2017 Centine Rosso Banfi

Honestly, this time it’s not about the wine or tasting notes. The 2017 Centine Rosso Banfi is more about the tip of the cap. It’s a red blend consolation prize doled out by COVID-19, aka the coronavirus. Yes this a wine from Tuscany but those are not the foothills of beautiful Montepulciano in this background. That Italy trip will have to wait for another day…

2017 Centine Rosso Banfi, Tuscany, Italy.

…and the situation over there is deteriorating rapidly; Cara and I have wayward eyes cast in that direction even while we enjoy this amazing scenery (which involved several white-knuckle moments on the drive in). We’re trying to unwind airline, hotel, and similar reservations while trying out this Italian red and a few similar bottles from the old country.

This is a medium red, a cherry- and strawberry-noted Tuscan offering that combines Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes. The wine is (curiously) lighter than all three, which seems odd to me given that it’s a blend delivered on the backs of these richer reds. We’re drinking it, and that’s fine and all, but different from sampling Tuscan reds straight out of the vineyard tasting room(s). Each of us is a “glass-is-half-full” optimist, pun intended, and looking forward to another shot at Repubblica Italiana.

Wishing you well, readers, and stay safe out there.

2017 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery

Buena Vista Winery has been good to me for a long time. My first taste came during a pop-in visit during a Sonoma wine country trip, and Buena Vista wine has become a staple to which I often turn for life’s celebrations, large and small. This evening included!

2017 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah, Buena Vista Winery, Sonoma County, California, USA.

Thus, the 2017 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah celebrates the end of a long streak: I had gone nearly 20 years without breaking a bone (and funny how so many of the fellas remember that occasion and its poor choices) but that run was fractured this week. Officially it’s a closed, non-physeal metatarsal fracture at the lesser toe. Don’t bother looking that up—means I broke a small bone in my foot near the smallest toe. Three quick x-rays told the doctors all they needed, and I’m now in a ridiculous little walking shoe. It’s not quite a “boot” but still makes me feel clumsy.

So did cutting my index finger earlier this week…and the puncture wound I made in my palm just now. In a week filled with bad moves, the best two I made were inviting a special lady to join me for a post-emergency room dinner and serving us this 2017 Karoly’s Selection. This wine pours crazy dark purple in the glass, and it packs pungent earthy notes into its intense berry flavors. You have definite plum and black cherry or blackberry scents in play. It’s aged 18 months in 100% French oak (30% new). We both nodded in appreciation and set forth on this wine plus Greek food that included salads (cucumber sauce!), kabobs (both chicken and lamb), and carbs—for at least one of us 🙂

The Buena Vista team remarks, “On the palate, bold flavors of blackberries, raspberries, and a hint of cola lead to a full body with rich tannins, well-balanced acid, and a satisfying, lingering finish.

Really good grapes! I just ordered another bottle tonight for February shipment and that’ll be fun to enjoy too. 

This bottle of 2017 Karoly’s Selection Petite Sirah is individually numbered, and 5381 has been a real treat. Raise your glasses, to yourselves, your loved ones, and to the start of a new streak—hopefully one that’ll carry me through the rest of my days. Thanks as always for your readership.  

WA5, Locations Wine

This day started with a quest for martini fixings, but since all the local ABC stores are closed for the holiday, it’s wine time here. Yes I am a fan of all things Dave Phinney, and I thought the WA locations would be more than a great fill-in for the missing well drinks.

WA5, Locations Wine, Napa, California, USA.

Importantly, know this bottle fits all the beats of a Phinney wine. Ripe, layered, and kitchen-sink style in its blend overall. This one is blueberry, it is blackberry, and it is hints of merlot to be sure. I found it to be fruit-forward but not the flavor bomb that some of Dave’s creations can embody. I assert here it was the right bottle for the evening, one where I’m recuperating from weeks of overwork and singular focus on a particular outcome. 

The WA Locations 5 accompanied a green salad (complete with mushrooms, yellow onion, radishes, arugula, and cucumbers) and a kick-ass chili that was kicked up with the heat—cumin, chili powder, and all the accoutrements. A nice give and take between the grapes and the food!

