Wine,Wine Century Club,Wine tasting

Wine Century Club ~ Great, Affordable Wines ~ Duca and d’Alesandro

Once a month, a group of wine loving friends gathers at Chinois Asian Bistro in Windsor, California to enjoy wine together. We’re part of the group called The Wine Century Club. I have to thank my friend Sonadora (Megan Kenney) of Wannabe Wino for turning me onto this group.

The basic premise of the group is to taste 100 different varieties. This definitely takes you out of your comfort zone, and into new and really fun territory. Only the brave need apply; and it’s very simple, sorta… As is written on the Wine Century Club site:

It’s a simple idea, but it’s not as easy to become a member as you may think. One Master Sommelier could only come up with 82. Of the thousands of applications downloaded, less than 3% are completed. If you feel up to the challenge, have a look at the application!

I personally hit a wall at 65. After you start checking off the usual suspects of Chard, Cab, Merlot, Pinot, Syrah, etc., you enter into more eclectic varieties like Petite Sirah, Grenache, Chenin Blanc… so on and so forth. It’s the really out there varieties that take you over the top, like Vinho Verde, Garganega, Trincadeira, Veltliner, and Blaufrankisch, that will take you over the top.

It’s honestly so much fun to explore this way; although, Jose’s came up with our own ridiculous motto:  “Wine Century Club, where difference trumps quality.” We’ve had a couple of experiences that have made us laugh a bit, and that’s at the heart of it, anyway… To enjoy different wines; most of which are stellar, but on rare occasions we come across something very different that none of us are used to.

Once we’ve tasted through new varieties, we then choose items from Chinois’ diverse Pan Pacific menu to pair with the wines. We share the foods family style, and we’ve consistently found perfect wines for the foods that we get to enjoy. The camaraderie with like minded people also plays a big role in the success of each meeting. (It becomes a laugh fest, quite honestly.)

Wines that we’ve enjoyed in the past few months and by whom.

First, by whom:

(Left to right: Jose Diaz, William Allen)

We were very fortunate to have William Allen of Simple Hedonism at one of our meetings. He added lots of nuances that only a new wine lover can bring to a group. (Clarifying… William ‘s not new to wine, but he was new to our group.)

HINT: if you want to fast forward your experience to receiving your certificate, try Portuguese or Italian wines.

  • It’s claimed that there are over 500 different cultivars (varieties) in Portugal. I’ve found over 400 of them, and haven’t made any recent efforts, but I’ve got over 400 different Portuguese varieties (with other names in parentheses, when available) in this blog posting: Portuguese Cultivars, The Quintessential List (Part 3) As far as I’ve found, my list seems to be the most comprehensive on the Web. They’re listed in white wines first, then the red one. Have fun!
  • Italian wines also claim to have over 500 cultivars. This means that you can taste one wine, and have tasted about six different varieties in that one glass. Okay, so maybe you can’t taste the nuance of each, but rules are rules… You can count anything in a blend, so with careful shopping, you’ll be quickly off to your second hundred. I’m currently at 143 different varieties, and constantly counting. A great resource for these varieties is this site: WineGeek.com.

The wines of this past meeting came from opposite ends of Italy, interestingly… Just a coincidence. Duca’s white wine came from Venezie – think Venice – the northern part of Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. The reds came from Sicily, the island off the southern end of Italy… Opposite types of terroir in may ways.

Now, the wines that we’ve just enjoyed that are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

2010 Duca Durello/Chardonnay Venezie, Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Box wine)

This Durello (new variety for the others – I’ve enjoyed it prior to this tasting) /Chardonnay is part of a new tasting that I’m now doing. Last year, I did a six week experiment, beginning in February of 2010, and it ended in April. this year, a Duca Durello/Chard and Duca/Duerello Merlot (80 percent) | Pinot Noir (20 percent) has arrived. I’ll be writing about them separately, but wanted to share the Durello (80 percent) | Chardonnay (20 percent) with the group, because I knew that it would be a fun tasting for everyone.

The wine is spectacular… bright, clean, and lemony on the nose, with tart green apple and lemon on the palate. The lingering finish is what struck us all, however, given the lightness of the wine. We all loved it. Chang was really impressed. I was surprised to see how excited he got, when he saw the box on the table. (He arrived a few minutes after we set up.) He said that box wines are great for a restaurant as house wines, because they don’t spoil before restaurants go through them. They do last six weeks without oxidation. My experiment proved the claim with Duca’s Pinot Grigio, as did Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher’s experiment with Fish Eye wine. It was their experiment that inspired mine. (I’ll put links to those six weeks at the end of this blog story, if you have any interest in my results.

Duca wines are premium, great value, indigenous varieties of Italy in contemporary, eco-friendly packaging.

2008 Sicilian Nero D’Avola ~ d’Alessandro Azienda Agricola

This wine is 100 percent of the Nero D’Avola variety. Aged in French oak for 8 months, and then another 10 to 12 months of bottle aging before releasing it, this 13 percent alcohol wine was all blue and blackberry for me, with a bit of spice to it that was very pleasant. A motto came up for this one, “Give big a chance.” Although not an over-the-top big wine, it was hearty enough to be enjoyed by people who like well structured wines of substance… And yet, because of the 13 percent alcohol, this Nero D’Avola paried really perfectly with a spicy beef dish that we ordered.  Vinifera Imports, This is a product of Italy: www.dalmin.it

2008 Sicilian Nero D’Avola and Syrah blend ~ d’Alessandro Azienda Agricola

This wine is 65 percent Nero D’Avola and 35 percent Syrah. Also aged in French oak for 8 months, and then another 10 to 12 months of bottle aging, before releasing it, Vinifera Imports brings this Italian wine into the US market.  www.dalmin.it This wine wasn’t brought to the Wine Century Club, and was tasted at home. Syrah added an earthiness to the wine. This wine is referred to as a true Sicilian red… bold and yet naturally pleasing. The alcohol on this one is 14 percent, so it demands even bigger flavored dishes, in my opinion.

My six week experiment, beginning in February of 2010, and ending in April:

  1. Week One ~ Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio
  2. Week 2: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio
  3. Week 3: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio
  4. Week 4: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino
  5. Week 5: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino
  6. Week 6: Boxed Wine Experiment with Duca del Frassino’s Garganega/Pinot Grigio

2 Responses to “Wine Century Club ~ Great, Affordable Wines ~ Duca and d’Alesandro”

  1. sondra says:

    This has been a wonderful experience – meeting new wines, friends and food. Loved the Nero d’avola.

    A question about Vinho Verde. Just read this morning in Huff Post, its not a grape, but a region. Thoughts on that. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-orlin/portuguese-wine-fun-facts_b_858036.html#postComment

    Until the next century. LOL

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Yes, Sondra, it’s a region and there can be a variety of white grapes.

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