Tag Archives: 2007

2007 Epicuro Salice Salentino Riserva

(This is a review of the 2007 vintage. The current vintage on sale is 2009, which I reviewed over here.)

Epicuro’s wines have been my go to Italian reds since I moved to Ann Arbor. They are reasonably priced ($5.99, I believe) and easily available at Trader Joe’s. I actually had my first sip of an Epicuro during my last weeks in Germany, when  my friend who gave me the Scharzhofberger, brought this wine for a dinner I had cooked. I had seen the bottles before, but it being such a mass label, I never tried it. They have a row of wines, differentiated by the color of their labels:

Red is a primitivo; blue is a nero d’avola; silver is an aglianico; and gold a salice salentino. They also produce a white, a vermentino.

I am not fond of their aglianico and nero d’avola, but I thought the 2008 vintage of their primitivo was great. A nice table wine, chewy and interesting, we had it for many BBQs and other evenings of just drinking wine. The currently available 2010 vintage, however, does not fit my taste. It is quite sweet, something that 2008 did not have to that degree. I don’t think I will keep buying that wine. But there still is the 2007 Salice Salentino Riserva…

Salice Salentino is a red wine from Southern Italy and has had DOC (denominanzione di origine controllata) status since 1976. The village it is named after is in the heel of the Italian boot. The main grape in a salice salentino is negroamaro, which is generally described as a rustic and earthy grape.

This red has 80% negroamaro and 20% malvasia nera in it. It has 13% ABV.

It poured as a medium to dark red. The nose was alcoholic and perfumy, with hints of leather. On the palate, I first noticed how nicely chewy this wine was. I then got cherries and herbal tastes, as well as rather strong leather and tobacco notes, which gave the wine depth. It had good acidity and the tannins came through well. A long finish made it a really enjoyable wine on a later evening. To me, this is definitely the star of the Epicuros.

As I indicated in Wednesday’s post, I had never had red wine with my risotto, so I gave it a try. And oh man, this really worked very well with the earthy flavors of the mushroom risotto. I wish I had paired them to begin with, but by the time we opened this one, I was already stuffed…

I will definitely be stocking up on this wine. Who knows how long it will be around, being a 2007 vintage? At $5.99, there is hardly anything wrong with it. It definitely tasted like a more expensive wine.

Photo taken from leftovers the next day. That said, I do like my risotto less creamy than most American chefs.

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Greek Tomato Sauce…and 2007 Gaetano d’Aquino Chianti Riserva

What do you do when the wine you want to write about was somewhat underwhelming? You write about the food that you had with it because it was amazing…and mention the wine later.

It is tomato season, guys. How do I know? Because our awesome landlady brings us bags of tomatoes every other day!! I love putting them on my sandwiches or make a tomato salsa but we still have tons. So, Nina remembered a recipe that my brother was taught by one of his friends’ grandmother who lives on the Romanian border in Greece (I swear, I did not make this up!). It is incredibly simple, but you must, must, must have tomatoes that actually are fully ripe and taste like tomatoes, so usually not the supermarket stuff…Give this recipe a try if you love tomatoes. It will not let you down! And it stores well in the fridge, too, so make as much as you can.

Greek Tomato Ragù – final result (no pictures of the process because I didn’t intend to blog about it)

Here is the recipe to the Greek Tomato Sauce:

as many fully ripe, fresh tomatoes as you want
1-2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
fresh basil
olive oil, pepper, salt

1) Get your grinder out and grind the tomatoes (skin and all) into a bowl. Yes, I mean grinding, as in cheese grinding.

2) Fill a pot with a very generous amount of good olive oil. You think you put in enough? Put in more! You want the onions and the garlic swimming in oil! Heat to medium heat and throw in onions and garlic. Let cook for 10-15 minutes. The onions and garlic should not brown if you put in enough oil, they will just become soft.

3) Pour in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer. At that stage, the ground tomatoes are quite liquidy. No worries.

4) Let simmer for 1 1/2-3 hours, until the sauce is not watery any more (varies with the amount of tomatoes). The texture depends on your idea of sauce. Season with salt and pepper, throw in as many fresh basil leaves as you want.

5) Done. Serve with penne rigate or rigatoni and fresh parmiggiano. It is divine.

The wine we had with it was a 2007 Gaetano d’Aquino Chianti Riserva I picked up at Trader Joe’s a while back. I think chianti pairs well with tomato-based sauces, so I opened it up. The color was light red, slightly browned with some viscosity. On the nose there were prunes, sweet cherries. Nina got paint thinner, I did not detect that. But the wine smelled a bit fusty. The taste was rather sour, with some marzipane (sweet almond paste). It had nice tannins but was rather thin. The finish was longer than expected, but the sour notes dominated. It was not a bad wine, but it was also not a good wine. Of a riserva, I do expect a bit more. However, I thought it paired alright with our dish.

Nothing special but paired alright with the food.

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2007 Kurt Hain Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese #13

Last Friday, we were invited for a BBQ in the park. It was a gorgeous day, we were playing soccer with our friends’ kids, awesome meat on the grill. Nina and I have been on a slow mission to get our friend who hosted this hooked to German rieslings…so, naturally we brought a bottle to share.

The winery Kurt Hain has been one of my favorite wineries in the Mosel village of Piesport, home to the very renown vineyard “Goldtroepfchen” (literally: “droplets of gold”). Gernot Hain, the winemaker (follow the link for a photo and his philosophy), has been making high quality wines for quite a bit now, and they rarely fail to impress me. They have a balance and sophistication about them, that just draws you in. There is someone who knows exactly what he is doing…and he is doing it remarkably well. Gernot also plays in the Weinelf, Germany’s “national” soccer team composed of winemakers (yes, they exist!).

Now, the wine we brought was the 2007 Piesporter Goldtroepfchen Spaetlese #13. It was in our stash that we brought over from Germany when we moved to Ann Arbor. We felt it was the right time and moment to try it now. In following posts, I will give you more background on how to read a German winelabel etc., suffice it to know for now that this is a riesling with rather high residual sugar made from quality grapes.

Note how beautiful the bottle is. Gernot’s wines tend to be bottled in longer-neck bottles which make them look way more fancy and elegant.

The wine itself had aged beautifully. A lot of people are not aware of the fact that you can age rieslings for a quite a while, the low yielding top of the spectrum for many many decades, but spaetlesen like this can hold on for 20 to 30 years no problem…when the wines are younger, their fruity smells and tastes tend to dominate, while in later years, the sugar and acidity balance each other out more.

The wine had retained its beautiful, lighter than straw color.  When we tried it, it still tasted refreshingly fruity, but you could tell that it was already moving on to the next stage of its existence, with less pronounced fruit and a tad more alcoholic taste. The acidity was doing a jumpy tap dance over the sweetness on my tongue. It was hilarious. And what I loved most, this fun taste lingered and lingered and lingered…too bad it was our last bottle.

Unfortunately, Kurt Hain does not export to the US. His listed importer went bust a while back. For European readers: You can contact the winery for a price list here. I am sure they can ship within Europe without a problem.

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