Tag Archive for italian wine

Review: 2012 Fratelli Perata Cabernet Sauvignon

Tomatoes! I don’t think I’ve ever had wine with a deep, roasted tomato taste, but the 2012 Fratelli Perata Cabernet Suvignon does. And it’s yummy. Not a weird tomato taste, but it’s an almost Earthy quality that makes this wine pair well with spaghetti and meatballs!

I picked up this unfiltered wine on a trip to Paso Robles. A fellow wine lover had recommended it while I was visiting Midnight Cellars with my husband. “If you like Italian wines,” he said, “go there, now!” So we did. The wine tasting room was very small and a few old timers were already there drinking at the bar. This is a very quaint winery that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles like many others now. If you want cheese plates and corn hole, this wine tasting room isn’t for you.

But the big-flavored reds were satisfying. This cab was well-rounded with intense fruit and that’s why I bought it. I will say the label advises to decant for an hour and I would highly recommend doing so. Otherwise, you’re going to get an alcoholic burn that masks the majesty of this drinking Cab. Even after decanting though, you can still expect this wine to have a tart dryness from the tannins.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Fratelli Perata
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2012
Price: $36
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: Put some steak rubbed with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper on the BBQ and then indulge. (Remember to give it plenty of time to breathe first).

Review: 2012 Gaetano d’Aquino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie

This Italian Pinot Grigio is dry with a tangy aftertaste. An apple flavor dominates here. Did I like it? Well, better said perhaps that I didn’t hate it. It was OK.

The 2012 Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie is a very cheap Pinot Grigio from Trader Joe’s, so that’s a plus. It’s a fruity, non-demanding easy drinker.




Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Gaetano D’Aquino 
  • Type: Pinot Grigio
  • Origin: Italy
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $3.99
  • Alcohol content: 12%
  • When to drink: Don’t think I’d buy this again, so I can’t recommend a situation when to drink it.

Wine bar review: Mignon in downtown Los Angeles

At the edge of downtown Los Angeles, in that nebulous part of 6th Street that borders Skid Row, is the cutest wine bar I ever did see. I’m serious.

Not only is Mignon adorable with a very Parisian vibe, think dark wood, dim lighting, mismatched glasses and minimal seating, it has quite the wine list. There were representatives from Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Spain, and of course, France.


The menu, printed on lined white school paper, changes often, but when I went last week it included:

  • Torley, Gala, a Hungarian sparkling wine
  • Cascina Val del Prete, Luet, Roero Arneis, an Italian white
  • Val de Mer, Chablis, a French white
  • Cornellison, “Contadino 9,” a Sicilian red wine

And many more.

On top of the extensive list, they have a lovely happy hour: $5 glasses of wine and $5 small plates from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 p.m. to midnight on Sunday. The bar is open 6 p.m. to midnight seven days a week. Usually, glasses of wine are about $8, and bottles mostly range from $32 to $62.

At a recent happy hour, I had a 2010 Cascina Val del Prete, an Italian wine made from Arneis grapes. The white wine was creamy, sweet, and left pear lingering on the tongue. In Piedmont, where the grape is grown, Arneis in the regional dialect, means “little rascal,” because it’s difficult to grow.


I switched over to the red side and tried the Domaine de Cuoron Marselan. They swapped that wine in after running out of a Slovenian number: Zajc Cvicek Dolenjska. I really wanted to try that mouthful, but the dip in supply turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The Marselan, a French red grape and a cross-blend between Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon was a pleasure to drink. The chewy, toasty, leathery wine emits blackberry and cherry aromas. If we didn’t have to leave for the night, I would have ordered another glass! Luckily for me, a bottle’s just $13, according to wine-searcher.com

Mignon is at 128 E. 6th St. For more information, call 213-489-0131.

No hangover wines: Do they really exist?

The Daily Beast posted a story this week that claims to have found the holy grail: wine that won’t give you a hangover.

The writer, Jordan Salcito of Momofuku, talks about drinking three bottles of wine at dinner with a friend and waking up the next morning without feeling icky. In fact, both diners felt so great one dominated at a tennis match the next morning and the other at a spin class.

