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Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001

Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001

Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001
Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001

So I have been MIA lately! Things have been extremely hectic around our home and with life in general. However, what better comeback then with the 2001 Faustino I Grand Reserva, this is one remarkable bottle of wine. Hailing from the upper area of the Rioja Alevesa, Spain, the Faustino is a Tempranillo blend and is comprised of 85% of the Tempranillo grape, the balance is comprised of 10% Graciano and 5% Mazuelo. The Faustino is accessible now and has a powerful and long lasting finish that is sure to please the most refined of palates. Cherry and black fruit notes prevail with a pleasant note of spices and the right balance of smoke. At a price of under $40 per bottle, the Faustino represents exceptional value, this is truly a bottle of wine to use for a special occasion or to impress any guest. Scores for the Faustino have been given as high as 100 points, most notably by, if one were to look at an average of scores offered it would still rank very high in the 96-97 point range, with is still very impressive. The Faustino is very easy to pair but is most suitably matched with roasted and grilled red meats, pasta Bolognese and lasagna. The Faustino would also pair well with firmer cheeses with more pronounced flavours, ideally Manchego, Pecorino Romano, Asiago or even an aged white cheddar. If you have the patience, decant your Faustino and give it a few hours to open up and allow it’s fragrant flavours to develop to increase your drinking pleasure. Well done to Bodegas for their fine work, a true gem of a bottle and a pleasure and privilege to consume! Alla Salute!


Bodegas Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001

Origin: Rioja, Spain

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Medium-Full Bodied, Fruity

Grape Variety: Tempranillo Blend

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 12.8%

Price: $35-$40

Fontanafredda Nebbiolo 2012

Ebbio 1

I know it has been a while since my last post but it has been quite the busy month. However, I didn’t want to let more time pass before writing about this bottle, which I feel is an amazing value for the quality of wine. The 2012 Fontanafredda Nebbiolo is a fine example of the power of the Nebbiolo grape, this was a more difficult year for the vineyard as the spring was both cold and wet and August saw a spike in temperature that accelerated ripening. In all, the grape quality was exceptional in 2012, although the yields were down around 30%. The 2012 Fontanafredda is full bodied and ruby in colour, floral notes are immediate, strawberries and spice notes also prevail. This wine is very surprising for the price of approximately $20 per bottle and can be paired with barbequed meats, pasta dishes and aged firm cheeses. The Fontanafredda Nebbiolo is really produced in order to consume now, there is no real need to lay this wine down and give it some time to develop. The tannins are firm but aerating and decanting properly will help in a short period of time, allowing the fruit flavours to become more pronounced. Fontanafredda is an estate producing wonderful wines from it’s 133 acre vineyard, fully equipped with restaurant and hotel, why not stop by when you are in Italy next! Alla Salute!


Fontanafredda Nebbiolo 2012

Origin: Piedmont, Italy

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Medium-Full Bodied, Firm

Grape Variety: Nebbiolo

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: $20

The Wines of Ascheri Giacomo

Barbera D'Alba 2012
Barbera D’Alba 2012

The wines coming out of the Ascheri vineyard are simply fantastic, Matteo Ascheri truly has a thriving business and a delightful vineyard that are offering his customers an innovative take on wine and furthermore, wines that can be enjoyed by all at a reasonable price point. Located in Piedmont, Italy, the Ascheri vineyard is now a suburb of what was originally a well-known Barolo commune, La Morra. The goal of the Ascheri family is to make wines that are terrior of their region through the grape varieties it is known for, this is nice to see as the vineyard embodies pride rather than a winemakers prowess, individual accomplishments and capabilities. These grape varieties include Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, commonly used in the production of Barolo, Barbera d’Alba and Dolcetto d’Alba respectively. Let’s take a moment to analyze some of Ascheri’s current offerings so that we can all be made aware of their composition, flavor profiles and price points in order to help us make more informed wine selections at our points of purchase. For more information on Ascheri wines check out their website, or better yet, stop by their hotel and osteria, what a trip that would be!

