Unlike any other, COS Rami 2011

Cos Rami, 2011

Region: Sicily, Italy

Grape: 50% Insolia and 50% Grecanico

Price: 35$

Being a wine nerd has its perks, now I know some producers name, and I get very excited when I see one of their wines I never had on a restaurant menu. This past Tuesday I was dining at a reputable Italian restaurant in Harvard Square and I was giddy because I saw earlier that they had a COS wine I never had.

I have reviewed several COS wines this past year, including their Nero d’Avola or their Cerasuolo di Vittoria. All excellent wines but I was particularly impressed by their Pithos Bianco. A white wine that was the most original thing I ever tasted, they used maceration and fermentation in clay amphoraes to bring character to the traditional Sicilian grape varieties. When I saw the other white from COS on the menu, my choice was made.

The two grapes are traditional Sicilian white varieties, Insolia tends to be flavorful but lacks acidity and Grecanico is vibrant and acidic but more neutral. The Rami differs from the Pithos in 2 ways, the Pithos is 100% Grecanico and it has longer skin contacts and use of the clay containers.20140826_201957

Eye: a deep gold

Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Citrus fruit with a rocky, mineral backbone, not steely like a Chablis but rather organic, earthy.

Palate: Dry, medium acidity, medium body, lots of aromas to taste, I get walnuts, a bit of citrus fruit, some flowers (I read someone describe it as “pot-pourri”). There definitely is some minerality under the fresh aromas. The body is nice, compact while not being underwhelming.

COS never disappoints. The Rami is a little less original than the Pithos, it’s not as marine and salty but it remains a UFO of a white wine. You don’t expect the color, you don’t expect the taste, you just have to enjoy them. I’d say it’s the missing link between the Pithos and a more normal white wine.

Food pairings: It’s an original wine so you can be creative with the pairings. I’m not sure fish would be the ideal candidate, I would recommend veal actually.

Overall opinion: In one word: Awesome. In more words: COS does Sicilian wines well. I encourage you to try their wines. Their reds are excellent but their whites are original on top of being top notch. Try this wine, I’m sure you never had anything like it.

Grade: 9/10

Texture, sidekick and Buddha : Bocchino Nebbiolo

Eugenio Bocchino, La Perucca Nebbiolo d’Alba, 2001

Region: Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC, Piedmonte, Italy

Grape: Nebbiolo

Price: 30$

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All life is suffering. I didn’t say that, the Buddha said that. This being said, I think he failed to account for wine. All life is not suffering, sometimes there’s wine, and ice cream. Sometimes your sidekick comes over for dinner, you make some pasta and open a bottle of Nebbiolo. There is very little suffering involved here.

Nebbiolo is still one of my favorite grapes, a tough to grow, temperamental variety from northern Italy, known for complex fruit, flower and smoky flavors. I reviewed several examples of such wines already, this particular bottle is from the Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC. An appellation centered on the town of Alba, like other DOCs such as Barbera d’Alba or Dolcetto d’Alba. This is not a premium appellation for Nebbiolo, unlike Barbaresco or Barolo, but that will not stop us from drinking it

Eye: dark garnet with hints of brown

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Nose: Clean, medium-plus intensity. Mostly red fruits (blackberries and cherries) with a hint of smokiness

Palate: Dry, medium acidity, medium-plus body, very nice tannins and texture that hit the top of the palate.

Red fruits galore, mostly cherries and blackberries, sadly no trace of the smokiness that was present on the nose. A little bit lacking in acidity but the tannins make up for it as they are structured and smooth. The length is good but it remains a simple, red fruits oriented wine.

Food pairings: worked with pasta arrabiata

Overall opinion: I think it might have been a bit past its prime. It was perfectly drinkable and interesting if only for the tannins. It was disappointing in the sense that you really don’t get any of the Nebbiolo’s complexity. I need to try a younger vintage to investigate.

