2003 Michele Chiarlo Barolo Tortoniano

I found this wine for half price at World Market. I don't usually buy my wine from Cost Plus but I know that they have several decent wines that are highly discounted right now, so I have been stopping in periodically to see the deals.

This 2003 Barolo from Michele Chiarlo is a good example of a mediocre Barolo, but one that is worth the discounted price tag. It shows some of the typical nuances of Nebbiolo but is just lacking the real depth that you can find in top class Barolo.

On the nose I get aromas of plum, cranberry, cola nut, tea leaf, raisin, and wet soil. It's a bouquet that changes a lot in the glass and develops quite a bit. Sometimes it will just smell like sour cherry, and then sometimes you'll get these aforementioned and deeply nuanced aromas.

On the palate the wine shows flavors of plum, cranberry, raisin, and cola. This is a very lightly textured wine that is really dry but doesn't hold an ounce of weight. It's a total food wine that would integrate perfect with red sauced pastas. It lacks a bit of fruit, but it just might appeal to the old world palate for it's elegance. 88 points


Minestrone Soup

This just happens to be one of my favorites and I could probably eat it almost everyday and be perfectly content. While there are many different interpretations of this wonderful soup I like mine to be made with the following: beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, potatoes, tomatoes, and ham.

Traditionally it is said that Minestrone was made with ingredients that were pooled from other dishes, often side dishes or "contorni" plus whatever was left over.

Wikipedia :

"There are two schools of thought on when the recipe for minestrone became more formalized. One argues that in the 1600s and 1700s minestrone emerged as a soup using exclusively fresh vegetables and was made for its own sake (meaning it no longer relied on left-overs), while the other school of thought argues that the dish had always been prepared exclusively with fresh vegetables for its own sake since pre-Roman times, but the name minestrone lost its meaning of being made with left-overs."

Wine Pairing Suggestions: Primitivo, Grignolino, Chianti, Soave


2004 Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino

This wine is of no small reputation and actually one the Wine Spectator wine of the year in 2006 for the o1' vintage. I had the opportunity to taste that wine on a couple of separate occasions and let me tell you that the wine lives up to all the hype.

The winery was founded in 1971 when Giovanni Neri bought a large estate within the Tuscan region of Montalcino. Today the estate consists of 36 hectares and is divided into four quite distinct areas: il Pietradonice in Castelnuovo dell'Abate, le Cetine in Sant'Angelo in Colle, il Cerretalto and il Fiesole near the farmhouse of the same name facing Montalcino.

The Tenuta Nuova is sourced from the vineyards of Pietrodonice and Le Cetine and is aged in small oak casks for 24 to 30 months according to the vintage and then for at least a year in the bottle.

I think the most amazing part of this wine is it's incredible depth of aroma. As with the 2001, this new vintage has an amazing bouquet worthy of a classic wine. Loads of crushed berry, sandalwood, leather, chocolate covered cherry, and dried flowers are all eloquently displayed and unfold relentlessly on the nose.

On the palate intense flavors of ripe cherry, semi-sweet chocolate, leather, cedar, and violets all come together on a silky textured structure. The wine has very tight and rigid acidity and the tannins to help it aged for at least a decade or two. It's racy, powerful, intense, and full of depth and complexity.

This wine is still very young and will probably hit it's stride in a few years although it's drinking beautifully right now. I think it's a bit more loud and perhaps more exalting then the 01' but maintains it's class and sexiness and it a classically made wine meant to age. 96 points


Ossobuco alla milanese

Ossobuco alla milanese which is commonly referred to as "osso buco" or "osso bucco", is a traditional dish from Milan, Italy the capital of Lombardy.

It is made using braised veal shanks and often garnished with "gremolata" which is a mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon peel. It is also often served with saffron enhanced rissoto.

Their are many styles in which osso bucco is made and depending on tradition some people used tomatoes and some do not.

Here are a few recipes that you can look over and decide how to best prepare the dish:

Food Network - Osso Buco Milanese

My recommendation for a wine pairing would be Barolo, Barbaresco, or Brunello di Montalcino. If you low on money than I Barbera d' Alba will work too if you get the right one.


2008 MandraRossa Syrah - I.G.T. Sicilia

This wine is really an exceptional value for around ten bucks. It's made from 100% Syrah grapes that are hand picked and stainless steel fermented. I love the value that is available in Sicily, especially with warm weather grapes like Syrah and of course Nero D' Avola.

