Monthly Archives: January 2013

Upcoming Events – The Italians Are Coming To Town

As I sit in my office today trying to finish my daily to do list and work on all my projects, I’m filled with joy at the prospect of the Italians coming to town next week. I was very sorry to miss the Spanish and Portuguese tasting that were held today but you can’t go everywhere and actually get work done so I find one has to pick and choose. With my renewed interest in all things related to the Spanish and South American cultures, I was really tempted but next week is a very busy one.

Vinitaly and Slow Wine are holding events on Monday in New York and Wednesday in Miami. On Thursday, the Brunello Consortium will be in town for what also promises to be a grand event. I will be at both shows in a variety of capacities so I look forward to seeing all of you there. I have missed Italian wine week these past two years but the week coming up is the next best thing….

Alla settimana prossima amici miei….

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Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Tuscany

Reflections On Dr. King’s Day –

I have had three things on my desk and have for 20+ years. One of them is from Dr. King’s speech on December 3, 1956 in Montgomery, Alabama and it reminds me to try to always do my best at my job despite whatever it is that I am doing, how important or how trivial.

“Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living,
 the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.
 If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.”

 

 

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Wednesday Reads: Gastropoda, Gunfight

As I work through my business cards late this evening, I came upon one of someone I have just met, or met for the second time, Regina Schrambling who writes Gastropoda and the name of someone I have known for a long time, Adam Winkler. Oddly enough I found a connection in their writings to a subject much on my mind.

I found Regina’s writing alternatively amusing, hilarious and always right on point. I found this post particularly apt as we await news of President Obama’s gun control efforts. New York is in the process of passing its’ own legislation on gun control.

While this is a wine blog not a political one, this is an issue I feel strongly about and am keeping close watch on the news. I think the cartoon she links to in her piece is particularly revealing. Well done Regina. Kudos to you.

My law school classmate, Adam Winkler – a professor of Constitutional law at UCLA, has apparently written the definitive and unbiased book on gun control. I’ve just ordered it and am interested to see his take on the issue although I suspect I will be less unbiased than he is in his take on it all.

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Upcoming Trade Events – Chile’s Vina San Pedro January 23, 2013 at Puro Chile @1130am

I almost never use this blog as a place to post events but after having sent the nth invite to someone who responded that I should “find” them on social media because email is so “over,” I thought I would give it a shot. To those who I have sent invitations already, you know how this works and I apologize in advance if I annoy you with too many emails.

Attn: FOR Press & Trade ONLY:

I hope to see you at the seminar on January 23, 2013 with Marco Puyo, winemaker at Vina San Pedro.

Please come and meet Marco & taste his terroir-driven wines from the historic 1865 Series at a seminar & tasting event at:

Puro-Chile
221 Centre Street
New York, New York 10013
http://www.puro-chile.com

January 23, 2013
Seminar Presentation + Tasting 11:30am – 1:00pm
Open Tasting 1:00 pm- 3:00pm

If you can’t make it to the seminar, please come after and you will have the opportunity to speak with the winemaker and taste through his wines in an intimate setting.

Vina San Pedro is one of Chile’s oldest wineries, founded in 1865 by brothers Bonifacio and Jose Gregorio Correa Albano. The first vintage of 1865 was released in 1997, a Cabernet Sauvignon. The 1865 line is an expression of the terroir of San Pedro’s vineyards.

Tasting through the 1865 wines you will get a sense of the variety of Chile’s winemaking regions, a rare treat.Viña San Pedro is committed to eco-friendly winemaking and growing practices.

Please RSVP to info@puro-chile.com.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Carmenere In North-Eastern Italy

Carmenere in Italy is always a difficult subject to tackle I find. Many of the vines that were thought to be Carmenere in Friuli for example were later discovered to be Cabernet Franc or Merlot.

