Season's eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year's Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted! See all the winners for the month so far here.
Well, I guess we’re done. After a gorgeous weekend, it looks like we’re officially on the road to winter, and nothing takes the chill out of a cold evening like a nice glass of red wine.
But, come on, between raking up all those leaves and curling up in the corner to cry until spring, who’s got time to read long-winded reviews to pick the perfect wine? In the interest of getting you to the wine shoppe and back lickety-split, here are 10 quick-hit red wine reviews, ranked by price (which, remember, can vary based on the seller) from dearest on down...
- Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, 2014 ($65) and its younger cousin, Hess Collection "Allomi" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 ($32) are full-bodied, oak-y cabs laced with dark cherry and vanilla. The Mount Veeder is vinted from grapes from steep slopes and has big tannins and concentrated fruit. The Allomi goes easier on the tannins. Pick yours.
- Castello di Albola Acciaiolo IGT ($62) – a blend of Tuscan sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon made only in the best years – is earthy and intense with a beautiful ruby color, dark red fruits, an intriguing smokiness and herbiness. You can’t go wrong here, really.
- B.R. Cohn Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2015 ($48) is a great wine and I’m not just saying that because the Sonoma and Napa Valley vineyards and winemakers really need all the help they can get these days (hint, hint). Aged first in a mix of new and old French oak barrels, this wine – rich in cherry, caramel, vanilla and spice – will embrace you.
- Viansa Sonoma Carneros Pinot Noir Reserve Series, 2013 ($45) keeps us in Sonoma, this time with a pinot built on nicely balanced tannins and acid that opens with cherry and chocolate, holds us with a licorice tang and lets us down easy with an oaky vanilla and caramel finish.
- Le Volte dell’Ornellaia IGT, 2015 ($30) is a "Super Tuscan" blend of merlot (67 percent), cabernet sauvignon (20) and sangiovese (13) that is rather ethereal, like drinking a cloud. It’s soft, it’s smooth, it’s fresh, with warm tannins and concentrated flavors of cocoa, raspberries and cherries.
- Gentilini Eclipse, 2014 ($25) is from the Greek island of Kefalonia and it is 100 percent mavrodaphne, a grape that makes a "black wine" ("vino nero" is also a common Italian wine term), that is extremely dark in color and this example is quite intriguing with its mint and licorice spice and very long finish. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, this is surely it.
- Frescobaldi Terre More Ammiraglia Maremma Toscana Cabernet DOC, 2015 ($18) blends cabernet sauvignon with dashes of cabernet franc with merlot and syrah. It’s full bodied and bursting with fruit – currants, plums, raspberries. A hint of spice adds complexity and it’s got a great fruit-rich finish.
- Niro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC ($13) is a deal. It’s inexpensive but rich and powerful, a blend of ripe fruit and black pepper spice. Enjoy it with pizza or a roast or even just a nice cheese board.
- Farmers of Wine Italian Red Blend ($12) comes from Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, wrapped in distinctive brown paper. It’s a blend of native grapes, negroamaro and primitivo (which may or may not be a relative of zinfandel, depending on who you believe) that results in a bright and fruity every-day quaff, that plays well with most anything on the menu.
- Les Dauphins Cotes du Rhone Reserve Rouge, 2014 ($10) is a good budget choice – a blend of grenache, syrah and mouvedre – with medium body and forward fruit, smooth tannins. Pleasant and drinkable.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.