On the nose I get aromas of blackberry, plum, black pepper, and a touch of earth. There is nice fruit purity here and because of the way it's made (Stainless Steel Fermented) I think the fruit shines through nicely.

On the palate the wine has a nice full texture and shows flavors of mixed berry, pepper, and hints of dark chocolate. It's a very nice and easy drinking wine and has enough complexity to make it more than just your every day table wine.

Average Retail: $10-$12
Vino Blog Rating: 7/10


Provolone Cheese

Although it's produced in other parts of the world Provolone is an Italian cheese that originated in Southern Italy. It's still produced in a variety of different shapes but the most common is a thick sausage type shape like seen in the photo. The most important Provolone production region is currently Northern Italy in the regions of Lombardia and Veneto.

Provolone is a whole-milk cow cheese that is semi-hard and varies in taste a flavor profile based on the style it's made in. Dolce (mild Provolne) is aged for two to three months, and it is supple and smooth with a thin waxed rind. Provolone Piccante is aged for six months to two years, it is darker with small holes and a spicy flavor.


2008 Fazi Battaglia Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico

This Verdicchio is made from hand harvested grapes from the estate vineyards of Fazi Battaglia in the classico zone of the Castelli di Jesi in the Marches region of Italy. It's 100% Verdicchio fermented in stainless steel.

This straw yellow colored wine has a beautiful bouquet of white peach, white flower, lemon zest, bread crust or yeast, and hints of mineral.

On the palate the wine is fresh and young and shows hints of citrus, white table grapes, mineral, and light hints of almond. It has quite a ling finish and a bright acidity which would help it to pair very well with shellfish and white sauced pastas.

I like this wine but it needs to be served with food to get the maximum experience out of it. The packaging is very elegant and classic for this type of wine.

Average Retail: $8-11
Vino Blog Rating: 7.5/10

Click here to find out more about this wine


2004 Parusso Barolo DOCG

The 2004 Parusso Barolo is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes, located in different vineyards in the area of Monforte d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto. It's aged in small oak barrels for a total of 24 months (not sure what type).

On the nose I get aromas of mulberry, cherry, wet earth, tobacco, tea leaf, vanilla, and oak. That's quite a few descriptors but the nose is actually quite muted at this time.

On the palate the first impressions are most definitely focused on the sharp acidity and gripping tannin structure. I'm always amazed at how much tannin these young Barolo's have despite the somewhat light color. I guess pigments don't have much to do with tannin but usually the lighter color wines are softer, except in the case of Nebbiolo. There are some nice cherry, mineral, vanilla, and oak flavors that do come forward through the grit. It's hard to drink this wine right now because it's just not ready but I can tell it's really well made wine.

Average Retail: $40-45
Vino Blog Rating: 8.5/10

Click here to find out more about this wine


Montepulciano d' Abruzzo vs. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

What's the difference between Montepulciano d' Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano? These two distinctly different wines often get confused because of the use of the dual definition word "Montepulciano".

You see Montepulciano is two things, it's the name of a grape varietal and the name of a small town in Western Italy's Tuscany region. Direct translation of each of these wines is the key to remembering the difference between these wines.

Montepulciano d' Abruzzo = Montepulciano from Abruzzi

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano = Noble wine from Montepulciano

Can you spot the difference?

Montepulciano d' Abruzzo (D.O.C.) is refering to the grape varietal "Montepulciano" which in this case is being grown in Italy's Abruzzi region. The grape variety Montepulciano is capable of creating deeply colored, rich red wines with impressive blackberry fruit, and spicy peppery qualities. The varietal is thought to be indigenous to the Abruzzi region but is also grown in other regions and is the base for other wines in Italy. For example Rosso Conero (D.O.C.) from the Marches region and Cerveteri and Velletri (D.O.C.) from the Latium region.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (DOCG) is a wine that is made in the hilly area around the town of Montepulciano, southwest of Siena in the eastern portion of Italy's Tuscany Region. The designated area is actually situated inside the large Chianti subzone of Colli Senesi. It's also important to note that Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was the very first DOCG in Italy. (First vintage in 1983). Vino Nobile wines are made from a minimum of 70% Sangiovese, 10-20% Canaiolo, and up to 20% of other varietals. (no more than 10% white grapes).


