Italian Indigenous Varieties: Greco di Tufo


This week’s indigenous variety is Greco di Tufo. Thought to have been brought to Italy from Greece, in the 7th-8th century B.C. by Greek colonists, it is generally considered to have landed near the area around Vesuvio in Campania. It produces lovely white wines with a golden color, good acidity and astringency. It is grown in different parts of Campania including Avellino, Benevento, Napoli, and Salerno as well as in Puglia. It is also grown in parts of Tuscany and Lazio. Greco di Tufo became a DOCG, the highest Italian wine denomination some years ago.

Many wonderful wines are made from this grape. I remember one that I tasted a couple of years back during Vinitaly with Terry Hughes, formerly of Domenico Selections. I actually remember tasting it and shedding a tear it was so beautiful. I don’t spend enough time in Campania to make recommendations on particular wines from that area. Of course the most famous producers such as Feudi di San Gregorio or Mastroberardino I know well but for the smaller ones, I suggest reading some of Tom Maresca’s posts on wines from the region.

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Umbria Jazz and Memories of BB King, Second Week at Expo2015

italy 600

When I heard the news that BB King died, I was really saddened. I loved his music and thought his story quite remarkable. What a life. I saw him many years ago at Umbria Jazz. I will never forget those concerts. I also saw him at North Cove (Battery Park) sometime in the past two years which was remarkable. I can’t find the photos now but I was so happy to be able to do that. Thank you for many years of listening pleasure.

I didn’t write about the Expo2015 last week because I thought every day about the Expo is maybe too much. But I decided to check in and discuss the Expo at least once a week. One of the interesting things about the Expo this year is the separation of areas into what are known as Clusters. According to the website, “Clusters bring together communities, not by geographical area, but by a common theme and food group.” Once a week, I will write about each of the clusters and other events going on at Expo.

For today, I want to stay in the BB King theme however and discuss a jazz club in Milan on Via Borsieri for those who are there for Expo, the Blue Note Milano. When I lived in the city, I saw a number of concerts there. Italy has some great jazz musicians of its own. No one is BB King though, let’s face it.

I just checked out the wine list and they have a lot of interesting selections. I might try the Antica Tindari wines from Sicily. I met the owners of this winery at Vinitaly two years ago. Nice to see their wines on the list.

Via Borsieri, the street where the Blue Note is located, is in an area of the city called L’Isola. Years ago it was funky and mostly immigrants lived there. Now it is much more mainstream and has lots of cute shops and restaurants. There is so much new construction in Milan that the city is at times, unrecognizable. This area has changed considerably. Many would say for the better and I guess I agree but it took some getting used to. I worked in the neighborhood for three years and spent many a lunch hour in those places.

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Expo 2015, Streets of Milan, Franciacorta

Mountains in Milan

Today is day 8 of Expo2015 and one of the themes of the day is the importance of bread. In fact they are giving out fresh bread. Obviously giving bread is a religious symbol as well. The Expo as we know is about feeding people and our planet so this seems quite appropriate to me.

Speaking of bread, one of the aspects that I love about Italy is the variety of breads on offer at any local bakery. I used to have a great time buying bread in the city. One of my favorite bakeries was on Via Solferino in Brera. Today’s street in Milan is Via Solferino. A very chic shopping street with this amazing bakery that sold fresh pasta, Pattini..

Back to the wine world, I’m sending a shout out to Jeremy Parzen of Dobianchi who is writing a blog for Franciacorta and appears to be on hand at Expo today. Looking to see great posts on that blog and hopefully everyone will finally catch on to how great those wines are. My very first Italian wine class experience was all about a bottle of Bellavista Saten but that’s for another day.

Buon weekend.

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Expo 2015 Day 7, Streets of Milan, Austrian Connection

Milan Museum

Today is Day 7 of Expo2015 and they are showcasing the Austrian Pavilion which is apparently an open air forest of sorts. I found this quite curious and interesting and was then off and running and thinking about the connections between Milan and Austria.

The Austrians actually ran the Duchy of Milan from 1706 to 1797 and again in the 1800s. Their legacy can be felt throughout the city in the buildings, pastries and other delicacies.


