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Librandi, Val di Neto IGT (Calabria, Italy) "Gravello" 2016 ($26, Winebow)
 Gravello was introduced to the international market by Librandi some 20 years ago.  It is a fine example of marrying traditional wine styles with more modern influences.  It shows the beauty and purity of Calabria’s Gaglioppo grape -- thought to be a relative of Sangiovese.  The lovely red cherry fruit of the Gaglioppo is enhanced in this case by blending with Cabernet Sauvignon (40%)..  Aged in small oak barrels, the combination is a sensuous delight.  Lovely aromas of pure red cherry, blackberry and raspberry fruits are interwoven with nuances of lilac, herbs, coffee, vanilla and cinnamon spice.  The flavors are equally exciting, with red and black fruits underscored by a rich texture and delicate floral, herb, coffee, cedar, vanilla and spice tones.  While Super-Tuscan blends still get most of the notoriety, it is well worth the effort to seek out this Super-Calabrian bottle. 
93 Wayne Belding


Posted by Robert Whitley on September 9, 2019 at 5:03 PM

Tailgate Tips

The kickoff of football season always reminds me of burned brats, warm white wine and that sinking feeling when you learn no one remembered to bring a corkscrew.  Tailgate parties don’t have to be a disappointing launch to an otherwise glorious autumn afternoon, though they often are.

Over the years I’ve learned a few lessons that I will now share with those inclined to want wine instead of beer at the next tailgate party.

1.  Do not fear the screwcap.  Stranded and thirsty in a sun-drenched parking lot, the once onerous “scewcap” closure could be your best friend.  Screwcap once upon a time was an indication of poor quality.  The Aussies and Kiwis changed our thinking when some years ago they started selling many of their finest wines in bottles with screwcap closures.  Now everyone does it and the convenience factor when you are camping or tailgating is off the charts. Do not let the absence of a corkscrew spoil your party.

2.  Do not fear the tall, slender wine bottles popular in Germany and Austria.  Too many wine enthusiasts equate this bottle shape with sweet dessert wines.  Not so.  Dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminers from stellar producers such as Dutton-Goldfield and Navarro Vineyards are poured from the same type of bottle, and these might well be the best match for your grilled sausages and brats.

3.  Do not fear pink wine.  Once upon a time most domestic pink wine was sweet and icky.  Not so anymore.  Domestic producers have embraced Europe’s love of crisp, dry Rosé wines that are both refreshing and oh-so-versatile with just about every savory morsel served up at a typical tailgate gathering.

4.  Do not fear high-octane Zinfandel.  There is no doubt the average Zinfandel, if it’s made in the bold, ripe style Zin fanatics love, packs a wallop.  The alcohol by volume sometimes exceeds 15 percent and most of the time that’s not necessarily good with refined cuisine.  But we’re talking tailgate party here.  Burgers, steaks, chops, sausages, brats, etc.  There is no better red wine for the challenge of the tailgate than Zinfandel. Just remember the three Rs – Renwood, Runquist and Rodney Strong!  

Connect with Robert on Twitter at @WineGuru.

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
Hidden Gem: Santa Cruz Mountains AVA
Rebecca Murphy

A visit to the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is a step back in time to a more serene era in California wine country: no limos full of bachelorettes, wine trains or bumper-to-bumper traffic. Vineyards and wineries, mostly family owned, are small compared to other wine regions. In fact, many wineries in California have more vineyard acreage than the entire Santa Cruz Mountains AVA's total. The landscape is rugged and heavily forested. The roads through the area are winding and treacherous. While the next winery may only be a few miles away, it may take an hour to get there. Cell phone service is unreliable, an annoying irony considering that you can see Silicon Valley from the higher elevations.
A Star on Long Island
Michael Apstein

Recently, I happened to mention to my friend, Howard Goldberg, the longtime The New York Times wine writer, that I was writing a column about Loire wines made from Chenin Blanc. Howard suggested that I visit Paumanok on Long Island's North Fork because, he said, they made great Chenin Blanc. So, I arranged a visit, insisting that I wouldn't take more than 45 minutes of their time because I was just interested in their Chenin Blanc. Well, not surprisingly, Goldberg was correct about their Chenin Blanc. What was surprising was how a scheduled 45-minute visit morphed into a two and half hour tasting due to the discovery that Paumanok's entire line-up is stellar.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Linguine with Almonds, Burrata, Mushrooms and Zucchini

In Paris this summer we enjoyed a lovely pasta dish at Les Minimes, a casual little restaurant on the rue de Turenne. What made this an unusually tasty treat was its wealth of different flavors and textures, including crunch from almonds, a velvety creaminess from Burrata cheese, plus earthiness contributed by mushrooms and zucchini. The comforting presence of linguine noodles along with a tangy cascade of Parmesan cheese miraculously linked all the varied components together. We recently did our best to recreate the dish from memory, and while ours was perhaps not quite as extraordinary as the one we remembered, it was nonetheless pretty darn good. Equally good with red or white wines, this pasta dish benefits from a smooth, silky pairing.
On My Table
Masterful Chardonnay
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

Ramey, Russian River Valley, Chardonnnay 2016 ($42): Long before the Ramey name appeared on wine labels as a brand of fine California wines, David Ramey was widely recognized as one of this country's most talented winemakers. I personally encountered him in the late 1980s when he was winemaker at Chalk Hill Winery in Sonoma and I was a Master of Wine student eager to devour the knowledge and experience he so generously shared. Most recently, I encountered him through this 2016 Chardonnay. Searching for the ideal California Chardonnay to use in my most advanced wine class, I tasted through various wines and, no surprise, I zeroed in on David Ramey's Russian River Valley bottling.