Showing posts with label Nero d'Avola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nero d'Avola. Show all posts

Friday, November 17, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - More Movies You Never Heard Of With Larry Karaszewski

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, TFH guru Larry Karaszewski will turn over a few stones and expose movies you never knew existed. While he is doing that, I will try to expose some nice wines to pair with the films.

I have always been a fan of things nobody else knew about. It's fun to feel like you have some inside knowledge. I remember, before everyone could sing along with Van Morrison's Moondance, dropping it onto a party tape now and then. I would put the cassette in the machine and just wait for the oohs and aahs to start. I was a lot like the John Cusack character in High Fidelity, but without the Top Ten lists.

Today, I do that with wine grapes. Everyone already knows about Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. My wheelhouse is something like Picpoul. I can bore you to death with some etymological nonsense about how the grape's name comes from the French phrase meaning "lip stinger," but you’ve been kind enough to read this far, so I'll spare you.

I may suggest to you what to drink, but I won't hold it against you if you opt for a White Zinfandel instead. Just don't hold it against me if I've never heard of your favorite movies and choose to watch Blake Edwards’ S.O.B. Again.

I Start Counting is from 1970. It is described as a coming-of-age thriller in which a teen suspects her brother of being a serial killer. That sort of thing makes you come of age real fast. I'm sure we’ve all suspected a family member or two of being serial killers. No? Too soon? For me it was a distant cousin, and the more distant, the better.

I wouldn't say Counting has a happy ending, unless structural demolition is your thing. At least the ending is merciful.

They say that years of age and glasses of wine should never be counted. That should go double for an old guy who is an actual Hungarian Count. For I Start Counting, let's pair Count Karolyi Grüner Veltliner. Now there is a snobby grape. And a good one, one of which you have possibly never heard. Hear me now, thank me later. Count on Grüner Veltliner. 

From 1970, Sunflower is a sad movie about sad people during a sad time. It is set in WWII. Sophia Loren plays Giovanna while Marcello Mastroianni plays Antonio. The war separates them for longer than either of them could have predicted. It's a real tearjerker, so try not to let your tears fall into your wine glass. It dilutes, adds salt, not a good thing.

Turkovich Winery is in Winters, CA, about midway between St. Helena and Sacramento. That ensures that you'll get the right blend of vineyards and state government. And, those Yolo County sunflower fields are something else. Their top shelf Chardonnay sells for about 40 bucks, but their Roussanne is only $23. You know my choice. 

Shoot First Die Later 1974 was directed by Fernando Di Leo. It is an Italian crime noir, or Spaghetti crime movie, if you will. And we know you will. The story involves a cop who tries to stay mostly on the right side of the law, but ends up on the wrong side of the bad guys. If it were only him at risk, he would be okay with it. But, naturally, other people start dropping like flies around him. Looks like he needs to holster up. 

We want a blood-red Italian wine for Shoot First, and why not look to Sicily? The Donnafugata Floramundi is a Nero d'Avola with a dark undercurrent. Made by a nice Sicilian family. You gonna like it. Buy some. Capiche?

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Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Mixing Wine And Fashion

The Donnafugata winery was founded in 1983 by Giacomo Rallo, but there were three generations of winemaking experience before him. A fifth is now helping to create quality wines from five estates of Sicily.

The winery is thrilled by their partnership with the fashion boutique Dolce & Gabbana. Donnafugata has no problem expanding their reach from wine into fashion, just as they have done with art and music.

The 2019 Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Tancredi was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d’Avola and Tannat grapes. The wine came from the Terre Siciliane IGT. Aging took place over 12 months in oak and three years in the bottle. Alcohol hits 14.2% abv and it retails for $48.

The wine is very dark. The nose is quite expressive, with bright blackberry and blueberry aromas drifting in and out of oak spice and wonderful notes of licorice, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. On the palate, dark fruit bursts forth, with notes of tobacco, spice and earth playing supporting roles. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

From Sicily With Nero D'Avola

The Donnafugata winery was founded in 1983 by Giacomo Rallo, but there were three generations of winemaking experience before him. A fifth is now helping to create quality wines from five estates of Sicily.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria is the first and only red wine in Sicily which has DOCG status. It is made from Nero d'Avola and Frappato grapes, vinified in steel tanks and aged there for eight months before maturing for another 10 months in the bottle.