I know what it’s like to exercise the morning after a couple bottles of wine and for me, it’s hard enough to get out of bed, let alone actually move my body around to burn calories. I kind of look like #hangovercat.



Salcito says that his secret is natural wines, ones “made from ripe grapes and not much else.”

With that in mind, I decided to ask a nutritionist why that would be the case.

Roger Clemens, an adjunct professor of Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical Science at University of Southern California and a nutrition expert, said there is no scientific evidence to back up the claim that there will be a difference in hangover impact if you grab a bottle of natural wine rather than a conventional one.

None of the elements of conventional wine Salcito mentions in his article–supplementary sugar,sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, tartaric and malic acid, oak essence, etc–has been directly linked to hangovers, Clemens said, adding:

Hangovers, other than over indulgence, reflect the body’s response to excess alcohol (the liver is rate-limiting in alcohol metabolism) and possibly minor compounds often referred to as congeners. Congeners are natural products of fermentation and distillation. Even those who study the pathology of alcohol hangover suggest that other factors may subject vulnerable individuals to hangovers. Some of those factors include degree of hydration, immune status, health status, genetics and ultimately, individual variations.

Now, Salcito admits that his belief is based on anecdotes and not science and he warns not all natural wines are just dandy:

While natural wines have a host of merits, some can be a game of Russian Roulette if you aren’t familiar with labels. The term, which is nebulous and unregulated, can apply to any wine made without very few winery manipulations.  Some wines that fall under the natural wine umbrella are lambasted for trying to pawn off technically flawed wines. Some of them have the tannic composition of splintering plywood, and others have the aromatic make-up of fermenting dill pickles, nail polish remover, and unwashed feet.  Plenty of wines seem to get a free-pass on wine lists and retail shelves simply because they are “natural.” But like all wines, some are good, some are bad, and some are truly extraordinary.

So what did Salcito drink that magical night that led to a magical morning sans hangover? Eric Pfifferling’s l’Anglore Tavel rosé and two others of similar style. He also recommends:

  • Stella di Campalto, Tuscany, Italy
  • Arnot-Roberts, Sonoma, CA
  • Van Volxem, Mosel, Germany

Check out the article for more about natural wines and other recommendations. Buyer beware, though, most of those recommendations will cost you a pretty penny. I checked wine-searcher.com for prices and most are over $30.

Review: Luisi Barbera d’Asti

Barbera’s not a wine grape you hear about everyday. In fact, before I drank the 2011 Luisi Barbera d’Asti, I had only had Barbera in blends before.

So what is Barbera all about?


Barbera is one of the most popular grapes planted in Italy. You can also find it in Australia, thanks to UC Davis. It’s also grown in California.

Barbera wines run the gamut from fruity to medium-bodied to concentrated and intense. Often, they have a high acidity level.

When I drank the Luisi, it was ruby red and tanngyyy. After letting it sit in mouth for a bit, it felt like pop rocks. Who knew an Italian wine would bring me back to the schoolyard days?

There are two kinds of Barbera: Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba, which signify the region in Italy where the grapes come from. Asti is drier and Alba tends to be rainier and the climates impact the flavor of the wine. Luca Currado Vietti, owner of Vietti Winery, told Wine Spectator that Asti and Alba are like Napa and Sonoma, in the sense that they are two wonderful, neighboring wine regions. Some say d’Albas are fruitier and d’Asti’s are more intense, but I haven’t tried the former myself, so I can’t confirm.

I’ll add a Barbera d’Alba to my list of wines I have to try, but I won’t be getting a Vietti wine. They cost upwards of $80, which is way out of my budget, I mean out of this universe, out. If you have a suggestion for a Barbera d’Alba under $20–under $15, even better–let me know in the comments.

I wouldn’t recommend the Luisi Barbera d’Asti to everyone–especially not to those who prefer smooth wines that aren’t explosive on the taste buds.

However, if you like thick and bold, you’d probably enjoy this Barbera.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Luisi
  • Type: Barbera d’Asti
  • Origin: Italy
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $16.95
  • Alcohol content:13%
  • When to drink: Bring this to dinner with the in-laws, not to your friend’s house party.