About Vino Rouge

This website is devoted to our late mentor and sponsor, Harold S. Russo, who was instrumental in bringing this Wine Club into being back in 1993.  The Wine Club was originally chartered under the name Vino Rosso, but reorganized and changed it’s name to Vino Rouge in 2008.  As you can tell from our club’s name(s), the most important rule in the club is “red wine only”.

red wine club

Our Wine Club consists of twelve members, six of which are founding members, who meet on the first Wednesday of every month.  While during the first several years of existence, each club meeting was held at the former Little Inn in Johnston, Rhode Island, the red wine club now meets at various “bring your own” restaurants and clubs around the State.

On a rotating schedule, each member has a chance to host a monthly meeting, where they will bring six red wines for the group to share, typically with an associated theme.  Themes have varied from being all from one country (i.e. Italy, Australia, France, etc.), being one particular varietal (Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, etc.), being of a particular age or any combination of these.

Red wines are always brought masked in paper bags, so that members are tasting the wine ‘blind’. Each month, a preference poll for first and second place wines takes place, after initial tasting but before unveiling, so that there is no bias in the votes.  After the votes are tallied and a club favorite and second favorite is chosen, the wine is always had with great food, where the wine is enjoyed even further.

The Wine Club also has several special events each year, which are highlighted an annual vertical tasting of a prestigious vineyard and a Christmas Party that involves a “show-off” wine contest.

Glad you could visit our

red wine club

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting November 5, 2014

Yet another great meeting of the Vin Rouge Wine Club was held this week at the Valley Country Club, hosted by Ray Harrison. In tribute to last month’s presentation by Don, Ray borrowed the theme, presenting six similar wines from his cellar, selected for style and maturity. This was an educational parallel, and we did a little better at characterizing the different wine varietals and wine ages than we did last month. Ray also managed to include a spoiler, a 2001 Chateauneuf du Pape that was “over the hill” (remember that Don had a 2001 Beaucastel CDP last month that turned out to also be over the hill).

red wine tasting

This month’s poll winner was the 2001 Kilikanoon Covenant Shiraz compared to last month’s 2002 Torbreck RunRig Shiraz, another pretty amazing parallel! And 2nd place was won in both tastings by a 7 to 8 year old Malbec from Argentina, with third place going to 7 to 8 year old California entries.

We all know Ray Harrison is very knowledgeable about wines, but how did he get the preference results to come out the same? This was a very well done presentation dubbed “DEJA BU” and our hats are off to Ray for this enjoyable experience.

The Valley Country Club offered Mushroom Biscotti to start, a past and bean soup and entree choices of chicken parmigiana, haddock picatta and veal saltimbocca, all served with a mushroom risotto and roasted butternut squash. The following paragraphs provide some additional tasting notes for each of the wines we enjoyed this month

Kilikanoon Covenant Shiraz 2001 – The outrageously rich Shiraz exhibits an inky purple color as well as a terrific bouquet of blackberries, melted licorice, tar and background wood. Full-bodied, tightly-structured, and somewhat closed, but enormously promising, as noticed by the club as the number 1 preference.

Tikal Amorio Malbec 2006 – This one is opaque purple-colored with a splendid perfume of pain grille, vanilla, spice box, blacky cherry and blackberry. Medium to full bodied, it has a plush palate feel, excellent balance and nicely combines elegance with power, coupled with enough silky tannins to roll for a number of years.

Delinger Estate Syrah 2008 – This estate Syrah from Altamont, burts onto the palate with a melange of dark red fruit, licorice and spices. All of the elements come together beatifully in the glass as the waves of fruit build towards the creamy, textured finish. Bright floral notes, white pepper, leather, licorice, tar and spices add further dimensions of complexity.

Domaine la Milliere Chateauneuf du Pape Vieilles Vignes 2005 – This brilliant Chateauneuf du Pape is a sexy-styled wine, especially for this structured, masculine and somewhat restrained and backwards vintage. This is a full bodied opulence with sweet tannins, low to moderate acidity, and gorgeous levels of plum, fig, black currant and sweet cherry fruit intermixed with some smoked meat and lavender. This a beauty of layered opulence and luscious texture.