The Donnafugata website describes the front label art as "a fantastic figure of a woman who is giving the gift of … flowers and fruits." It is a lovely and eye-catching illustration to go with the lovely wine inside the bottle.

This wine is medium tinted in a violet hue. It sports a nose of raspberry, but the fruit is just about covered up by a savory blanket. There is a strong earthy element to the aroma package, and even a bit of barnyard funk. The palate is quite dark - black raspberry, blackberry, bramble - with an extremely savory aspect. It is a very tasty wine, the acidity is dead-on perfect, and the tannins are firm, so it will pair well with your meaty dishes or pizza. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Sicilian Nero D'Avola Wine

From the hillsides around Marsala comes a wine that makes me think of a California Pinot Noir, only, you know, Italian.  The Villa Pozzi Nero d'Avola is sold under a corporate umbrella - Deutsch Family - but made by a guy with wine for blood.

Wine goes back a ways in Sicily, about 1500 years.  Wine also runs in the Pozzi family.  Owner and winemaker Daniele Pozzi runs it back to his great-grandfather Angelo, and his grandfather Fausto, and his dad Val. 

Nero d'Avola is a grape variety that’s indigenous to Siciliy. It's known as "the king of Sicilian grapes," in fact.  Pozzi hails the 2016 vintage as a great one, with near-perfect growing conditions that produced what he calls his best-ever Nero d'Avola.  The deep color in this wine comes after a full 15 days of contact with the skins.  The rich flavor is all thanks to the Nero d'Avola grapes - the wine is finished in stainless steel, not oak, so the fruit is given full expression.  The wine hits a reasonable 13% abv and, incredibly, sells online for under ten bucks.

This wine is dark in color and smells of black fruit, earth and tar.  There's a tartness on the palate that is more reminiscent of Pinot Noir, but with the weight of Syrah.  Blackberries, plums and pepper are in the forefront, with the tart darkness lingering after the sip.  The tannins are easy-going.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Sicilian Red Wine: Nero D'Avola

The Stemmari winery is located in the western side of Sicily, Italy's island just off the mainland. It's the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. There, indigenous Sicilian grape varieties are grown, like the white Grillo and the red Nero d'Avola.

The farming is sustainable at Stemmari's vineyards, in two sites, Sambuca di Sicilia and Acate. EMAS 2 certified, they achieved the European credential for environmental sustainability and management in 2002. You may recognize a couple of their other brands, Mezzacorona and Rotari.

The Stemmari Nero d’Avola 2015 is a full varietal wine at 13% abv. It reportedly likes the clay earth of Sambuca di Sicilia.  Once used for adding color to wine, Nero d'Avola is as dark as you like, and richly flavored. The wine is aged six months in French oak barriques.

The Stemmari Nero d'Avola is darker than a serious bruise and offers a nose that means just as much business. Black fruit, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, leather, cigars, black olive, mocha - I mean, what do you not smell? It's a downright savory palate, too. Forest floor leaps out with plums and licorice in tow. There is a distinct mineral presence and the tannins work, if they really have to. They aren't going to get up just to make the sip harsh. This rustic wine will fit naturally with pecorino cheese, arancini, eggplant stew or even pasta and sardines. Stemmari recommends a true Sicilian dish, or course, like Spaghetti alla Norma, with eggplant, and smoked ricotta cheese.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sicilian Wine: Mandrarossa Nero D'Avola

Imported by Palm Bay International, they have this to say about Cantine Settesoli, the winery founded in 1959: "Located in the historic town of Menfi, in the southwest corner of this idyllic Mediterranean island, MandraRossa was guided into modern times by the father of contemporary Sicilian wine, Diego Planeta. Diego led the company for 38 years from 1973 to 2011. MandraRossa is part of Sicily’s largest wine producer and co-operative formed by 2,000 members."

Their wine made of 100% Nero d’Avola grapes kicks in at 13.5% abv and 30% of it is aged for six months in barriques with another three months in the bottle before release.

This deep ruby wine smells great. Big, dark plums are the main feature but the supporting players come through quickly  A leathery note leads to fennel, leads to allspice, leads to a box of cigars. The savory aspects of the nose almost make me forget how large the fruit is. Plums and blackberries mark the flavor profile well. It’s a fruit-forward wine that tries to act like it’s not, with shades of coffee, tea and pepper slipping through. Pair it with pecorino cheese, pork or pecans.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Put Some Sicily On Your Holiday Table

If you are still looking for a nice red wine to place on your holiday table, you should look toward Sicily. The Italian island’s Nero d’Avola grapes are something to cherish, and Morgante has a great one that exceeds expectations.