2006 Colosi Sicilia Rosso - IGT

I have tasted this wine in the past and have really enjoy it for it's nice pure fruit and amazing quality for the price. I have to say that it still impresses me vintage after vintage. It made from 100% Sicilian Nero d' Avola and is aged 6 months in Slavonian oak and 4 months in bottle before release.

What's really astonishing is that there was 400,000 bottles produced of this stuff for the vintage! Now thats a large production wine but the quality is absolutely amazing. I wish some of the new world producers would focus on producing this kind of quality in there larger production, introductory wines.

On the nose I get blueberry, black cherry creme pie, vanilla, raisin, prunes, sugared dates, leather, and tobacco. It's a really fantastic bouquet that just keeps developing in the glass. On the palate I get flavors of black cherry, prune, raisin, vanilla, oak, and dark chocolate. There is also a trademark Italiano earthiness to it as well, which comes across quite stylish and makes you want to whip out the pasta. I absulutely adore this wine for the price!

Average Retail: $8-12
Vino Blog Rating: 8/10


2005 Roberto Voerzio Barolo Brunate

Roberto Voerzio produces some of the best Barolo in the region. His rise to success is largely based on his new world approach of fashioning his wine away from the traditional tannic Barolo style. He is also known for using some of the lowest yields of fruit in the Barolo zone. Production is very limited and the winery makes less than 4000 cases per vintage, which equals less than one bottle per vine.

The Brunate vineyard makes the finest and raciest Barolos, which are defined and firm, and finish with big, ripe tannins and very good length. The wines also score amazingly high in wine publications such as Wine Spectator, Enthusiast, ect.

The 2005 vintage is only a mere 220 case production so I was lucky enough to be able to taste it. On the nose it shows amazing aromas of super ripe currant, raspberry, and blueberry, along with a touch of vanilla, toast, and cedar.

It's a full bodied wine with huge ripe tannin and a seductive texture. Flavors of red currant, blackberry, mineral, spice, and a touch of mocha liqueur all grace the palate with a stunning concentration and firm but surprisingly ripe and sexy finish. This wine is nothing short of brilliant but may be some what impossible to get your hands on unless purchasing it from a collector or an auction. Awesome stuff!!

Average Retail: $250-300
Vino Blog Rating: 10/10


Genoa Salami

Genoa salami is a variety of salami commonly believed to have originated in the area of Genoa, Italy.

Commonly, Genoa salami is a pork salami, although some producers mix in beef and veal as well. In addition to the loosely chopped pork, Genoa salami also includes garlic, salt, fennel seeds, whole peppercorns, and a small amount of white wine. The peppercorns create explosions of spice in the finished product, making Genoa salami a rather zesty food to eat. By tradition, white peppercorns are usually used in Genoa salami, with black peppercorns studding cotto salami.

Salami is made by chopping meat and spices and stuffing them into a casing. The resulting meat is cured, usually through a process of drying and smoking. Once cured, a salami can be stored at room temperature until it is cut open. The curing technique ensures that meat is available year round.

Several things distinguish salami from other cured stuffed meats. The meat in salami tends to be coarsely cut, so large chunks of meat and fat are present in the finished product. In addition, the dry cure used to preserve salami results in a very dry meat which is also slightly crumbly. Salami also tends to be more spicy than some cured meats, and it may have a slightly fermented flavor, depending on how it was handled and cured.

2007 Stella Montepulciano d' Abruzzo

The 2007 Stella Montepulciano d' Abruzzo is made from 100% Montepulciano grapes grown in hillside vineyards on Italy's Adriatic coast. Stella is the creation of Leonardo LoCascio who, in partnership with growers and winemaker Danilo Chini, have put together a series of wines that exemplify the character of the varietal and the region. The wine is aged for six months in stainless steal tanks and a further three months in bottle before release.

On the nose I get some very nice black cherry notes as well as some additional aromas of savory dark chocolate, spice, and a hint of leather. This wine definitely has an Italian type bouquet that expresses a sense of place but the fruit is quite nice and pure as well.

On the palate the black cherry flavors continue to impress but this wine is quite dry and slightly rustic in nature. There is a nice coco note that combines with a touch of leather that eventually finishes dry with some cranberry and cherry notes.

I like this wine for it's simplicity, sense of place, and the obvious ability that it would have to pair with some hearty Italian cuisine. I would suggest perhaps Osso Bucco or a meat lovers style lasagna.

