2010 Marcarini Dolcetto d’Alba Fontanazza

2008 Wild Hog Vineyard Petite Sirah Cache Creek

2009 Trentadue Winery Cuvée 32 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition

2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard




2010 Marcarini Dolcetto d’Alba Fontanazza – $14.24

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many bottles of Italian Dolcetto wines.  These are generally nice, every day wines that are available at wallet friendly prices.  The Italian word “dolcetto” means “little sweet one”.  Don’t take that literally since these wines are usually bone dry.  Most are light to medium body, fairly fruity with a touch of spice.  The moderate acidity makes it a wonderful partner to a wide range of food.


This has 12.5% alcohol and is sealed with an agglomerated cork.


The wine, in the winery’s words

This Dolcetto d’Alba is a creation of the Langhe hills, La Morra Fontanazza in particular.  A delicious, easy-drinking wine, it is a product of the terroir and the distinctive regional microclimate.  An “honest” red wine, the “Fontanazza” is made in traditional manner, without the intervention of new technology.  It has always been considered the everyday drinking wine of native Langhe people.  The “Fontanazza” selection is not aged in oak in order to offer a fresh, fruity, inviting and easy-to-drink wine.  “Fontanazza” presents a magnificent ruby-red color with lovely violet reflections.  The intense and persistent nose offers floral and fruity sensations with evident signs of sweet spices.  The palate is characterized by the same sensations, exalted by a pleasant acidity and a delicate, slightly bitter aftertaste.  With these characteristics, the Dolcetto “Fontanazza” is an excellent companion to every dish of the Italian and international cooking tradition.  The ideal wine glass has a medium-sized bowl and a long stem.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep garnet color.  The sensuous nose has cherries, plums, baking spices, white pepper, minerals, and violets.  This is barely medium body with soft tannins and great acidity.  On the palate the spicy fruit takes center stage with minerals and pepper coming in from the sidelines.  Nice length on the mineral driven finish.  Not one to keep in the cellar but easy to enjoy over the next year, maybe two.  (89 pts)

2010 Marcarini Dolcetto d'Alba Fontanazza

2010 Marcarini Dolcetto d’Alba Fontanazza



2008 Wild Hog Vineyard Petite Sirah Cache Creek – $9.97

The 2007 vintage of this wine was a show stopper for under $10.  When the local received a small cache of the 2008 vintage and made it available for $10 via an e-mail offer, I had to grab a case.  My first bottle wasn’t up to the level of the 2007, but it showed considerable promise.


According to the Wild Hog website, this wine does not exist.  For some reason there is no mention of this vintage.  As a final word on the subject, this is included in the comments about the 2007 vintage, “Dark fruit and violets on the nose. Black berries, round feel and good tannins. It is big, firm and supple. And pretty smooth to boot. This is the last vintage of this wine.”  Oh well, they may need to update the web site.


The wine has 15.0% alcohol and is sealed with a natural cork.


Winery history

At Wild Hog Vineyard it is difficult to separate the wine from the winemaker.  Daniel Schoenfeld began making wine as a home winemaker in 1977.  He loved good food and wine and wanted to share his enjoyment with friends.  He and Marion, his wife and co-owner, are both gardeners with a passionate belief in sustainable living.  Marion tends a three acre organic garden which produces the vegetables and fruits that the family consumes.  Daniel farms the five acre vineyard above the house.  Together with their two children, Iris and Ariel, they harvest the bounty from the land.  They take from the land only what they give in return.


As a winemaker, Daniel has a very simple view-allow the fruit to speak for itself.  All Wild Hog wines are unfiltered allowing the full flavor to be extracted.  The grapes are picked ripe and crushed (or de-stemmed) into open top fermentors-1 to 4 ton size.  Yeast is added and the must will ferment 10 to 21 days, until dry.  The must is then pressed and the juice held in American oak barrels.  After 12 months in the barrel for Pinot Noir and 18 months for Zinfandel, the wine is bottled at the winery, using our own equipment.  Since we do no filtering, the wine is racked two or three times during its time in the barrel.  The winery produces between 3000 to 4000 cases per year, depending on harvest and availability of good fruit.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby to purple color.  The intriguing nose has blackberries, black pepper, minerals, eucalyptus, licorice, violets, dried herbs, and some earthy underbrush. This is barely medium body with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity. On the palate the wine shows peppery, crushed berries, some earthiness and minerality, with the eucalyptus note coming in on the back end. The finish has very nice fruit and savory elements, and has decent length. I really like the mint/eucalyptus note that carries through from the nose to the finish.  This shows absolutely no trace of the 15% alcohol.  (90 pts)

2008 Wild Hog Vineyard Petite Sirah Cache Creek

2008 Wild Hog Vineyard Petite Sirah Cache Creek



2009 Trentadue Winery Cuvée 32 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition – $16.90

We have visited the Alexander Valley based Trentadue Winery a few times in the past and always had a good time and an even better tasting.  This is a long time favorite wine in my house.  The blend varies each vintage, this one is 49% Sangiovese, 27% Merlot, 8% Montepulciano, 8% Malbec, 7% Petite Sirah, and 1% Syrah.  This wine has enough acidity from the Sangiovese to stand up to dishes with tomatoes but the other grapes lend enough body and oomph to stand up to meat.  We like this wine with everything from pasta with meat sauce to Veal Parmesan and baked ziti.


