July is Lugana Month At Eataly


Last night the Consorzio di Lugana hosted an event at Eataly which I helped to organize. If you didn’t make it to the event, don’t fear, you have a whole month ahead to try wines from this region – Lugana, bordering both Lombardy and the Veneto and this grape variety – Turbiana at Eataly. Don’t miss out. These are great whites for the summer months and are wonderful food friendly wines with all types of cuisine. Most of the wine is made in a dry, refreshing style but about 5% is also made into either sparkling or late harvest wines.

Soils - Lugana

The soils are clay over the remains of a glacier or moraine with marine fossils which brings a lot of minerality to the wines. The climate is Mediterranean and the location is fantastic. Lucky enough to have gone on a press trip last year, I saw first hand just how lovely it can be. You too can easily get to Lake Garda when visiting Italy for the Expo or Vinitaly, for example.

Vines in Lugana

But don’t take my word for it, I’m biased of course, go try them for yourselves and let me know what you think. I think you’ll be just as excited as I was when I had my first Lugana.


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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Memorable Events, Travel

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Greco Nero from Calabria

Tropea 3Greco Nero hails from Calabria and is often blended with Gaglioppo, a more well known variety from the region. Apparently it also produces great rose’ together with Greco Bianco. I don’t know if I have ever had a rose from Calabria but the idea of sitting on the above beach in Tropea with a nice glass of rose does appeal.


The grape is often cultivated in the alberello style and prefers not very fertile soil such as those found in this hot Mediterranean climate. it is used in a variety of D.O.C. denominated wines from the provinces of Catanzaro and Crotone such as Donnici, Savuto, Pollino, and Melissa, among others.

Statti, a Calabrian winery in the U.S. makes Lamezia Rosso, using 40% Greco Nero as does Odoardi from Jan d’Amore Wines.

Odardi 2

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Wine of the Week: Vial 2013 from Kaltern Caldaro in Alto Adige


Ugh. Lowest blog stats on my blog since July 2011. I am disappointed in myself for the lack of consistency and writing but hey a few things have happened this year: baby, started MW, wrote some articles for the Financial Times but all that said, my blog matters to me and used to boo-hoo, matter to others too. Did I mention my website was hacked and I had to take it down…All that said, I resolve to turn this around in July by posting every day.

Today’s post is about Vial, a Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige from Kaltern . The wine was a beautiful expression of this grape that I tasted at the Alto Adige tasting in April in New York. That day I was only tasting Pinot Bianco to see if I could tell it from Pinot Grigio in a blind tasting. All of the ones I tasted had beautiful white fruit and floral notes but it was the almond note on the finish that gave me a chance to differentiate it from Pinot Gris. They were all somewhat waxy on the palate as well with hints of minerality, for lack of a better term. The winery is located near the beautiful Lago di Caldaro which mitigates the climate in the vineyards. The wines are brought in by Omni Wines and are available for around $19. I have tasted a number of their other wines from this winery such as the famed Passito Serenade, a fantastic sweet wine. Definitely a winery to watch and to visit if in Italy for the summer.


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Festa: San Giovanni a Firenze, Calcio Storico & Nocino


Missing Florence and looking forward to my next trip there…

Originally posted on avvinare:

On June 24 each year, Florence comes alive with parades and Florentines dressed in medieval gear to celebrate their patron saint, San Giovanni. Drums beat and flutes play, as the procession leads to Piazza Santa Croce for the yearly Calcio Storico match.

San Giovanni

Calcio Storico began in the 16th century. The rules are slightly different from regular calcio or soccer. Three matches are played each year. Head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking are all legal. A violent match, sometimes people get hurt but it never seems to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for the game

Via Tornabuoni

I lived in Florence for many years and often tried to see the match but never made it anywhere near the grand stand. In the evening, fireworks are launched from the Piazzale Michelangelo. Last year and the year before I watched the fireworks from different locations in the city with people very close to my heart.

City Colors

I was lucky…

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Greco Bianco from Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria


This week’s indigenous variety from Italy is Greco Bianco, not to be confused with Greco di Tufo which I wrote about in my last post in this series. This grape which hails from Calabria, from the provinces of Catanzaro and Reggio Calabria. The thinking about this variety is that it arrived on the Italian peninsula from Greece.

It is usually used in a dried version to make what are known as “vini liquorosi” or fortified wines. As it is a white grape, the wines are golden in color thanks to the “appassimento” or drying of the grapes. It is usually used on its own or blended with other white grapes such as Montonico and Gardavalle for sweet or semi-sweet wines and is sometimes added to a blend with Gaglioppo to make rose wines. It is part of various DOC denominations in Calabria such as Bivongi, Donnici, Greco di Bianco, Melissa, San Vito di Luzzi, Scavigna and Verbicaro.

I have written about a few wineries in Calabria over the past years. I also was lucky enough to do one very long tasting at Vinitaly some years ago with wines from a certain area in Calabria, Terre di Cosenza DOC.

I visited Calabria a couple of times only when I lived in Italy. Once I went all the way to Reggio to see some of the most beautiful men I have ever seen, the Bronze di Riace that are in the picture above. What incredible statues and quite worth the trip. Calabria has much to recommend it and is largely undiscovered for me. I look forward to future trips to this most Southern region of Italy where everything seems quite intense and spicy.

