2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Conte di Castelvecchio

The Notes review of this Montepulciano is overdue, but believe me dear readers you are not missing much in this wine. Yes this is still part of my wistful “there with you in spirit” Italian vibe, but this thinking has had me kissing more frogs than princesses as of late. Notes has covered more than 100 Cabernets (mostly hailing from California) and 110 red blends (ditto) to date, and I’ve become much more adept at picking winners from that AVA than I have from the old world.

Based on an interesting price point and forecasted tasting notes, I selected from an online provider this 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, from Conte di Castelvecchio in Montepulciano, Italy. It’s not so amazing, and it leaves me wanting for a better class of Italian red…something as delightful as the Amarone recently reviewed here.

2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Conte di Castelvecchio, Montepulciano, Italy.

Yes, I fully realize it’s not just to compare this (mass production?) Montepulciano to an Amarone, but life’s too short to drink bad wine. This Montepulciano became a fast “weeknight” dinner beverage instead of a staple that you look forward to in a weekend bottle.

The 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has cherry at its base structure, but it’s a thin and underdeveloped cherry at that. It has a ribbon of smoke running through it, but really tastes so immature that I was disappointed in my selection. There’s really not that much to be said for this wine, so I’ll cut the review short. Hoping you’re enjoying your quarantine and staying safe!

2015 Zinfandel, Leese-Fitch

Opened this Leese-Fitch zinfandel earlier in the week but finished it off this evening to complement a Blue Apron meal that consisted of sautéed beef and roasted eggplant. I had selected the 2015 Zinfandel (and a Cab too) from Winestore not from the reputation of the winemaker, which was new to me, but rather the grape and the price point. It’s got great value at $10 and I would highly recommend if price is a driving force in your wine selection.

2015 Zinfandel, Leese-Fitch, California, USA.

2015 Zinfandel, Leese-Fitch, California, USA.

Sneaky by the Leese-Fitch team is the 18% Petite Sirah that they added to the wine, and even as I write here I’m not sure if I’ll classify this bottle as a zin or a red blend. Suffice it to say you’ll drink with a smile regardless, so let us not split hairs. It pours dark purple and has notes of blackberry and spices (thanks to the PS) in your glass, and it has that plus tastes of cherry and dark berries on the palate. This is one of those times you should drink not with some preconceived notion of taste, i.e., governed by price, but rather just enjoy for what it is–fun, easy-drinking zinfandel.

Mine accompanied a Middle East-influenced beef dish, served with roasted eggplant and spinach on a bed of rice that was kicked up thanks to an “Afghan-style” spice blend*. A creamy cucumber salad on the side was cool and refreshing, offsetting the spices of the main dish. I nearly blew the timing of the meal as I worked to free the eggplant from the sheet pan but if you look at the image here you’ll see I did recover in time (and yes ate ‘both’ portions). The 2015 zinfandel from Leese-Fitch was great with this meal, its earthy qualities calming to the spices too. Since I had opened it earlier in the week, the combo was more happy accident than intention but still effective. Thanks for reading and have a great day.


* Peppery nigella seed, cassia, and bittersweet saffron.


2013 Pinot Noir, BV Coastal Estates

The 2013 Pinot Noir from Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Estates lasted several nights at our place, which says several things about a wine. Usually it means a bottle that we opened on a weeknight. It can also be a more tannic red, particularly a Bordeaux or Malbec that needed some extra time, or even a wine that just didn’t stick the landing for one reason or another. In this instance, however, it was that the wine was opened on a night prior to a long work trip. If you’re a reader who also knows the joys–and poor night’s sleep–of an early morning flight, you know what I’m talking about here.

2013 Pinot Noir, BV Coastal Estates, Rutherford, California, USA.

2013 Pinot Noir, Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Estates, Rutherford, California, USA.

BV has been producing wine for more than 100 years, and the Latour name has long enjoyed a strong reputation for its Cabernet Sauvignons. A quick bit of research revealed that its founder Georges de Latour even sold wine to the Catholic Church during Prohibition (the only working Napa winery during that dark period of U.S. history), and his viniculturist Andre Tchelistcheff developed the first “cult” Cab in the first half of the 20th century. So you know they know grapes and how to get things done with a bang in the wine business.

Alas, this is not one of those smart-sounding Latour Private Reserve Cabernets but rather the 2013 BV Pinot Noir. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. As a matter of fact it was nice and smooth, and a bit more of a cherry finish than a strawberry taste. I rushed through the pre-trip glass, and was too tired upon returning to make better notes of its profile. I do know that I finished off this 2013 vintage with some pepperoni pizza, and that the wine was enjoyable.

This is how the Beaulieu team describes the 2013: “Classic in style, our Pinot Noir is elegant and graceful, showing intense varietal character over a soft, supple profile. Fresh cherries and summer plums open the aromas. On the palate, the fruit gains complexity and depth, adding subtle layers of leather and forest floor. French oak stitches the bright fruit together, leaving just a hint vanilla.

Forest floor? Missed that. I’m interested in another bottle of this, particularly a Friday night bottle, but even more so one of the Latour Cabs! I’ll be ready with my signature any time the good folks at BV decide they want to ship one to this humble writer.