybe, it’s because it’s an exceptional wine for an afternoon on the beach.

Praia is a blend of 40% Arinto, 30% Loureiro, 20% Trajadura and 10% Azal. The wine exhibits a pale straw color with slightly grassy and herbal notes along with pronounced lemon. As with most Vinho Verde, it is effervescent. Though not enough to be considered a sparkling wine, it is lively and refreshing on the tongue. I particularly enjoyed the luscious not-too-tart lemon and minerality on the finish. This one was a little more interesting (I hesitate to say complex as it goes against the nature of Vinho Verde), but more interesting than most.

It is the perfect complement to a salad or seafood.  Serve with Lobster BLT Salad or nosh on Tortilla Chips with Garden Fresh Guacamole. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.
Lobster BLT Salad

Garden Fresh Guacamole