Ahh, living on the creamy edge of high life...!
North Berkeley wine is a full-service importer, retailer and wholesaler that specializes in fine wines from France, Italy and Chile.
At their portfolio tasting last week, I checked out a few Burgundies and Italian goodies from the Fall lineup (sounds like a fashion show, doesn't it?!), out of 100 or so different wines. Not many shook my world, but here are a few that are worth mentioning IMHO.
Two red Burgundies were head and shoulders above all French wines at the tasting:
1. Wine of the Tasting - Frederic Magnien 2007 Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru. While in general I find most 2007 red Burgundies to be lacking power and plushness, even struggling at the Grand Cru level, this one was balanced, elegant, and quite good and charming, though not a powerhouse either, but one of the better red wines from Burgundy in 2007. Price? Don't ask! ($180/btl).
2. Gerard Raphet 2008 Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru "Les Combttes" - good intensity, creaminess and spice. $110/btl.
A couple of Italians.
1. Castello della Paneretta - Monstanto 2000 Terrine IGT - a 3L grand bottle from Tuscany, 50% Sangiovese, 50% Canaiolo - very nice, full bodied wine, entering its maturity, just plain tasty stuff. I kept going for more tastes. Awesome with herb crusted goat cheese. More rustic than elegant, I felt like grabbing the 3L by the neck and throwing a big Italian party. Kicker - over $250/btl... that could dampen the mood...
2. Ronchi 2006 Barbaresco "Ronchi" (to be released winter 2011). Very tasty. Not super elegant or complex, but not super expensive either (should sell for under $40/btl). I am starting to like 2006 Barolos and Barbarescos, as they mellow out and show their true colors. In a year or two, 2006's should be as good as 2005's, but with more aging potential.
The Frederic Magnien's 2007 Clos de Vougeot was great with the luscious Brillat-Savarin (on the right-hand side in the photo above) cow-based triple-cream brie cheese from Normandy, France and another, thicker, soft and more pungent French cheese whose name I didn't get (that's the one that looks like a bowl of cheese). Here is a bit of wine-and-cheese pairing wisdom for ya: (as a generalization) I have observed that Burgundies go well with cow-based French cheeses, and Italian wines go well with sheep or goat based Italian and Spanish cheeses. Makes sense, doesn't it? - as Italian wines tend to have a zingy, even slightly salty quality to them - just try a young Pecorino cheese with Chianti, or Boschetto al Tartufo (truffle cheese) with Barbaresco - heavenly!