Many others are still not sure whether their vines are Carmenere or Cabernet but one producer who stands out is Inama in the Veneto who makes a Carmenere wine called Carmenere Plus. Here’s a great review of the wine from Mary Ewing Mulligan of a previous vintage. I have not tried either of his Carmenere wines but am now very curious to do so after reading this piece and the one below.

Here’s a nice piece on Carmenere in general from Jason Wilson in the Washington Post.

Carmenere we all now associate with Chile but it is, as both writers have remarked, a traditionally Bordeaux-based variety. It’s easy to imagine how the wines came to grow in Italy. I couldn’t find any historical reference to it. What I did find is that it has its’ own classification or “disciplinare” as one of the DOC wines from the Colli Berici.

There are actually a number of wineries in the area which is located near the city of Vicenza. I find that Vicenza is often overlooked as a tourist destination but I loved visiting the city when I was in graduate school in Bologna and its’ Teatro Olimpico is well worth seeing.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Travel, Veneto

Wine of the Week: Undurraga Brut From Chile

It’s a new year and today finally feels like the first day of work. As always, until the Befana – January 6 – (the Epiphany), I never feel like the holiday season has ended.

Three Magi

I like to start the year with sparkling wine and today’s wine of the week is Undurraga Brut from Chile, a country I love.

Patagonia

The wine is made from 60% Chardonnay grapes and 40% Pinot Noir. The grapes grow on well-draining alluvial soils and are hand harvested and then fermented separately. After the first fermentation, they are blended and placed in the tank for the second fermentation. Made using the Charmat method,this cheerful sparkler is a great way to celebrate the New Year.

I was reminded of this wine when I was watching this video with the World Wine Guys – Mike and Jeff, authors of some amazing wine books and cookbooks including this one on the Wines of the Southern Hemisphere.

I spent the New Year in 2009 on a boat in Patagonia where I saw my first glacier and some of the most glorious landscapes I have ever seen.

Glacier

I actually was moved when I saw this glacier, glowing blue in the sea. If you get the chance, try to get to Patagonia as soon as possible. If you can’t get there, you can always feel like Chile is close by drinking Chilean wines.

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Italian Regions – Calabria – Terre di Cosenza DOC

As 2013 begins, I have unfinished business from 2012 to attend to, none more than three articles which never got written in 2012 thanks to too much work, too little time and life in general. I was happy to see a post bemoaning similar pieces almost not written in 2012 by Alice Feiring who is a much more prolific writer than I am. I guess we all have articles that remain unwritten until the right moment reveals itself.

I then preceded to read a number of Alice’s last posts in December, including one on the Drinks Business article on the 50 most influential women in the wine world. All the posts were worth a read but that one really piqued my interest.

I’ve been trying for years now to write a book on women in wine and I often find myself asking some of the silly questions that Alice refers to but what has stymied me the most is that many women don’t, rightly so, want to be thought of in terms of what sex they are but rather on the quality of their work. There’s no denying that being a woman in the wine world is different than being a man but certainly that is just a starting point.

Terre di Cosenza

I’m still trying to complete that book and hope this will be the year I actually do it. I can take a leaf from Tom Hyland who recently published his book and of course, from Alice herself who has published two of note.

Terre di Cosenza DOC wines

As always, I digress, from the topic of this entry – Italian wines from the Terre di Cosenza DOC of Calabria. How did I discover these wines? Through an amazing woman I met at Vinitaly, Maddalena Mazzeschi. I had the pleasure of meeting Maddalena through a mutual friend, Susanna Crociani.

I haven’t visited Calabria in many years and the last time I was in Calabria was 2003. I went to see two beautiful men, the Bronzi di Riace, in Reggio Calabria, took a local train to Tropea, a lovely town on the coast, and went swimming in the cleanest water I have ever seen at Scilla. What I remember from that trip was the beauty of land and the spiciness of the food. Calabria is home to some of the world’s most famous peperoncino. What I didn’t remember at all were the wines and not because I didn’t drink them but because they left me without any lasting memories.

