Le Vigne di Eli

Le Vigne di Eli

Etna Rosso

2017 / $25 / 14.5%

Etna, Italy

This bad boy was much needed after my previous review of el Campo – which was el stinko.  I’m happy to report that we now have a new addition to the top 10!  This delicious Etna finds a home at number 8 and for good reason.  Unfortunately, the last time I had this wine I was only able to have one glass as it was experienced at a party.  This time around I made sure to consume as much as I could, so as to provide a high-quality review.

This wine exemplifies everything Etna has to offer and if you’ve been a follower of the blog you know about my affinity for Sicilian wine.  I find that wines from Etna often have a slight hint of carbonation to them.  Normally that would be something frowned upon, but it works every single time with Etna’s.  This wine is just superb and gets better as you drink it.  Obviously not because ya know, you’re getting a little tipsy.  Rather it’s because the taste changes a bit over the course of aeration, opening up more over time.

I know I’ve stayed away from getting real “wine term specific” in recent posts, however, this wine deserves the “professional” treatment.  First, this wine has a wonderful aromatic woodsy smell to it.  And no, it’s not because of the wood burning fire as seen in the accompanying picture.  I made sure to get a couple sniffs outside to be sure!  It follows through with an earthy, almost fresh soil taste to it.  Which again, is lovely!  I know, I know, this isn’t what the Everyday Wine Guy persona is supposed to be about, but this wine deserves to be described with some class. I stayed away from the fruit hints because I would have lost readers by now!

I would suggest having Le Vigne di Eli with a light meal or by itself.  Bring this wine with you to a dinner party and the guests will not be let down (let them know who recommended it, so ya boy can grow his following!). Once again, this bottle is just that good.  I’d drink this any day of the week or by itself.  Definitely do not pair this wine with a heavy meal, it will not hold up.  At $25 a bottle, it’s not an everyday wine, but it will certainly be a nice addition to your collection. To improve your experience of drinking this wine, I would highly recommend allowing it to aerate in a decanter.  Give it a solid hour to open up before you thoroughly enjoy!  And to my lovely followers, well at least most of you, happy Thanksgiving ya’ll!  Get good and stuffed and crack a couple of bottles.

Taste – 8

Smell – 9

Recommend – 8

Price – 8

Complexity – 9

Overall – 42

Find near you Here!

Get delivered to your door Here!

Advertisement

Campo Viejo

Campo Viejo

Art Series Reserva

2014 / $14 / 13.5%

Rioja, Spain

Where do we begin with this one, oh where do we?  Admittedly, often times I don’t get around to writing these reviews until a few days or even a week after I’ve actually tasted the wine.  I keep a journal (wine bible) that I use to jot down my thoughts on the wine while sipping it and revert to those notes to craft these well-written (better edited) reviews.  I must say, it’s a pleasure to review my notes after a few days have passed, especially if the notes were made a few glasses into the bottle…

And boy was it a joy to revisit these notes!  I almost skipped writing a review for this wine, but seeing as I’m trying to stay consistent and build up that following, I gotta stick to it!  Sometimes I can be a little too harsh in my review, but I’ve found what I like in a wine, and sadly Campo Viejo did not check off the “enjoyed” box.  The only thing I liked about this tasting was the picture I took to accompany it, which I must toot my own horn and say, is quite nice.

Back to the notes; there aren’t many, but enough to get a good review in writing.  My favorite, “it’s not bad and it’s not good. Mostly it’s bad.”  Yup, that’s what real blogging is all about!  Further down the page in the journal we have in capitals, “OH IT’S BAD, IT’S BAD, YOU KNOW IT!”  Just a glimpse into my mind during these tastings.  One more, which I had to turn the page for this guy, “caught in the beauty of the outside with a lot of stink inside!”  What I think was going on there was how the bottle is beautiful, hence the art series, but alas, terrible wine.  The only Art series I’ll pay for from now on involves California!

I don’t mean to be so negative, so harsh… am I becoming a bit of a wine snob?  Maybe, but I know what I like.  Kind of like this girl I matched with on tinder.  She told me she only dates guys that are 5 ft 10 or taller because, she “knows what she likes.”  You’d think we’d be a match made in heaven, but I decided to tell her, well “I only date girls that are 115 pounds or lighter.”  Because, I know what I like.  And to my surprise she did not like that!  The audacity!  Obviously, I’m joking, I like you however you come! 

