Monthly Archives: October 2011

2nd Annual National Champagne Day & A Great Tasting At Terroir TriBeCa

Today is National Champagne Day I was told by a retailer’s email in my inbox. For me, every day could be national champagne day. I love sparkling wine, adore Champagne and have a passion for bubbly that transcends all else. That said, I have my favorites and am always on the look out for new friends to add to the champagne I know and love category.

At a recent tasting at Terroir in TriBeCa, I tried a number of them from Dufour. Zev Rovine Selections brought a whole host of wines and this line of Champagne. My favorite of the three was the Dufour Champagne Blanc de Blancs 1990 Ligne 45 Brut Nature. It’s nutty flavors and minerality won me over and I tried to sneak a few extra sips, perhaps more than my share at a tasting.

I couldn’t find much information about this wine at stores near you but Enoteca Ronchi in Milan seems infatuated, as was I. Funny coincidence.

This tasting had so much to recommend it. I tried splendid wines from a variety of portfolios, Zev Rovine’s, and Langdon Shiverick’s were the protagonists with strong support from Williams Corner Wine, Brazos Wine Imports, and Nicolas Palazzi.

It was without a doubt one of the best tastings I have been to with a huge variety of wines, mostly skewed towards France. I will write more about individual wines but today I’m just thinking about Champagne.

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Filed under France, Tastings

Morellino Mon Amor – A Week Together

I have to tread a fine line as I work as a blogger, a journalist but also as a publicist and when writing about wines, I need to declare that some are my clients. So, here’s the skinny: I just did a whirlwind week in the United States with 11 producers from Morellino di Scansano. A lot of other people have written about Morellino this week, including Tom Hyland, the Chicago seminar leader and I hope many more will continue to do so. Robin Kelley O’Connor of Christie’s was gracious enough to host the seminar in New York as part of the Vinitaly in New York Tour on October 19th.

I had a great time discovering new producers of this friendly, versatile and fruity Sangiovese-based wine (at least 85%) with friends and colleagues, among them, my Miami guru… Charlie Arturaola, truly a wine luminary.

My high school boyfriend went to school in Florida and my nice Jewish grandmother lived there for 25 years but Florida has never really been on my radar as a place to live. I must say it does have much to recommend it. I might need to rethink a number of things.

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

Italian Wine Fact: Molise Has No DOCG Wines But It Won’t Be Ignored

Have you ever noticed that wines from Molise just don’t there fair shake? I know I have. Molise may not have any DOCG wines, a list which has seen its members swell exponentially in recent month but it does have three DOC wines that should be on your radar: Biferno DOC made around Campobasso, Pentro DOC made around Isernia, and Molise DOC which can be made from grapes grown all over the region.

The only winery most people know from Molise is Di Najo Morante. I first discovered this wine in Italy during tastings held by the Italian Sommelier Association. I remember a friend working their table and being truly interested in these wines. In a room with 100 wines that day, they were the only producer from Molise. The same is true on most wine lists today.

A great winery, don’t get me wrong, but not the only one in Molise that we should know about. I discovered another winery last year at Vinitaly Day in New York that truly impressed me, Cantina D’Uva. They specialize in wines made from Tintilia, an indigenous variety that comes only from Molise. A very cool thing indeed to discover this wine, rediscover this region and meet Maria Teresa from this winery, perfectly in line with my two main themes: women in wine and indigenous varieties.

The wine was intense and persistent with deep berry flavors and floral notes and a hint of spice. I found it sexy and inviting and was reminded of a weekend I spent in Molise a number of years ago at Termoli. Termoli is a beach town on the Adriatic sea with a lovely walled city center, a mini Gallipoli if you will. The water was so green that I remember feeling that I was swimming in an emerald. I loved the fishing nets that surround the city and the colored walls of the houses and the gleaming stone of the churches. My idea of a beach town. That was my only experience of Molise to date but I intend to go back.

Last year I was lucky enough to meet a splendid individual from Molise, Pasquale Di Lena. Pasquale is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met about Italian wine and food, with a particular passion for his home region of Molise. We worked together on an event for the Casa Italiana Atletica.

He was so incredibly interesting that I hope our paths cross again. He was able to transmit to me a love and a profound curiosity for this undiscovered region. Pasquale reminded me that Molise is renowned not only for its wines but also for its olive oils and for their pasta, La Molisana.

