November 15, 2010
It's rare that a wine tastes just as the tasting notes suggest, but my Lamarca Prosecco DOC was exactly as described: honeyed floral and white peach aromas, dry, crisp, and refreshing, a hint of grapefruit, and a light, effervescent texture. It's a sparkler from the Veneto region of Italy, so, keeping with the theme, I drank it with a vegetarian risotto—it struck all the right notes. It's priced right, too, at $12.
Although I enjoyed the wine, perhaps what I loved best was the exceptionally beautiful top to the cork cage. It's a painting of an arched wall rendered in gorgeous primary colors—blues, reds, and yellows—like a Renaissance-era painting by one of the Italian masters. I disposed of the elegant dark bottle with the Tiffany-blue label, but kept the cork cage.
Do you have any favorite wine bottle art, whether corks, cork cages, or labels?
Full disclosure: The bottle was sent to me by a PR rep, but I've seen it in a few smaller wine stores and online.
About the author: Kara Newman has written about wine and spirits for such publications as Wine Enthusiast and Sommelier Journal magazines, and is the author of Spice & Ice, which explores 60 tongue-tingling cocktails.
I can't help it. I crack up every time I enter a wine store, intending to ask for Soave, the Italian white wine, which frankly deserves some respect.
But all too quickly, I lapse into an early 1990s flashback, and I hear in my head: "Suave. Rico...Suave." And with that guttural crooning cheesiness taking over my brain, I collapse into a helpless fit of giggles and have to flee the store.
As a longtime Prosecco enthusiast, a sommelier friend advised me that if I like Prosecco, then Soave was a wine well worth trying. Like Prosecco, it's created in the Venice area, and is among the top-selling wines in Italy, even though most U.S. drinkers pay it little heed. It's available still as well as spumanti (sparkling) and recioto (sweet).
I started out as a drinker of cocktails, never a moment of uncertainty about my gin-based Aviation. But when I reach for the wine list instead of the cocktail menu, sometimes it's still a challenge to figure out what I might like best. If that's you as well, here's a cheat sheet based on other beverages to help navigate wine picks.
Sauvignon Blanc is big business in New Zealand—it has been estimated that Sauvignon Blanc-based wines made up more than eighty percent of volume of the country's wine exports in 2009. Recently, the government-funded New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology pledged $12 million of new funding to support research in Sauvignon Blanc. According to a press release from the Plant and Food Research Institute, the project aims
to deliver knowledge and tools for manipulating the flavour of Sauvignon Blanc to create distinct wines that excite wine drinkers' palates...The integrated nature of the Sauvignon Blanc Programme is designed to exploit opportunities at all stages of the wine production pathway - from grape growing to winemaking. Areas of research include the interactions between environmental factors (site, canopy, nutrition) and grape harvest maturity; developing new means of predicting the flavour potential of grapes and juice; and developing pre and post-harvest treatments, including NZ-derived yeasts, to deliver new flavours.
As Vinography blogger Alder Yarrow writes, it's one thing to try different methods of grape growing, or different grape clones in a given location, a new type of barrel, or different fermentation temperatures—and some of the funding will go toward that sort of experiment. But should "new flavours" be a focus? What's wrong with the current flavors, the signature style of New Zealand's Sauvignon Blanc wines? We'd prefer to let New Zealand's Sauvignon Blanc be what it wants to be: zingy and fresh, tart and tangy, a consistently good value in white wine.
We recently tasted ten New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs that sell for $10 to $17, and were pleased with the results. (For even cheaper options, check out our low-end roundup.) For the most part these wines are enjoyable, with bright, refreshing flavors that are perfect for summer. They're a great accompaniment to grilled shrimp or rich curries, or just a giant bowl of chips and guacamole.