Thinking Of Martin Luther King and Today’s Issues

Withour making a comparison between Dr. King and others, I just want to quote him on this day:

“A man (or woman) should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better. If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.”

I keep this quote on my desk and have since I went to college to remind myself to do my job to the best of my ability. It would be great if all of our politicians, especially those of the highest office of the land, considered this quote and did their jobs well. A hope on this day of celebration of a noble man.

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Memorable Wines of 2016: Musigny Comte Georges de Vogüé, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 1985


This past year, my family and I have been opening a number of older bottles that were given to us when my uncle passed away in 2013. The storage conditions as you can see from the label of this wine were not perfect but what was in the bottle was remarkable in terms of its subtle nuances and lasting freshness lo these 31 years in its bottle. The wine is from the Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé, located in Chambolle -Musigny. It is viewed as one of the pinnacles of great Burgundy wines and I must say, it was a truly memorable wine experience. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, we had it with our Thanksgiving meal, a holiday my Uncle Tony loved.

It was beautiful on the nose and the palate and the color was exceptional. It had great tannins and still hints of fruit albeit complex tertiary notes were more highlighted. It also had power which I didn’t expect and loads of subtle undercurrents of bramble and earthy notes and of course, finesse and elegance that I would expect in a great Burgundy.

This estate can date its history back to 1450. It remained in the same family until 1766. The latest iteration of both the property and the label began in 1925 when Comte Georges de Vogüé took over. The estate owns 7.25 hectares of the Le Musigny vineyard, about 80% of the total. They also have 2.75 hectares of Bonnes-Mares and some 1.8 hectares of Premier Cru Chambolle-Musigny.

The winemaker is François Millet who works with agronomist Eric Bourgogne in the vineyards. The average age of their vines is 40 years old and thus the label Vieilles Vignes.

These amazing wines are brought in by Dreyfus Ashby. Truly an exceptional experience. Merci Tony. I would rather have him here but I do know that he would smile that we were enjoying the wines.

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Filed under Burgundy, France, Memorable Events, Older Vintages, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malbo Gentile (Emilia Romagna)


This week’s indigenous variety is Malbo Gentile, a red grape that is grown in Emilia Romagna. I couldn’t find a lot about the variety except that it grows well in poor soils and can be used both as a monovarietal and in blends. I also discovered a blog by the same name, Malbo Gentile, which seems to be about wine and all things Emilia Romagna. It is also used in many Lambrusco wines. This grape is also used to make vini novelli, vini frizzanti and passito wines such as this one, Colli di Scandiano e Canossa DOP.

Malbec, also grows in Italy, largely in the Central-Northern regions.

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Wine Wednesday: J Lohr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from 1999


This year at Christmas and over the New Year’s holiday, my family and I opened a series of bottles that had been sitting in an old wine fridge. One of these wines was from J Lohr, a Cabernet Sauvignon from 1999. I didn’t expect to get such great fruit from this bottle after so many years and what I assume were not perfect storage condition. The wine was full bodied and rich with great color, lift and juicy tannins. It was a welcome surprise and we drank a toast to my Uncle who was the wine’s original owner. My uncle Tony had a true passion for wine and was the first collector I ever met. He was also my dear beloved uncle who passed away in 2013.

He left us a number of wines, albeit not his huge collection which was basically stolen by members of his second wife’s family but that is a long and sordid tale not for this wine blog. In any event, this wine had me thinking about trips to California and how many more there should be in the near term. This wine from Paso Robles is part of the J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines which today covers more than 1,300 acres of cool-climate estate vineyards in the Arroyo Seco and Santa Lucia Highlands regions of Monterey County. The founder made a bet on French varietals over 40 years ago and I’d say he won it.

In the stores today you can find the 2014 vintage which they say on their website is a “strong one” and “reminiscent of 2004.” An interesting fact I discovered is that the Seven Oaks vineyard was initially planted on its own rootstock, such a rarity in the US. There are apparently different rootstocks and clones of cabernet used to augment the expressive qualities of this terroir which has gravel, clay and limestone in it on their property. I found one from the 2001 vintage that was priced at around $19. The latest vintages are selling for under $10, a pretty good wine for that price I dare say.

