Monthly Archives: March 2013

Happy Easter Peeps & Moscato- Wine Blogging & Sites To Follow

Happy Easter to those celebrating today. I love Easter and was looking to buy Peeps this morning but could only find pink ones. I can’t abide pink food unless it is strawberry ice cream so no peeps for me.


What to pair with peeps and an Easter brunch? Moscato is actually the only wine that I think will work with this sugary Easter treat. Michele Chiarlo’s Nivole seems like a great fit with its delicate aromas and flavors as well as its price point at around $12.


Thanks to last week’s Snooth PVA tastings, I got to meet some of the bloggers behind the sites I have been following.

One such fellow is the Reverse Wine Snob. His impressive blog with its rating system, buying links and premise really got me thinking about positioning and marketing in our digital age. Mostly I found that we shared certain commonalities on the palate which is what this is all about at the end of the day and liked the same wines at the Ribera del Duero tasting I haven’t yet written about. He also is a huge fan of Italian wines, as we know, am I.

That said, his following is in a different league than mine as is his constancy in posting despite a full time job, wife and three kids. Needless to say, I am impressed. Kudos to you Reverse Wine Snob.

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Filed under Holidays, Indigeous varieties, Italian wineries, italy, Piedmont, wine blogs, Wine Tasting, wines

Wine Countries: Brazil – Wines of Brazil Tasting At Snooth PVA

For breakfast this past Saturday, a group of fortunate bloggers and I had wines from Brazil. While it certainly doesn’t sound like an onerous task, at times it can be if you have to taste very heavy wines. Luckily, none of the wines we tasted were too heavy although all the wineries were proponents of oak aging except for one. A few of the wines I found to be surprisingly friendly for 930am.


This was not the first time I had tasted wines from Brazil and what I found interesting is that my tastes had not changed. I still really enjoyed the wines from Casa Valduga and from Lidio Carraro that I had tasted two years earlier and written about here.

Brazil has six major wine regions. There are over 1,100 wineries in the country, mostly small farms. Despite growth in the industry, Brazilians still only drink two liters of wine. It is the fifth largest country in terms of wine growing in the Southern Hemisphere following Argentina, Australia, South Africa and Chile. Brazil is also the world’s fifth largest economy with a population just shy of 200 million people.

Serra Gaucha, where most of these wineries are located, produces 85% of Brazil’s fine wine on vineyards at altitudes of 450 – 750 meters. The area is also called “little Italy.”

Casa Valduga 130

Mauricio Roloff from Ibravin who led the seminar with Gregory Del Piaz from Snooth told a joke that the way you know if someone is Brazilian in a restaurant is because they are drinking imported wine while the way to tell a tourist is that they instead, are drinking Brazilian wine.

We tasted through fourteen wines from a couple of different vintages. Generally, I thought the wines were friendly and relatively easy to drink. Oddly enough, Brazil’s growing regions are colder and damper than one might think and some of the wines had a decidely “cool climate” vibe.

A quick look through the names of the wineries clearly shows the strong connection to Italy, especially in the Serra Gaucha region. The grapes used in the wines we tasted were decidedly international varieties: Cabernet, Merlot, and Chardonnay dominated.

Of the wines we tasted, I was partial to the Casa Valduga 130 N.V., a cheery sparkler with tropical fruit, toast and yeasty notes on the nose and palate. Apparently, Casa Valduga built the first Eno-tourism complex in Brazil in the Vale dos Vinhedos, the only DO in the country. The suggested retail price was $29.99. I would have that for breakfast again maybe with a bagel and smoked salmon on the side…

The Valduga family came to Brazil from the town of Rovereto in Italy in 1875. They planted their first vineyards in the Vale dos Vinhedos region. Today, three generations later, Erielso, Juarez and João Valduga still run this winery which has concentrated on making sparkling wines using the traditional method.

Wines of Brazil

I also liked the Lidio Carraro Dadivas Chardonnay 2012, SRP $19.99 which I found shocking as I am not partial to Chardonnay at all. Carraro uses no oak in his winery but the wine rests on its lees for a long period. The Chardonnay had aromas and flavors of white flowers, pears and apples and considerable minerality according to my notes. The winery was created in 1998 and the first harvest was 2002.

The winery just announced this week that they have been awarded the contract to produce the official licensed wines of 2014 Fifa World Cup of Brazil with its FACES brand. That’s quite a coup in terms of his marketing and branding I would say.

Lidio Carraro

His Lidio Carraro Grande Vindima Quorum 2006 at $64.99 wasn’t an everyday wine but I thought this Merlot dominated blend was lovely with its blackberry flavors and ripe, juicy tannins. The blend was a combination of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Tannat.

Merlot seems to do very well in Brazil and we discussed whether it could become the signature grape variety from Brazil, much as Tannat is in Uruguay, Malbec in Argentina and Carmenere in Chile.

We tried two merlots from the 2009 vintage, a Pizzato Riserva Merlot SRP $19.99 and Miolo Merlot Terroir $23.99. I found the Pizzato to have some leather overtones while the Miolo was more fruit forward. Miolo is a very large player in the Brazilian market.

The Salton Merlot, Desejo 2007 $21.99 was also of interest with its full bodied, spicy nose and pleasing, velvety mouthfeel.

In general, it seemed that the wines were well-made with a little too much oak on many. The sparkling wines certainly have a place in the market although the wines are not inexpensive.

