CVNE ‘Cune’ Crianza 2013, Rioja DOCa, Spain


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See through purple, not what I was expecting from a Tempranillo out of Rioja.  The nose is however right up that alley.  Red currants, earth and a tar component greet me. The telltale creosote is alive and kicking in this wine, as is a touch of vanilla.  On the palate, I get a brutish, young and cocky wine full of red fruit, with raspberries, strawberries and currants popping.  The acidity is vibrant and the tannins are lithe.  The mid palate carries the red fruit theme and amps up the acidity factor.  On the tail end the finish is fresh with tannins and strawberry extract.  More red currants sneak in right at the close.  Very smooth and nicely balanced, but I don’t get a hint of the yearlong oak maturation after the initial whiff.  Might be well integrated, who knows.  This wine is a great summer addition to a party, serve it with dry rubbed ribs, perhaps a bourbon glazed pork chop on the grill or even just a basic Mezze.  I’m going with 90 points on this $11 stunner that makes it a 5 star wine.  Drink now till 2022.  Salut….

CVNE 'Cune' Crianza

Monte Degli Angeli Sangiovese 2014, Puglia, Italy


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I have said it before, Sangiovese reminds me of Pinot Noir. It looks like Pinot, smells like Pinot and in many cases tastes like Pinot.  This particular wine starts off a little different.  It is dark, opaque and and brooding.

On the nose, I am confused.  Tar, dark fruits and a leather component would make me guess Tempranillo, for sure.  The initial tastes confirm what my nose suspected.  This wine acts like it came straight from Rioja.  Earth, gaminess, dark plums and bramble along with the creosote.  It all points to an extraction and aging issue.  This wine has been made in a different style that had me fooled.  It is delicious, no doubt, but atypical.  The mid palate is bursting with blueberry and dark plums along with the earthiness.  The finish is more blue than black fruits.  Tannins are very lithe, acidity is very mellow and the alcohol level is a mild 12.5%.  89 points from me and 5 stars because you can pick it up for $9!  Enjoy alone or with pasta, charcuterie or even veal parmesan.  Drink now till 2020.  Salut….

Monte degli Angeli Sangiovese

Substance Cs Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Columbia Valley, USA


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As I was pouring this wine I couldn’t help but notice the rich purple color, mesmerizing.  On the nose I get gorgeous plum meets an oak shaving.  This wine smells amazing.  There is an intensity to the aroma that is really pure and focused.  This pureness continues on to the initial taste.  This is a great wine folks.  It tastes amazing, has very fine grained tannins, is balanced and has got me grabbing for more.  Plums continue to the mid palate and are joined with coffee beans, Ribena and a crescendo of tannins.  They really hit on the back end with a really nice dryness that hits my gums in the right way.  The wine finishes with cassis, espresso and a swath of tannins, delicious.  An extremely well crafted wine that gets 92 plus points from me.  I am a huge fan of Charles Smith, his winemaking is always on pointe.  In fact, I search out his wines-looking for absolute gems like this one.  I paid $13, and rate this as one of my all-time best buys.  5 Stars for sure and I am buying a case.  Drink it alone or pretty much with everything from now till 2022.  A steal, literally.  Salut….

KWV The Legend Big Bill Red 2014, Western Cape, South Africa


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This blend is really dark purple.  Made up of 60% Petit Verdot, 20% each of Cab Sav and Shiraz.  The nose is bursting with currants, juniper, a touch of oak and black cherry.  The palate is very interesting and tasty.  The Petit Verdot punches through with violets, dark cherry and leather.  Tannins are persistent but not overpowering, they leave the gums slightly dry but give the wine a freshness.  The mid palate gives me mocha as well as more dark cherries.  The finish reveals a vanilla note as well as some wood.  The winemaker has done a superb job of balancing the acidity, tannins and the 14% alcohol- which is not noticeable.  The mouthfeel is what I would describe as wholesome yet fresh.  It is relatively smooth with great potential to mellow out and possibly develop tertiary flavor.  90 points from me, drink till 2025 and pair it with lamb chops and garlic mash.  5 stars because this wine rocks and it runs a mere $9 (But I found it for $6.09 in NJ, you people should be running to that store).  Salut….

the legend of big bill ridiculously big

Borgo Salcetino Chianti Classico DOCG 2014, Tuscany, Italy


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Very see-through purple, almost Pinot like.  Nose of cherries Jubilee with licorice and mocha.  On the palate I get a really nice, smooth intro to some cherry kirsch, a strawberry note and some more exotic spices.  The acidity is on pointe here, creating just the right amount of tartness yet leaving room for the lithe tannins to make an appearance.  On the mid palate I get more of the same, but with the addition of some mushrooms and a bit of gaminess.  It is bizarre.  The finish wraps up with the tannins taking control and leaving the mouth pleasantly dry, to the gums.  I am really enjoying this rather light, refreshing wine that has some serious complexity.  I must go with 90 points and recommend it for a nice summer evening with charcuterie, perhaps some olive tapenade on crusty baguette.  For $14 you can’t go wrong.  5 stars and drink till 2024.  Salut….

