Monthly Archives: February 2012

Italian Wine Regions: Valle d’Aosta

I’m starting a new series on this blog, not an exhaustive one, but a smattering of information about the 20 regions of Italy. To start, naturally I am looking to the smallest region in the North, the Valle d’Aosta. The tag line they use is “Un Cuore di Natura.” Anyone who has ever been to the Valle d’Aosta knows that this is true.

Lucky for me and so many others who live or lived in Milan, going to the Valle d”Aosta was really just a stone’s throw away. I spent many wonderful weekends skiing on those slopes and many others admiring the sheer landscape, the castles and most of all the sky at night filled with twinkling stars.

In addition to its’ skiing and hiking possibilities, the Valle d’Aosta is renowned for its cheese, salumi, chocolates and of course, its’ wines.

The first wine most people try from the Valle d’Aosta is from the cooperative Donnas but this is only the beginning.

There is a Routes des Vins in the Valle d’Aosta that allows you to discover more than 35 private wineries and six coops. In the Valle d’Aosta there are privately held wineries as well as cooperatives. You can even hike and do wine tasting at the same time if you follow the Chemin des Vignobles.

Last year at Vinitaly, I went on my own path through the Valle d’Aosta led by an extraordinarily well-prepared Sommelier in the Valle d’Aosta pavilion. I tried only indigenous varieties although many international ones grow in this region as well.

Among my favorites were wines made from Fumin, Prie Blanc, Prie Rouge, Petite Arvine, and Torrette. There are many well-known producers in this area including La Crotta di Vegneron, Les Cretes, Grojean Freres and Cave du Vin Blanc.

Most of them practice what is known as “heroic” viticultural because the vines are so incredibly steep. All harvest by hand and some grow on their own rootstocks.
I think that we will be seeing both more tourism to this area as well as more of these wines on our shores. At least I hope so. Just in case, I’m going to spend another long morning at that Pavilion at this year’s Vinitaly. I can’t wait.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Travel, Valle d'Aosta, wines

Wine of the Week: Castello di Verduno Pelaverga Basadone

Today I had the occasion to stop by Domenico Valentino’s Tank Sampling at I Trulli. Although I was only there for a short time, I got to taste some fabulous wines including this week’s pick Castello di Verduno Pelaverga Basadone.

I really liked this wine both on the nose and the palate. It wasn’t heavy though but a light, cheerful, everyday wine for the wine geek in all of us. Apparently, this grape is also an aphrodisiac. This indigenous variety from Piedmont is made by only a few producers as a mono-varietal. Castello di Verduno was the first to try it in the early 1970s. I think it is quite a success. It has luscious cherry, smoke, pepper notes on the palate and made my mouth water and my stomach yearn from something to eat it with. That was after lunch so I can only imagine how delicious it would be with food.

I really liked a number of the wines at the tasting, a bunch of eclectic and funky wines that I appreciate. I also liked having the opportunity to taste the new vintage early and then to see how it will develop. I liked this wine at a tasting last year I remember and I’m sure the 2010 will evolve into an even more pleasing wine in the months/years to come.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Piedmont, Tastings, Wine of the Week

Happy Birthday Mr. President

I know that line is associated with a different President of the United States (POTUS) than the one I have in mind but today is President’s day and I am thinking about many of the great ones, including President Kennedy. Perhaps Lincoln is the one whom I admire most although Roosevelt ranks very highly in my mind as well.

Jefferson is of course the one I associate with the wine industry. Last year I wrote this post on Barboursville, a property he used to own.

This year, instead of drinking one of those wines I had a lovely Cremant de Loire from the winery Clos de la Briderie which
I could claim is somewhat related to Jefferson because of his love of all things French but in reality, I wanted some bubbly to celebrate the second season of my favorite soap opera, Downton Abbey.

Additionally, I rediscovered the pleasures of the Loire on a recent trip in November of last year. Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc are two of my favorite grapes and I was glad to try a sparkler that contained the two.

Back to the wine, this lovely, minerally cremant is made with 40% Chenin blanc, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Chardonnay, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was long and persistent on the palate, delicate and perfect as an aperitif. The perlage was beautiful with a steady stream of fine, constant bubbles, signs of a good quality sparkler.

