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Friday, June 3, 2011

The “Wow Factor"

I do enjoy my regular favorites and there are lots of wines that keep me coming back for more, but I continue to try new wines to keep an open mind, keep on learning, and occasionally stumble upon something truly amazing.  Every so often, I get a surprise when I open a bottle that I figured would be satisfying, and the wine far exceeds my expectations.  These wines have what I call the “wow factor” - they’ve got that certain something about them that makes them special.
A white that very recently surprised me was the 2004 Tamellini Soave, produced in the Veneto region of Italy from the Garanega grape.  Generally, a Soave is meant to be enjoyed fairly soon after production, so you’re probably wondering why I had the 2004 Soave in 2011.  My explanation is that it was the only bottle of Soave I could find, and when I held the bottle up to the light, it looked clear, so I decided to bring that bottle home.  It’s a bright yellow color with a pale straw, almost clear rim, and characteristics of citrus, apple, a hint of peach, and lots of floral notes, a coolness about it, and a long finish with interesting notes of nut and cheese.  I paired the Soave with Italian feta cheese, and spinach fettuccine with sauteed chicken and a light cream sauce, and the wine worked very nicely with this dinner.

2004 Tamellini Soave

I had expected the wine to be perhaps past its prime since Soave should be enjoyed very young, but instead, it had matured gracefully, and the many layers of aromas and flavors, with its present yet somewhat restrained acidity and lovely structure and lengthy finish, gave me a very happy surprise, and as I allowed the wine to return to room temperature, the flavors were absolutely bursting and I could not have been happier with it.  The wine was truly wonderful, at a very reasonable price.

Soave with spinach fettuccine and sauteed chicken in a light cream sauce

A few weeks back while blind tasting, I found that maybe it was time to explore some South American wines, and what better way then to start with a good Malbec?  The answer is to start with an amazing Malbec!

2004 Achaval Ferrer Malbec

I picked out a bottle of 2004 Achaval Ferrer from the very dependable Mendoza region in Argentina to pair with the steak I had rubbed with fresh garlic, and a baby mesclun salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  As soon as I poured the wine, I knew for sure it was something special.  Very dark in color with a much lighter rim demonstrating its age, and plenty of viscosity in the glass indicating its alcohol content, the aromas rushed to me in the form of rich blueberry, blackberry, plum, a hint of purple flowers (perhaps violets or lilacs), soft herbs and baking spices.  The aromas were confirmed on the palate, with the blueberry characteristics really coming through, with that bit of spice and mineral soil characteristics.  The tannins had softened beautifully and balanced so nicely with modest acidity, and the finish seemed to go on forever.

Malbec with steak and mesclun salad

It’s safe to say I was very taken by this wine and this is one of my best examples of the “wow factor” - I figured this would be a good wine since it was one of the higher priced Malbecs in the wine shop that day and something made me confident with the purchase, but I had no idea how much I’d love this wine.  I’ve heard the recent vintages of Achaval Ferrer Malbec are very enjoyable as well, and I look forward to tasting them.

1 comment:

  1. Your food and wine pairings are always great! I must look for Achaval Ferrer b/c I mainly enjoy Bianchi and would like to find another favorite Malbec.