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Castellare di Castellina, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG (Tuscany, Italy) Il Poggiale 2016 ($35, Winebow)
 Castellare di Castellina, one of Chianti’s traditional and best producers, hits the bullseye again with this Riserva.  The grapes come from a single vineyard that they think produces superior fruit.  After tasting it, I certainly agree there’s something special going on.  A blend of Sangiovese (90%), and equal parts of Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo, delivers a glorious combination of fruit flavors without being fruity.  Though still youthful and tight, it’s balanced and the not-just-fruit character is center stage.  Not a bombastic wine, this Riserva should turn out beautifully in another five years.  If you’re tempted by it now — and you will be — open it several hours in advance and decant it.  
95 Michael Apstein


Posted by Robert Whitley on January 24, 2020 at 1:52 AM

Wine-Pairing Myths

If you find it useful when someone suggests a specific food to pair with a specific wine, you aren't alone.  I appreciate the advice and often make my own suggestions. 

Fresh crab with Chablis; oysters with Muscadet; and Champagne with lox are specific pairings I enjoy and sometimes pass along.  The problem with suggested pairings, however, is that sometimes they are seen as etched in stone, which inhibits exploration that could well prove enlightening.

There are a couple of myths I would like to tackle.  The first is the oft-repeated wisdom that red wine can't be served with fish unless it's Pinot Noir with salmon.  I beg to differ.

There are certainly parts of the world where fish is plentiful and white wine isn't, Bordeaux, France, being the best example.  So what's a serious foodie to do in such a situation?  One chef I know, while preparing a multi-course dinner for a crowd of Bordeaux collectors, cooked up a Mediterranean sea bass surrounded with earthy root vegetables and mushrooms.  The crowd ate it up, literally. There was nary a complaint.

The takeaway from that experience was that pairing often has more to do with the preparation, seasoning and sauce than the protein on the plate.

The other oft-repeated myth I want to explode is the imperative of serving Merlot with lamb.  Yes, Merlot with lamb is a beautiful combination.  But so is Syrah with lamb, Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb, or a savory Barolo with lamb.
  It's all good. The object should be to tackle the strong flavor of lamb with a bold, savory red that has power and depth.

The takeaway is simple:  The rules of wine and food pairing were made to be broken — or, at the very least, tweaked to your own liking.

Dr. Michael
This Issue's Reviews
A New Look at Two Piedmontese Wineries
Ed McCarthy

Italy's Piedmont region is in northwest Italy, with France at its western border and Switzerland to the north. Its main wine region, the Langhe, which includes the towns of Alba and Asti, has normally been a very traditional area, where change occurs very slowly. But two Piedmontese wineries, Vietti and Domenico Clerico. have made some striking changes lately. Both wineries have their roots planted deep in the Langhe, home of great red wines: Barolo and Barbaresco-both made from the majestic Nebbiolo variety-plus Barbera, plus other red wines, such as Barbera, Dolcetto, and Freisa.
An Inside Look at Wine Marketing
Jim Clarke

Wines of Argentina, Spain, South Africa, Chile, Germany, Alsace… wherever the wine is from, 'Wines of…' has become the preferred first name for the various so-called 'generic marketing bodies' of the wine world. There are plenty of others, of course: The various 'Consorzii' of Italy's myriad regions, InterRhône, and so forth. In any case, no one likes to be called 'generic' especially when their major goal is to differentiate their region from competitors.
Wine With
WINE WITH…Potato Gratin with Ham and Cheese

A good gratin is a wonderful thing. 'Gratin,' a French word related to our own 'grater,' describes a dish that is usually covered with grated cheese and/or breadcrumbs, then baked in a relatively small pan until it is browned and bubbly. Gratins are usually potato based, but almost anything can be prepared au gratin-seafood, eggplant, cauliflower, and much more. Gratins, which are among the world's tastiest comfort foods, are generally simple to prepare. This Potato and Ham variation on the theme is not merely delicious, but also pairs well with a variety of different wines. We liked white wines slightly more than reds with this dish, especially those with creamy textures that echoed the inherent creaminess of the gratin. The reds that performed best were light-bodied and savory, providing a contrast to the dish and hence making the dining experience compelling. Wines of both colors and types made for satisfying pairings, rendering this a one dish supper meal for which wine is easy to choose.
On My Table
Tasty Wine Explorations for the New Year
Mary Ewing-Mulligan

High on the list of 2020 wine resolutions for many wine lovers is undoubtedly the desire to explore new grape varieties and new wine regions. While neither of these wines is made from a recently rediscovered variety, and Sicily is by no means an unsung wine region, these wines are both curiosities worthy of wine lovers' attention. Each of these wines hails from an island off the island of Sicily itself. The Grillo comes from Mozia, a.k.a. San Pantaleo, a tiny island in the Marsala lagoon about half a mile from Sicily's west side. Didyme comes from the island of Salina, one of the Lipari (or Aeolian) islands, north of Sicily; Salina lies northwest of the island of Lipari, which is known to some wine lovers for its sweet Malvasia di Lipari wines, and like that island is volcanic in origin.