Borgo Salcetino Chianti Classico

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico DOCG 2015, Tuscany, Italy


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See through dark purple.  Nose of vibrant dark cherry, some oak and blueberry pie.  On the palate this wine is young, with vibrant blue fruits and spice box.  The mid palate shows some very lithe tannins and more blueberry notes.  The wine has a minerality to it that I am enjoying.  Zest is the word that best describes the mouthfeel, the 13.5% alcohol providing just a slight bite while the acidity gives it cut.  The tannins are hitting the gums on the finish with more blueberries on tail end.  Refreshing and decent for $20, 90 points and 4 stars.  Drink now, but some cellaring will reward.  Till 2025.  Salut….

Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico

Lionel Osmin and Cie Cahors Malbec 2012, France


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Dark purple, neatly black- which is appropriate for the region.  Cherry, tar, blackberry and bramble notes on the nose.  The palate is a touch thin but has black fruits, creosote and hints of lavender.  It has a nice acidity with some very gentle tannins. Mid palate has some good juiciness made up of plums and blackberry.  The tail end is short and sweet, as in enjoyable.  Plums, earth and violets round it out.  88 points and for $12 this is a good value that gets 3 stars from me.  Salut….

Lionel Osmin & Cie Cahors Malbec

Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, USA


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I just rolled up to the Aloft hotel bar and ordered this Cabernet from their menu, taking a chance on it’s provenance and style.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Forget the color, it was nigh on impossible to tell in the current venue.  The nose has a warmth to it along with blackberry, slate and eucalyptus. On the palate I get a really smooth intro to the blackberry notes as well as graphite and black cherry.  The core flavors continue to the mid palate and beyond along with some very fine tannins that really pop on the finish.  The wine has a great mouthfeel with gentle acidity omnipresent but not obtrusive.  Atypical for this varietal from Napa, this wine is more on the subtle side, a refreshing change.  90 points, $19 and 4 stars from me.  Pair it with some steaks and mushroom sauce, or perhaps a Cornish Hen dressed up in a garlic rub.  Salut….

Hard to see the color in glass…

Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon

Cooper’s Hawk Super Tuscan NV


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This is an interesting concept.  Restaurant/winery that sources grapes worldwide and bottles them under its own label for sale in its own restaurants.  Brilliant.  Why didn’t I think of that?  The food’s not bad either!  This particular bottle was given to me by an old College friend.  There is no vintage on the bottle, just some basic info, ie. 13.5% alcohol, and that it is a blend of Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dark reddish purple in the glass.  I’m not sure what to expect from this blend- I get some red berries and cherry on the nose, but only faint.  The palate reveals currants, red fruits and some chewy tannins.  The wine is obviously young, but has an acidic streak to match the tannins.  The mid palate offers sour cherry and chocolate dust.  The wine finishes nicely with more cherry and some spice.  Not a bad drop- 89 points. $25 make this a 3 star wine that you could pair with Game, Roast Cornish Hens or  maybe some Osso Bucco.  This wine has no vintage so it is hard to say when to drink, but this particular bottle would have lasted till 2020.  Salut….

cooper's hawk super tuscan

Pulled Pork on the Big Green Egg


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I smoke a Pork Butt on the Big Green Egg at least once a month.  All my boys love it and my youngest son will fry up leftovers in the mornings with some Taco seasoning sprinkled for an added twist.  It’s delicious with eggs and salsa too!

I started this cook with two 6 pound Boston Butts, they were on sale for $0.99 per pound- literally a steal.  The Egg was preheated to about 250F and the Pork was prepared with a slathering of plain old yellow mustard and liberally coated with BBQ Bros Carolina rub.  This is the second style of their rub that I have used.

A liberal coating of Carolina style BBQ Bros rub

Pork is so easy, it doesn’t really care about the temperature that much and is pretty much ready when the internal temp is between 195-205F.  I like to let mine go to the 205 mark as the meat, fat and tendons are fully rendered at that point.  It makes the meat literally fall apart.  I use meat shredders now as I cook this cut so often, but if you are just getting started you can cheat and use two spaghetti spoons, or two large forks.  You will eventually buy the shredders.

Shredders, you will thank me later


My two hunks took 12 hours with the average temperature at 250F.  The outside was dark in color, the smoke ring evident and the internal meat was succulent with a hint of smoke.  The tasty rub added a nice zing. Bang for the buck this is the best way to get to know your Big Green Egg or other Kamado style smoker.  Try different rubs, different mustards, different hardwood chunks ( I do not soak mine BTW).  I tend to buy a big bag of Mesquite chunks for my smoker and the flavors I get from 4-5 chunks per cook are exactly the level of smoke I like.  I ended up drinking red wine with my dinner, but beer works great too.  Some people get all fancy with foil baths, injections of spice-  the simpler the better in this case.  Salut….

Ready to go!