Fattoria Casabianca | A Taste of Fattoria Casabianca’s Wine

Fattoria Casabianca | A Taste of Fattoria Casabianca’s Wine

Fattoria Casabianca

A few weeks ago the friendly folks at Fattoria Casabianca reached out to me and asked if I might be interested in tasting their wines. It seemed like a serendipitous coincidence as I have really been enjoying Italian wines lately, like the Amarone I recently discovered in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section. They were kind enough to send over some samples of their wines for me to taste.

The Fattoria Casabianca resort is located in Murlo, Italy, approximately two hours south of Tuscany. They offer nightly accommodations (converted from a farmhouse), tennis, swimming, dining as well as wine tastings to showcase their wines produced under their Fattoria Casabianca label.

If the Trip Advisor reviews are any indication then whatever this ostensibly charming and quaint resort lacks in flash it more than makes up for in soul. Many described it as an excellent, laid-back getaway just far enough outside of all of the hustle and bustle. Now I hope that soul translates to Fattoria Casabianca’s wines!

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Altano Douro Review | Top Costco Wine’s

Altano Douro Review | Costco Wine Review

Altano Douro

The Douro wine region of Portugal has a history of producing wines for over 2,000 years. On the label of the Altano Douro 2012 I spotted in the Costco Wine Section you’ll see proudly displayed that the Symington family has been producing wine in the Douro for an impressive 125 of those years. That’s a long time and they’ve likely learned a thing or two about winemaking.

While the Douro is most commonly associated with it’s notable Port wine production, roughly half of the wines being produced there are actually not fortified. I’m not a huge fan of Port myself, but I am a fan of excellent table-wine bargains and the Altano Douro 2012 rang in at under $9 while boasting a commendable 91 point Wine Spectator score for the previous 2011 vintage. Needless to say I had to try it!

Have you seen my tips on Where to Buy Wine so that you’re not overpaying?

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Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Review | World’s Best Red Wine?

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Review | World’s Best Red Wine?

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec

Last year the annual wine competition known as the “Vinalies Internationales’ took place in Paris. The event is organized by the French Winemakers Association with the intent to identify the best wines in the world. Over 3,500 wines were presented from 41 countries to be evaluated blindly by 150 members of the international judging panel. Amongst the contestants: the Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2012 from Casa Bianchi Winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

The results were shocking: Not only was it the first wine from Argentina to receive the top honors from the prestigious panel, but the Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2012 was awarded the Grand Trophy of “World’s Best Red Wine”.

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Korbel Champagne | A Controversial California Champagne

Korbel Champagne | A Controversial California Champagne | Trader Joe’s Wine

Korbel Champagne

Made famous by it’s controversial yet wildly successful Korbel Champagne, the Korbel Winery in California’s Russian River Valley was founded in 1882 by the Czechoslovakian Korbel brothers: Francis, Joseph and Anton.

The producers of Korbel Champagne sold their winery in 1954 to Adolph Heck and then in 1974 Adolph’s son Gary took over the winery. While in charge at Korbel, Gary succeeded in increasing production of the now ubiquitous Korbel Champagne from an already healthy 150,000 cases per year to today’s impressive level of 1.3 million cases per year.

Today, by volume, Korbel Champagne is the most popular sparkling wine produced in the United States using the traditional ‘méthode champenoise’ method. The incredible success and popularly of Korbel Champagne surely only adds to the frustration of the French officials and Champagne producers in Champagne, France. What’s the rub? Korbel has insisted on marketing themselves as Champagne when in actuality it is merely a California sparkling wine.

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Contadino Pinot Grigio Review | Trader Joe’s Wine

Contadino Pinot Grigio Review | Trader Joe’s Wine

Contadino Pinot GrigioI rarely drink Pinot Grigio and am somewhat guilty of partaking in the widespread belief that most low-end Pinot Grigio’s are insipid, watery and just plain boring. Having said that, there are certainly times when you want a wine that is crisp, refreshing and light and the popularity of the Contadino Pinot Grigio in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section piqued my interest.

At under $6, the Contadino Pinot Grigio is certainly priced like a value-oriented offering. But just by virtue of being inexpensive does not necessarily mean that it’s a good value, and I’m quite curious to see just how good the Contadino Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy really is!

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Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Meritage | Trader Joe’s Wine

Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Meritage Napa Valley 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Meritage

Recently I took a gamble on the Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Spring Mountain Cabernet and was pretty surprised with the quality-price-ratio. At only $15, it easily drank like a wine costing twice as much if not more. So I went back to the Trader Joe’s Wine Section with the idea that I would stock up on this screaming Spring Mountain Cabernet value only to find that it had already sold out completely!

Apparently the Trader Joe’s wine experience is more similar to that of Shopping for Wine at Costco than I had imagined… So having learned my lesson and not wanting to leave empty handed, I decided to try the Trader Joe’s Grand Reserve Meritage Napa Valley 2011.

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Moone Tsai Wine Review | 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Moone Tsai Wine Review | 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Moone Tsai Wine

Moone Tsai wine is a partnership amongst friends: Mike Moone (former President of Beringer) and husband and wife MaryAnn and Larry Tsai. Also on the team is rockstar consulting winemaker Phillippe Melka. Moone is actually responsible for originally bringing MaryAnn Tsai out to Napa Valley to work with him at Beringer. During his time at Beringer, Moone is credited with rejuvenating the winery’s business into the thriving one it is today.

And a rather fruitful partnership it must be considering the awards and glowing accolades Moone Tsai’s wines have received since it’s inception in 2006. Moone Tsai’s wines have been consistently highly rated as well as having been recognized by Wine Spectator as having the “#1 Rated Wine in the World” not once, but an incredible three times! And they aren’t shy about their ambitions to achieve the coveted recognition a fourth time.

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Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine

Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine Review

Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011

There are so many wines available well under $10 in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section that when you come across a $17 bottle of wine, it actually seems relatively expensive! Typically you might be happy to find a respectable bottle of wine for $17 in a wine shop, as prices of the more desirable selections quickly head north from there.

The Trader Joe’s wine specialist was quick to not only recommend the Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 but also to reassure me that it wasn’t expensive at all – but rather a steal for what you’re getting beneath the cork – one of Italy’s top red wines at a fraction of the usual cost. Music to my ears! So let’s pop the cork on the Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 and see just how good this Amarone is!

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Strawberries and Champagne | Not Always The Perfect Pair?

Strawberries and Champagne | Not Always The Perfect Pair?

Strawberries and Champagne

With Valentine’s Day already just a few weeks away (wasn’t it just New Year’s?) you’ll need to be getting into a romantic frame of mind very soon if you haven’t already. I myself am trying to get prepared and just ordered some tasty looking chocolates for my significant other.

I’m also looking forward to selecting a good bottle of bubbly, most likely one of these great sparklers. What I won’t doing however, is the clichéd yet quintessential Valentine’s Day pairing of Strawberries and Champagne!

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Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet | Costco Wine Review

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet | Costco Wine Review

Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet

After having such great success with the Northstar Merlot from Columbia Valley Washington, I decided it was about time that I try another Washington State wine – except this time I wanted to try a Cabernet and wanted the price to be around the $10 range rather than the $20 price range that the Northstar Merlot falls in at Costco.

It’s tough enough to find good Cabernet around $20 so as you can probably imagine it can be quite a bit more challenging to find a well-made, quality Cabernet Sauvignon around $10.

To keep the playing field level and to get a great price, I went back to the Costco Wine Section and chose the Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 for $10.99. I’m pretty intrigued to see how this popular Columbia Valley Cabernet offering stacks up against others in this highly-competitive price category.

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