I digress, ah the wonders of online dating!  Back to the wine.  As my notes said, it’s terrible!  Buy a bottle, take a swig and see what you think!  We’re mostly here for the schtick anyway. 

Taste – 5

Recommend – 4

Price – 9

Smell – 6

Complexity – 5

Overall – 29 out of 50

If you want it, you can search yourself!

Juggernaut

Juggernaut

Pinot Noir

Russian River Valley

2016 / $19 / 14.5%

Russian River Valley, California

I really wanted to be witty and put some humor into this post as this wine is called Juggernaut.  Cuz, I mean…. I’m the Juggernaut bitch! (VERY MUCH NSFW!)  Now that I got that off my chest, I must say that this wine is just outstanding.  I picked it up with absolutely no idea what it was about or if it was any good.  I was sold purely by the name and the label design.  What can I say?  I’m a fan of fancy artwork!  This time fortunately, the wine was just as good as the bottle design.

I went to the store with the intentions of buying a few bottles.  One had to be a Pinot and the others were going to be game time decisions.  Normally I venture to the Oregon section but over the past few months I’ve tasted my way through Westchester Wine Warehouse’s Oregon selection (step it up WWW), so I decided to peruse the California isle.  I wasn’t trying to break the bank and settled on this bottle.  It’s badass wolf/bear design really caught my eye on the shelf – honestly I really don’t know what the animal is but it’s cool as shit.  Priced under $20, I just had to pull the trigger.

I haven’t had many Pinots from the Russian River Valley and if this is any representation of what they pump out, I’m sold!  It’s honestly a great change from my normal dabbling in Willamette.  The smell, damn!  The color, hot!, the taste, ooooo weeeee!  What I really enjoyed most about it was that even though it’s a light wine, it has a nice little kick to it on the follow through.  It really left me wanting more.  Juggernaut is fantastic and is absolutely to be recommended and purchased again.

I’m buying a few more bottles of this bad boy and if you can find one for yourself, I suggest you do the same.  It paired very well with salmon and I can see myself drinking it with other light meals or simply by itself.  Juggernaut and a plate of shrimp scampi is definitely a night in the near future I’m looking forward to!

Taste – 8

Recommend – 9

Price – 9

Smell – 8

Complexity – 7

Overall – 41 out of 50

Find near you Here!

Delivered to your door Here!

Domaine Alary

Domaine Alary

La Gerbaude

Cotes du Rhõne

2016 / $15 / 14.5%

Còtes du Rhõne, France

I had the pleasure of sipping this wine after a hard-fought victory over arch rival Scarsdale (I teach the kiddos, and coach high schoolers); a result that was won through a stress inducing overtime and penalty kicks.  Back in my day, the Scarsdale / White Plains soccer game was always circled on the calendar, and this game surely lived up to the tradition.  Needless to say, the big win tasted quite good, and I left the field in search of a celebratory red to keep that euphoria rolling to my palate.

I turned to La Gerbaude, which I must say, paired very well with the sweet, savory taste of victory.  This wine is particularly dry, so much so that it has a mouth smacking characteristic to it, which would definitely turn off some wine drinkers.  However, if you enjoy dry reds, you’d do well to scoop up this Còtes du Rhõne.  Where I went wrong was pairing it with some delicious, light fish.  This wine is NOT meant for a light meal.  It’s super heavy and full bodied and would go much better with lamb or pork.

Quick soccer update:  Unfortunately, by the time this blog is posted we’ve been kicked out of the playoffs having lost in the following round.  I will be in search of a new grape to drown my sorrows.  On to next season!

Taste – 7

Recommend – 7

Price – 9

Smell – 7

Complexity – 8

Overall – 38 out of 50

Find near you Here!

Grand’Arte

Grand’ Arte

Touriga Nacional

2012 / $15 / 13%

Lisbon, Portugal

Lately I’ve been tasting my way through Italy quite a bit, so I decided to head west for my next review.  Even though it’s nice to keep dipping your beak in Italian grapes, sometimes you just have to change things up.  Lisbon just so happens to be Europe’s farthest west wine producing region.  As I have said in previous posts; Portugal does vino right.  Known for Port wines – which have been around since the early 17th century – they are essentially “fortified” wine that has been mixed with a small amount of distilled spirit, usually brandy.  Now, this post isn’t about Port wine – it’s about Lisbon’s table reds.  Just thought I’d give you a quick history lesson.