The Morgante family’s estate is on the western side of Sicily and the vineyard is at a fairly high elevation. Rain from mid-August into September delayed ripening, so extra hang time for the grapes was put to good use. This 100% Nero d’Avola bottling was fermented in steel and saw just a brief maturation period in neutral French oak. Alcohol comes in at 14.5% abv.

Deep in color and fragrant on the nose, the Morgante Sicilia Nero d’Avola 2013 dark, ruby red from Sicily offers a powerful set of aromas: cassis, black olives, cigar box, leather, anise and smoke all come around fairly quickly. This is one of those wines I run across from time to time that smells so good I almost forget to drink it. Almost. The palate is dark and savory. Blackberry and black plum are the most notable fruit flavors, but the Morgante is all about the trimmings. There is a muddy forest floor component and, if you are new to wine, rest assured that it’s a good thing. Minerality comes in abundance and there is a hint of sage there, too, with notes of tea, coffee and root beer finding their way through.

You can pair this with a holiday roast - the tannins are firm enough - or you can go with lamb or goose successfully. Try it with a smelly cheese if you want to really take the experience as far as you can, or a nice sweet cheese to match opposites.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Poggio Graffetta Nero D'Avola 2012

Over the past 15 years Sicily's reputation as a wine region has made great strides. Indigenous grapes have been revitalized, and the winemakers of Sicily are now crafting sophisticated and vibrant wines.

Poggio Graffetta is located in the a Sicilian town of Ragusa. Wines made from the Nero D'Avola grape is one of many great exports from the Italian island - along with the cannoli, arancini and pecorino cheese. This wine is both drinkable and affordable, with alcohol content at only 13% and the price at just under $14.

The Graffetta Nero D'Avola 2012 is very dark - almost no light gets through when held to a lamp. Aromas of dark fruit and the subtle sense of earth make for an underplayed nose. On the palate, plums and blackberries meet minerals and black olives for a game of "sweet or savory." The match is a draw. The tannins are temperate and the acidity makes the mouth water.

The folks who market Sicilian wine would like to remind you to look for Sicilia DOC on the label to ensure that you get an authentic Sicilian wine experience this holiday season.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Vino California Italian Wine Event

Arriving late to a wine event is not a charge I usually plead “guilty” to, especially when the event covers the whole of Italy.  Every region and, seemingly, every grape were on display in Los Angeles in May - and I was so late to the event I had to come up with a Plan B while I chatted with friends who were on their way out the door.

The Vino California Italian wine event on May 14th, 2013 at the Skirball Cultural Center was heavily attended - and rightly so.  Dozens of producers were represented mainly at importer tables, and a few producers were on hand to pour and speak proudly about their wines themselves.

Lacking the time to make the full circuit, the Plan B I devised was to hit the islands - find all the wines from Sardegna and Sicilia that I could.  I did manage to taste quite a few, and even got to try a few grapes for the first time ever.  Hats off to the event’s producer, the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West, in collaboration with Blue Lifestyle and The Tasting Panel magazine.


Cantine Sardus Pater

Terre Fenicie DOC 2012 - 100% Vermentino, this one is a classic.  Citrus on the nose, carried in by the smell of the ocean.

Is Solus DOC 2009 - Here’s one for your quest to join the Wine Century Club: 100% Carignano di Sulcis.  Dark with plum and raspberry, a cranberry finish leaves a lighter memory.

Foras DOC 2011 - 100% Cannonau.  Don’t be scared, that grape usually goes under the name of Grenache.  This unoaked version brings the fresh cherry aromas and flavors all the way home.

Jankara Vini
Vermentino di Gallura DOCG 2011 - An oyster shell nose defines this beautiful example of the variety, with grapefruit and lemon peel on the palate making me wish there were oysters in those shells.

Bresca Dorada

Mirto di Sardegna - Two beekeepers on the island also had a penchant for making liqueur from Myrtle berries.  They had to be talked into making it commercially available, but after tasting the aperitif, I wonder why they waited.  The 30% abv beverage has a very intense nose of wild berries and flavors that are plummy and savory-sweet.



