Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Those Etna Wines Can Be Quite Exciting!

In his astounding book on Volcanic Wines, Master Sommelier, Author and Wine Consultant John Szabo mentioned that there was enough "sensory data" to justify a "volcanic wine" category! While I have not studied volcanic wine to any great degree, I do very much agree. What little experience I have has been with several volcanic regions such as the Azores where I personally  have traveled and my tastings of wines from some other volcanic regions.
Wines from volcanic regions have a special way about them. They have the ability to be both fruit forward, easy on tannin and yet, long lived. The experience I have had with Quinta da Jardinete from the island of Sao Miguel, Azores which, by the way, is an active volcanic area proves the point.
It's reds are full, round with active fruit and a mineral finish that is very pleasing.
Recently I was asked to taste and rate several red wines from the Etna wine region of Sicily.

Occhi di Ciumi        Carricante/Grecainico  grapes    2019
Nose: Floral with tropical fruit
Palate: Medium, fresh with a fullness of flavour         
Great with shell fish, veggie dishes and as an aperitif                                                          92/100


Lu Veru Pieciri       Nerello Cappuccio/Nerello Mascalese grapes 2016
Nose: Red fruits, nuts, coffee, spice, cinnamon, chocolate
Palate: Smooth and full with a fresh dry finish  
Indeed a very pleasing wine that should be tried with Pork Roast, Capon or  light meat.           93/100


O'Scuru, OScuru    Nerello Mascalese/Cappuccio        2017                                               
Nose: Ripe black fruit, vanilla, rich with nuances of coffee
Palate: Full, round and smooth with a persistent finish
This is a meat wine that demands roast beef, lamb or Osso Buco.                                      96/100  

Muddichi di Suli      Nerello Mascalese variety           2016                                                        
Nose: Elegant with cherry and red fruit flavours, spices, some smoke
Palate: Easy tannin, medium body, mineral and nice long finish
Pasta with meat sauce, Pasta with mushroom sauce or beef.                                               90/100

La Fata Galanti       Nerello Cappuccio                   2016                                                                           Nose: Rich with cherry and red fruit and clove spice
Palate; Medium body with moderate tannin, smooth and pleasant finish                             
Try with grilled meat and tiger shrimp and found it quite adaptable to many foods.        95/100

Lu Disiu                    Nerello Mascalese Appasimento         2017                                                                Nose: Rich nuances of caramel, raisins, apricot with ripe black fruit
Palate: Fresh, round with elegant sweetness. Lasting finish
After dinner drink or with medium sweet dessert                                                                  94/100

The wine of Al-Cantera Winery near Etna are indeed as special as their poetic labels and deserve to be tried. Here's to raising a glass to Volcanic Wine!


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Quality Comes from Many Areas

Fikardos Cabernet/Mataro/Shiraz  (Previously Achilleas)                                        91/100 points
This wine from the Paphos area of Cyprus has a very interesting and unusual blend. This wine is is dark red in colour with a gentle bouquet of cherry, black fruit and pepper. The wine is medium in body and acidity which gives it an elegant if not a muscular wine. Fermented and aged in Stainless Steel  it will be particularly pleasurable to those who do not want oak in their wine. This also exhibits some of Cabernet Sauvignon's vegetal nuances seem to come through.As a point of interest the vines are grown on their own rootstock since there is no Phylloxera in Cyprus!
Food Choices: Pork Souvlaki dinners with rice/potatoes and vegetables, grilled veggies and meat!

DALVA 10 year Tawney Port                                                                                   94/100 points
This is a  well crafted wine blend of quality wine from different years. The wine is rich and full with dried fruit flavours of citrus orange/mandarin, vanilla, banana peel and fig. Great value. Vintages #583021  $35.95. Made for a cigar smoker but also for fine sipping after dinner. As a dessert wine it would be great with Chocolate Mousse! 94//100 pts. Available also at Case For Wine Agency 416-482-0241

L'Oca Ciuca Drunken Goose                                                                                90/100 points
A blend of Sangiovese (85%) with intense flavours of ripe dark fruit, anise and tobacco .It has forward tannin which add to the pleasure of either sipping on its own or having it with a wide assortment of food. Excellent basic Chianti at a very affordable price! 

