On the Road with the Grape Guy

On the Road with the Grape Guy is a on-going feature that follows me from event to event ... I post my thoughts, feelings and reviews of what happened and what I tasted ... basically it is here that I review the events I attend and the things that thrilled me.

Visit to La Braccesca (Antinori) in Italy

16 Mar 2017

Dinner and a tasting of four vintages of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva – Vigneto Santa Pia … all wines are aged in barrel for 18 months and 18 more in bottle:

Arrival at the estate ...


The Tasting Set-up ...


The Wines and How They Stack Up ...

2007 Vigneto Santa Pia
Aromas – Charcoal, smoke and ash
Palate – soft, big, frim, dark fruit: cassis, blackberry with graphite, smoke, and herbal notes; acidity is quite high and the tannins bite back

2008 Vigneto Santa Pia (my favourite)
Aromas – cassis, strawberry, balsamic and tobacco
Palate – lovely, fresh red fruit with tobacco and mineral; the tannins need taming but it does have a long elegant finish

2009 Vigneto Santa Pia
Aromas – coffee, licorice, strawberry but with a strange underlying note of turpentine
Palate – rich, full and spicy with notes of cassis, plum and black cherry; it also has a thick almost chewy finish

2010 Vigneto Santa Pia
Aromas – vanilla, cedar, with black and blue fruit
Palate – smoky, cherry, cassis, blackberry, big fruit but still needs to evolved because it is mildly aggressive with tannins and a good amount of acidity


Also tasted the 2011 Bramasole Syrah from the Cortona region for those who don’t believe Syrah and Italy belong together – think again ...

2011 Bramasole Syrah (Cortona)
- 12-14 months in a mix of 60% new French oak and 40% one year old oak -
cassis, raspberry and other dark fruits with white and black pepper;
fresh and just a beautiful bottle made from select parcels – (~50,000 bottles made) … Rating: ****+


Days of Wine & Chocolate 2017 (NOTL)

28 Feb 2017

There was a time during these Niagara-on-the-Lake events when I would rush to every winery to try every single pairing in the hopes of garnering a top 10 list – then as I aged I realized there were things I just didn’t like: chocolate and orange (sorry Small Talk), chocolate and spice (sorry Stratus) or any long complicated names that made the tongue twist just trying to say them (sorry Strewn) … and thus the culling of the herd began.  

I want to enjoy the experience of the Days of Wine & Chocolate, not rush through it … so over the years, the wife and I started to get selective with our choices of venue – picking stuff we liked the sound of and were in agreement that it sounded “try-worthy” (instead of choking down chocolate covered orange peel and nodding how good it was but secretly wanting to spit it out the moment we got to the parking lot) …

With all that said we stopped by a dozen wineries during the Days of Wine and Chocolate and these were our top 5 taste sensations – in no particular order.

Coyote's Run

Coyote's Run: 2013 Black Paw Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a dark chocolate and bacon brownie


Niagara College: 2011 Dean's List Meritage paired with a milk chocolate and coffee brownie bar


Pillitteri Estates Winery: 2013 Cabernet Merlot paired with a dark chocolate cup with milk chocolate mousse
and Cabernet Merlot raspberry compote


Pondview Estate: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Bella Terra, paired with succulent ribs
smothered in a delicious chocolate concoction


Riverview: 2013 Pinot Noir paired with season pulled pork on a chocolate crustini
with chocolate balsamic drizzle


And the days best wine goes to ...

Trius 2015 Gamay Noir


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