Monthly Archives: April 2015

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Grechetto


This week’s grape hails is Grechetto  which grows in Umbria but also  in Lazio and Tuscany.

The green heart of Italy, Umbria is the home of the Grechetto Bianco grape also called Grechetto di Orvieto. Grechetto produces a lovely white wine with notes of pear and almonds as well as hints of white flowers. It is used in a variety of DOC wines including Montefalco, Oriveto, Torigiano, Colli di Trasimeno, Colli Amerini as well as in Vin Santo di Montepulciano.

I’ve always loved Umbria for its artists, landscape, wine, foods and Umbria Jazz. Something about the Perugino green always reminds me of the deep green you see in Umbria which is different than the one you see in Tuscany which again differs from the green you see in Apulia. Italy is such a beautiful and varied country.

The first years I lived in Italy I traveled a number of times to see performances during Umbria Jazz. It was incredible as was a weekend I spent eating tartufo in every form for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Gubbio or the first time I saw the churches in the small town of Bevagna. Yes, Umbria has a lot to recommend it along with wines made from Grechetto.


Grechetto is the flagship grape of the Sergio Mottura winery. I was reminded of the family when I saw one of the twins at the Tre Bicchieri tasting in New York earlier this year. Very famous for their Grechetto based wines, the family tenuta is located in Civitella d’Agliano (VT), betwen Rome and Florence. The 130 hectare farm has 36 hectares of grapes planted and the grapes are cultivated organically, following the European Union legislation in this sector and the Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica.

When mentioning Mottura’s wines I must mention the Latour A Civitella made from 100% Grechetto which once again was a favorite at the Tre Bicchieri. Full bodied and rich on the palate with notes of citrus and white fruits, I would drink this wine with a whole host of dishes including Indian food which I am craving for lunch as I write this.


Filed under Grechetto, Oriveto, Sergio Mottura

Chianti Lovers: Chianti Colli Fiorentini

Duomo di Firenze

The denomination Chianti Colli Fiorentini Denominazione d’Origine Controllata e Garantita (D.O.C.G.) is one of the seven sub-zones of Chianti D.O.C.G. This production zone is located in and around Florence and the Arno river valleys. Like its other six cousins, Chianti Rufina, Chianti Colli Aretini, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Montalbano and Chianti Montespertoli, producers can chose to use the denomination or not. The area was defined in 1932. With DPR 290 of July 2, 1984, the Chianti Colli Fiorentini area was officially granted DOCG recognition; The Chianti Colli Fiorentini Consortium was founded on September 20, 1994.

The wines must be at least 70% Sangiovese. They can also contain Canaiolo and Colorino, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah in small quantities. I was introduced to the Chianti Colli Fiorentini in 2010 by their wonderful PR manager, Stefano. Despite living in Florence for many years, I didn’t know there was a specific denomination for the wines.

Some 18 communes can used this denomination including the following: Montelupo Fiorentino, Fiesole, Lastra a Signa, Scandicci, Impruneta, Bagno a Ripoli, Rignano sull’Arno and Pontassieve as well as Montespertoli, San Casciano Val di Pesa, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Certaldo, Barberino Val d’Elsa, Incisa, Figlini; Pelago, Reggello and Florence. Some 27 wineries are members of the Consortium.

The terroir in this area is mostly alluvial soils with good drainage. They also tend to have a high percentage of clay. Most of the vineyards are located on hills ranging from 150 to 400 meters above sea level. The exposition is quite varied. Some vineyards face southeast and southeast while others face north.

Generally, the wines from this region are well structured. While they have good tannins and acidity, they can be more approachable than some other Chianti wines. Some are more modern than you find in other areas, fruitier and easy to drink even when young. I tasted a number of them today again at the Chianti tasting in New York.


One producer who I have met numerous times throughout the years is Malenchini. I tried those wines again today and I liked both the wines and the winery owners. I tasted the 2013 and the 2012. The 2013 was recently bottled and was still in an early phase of its development while the 2012 was round and softer than I expected on the palate. It was a lovely wine and would be a great pairing with a Bistecca alla Fiorentina. I wish I had both here for dinner tonight.

I’m hard press to explain why these wines aren’t better known in the United States with their specific denomination. I think the theory is that Americans know Chianti Classico and Chianti only and that the rest confuses them. I disagree.


Filed under Chianti, Tuscany

Wine of the Weekend: Aulente from San Patrignano made from Sangiovese From Emilia Romagna


I just shared a bottle of Aulente Rosso IGT from San Patrignano with a friend last night and paired it with Peruvian chicken. A lovely combination and I thought I would post this blog about Sangiovese in Romagna.