Average Retail: $7-8
Vino Blog Rating: 7/10


2006 Principato Pinot Grigio "Blush"

This 100% Pinot Grigio is sourced from hillside vineyards throughout the provinces of Trentino, the Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, the three districts that together form northeast Italy’s Tre Venezie region. The grapes are harvested by hand and then during vinification the Pinot Grigio, the grape skins are left in contact with the juice, resulting in a natural delicate rosĂ© hue.

The Principato label has been in existence sine 1978 and has become a well known brand in the United states and I think this wine might even have been an exclusive for a wine in the Olive Garden restaurant chain. (At least locally here in Arizona)

It is a lightly colored blush wine that has a pinkish orange like hue and It almost has the color of lightly colored salmon flesh. On the nose the wine shows aromas of citrus peel, delicate floral aromas, and perhaps a touch of wet concrete. On the palate the wine is light and fruity, and even has a touch of residual sugar. Soft citrus notes combine with just the faintest hint of light red fruit and finish with a crisp, delightful, and pleasant aftertaste.

I can see this wine pairing nicely with light appetizers, fresh seafood and Asian-inspired cuisine. I do believe it drinks nice on its own and would be a great picnic style wine that would be fun with cheese and crackers.

Average Retail: $6-7
Vino Blog Rating: 6/10

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Access, a leading tonneau cover manufacture

Access, a leading tonneau cover manufacture offers 7 styles of pickup covers to enhance your pickup truck.

Each Access tonneau cover offers specific benefits for pickup truck owners. There base model is the Access tonno sport, which is a low profile tonno starting at under $300. The mid-range models include the Literider tonneau cover and the Vanish tonneau cover. Priced around $350, these 2 truck covers offer a few more features than the sport model.

There deluxe covers include the Access tonneau cover and the Lorado tonneau cover. Both are about the same, except the lorado is more low profile. And lastly for the person who want the best, check out the Access limited. The limited edition offers more features and benefits than any other rollup tonneau.

If you are looking to enhance your truck, consider checking our the Access cover.

truck bed cover

Take advantage of the 2010 Real Estate Stimulus

Just thought I would remind all of you new homebuyers to make sure to take advantage of this Real Estate Stimulus that the government has so kindly put into effect. I actually bought my home four days before the cutoff of this credit so I wasn't able to enroll. Don't miss the chance to receive this money. Here are the basics:

The federal income tax credit for homebuyers has been extended and expanded to now include homeowners who wish to "move on" after 5 years of living in their current property, as well as first-time homebuyers.

-First-time homebuyers, or those who have not owned in the last three years, can receive up to an $8,000 tax credit
-Homeowners who have lived in a current home consecutively for 5 of the past 8 years can receive up to a $6,500 tax credit
-There may be no future extensions, so all qualified homebuyers are urged to act and have a written, binding contract by April 30, 2010 (close by June 30, 2010)
-Income limits are now $125,000 for singles, $225,000 for married couples with a $20,000 phase-out of the credit for both.

The video above does a lot better to explain the finite details of the program. I would strongly urge those of you who are looking to buy a house for the first time to take advantage of this program. It's basically a free, no interest loan, that you can use to get in a home and start to look towards the future.

Why not take advantage of programs like these? If the government are so eager to spend our money then we should take every chance we get to spend this tax payer money on improving our lives.


Pendry's World of Chiles & Spices!

I thought I would tell you about a incredibly amazing company that has been in business for over a century and has some of the most delicious and mouth watering food products. It's called Pendery's and they have some of the best spices and seasonings in the world!

If you visit their site you can download their product catalog that is full of all sorts of unique and delicious products such as spices, sauces, gourmet foods, cook books, housewares, and seasonal and holiday gift items.

In the 1800's they used to deliver their good by stagecoach, but today they have began to market their products online and have a really simple and easy ordering process. When you visit the website you will also be able to subscribe to their newsletter where you can get the inside dish on deals and seasonal offers.

If you're in to southwest cooking and love your chiles and spices, then you must check out Pendry's. They also are running a great closeout sale right now where you can find some incredible gifts at great sale prices.

You can also be confident of amazing service and product quality with Pendry's Guarantee:

"Since 1870, we have selected the finest products available. If you are dissatisfied with your purchase, simply return it within 30 days for an exchange, credit or refund."