WRITTEN BY PHILLIP SILVERSTONE
Probably the most frequently asked question of your humble wine scribe is the one which probes my palate for my favorite value for money with stunning taste from this planet’s vast vineyard. My answer remains the same as it has been for countless years. The red wines of Chile are the most amazing nectar I have ever experienced. And somehow, the wineries in those climes manage to keep their prices ridiculously affordable.
Carmen is a perfect example, and their Carmenère my most recent quaff. I’m not one to get caught up in anniversaries of wineries but to many drinkers Chile is a very New World wine region. Not so. Carmen was founded in 1850. Carmen are also responsible for the rediscovery of their beloved Carmenère grape, a varietal that has come to exemplify Chile’s proud wine heritage.
The grape originated in France’s prestigious Medoc region in Bordeaux (Carmin means crimson in French). Given my total boredom with Cabernet Sauvignon, the Carmenère gets a warm embrace from my lips as it performs precisely as the Cabernet but with so much more aplomb and excitement. Carmen’s prestigious Gran Reserva wines which have even more TLC than their standard bottlings, have captured the personality and depth of the Carmenère in their 2011 release. The grapes are grown in the amazingly fertile Colchagua Valley. The wine was aged in French Oak so for all you Cabernet (yawn!) lovers don’t fret, there’s cedar and tobacco and lots of red berries in the perfume and a deliciously smooth and rich ripe berry flavor which has been helped by a little Carignan and Tempranillo blended into the wine. And the value for money part of the question? Under $20 a bottle, even in our wine and spirits state controlled outpost of the Soviet Union. My thanks to Carmen’s team for bringing this wine to my attention.
One of my favorite non-alcoholic liquids poured from a bottle is olive oil. Fresh bread soaking up the delicious moat of oil on my plate is quintessential yumminess. I just received a bottle of Il Fiorello Olio Nuovo and I can now die a happy man. Il Fiorello is a family-owned company growing and milling fine artisan olive oil. Owners Ann and Mark Sievers produce oil from their own groves. Their properties are located in Green Valley and Suisun Valley between Fairfield and Napa Valley. Il Fiorello is named after Ann’s grandfather, Dominic Fiorello.
The cost of a 375ml bottle is $35. Perfection doesn’t always come cheap. This olive oil was harvested and milled Oct. 10, 2014. It hasn’t been sitting on the supermarket shelf since the summer, it is as fresh as having your own grove in your back garden. I’ve never tasted anything remotely close to this olive oil. It is a masterpiece, a work of art. A tasting experience you only remember from the times you sat outside a restaurant in the most romantic part of the world, with clear blue skies, the love of your life smiling across the table and the sound of a small plane buzzing happily across the sky. To be honest, words fail me. You have to taste this olive oil to fully appreciate the unique flavors this product has to offer. But I promise, you will NOT be disappointed. Information: http://ilfiorello.com/product/olio-nuovo/
You know how we constantly read about the health benefits of one glass of wine? Well, I just received a glass which has the inscription: “They Say … One Glass Of Wine A Day Keeps The Doctor Away!” BigMouth Inc. sent me the best wine glass I have ever received and it’s without any doubt in my mind the most appropriate gift you can give to any wine lover in your orbit. Available at nationwide retailers like Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and online at Amazon.com it’s $19.95 and the niftiest wine glass I’ve seen in years. Oh! And, as for the one glass of wine each day, no problems here. This glass holds three bottles of wine. It comes in a colorful gift package and is made of hand-blown glass. For those on a diet, they also make a single bottle with a built in glass. Far nicer than drinking from a brown paper bag. It’s $15.99.
Next week: New Year wines and bubbly. Happy Chanukah to our Jewish readers. Cheers!
Phillip Silverstone’s column appears each week in this publication. “Time Out With Phillip Silverstone” is a weekly two-hour podcast heard exclusively on TuneIn radio anytime and anywhere worldwide either on the free TuneIn app for all smart phones and tablets (Search: Phillip Silverstone) or online on Tunein at: http://bit.ly/1gY2Ht4. “Follow” the show for weekly updates. You can also LIKE Phillip on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Phillipsilverstone and follow him on Twitter: @wining