The Sweet Spot: Moscatel Galego Branco From Quinta Das Lamelas


On my recent trip to Portugal I was able to taste a wide array of still wines and fortified wines or ports which I had expected. The plethora of grape varieties and diversity of style, however, I did not. I also had no idea that there was another grape variety that we would sample in a couple of different versions – Moscatel.


José António Guedes from Quinta Das Lamelas had one that I enjoyed in the sweeter version with 150-200 g/l of residual sugar. While quite sweet I didn’t find it cloying.

Casa de Quinta das Laranjeiras was founded in 1836. They have about 22 hectares in the Douro Valley which are planted with the traditional local grape varieties. They are well-known for their white ports, made from Moscatel Galego, Fernao Pires, Malvasia Fina e Gouveio. We tried a number of them that I really enjoyed. A nice balance of acidity and alcohol as well as sweetness, salinity and fruity and floral aromas. I found them complex and satisfying.


One of the amazing parts of our visit to the Douro was seeing all of the family homes that had their own churches. This family had an impressive one across the street from their home which looked to be quite old. They also still have lagares that are used to foot tread grapes.


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LUGANA DOC: The White Wine of Lake Garda

Charles Scicolone on Wine

One of my favorite places to visit in Italy is Lake Garda. I like sitting outside in a restaurant along the lake, eating the lake fish and drinking the local wine, in most cases Lugana DOC. While it wasn’t quite the same as Lake Garda, a dinner at La Pizza Fresca in NYC hosted by the Consorizo Tutela Lugana DOC was a good opportunity to try the new vintages.

img_1633 Luca Formentini from the Selva Capuzza Winery

The Lugana denomination is on the border between the provinces of Brescia (Lombardy) and Verona (Veneto) to the south of Lake Garda. The soil is mostly white clay and limestone, which is difficult to work.

img_1634 Angelica Altomare from the Cà Maiol Winery

The temperate breezes from Lake Garda influence the microclimate positively; it is mild and fairly constant with little difference between day and nighttime temperatures.

The Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana

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Cork: A New Understanding Of What Is Behind Every Stopper

Very excited to see the team from Vigne Surrau tomorrow for a lunch in Boston. Looking forward to seeing you old friends in that great city as well as some new ones.



I have the good fortune to be in Sardegna as I am writing this. A magical and mysterious land, I think of it as a place of beaches, crystal blue water, rocks, sun, sheep, silence, Vermentino, Cannonau and Pecorino,. What I didn’t know was that it also has the second largest cork factory in Europe after Amorim. I once interviewed the head of that Portuguese company but I have never had the opportunity to visit a factory – until now.

Italy is one of the most important producers of cork in the world. Of the 2.2 million hectares of cork forests, some 225,000 of them are in Italy, 90% of which are in Sardegna and the other 10% in Sicily, Calabria, Lazio, Tuscany and Campagna. The wine industry is without a doubt the largest client of the cork industry and uses 70% of Italy’s total cork production.


While some countries…

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Turbiana

Soils - Lugana

Really looking forward to tonight, tomorrow and Thursday’s events with the Consorzio of Lugana. The grape variety that they use in their wines is called Turbiana. It is closely related to Trebbiano di Soave but not to Verdicchio as was previously thought. It’s a great, mineral, fresh and elegant wine. I can’t wait to drink some and introduce Lugana to friends that don’t know the region. If I am not seeing you later, tomorrow or Thursday in Philadelphia, you still have a chance to try these great wines at the Simply Italian events next week in New York and Los Angeles.


I think you’ll come to love Lugana as I have.

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Monday Musings: Women In Wine Resources

Le Donne del Vino - Vinitaly

On my way to the women in wine symposium today, I have been looking at all the wonderful women in wine groups and websites. There are so many that it is quite impressive. One great resource that caught my eye is from Luscious Lashes. What an impressive and varied group.

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Women in Wine Fridays: Fifth Annual Symposium Monday – October 17th in NYC


I am so looking forward to participating in this year’s women in wine symposim. It will be my first time in attendance and I am really excited to see all of these wonderful women in the same room.

Monday is a big day also for another event I will be attending, the Next Big Bite hosted by Les Dames d’Escoffier. I was inducted into this group in 2015 and it is a real honor to be part of such an amazing organization.

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Wine of the Week: Tawny Port from Cavas Santa Marta


I was lucky enough to go on a press trip to the Douro Valley a couple of weeks ago> I learned many things about Portugal and the Douro in particular and tasted some great wines. We visited 15 wineries that are part of a group called Soul Wines. We tasted both Ports and Douro wines made from indigenous and international varieties. Our first stop was to a cooperative called Cavas Santa Marta. Once upon a time the Douro was filled with cooperatives but no more. This particular cooperative was one of the largest and is a merger of more than one cooperative. The operations were enormous and very interesting. Additionally they had a number of women working in the laboratory which I thought was very cool. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I met many women in the industry which surprised me.


Cavas Santa Marta made an wide variety of wines, many for supermarket chains but not all. This tawny port shown in the photo was nice. I learned when in Portugal that tawny is really considered the true port by the Portuguese themselves and that the English created interest in Ruby. Lately everyone also seems to be making rose ports but they weren’t really for my palate.


They had huge barrels where ports were aged as one might imagine as well as a museum of objects used previously in the industry.


We also saw growers bringing in their grapes and having the sugars tested while still inside the truck.


What was hard to understand at first was why wouldn’t they want to have more sugar in their grapes if they are paid by the sugar content. I was told that it’s actually a formula that is a balance between the sugar level in the grapes and the weight of the grapes. They want the grapes to come in at around 13.5%. Clearly as the sugars increase the grape shrivels and the weight is lessened so it makes sense that growers will try to bring in the grapes at the level required. The operations were both old fashioned and modern at the same time. I found the whole thing really interesting and was happy to have had the experience as part of the tour.


I find that people tend to dismiss coops but that it is a huge part of any local market and important to understand.

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