"Wining" with Pasadena Pete Pete Celli,
Wine Department Pasadena Liquors and Fine Wines

March 2009

Sicily... it's no longer just the homeland of Mario Puzo's Corleone family. Over the last few decades, wine-makers began experimenting with different grapes and different approaches, resulting in vast improvements in quality. Sicilian reds were most often too high in acidity, alcohol, and earthiness.

Today, the Nero d'Avila grape is responsible for the major step up the quality ladder. It can be used as a single grape or in combination with Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Petit Verdot.

Originally from the small coastal city of Avila in eastern Sicily, the Nero d' Avila grape thrives throughout Sicily. Nero d' Avila, or the glack grape of Avila, named for its dark color, is much like the island where it is grown. The grape produces a wine with sunny aromas - a smooth palate - intensely fruity but balanced by notes of chocolate.

Nero d' Avila's distinctive flavor and aroma can vary greatly depending on where in Sicily the grape is grown. Its common aroma is floral and fruity, with notes of licorice and chocolate. In southwest Sicily the grape picks up hints of cherry, and in eastern Sicily you get hints of dried fruit.

The wine is easy to pair with food and it compliments a wide range of dishes from tuna to rabbit, alla cacciatore to meat balls and pasta or any full-bodied dishes.

Next time you're in the area, stop by Pasadena Wines and ask for our Sicilian wines, both red and white. You'll be surprised at both the quality and pricing. Till next time... Ciao.. Pietro Celli

October 2008

Joel Stein, a contributing writer for Time Magazine, recently penned an interesting and humorous article titles The Fifty States of Wine. You learn that all 50 states in the United States make wine, with North Dakota finalizing the #50 spot in 2002.

He tasted and reviewed one randomly selected bottle ($15 - $20 range) from each state. As I'm sure you all aware, tasting wine is subjective. There are general and basic guidelines to assist you in reaching an opinion, but in reality it becomes simply that - your opinion.

He found wine from eleven states to be excellent, twenty-one states received a good rating, twelve states were rated bad; and, finally, the wines from six states were rated undrinkable.

The eleven excellent states predictably included California, Oregon, Washington, and New York. Rounding out the top eleven were Michigan, Texas, a Pinot Grigio from Delaware, a white wine from Kentucky, a Muscat from New Hampshire, a Cabernet from Colorado, and a Chardonnay from North Carolina.

Twelve states achieved a bad ranking from the author: Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Florida. Florida's entry was a wine call "Palmetto White" Panama City. Muscadine was the grape mentioned.

At the bottom of the wine barrel, the undrinkable six included Georgia, Indiana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Wyoming, and, sadly, my home state of Massachusetts.

If you did not see your home state mentioned, it received an acceptable good rating. For reviews of all 50 wines go to: www.time.com/wine.

After reviewing each of the fab fifty, I'm pleased to report that our wine department does not carry any of the bad or undrinkables. Pasadena Liquor's wine department currently includes approximately 3,000 different selections from all the major wine producing regions of the world. Our selection is in a constant state of flux, replacing lesser types with a higher quality upgrade. We differ from most local wine shops in our never-ending efforts to locate hard-to-find wines requested by our customers. If you have yet to visit our store, give it a look. Anyone can sell wine; customer satisfaction is the difference.

November 2008

It wasn’t that many years ago that the Malbec grape, if known at all, was only mentioned as one of the five grapes used in Bordeaux’s Chateau blends (along with Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Franc). Today that scenario has nearly disappeared, as the Malbec grape has taken center stage in the vineyards of Argentina.

Thought it is still an approved grape of Bordeaux, it is in the Southwest corner of France (Cahors) where the grape dominates. There, the grape (also called "Cot" or "Auxerrois") produces wine so dark and tannic that it takes years to develop. This is most likely the reason why, in that region, the Malbec is referred to as the "Black Wine."

But back to Argentina. It is said that the grape was introduced to Argentina in 1868 by Michel Pouget, a French agronomist. With more than 70,000 acres of plantings, Argentina leads the world in Malbec vineyards. Chile, with 15,000 acres, and France, with 12,000 acres, are second and third. So far, only small amounts of Malbec acreage can be found in Washington, California, Oregon and Australia.

If you have yet to experience an Argentinean Malbec wine, the time has come. Seldom dainty, the grape almost demands heat and dry weather – and plenty of sun – all of which occur in Argentina. The best Malbecs will come from older vines. These result in a wine that shows great intensity, complexity and deep flavors. The color is deep, the tannins mostly full-bodied, and the taste reflects many of the darker fruits and berries. It pairs nicely with not only meats and strong cheeses, but also shines with chocolate.

The Mendoza region of Argentina is where nearly 80% of Malbecs are grown. The region is some 7y00 miles west of Buenos Aires, at the eastern base of the Andes. According to a recent article in the "Wine Enthusiast" magazine, Malbecs from Argentina are still a relative bargain in the U.S. Though a weak dollar has pushed up the price of many European wines, that has not happened in Argentina. The reason? – The Argentinean peso’s value is pegged to the American dollar at roughly three pesos to one dollar. Hence, there is no loss of gain of value on either side." (I don’t totally understand that concept, but I’ll gladly accept the resulting "good value" Malbecs.)

Some of the classically scored wines can retail at more than $100 (U.S.); however, you can experience many very good Malbecs in the $10 to $25 range. Malbec’s top producers from Argentina include Acheval-Ferrer, Catena, Lurton, Norton, Pascual Toso, Septima, Trivento, Valentin Biachi, and Familia Schroeder.

I am happy to report that our expanded Argentinean wine section at Pasadena Liquor and Fine Wines includes selections from all of the above listed wineries. The next time you have a hankering for something other than a Cabernet or Merlot, stop by our Pasadena Wine Shop and give Malbec a try.

Pasadena Liquor and Fine Wines 1100 Pasadena Avenue South South Pasadena, Florida 33707 727-347-9607