Grand’ Arte is produced with the Touriga Nacional grape, which by many is considered to be the grape of Portugal.  The Touriga Nacional is known for having a low yield but producing wines that are full of structure and high tannins.  Grand’ Arte is no different.  It’s a full-bodied wine that lets you know its high tannins on the follow through. 

This is by no means a top of the shelf/spectacular wine; but it’s certainly one I can drink on the regular.  Especially with cold weather around the corner and my fondness for heavy meals, this is a bottle I’ll be picking up again…  Gotta build up the fat preserves for the chilly months (restock the beef)!  This is a quality red that you can pull out for any casual night.  Though I wouldn’t break this out with the lady you’re trying to impress.  This is for the part of the relationship where you’ve been dating for a few months and you’ve already ripped one in front of her.  She knows what she signed up for and she’ll love you regardless!

In all seriousness this wine does smell absolutely fantastic.  I was a little bummed the smell didn’t translate to the taste though.  However, that’s to be expected sometimes.  I’d definitely pair this wine with a heavy meal and FYI it goes fantastic with dark chocolate… in case you’re feeling decadent.  For $15 I’d say that’s a pretty good deal and for any of my Westchester readers head to Westchester Wine Warehouse and pick up a bottle.  If you like dry, bold, reds it won’t knock your socks off but will hopefully hit the spot!

Taste – 7

Recommend – 8

Price – 9

Smell – 9

Complexity – 6

Overall – 39 out of 50

Find near you here!

Passopisciaro

Passopisciaro

Passorosso Etna Rosso

Nerello Mascalese

2015 / $40 / 13.5%

Sicily, Italy

I’m a teacher so my opinion here may be a bit biased, but I don’t care.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do.  Teaching can be one of the most rewarding things out there – especially with elementary school age children.  Young children are very impressionable which is why I take great pride in setting good examples for my students, and why I love teaching.

However, I honestly believe teaching is one of the most difficult professions there is.  It takes a special kind of person to want to put up with all the bullshit you receive for being a teacher.  Whether that’s outside noise, inside noise, or the constant comments of “teachers get so many days off!”  Well you’d need those days off too if you had to deal with little terrors on a constant basis!  While they’re not all terrors some just make you want to curse your brains out.  The majority are absolutely precious but there’s always that one…

And if you strongly disagree with that statement then you’re someone who has never taught or are just a fool.  And if you’re the latter then go kick dirt.  Yes, we have more vacations than you, yes, we have pensions but let me see you try to wrangle 32 five-year olds for 6 and a half hours straight and try to keep them from killing one another or themselves!

Okay, okay back to the point of this post.  This is why teachers drink when they get home, or hopefully ya know, later in the day when they’re eating dinner.  For some, rough days of teaching followed by rough afternoons of coaching your team to a 3-2 defeat there’s nothing better than a glass of vino to decompress.

I don’t normally spend $40 on a bottle of wine, but when I do, I expect A LOT from it.  I’d had one of those days where I was looking forward to this bottle.  Recently I’ve been in these grooves of sticking to something that’s my “flavor for the month.”  Of late it’s been wines from Sicily, specifically the Etna region.  And to be honest, I was completely let down by this bottle.  It’s a 2015, so it’s not like it needed more years to age, and I was just left disappointed with it.  Mostly because I spent $40.  And because I’ve had much better wines for half the price.

In the glass this wine resembled a Pinot, very light, and almost see through.  However, it had some kick behind it on first taste.  I started drinking it before eating and did not like it at all at first.  Though once paired with my meal, I started to open up to it.  It’s not like I didn’t let it decant for a while so that’s not why it was harsh.  But there was a metallic taste to it and very strong finish that didn’t sit well with me.  We’ll chalk this one up as a mistake for the ole Daniel but hey, we can’t be perfect all the time.  And like any good teacher I’ll continue to educate myself on the world of wines and enjoy bringing that to my lovely visitors!

Taste – 6

Recommend – 6

Price – 7

Smell – 7

Complexity – 6

Overall – 32 out of 50

For the life of me I can’t find this wine online or where to buy. I’m not recommending it so it’s probably for the best!