2012 Ascheri Barbera d’Alba DOC – An extra dry, medium bodied and slightly fruity red made from the Barbera grape variety, light ruby in color with highlights of deeper purple, dominant blackberry and plum aromas, a well balanced medium length finish with tight tannins. The Ascheri Barbera d’Alba comes in at 14% alcohol and better yet a $15 price point per bottle, this is exceptional value for the wine you are getting, try this bottle with your favorite cheeses and cured meats. I could have easily chosen the 2011 Ascheri Fontanelle Barbera d’Alba for $18 per bottle but to even the refined palate the difference is indistinguishable.

2013 Ascheri San Giacomo Nebbiolo d’Alba – A full bodied ruby red colored wine comprised of at least 85% Nebbiolo grape variety, most commonly used in Barolo’s and Barbaresco’s. The floral bouquet aroma’s are very evident, particularly the scents of violet’s and rose. This is a 14% alcohol wine that is dry on the sweetness descriptor, the finish is soft yet harmoniously persistent, this wine could be kept for another 10 years under proper storage conditions. Coming in at a price of $25, this is true value and adequate for any occasion, best paired with barbequed meats.

2010 Ascheri Pisapola Barolo – An extra dry, full bodied and firm Barolo, true to its form. Deep red in color with intense aromas of dark fruits, violets and spices, comprised 100% of the Nebbiolo grape from Ascheri’s best vineyards, Pisapola and Verduno. This is a 14.5% alcohol wine with a persistent finish, it is best to decant and give the wine some time to open up, some cellar time would increase the profile of this wine, but it is most certainly accessible now. Best served with tomato sauce pasta dishes and roasted red meats. For a price of $45, the 2010 Ascheri Pisapola Barolo delivers great value in a competitive and collectible category of Italian red wines.

Kudos to the Ascheri Team!

Alla Salute!


March Vintages Arrivals

March Vintage Selection
March Vintage Selection


The order was placed and with great anticipation I awaited the arrival of this months special vintages releases. It was hard to decide what to add to the collection based on the vast list of beautiful wines to select from. New and sought after releases from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South America and the United States presented themselves making the decision difficult. Perusing through the selections is part of the process that is most enjoyable for me, the thrill of the hunt as they say. To me, making wine selections has become a past time that allows me to disengage from the stresses of daily life, it has become a most welcomed hobby. Adding to that value, the wines that are being purchased are consumed and enjoyed with friends and family members on momentous occasions that hopefully all will remember. Ultimately, this month’s selections were made based on some of the variables previously mentioned in past posts; price, score and longevity of the wine. I have listed them here in order to provide some examples of what I believe are wines that will age gracefully for years to come and will not break the bank. Below are some of the selections purchased from the March vintages release that I view as good value wines that are welcome to any collection. I have included a small description of each bottle as I believe the tasting notes are an important indicator as to a wines potential and should be used as a variable in making your selections, they should not be made solely on score.

March Selections

Alla Salute!

Resta (2)

Resta Salice Salentino 2011

The 2011 Resta Salice Salentino is astonishing example of what a Negroamaro blend is capable of, 80% of this beautiful wine is comprised of the Negroamaro grape, the other 20% is Malvasia Nero. Hailing from Puglia, Italy, the 2011 Resta Salice delivers a robust flavor and deep color, prune and blackberry prevail on the palate. The Resta Salice is an extra dry wine and comes in at 13.5% alcohol, it is a classic and rustic Italian Italian red wine that is easy to drink and is ready for your tasting pleasure now. The most suitable pairings for the 2011 Resta Salice include grilled and roasted red meats, homemade pizzas and arrabbiatta pasta dishes. We paired ours with tortellini in brood topped with a small spoon of our homemade hot sauce and the Resta Salice Salentino delivered admirably! Coming in at a price of $15.95, this bottle delivers exceptional value and is a staple for any occasion. Alla Salute!