2015 Le Clos Guillot Chinon, Bernard Baudry

Date night with my girl this evening, and we’ve met out for drinks and dinner in Bull City. It’s a cool little French bistro, and only my second time here—and first for dinner. She looks great; freshly coiffed and even her eyes are smiling at me as I jump out of my ride to meet her.

Baudry

2015 Le Clos Guillot Chinon, Bernard Baudry, Loire, France.

The ambiance? High, industrial-style ceilings where sound carries even without a big crowd. Chalkboards on the rear walls share enticing specials for guests, and my eyes are on one even while we slide up to the corner of the bar, our favorite setup so we can lean in close and enjoy each other’s company and intoxicating smells. 

I have a few more stories from the dumpster fire of the past week, a few new angles that we’ve unearthed—but this really isn’t a night to talk shop. It’s a time to relax, to enjoy foodstuffs, to enjoy each other, and to enjoy wine. We’ve selected the Le Clos Guillot Chinon from an extensive tasting list and, though it takes some time to open up, it eventually does and we run through it to good effect.

This Le Clos Guiilot Chinon is organically produced and hails from Loire. It’s a Cabernet Franc that pours ruby red in the glass, with damp, earthy notes that this reviewer can detect even among all the delicious smells of Rue Cler. There’s a bit of cherry in the tasting, and some darker fruits too that I imagine come through the Cabernet Franc grapes themselves. I’ve been very California-focused as of late and this Baudry wine is (at least for me) walking a fine line between those Napa Cabs and Petite Syrahs that I’ve been tasting from this side of the ocean. A medium finish… 

Still recovering from severe sleep deprivation, I’m not going to lay on the menu too thick this time. (I promise to make that up in new Notes entries soon enough.) Just know I’m impossibly happy to be home, and even more so to be out on the town with this special lady. Oh yeah, the wine’s been a fun experience too! A rare trip overseas for this guy but much appreciated. Hoping you do too and thanks as always for your readership and kind words. 

Tikves Bela Voda 2016

My first Macedonian wine (many thanks, Lauren!) is the Tikves Bela Voda, a 2016 that I received as a very thoughtful Christmas gift. I tried to hold onto this wine for as long as possible before curiosity–or the need for a good adult beverage–got the best of me and compelled me to wrestle with these Mediterranean grapes.  I lasted almost three weeks! I hang my head a little at that lack of self-discipline, but it does allow me to share the below with you all.

Tikves Bela Voda 2016, Macedonia.

As I thought of the Tikves Bela Voda, I couldn’t help but go back to my longest, deepest tie to the region–that’s obviously For Your Eyes Only (for quite some time my favorite Bond movie) and the double agent interplay of Milos Columbo and Kristatos, as uncovered by 007 himself. Well, those Greeks have been supplanted by the Bela Voda, a really enjoyable and dense red blend culled from vines grown high above sea level. I chipped into this wine after a work project, one that was hundreds of man hours in the making, went astray and deposited me at home a day early. The wine was easy to drink, really well balanced, and helped cushion the crushing work setback. In its welcoming embrace I detected blackberry and dark fruits, spice notes, and other subtleties that I don’t have the palate to describe even after all this time and all these bottles. A little research says it’s a blend of Vranecet (70%) and Plavec (30%) grapes…my first sampling of each and really well balanced.

Lauren liked this wine for many reasons, prominently among them its “underdog” status. I contemplate this label and imagine she meant Macedonian wines as a whole…their relative lack of respect compared to Napa grapes, Bordeaux, Tuscany, and Australian AVAs of higher renown…because the Tikves Bela Voda 2016 takes no back seats in its own flavors and notes. It has merits up the wazzoo, and Tikves is the oldest winery (an 1885 start) in Macedonia, now using sustainable practices throughout its operations.  The Bela Voda is a rich, dense red blend that could go toe to toe with many wines that are better known to Americans like this fella.

The Bela Voda has dark, robust fruits on the nose, and it’s very smooth. It has faint traces too of spices that you’ll really enjoy if you track down one of these bottles. An easy finish. A nice cushion to a tough professional fall! I’m thus very appreciative for the kind gift, both as a great bottle and as a lever prying open a region about which I still know far too little.