Brooks

Brooks

Janus

Pinot Noir

2015 / $19 / 14%

The name Janus comes from the Roman mythological god depicted as having two faces – looking both to the past and to the future.  Whether from good experiences or bad, as individuals we’re always looking to learn from our past to better our future.  Regardless of our circumstances, there will come times when we’ll all deal with hardship and go through rough patches.  What’s important is that you find the positive and productive ways to get you through those down times.  Whether they’re health related, physically related, emotionally, or mentally.  Everywhere, everyone is going through something. 

You can always count on your loved ones to be there for you, your dog to cheer you up, your passions to take your mind off things, and even for some, the warmth of wine.  You can certainly always count on a Pinot from Willamette Valley to warm your soul.  Janus is just that kind of Pinot.  I couldn’t think of a better option for the crisp autumn air and changing leaves than Brooks Janus.  This wine is just a knockout.  My love for Willamette Oregon keeps on growing and expanding.

There is no better time to drink this wine than now.  It’s deliciously light, dry, with earthy tones, and a bit more alcoholic than most Pinot Noirs.  It’s superb, really, and you can continue to drink this from today until the warm weather comes in the spring.  If I must find a characteristic to point out, it’s that there is a little acid bite the more the wine opens up.  Definitely not a negative but something to point out about the wine.  If anything, it just means you should get to the second bottle sooner…

I don’t mean for this post to be a somber one but it’s important to notice your highs and lows and continue to take each day as a fresh start.  Wine happens to be one of my passions, something I openly and gladly share with loved ones.  It gets me through my lows (not by drinking until I’m hammered!) and it’s there when I have my highs! It’s been around for thousands of years and will continue to bring people together for thousands more.  So, share it with your loved ones, embrace it for its differences, and don’t forget that it doesn’t take too much to be kind.  Learn from your past to better your future!

Little bonus for you all. If you’re ever feeling blue, had a rough day, week, month, there’s always hope. So, I’d like to share a little video that from time to time has helped cheer me up and lift my spirits. Hope it brings positivity to your life! It does, however have an unfortunate spelling mistake. But hey, the creator didn’t have the magic editing skills of one Evan Ach! It’s world mental health day, so take a moment to check in with yourself!

Taste – 8

Recommend – 9

Price – 9

Smell – 8

Complexity – 7

Overall – 41 out of 50

Find near you Here!

Delivered to your door Here!

SICKNESS!

To my loyal readers and followers! I must apologize for my lack of post this week. My immune system has let me down big time for these past 10 days! I have been pretty sick for the last week and a half and have been unable to enjoy the beautiful grape for my readers. But more importantly for myself! Trust me it sucks being sick but oh man oh man it hurts not being able to enjoy my daily vino fix. I’m hoping to be back in the liquid saddle early this week so I can get a post out by Wednesday. If not – pray for me. I kid…… but seriously….

Tignanello – 2013

First ever guest post – hope you all enjoy! By Brandon Fierro!

“Serve good wine first, then the bad stuff, but always save the best bottle for yourself.”  — Mike Fierro

It’s surprising that a guy who runs a wine blog has never shared his dad’s only advice about wine, which is both absolutely correct and also par for the course from a man who recycles used motor oil and stockpiles Dark Horse cab.

So here is a review of my best bottle that I’ve never shared.

I got married in 2012.  I was the traditional one.  I wanted to have a big wedding with a mess of bridesmaids and groomsmen and a slow dance with my mom to “Simple Man,” and my brother proving everyone wrong by delivering a funny, thoughtful, fondly remembered toast, and carefully stage-managed pictures of the wedding party, and a surprise savory snack late in the night right before “Shout” sends the party into the atmosphere.  Alex was the marriage misanthrope.  She wanted to elope, or just have our families and the handful of close friends we’ve had and still have over to the house for a party that cost no more than $500 and get everyone drunk and maybe laid.  Or just screw it why don’t we walk to city hall one day and be on with our lives. 

We met in the middle.  We had 100 people over for a party in someone else’s backyard, cooked some of the food ourselves, and had already gone to city hall.  My brother nailed the speech in what was and still remains the Spinks-Tyson of wedding upsets, and we doled out crab cakes just before the party abruptly ended when a neighbor complained.  Or because Alex’s Uncle Ted wanted all of these assholes off his lawn.

