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Wine Curiosity, Wine Reviews

Areators, what?

Dear readers,

Have you ever wondered how and if the areators for red wine work? Well, let’s find out.

Recently, I have seen many types of this kind of accessory, which are different from the traditional decanter: they don’t have the function of decanting the red wine sediments, but allow to oxygenate the red wine very quickly. It’s an handy accessory: for example, if we have guests for dinner and we don’t have time to open bottles an hour or two before drinking it!

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I really like this type of aerator, the Ventorosso, ease to use, with a very linear and functional design: it is composed of a base, to be placed above the glass, and a sphere on which you pour the red wine, so as to increase its surface exposed to air, “opening” it faster than a simple wine rotation in the glass.

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Let’s go a bit ‘in detail to see how it works.

I did a test with the Chianti Classico Le Ellere by Castello d’Albola.

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NO VENTOROSSO: At the nose, perfumes of cherry, red fruit, a bit of wood, vanilla, tobacco, but it’s pretty close. On the palate, the wine is fresh, dry, rather elegant, medium tannin, sap.

WITH VENTOROSSO: A wider and rounded nose, plus a better perception of the flowers’ fragrance. The wine’s characteristics are very similar, but the tannin is much more rounded on the palate!

Pro: Easy to use, since it is composed of two simple and easy-washable pieces, with the possibility to use upon different glasses size; Rapid oxygenation; Improving the roundness of red wine, especially on the palate.

Cons: Not to be used with old red wines, as this may oxidize too much, ruining it. Furthermore, some sensations are perceivable by experts (eg. sensations perceived by the nose)

In conclusion, I highly recommend it to those who want to drink a young red wine and better appreciate its features and roundness. Furthermore, the simplicity of use, makes the Ventorosso a simpler product compared to a decanter.

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Wine Reviews

Donnas 2009, Caves Cooperatives de Donnas

Dear readers,

Today I propose a review of an Aosta Valley native wine, the Donnas produced by Caves Cooperatives de Donnas.

We are in Donnas, in Aosta Valley, and the vine is Nebbiolo (from which Barolo and Barbaresco): here Nebbiolo “gets” the nickname “Nebbiolo of the mountain”, given by the proximity of the Aosta Valley to Piedmont and by the vineyards placed at the foot of the mountains.

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The Donnas by Caves Cooperatives de Donnas is an austere wine, with an elegant character, dry, with a good body and structure. This wine is aged in large oak casks at least for 12 months, giving the tannin roundness and pleasure at every sip!

I tried the Donnas 2009.
At the nose, perfumes of small red berries, cranberries, currants, raspberry, black cherry, cloves and black pepper.

On the palate the Donnas is dry, quite rounded, quite tannic, with a good freshness.

I recommend it in pairing with medium-aged cheese and hard cheese, red meat preferably not grilled, stews and, according to local tradition, the Carbonada (link here).

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Recipes and wine pairing

Caramelized apple pie

Dear readers,

Today I tought about the caramelized apple pie recipe, really tasty and quite simple to prepare: your weekend will be much sweeter!

Let’s go step by step to prepare the recipe and you will see it will be less difficult than expected.

Ingredients (12 slices):

2 egg yolks
2 entire eggs
200 gr of flour (7 oz)
200 gr of sugar (7 oz)
50 gr of melted butter for the mixture (1.8 oz)
60 gr butter to melt in the pan for the “caramelized” process (2.1 oz)
80 gr of sugar to caramelize the apples (2.8 oz)
Juice of half a lemon
250 gr of thinly sliced ​​apples (moisten with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent them discoloring) (8.8 oz)

Preparation

Beat and mix the two egg yolks in a bowl, the two whole eggs and 200 grams of sugar.
Melt the 50 gr of butter for a minute in a pan, at low heat, being careful not to boil it and blacked: let cool before adding it to the mixture or else you could risk to “cook” the mixture and make a real mess!
Add the cooled melted butter to the mixture, the juice of half a lemon, the flour (a little at a time) and stir gradually.

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Meanwhile, cut the apples into thin slices and moisten with a dash of lemon juice, to prevent them blacken. Turn on the oven at 180 °C (356 °F) to preheat it.
Melt the 60 grams of butter in a pan of 30 cm (11 inches) diameter and then add the 80 grams of sugar: caramelized the sugar until it has reached a golden color, taking care to stir it very often, otherwise you could burn the sugar.
At this point, place the apples (as shown in figure) into the pan, pour the mixture and bake it for 45 minutes at 180 °C (356 °F).

