Sometimes your first love is never really too far from your heart, especially when you see them again in all their glory. I will always love Paris…
Monthly Archives: November 2011
Now there’s a grape I had never heard of, right? This one hails from the Veneto and was created in the 1930s by an enologist named Professor Giovanni Dalmasso from a cross between Riesling Italico and Furmint.
I’m shocked to say that there are some producers who make wines from this grape including the very well known Gancia family.
The wine they produce at Tenute dei Vallarino called La Cio’ Bussanello, Monferrato Bianco is the only one I could find that was made with this interesting grape variety.
I also found a biodynamic winery that is makes a wine using this grape blended with Cortese and Malvasia. Poggio Ridente. Interesting indeed. I am going to search these wines out the next time I am in Italy.
I couldn’t find either of these wines on wine-searcher.com and I’m not surprised. Small indigenous varieties sell a bit but in my experience, white blends from Italy have a much tougher time here. I would be interested to know if anyone has a lot of success with their white Italian blends.
I’ve been so busy follow the incredible news out of Italy that I didn’t write about another really interesting development that I discovered on Friday. Vinitaly will have a new section dedicated to biodynamic wines, Italian and Foreign.
The first floor of the Palaexpo, right when you walk in, will be given over to wineries that follow these practices, both Italian and foreign wineries are welcome as long as they follow these particular agricultural practices.
I think this is very exciting news and a real change from past years. I have never been to Vini Veri o Vin Natur, two fairs that take place during Vinitaly. This is not for lack of interest but Vinitaly is such a big fair in and of itself that I am usually too busy to leave. I’m very happy to know that I can taste some of these interesting wines that I have less access to in the States without having to leave the fair this year.
It’s a real testament to how important sustainable agriculture and winemaking have become all over the world.
My first wine from Piedmont was a Dolcetto di Dogliani from the Podere Luigi Einaudi winery. I remember the wine because it was delicious but also because it came from the winery owned by the family that gave Italy it’s first prime minister, Luigi Einaudi.
Einaudi led Italy from 1948-1955, a difficult time for the country that was trying to recover from the war, the German occupation, internal fighting between different factions of the communist party and of course, economic devastation and poverty.
Years later I met one of his relatives. I never forgot the wine and had it recently in New York. I was reminded of this wine because it was on the list at a restaurant I went to this week but also because of the extraordinary events that are going on now in Italy.
I also received information this week from another winery in the same area, Clavesana. I had participated in a tasting they held at Del Posto earlier this year but never had the chance to write about the wines.
Clavesana is a winery with 350 co-vintners. What does that mean? There are 350 owners of 350 estates. Each family owns about 4 acres, called “giornate” in this neck of the woods. There are 1400 acres in total. Some 90% of this is the Dolcetto grape. The remaining 10% are other grapes such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Chardonnay.
Dolcetto is largely grown in the province of Cuneo. I have never visited Cuneo, a city that I have wanted to visit for 20 years. The woman whom I consider my ex-mother-in-law, hails from Cuneo and she is without a doubt the best cook I have ever met. Her native city beckons me as do the Cuneei al rhum that make the city famous.
This is the 52nd harvest of the wines. According to their materials, the 2011 harvest took place 10 days earlier than usual. High temperatures were seen in the Spring which led to early budding but the vines had ample water because of rains in February and March and a terroir that retains water. Summer saw mild temperatures with great thermal excursions which allow for phenolic development of the grapes.
According to Roberto Boeri, Clavesana’s wine maker, “Great first impression, in terms of color and perfume. It will live up to our highest expectations – and rightfully so!”
I can’t wait to try some. Maybe this will be the year I will set off on that pilgrimage I was talking about earlier.
Silvio Berlusconi resigned this evening from his post as Prime Minister of Italy. I am actually shocked that it really came to pass. Even though it has been in the works all week, I was a bit of a sceptic, it’s actually happened. I feel joy for Italy, for the start of a new era and for the future.
I just got a message from my former boss and friend in Milan in which he wrote “siamo liberi.” We are free. I think that sums it up nicely.
I will be drinking Italian spumante this evening, toasting the start of a new era. I think it will be Ferrari, the first Italian spumante that I had ever had, lo those many years ago and still one of my favorites. This one began when I was in graduate school studying economics and political science. My big interest was Italian politics but the day that Berlusconi won in March 1994, I remember feeling that curiosity die a little. It’s back and I’m excited.