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Vermentino, the perfect coastal white wine from three Italian regions: Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia

Ligurian Hill Towns

Vermentino is one of Italy’s great grape varieties. It is the perfect white wine to sip on a beach, have as an aperitivo or pair  with wonderful seafood. To me it spells summer, sailing and relaxation. Vermentino can be found in a number of different regions in Italy including all over Liguria, pictured above.
It grows from North to South in Liguria, both along the coast and inland. Some of the most famous wines made in Liguria from Vermentino are from the Colli di Luni, pictured in the distant hills.
Vermentino is also widely grown in Tuscany, in Maremma, along the coast and a bit inland. I have had a number of wonderful Vermentinos from Maremma including some from Suvereto, right in front of the Archipelago of Elba. This particular wine is made by a friend, Barbara Tamburini at Gualdo del Re. They can’t produce enough of it according to Nico Rossi, the owner. It flies off the shelves. I certainly can understand that. Vermentino has enough fruit and floral aromas, acidity and minerality that it goes down quite quickly and one glass leads to another pretty seamlessly. I was told recently that a big Tuscan producer who shall remain nameless believes so highly in the grape that he was planning to plant an extra 50 hectares rather.
When speaking about  Vermentino however we must always remember to mention Sardinia where it holds a distinctive DOCG denomination in Gallura.  Vermentino also grows on Corsica but that doesn’t come into our discussion. It does however make the cut for Benvenuto Vermentino, a festival now in its third year celebrating Vermentino from around the Mediterranean.
Vermentino is a great grape variety that should be on your radar and there are as you can see many places to choose from. It is quite versatile and easy to pronounce as well so I think it can have a great future both on American wine lists and as a by the glass pour in many a wine bar. Vermentino from Sardinia tends to have more salinity and to be a bit more full bodied. I have had sparkling, still and late harvest versions of this great grape. I look forward to having many more.
Join us today, Saturday January 7th for a live Twitter chat at #ItalianFWT 11am ET about Coastal White and Red Wines, Foods and Travel along Italy’s long coastline.
Avvinare – Vermentino the perfect coastal white wine from three Italian regions: Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia
Vino Travels -Negroamaro of Salice Salentino with Leone de Castris
Food Wine Click – Swordfish Pasta with a Not So Crazy Sicilian Red

The Wine Predator – Sicily: Global and Coastal Influences Flavor Four Dishes Paired with Wine
L’Occasion – The Terraced Vineyards of Liguria
Enofylz Wine Blog – A Ligurian Red Blend: 2015 Liguria di Levante Rosso


Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, italy, Liguria, Memorable Events, Sardinia, Travel, Tuscany, wines

Buona Befana A Tutti!

Gearing up for the end of the winter holidays, everyone makes numerous resolutions, including me. One of mine is to write more copy on this blog. I will start with today’s holiday – la Befana. It is a holiday in Italy where an unattractive old looking woman gives out coal to children who are bad and candy to those who were good, the Feast of the Epiphany. Mostly though, the Befana signifies the end of the Winter holidays and after two weeks of vacation, everyone has to go back to work, even in Italy. Many including me, have considerable trouble getting back to work after the holiday season.


In Spain today is Three Kings Day and celebrations abound as friends like the World Wine Guys and April Cullom of Casa Abril can attest.

Three Magi

Traditionally, Italians gave their Christmas presents on this day, timed to the arrival of the Magi. When I was living there though all anyone got on la Befana was candy or coal. I found this blog entitled Willy or Won’t He? about la Befana and thought it interesting to see how she was viewed by this particular family.

No specific foods or wines are used on this day. However, last year I discovered a winery called Raffaldini in North Carolina that makes a “Befana” sweet wine. Needless to say wonders never cease. Apparently this ancient family from Mantua in Lombardy has created what they call “Chianti In The Carolinas,” making a number of wines with Italian grapes. Their Befana wine is a sweet wine made using partially dried grapes, somewhat more like a Ripasso I imagine.

Speaking of Ripasso, I had a great one over the holidays from Fattori – Col di Bastia 2009. I remember when Antonio Fattori began making this wine. It has aged beautifully this last 5 years and was perfect with Roast Beef. Onward to a great 2017 for all.

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Filed under Fattori Wines, Ripasso, Three Kings, wines

Coastal White and Red Wines, Food & Travel with #Italian FWT


Italy is known as a country of “navigatori and marinai” or explorers and sailors. That’s because so much of Italy is coastline. This led to the choice for this January’s topic for writers in the Italian food, wine and travel group (#ItalianFWT). We are featuring coastal wines, foods and travel this month. Another reason for the choice was the idea of summer in the dead of winter although thus far we can’t complain too much about the temperatures, certainly not here on the East Coast. That makes these wines and foods even more interesting. As we become a more temperate part of the world, there is room to drink and eat all sorts of foods, any time of the year.

Narrow Streets in Liguria

Here’s a preview of what’s to come this Saturday January 7th. Join us for a live Twitter chat at #ItalianFWT 11am Est about Coastal White and Red Wines, Foods and Travel around Italy’s long coastline. If you’d like to be part of the group there is still time. Email directly at
Avvinare – Vermentino the perfect coastal white wine from three Italian regions: Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia
Vino Travels -Negroamaro of Salice Salentino with Leone de Castris

Food Wine Click – Swordfish Pasta with a Not So Crazy Sicilian Red

The Wine Predator – Sicily: Global and Coastal Influences Flavor Four Dishes Paired with Wine


L’Occasion – The Terraced Vineyards
of Liguria