The only winery I had heard of at the time was Librandi, a leader and a great winery. In 2011 I was invited to an amazing vertical tasting of their wine “Magno Megonio,” another post that ought to be written.

Since that time, things have changed and I have discovered many wines from Calabria often based on Gaglioppo. Terre di Cosenza DOC is a new DOC that was created in 2011.

Terre di Cosenza DOC

There are a variety of wines that are governed by this new DOC including a red, a white, a rose’, a sparkling white and a sparkling rose’and a wine called “Terre di Cosenza DOC Magliocco”. There is also the possibility to make novello, red and white passiti, and red and white late harvest wines in the new legislation as well as a riserva version of the red wine and the Magliocco. There is also an additional “sottozona” or area that can be indicated on the wine – “Colline di Crati” to indicate a specific part of the viticultural area where the grapes can be grown.

For the red version of Terre di Cosenza DOC, wineries must use:
Magliocco (a minimum of 60%) while the Rose’ must be a created from the following grapes either individually or blended for a minimum of 60%:
Greco nero, Magliocco, Gaglioppo, Aglianico, Calabrese.

White Terre di Cosenza DOC is made from Greco bianco, Guarnaccia bianca, Pecorello, Montonico (locally Mantonico), alone or together they must be 60% of the blend.

Both the white and rose versions of the sparkling wine must be made from 60% Mantonico and “Terre di Cosenza” Magliocco must be made from 85% Magliocco.

As often happens when tasting wines at Vinitaly, the local office of the Italian Sommelier Association of the region was involved in my tasting. They were all very efficient and friendly.

Terre di Cosenza, in Northern Calabria, was created in order to simplify the panorama of Calabrian wines, I was told, and it incorporated some of the existing DOCs and IGTs. Calabria as a wine region was already producing wines when the Romans occupied the land but the fame of these wines disappeared for many years and the wines were first mentioned again in the Middle Ages.

Magliocco Dolce (Arvino) was the grape that held my interest with its spicy, sexy dark fruit and tertiary aromas and flavors. I could see how this grape and the wines made from it were able to hold their own against the Calabrian cuisine, which for me at times, was almost too spicy and I love spicy food.

Magliocco Dolce was a real discovery and I was enthusiastic about its’ potential. It is often blended with Greco Nero in these wines, a combination I preferred to the blending with international varieties. Other interesting grape varieties that I tried were Montonico and Pecorello.

In terms of climate and exposition, the entire Calabrian peninsula is surrounded by the sea, both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian sides of the Mediterranean. The area near Cosenza, however, does have higher elevations than some of the other DOCs in Calabria. The climate is Mediterranean near the coast and becomes more Continental as you move inland, I was told. Calabria suffers from drought but the grape varieties grown in this area are well suited to the particular micro-climate and are able to ripen thanks to good thermal excursion between day and night temperatures.

I was excited to try these wines and look forward to getting to know the area better. Calabria, like much of Italy, is a wealth of treasures which need to be savored slowly and thoughtfully and which are best shown to you by friends.

Before I end this though, I must mention one fruit from Calabria which is close to my heart, the Bergamotto.

Bergamotto

This citrus fruit is used in a variety of ways – as an essential element in many perfumes, as a celebratory fruit in Jewish ceremonies, and as an element in baking. A chef I met in New York two years ago, a Paolo Caridi, for a project that I was working on for Casa Italiana Atletica has founded an entire pasty shop in Reggio Calabria based on using ancient aromas such as the Bergamotto.

While Calabria is not on the beaten path, the attention that they are now devoting to their wines deserves to be recognized. If you can see the Bronzi di Riace and also swim in that beautiful sea at the same time, I think you will feel very satisfied with a trip to Calabria, a feast for the stomach, the heart and the soul.

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Filed under Art, Calabria, Indigeous varieties, Italian Delicacies, Italian DOC Wines, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, wines, Women in Wine