This has 14.5% alcohol and is sealed via a natural cork.


Winery history

The Trentadue family arrived in Sonoma County long before their region gained a reputation as the Wine Country.  Life-long, hands-on agriculturists, Evelyn and Leo Trentadue contributed significantly to the advancement of their region over the years.  In 1959, the Trentadues decided to flee the developers encroaching on their apricot and cherry orchards in Sunnyvale, the area known today around the world as Silicon Valley.  To preserve their way of life, these hard-working Italian ranchers purchased 208 acres of land in Sonoma County’s then remote Alexander Valley.


See more at:  http://www.trentadue.com/winery/heritage.asp


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to dark garnet color. The very inviting nose has cherries, warm baking spices, dried herbs, raspberries, black pepper, wild flowers, some licorice, and a bit of earthiness. This has medium body, moderate to solid tannins, and good acidity. On the palate the spicy, peppery fruit jumps out first with dried herbs and earthiness coming in later. The finish has very nice length with good balance between the fruity and savory elements. This California version of a “Super Tuscan” is one of the better ones currently being produced. Enjoy this now or stash it away for a few years.  (92 pts)

2009 Trentadue Winery Cuvée 32 40th Anniversary Collector's Edition

2009 Trentadue Winery Cuvée 32 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition



2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard – $19.94


My comments

The owner/winemaker is Cody Wright, the son of well known and popular Oregon winemaker/owner Ken Wright.  This was a new winery to me when the local wine store had an e-mail special on the wine.  In my opinion, any time you can get hold of a good Pinot Noir for under $20, you buy.


The wine has 13.5% alcohol and is sealed with a twist off closure.


Winery history

Purple Hands winery strives for the expression of genuine inherent terroir of soil and grape.  We search for ideal moments of ripeness and complexity balanced with authentic strength of soil character.


Our wines are windows into dynamic breadths of terroir, extracting and unlocking a code of sweet and savory from our rich Oregon soil.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a bright red color with a slight ruby tint.  The soft and nuanced nose has black cherries, raspberries, fresh flowers, baking spices and subtle earthiness.  This is medium body at most, with racy acidity, and soft but persistent tannins.  The silky palate has tart, juicy fruit, spice, and a bit of earthiness which carries through on the slightly short finish.  This is a nice, light weight style of Pinot with juicy acidity and a touch of earthiness and spice to balance out the fruit.  This is a nice change up from the broad shouldered California Pinots.  (90 pts)

2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard

2010 Purple Hands Pinot Noir Stoller Vineyard



Napa Valley Film Festival

Are you interested in attending the Napa Valley Film Festival?  The festival runs from November 13 through 17.


Oh, almost forgot, how does attending the event for free sound?  To celebrate being a sponsor of the event, Benchmark Wine Group is giving away a very nice package to one lucky person.  Enter by October 31st for your chance to win.


The Napa-based company is offering one lucky winner two Festival Passes to the Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), worth a $500 value; two private invitations to the Benchmark Opening Night VIP kick-off party; and exclusive access to the sneak preview screening of ‘August: Osage County’, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.


Benchmark Wine Group will be hosting an exclusive Opening Night VIP kick-off party on Wednesday, November 13 and a winemaker tasting with Todd Alexander of Bryant and Bettina on Friday, November 15.  NVFF Patrons and special guests will be invited to join Benchmark Wine Group at the Michael Holmes Gallery at Riverfront, 606 Main Street, from 8 pm to 10 pm Wednesday to launch the week’s festivities.  Every guest Wednesday will be entered into a raffle for a chance to buy a bottle of 2001 Château Haut-Brion for $1; taste magnums of 1983 Pétrus, 1966 Château Margaux, and 2003 Diamond Creek; and enjoy food catered by Morimoto Napa.


For more information, click here.


To view the official rules and to enter, click here.


A video about the event from my bud, Amy Payne, is available by clicking here.




Connect with me

You can follow me on Twitter for more wine info, potential food pairings, and an occasional recipe or two.  Be warned, I’m also a sports fan and there are occasional Pittsburgh Penguins, Steelers, and Pirates tweets.  I attended the University of South Carolina, so during football season, there will also be some Gamecock posts.


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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.