Salice Salentino
2011 Resta Salice Salentino



Resta Salice Salentino 2011

Origin: Puglia, Italy

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Medium-Full Bodied, Fruity

Grape Variety: Negroamaro Blend

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 13.5%

Price: $13-$18

wine rating system

Wine Rating Systems

Let’s take a moment to go over the various wine rating systems that exist and break them down. Knowing the rating systems can help you be a more educated buying adding bottles to your collection that will increase in value long term.

glass rating


Three point scales include the French wine bible, Le Guide Hachette, which uses stars. The Italian equivalent, Gambero Rosso, uses wine glasses.


Le Guide Hachette:

*** = Exceptional wine

** = Remarkable wine

* = Very well-made wine

Mention with 0 stars = Well-made wine

Gambero Rosso Italian Wines:

3+ = Aware Winning Wine Selected by the Editor

3 = Excellent wine in its category

2 = Very good to excellent it its category

1 = Above average to good in its category

Start Scale


The 5 star decanter system also exists, this rating system goes as follows:



***** – Outstanding quality, virtually perfect example

**** – Highly recommended

*** – Recommended

** – Quite good

* – Acceptable

20 point


The 20 point scale system is a more traditional made popular in the mid 1980’s by Master of Wine Jancis  Robinson.



20 Point Scale

20 – Truly exceptional

19 – A humdinger

18 – A cut above superior

17 – Superior

16 – Distinguished

15 – Average

14 – Deadly dull

13 – Borderline faulty or unbalanced

12 – Faulty or unbalanced

100 point systemThe 100 point system is probably the most well known of the wine rating systems, this system was popularized by Robert Parker in the early 1980’s. Several publications have embraced the 100 point system including Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, it is my personal system of preference. Every wine in this system is automatically given 50 points, incremental points are given for the following:


(0-5) – Color and appearance

(0-15) – Aroma

(0-20) – Flavor and finish

(0-10) – Overall quality

All of these systems mentioned can render deeper analysis individually, these are all established guidelines upon which to utilize when selecting your wines. It is important to note that these are just scores, great wines are often accompanied by a descriptive analysis, these are equally if not more important than any score. The analysis that a wine critic offers in accompaniment with a score offers greater insight into a specific bottle of wine. For example, qualities of harvests are sometimes offered, flavors are described, comparative notes to previous years/s vintages and other comparable wines can be stated and aging proximity are often provided, these are all more important that any score in my opinion. Alla Salute!




Valle Andino Syrah 2012

Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012

So much of our time has been spent reviewing wines across the continent of Europe as well as the United States. South American wines have not been a consistent topic and this wine is one that forces this post. The Valle Andino Reserva Syrah 2012 from Chile is really a fantastic wine and gives exceptional value to any consumer looking for a great bottle for any occasion. The Valle Andino Syrah is an extra dry red from the Rapel Valley in Chile, it comes in at 14.5% alcohol and is a Shiraz/Syrah grape varietal blend. At a price of approximately $15 per bottle this red wine will impress your guests with even the most refined of pallets. The color of the Valle Andino Syrah is deep purple, luscious ripe black fruits prevail with smoke and incense, making the finish well balanced and sweet, with adequate length. Now is the time to drink the Valle Andino, it is more than approachable and does not require any additional holding time. The Valle Andino Syrah is best paired with grilled red meat, grilled chorizo sausages, even try with barbequed lamb skewers or pork loins. We opened ours with great friends and paired it with an amazing home cooked fideua with noodles, squid, shrimp, scallops, clams and octopus, and the Valle paired beautifully, it is very versatile (recipe link below). This wine was rated a 90 score by The Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012 typifies the reputation that Chile is earning by providing the world with premium Syrah’s at a more than affordable price, a true gem and worth stocking up on.  Alla Salute!