It’s been a while since my last indigenous grape variety post but I’m back and writing about Brachetto Nero, a red grape that is used to make the well-known dessert wine, Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG
The grape is native to Piedmont, in particular to the provinces of Asti and Alessandria. Brachetto d’Acqui produces both sparkling and still wine, that is light ruby red in color, with strawberry-cherry fruit flavors and floral notes and is quite pleasing to the palate with a local level of alcohol.
The sparkling version is made using the charmat method in tanks. Interesting, the soils in the 18 areas in Asti and eight areas in Alessandria where Brachetto grows have a mix of soils: sandy, white soils filled with calcium and lime, as well as red soils. The sandy soils bring fragrant aromas as well as a light body, the red soils bring color, alcohol and body while the whiter soils bring elegance and finesse.
The most widely known Brachetto in the United States at this moment is probably Banfi’s Brachetto d’Acqui Rosa Regale. I had the occasion to taste it again recently at Stefano Milioni’s seminar on Indigenous Varietals at the Vinitaly event in New York.
It was a welcome surprise to the afternoon that day, very pleasing and it made me want to eat it with a sweet such as a piece of chocolate. It seemed like a great Valentine’s day wine for sweet red wine lovers.
Actually, chillable sweet red wines are a trend in the United States now and I am sure that Brachetto d’Acqui is garnering more attention.
Today is Wine Wednesday and I’m finally thinking about and desire to write about wine rather than the Italian crises. I got an email from Snooth this morning which mentioned a new website for Bordeaux.
A friend from Bordeaux was in town recently and as always I was reminded how charming the French and their wines can be. After so many years focusing on Italy, I sometimes feel that I am cheating on her when I write about my love of things French, even though France came first in my life.
About two months ago, I had the pleasure of attending a tasting hosted by Gregory Del Piaz of Old Bordeaux. Greg brought a number of wines from his cellar and a group of us tasted and compared views of the wines.
We tried wines from Chateau Meyney, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, and Chateau Lynch Bages. The vintages we tasted, although not of each wine, were 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990.
I normally don’t drink aged Bordeaux sadly but that day did give me a clear profile of this group of wines. Of the vintages we tasted from Chateau Meyney, the 1989 impressed me more than the 1988 and the 1990.
The 1989 Chateau Meyney from St-Estèphe was still deep ruby red in color with persistent chocolate, meaty, earthy and cedar notes. It was harmonious and balanced with some black fruit. It tasted and smelled like a classic older Bordeaux I was told by the Bordeaux experts in the room.
The 1988 offered fewer nuanced aromas and flavors and the 1990 had a somewhat bitter finish and newer oak.The 1990 also has a liquored note while the 1988 had traces of Brett. I am not opposed to Brett but it is not a must for me either in terms of the tasting profile of these wines.
For more information on the estate, here’s a great write up I found on the Wine Doctor.
Lynch Bages is in Pauillac while Cos d’Estournel hails from St-Estèphe. They have different blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot for the most part). We compared a 1989 Cos with a 1986 Cos and a 1986 Lynch Bages. All three were spectacular. The 1986 Lynch Bages was my favorite of the three. It had ‘nothing to prove” one of my companion tasters noted. It was spectacular with a deep ruby red color, great acidity and alcohol, firm tannins, fruit, chocolate, leather, spice, you name it. It was exquisite. We also discussed whether the wine was about to go into it’s closed period,something wines do during their lives and concluded that it might go into a quiet phase soon although on that September night it was incredible.
The 1986 Cos also was fabulous in fact in my notes I wrote, “I’m happy” while tasting that wine. It was more luscious and floral, with exciting fruit notes and wonderful balance. It made me crave a steak then and there but I just ate an entire box of crackers.
When I compared the 1989 Cos to the 1989 Meyney, the Meyney won out surprising. I liked the traditional old world Bordeaux style of the Meyney more than the fuller Cos.
In all, it was a great tasting with interesting people and was very educational for my palate. Thank you Greg for allowing me to participate.
I didn’t get any pictures of the tasting group but our phones were out in force. Modern living .
Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.
Reports are that Berlusconi went to speak with President Giorgio Napolitano to discuss his resignation.