Lighea Sicilia IGT 2011 - 100% Zibibbo, which is what Muscat of Alexandria is called on the island.  The fruity and floral nose gives way to a touch of sweetness layered on the minerality.

Tancredi Sicilia IGT 2008 - This mixture of Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat and other red varieties has smoky oak on the nose and a big, bold palate showing savory black cherry and plenty of tannins and acidity.  It screams to be paired with food.


L’Isola dei Profumi Bianco Sicilia IGP 2011 - A 60/40 blend of Grecanico and Inzolia grapes, it’s smoky on the nose with a mouthful of minerals.

L’Isola dei Profumi Rosso Sicilia IGP 2010 -  This wine is 70% Nero d’Avola, aka Calabrese, and 30% Perricone, which is also known as Pignatello.  The nose of cherry, raspberry and oak spice is beautiful, while the savory black cherry minerality on the palate is a dark delight.

Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGP 2010 - The nose is leathery and it’s a very smooth and easy-drinking wine.

Ninfea Sicilia IGP 2010 - The 60% Grillo in the blend really takes over the Chardonnay, but it still reminds me of a Blanc de Blancs without the bubbles.

Fina Vini

Grillo IGP 2011 - A very golden color suggests lots of skin contact.  The nose is rather yeasty and gingery, while the palate throws a very different slant on mineral salinity.  Quite distinctive.

Taif Zibibbo Secco Sicilia IGP 2011 - All Zibibbo, the nose displays a slight grassiness and perfumed minerals.  It tastes a little like a Sauvignon Blanc, but more savory.

Kike’ Traminer Aromatico/Sauvignon Blanc Sicilia IGP 2011 - It’s heavy on the Traminer, with just a 10% splash of Sauv Blanc.  More Austrian than Italian, there are spices, flowers and grasses.

Cantine Intorcia

Intorcia Marsala Superiore Semisecco Riserva DOC 1980 - Yes, that says 1980.  A thirty-three year old Marsala that is nothing like the Marsala you might find in granny’s kitchen, unless granny is a wine connoisseur.  Nutty raisins and brown sugar on a dry palate make me think more of tawny port than cooking wine.

Feudo Maccari

SAIA 2009 - This 100% Nero d’Avola is really fresh-smelling despite 12 to 14 months in a French oak barrel.  Excellent acidity.

Azienda Agricola Gregorio de Gregorio

Enjambèe Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 - 40% Catarratto and 60% Insolia, this organic white has great weight and big minerals.

Catarratto Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 - A 100% Catarratto bottling, the organic wine has a nice salinity with a hint of fruit peeking through the ocean minerals.

Inzolia Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 - Made entirely from Inzolia grapes, it’s also organic.  The smoky, savory salinity scores again.

Magalì IGP Sicilia 2012 - The Nero d’Avola is softened with 20% Merlot in a stainless steel wine.  Lavender perfume and bright cherry flavors.

Nero d’Avola Sicilia IGP 2012 - All Nero d’Avola, this is also fermented in steel tanks.  Beautiful cherries abound and the acidity is fantastic. This organic wine may have made me want some food to pair with it more than any I tried at the event.

La Canneta Sicilia IGP 2009 - For those who like a little wood with their wine, this Nero d’Avola varietal vino was aged in barriques.  Smoky leather on the nose, spicy cherries on the palate.

I did have time to seek out a few other grapes that are off the beaten path

Emilia Romagna

Cantina Braschi

Romagna Albana Secco DOCG 2012 - 100% Albana grapes, which are pretty much only grown in this region of northern Italy.  I was told it is the oldest white wine grape in Italy.  I was also told it is one of only a few white wines with tannic structure.  Presumably, this is due to the ancient production technique.  It’s a white made like a red, with plenty of skin contact.  The beautiful golden color is eye-catching, and the flavors - while a bit strident - are palate pleasing.

Alba del Monte Vino da Uve Albana Stramature 2010
This late-harvest Albana is even more beautiful in the glass, and comes on like peach cobbler.


Azienda Agricola Ceraudo Roberto

Dattilo Val di Neto IGT 2009 - 100% Gaglioppo, the wine carries a beautiful oak spice from two years in wood.  Great acidity, grip, finish.

Petraro Val di Neto IGT 2007 - Gaglioppo and Cabernet Sauvignon in a half-and-half blend.  It’s two years older than the previous wine, and a bit smoother.