Grade: 6/10

Unusual Loire valley wines

There are a few worse ways to spend a weekend evening than sharing wine with a friend. Sometimes there is even pizza, so things get even better. Last weekend’s wines had a theme: Loire valley weird stuff.

We started out with the Cuvee du Rosier 2013 by Pascal Janvier in the Coteaux du Loir AOC. It’s a light summer red to serve chilled, made from a pretty obscure grape called Pineau d’Aunis. The Coteaux du Loir appellation is located on a hill overlooking the Loir river, a tributary of the Loire river. I know, it’s dumb that the Loir is a tributary of the Loire, but hey,… The wine is light in color with red fruit notes, spicy undertones and a “meaty” aspect on the nose (interestingly enough, Pascal Janvier, the wine maker, is a butcher by trade). The acidity is high and the alcohol level pretty low, served young and chilled it will go well with cold cuts, appetizers or even grilled meat and veggies. It retails between $15 and $20 and it’s a well-made, original wine made from a variety that was described as the Hipster of all varieties by my wine shop guy.

Loire lineup

The second wine was le Grolleau, Clau de Nell 2011 by Anne-Claude Leflaive. Now, you see the name Leflaive and you think Burgundy. You might even be a little bit more precise and think Puligny-Montrachet. You’d be right, Anne-Claude has been running the Leflaive estate in Burgundy since 1994, it’s one of the great estates of Burgundy, producing incredible white wines, including some Grand Crus (Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Batard-Montrachet). Anne-Claude Leflaive bought some land in the Loire Valley in 2008 to experiment with a different environment and that’s how the Clau de Nell came to existence. This particular wine is made from the Grolleau variety, a Loire Valley grape often used in Anjou to produce rose wine. The wine is light bodied with high acidity, served chilled too. It’s aged in Burgundy casks which shows through a hint of smokiness. The main aromas will be floral with violets come to the foreground. It’s more expensive than the Cuvee du Rosier with prices ranging between $35 and $40 but it’s an extremely well made, interesting wine, not just a thirst quencher like the other.

Rose and whites, it’s summer after all

Now that I am back to a more regular posting and drinking schedule, my weekend tasting nights have picked up again. As the picture below will show, life was good. Here is the lineup from that evening.

soiree rose

Philippe Tessier, Cheverny 2013

I am not normally a rose fan but I had a good feeling about that Loire Valley offering. Cheverny is an appellation that produces red, white and rose wines. The rose is made from Gamay and Pinot Noir grapes. It had a nice salmon color with some almost orange tinges. Red fruit notes with a bit of underlying spice, a very refreshing combination, perfect for summer, BBQ, appetizers… It is also quite cheap, you can find it for $10 or so. Stock up before summer ends!

Cheverny tessier

Arianna Occhipinti, Tami Grillo 2010

Ah, Arianna… I like many of her or her uncle’s wines, Tami is her affordable, varietal wine line. Grillo is mostly known for being used in Marsala but is beginning to be used as a varietal. Things got interesting because Grillo is supposed to be fresh, simple, meant to be drank young, but we actually drank a bottle of 2010, the wine had aged and it was not a bad thing. A lot of oxidation notes gave it a unique character, it should have gone terribly wrong, but it didn’t. Now I need to get a bottle of a more recent vintage to try it the way it’s supposed to be drank. This one is also pretty cheap, around $15 I believe

Tami Grillo

Badenhorst Family Vines, Secateurs Chenin Blanc 2013

Finally, the most classic South African Chenin Blanc ever. Clean, crisp, acidic, a very good example of what Springbok Chenin Blanc is supposed to be with lots of citrus notes and white peach. A very solid selection, especially for the price: $15

Copy of Secateurs Chenin 2009

And for the swing and a miss of the night, we had that bottle of Fume Blanc 2011 from Grgich Estate. It was by far the most expensive and acclaimed bottle of the evening, it was supposed to rock, and it was corked.

The sad part is that you could still get the awesome aromas behind the cork taste, but, I guess it was finally not to be. Well, the other wines provided plenty of material and a lot of enjoyment. The evening was a success.