Wine writers sometimes receive unsolicited samples of wines. I’d like to share some of that wealth with readers here.
Despite my request to marketing departments that they not send wines that are not stocked in our PLCB stores, and not ones that have to be special ordered here, I still end up with a certain number of wines that either aren't available at all or must be purchased by special liquor order, or SLO, which requires waiting 72 hours after purchasing the wine to remove it from the store as well as buying a certain number of bottles.
This month, for example, I received a luscious bottle of Smith and Hook Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Hahn Family Vineyards on mountaintops behind Monterey, Calif. At $26.99, it seemed an excellent value and I was ready to grab a few bottles ... until I discovered that anyone who wanted to try this cab in Pennsylvania would have to order an entire case of 12 bottles. Another appealing SLO sample was Chateau Tanunda (PLCB No. 519923, $16.59). This classic 2010 Barossa shiraz comes from a winery that was awarded “Australian Producer of the Year” medal in 2010. It would pair nicely with any grilled meat but if you want to try it, you must purchase at least three bottles.
So what did I receive in the “on the shelf” category? Two Italian wines from Bolla stand out.
Bolla Bardolino 2011 -- (PLCB # 6628, 750 milliliter, $9.49; No. 8351, 1.5 liters, $12.99
A blend of Corvina and Rondinella grapes from vineyards overlooking Lake Garda in Italy's Veneto region. A light-body red with crisp acidity and sour cherry and raspberry fruit flavors. It can be slightly chilled to accompany summer barbecues. The 1.5-liter bottle would easily serve eight for a picnic.
Bolla Pinot Noir 2011 -- PLCB No. 5917, 750 milliliter, $9.49; No. 9011, 1.5 liter, $12.99
This is a light- to medium-bodied Pinot with attractive aromas of wild cherry, black currant and spring flowers. Neither complex nor long-lived, it produces a pleasant quaff for simple meals.
I hope that there will be more on the shelf wines among future samples.
Bolla, meanwhile, included a recipe for a mushroom sauce that's also worth sharing.
BOLLA PORCINI MUSHROOM SAUCE FOR PASTA OR VEAL
½ pound fresh or ¼ pound dried porcini
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef broth
2 heaping tablespoons flour
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in warm water
Black pepper to taste
Detach stems and cut into 1-inch pieces, cut caps into 1 inch strips,
For dried mushrooms, break into small pieces and soak in large bowl warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and strain through cheesecloth.
Heat oil in saucepan and add mushrooms. Saute 5 min.
Bring broth to boil in separate pan.
Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and stir with wooden spoon to incorporate flour.
Gradually add broth and stir.
Add vermouth and tomato paste, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Season with black pepper
Serve over pasta or veal with Bolla Pinot Noir.