Casa Vinicola Criserà
Nerone di Calbria IGT 2008 - 70% Nerello balanced with Sangiovese, it’s loaded with dark, smoky cherries.

Costa Viola IGT 2012 - Half Greco, the other grapes are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  Peache and pear flavors are touched by minerals.

Lige IGT 2012 - Nerello Calabrese grapes are joined by Gaglioppo.  The rosé wine has a strikingly deep magenta color, and the tannins show up, too.  Great acidity.

Duale IGT 2011 - All Nerello Calabrese, it’s simply gorgeous, with a wonderful acidity.

Cantine Viola

Rossoviola Calabria IGP 2011 - This is a varietal wine made from the Magliocco grape.  It is often mistakenly called Gaglioppo  The wine is Viola’s first vintage of the grape.  Red fruit and flowers on the nose lead to a very dry cherry flavor with great tannic structure.


Pileum Società Agricola

Il Passito IGT 2009 - A beautiful white wine from an all-female wine company.  The grapes are Passerina.  The minerals don’t outshine the fruit in this easy-drinker.


Antichi Vitigni

Pallagrello Nero Terre del Volturno IGT 2010 - This 100% Pallagrello wine is easy to drink.  I love its cherry minerality.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Cusumano Nero d'Avola

Drink Italian wine with Italian food.  To do otherwise just doesn't seem right.  I did mix up the regions a bit on this trip to the Beverly Hills ristorante, Il Buco, but I think it worked out fine.

The Cusumano Nero d'Avola from Sicily is $8 by the glass and I see it selling for around $12 by the bottle online.

Nero d'Avola is the main grape in the town of Avola in the southern part of Sicily.  New-world comparisons are often made, but nothing really tastes like it in my book.

Cusumano's Nero d'Avola is a 100% varietal wine, of course.  It's color is a very dark red, with hardly any light coming through.  The nose is very dark, too, with notes of tar, roasted meat and forest floor.  A beautiful palate shows blackberry, figs, anise and a touch of clove.  The lengthy finish leaves hint of licorice and cola.

I paired the wine with risotto Milanese with Italian sausage.  It probably wasn't the perfect match for the rice, but the sausage hit the right notes.

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Monday, July 25, 2011


Cantine Russo Uve D oro Nero dAvola

When we go to Disneyland, my wife and I often make California Adventure our first stop.  If it's time for lunch, we head for Wine Country Trattoria at the Golden Vine Winery.

For the uninitiated, they actually grow grapes right there in the theme park.  It's a real vineyard in the same sense that Disneyland's Frontierland is actually the Old West.  But it does make me think of Napa Valley, which is the intent.

A site called All Ears - guess who's ears - has an interesting tidbit to share:
"Anaheim was actually a grape-growing area with a number of vineyards.  But in the 1880s a virus called "Anaheim Disease" destroyed the grapevines, and the growers eventually turned to citrus instead.  This virus still persists, and the vines at the Golden Vine Winery have to be re-planted as they fall prey to it."

The restaurant features nice Italian food and, of course, wine.  The outside area makes a great place to dine and offers a good view of the World Of Color water and light spectacular in the evening.  They say reservations are a must if you want that vantage point.

The Wine Country Trattoria's wine list has some nice Italian offerings in addition to the expected California pours.  I usually pick a California wine, what with Mickey's smiling face looking down from the ferris wheel in the midway.  This time, I chose an Italian vino.

The wine, Uve D'oro Nero d'Avola, is from Cantine Russo.  The 2005 Sicilian red hails from vineyards in Sambuca di Sicilia and has an alcohol level of 12.5% abv.

The dark purple color suggests some rich flavor, and the nose gives it away with black fruit spiced with anise and clove.  On the palate, the flavor of black tea layers over the dark fruit.  It's a very aromatic wine and it tastes simply and rustically beautiful.

While I enjoyed it with the lasagna I ordered, I found myself wishing I had opted for a Sangiovese instead.  I especially like the way Sangiovese pairs with tomato-based food, but this Nero was certainly serviceable.  My wife liked the pairing more than I did, and I have the utmost respect for her sensibilities in pairing flavors.

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Couple of Nero d'Avola Wines

I have been drinking quite a few Italian wines lately, not because they are necessarily my preference, but because my wife, Denise, really loves them. Don't get me wrong - I really love me some good ol' Italian varietals. I just prefer exploring the wines of California more than any other area.

