South, South, South of the Border-Lapostolle’s Cuveé Alexandre & Piattelli’s Malbec Premium Reserve

Thou art not conquer’d; beauty’s ensign yet/Is crimson in thy lips and in thy cheeks.“-Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

When I think of capturing the significance of life in color, I think of Shakespeare and the color red. Here, Romeo sees Juliet and is captivated that in her death, life is still ever present through the notes of crimson accentuating her face and her beauty (note: she is not really dead here, but very much alive. It’s call irony, but I digress).

A great South American red wine (can) also exhibit the beauty of the deepness of life and the terroir from which its been born. I’ve heard that I would love all South American wines, but think the value of the wine has often overshadowed the quality.  Until I tried these two.

The Wines: Cuveé Alexandre’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon (Chile) and Piattelli’s Malbec Reserve 2011 (Argentina).

Cuveé Alexandre’s 2011 Cabernet SauvDSC_0024ignon is a deep red wine with legs that could be a Rockette.  This Cab Sauv is a blend dominated by Cab Sauv (88%)  but includes Cabernet Franc (7%) and Syrah (5%), giving it a more body, rich structure and potential to age for quite a few years.

Showing up on a Friday night at my parents means one thing: steak.  This wine marries with grilled meats beautifully.  On the nose and the palatte, it is red fruit (cherries, baked plum) forward, and is supported by coffee, tobacco, and oak notes that make for wine heaven. Even my mother, who sips conservatively and politely to support my wine “experiments” asked for another glass.  If I didn’t love my parents, I would have finished the bottle myself.

I found this wine at Haskell’s Maple Grove location, and retails for around $25.00.  Buy any you find on sale!

Piattelli’s –highly scored by Robert Parker–Malbec Premium Reserve was the underdog of my purchases, and I thought simply, “There’s no way I get 2-for-2 South American wines right.” I was wrong.


This wine was exquisite.  Bold and bursting at first sip with refined violet flavors, there was a shocking silky finishing, lingering in the mouth as if I passed crushed velvet over my tongue. Hints of chocolate, oak and tones of leather, the fruit of blackberries combined for an experience I want to experience again and again. The finish was long and elegant, and the tannins far more refined than I expected (Again, my mother went for glass #2!)

According to their website, the grapes for this wine were “handpicked and manually sorted” and aged in second-use French and American oak barrels.  This wine is the embodiment of love in the hands of the winemaker, and drank to me like a wine of $50.00–not the $15.99 I purchased this for at Surdyk’s in Minneapolis.

Quality definitely conquered the affordable price tag for me in these wines, and felt like I had found the real deal, not the windmills of South American wine I previously chased. These wines are alive with fruit, love and elegance–if you get the chance, buy a bottle for those you love (and an extra one for you to hoard away for yourself!)



Tiny Bubbles for Big People of the Midwest: Botter’s Prosecco

Some days call for a celebration, even in a stunted, inexpensive way.  August 30th of this year was one of them.

I had a bottle of Prosecco, given to me by a former colleague in DC.  It was the last day of my 10-year stint in DC, and he handed me a bottle of Botter Prosecco. Tim, a foodie and wine-lover’s advice to me was simple, “Don’t mix this with OJ.” So, a year later, this non-lover of sparkling opened the bottle (that to me, signaled endings–and beginnings) on a waning Summer day in Minnesota.  It fit.

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The Wine: Hailing from NE Italy and the Veneto region, Botter’s Prosecco was a nice, simple surprise. Made from what I understand is the grape behind Prosecco’s name, Glera, it is a neutral, medium plus acid, lightly-bubbled sparkling wine. Wine-makers use a technique that brings the wine through a second fermentation in a tank, a very different method than that which makes Champagne Champagne (among other reasons, of course!)

The fruit of green apple and honey is subtle.  The fun part of the bottle is that it is corked like a still-wine, each cork hand-wrapped by string, bringing to mind the sealed letters of historic European royalty. Retailing around $13 (listed at Total Wine should you be near one), there is nothing surprising about the wine.  It was a pleasant drink on the same occasion as it was given-the end of the summer, and the beginning of new adventures.   For the price and the enjoyment, I would definitely pick up a bottle if I were you and it was on the shelf in front of me. Salute!

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