Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Sugar Plum of a Wine: the 2003 Ferrari-Carano Siena

The 2003 Ferrari-Carano Siena ($16.69, Costco) is a red blend made up of Sangiovese, Malbec, and Cabernet Sauvignon with a touch of Petit Verdot. As I said in an earlier post, I prefer red blends that have a rhyme or a reason to them, and I cannot for the life of me figure this one out. The Ferrari-Carano website explains that to reflect their Italian heritage they blended Sangiovese with "Sonoma County's finest grapes." OK, but why? And why blend Sangiovese (plummy) with Malbec (more plummy)? A huge fan of their Fume Blanc wine, which is one of the great values in California Sauvignon Blanc, and their Syrah, I decided to give this red blend a try.

Despite my reservations, when I popped the cork and poured this wine into the glass it had a beautiful darkly reddish purple color to it. Sniffing the wine, I could detect aromas of black licorice candy and plums along with a slightly hot, alcoholic note. Drinking the wine brought out pronounced plummy flavors, with notes of cinnamon. This sweet and spicy wine has good QPR, with the plummy flavors characteristic of Sangiovese and Malbec (along with the Sangiovese cinnamon), but it is a bit pricey for a rustic red blend. I'm not sorry I had it, but I'm not sure I'd seek out another bottle, either.

We had the Siena wine with a traditional Italian dish done up the Jamie Oliver way: pollo alla cacciatora (aka Chicken Cacciatore). After pouring all of our remaining 2004 Big House Red over the chicken for a long slow marinade (the chicken is cooked in the marinade later), and combining a flavorful blend of tomatoes, anchovies, bay leaves, and olives it was popped into a low oven for 1 1/2 hours. It was rich, earthy, and pungent with all those anchovies and olives. This robust, saline fare was a perfect foil for the plummy sweetness of the Siena.


Brooklynguy said...

interesting...i don't think of sangiovese as plummy, but then again, i don't know much about sangiovese. i feel like chianti has produced many affordable wines that also are of high quality in the recent past. i love pian del ciampolo and montevertine, and i guess the latter is plummy. what are your favorite value sangio's?

Dr. Debs said...

I always taste some combination of strawberry and red plum with sangiovese--but with Italian versions that have seen oak this is often subtle in relationship to the spice, oak, and smoke. When you drink un-aged Chianti, though, the plum and cinnamon are noticeable. I've been steadily drinking my way through a small stash of 2001 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which I think is a great wine, but the most amazing value out there for the past few years has to be the Di Majo Norante Sangiovese Terre degli Osci. I've had the 2002-2004 vintages and they're consistently excellent value. In the past year I've also had a Castello di Querceto Chianti Riserva and an Altesino Rosso I quite liked, too.