fideua 02


Valle Andino Reserva Especial Syrah 2012

Origin: Rapel Valley, Chile

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Full Bodied

Grape Shiraz/Syrah Blend

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 14.5%

Price: $13-$17

Brunello main

Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009

The Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009 is yet another fabulous offering by Marchesi de Frescobaldi and is comprised of 100% Sangiovese grape. This Brunello is full bodied and firm with a ruby red color and is accompanied by notes of violets and blackberries, tobacco and spicy black pepper also prevail. The finish is intense and has staying power on your palate yet the tannin texture is balanced and the finish is soft and slightly sweet, overall the Castelgiocondo is very pleasurable to drink. The 2009 Castelgiocondo Brunello can age but should not be held for an excessive period of time, 2014-2021 would be the optimal drinking window for this bottle that is very approachable now. Late in the growing season of 2009 in Montalcino, winemakers were caught off guard by a sudden spike in temperature, this resulted in a softer structure from this vintage, which is required for long-term aging. Pair this Brunello with grilled steak, roasted lamb or even a rabbit ragu served over pappardelle pasta. We paired our 2009 Castelgiocondo Brunello with our homemade lasagna and it was a perfect match. Vinous/Antonio Galloni scored this bottle a 91. Alla Salute!

Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009
Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009



Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2009

Origin: Tuscany, Italy

Sweetness: XD – Extra Dry

Style: Full Bodied and Firm

Grape Variety: Sangiovese

Size: 750ml bottle

Alcohol: 13%

Price: $45-$55


Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Colledila Chianti Classico 2010

The Barone Ricasoli Colledila Chianti Classico 2010 is a beautiful wine that is drinking extremely well now, this bottle could be stored in order for it to continue to develop, but I would not do so past 2022. This Italian red wine is made of the Sangiovese grape variety, which is synonymous with many of the red wines produced in Tuscany. The Colledila is ruby red in color and has floral aromas as well as the aromas of dark cherries and mushrooms. This is a full bodied wine with sweet tannins, the finish of ripe fruit is dominant yet it remains clean and elegant, the 2010 Colledila Chianti Classico is very well structured. The Colledila is what has to be considered by most a more expensive Chianti and has a bottle price of $40-$50, with this in mind, it also must be stated that there is considerable value here, to drink now or hold for a few more years. We paired this bottle, actually four of them, with a full house of family over on a Saturday night and our homemade cioppino, it was the Colledila that stole the show!  James Suckling scored the Castello di Brolio Colledila Chianti Classico 201o a score of 93 and I completely agree, a very nice Italian Chianti that is well balanced and a privilege to drink. Alla Salute!

Haut-Brion Blanc

Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010

It has been some time since a post on a white wine has seen the blog, red is predominantly more favored in our household. Why not feature a bottle of white wine that hails from Pessac-Leognan, a wine growing area in the northern part of the Graves region of Bordeaux! This bottle was purchased for the holiday season and recently consumed, and what a special treat it was! The Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010 has a mild yet intense flavor, the citrus is very evident as the lemon rind and orange marmalade hit your palate, yet at the same time honey and a subtle smoke prevail.  The colour of the Château Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010 is different than an every day off the shelf white wine, this has a more pale, gold and honey coloured complextion. The finish is crisp and noticeable but not intense, this really is a spectacular medium bodied extra dry white wine. This wine has an optimal drinking window of 2016-2030, there was a fine honeycomb like piece of sediment noticeable at the bottom of the bottle that you could only think would blossom into even more intense flavors long term, should one decide to lay this bottle down and give it time. This wine pairs well with firm, aged cheese and herbed cheese, we served ours with a homemade goat cheese and prosciutto stuffed chicken breasts and it was delightful. This wine was scored a 92 in February of 2013 by, this score is spot on, time would take it up a point, or possibly two, depending on the time frame it is consumed. Is there anything that Haut-Brion does wrong in the world of wine? The Chateau Larrivet Haut-Brion Blanc 2010 really is a spectacular white wine and was a privilege to consume. Alla Salute!