Monthly Archives: November 2011

We’ll Always Have Paris

Sometimes your first love is never really too far from your heart, especially when you see them again in all their glory. I will always love Paris…

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Bussanello Bianco

Now there’s a grape I had never heard of, right? This one hails from the Veneto and was created in the 1930s by an enologist named Professor Giovanni Dalmasso from a cross between Riesling Italico and Furmint.

I’m shocked to say that there are some producers who make wines from this grape including the very well known Gancia family.

The wine they produce at Tenute dei Vallarino called La Cio’ Bussanello, Monferrato Bianco is the only one I could find that was made with this interesting grape variety.

I also found a biodynamic winery that is makes a wine using this grape blended with Cortese and Malvasia. Poggio Ridente. Interesting indeed. I am going to search these wines out the next time I am in Italy.

I couldn’t find either of these wines on and I’m not surprised. Small indigenous varieties sell a bit but in my experience, white blends from Italy have a much tougher time here. I would be interested to know if anyone has a lot of success with their white Italian blends.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Piedmont, wines

Italy News: Vinitaly Adds New Section On Biodyamic Wines

I’ve been so busy follow the incredible news out of Italy that I didn’t write about another really interesting development that I discovered on Friday. Vinitaly will have a new section dedicated to biodynamic wines, Italian and Foreign.

The first floor of the Palaexpo, right when you walk in, will be given over to wineries that follow these practices, both Italian and foreign wineries are welcome as long as they follow these particular agricultural practices.

I think this is very exciting news and a real change from past years. I have never been to Vini Veri o Vin Natur, two fairs that take place during Vinitaly. This is not for lack of interest but Vinitaly is such a big fair in and of itself that I am usually too busy to leave. I’m very happy to know that I can taste some of these interesting wines that I have less access to in the States without having to leave the fair this year.

It’s a real testament to how important sustainable agriculture and winemaking have become all over the world.

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Dolcetto di Dogliani: A Old Favorite

My first wine from Piedmont was a Dolcetto di Dogliani from the Podere Luigi Einaudi winery. I remember the wine because it was delicious but also because it came from the winery owned by the family that gave Italy it’s first prime minister, Luigi Einaudi.

Einaudi led Italy from 1948-1955, a difficult time for the country that was trying to recover from the war, the German occupation, internal fighting between different factions of the communist party and of course, economic devastation and poverty.

Years later I met one of his relatives. I never forgot the wine and had it recently in New York. I was reminded of this wine because it was on the list at a restaurant I went to this week but also because of the extraordinary events that are going on now in Italy.

I also received information this week from another winery in the same area, Clavesana. I had participated in a tasting they held at Del Posto earlier this year but never had the chance to write about the wines.

Clavesana is a winery with 350 co-vintners. What does that mean? There are 350 owners of 350 estates. Each family owns about 4 acres, called “giornate” in this neck of the woods. There are 1400 acres in total. Some 90% of this is the Dolcetto grape. The remaining 10% are other grapes such as Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Chardonnay.

Dolcetto is largely grown in the province of Cuneo. I have never visited Cuneo, a city that I have wanted to visit for 20 years. The woman whom I consider my ex-mother-in-law, hails from Cuneo and she is without a doubt the best cook I have ever met. Her native city beckons me as do the Cuneei al rhum that make the city famous.

This is the 52nd harvest of the wines. According to their materials, the 2011 harvest took place 10 days earlier than usual. High temperatures were seen in the Spring which led to early budding but the vines had ample water because of rains in February and March and a terroir that retains water. Summer saw mild temperatures with great thermal excursions which allow for phenolic development of the grapes.

According to Roberto Boeri, Clavesana’s wine maker, “Great first impression, in terms of color and perfume. It will live up to our highest expectations – and rightfully so!”

I can’t wait to try some. Maybe this will be the year I will set off on that pilgrimage I was talking about earlier.

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Berlusconi Resigns – Time For A New Era

Silvio Berlusconi resigned this evening from his post as Prime Minister of Italy. I am actually shocked that it really came to pass. Even though it has been in the works all week, I was a bit of a sceptic, it’s actually happened. I feel joy for Italy, for the start of a new era and for the future.

I just got a message from my former boss and friend in Milan in which he wrote “siamo liberi.” We are free. I think that sums it up nicely.