Umberto Bossi, his ally from the Lega Nord has asked him to resign. It won’t necessarily happen tomorrow but it does seem that it is truly in the works.
As I sit home in NY, ill with the flu, I can’t help but wonder how people are feeling. I know it must be a confusing time as comments from friends on Facebook point out.
I also know this is a wine blog, but before writing about wine, I was a financial correspondent in Italy, writing about the bond market and politics and thus this is right up my alley.
I have never lost an interest in Italian politics, although I confess that 18 years of Berlusconism have proved too much for even me to bare. I will never forget the headlines that screamed that Berlusconi “E Sceso in Campo” in 1994. I was in graduate school in Bologna.
While I have many liberal friends in Italy, I also lived in Milan for 10 years, a bastion of Berlusconi supporters. I count many of them among my friends. That said, even they are tired of him and his ways and are concerned for their future. It’s time to accept that “The Times They Are A Changin.”
I’m somewhat without words today thinking that this could be the end of an era. It seems almost possible that Berlusconi might be forced out of power.
I say that really cautiously because he has always seemed to be able to make a deal at the last minute to hold onto his seat. It would truly be a surprise and in my opinion a good start of something new in Italy.
It has been so distressing to watch the news over the last years and see what is happening in the country. The current debt crisis is the latest in a long series of problems over the last 18 years but it affects not just Italy but the entire Eurozone. I’m feeling edgy as we read and watch what is happening there. Il mio pensiero va a l’Italia.
I’m going to listen to the Nabucco now and think about that country that I so love. Va’ Pensiero is the unofficial anthem of Italy. This “Chorus of the Hebrew slaves” is indeed appropriate at this moment when Italy needs to once again be united to move forward.”O mia patria, si bella e perduta/O my country, so lovely and so lost” was once thought to have helped gather patriots in the fight for the unity of Italy.
I just came back from three days in Oklahoma where I was participating in “Italy Week 2011.” Italy week consisted of a number of wonderful events including a gala dinner where I did a Tuscan wine tasting paired with Italian cheeses. The cheese monger, Bailey Schreier of Forward Foods, made me want to move to Norman, Oklahoma just to take classes with her, she was that good.
We tasted a Chianti, Poggio Vignoso from Fattoria Bibbiani, the IGT Rosso from Avignonesi and Pian di Nova from Il Borro. The group enjoyed all three, especially when trying them with cheese. As always, Italian wines showed their best when paired with food, thanks to their acidity and tannic structure.
The wines were supplied by The Spirits Shop in Norman. They had an amazing collection of international and American wines. In terms of Italian wines, it was a perfect place to go to look for interesting stuff at good prices. Also, they were really nice and told me a lot about Oklahoma’s four-tier system.
As if finding two great stores to buy two of my favorite items, food and wine, weren’t enough to make me happy, I also got to spend a few days with a bright, interesting and Italian centric group of people. How did I come to go to Oklahoma? Well two dear friends of mine work at the University and the three of us went to graduate school together, where? In Italy of course, at SAIS in Bologna.
The Italian department at Oklahoma University in Norman has a number of very interesting professors, focused on various areas of Italian culture, literature and history. It was great to see such fervor towards all things Italian in a different area of the country. OU also has a great program in Italy, in Arezzo, a city I love.
You can’t really have an experience at OU without commenting on their football stadium. I have never seen such a big and beautiful place.
Today the Sooners are playing the Aggies (Texas A&M). Of course, I’m rooting for the Sooners. They are playing as I write this but no one has scored yet…
Before, I end this post however, I want to mention two things: one is how wonderful it is to see old friends and be able to jump right in with conversations and ideas as if you were with them yesterday. That made me very happy, as did their lovely children, human and furry.
The other topic I must mention is the Oklahoma bombing. My friend, Zach, took me to see the memorial the minute I got off the plane. He knows me and he knows that it would be important to bear witness to that tragedy. I worked as an intern at CNN during that year, 1995. He also worked there at that time on one of the daily programs. I was in the office actually, the day of the bombing, April 19, 1995. I will never forget the horror that day and all of those people and those children.
The memorial is incredibly touching with empty chairs, symbolizing those lost. As a New Yorker and after 9/11, I am loathe to take pictures at these sites although I did take one of the wall that frames the memorial. This terrorist attack on American soil should be remembered, especially at a moment of such political strife in our great nation.