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Overturned the cake, using a plate and being careful not to burn your hands with the melted butter that may leak during the operation!

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We’re done, now we could enjoy the piece of cake!

Conservation

You could store the Caramelized apple pie in a sealed plastic or glass box in the fridge up to five days. I suggest you to warm a little bit the slice before eating to enjoy more the caramelized apple.

And the wine?

For the cake with caramelized apples, I picked the 2011 Chaudelune, produced by Cave du Vin Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle.

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I chose the Chaudelune for its fruity notes of pear, apple and other white pulp fruits, which is well aligned with the main aroma of the caramelized apple cake, broadening the whole taste. Moreover, the softness of the wine surrounds and fits perfectly with the sweetness of the cake and the caramelized apples.

For more about the Chaudelune, have a look directly to the review here.

If you can not find it, I recommend a sweet wine that has similar characteristics to Chaudelune, a Moscato Passito di Chambave or a Verdicchio Passito. If you cannot find these two, I recommend a more common Passito di Pantelleria or Moscato di Pantelleria, both dessert wines, however, with different characteristics, since the predominant perfumes and aromas are related to apricot, peach and dried fruit: a pleasant pairing, but not superb as the first!

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Wine Reviews

Baccanera 2011, Lo Zoccolaio

Dear readers,

Today we begin the week with a very interesting and affordable wine, the Baccanera produced by Lo Zoccolaio.

The Baccanera is a wine made in Pedimont (the world-famous Italian region for the Barolo and Barbaresco) from a blend of Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Nebbiolo: it has a notable body and an excellent consistency, especially in the mouth. Baccanera is aged in Barriques for 18 months, giving the wine an important and rounded tannin on the palate.

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I tried the Baccanera 2011.
At the nose, perfumes of blackberries, plum, cherries in brandy, white pepper and a slight hint of hay.

On the palate, the Baccanera is fresh, quite sap and very charming.

I recommend it in combination with first courses of meat, braised meat, stews, red meat roast and medium-aged cheeses.

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Wine Reviews

Barbacarlo 1996, Azienda Agricola Barbacarlo

Dear readers,

Today we’re talking about the Barbacarlo: a wine with a very distinct nature.

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We are in OltrepĂČ, just a few minutes walk from Pavia, exactly on the hills of Broni, particularly suitable for producing high quality wines. Even Napoleon knew that: in fact, he appreciated wine from these hills.
The actual name, Barbacarlo, was born later in 1886, when the great grandfather of Lino Maga bequeathed the hills to his grandchildren: the uncle Carlo had the title of “Barba”, so, in his honor, the grandchildren called that territory Barbacarlo.

The Barbacarlo consists of three grapes, a blend quite variable in percentage from vintage to vintage: Uva rara, Croatina and Barbera.
I was lucky enough to find on the internet a 1996 vintage bottle and I was very happy to try its resistance to aging: still, I’m enraptured by the complexity of the evolution of this masterpiece.
The 1996 vintage is slightly sparkling, with a great freshness and flavor: a 1996 vintage wine with this kind of freshness is very difficult to find.

At the nose, aromas of vinyl glue, ripe red fruits, compote of candied fruits, nutmeg, slightly earthy, camphor, spices and a hint of mild green bell pepper.

On the palate, this wine is rounded, with a good length, persistence and elegance. The tannin is very well educated.

I recommend to try it alone, without pairing food, to better understand its complexity and harmony; but if you really want to enjoy it with food, I recommend you to pair it with aged and hard cheese, game, braised meat and stew.

What a wine, guys!

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Recipes and wine pairing

Tagliatelle with shrimps and sun-dried tomatoes

Dear readers,

This time I thought of a delicious recipe and very easy to prepare, the Tagliatelle with shrimps and sun-dried tomatoes!

Are we ready to go?
Here’s what we need.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

200 gr of Tagliatelle (7 oz)
50 gr of fresh shrimps (1.8 oz)
Half an onion
Half a stalk of celery
Half a carrot
A knob of butter
6 sun-dried tomatoes (or “semi-secchi” “semi-sundried”, as I prefer)
Salt q.s.

