This past Saturday I took a road trip to Atlantic City to attend the Cal-Ital wine event which was billed as “A Celebration of California and Italian wine”. The event was held at the Golden Nugget Casino on the marina. The event featured Italian wine producers and California wine producers with an Italian background as well as wine produced from Italian varietals.

The Golden Nugget casino was formally the Trump Marina and had gone through extensive renovation and it shows. The casino has that spanking brand new look and not the frayed around the edges look like some of the casinos on the boardwalk have. They held the event in the “Grand Room” which was the huge event space with lots of chandeliers and red tones.  I had an enjoyable evening, they poured enough decent juice to make the night interesting, and of course, the models they hired as pourers didn’t hurt. This event was much better than the food and wine fest that AC had a few weeks ago. That event had an ocean of mediocre wines.

The Italian producers I sampled were: Cerreto, Michele Chiarlo, Tommasi, Marcarini, Banfi, Frescobaldi, Lungarotti, Antinori, Castello di Querceto, and Terre di Talaimo.

The California producers I sampled were: Sbragia, Pellegrini, Levendi, Cosentino, Seghesio, Schafer, Altamura, Louis Martini, Flora Springs, Pedroncelli, Sebastiani, Ferrari Carano, Trinchero, and Montevina.

The 2009 Sbragia “Home Ranch” Merlot was medium red with a toasty dark chocolate coverd cherry nose with great balance and a long finish.

Levendi from Napa was a winery I haven’t tried before.  Their 2007 “Symphony” Cabernet Sauvignon (100%) was medium red with a dried herb bouquet on the nose, tight concentrated fruit with a medium to long finish. The 2006 “Sweetwater Ranch” single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (100%) had an interesting nose of tar and violets with tight and very concentrated fruit with a firm but balanced long finish. Very tasty.

The 2009 Shafer Napa Valley Merlot was dark red with a nose of dark chocolate and bluberries, chewy dense fruit with a long finish.

The 2008 Altamura Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was another Cali wine with a dark color with a nose of black plums, chewy fruit and a long finish.

The Louis Martini 2008 Lot No. 1 Cabernet Sauvignon had a brambly, dried rosemary nose and juicy, mouth puckering tannins and acids on the finish.

From Trinchero Vineyards the 2008 “Chicken Ranch” Merlot was medium dark with a dusty nose with chewy, toasty fruit on the palate. The 2008 “Central Park West” Cabernet Sauvignon  had a nose of spicy plums and oak with tightly wound fruit of dark berries and oak and firm acids on the finish.

From the Italians I enjoyed Frescobaldi’s Super Tuscan the 2004 Luce (Sangiovese, Merlot). Medium red, nose of tar and violets, chewy earth on the long finish.

The Ceretto 2007 Barolo Zonchero had an atypical nose of black cherry with the fruit on the light side and chewy tannins on the finish.

Tomassi’s 2007 Amarone was a delicious wine, medium dark, the nose was closed but had some dark berry flavors peeking through, concentrated fruit with bright red cherry on the finish. Not at all like the typical jammy Amarone.

The 2009 Peppoli Chianti Classico from Antinori had what I thought a dark color for a Chianti with spicy chocolate on the nose with bright fruit and crisp acids on the finish.

The 2008 Castello di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva was medium red with earth on the nose with good fruit followed by mouth puckering tannins on the finish.

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