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Filed under Art, Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Molise, wines, Women in Wine

Italian Wine Fact: Milan Has A DOC Wine

While I’m on the subject of fantasizing, I’m having a crazy craving to be in Milan, smell the Fall air and walk around those streets I know so well. When one thinks of Milan, they so seldom think of wine but Milan does have a wine to call its very own, San Colombano d.o.c. wine. This is the only DOC wine produced in the province of Milan. It was designated a DOC in 1984.

Wines from San Colombano are generally made from Croatina, Barbera and Uva Rara for the reds in order to be part of the DOC. Some international varieties have been planted in recent years as well. For the whites, a number of grapes have been used in addition to the indigenous variety Verdea.

The soils in this area are quite minerally and have calcareous and sand mixed together. The wines they produce are easy drinking wines that complement the local food perfectly.

The grapes for production of San Colombano DOC wines must be cultivated exclusively in the Comune of Miradolo Terme and Monteleone in the province of Pavia, Graffignana and Sant’Angelo in the province of Lodi and San Colombano al Lambro in the province of Milano.

I have very close friends who live in Vedano al Lambro, a lovely suburb outside of Milan and near the Parco di Monza. Visitors to Milan should try to get to Monza, it is often overlooked but is a beautiful little city.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Lombardy, Wine Industry, wines

Viognier & Crab in Maryland

As I sit in my office and work feverishly to bring to fruition seven wine events in the next two weeks, I’m of course, fantasizing about vacation. Last year, I took a beautiful trip to Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia where I encountered these utensils that I hadn’t seen since I was 15 and visiting a dear friend from camp in Baltimore.

Anyone who has used them knows that they are for eating crab like the one above. I had this crab in Maryland after visiting the beautiful Barboursville Estate owned by the Zonin family from the Veneto.

While their red wines have graced the table of the President of the United States, it is their Viognier that speaks to me. I wish I had a glass right now. I wasn’t at this year’s blogger conference in Virginia but I believe many if not all the attendees would agree with me about these wines from Virginia.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian Delicacies, Italian regions, Italian wineries, wines

Italian Wine Fact: What Was The First Italian DOC Wine?

Reading through my materials today, I decided to start a new section on my blog called Italian Wine Facts. Today’s factoid is about the first Italian DOC wine. I was surprised to find out that it was Vernaccia di San Gimingnano in 1966. The wine received its DOCG designation in 1993.

Vernaccia is not an easy grape. The wine is generally pretty bitter and acidic. It has to be made from 90% Vernaccia and 10% of other grapes but non-aromatic ones.

I have had many Vernaccia over the years but it has never been my favorite, until this summer when I brought a bottle of wine from Podere la Marronaia called Visla to Cape Cod. It was made with a small percentage of Chardonnay and was at least three years old if not a bit more.

I paired it with this amazing lobster and it was a dream. The slight sweetness of the wine matched that of the lobster while the bitter notes were smoothed out. I know that people don’t think of Vernaccia as a wine to age too long but I had very good success with this one. It was also made by a friend, Barbara Tamburini, but I don’t think that’s why it was better than the others. I think it was just a good wine.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Little Known Italian Wine Fact, white wine, Wine Industry, Wine of the Week

Nobel Prize Winner Salute To Bruce Beutler & Jules Hoffman

As many people know, Italy is my main squeeze. Sometimes, I betray her with interest in other countries but rarely does anything move me the way Italy does. Well today was one of those moments but this too has to do with Italy and a client of mine, albeit not in the wine business. Yes, I have clients that are not in the wine and food business.

In fact, I have a whole other business and a different website and perhaps another persona. For many years, I worked as a financial reporter and later in financial and corporate communications. I still have clients in those other fields and one client in particular that today made my heart truly sing, the International Balzan Foundation.

The foundation has been my client for five years and through the years I get to meet amazing,intellectual and erudite people who are at the top of their fields in the sciences and the humanities. In 2007, two scientists won the Balzan Prize for Innate Immunity, Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffman. I met them both in Berne, Switzerland and was thrilled to spend time in their presence. Today, these two men won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

I interviewed Professor Beutler in 2009 for the Balzan website. Here is the interview. He was an incredibly generous and gentle man. I feel truly honored.

Tonight I will raise a glass to Professor Beutler and Professor Hoffman as well as to Professor Steinman, who very sadly didn’t make it to see this great day but whose memory and work will shine for us all. Salute!

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Filed under italy, Memorable Events