Monthly Archives: July 2011

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Bonda

Italy, as we all know, has more indigenous varieties than almost any other nation. This is true throughout that beautiful country from North to South. This week’s indigenous variety is one called Bonda. It sort of sounds like an attractive and sexy brunette but is instead a grape that grows in the Valle d’Aosta. This red grape variety produces medium body wine and brings color to the blends it is added to. It is not used as a mono-varietal. In fact, it’s almost impossible to find any information about this grape variety.

Sometimes it is erroneously called Prie’ Rouge, another grape variety which grows in this smallest of Italian regions. I spent a long time trying wines from the Valle d’Aosta on the last day of Vinitaly with this incredibly well-prepared sommelier from the region.

What I love about people from that area is that they are very understated, a quality I like and that is very hard to find. The same is true about their wines. Not a lot of song and dance but a lot of quality behind their wine making.

I found two sites, new to me, that are really great sources for Italian wine lovers, wine90 and Tar and Roses.

I’ve been semi-absent from my blog this month. I’m basically home and astemia all month from the pain killers. I’ll be traveling back in time through my notes, wines and experiences. I’m glad to be back on track with my indigenous grape project. It’s taking a long time to get out of the “b” grapes but I am almost there.

Thanks for reading.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Valle d'Aosta

Norway In My Thoughts & Prayers & Norwegian Women In Wine

Norway is on my mind today. I watch in horror as news of the tragedy that happened in that beautiful country races across our screens of all sizes. It’s hard to fathom how these atrocities continue to happen. I have difficulty processing it all.

I decided to write something about Norway today because Norway oddly enough is a country I feel close to. Oddly I say because I don’t have a stitch of Norwegian in my genetic tapestry.

What I do have though are dear friends from Norway, some I met in Italy and others here in New York City.

In fact, when I first moved to Milan in 1995, I lived with some Norwegians. For seven months I slept on their couch, ate “brown cheese” and gravlax as often as possible. We became fast friends and have been so ever since.

My lovely friend Kristen is from a beautiful part of Norway called Kristensund. It is on the west coast of the country above Oslo. I was able to visit some years ago.

I was there on the longest day of the year, June 21, and got to see the midnight sun. This photo was taken around midnight if memory serves.

The country is incredibly beautiful and I have always found the people to be warm and funny. My Norwegian is terrible so I’m sure I didn’t get most of the jokes but my friends were some of the brightest and most entrepreneurial people I know.

Kristen created a women’s networking conference that has become one of the most important women’s conferences on a global scale, the W.I.N. Conference. She created the conference during the period of time when we both lived in Milan. We lived for a time in her home which was on the 7th floor with no elevator. Needless to say we didn’t do a lot of grocery shopping. We ate pesto and the Norwegian brown cheese for the better part of that year.

Living with Kristen was one of the most fervent moments of my life. She was filled with endless ideas about work and making women’s lives better. She has been an inspiration to me ever since. It’s amazing what one strong woman can do.

Just a word about the brown cheese which became a staple in my life for a time. Brunost is the name for the cheese in Norway. I believe this is the brand that we had. It was a delicious and odd combination, savory and sweet at the same time. When I was a baby, my family lived in Denmark for three months as my dad – an urban planner at the time – was studying model Scandinavian cities.
Dad loves Scandinavia and always talked about the herring. Mom though remembers the brown cheese very well.

When I came back to New York, one of the first things I did was to take a class at the International Wine Center. There I met my dear friend Sunny Gandara, also a Norwegian. Sunny is another woman in the wine industry who I have wanted to interview at length but haven’t yet had the chance.

Sunny and her husband Mark run a wonderful catering company called Fork and Glass. Sunny like Kristen, is extremely determined and entrepreneurial. It must be something in the water over there in Norway. I don’t know what it is but it has and continues to impress me in these lovely Norwegian women.


Filed under Norway, Travel, wines, Women in Wine

Wine of the Week: Luna Mater Frascati Superiore 2009

My lastest wine of the week is Luna Mater 2009 from Fontana Candida. This wine is a Frascati Superiore from the Lazio region. I had this wine last week as part of a delicious meal at the new Cafe Des Artistes.