Even the name of one of Milan’s most famous bars for an aperitivo, an espresso or other is named for an Austrian, Radetzky’s. I think this may have been the first or second bar I went to over 20 years ago in Milan but it is still going strong and is a key hangout to meet people for an aperitivo as I did on a recent trip to Milan.

Today’s street is Corso Garibaldi in fact, where Radetzy’s is located. I lived on this street for a couple of years after my Via Vigevano experience. The buildings are beautiful, the bars and restaurants lovely as are the shops.

Getting back to the Austrian connection, some years ago, I went skiing at St Anton, ripped my ACL and spent the better part of my trip exploring the area. Here is a link to some of those stories because after all, this is a wine blog.

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Expo2015 Day 6, Streets of Milan, Italian Indigenous Grapes

Ceppeto - vigneto-vineyard Ischio - estate-summer 2006

Today is day 6 of Expo2015 and it is a celebration of biodiversity. Today’s street is Via Brera which is home to the Accademia di Brera, one of the world’s great museums as well as the Orto Botanico or botanical gardens. It is also home to other art galleries and the famed Bar Jamaica, a hip bar among artists, students and locals for decades. While there is not the same concentration on biodiversity in the vineyards of Italy as say in New Zealand, there is renewed interest among many producers on this topic. With a focus on natural wines and biodynamics, this topic is very much at the top of mind. Italy is home to more indigenous varieties of grapes than almost any other country in the world. I have been writing a series on these grapes for the past five years and have only gotten to the letter “G.”

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Expo2015 Day 5, Streets of Milan, Caffe Shakerato


Today is day 5 of the Milan Expo and the calendar of events within the pavilions is very full. I want to mention one of the clusters in the fair – that on rice, a staple the world over. Italy’s north is known for its risaie. One of the appointments’ on today’s calendar is with two chefs known for their menus and its many risotti, the Fratelli Costardi.

When I lived in Milan, I would sometimes order Risotto alla Milanese on a cold winter day, in the warmer months, I liked to sometimes eat the rice salad that would be on any of the lunch menus at bars in the center of the city. My first office in Milan was in the Palazzo dell’Informazione in a fascist era building that housed all of the newswires and media publications. It was next to today’s street of the week, Via Turati. Via Filippo Turati is quite centrally located and ends in Piazza Cavour. All of these streets and piazzas are named for “statisti” or Statesman – politicians mostly.

Via Turati is an important one for US tourists because the US Consulate is located nearby. While lunch in the middle of the city may not be on your list, one should have a least one Caffe Shakerato while in the city. I usually get mine without sugar but it is delicious either way.

The area around Piazza Cavour is also home to two additional sights to visit, the Giardini Pubblici, renamed for Indro Montanelli – a famed journalist and the Swiss Center which has a nice bar for that most Milanese of habits – the aperitivo.

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Expo2015 Day 4, Streets of Milan, Crodino


Today is Day 4 of Expo2015 and tonight Italian soccer stars are holding an exhibition match at San Siro to raise money for children. More than 800 million people suffer from a lack of sufficient food on the planet, many of them are children despite the fact that the world produces enough food to feed everyone. One of the reasons that I am writing about the Expo so much is because these are causes which interest me deeply along with the lack of sufficient water.

“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that about 805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. Almost all the hungry people, 791 million, live in developing countries, representing 13.5 percent, or one in eight, of the population of developing counties. There are 11 million people undernourished in developed countries (FAO 2014).”

Milan is filled with beautiful churches from different centuries but my favorite of all is the romanesque Sant’Ambrogio dedicated to Milan’s patron saint in Piazza Sant’Ambrogio. I spent a wonderful Christmas eve at midnight mass there with good friends. Sant’Ambrogio is also a metro stop on the green line and a great place to get out of the subway if you are visiting the science museum in Via San Vittore or going to the market in Viale Papiniano on a Tuesday or a Saturday. As you can tell, I love outdoor markets. This one is less upscale than the one in Via San Marco.


In this neighborhood, there are numerous bars to stop and have a crodino. A Crodino is a trademark brand owned by the Campari Group since the mid-1990s but it is often used as a generic term for an “analcolico” or drinks without alcohol. This slightly bitter orange-yellow drink is perhaps the most widely ordered analcolico in the world. Italians have it at any time of the day, generally with chips.


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