At my request we did a wedding registry.  You can still find it here.  Alex was appalled.  By that point in time we had been dating, on and off and off and off and on-ish and finally back on for about a decade, and had already accumulated a lifetime’s worth of relationship detritus and junk, and Alex could not fathom assigning a group of well-meaning schmucks and also other people who were not Fierros to buy us more of it.  But I insisted, or maybe we had to buy a Soda Stream or a contour pillow, or something, because we eventually ended up at Bed Bath & Beyond with a price scanner and the most earnest and bright-eyed assistant manager trying to convince Alex that this was the happiest day of her life while peddling Riedel wine glasses, little Vornado fans, hand towels with chickens on them, and Scanpan after Scanpan after Scanpan.    Suffice it to say we went directly to the bar after having price gunned some Waterford crystal (still banging around somewhere in the house, over my mom’s dead body will we throw out the Waterford) and then pulling the rip-cord with the nasty taste of the wedding-industrial complex in our mouths. 

We were at a crossroads.  We couldn’t do a registry at a store.  It was too abhorrent and cliché.  We couldn’t debase ourselves by extorting cash out of our closest friends and dearest family by doing a honeymoon registry, like some common thug or most of my brother’s friends.  And we were drunk.  Very drunk. 

So when Alex said, “fuck it, you want a registry, love, let’s register at The Wine Library,” it was the only thing that made any sense the entire day.

*   *   *   *

I can’t recall when we drank the last of the bottles of wine that came off of that registry.  I know that the concept was received much more fondly than actually utilized (“Wow, wine registry?  Cool!  Here is some flatware.”), so the haul was nowhere near what it should have been.  A compromise appropriate for the wedding – tremendous idea, fair execution, and a drunk Fierro and really drunk Hird.  What I do remember, clearer than the best quality Waterford crystal that only my mother would ever consider using to consume liquid out of, is that our haul from that registry included a bunch of bottles of Tignanello

At the time, Tignanello was the pinnacle of wine to us.  The label on the bottle was in Italian, only (no English translation), the wine cost just close enough to $100 to make it seem expensive (cleverly never going over $100), and was stored in the “exclusive” section of suburban wine stores such that I felt like an absolute fucking boss by walking in there, opening the needlessly refrigerated room and strutting out holding a bottle to present to the stoned jabroni behind the counter who could not give two shits about my sweet bottle of Super Tuscan and would have been just as unimpressed by a bottle of $9 Barefoot chardonnay.  Anyway, I assume that for a 2012 wine registry we would have ended up with 2008-2010 vintage Tigs, which means they were delicious and enjoyable, made more so because when we drank those bottles we (Alex and I) were young and dumb and full of complete shit.  The wine, however, delivered on exactly what it was meant to do – make a couple of unsophisticated newbs feel like we were stealing a piece of the high life that was meant for better heeled and more refined wine connoisseurs and squirreling it away, for some later date when Tignanello was a nightly occurrence as opposed to an exclusive event made possible only by the decision to forego cutlery and extort our wedding guests for respectable booze.

So let’s say I open a bottle of Tignanello now.  Let’s say it was bottled in 2013.  But it doesn’t really matter, because this wine is remarkably consistent across vintages.  Let’s say Alex comes home early from a dinner with clients and we haven’t seen each other in days.  And I am halfway through the bottle and she walks into the dining room, looks at the table and says, “oh, drinking a Tignanello?  What’s the occasion?”  And by this point we’ve been to Willamette and Sonoma and Napa and the Douro Valley and are better heeled and more well refined wine drinkers.  Or at least have drank enough wine and spent enough money to make it seem like we are.

But she sits down, grabs the decanter, and pours herself a big glass without even thinking about it.  And maybe the wine is tighter than I would have wanted.  And boozier.  And drier.  And rustier in color than a $100 Super Tuscan should have been.  But with more complex fruit and floral notes, a kind of unexpected pinot quality that is either off-putting or fascinating depending on your perspective.  And maybe, okay, the bottle did spend a winter month in a garage wine fridge that wasn’t closed all the way. 

But all you can taste is a glass of Bed Bath & Beyond and Simple Man and a killer toast from the soon-to-be Everyday Wine Guy™ and Uncle Ted telling everyone you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay there.  And we quietly contemplate each other and the wine, lost in our own thoughts.

And then maybe open a second bottle to share.