I will be drinking Italian spumante this evening, toasting the start of a new era. I think it will be Ferrari, the first Italian spumante that I had ever had, lo those many years ago and still one of my favorites. This one began when I was in graduate school studying economics and political science. My big interest was Italian politics but the day that Berlusconi won in March 1994, I remember feeling that curiosity die a little. It’s back and I’m excited.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Brachetto Nero

It’s been a while since my last indigenous grape variety post but I’m back and writing about Brachetto Nero, a red grape that is used to make the well-known dessert wine, Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG

The grape is native to Piedmont, in particular to the provinces of Asti and Alessandria. Brachetto d’Acqui produces both sparkling and still wine, that is light ruby red in color, with strawberry-cherry fruit flavors and floral notes and is quite pleasing to the palate with a local level of alcohol.

The sparkling version is made using the charmat method in tanks. Interesting, the soils in the 18 areas in Asti and eight areas in Alessandria where Brachetto grows have a mix of soils: sandy, white soils filled with calcium and lime, as well as red soils. The sandy soils bring fragrant aromas as well as a light body, the red soils bring color, alcohol and body while the whiter soils bring elegance and finesse.

The most widely known Brachetto in the United States at this moment is probably Banfi’s Brachetto d’Acqui Rosa Regale. I had the occasion to taste it again recently at Stefano Milioni’s seminar on Indigenous Varietals at the Vinitaly event in New York.

It was a welcome surprise to the afternoon that day, very pleasing and it made me want to eat it with a sweet such as a piece of chocolate. It seemed like a great Valentine’s day wine for sweet red wine lovers.

Actually, chillable sweet red wines are a trend in the United States now and I am sure that Brachetto d’Acqui is garnering more attention.

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Wine Wednesday: Older Bordeaux Wines

Today is Wine Wednesday and I’m finally thinking about and desire to write about wine rather than the Italian crises. I got an email from Snooth this morning which mentioned a new website for Bordeaux.

A friend from Bordeaux was in town recently and as always I was reminded how charming the French and their wines can be. After so many years focusing on Italy, I sometimes feel that I am cheating on her when I write about my love of things French, even though France came first in my life.

About two months ago, I had the pleasure of attending a tasting hosted by Gregory Del Piaz of Old Bordeaux. Greg brought a number of wines from his cellar and a group of us tasted and compared views of the wines.

We tried wines from Chateau Meyney, Chateau Cos d’Estournel, and Chateau Lynch Bages. The vintages we tasted, although not of each wine, were 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1990.

I normally don’t drink aged Bordeaux sadly but that day did give me a clear profile of this group of wines. Of the vintages we tasted from Chateau Meyney, the 1989 impressed me more than the 1988 and the 1990.

The 1989 Chateau Meyney from St-Estèphe was still deep ruby red in color with persistent chocolate, meaty, earthy and cedar notes. It was harmonious and balanced with some black fruit. It tasted and smelled like a classic older Bordeaux I was told by the Bordeaux experts in the room.

The 1988 offered fewer nuanced aromas and flavors and the 1990 had a somewhat bitter finish and newer oak.The 1990 also has a liquored note while the 1988 had traces of Brett. I am not opposed to Brett but it is not a must for me either in terms of the tasting profile of these wines.

For more information on the estate, here’s a great write up I found on the Wine Doctor.

The second grouping that we tasted was a 1986 Chateau Lynch Bages, a 1986 Chateau Cos d’Estournel and the 1989 Chateau Cos d’Estournel. This grouping blew me away.

Lynch Bages is in Pauillac while Cos d’Estournel hails from St-Estèphe. They have different blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot for the most part). We compared a 1989 Cos with a 1986 Cos and a 1986 Lynch Bages. All three were spectacular. The 1986 Lynch Bages was my favorite of the three. It had ‘nothing to prove” one of my companion tasters noted. It was spectacular with a deep ruby red color, great acidity and alcohol, firm tannins, fruit, chocolate, leather, spice, you name it. It was exquisite. We also discussed whether the wine was about to go into it’s closed period,something wines do during their lives and concluded that it might go into a quiet phase soon although on that September night it was incredible.

The 1986 Cos also was fabulous in fact in my notes I wrote, “I’m happy” while tasting that wine. It was more luscious and floral, with exciting fruit notes and wonderful balance. It made me crave a steak then and there but I just ate an entire box of crackers.

When I compared the 1989 Cos to the 1989 Meyney, the Meyney won out surprising. I liked the traditional old world Bordeaux style of the Meyney more than the fuller Cos.

In all, it was a great tasting with interesting people and was very educational for my palate. Thank you Greg for allowing me to participate.

I didn’t get any pictures of the tasting group but our phones were out in force. Modern living :).

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