Maurice Gavignet Monthélie 'les Sous Roches' Grand Vin De Bourgogne 2014 - Vin Rouge

Monthelie Maurice Gavignet 2016 (AOP)                                                                 91/100 points
This Pinot Noir is made in the Monthelie region of the Cote de Beane Burgundy. For a Burgundy the wine promises good value with red fruit, smoke and nuances of tobacco. easy tannin and light to medium in body with a marked acid finish the wine comes across as a wine to have with beef, game and veal. This is a wine to have when the prices of better known Burgundy soars.

Botter Appassimento Rosso IGT Puglia

Botter Appassimento Puglia Rosso                                                                            94/100 points
This is a luscious sweet wine from the Salento region of Puglia made from a Negroamaro, blend. The wine is full bodied and fruity with dark fruit flavours and herbal characteristics. It can be enjoyed with food , fruit such as ripe figs or desserts but it can also be enjoyed slightly chilled as a summer's eve drink. Botter makes exceptional quality wine at reasonable prices and this is no different!

Friday, May 1, 2020

Recent Tastings Show High Quality and Low Price

Tor Del Colle Rosso Molise Riserva       $12.95       95/100 points                     
Named after the many ancient watch towers that frequent the area  the wines produced here are as distinctive as they are great. A full bodied robust wine made from Montepulciano grapes,the red Tor Del Colle Rosso Riserva exhibits earthy flavours and ripe black fruit with forward tannin and an earth finish.  The wine can be enjoyed with a variety of foods ranging from beef and game to pasta. A truly great wine with a more than reasonable price which when available will not allow it to last long on the shelves.  *
Image for Arche Fiano IGT from LCBO

Corto Di Passo Grillo                             $12.95               92/100 points
The Grillo white grape variety originates from Sicily and has parentage from a Catarratto/Muscato cross. The Corto Di Passo is an extremely reasonably priced introduction with citrus, peach, herbal  characteristics and a fresh acidity. The wine is easy drinking and a perfect for summer eve sipping.  Try it with pasta with cream sauce, shell fish and chowder!*  
Image for Arche Fiano IGT from LCBO

Corto Di Passo Inzolia                     $12.95                                         92/100
Inzolia is an ancient white grape variety that is grown mostly on the Island of Sicily where it produces a variety of wines including the sweet Marsala. This particular wine is dry with citrus grapefruit, peach and mandarin. The wine is medium in body and has a refreshing acid finish. As with many wines from this part of the world there is a fine mineral presence! As with the wine above, this wine can be enjoyed by itself or with an assortment of sea food and light meat. *   

Corto di Passo - Nero d'Avola Ripasso 2018 <span>(750ml)</span> <span>(750ml)</span>

Corto Di Passo  Nero D'Avola            $12.95                                              94/100 points
The Nero D'Avola grape variety is almost synonymous with Sicily and this wine is as perfect as one can imagine.  Part of the harvest is dried before vinification in stainless steel. The resulting wine is full flavoured with violet notes, plum, black currant and raspberry with a very long finish. This is a wine for a serious meal of lamb, venison or beef. What makes this full bodied wine a bargain is the price which will always please the pocket!*                             

Image for Arche Fiano IGT from LCBO
Corto Di Passo Syrah              $12.95                                     93/100 points
The Syrah grape variety (also known as Shiraz) is making a splash in Sicily and producing some very fine results. The wine featured in the Corto Di Passo portfolio is quite intense and spicy. Full in body it has a mixture of red  fruit and pepper spice. It has a very long finish indicating of some evolution in the cellar but why wait? At that price one can enjoy it as an every day wine.*

*wines reviewed here can be obtained via The Case For Wine 416-482-0241