I hate to drink alone, however, and if the wife has an Italian wine open, that's okay by me.

It's possible the reason she's so drawn to Italian wines is because it's in her blood. Her family tree has roots in Sicily. And she does seem more drawn to Sicilian wine than the other regions of Italy. Whatever the reason, when we can enjoy a glass of wine together, it's a good thing.

I can compare two wines made from Sicily's most important red wine grape, Nero d'Avola. From the southern town of Avola, this grape was long used primarily as a blending grape. Since the 1980s, though, it has stood very well on its own. The characteristics a Nero d'Avola shows are somewhat akin to those of a new world Syrah, so this would seem to be a nice varietal for a California wine guy like me.

First, a bottle from home, then a restaurant selection.

Ruggero di Tasso Archeo Nero d'Avola 2007 - True to its reputation, I found Syrah-like pepper on the nose and palate with ripe berries in the forefront. A vegetal note also came into play that I found intriguing. The texture is smooth, but the medium mouthfeel left me wanting something a little more substantial. There's a decent amount of acidity and it would probably fare well with a nice pasta dish or some Italian sausage. The finish is not too dramatic. It's serviceable enough, and I think it usually sells for under $10, so expectations shouldn't be too high.

The restaurant selection came at Il Buco on Robertson in Beverly Hills, a favorite of ours. The wine was Cataldo Nero d'Avola 2006. If the Tasso didn't quite satisfy my new world taste, the Cataldo certainly didn't. A big, fruity nose with blackberries, plum and pepper came off as perfumy - even my wife wrinkled her nose a bit. There was a vegetal note on the back end in this wine as well, but it served more as a curiosity than anything else.

The wine had good color, but unfortunately I found the taste not so much "medium" as "thin and watery." It was not my style, although its fruitiness and freshness would no doubt be attractive to some. It was a very lightweight entry.

Neither of these wines held too much interest for me. They were both drinkable - the Tasso more than the Cataldo - but ultimately I like a little more body in a wine.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tasting Notes: Artisan Cheese Gallery

We were out for a Sunday morning adventure. Well, actually it was a trip to the Studio City Farmers' Market. We don't like difficult adventures.

The trip did turn out to be more than we bargained for, though. We strolled through the fruit stands - unfortunately, most of the fruit wasn't quite sweet and delicious just yet - and saw the various bead salespeople, the countless baby strollers and the gourmet corn tamale stand I can smell and identify without looking. There were a couple of guys singing folk music and another guy playing a steel drum, probably the happiest sounding instrument in all the musical world. Nobody's playing the blues on a steel drum.

Just about to call it a morning, we remembered the Artisan Cheese Gallery, just steps away from the Farmers' Market. It was an adventure after all. We went for the cheese and stayed for the flight of wines.

The aroma of their cheeses is magnificent. It's not overpowering, because all their cheese is put away and refrigerated overnight. It is a very pleasant aroma for a cheese lover to encounter.

Here's a rule of thumb: if there's cheese, there's wine. Artisan Cheese Gallery is no exception. Two walls are covered with racks of wine for sale and there are several displays in the floor space. A chalkboard on the counter shows which three wines are on the $8 flight. The flight is served in 3 stemless glasses on a wooden tray. The glasses have a dark spot on them in which the names of the wines are written, but it's no substitute for getting up and examining the labels yourself. A printed sheet containing information on the wine should be provided with your flight. I hope they'll do that in the future.

The worldly flight took me to Lodi, Sicily and the Medoc region of France. Here are the wines:

Peirano Estate Vineyard "The Other" 2007 - This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah has plenty of the earthy characteristics Lodi wine usually brings. This is the most distictive nose of the three, and it has a currant and plum flavor profile. Very nice indeed.

Chateau Poitevin 2005 - Described by a staff member as a Bordeaux blend of 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot, this Medoc offering was quite dark in the nose and on the palate. The complexity was not surprising. I am always struck by the complex subtlety in wines from Bordeaux and the surrounding areas.

Planeta La Segreta 2007 - This is an interesting blend of the wonderful Italian varietal Nero d'Avola with Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. The nose was rather difficult for me to ferret out, but plums, raspberries and chocolate were detected by my wife. There may be a bit of coffee in there, too. It tasted like a Sicilian version of Pinot Noir, with plenty of spicy, dark notes.

Artisan Cheese Gallery
12023 Ventura Boulevard
Studio City, CA 91604