Monthly Archives: December 2011

Leaving On A Jet Plane – See You In 2012

Happy New Year to all! I’m going away for a few days to my second home, Milan, to see old friends, walk around on old stones, taste familiar aromas and flavors and browse through some of those markets I love. I am also going to ring in a new year. 2011 brought lots of good things as well as many challenges, starting with a skiing accident last January 1. At the time, I promised I would no longer vacation outside of Italy when I could get to Italy so this year, I am sticking to my promise and hoping for the best:).

Thanks to all who read this blog and comment, those who read this blog and don’t comment and to new and old friends at large. In 2012, I hope to reach a new level of readership so I must make my blog more interesting to a wider audience.

See you next year. I look forward to learning more about all of you and sharing our love for the fruit of the vine.

Buon Anno wherever you are! I hope the new year brings joy to all.
And of course, world peace 🙂


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Wine of the Week: Ferrari Brut Trento DOC

This Christmas, my family and I began the afternoon with a glass of one of my favorite Italian sparkling wines, Ferrari. This wine made in the traditional method (secondary fermentation in the bottle) is made from 100% Chardonnay. Ferrari is part of of Trento DOC. This denomination is specific to the area near Trento and to a particular vinification process.

The wine was wonderfully minerally with just the right amount of fruit and acidity. It paired very well with the hors d’oeuvres that my Mother usually prepares and suited me perfectly as we rung in another Christmas day.

Ferrari has always been my sparkler of choice and I drank it constantly when I lived in Italy. It was and remains my go-to-sparkling wine when I know I need a reliable one and don’t want to experiment. Apparently it is the official wine of the Quirinale, or the home of the Italian President. Additionally, Mario Draghi – a favorite of mine since my days as a financial reporter – drank it at his inauguration as the head of the European Central Bank. I see that I am in good company.

About six years ago I interviewed Camilla Lunelli from the Lunelli family for my still-not-yet finished book. I need to get back to that project, a new item on my ever growing list for 2012. I might need cases of Ferrari to get through all I want to do next year. Salute!


Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, sparkling wine, trentino, wines

Upper West Side At Christmas Time

I don’t know about you but the last week of the year always seems like summation time. What you’ve done, what you haven’t done, what has changed and what has remained the same. It also tends to bring up all of the Christmases of the past and the memories of those who are no longer with us. I always miss my relatives who are no longer with us but also rejoice with the ones who are. I also marvel at how time flies as my lovely niece and nephew grow bigger and wiser. Soon my beautiful niece will be my fashion consultant to give me a younger look. They are still too young to drink wine though so my adult family members and I get to share whatever we have at the table. We have a family tradition that on Christmas Eve we go to hear Christmas carols at St. John the Divine, a gorgeous cathedral on the West side of New York which cures one’s need to be in Paris, even if only temporarily.

My family always goes to eat at the V&T, a pizza joint in the old fashion sense of the word. Yes, they have other items on their menu but I can’t see eating anything other than pizza at the V&T. My parents have been going there since the 1950s, specifically in 1955 when my 16 year old Dad went to Columbia University for the first time. Some traditions endure.

So go to the V&T and get the classic Chianti on the menu, Ruffino.

While no longer in a straw basket, it still gives me that same down home feeling. I’m a sucker for tradition and this is one I will be continuing for as long as I can with the family.


Filed under Italian Delicacies, Italian wineries, italy, wines

Buone Feste – Happy Holidays – Joyeux Noel

Happy holidays to all. Buone Feste. This has been a great and busy year in many ways. I’ve had the pleasure of tasting many new wines, meeting new friends in the industry and expanding my wine horizon thanks to work with Israeli wines, appropriate at Chanukah.

I’ve also worked with numerous producers from Italian regions where I had done less work in the past such Serradenari, Cantina Bergamasca and Fattori Wines in Piedmont, Lombardy and the Veneto, respectively. Once again, my heart was pulled in many directions in the constant battle between France and Italy in my soul. I’ve tried to make room for both and think I have succeeded.

In the New Year, I’m looking forward to studying wine formally again, meeting new producers and expanding my wine culture and knowledge. I also look forward to sharing with new and old friends. Vigneto Communications, my website will be getting a face life 🙂 or a touch-up and Avvinare will try to migrate to that website slowly but surely.

I would like 2012 to be much more of a year of dialogue with others in the industry. Moreover, I hope to get through the letter “H” in my indigenous Italian varietal study. I may start with another country’s varieties as well as their language (TBD).

Grazie a tutti quanti.

Vi auguro un buon natale.


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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Cagnulari Nero from Sardinia

This week’s indigenous variety is called Cagnulari Nero. Just like last week’s Caddiu Nero, it hails from Sardinia. Most likely this one came from Spain. According to a variety of sources, the grape may be linked to Monastrell, know to many as Mourvedre

Unlike last week’s varietal, this one is grown in the province of Sassari. It is never used as a mono-varietal or as a stand alone variety but is always used as a blending grape, often with the well-known Sardinia grape Cannonau.

I loved this YouTube video that I found when looking for further information of Cagnulari. Got to love his accent.

I carried around the Cherchi brochure for about four years after having come upon this winery at the Sardinian pavilion at Vinitaly in 2007. Here is another interesting post about the wine in Italian.

I found at least two other wineries that sell their Cagnulari wines in the United States. I am excited to try some the next time I find one. Perhaps next week on my trip….

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Sardinia

Wine of the Week: Chateauneuf-du-Pape Chateau Fortia 1994

I was lucky to be seated at just the right table during the recent WSET diploma dinner at I Trulli on December 5. I received my diploma in 2008 from the International Wine Center which manages the WSET program in the United States under the watchful eye of Mary Ewing Mulligan and Linda Lawry, guardians of the faith. I have been to every diploma dinner since and I look forward to the occasion each year.

It’s great to see other friends from the industry, meet new people and try some wonderful wines. My dear friend Eileen brought a Madeira from 1919, THANK YOU, and one from 1979 I believe.

At my table, a fellow diploma graduate brought this stunning bottle of Chateau Fortia, a Chateauneuf-du-pape from 1994 that was dreamy and in beautiful shape.
Here’s a great post on the winery written by a colleague in the wine writing business.

The history behind this bottle, the estate and Baron Le Roy was right up my alley. Nothing excites me more than that generation that fought in World War I and II. I also love what he apparently said in his testament to winegrowers in France:

“That Never the choice of Quality should be abondonned. We are not made for mass production. No!
We are unbeatable on the level of possessing elements that render the Artisan an Artist.
Quality spells out the Genious of the French people”.

This bottle certainly showed that philosophy. I found a few bottles of this year available on the internet. Don’t pass it up if you get the chance to try it.

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Holiday Wine Chat With World Views on KGOU in Oklahoma

I had the great pleasure of doing a radio show on KGOU when I was in Oklahoma recently. Here’s the full show. The first part of the show is a fascinating political discussion about this week’s news followed by my chat on wines with Dean Zach Messitte of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

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