Musings On Wine Events: Five Things That Make Them Special


1. Location:
The above photo has nothing to do with events I have hosted but is a shot from Cortina where VinoVip is usually held. Thinking about that event that I attended two years ago, the wines were great, the seminars too but it was the location that made all the difference.

2. Product:
Of course it is easier to hold an event for Chateau Latour than for Yellow Tail with a certain target audience but there are great events that happen for products of all different price points, what makes the difference there then? Creativity, fun in my opinion.

3. Producers:
I love events where the producers are present. Sure an importer can be great as can brand ambassadors and reps but there is nothing like speaking with the person who actually makes the wine and has a personal connection to the winery product.

4. Materials:
Good informational materials are fundamental to an event, including maps, when possible. I also like to see exactly what area we are talking about and being able to share that knowledge is fundamental.

5. Follow up:
At the end of the day, we are only as good as our follow up, answering questions and providing context. I’m a big believer in education above all.

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Wine Region of the Week: Tikves, Macedonia


Tikveš is the wine region of the week. It is located in the Republic of Macedonia, a tiny nation in the Balkans, landlocked between Greece, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Kosovo. Apparently wine has been grown there for more than 100 years. The area, a fertile plain, looks beautiful in photos and is surrounded by mountains. With its somewhat Mediterranean climate, it lies along the Vardar River.

While they grow a myriad of grapes, Smederevka,Vranec and Temjanika, make up 80% of the total grape production. I have tried and written about Vranec in the past, this week I tried Rkaciteli from a winery called Stobi. Stobi, also the name of the town, is a beautiful city with Roman ruins. It was first mentioned about 200 BC and looks to have incredible ruins and art and is said to be much older than that. Stobi is near Skopje, the capital and is a very modern looking winery with state of the art technology, wine tourism and corporate events. Who knew….Winebow certainly did and is their US importer.

The Rkaciteli was a nice cheerful wine that I tried with my friend Lynne from We agreed it was a perfect match with our local favorite Peruvian chicken from Flor de Mayo. The acidity was higher than I would have expected at 7g/l and I wonder if that is all natural but that said, I liked the wine and for less than $15 a bottle, it’s hard to go wrong with this fun, novel wine.

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Italian Indigenous Grapes: Pecorino from Le Marche, Abruzzo


Angela Velenosi was in town this week for some events that I organized for her. As a policy I do not write about people that I work for but that doesn’t mean I can’t reblog an old post, written before we did some work together. In any event, the point is Pecorino is an interesting grape, under represented in my view. I had the same sensations about it this week as I did years ago and just mentioned today that its viscosity reminds me of Chenin Blanc. I’m happy to see I am at least consistent in my tasting notes. October is a new month and I challenge myself to write a little each day. Let’s see how it turns out. Cheers

Originally posted on avvinare:

This week’s indigenous variety is called Pecorino. It hails mainly from Le Marche and from Abruzzo but there are also plantings in Liguria, Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria.

An early ripening grape, it is not susceptible to downy or powdery mildew. The grape has nothing to do with the cheese of the same name, Pecorino, other than some suggestions that the grapes got their name from the “Pecore” or sheep that used to eat them while grazing.

One of my favorite examples of Pecorino is from Velenosi Vini.

Pecorino 2012

This Falerio dei Colli Ascolani Denominazione d’Origine Controllata (DOC) wine from Le Marche was crispy and nicely acidic with hints of tropical fruit and flowers. I also find it slightly waxy in the same way that Chenin Blanc often is. It was perfect with the lobster roll I had today at the Pier in Wellfleet. Fishing with Dad and my nephew is great…

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Cork: A New Understanding Of What Is Behind Every Stopper


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 have completely adapted to alternative closures such as Austria and Australia even on premium wines, the more traditional markets such as Italy, France, Portugal and even to some extent, the United States, still feel that for a prestigious bottle of wine, you must have a cork.

Despite the thousands of corks I have opened personally or seen opened, I never knew how many hands touched the cork before it went into a bottle or how much work it was to make quality corks.

My visit to the Sugherificiomolinas in Calangianus will be the subject of my next post but for the moment, suffice it to say, my view of cork has changed for life. Every time I pull a cork now, I will see the faces of those working in the factory amid the smell of cork and the noise of the machines used to punch stoppers out of cork or to press the cork grains into flat panels to be used as construction materials.

I will think of the trees I saw that looked like they had lost clothes, stripped from the trunk down. Of the objects whether it be wallets, notebooks, boards or insulation that are made from cork lots that have been personally tasted by a team of professionals using modern technology and optical sorters and well as the human eye.