BV Tapestry Reserve 2005 – Aromas of ripe current, plum and black cherry offers hints of spice, cedar and flowers. Elegant, balanced, complex and polished, finished with firm tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Melot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot – What a blend!

Cuvee du Vatican Chateauneuf du Pape 2001 – This deep ruby/purple colored Chateauneuf du Pape reveals Grenache’s powerful side in its intense kirsch, licorice, peppery aromatics. An opulent attack is followed by a multilayered, full-bodied mid-palate along with considerable structure and headiness in the finish. This is a large-scaled but impeccably well-balanced Chateauneuf to drink for a few more years.

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting October 1, 2014

I have to say that the tasting lineups we are sharing seem to be getting bette and better! This week’s meeting was held at “Tavola da Siena” in Smithfield and is one of Don’s favorite Restaurants. It was nice to have the private Wine Room to ourselves, and I heard many positive comments about the food and the service.

I think Don’s theme was apropos as he wanted to share wines that were in the ready to drink range and represented his cellar collection. All were excellent save for the 2001 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape that seemed to have aged before its time. We may never know what happened to this wine that was projected to continue drinking until 2025?

red wine tasting

The preference poll winner was the 2002 Torbreck RunRig, which is 97% Shiraz with 3% Viognier co-fermented, presenting a rich, concentrated, impressive wine. Blind comments were that it had a Paso Robles / ripe fruit warm climate character. I guess Barossa Valley is also a warm climate region. The runner up preference choice (by only one point) was the Luca Beso de Dante Malbec and Cabernet blend from Argentina and bringing up third was the Bacio Divino “super Tuscan” style blend fashioned in Napa Valley. So it was an International victory.

Don also surprised and spoiled us with a bottle of 40 year old Tawny from Taylor Fladgate that was especially yummy. Thanks for sharing the good stuff Don!

red wine tasting

At Don’s suggestion, we introduced a variation on the tasting notes sheet, with provisions for scoring the different sensory categories and coming up with a point score for each wine. I think it allows you to better compare which characteristics of a wine you liked better. This technique needs practice to let you calibrate point scores with the pros.

It was also great to have Norm Thibaudeau back in the group after a 6 month LOA. Salute!

Vino Rouge Red Wine Tasting July 2, 2014

A very impressive vertical tasting put on by John Benevedes at the Valley Country Club, “Romeo Vineyards Sempere Vive “Eugenia” Napa blend – Calistoga”, 2002-2007 I must say, this was my first experience with these wines and I know the entire club were all very impressed after trying them out. These wines consist of a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot and will knock your socks off.

red wine tasting

According to the vineyard, their 43 year old vines lie south of nine acres of reservoir, sandwiched between two forested knolls, leading to the geographical conditions that create hot days and cool nights and an extremely long hang time in their Calistoga vineyard. This allows their grapes to develop full flavors, deep color and intense complexity. Their thick gnarled old vines are said to produce from their hearts!

After rolling through the entire vertical, the preference poll of the club was held and in our opinion, the best was the 2005, followed by the 2004 and third was the 2007. After the preference poll, we got to snack on Spinach Bruscetta over Garlic Crosini with Melted Mozzarella; Choice of Soup or Salad; Choice of three Entrees of Grilled Duck Breast with Blueberry Vodka Sauce, Haddock Francaise, Veal Marsala with Mushrooms, closing with Coffee or Espresso.

red wine tasting

Ours noses were pleased with dark and bold with aromas that leap from the glass, led by blackberry, braised plum, blueberry and black cherry. These are closely followed by sweet tobacco, dried fall leaves, sweet spice and a hint of black pepper.

Upon initial tasting, each of these wines were bold and hearty on opening,softening as they breathed. Flavors include rich mixed berry, black cherry, grilled fig, tobacco, spice, and dusty bramble. Really big, bold, long and chewy flavors that go on forever.

red wine tasting

For dessert, we had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a pre-1973 HEITZ “CELLAR TREASURE” PORT. That will be something the club will never forget, with chewy caramel, almonds, espresso and other gorgeous flavors coating the palate like a honey nectar.

red wine tasting