Happy New Year to all! I’m going away for a few days to my second home, Milan, to see old friends, walk around on old stones, taste familiar aromas and flavors and browse through some of those markets I love. I am also going to ring in a new year. 2011 brought lots of good things as well as many challenges, starting with a skiing accident last January 1. At the time, I promised I would no longer vacation outside of Italy when I could get to Italy so this year, I am sticking to my promise and hoping for the best:).
Thanks to all who read this blog and comment, those who read this blog and don’t comment and to new and old friends at large. In 2012, I hope to reach a new level of readership so I must make my blog more interesting to a wider audience.
See you next year. I look forward to learning more about all of you and sharing our love for the fruit of the vine.
Buon Anno wherever you are! I hope the new year brings joy to all.
And of course, world peace
This Christmas, my family and I began the afternoon with a glass of one of my favorite Italian sparkling wines, Ferrari. This wine made in the traditional method (secondary fermentation in the bottle) is made from 100% Chardonnay. Ferrari is part of of Trento DOC. This denomination is specific to the area near Trento and to a particular vinification process.
The wine was wonderfully minerally with just the right amount of fruit and acidity. It paired very well with the hors d’oeuvres that my Mother usually prepares and suited me perfectly as we rung in another Christmas day.
Ferrari has always been my sparkler of choice and I drank it constantly when I lived in Italy. It was and remains my go-to-sparkling wine when I know I need a reliable one and don’t want to experiment. Apparently it is the official wine of the Quirinale, or the home of the Italian President. Additionally, Mario Draghi – a favorite of mine since my days as a financial reporter – drank it at his inauguration as the head of the European Central Bank. I see that I am in good company.
About six years ago I interviewed Camilla Lunelli from the Lunelli family for my still-not-yet finished book. I need to get back to that project, a new item on my ever growing list for 2012. I might need cases of Ferrari to get through all I want to do next year. Salute!
I don’t know about you but the last week of the year always seems like summation time. What you’ve done, what you haven’t done, what has changed and what has remained the same. It also tends to bring up all of the Christmases of the past and the memories of those who are no longer with us. I always miss my relatives who are no longer with us but also rejoice with the ones who are. I also marvel at how time flies as my lovely niece and nephew grow bigger and wiser. Soon my beautiful niece will be my fashion consultant to give me a younger look. They are still too young to drink wine though so my adult family members and I get to share whatever we have at the table. We have a family tradition that on Christmas Eve we go to hear Christmas carols at St. John the Divine, a gorgeous cathedral on the West side of New York which cures one’s need to be in Paris, even if only temporarily.
My family always goes to eat at the V&T, a pizza joint in the old fashion sense of the word. Yes, they have other items on their menu but I can’t see eating anything other than pizza at the V&T. My parents have been going there since the 1950s, specially 1955 when my 16 year old Dad went to Columbia University for the first time. Some traditions endure.
So go to the V&T and get the classic Chianti on the menu, Ruffino.
While no longer in a straw basket, it still gives me that same down home feeling. I’m a sucker for tradition and this is one I will be continuing for as long as I can with the family.
Happy holidays to all. Buone Feste. This has been a great and busy year in many ways. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting many new wines, meeting new friends in the industry and expanding my wine horizon thanks to work with Israeli wines, appropriate at Chanukah.
I’ve also worked with numerous producers from Italian regions where I had done less work in the past such Serradenari, Cantina Bergamasca and Fattori Wines in Piedmont, Lombardy and the Veneto, respectively. Once again, my heart was pulled in many directions in the constant battle between France and Italy in my soul. I’ve tried to make room for both and think I have succeeded.
In the New Year, I’m looking forward to studying wine formally again, meeting new producers and expanding my wine culture and knowledge. I also look forward to sharing with new and old friends. Vigneto Communications, my website will be getting a face life or a touch-up and Avvinare will try to migrate to that website slowly but surely.
I would like 2012 to be much more of a year of dialogue with others in the industry. Moreover, I hope to get through the letter “H” in my indigenous Italian varietal study. I may start with another country’s varieties as well as their language (TBD).
Grazie a tutti quanti.
Vi auguro un buon natale.
This week’s indigenous variety is called Cagnulari Nero. Just like last week’s Caddiu Nero, it hails from Sardinia. Most likely this one came from Spain. According to a variety of sources, the grape may be linked to Monastrell, know to many as Mourvedre
Unlike last week’s varietal, this one is grown in the province of Sassari. It is never used as a mono-varietal or as a stand alone variety but is always used as a blending grape, often with the well-known Sardinia grape Cannonau.
I loved this YouTube video that I found when looking for further information of Cagnulari. Got to love his accent.