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Filed under France, Memorable Events, politics, sparkling wine, USA Wineries, wines

Going To Tre Bicchieri New York 2012

I’m running out soon to go to the Tre Bicchieri event soon. I want to say hi to some old friends and try a couple of new wines. This year, I’m interested in white blends, oddly enough. I really feel that they are coming into their own and have found some level of acceptance in restaurants and wine bars as well.

My first Italian white blend that I became really familiar with was Lis Neris‘ wine, Confini. I found it to be a thrilling blend that spoke to me of a border land, the blend of Italian, Croatian and Slovenian influences that you find in Friuli where Lis Neris sits.

In fact, I’m going to the event to say hello to Alvaro Pecorari from Lis Neris, a great winemaker, a friend and a very particular individual.

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Filed under Friuli, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, wines

Rose All The Way On Valentine’s Day

Today is that day when you are reminded about love. I think we should be reminded of love everyday, be it love for a person, a furry friend, a poem, a mountain or a wine.

I am now taking a Master Level class on the Rhone Valley with the French Wine Academy.

The more I listened to Rhone Valley expert Kelly McAuliffe, the more I wanted to hop on a plan and hang out in Provence, drink Rose’ and contemplate life as it unfolds.

McAuliffe is so very knowledgeable about the wines of this area that it was a pleasure to listen to him via webinar. I feel excited and enthused. I haven’t been to the Rhone Valley in many years but I will never forget my first trip at 15.

I went to Avignon, Nimes and Arles. I remember that Keith Jarrett was playing but I had no idea who he was, my mistake. I later saw him play in Milan and was blown over.

Back to wine, I was interested in the way McAuliffe described the two different styles of Rose’, those that are deeper and color and more full-bodied which are produced in Tavel and those that are lighter bodied and are more popular here in the US.

I did have a Rose’ at lunch which was a 2010, a great year for whites according to McAuliffe. The Rose’ I had was nothing special but I did have a moment of transport thinking of France in the Spring.

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Wine of the Week: Poderi Luigi Einaudi Barolo “nei Cannubi” DOCG

I feel compelled to mention this wonderful wine which I had at the Slow Wine Event two weeks ago today for the first time. It was truly memorable with the right amount of tannins and fruit, elegance and finesse. A perfect Barolo made with my favorite grape, Nebbiolo. Poderi Luigi Einaudi is definitely a crowd pleaser and this wine was no exception.

I also felt it was appropriate to speak about the winery. Luigi Einaudi was Italy’s first President. I am saddened by the news of the last hour that Moody’s has again downgraded Italy’s debt. Things just seem to go from bad to worse at times. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti was just here in the US having very productive meetings with President Obama. This turn of events for Italy, Spain and others is a sad one.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Piedmont, Wine of the Week

The Sweet Spot: Occhio di Pernice From Poggio Bonelli

At the Italian Wine Masters tasting on Tuesday, I was able to taste a few wines and one in particular really excited my palate, the Occhio di Pernice from Poggio Bonelli. I also tasted the wonderful Chianti and Chianti Riserva from this venerable estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga. This was Chianti as I like it, those that speak of Sangiovese and not of wood or international varieties. The Chianti is brought in my Enotria.

All of that is secondary to my feelings for the Occhio di Pernice. This unbelieveable Vin Santo made from 95% Sangiovese is one of those products you get to try just a few times in your life. I personally have only had the pleasure of trying three of them from Avignonesi, Crociani and now Poggio Bonelli.

I love sweet wine in general and the combination of one of my favorite grapes, Sangiovese made into a delicious sweet wine is perfect for me.

The grapes spend four months naturally drying on mats called “stuoie” before being pressed into the luxurious liquid that is this ruby red colored wine. It is a complex and layered treat on your palate and I for one, could use some right now in the middle of this Friday afternoon. The average vine age of the grapes used to make this wine is 20/25 years. This wine was a 2006 release.

My desire to go to Tuscany is getting stronger by the day as you might be able to tell…

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