I have had many wines from Frascati and the Castelli Romani throughout the years but seldom have I had one that was so delicious. This was full bodied with tropical fruit aromas and flavors as well as great minerality and acidity which paired well with the seafood dishes that graced our table.

Fontana Candida has been around for decades but many of its wines have been continually under valued and overlooked. This wine, imported by Banfi Vintners, certainly breaks the mold.

Tom Hyland, a wine friend, also expressed his delight with this wine earlier this year, I was pleased to read.

Tom Maresca also wrote a great piece on Frascati which you can read here as did Charles Scicolone.

I’m happy to see I’m in such esteemed company in my admiration for this wine from Fontana Candida.

This wine is made with a combination of white grapes including Malvasia di Candida, Trebbiano, Greco and Bombino. I would highly recommended it. It paired perfectly with both seafood and pasta.

Wines from the region of Lazio have been a huge interest of mine for a number of years. Here is an article that I wrote for Alta Cucina on this very subject. Buona lettura.

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Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, lazio, Wine of the Week, wines

Birthdays, Pain Killers & Knee Surgery

Yes, it has been a busy week in my life. Another birthday, a knee operation and some serious painkillers. Needless to say, I’ve been off the wine trail for a bit. I can’t wait to get back on it but until I do, I will be writing fondly about wines I have tried over the course of the last few years. Thanks for keeping up with Avvinare. I miss my blog but the pain killer fog has been intense these past few days. I suspect it will clear shortly. Thanks for sticking with me friends and conoscenti. I really appreciate it.

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Wine of the Week: Rotari Brut, Talento Trento Doc

I participated in a Snooth virtual tasting the other evening and was very pleasantly surprised by one of the wines that I tried, the Rotari Brut. I had of course seen Rotari in my years in Italy and in the US as well.

This very nicely priced wine is a cuvée of Chardonnay grapes grown in the Adige Valley. The wine is made from 50 different parcels of land which each produce a base wine that is then blended together. The wine is made in the “Metodo Classico” manner as opposed to the charmat method which is traditionally used for Prosecco.

The Rotari Brut is bottle fermented for 18-24 months. By law, in order to have the Talento DOC classification, a wine must age for 18 months, be made from grapes grown in DOC areas and be made from only Chardonnay, Pinot bianco and/or Pinot Noir. Talento DOC is closely associated with the Northern Italian regions for sparkling wine but can be used throughout the peninsula if a wine adheres to certain rules such as the grape varieties and the fact that they are made in the traditional method.

What was the wine like? Delicious, fruity and fun. The bubbles were very fine and numerous, a good sign when drinking a sparkling wine, as it denotes quality. On the palate it had aromas of apple, pears and nuts in my view. I thought it was a perfect apertif wine or one to drink throughout a meal up until dessert when you need a sweeter wine.

I love the fact that it is also 12.5% in terms of its alcohol content. So often, even sparkling wines are too high in alcohol. In all, this fun wine was great to drink at home with friends or bring to a party. It is certainly a crowd pleaser and one glass will surely lead to many more.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, sparkling wine, Travel, trentino, wines

July 4 Festivities & The End Of The First Vintage of My Super Teaneck Wines

Almost five years ago, I made my first vintage of a Super-Teaneck. I was so excited when I made the wine, pressing my own grapes adding selected yeast, racking it, refining it in oak and storing it, hoping for a miracle. Over the years, I have opened bottles here and there with mixed results. This weekend as part of a larger celebration, I decided to check on my handiwork. I must say, everytime I try my own wine – made with a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon – I have renewed respect for winemakers. Sadly as with so many things, the idea of my wine is better than the realty. In fact, yesterday, I decided to get rid of all the remaining bottles.

I will try again this fall, perhaps with white wine. We shall see. I like getting my hands dirty and understanding all of the processes of making wine first hand as opposed to reading or writing about it. I must say, I also have a new desire for better storage conditions for all of my wine and especially that which I make. It didn’t ruin the holiday though.

Check out these photos of the Hudson River in all it’s glory.

I love the Hudson. I think it’s one of the world’s great rivers.

I did get to see the fireworks last night in very good company.

I’m suffering from that sindrome da rientro probelm after the holidays. I’m sure I am not alone.

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Filed under Adventures in Winemaking: Super Teaneck 1st Vintage, Memorable Events, New York, Wine Industry, wines