I carried around the Cherchi brochure for about four years after having come upon this winery at the Sardinian pavilion at Vinitaly in 2007. Here is another interesting post about the wine in Italian.
I found at least two other wineries that sell their Cagnulari wines in the United States. I am excited to try some the next time I find one. Perhaps next week on my trip….
I was lucky to be seated at just the right table during the recent WSET diploma dinner at I Trulli on December 5. I received my diploma in 2008 from the International Wine Center which manages the WSET program in the United States under the watchful eye of Mary Ewing Mulligan and Linda Lawry, guardians of the faith. I have been to every diploma dinner since and I look forward to the occasion each year.
It’s great to see other friends from the industry, meet new people and try some wonderful wines. My dear friend Eileen brought a Madeira from 1919, THANK YOU, and one from 1979 I believe.
At my table, a fellow diploma graduate brought this stunning bottle of Chateau Fortia, a Chateauneuf-du-pape from 1994 that was dreamy and in beautiful shape.
Here’s a great post on the winery written by a colleague in the wine writing business.
The history behind this bottle, the estate and Baron Le Roy was right up my alley. Nothing excites me more than that generation that fought in World War I and II. I also love what he apparently said in his testament to winegrowers in France:
“That Never the choice of Quality should be abondonned. We are not made for mass production. No!
We are unbeatable on the level of possessing elements that render the Artisan an Artist.
Quality spells out the Genious of the French people”.
This bottle certainly showed that philosophy. I found a few bottles of this year available on the internet. Don’t pass it up if you get the chance to try it.
I had the great pleasure of doing a radio show on KGOU when I was in Oklahoma recently. Here’s the full show. The first part of the show is a fascinating political discussion about this week’s news followed by my chat on wines with Dean Zach Messitte of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
I feel compelled to write about Vaclav Havel, the playwright, anti-communist dissident and eventual president of Czechoslovakia, who died at this weekend at 75.
I was in the Czech Republic when it was still Czechoslovakia in 1990 and there were incredible signs all around the Prague, “Havel Na Hrad.” I was traveling with my Dad and it was thrilling to see democracy in action and a playwright called to lead the country. We in America were in the throes of George Bush Senior and I remember wishing for an exciting leader such as Havel. I’m saddened by his death but I know that he had been sick for a very long time and that these last years were an unexpected gift for us. Quite a man. Here are some tributes that I enjoyed.
I had some bad news, nothing tragic though, and I have been kind of sad all week. The holidays can sometimes get to you when things aren’t exactly as you might want them to be so I started to look around for stuff that makes me smile.
Just this mere act, oddly enough, made me look again at beautiful photos from friends that have come floating in, expressions of love from people I care about, kind words from generous colleagues and new clients that have come knocking at my door in a different way.
I also have rekindled my love affair with France. I think France is my husband and Italy is my lover. I haven’t figured it out yet but I do know that they move different things in me.
In any event, I was reading an article in Le Figaro about a French film, “Intouchables” which really struck a cord. The article interviews someone who used this French expression “Etre joyeux est un acte de volonte.” (Being joyous is an act of will.) He went on to state that in order to “cultiver la joie, c’est aller vers l’autre sans prejuge et s’offrir totalement a la vie.” (In order to cultivate joy, we must go towards others without prejudice and offer ourselves up to life completely). Sounds good to me.
I have been drinking lots of French wine during the course of the last month since my trip to Paris in November. I was there when the Nouveau Beaujolais est arrive on November 16. While not a fan of le nouveau Beaujolais, I did drink this one very happily.
Filed under events, wines
I am skipping over one grape variety this week because I am a bit rushed but next week will report on that all important one: Cabernet Sauvignon. For today however, I want to talk about Caddiu Nero, a little known grape from the beautiful island of Sardinia. This grape hails from the region around the cities of Cagliari and Oristano and is usually used in a blend with other indigenous varieties such as Bovale e Monica. The specific area where it grows is called the lower Tirso Valley.
If you have never spent any time in Sardinia, you have a real treat in store. It is a beautiful and varied landscape with great food, wine, beaches and unbelievable rock formations. I have spent a considerable amount of time in the North of the island but much less in the South. I highly recommend it as a tourist location as well as a must on any enogastronomic tour of Italy.
When I was in Sardinia, I spent a month sailing and scuba diving, one of my most memorable Augusts on record. Oddly enough, for years people would ask me if I was Sardinian. Not sure if it was the Sardinia wedding ring on my finger or my speech pattern but I could never see that. I would have to change my last name to Goldu perhaps. Might spice things up.
Anyway, don’t miss out on this beautiful part of Italy when planning your next trip.