Vintage Port 2011

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It seems that the 2011 vintage was a declared year for Port. I attended a tasting of newly declared 2011’s held at the Benjamin Hotel located at 125 East 50 Street.

Drinking newly released vintage Port is not the easiest thing to do, at this stage the wines aren’t polished and are usually thick and sweet. Fortunately the Port houses that were present brought along older vintages for us to try as well.

If I had to drink a 2011 tonight it would be the Taylor Fladgate “Vargellas Vinha Velha”. These guys have been making Port since 1692. This one is from their top estate and from the oldest vines on the property. It was dark purple with a purple robe with a nose of dried rosemary, very concentrated and tight with a good grip on the long finish.

Some of the others from 2011 I sample were from Croft, Fonseca, Qunita Da Romaneira and Quinto Do Noval. The Quinto do Noval 2011 “Nacional” got rave reviews from the big wine writers and at about $500 a bottle I had some high expectations. Wasn’t blown away. It was black in color, , light on the initial attack but filled out to a long finish. After sampling the 2011’s I went off to the older vintages, some that I liked:


Croft,  Black in color with a nose of mint and dried plums, concentrated and tight, silky with some grapiness on the finish.


 Quinta do Noval, black with a purple robe, a nose of dried herbs and black licorice, chewy and silky.


Croft, black with a purple robe, nose of cherry candy, sweet with a nice grip with some heat peeking through at the end.

Quinta do Noval,  black with a purple robe, nose of smoky crushed black berries, a mouthful of crushed berry fruit on the finish, nicely balanced with good grip.


Taylor Fladgate “Vargellas Vinha Velha”, dark black with a nose of white flowers and mint, thick and juicy.

Quinta do Noval, black with a purple rim, with a nose of dried herbs, starts closed but opens up with a nice balance and grip.


Taylor Fladgate, black with a nose of white flowers, silky with a nice grip.

Quinta do Noval, black  with an amber robe, and nose of dried herbs, lavender on the long finish with good balance. Tasty.

Quinta do Noval “Nacional”, black with a nose of dark chocolate and dried herbs, thick and chewy with black licorice on the finish.


Chioggia And Colli Euganei


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All good things must come to an end and that includes my Italian adventure. I decided to spent the last couple of nights visiting family. My peeps live in the town of Chioggia which is a small fishing village on the southern part of the Venetian lagoon. The old town is a miniature Venice with canals, bridges and fishing boats while crossing a causeway takes you to the modern beach area of Sottomarina with B & B’s, restaurants and white sandy beaches. Very off the radar for American tourists, it makes a good base to visit Venice while escaping the hoards. You can take the shorter route which is a 45 minute bus ride or the longer which is more scenic but takes longer. You take a boat from the old town which takes you to Lido where you get a bus which takes you to a vaporetto which takes you to St. Marks Square.

It was six years since the last time I visited the town and you would never call it cutting edge but this time around I experiences something I had never had in Sottomarina, a real wine bar.  After cousin Alberto set me up in a nice hostel in the old town, we headed to the beach area for a glass of wine. We spent happy hour at a new wine bar munching on some pasta and bruschetta while drinking  a glass of the 2011 Russolo Cabernet Sauvignon and a glass of the 2010 Poggio al Vento Morellino di Scansano.

The next day, cousin David decided to take me on a wine tour of the closest wine area, Colli Euganei. The Colli  Euganei wine district is located about 30 miles west of Venice. The area is a group of extinct volcanos that rise above the plains of the Po delta. The area is also known for their hot springs as well as their wines. We spent a rainy Monday driving up steep hills surrounded by vineyards. Very picturesque. Dave called ahead and made an appointment with Azienda Agricola Ca Lustra. We were given the standard tour of the facilities  then we got down to some serious wine tasting. Of course we started with the whites. Very interesting labels with pictographs of the ancient indigenous people.

The 2011 Zanovello “Oliveani” is a blend of five grapes including Sauvignon Blanc and Tocai. It was gold in color with a nose of honey and mango, full bodied, buttery, nutty with good acidity on the finish. Good start.

The 2011 Zonovello “Pendevenda” made with the local grape varietal incrocio manzoni, was gold in color with a nose of dried mushrooms and red candy, medium full-bodied with some lemon-lime on the finish with good balance.

The 2009 Zanovello “Roverello” which is made from Chardonnay, was deep gold with a big nose of lime and wild flowers and forest floor, big bodied with some dried leaf on the on the back-end.

The 2011 Zanovello “A Cengia”  which is a blend of two Moscato grape varietals, was gold with green highlights in color with a very big spicy nose and was medium bodied with juicy green lime fruit and nice acidity on the finish.

The 2011 Zanovello “Agangoor” Rose is an equal blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and was cherry red with an earthy, sour cherry nose with bright, crisp fruit, and an earthy finish with firm acids on the finish. On to the reds.

The 2009 Zanovello “Girapoggio” is a blend of 30% Cabernet Franc and 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was black with a nose of smoky bacon, concentrated, silky and chewy with firm tannins and acids on the long finish.

The 2007 Zanovello “Natio” which is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Camenere was black in color and a violet robe with  a big perfume of camphor, very concentrated and silky with notes of black fruits with a great grip with a long finish that coats the tongue.

The 2008 Zanovello “Sassonero” is all Merlot and was black with a purple robe with a nose of sour fruit, it was tight and concentrated with velvet fruit, good balance and a long finish.

The second label 2009 Ca Lustra Rosso, is a blend of three red grape varietals and was dark red to black with a nose of green pepper, black fruit and lots of barnyard, it was rustic and chewy and a big mouthfeel with dusty fruit and good balance on the finish. Very nice.

Overall it was a very interesting tasting.


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After my stay with the guys in Le March I headed to Rome for a couple of days. After constant rain, the weather was great, clear skies and no humidity. In my opinion Rome is one of the great cities of the world. Since it’s on the travel triad for Americans it was swarming with my countrymen. I didn’t go to too many wine bars in the city in part because frankly, I got tired of getting lost looking for wine bars. Oh well, Every other bar calls it self a “wine bar” but most of them are restaurants that serve some wine.

On my way to the Coliseum I did pass a wine shop that advertised tastings. I stopped in and had a nice chat with one of the workers and asked for something white and local. She poured me the 2011 Casale Certosa Malvasia Puntinata. It was a very dark gold with a nose of honey with a dry, full mouth feel of tropical fruit with crisp acidity on the finish. A nice starter wine. I spent the day sightseeing and enjoying the weather. The next day I was able to stop by one of  the oldest wine bars in Rome, Trimani. It was a slick place with local businessmen enjoying lunch and a wine by the glass list that didn’t impress me much for one of the oldest wine bars in Rome. It wasn’t very extensive and short on local wines. I had the 2011 Castel del Monte Rosso. It had a very young nose, grapey, young and I thought it lacked some character.