Check out this wonderful post by my friend Alfonso Cevola about his Calabrian roots.

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Wine of the Week: Chateau Trianon from Saint-Emilion


Taking a break from writing about Italy to follow up on a tasting I did in April with the Chateau Trianon wines when they were in New York as part of the Grand Cercle tasting at Grand Central on April 20. The winery has 10 hectares and is part of the Saint Emilion Grand Cru appellation. The wines were made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere. According to their materials, the name Trianon is derived from Marie Antoinette’s private retreat at Versailles. Apparently, the chateau was built by a secretary of King Louis XIV in the 17th century. I met Dominique Hebrard at the tasting. A fascinating man, he was lovely and very welcoming and willing to answer all of my questions. The wines were beautiful and a really lovely expression of the terroir of that part of Bordeaux. The winery pays careful attention to their practices both in the vineyard and in the winery. As I am studying for a particular exam, he was very patient with numerous questions that I asked and invited me to the winery. I think I will most certainly take him up on that.

The winery has undergone many changes in the past two years as reported in a press release:

“In January 2014, Dominique Hébrard, shareholder and General Manager of Château Trianon announced a major change in the property’s vision for the future as two new partners invested in the estate: An Enda the owner of Inner Mongolia Jin Sha Ecological Group Co., the winery Château Kinschab and Jin Sha Winery Co. Ltd. in Inner Mongolia, who will be majority shareholder, and Marc Castagnet, a business man residing in Hong Kong and his wife Karin, who are developing private luxury hotel projects, in particular with http://www.villalatosca.com. The change heralds a new chapter in the history of this property with ambitious investments announced in the vineyard and to renovate the chateau building.”

2010 Chateau Trianon

I tried the 2010 and the 2014 barrel sample. Both were exquisite, beautiful expressions of Merlot dominated wines with a long finish and silky supple tannins. Truly lovely and worth buying in my view.

At the same tasting I worked for the De Mour group wineries, La Croizille and Tour Baladoz. As I never write about wines that I work with, I won’t write my thoughts but do suggest that you check out these wineries as well.

I wish I were going to VinExpo this year but other obligations call. Those who are going, I hope you have extra time to visit some estates.

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La Festa della Repubblica, Wines of Lombardy – Franciacorta – Brescia

Italian Flag

Today is an Italian national holiday known as la Festa della Repubblica. It celebrates the day in 1946 when Italians voted to become a republic. In Italy, most people go on holiday for a long weekend, affectionately known as il ponte or the bridge. Most took yesterday off to make it a four day affair. Today is a day to toast and raise a glass to il Bel Paese. I like to toast with bubbly and that brings me to an area in Lombardy that has been much discussed of late, even in the US, Franciacorta. Franciacorta became a DOC wine in 1967 but the Consorzio was created in 1990 by 29 producers. It became a DOCG in 1995. These wonderful sparklers are made in the traditional method, secondary fermentation in the bottle, with three grape varieties permitted: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Bianco.

Italian Sparkling Wine

The area is very beautiful and if I were in Italy this month, I would certainly choose to go to their festival, Franciacortando but alas alack it isn’t in the cards for this year. The soils in Franciacorta are rich in sand and limestone, and are known for their drainage. The area is located on what was a moraine that formed as a glacier withdrew many centuries ago. As in many areas of this type of geological origin, numerous minerals, stones and rocks were left to create rich soils where the vine can flourish. The soils in Franciacorta vary with the zones but overall they have these characteristics.


The area is also attentive to sustainability issues and to being carbon neutral. I know a number of producers in the area who strive to be carbon zero. Some interesting numbers listed on the Consortium website noted that 109 wineries participate in the Consortium and 19 towns or communes are part of the Franciacorta terroir. Some 2,800 hectares are planted with Franciacorta DOCG (82% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Nero, 4% Pinot Bianco) while 350 hectares are dedicated to wines with the Curtefranca DOC designation. 15,475,977 bottles were sold in 2014 but only 1,428,993  bottles or 9,2% was exported. The Italians are smart and are drinking 90% of it themselves. So many wonderful producers to mention here but I will just link to posts that I have written in the past about the area.

That said, check out this great blog on Franciacorta. The Lombard city closest to Franciacorta is Brescia, a city that is surprisingly interesting and rich in art, culture and even Roman ruins. Brescia, Lombardy’s second largest city after Milan, is often thought of as a small industrial town in Northern Italy, perhaps worth a few hours to see the Duomo, have lunch and then continue on its more well known neighboring cities. On closer inspection however, Brescia reveals it exciting and varied history as well as numerous treasures. Brescia is known throughout Italy for its steel industry and precision instruments. The city is quite well to do and the wealth and prosperity of the city is clearly evident in the high quality shops, stores and restaurants. These last are considerably more expensive than even those of its larger neighbor, Milan. An itinerary through the city of Brescia can be created around various themes such as Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and 17th century architecture. The city can be well navigated on foot from the central station, by bus, car or on bikes. Like Bergamo, Brescia is a great side trip if you are in Milan visiting Expo 2015. As you might have guessed, I wrote a long travel article on Brescia for a magazine some years ago.

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