While not an exhaustive tasting, it was certainly a further introduction to the wines of Brazil, a country I look forward to reading more about while drinking more of their wines and to visiting someday soon, as soon as I improve my Portuguese, my next linguistic challenge.


Filed under Brazil, italy, Memorable Events, Tastings, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Castiglione Nero

Today’s post will be brief because I don’t have a lot of information on this grape variety. This red grape variety hails from Calabria, a region that I have become intensely interested in over the course of the past year. It can be made into a mono-varietal wine or can be used as a blending grape.

It is allowed in the Bivongi DOC, both the Rosso and Rosato, together with Gaglioppo and other indigenous varieties. Bivongi DOC, one of the recent DOCs in Calabria, is located along the Stilaro river on the slopes of Mount Consolino.

The only wine from Bivongi that I found in the USA wasn’t made with Castiglione so to taste this variety, plan a trip to Calabria soon :).

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Happy Passover – Italian Kosher & Non-Kosher Wines

Happy Passover to those who celebrate this holiday. Each year I try to bring a kosher wine to the Passover Seder and in the last years, it seems to be the same Italian winery that provides my kosher wine, Terra di Seta. It always pairs perfectly with my Mom’s brisket, providing enough acidity to offset the savory flavors in the meat. You can buy this wine at Union Square Wines in NYC.


Kosher wine always gets a bad rap but I have had a number of them that I enjoyed over the years. Almost all Kosher wine seems to be brought in by Royal Wine Corp. which produces Bartenura, in all of its manifestations – Moscato, Chianti, Barolo, etc. Here is my friend and fellow wine writer, Lana Bortolot’s take on Kosher wines.


I am also bringing a bottle of Terre Brune, a Carignano del Sulcis from Santadi. I’m looking forward to trying the different grape varieties with the same foods. Carignano from the Sulcis is sleek and subtle with less acidity than the Chianti.

In other news, later this week I will write a post about the great weekend I had meeting amazing bloggers and tasting great wines and food thanks to Snooth. One of the people I met was Ben Carter who pens Benito’s Wine Reviews. Here is his take on the weekend. It was great to learn about the wine scene in Memphis and hear his views on the Ribera del Duero wines we tasted at lunch and other topics. I also discovered Ben is a bitters fan but that there is little Amaro in Memphis. Some smart distributor should see to that.

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Filed under Holidays, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Kosher wine, Memorable Events

Sweet Saturday Surprise: Oregon Wines & Peking Duck

Thanks to Snooth, I was able to try a host of wines from Oregon and Peking Duck this weekend, neither of which are common occurrences in my world. That is about to change.

Peking Duck

I found the wines to be diverse, interesting, appealing to my palate and easy to pair with a variety of dishes. I also found the three winemakers in attendance to be truly lovely, collaborative and relaxed.

A group of bloggers and I were given four flights of wines, each expressing either a different grape variety or a terroir of Oregon.

First Flight

Of the first white wine flight, I found both the racy Abacela Albarino 2012 and the beautiful Belle Pente Pinot Gris 2009 worked perfectly with the asian cuisine. Each was slightly richer than I would have expected but I learned that 2009 was a warm year in Oregon and that Belle Pente prefers Alsace riesling in style to that of Friuli so naturally his Pinot Gris has riper sugar levels.

In the second flight we tasted a flight of Chardonnay and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the ones with more pronounced oak, namely the Stoller Chardonnay 2010 and the Domaine Drouhin 2011. Both showed balance and were harmonious despite considerable wood aging. I was drawn in by the Burgundy – Oregon comparisons and did find some similarities in the Chardonnays.

Earl Jones

The third flight included both Pinot Noirs and Syrah. I found the Syrah too big for the food we had and somewhat overpowering. The Pinots on the other hand were perfect. I truly enjoyed the Williamette Valley Vinter’s wines, both the Estate Pinot Noir 2009 and the Elton Pinot Noir 2009. I found them somewhat feminine and soft despite oak treatment. I also enjoyed the Belle Pente 2009 Pinot Noir and the Argyle Nuthouse Pinot Noir.

Jim Bernau

Jim Bernau was at my table and explained their integrated pest management system. He told me about the 18 owl barns he has on his property and how they control the voles and moles that live on the property. We touched on many topics: sustainability, climate change, solidarity among winemakers, dry farming and irrigation but it felt like the conversation was just getting started, at least for me. I look forward to further dialogue.

Brian O'Donnell

It was great to meet the winemakers and fellow bloggers. I hope to have more time to talk to them all over the weekend.

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Filed under Memorable Events, oregon

World Water Day 2013: What Is Your Water Footprint?

Today is World Water Day. Here is a great article about the water crisis and how it affects all of us. World Water Day was created in 1993 by the United Nations.

Just imagine your life without access to clean water and sanitation. Put yourself in the shoes of the nearly one BILLION people without clean water and 2.5 BILLION people without sanitation. Pretty big numbers.

I’ve been working with a couple of wineries, Eccociwine and De Martino, that are paying considerable attention to their water footprint, an interesting and new trend I am seeing. Consider your water footprint and that of the products you buy. Water is life for all of us.

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Upcoming Wine Events: Snooth People’s Voice Wine Awards


This is going to be a mega wine weekend of events with Snooth’s People’s Voice Awards. I am looking forward to it and will be tasting away.

To purchases tickets to the event go to: Eventbrite.

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Filed under Memorable Events, Wine Tasting, wines