Celebrating champs with sweet Italian red sparkler

March 25, 2013

Another weekend of wrestling immersion, as I enjoyed watching Division 3 NCAA championships. Congratulations to Chris Donaldson from Salesianum, now at Ursinus. Chris made D3 All American, at 125 pounds, finishing sixth. In honor of Chris’ win I decided to crack open a bottle of 2011 Brachetta D’Acqui Rosa Regale from Banfi Importers. I’m not normally a fan of sweet, Italian, red sparklers, but I was asked to review the wine, so here goes. Rosa Regale employed the Charmat process, or closed stainless steel tank fermentation, rather than methode champenoise, where the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.

The bottling is attractive, with a shape similar to those of most sparkling wine and a cork enclosed by a basket and an aluminum wrap. On opening, a pleasant sigh escaped. When poured, the wine was a lovely medium ruby with a lively bead. This was my first experience with a 100 percent Brachetta (varietal name of grape), so I read a bit about it. I bought some fresh strawberries at Super G and let them sit out to gain  ripeness and flavor and to check the claim the wine had strawberry flavors. I did not detect the rose in the nose that the winemaker claimed, so perhaps I had overchilled the wine. A quick mouthful and a little retro nasal exhalation discovered a touch of floral aroma and an impressive mixture of sweet cherries, some plum and a hint of almond. Rosa is sweet, but it has enough acid and spritz to avoid being cloying. We sampled it with the strawberries and some dark chocolate as the producer advised, and it was delicious. Buy it under $18; it rates an 88 plus 2 price points.

I had an immediate response on the Concha Explorador and it was a request to review another Concha Y Toro Malbec named Casillero del Diablo Reserva (cellar of the devil) 2011, $10. Although Devil’s Cellar is an OK bottle, I think I would buy the Explorador or pay up for a nice Amado Sur Malbec 2010 around $14. Amado Sur is a blend 75 percent Malbec, 15 percent Syrah and 10 percent Bonarda. I think the trend for my palate is, I enjoy Malbec more when it has been blended. Anyhow, the 2010 is deep ruby colored; it opens to dusty roses, oak, plum and some balsamic aromas. On the palate jammy, berry flavors and bitter chocolate exhibit. Acidity, fruit and body were in balance, but I found it a bit tannic for my taste. I do think given time the wine will incorporate the tannins and fruit in a well-balanced whole; 90 points.The 2009 is even better but impossible to find locally by me. Perhaps your wine store pal could locate some for you.

My pal Gary tells me the “mishpocha” will be coming by for Seder soon. He recommends a few wine selections to serve. Gary is my Bar Mitzvahed guy who helps me with appropriate Hebrew holiday vino. To date he has never let me down. Don’t get me wrong though; Gary’s down with the goyim too. He has a fine selection of Easter wines and a lily sale going on, as well. His recommendations for Passover are Binyamina Bin Cabernet Sauvignon 2010; Psagot Chardonnay and Gamla Pinot Noir. The Gamla is from grapes grown on the Golan Heights, barrel aged, it is elegant, with layers of berry, spice and floral notes. Bin Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 is made in Galilee. They make a wide range of wine and liquor products. Finally, the Psagot is from the Judean Hills; I rate it 89 points, and it can be found priced near $20. If these are not findable in time go here:

You will find a listing of other pareve wine, much of it made in Israel. I will provide a nice list of findable wines for my Christian readers in the column on March 29. I was afraid to put it in this week, it being St. Paddy’s Day and all, I was worried it might slip your minds. Is that PC if you’re Irish-Italian? Enquiring minds wish to know.

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