Before a new cork forest is mature, 20-25 years must go by. Cork trees can live to be 150 years old but they can only be harvested every ten to twelve years in Sardegna. As if that weren’t enough to make cork a prestigious item, in order to be a good quality cork, the third harvest yields corks that are considered to be of the right quality to be used with any prestigious wine. The cork industry is therefore one that calls for patience, longevity in terms of your outlook and time. I’ll write more on this visit in the next post.

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Wines In the News: Ferrari – A Personal Favorite Arrives At Emmy Awards


Ferrari, one of my favorite sparkling wines and one I used to celebrate all occasions, including my baby’s first birthday, was just the toast of the town in LA at the Emmy Awards. I know this because I got a press release from their PR firm but I was impressed and thought I would mention it. The Lunelli family who own Ferrari have always been lovely to me on the many occasions that we have met and it’s exciting to see an Italian wine served at such a big US event. According to the press release,”Television royalty toasted their victories last night at the 67th Emmy Awards in Los Angeles with a Ferrari… Ferrari bubbly that is! Ferrari,…, kicked off the celebration with Ferrari Brut Trentodoc, a prestige cuvée served to Emmy guests departing the awards ceremony and entering the “ultimate after-party” – the Governors Ball for the Primetime Emmys.” I should be commenting on Viola Davis’ acceptance speech but this is a wine blog and I fear those who read it aren’t so interested in my political views. That said, good for her. A little abrupt as she began but kudos for making your 5 minutes count and saying something worthwhile.

Apparently, Ferrari was also just named, “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year” in The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. I have written many times about the winery and its wines. Here’s a post I wrote about the winery last year.

Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari and their name is synonymous with sparkling wine in Italy. Made in the Metodo Classico style from chardonnay, Ferrari was among the first wineries to bring sparking wine into every Italian household. Giulio had studied at the School of Viticulture in Montpellier and dreamt of making an Italian equivalent to Champagne. They produce some 4.5 million bottles a year.
Giulio Ferrari didn’t have any children and chose a friend and local merchant Bruno Lunelli as successor for his winery, who took over in 1952. The company was run by Bruno’s three sons, Gino, Mauro and Franco, starting from 1969 until 2005, and then Bruno’s grandchildren, Marcello, Matteo and Camilla took the reins of the firm. They have a team of eight winemakers, led by Marcello Lunelli, and four agronomists.

Salute to them!

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Tenuta Di Blasig- Auguri 1788-2008


This was I believe my very first post on Avvinare, seven years ago. My writing has faded because of family obligations but I am still determined to keep my hand in the blogosphere. I just read quickly through 100 blogs for a client and I am impressed with how people maintain blogs, day jobs, families, a home, pets and a sense of humor. I never had much of the latter which is why my posts are always so “informative” rather than witty or funny but that said, I do admire those that have it all together. In the meantime, I am still drinking copious amounts of wine and hoping to write about them. Another reason I find it hard to write, in addition to my one year old, is that so much is going on in the world that is heartbreaking. I sometimes find it hard to write about wine after seeing the scenes of physical devastation in Calfornia, Utah and Piacenza (natural causes) or the torrent of refugees (man-made). Anyway, on this beautiful final Friday of the Summer I will be participating in a Spanish Snooth virtual tasting. Maybe it will kick off a new season. Saludos.

Originally posted on avvinare:

Vino, Donne e Canto

“Se uno non ama il vino, la donna ed il canto, pazzo rimane per l’intera vita” Martin Luther

Tenuta di Blasig celebrated 220 years of activity today with an impressive fete with soloists from the Vienna Philarmonic, dance and jazz as well as lectures on the Ronchi dei Legionari area by an interesting group of professors. Elisabetta Bortolotto Sarcinelli kindly invited me to the festa but alas alack, I could not attend. Today therefore seems like a good day to publish a very long post on Elisabetta and her winery.

I met Elisabetta at Vinitaly in 2007. I was trying wines at a stand nearby and was pulled over to try her wines as well. She was gorgeous and very tall. I was immediately struck by her beauty and by her German-accented Italian. I actually thought she was from Austria or Germany and spoke Italian very…

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We Remember 9/11

Candles 911

While September starts on September 1 and my baby’s birthday is in early September, the year always starts slow and until after the 11th, never feels quite right. I was in Italy on this day 14 years ago but the impact that it had on me as a New Yorker, really as a person, remains. Every year I watch the ceremony, as I feel we should bear witness to those we perished. Despite the sunshine outside, today is always a little somber and sobering. Certainly a day of reflection. I thank my lucky stars for everything and everyone in my life. Here is a lovely article about the lights. Watch the video, it is actually quite uplifting,

Towers of Light

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