Preparation

Boil the water in a pot, so as to be able then to “sautĂ©” the Tagliatelle in the “hot” sauce. I recommend you to use long pasta such as Tagliatelle or Fettuccine, because these kinds “capture” the sauce very well!

A tip: if you want to sauté the pasta in the sauce, you should cook one minute less than indicated in the package. In this way the pasta will have a perfect consistency and will be not too soft and overcooked.

Now, wash the shrimp, dice the onion, carrot and celery and then put the vegetables to fry for 5 minutes in a pan with a knob of butter.

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After the vegetables “reach” a golden color, sautĂ© the shrimps in the pan at medium heat.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes and sauté it for a few minutes.
Then, add salt: if the pasta is ready, drain it and sauté in the pan (with the sauce) at medium heat for a minute and serve.
Vice versa, turn off the heat and wait for the pasta to be ready, then sauté the pasta in pan at medium heat for a minute.

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We’re done!

And the wine?

In Pairing with Tagliatelle with shrimps and sun-dried tomatoes, I chose a Blanc de Blancs Champagne, the Brut Réserve Sélection produced by Michel Turgy.

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This Blanc de Blancs (Champagne made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes) has a foam that lasts two minutes: really impressive!
It has a very dense, persistent and very defined Perlage and it well matches with the shrimp, the main character of our recipe.

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At the nose, fresh perfumes of citrus peel, lemon, lime, green apple and a hint of honey.
On the palate, this Champagne is soft, creamy and you can feel the classical slightly almond note in the end.

If you can not find it, I recommend you other Blanc de Blancs Champagne or Metodo Classico (Franciacorta or Trento DOC) which have a good sap, freshness and effervescence.

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Recipes and wine pairing

Tagliatelle with Porcini mushrooms and Guanciale (jowl bacon)

Dear readers,

we’re back to our weekly recipe and, this time, I propose a fast recipe, suitable for this winter season, the Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and Guanciale, which is similar to jowl bacon.

You will need only a few ingredients and very little time!

Ingredients (for 2 people):

80 gr of porcini mushrooms (2.8 oz)
75 gr of diced Guanciale jowl bacon (or bacon) (2.8 oz)
200 gr of Tagliatelle (7 oz)
A clove of garlic
A knob of butter
The right amount of parsley and salt

Preparation

Peel a clove of garlic, prepare mushrooms and dice the Guanciale (or bacon).

If you use dried porcini mushrooms, wash them, so that they can be added later in the cooking; if you have them frozen, you can put them directly in the pan.
Meanwhile, put to boil the water in the pot, so as to be able to sauté the pasta in the still hot sauce. I recommend you to use long pasta such as Tagliatelle or Fettuccine, because these kinds “capture” the sauce very well!

A tip: if you want to sauté the pasta in the sauce, you should cook one minute less than indicated in the package. In this way the pasta will have a perfect consistency and will be not too soft and overcooked.

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Heat the butter in a pan and saute the peeled clove of garlic at medium heat.
Add the mushrooms, let them cook alone for a few minutes and then add the Guanciale cutted into cubes.
At this point, after 6/7 minutes, add the parsley and the salt: if the pasta is ready, drain it and sauté in the pan (with the sauce) at medium heat for a minute and serve.
Vice versa, turn off the heat and wait for the pasta to be ready, then sauté the pasta in pan at medium heat for a minute.

We’re done!

And the wine?

For the Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms and Guanciale, I chose a Champagne with a significant body and character, a Pinot Noir in pureness, the Brut Blanc de Noirs by Henriet Bazin.

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Very intense in taste and of remarkable body, this Pinot Noir by Bazin has a good creaminess in the mouth, a good sap and roundness. These features make it very suitable in pairing with a recipe “greasy” and tasty enough, like ours.

At the nose, aromas of small red berries, fresh raspberries, yeast.
On the palate, it feels much the intensity of Pinot Noir, its power and its persistence.

If you can not find it, I recommend other Blanc de Noirs Champagne (Pinot Noir in pureness) or Metodo Classico (Franciacorta or Trento DOC) that has a good high percentage of Pinot Noir. If you love RosĂ©, I recommend the CruasĂ© of OltrepĂČ Pavese.

Have a nice preparation and a good weekend!

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