One of my biggest discoveries this Vinitaly was just how good wines can be from Emilia Romagna. I had generally overlooked Emilia as a wine region, my mistake, and aside from great Lambrusco, had tended not given its wines their due. That said, I love Emilia Romagna and spent a great year of my life in graduate school there at SAIS in Bologna.

I also spent a fair number of summers on the Adriatic at Lido degli Estensi and Lido delle Nazioni and have fond memories of many experiences in that part of the world. Not least, I am a huge fan of some musicians from Emilia Romagna, namely Vasco Rossi and the amazing Luciano Ligabue. Rockers Italian style, I feel like I am 16 when I listen to their music, check out this song from Vasco, Vivere and this one from Liga….

This I know is a wine…

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Filed under Aulente, San Patrignano, wines

Saturday Surprise: Anselmet Chardonnay (Eleve en Fut de Chene) 2012 from Valle d’Aosta


I know it is 1030 a.m. on Saturday morning but it’s a beautiful day outside and I am remembering with pleasure a wine I had last month at OperaWine. I would love a glass at lunch but alas, it is not available in my neighborhood and Valle d’Aosta is a far jaunt for this particular Saturday.

This Chardonnay aged in French oak was a real surprise for me but apparently I am late to the game and the winery is among the most well-known from this small, mountainous region of Italy. Maison Anselmet

The winery was started in 1978 by Renato Anselmet and today is run by his son Giorgio. They work with consulting oenologist Beppe Caviola.

The wine itself was a beautiful example of Chardonnay aged in wood. Classic, not overblown, I hope to have this wine again soon. The larger format was also spectacular and as we know, wine is almost always better in a magnum.

If you haven’t visited the Valle d’Aosta, try to go there at least once in your life whether for the wines, the skiing, the castles, the hiking or the food. I love this part of Italy and its’ beautiful sky, mountains and fresh air. Driving in that region at night on the way back to Milan was always magical, dark with hundreds of stars. Something I have seen only in Colorado in the US and Chile in South America. I always felt closer to the sky and the universe on nights like that.

For more information about Anselmet, check out this post Wine90.

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Filed under Chardonnay, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Memorable Events, OperaWine, Saturday Surprise, Travel, Valle d'Aosta

Women in Wine Fridays: Silvia Imparato & Montevetrano from Campania

Monte Vetrano

I first heard the name Montevetrano more than 19 years ago from a friend in Milan who knew the family. He had a birthday this week and has been on my mind so I thought I would write about this lovely wine. I met part of the family in 1997 and finally met Silvia Imparato in 2010 at Vinitaly when I was translating for the Wine Spectator at meetings they held with various regions of Italy.

I found her to be very approachable and open then as I did at the most recent OperaWine event this year. Imparato makes wines with Riccardo Cotarella as her winemaker in Montevetrano, a small area near Salerno in the Campania region of Italy. Her wines are made from a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon,  and Aglianico, the signature indigenous grape of this region.

The grapes are harvested in the same order as they are listed above. The grapes ferment in steel tanks for 15-20 days after a long maceration on the skins for 20 days. The grapes sustain numerous pressings, according to the website, and 15% is bleed off thereby concentrating the wine. It is then aged in new barriques for 12 months and spends six months in the bottle before it is released. The wine can age 10-15 years.

The soils on the property are rich in fossils  with a Mediterranean climate and protection from the wind by the nearby mountain range. The grapes are listed under the Colli di Salerno IGT denomination. I find the wine to be very lush and full bodied with lavish nuances of fruit and spice as well as oak tones. The wine is sure to please those who look for refined wines with power. I often find Cotarella’s wines to have a signature style, like any of the top winemaking consultants, but this one in particular shows the force of the indigenous variety as well as  the hand of the expert winemaker.

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Filed under Montevetrano, Silvia Imparato

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Grecanico Dorato Bianco from Sicily


Back with our latest Italian indigenous variety, this week’s grape is Grecanico from Sicily. The grape is often blended with Grillo and/or Catarratto. It is part of a host of D.O.C. wines from Contea di Sclafani, Contesa Entellina, Menfi and others.

I recently had a lovely one at Vinitaly from Tasca d’Almerita. The one I tasted was a wine made without the addition of sulfites, an experiment that Tasca had undertaken. Tasca is very conscious of its carbon footprint and is heavily involved in sustainability initiatives in Sicily. I will write about them tomorrow though. Today is about this grape variety. Grecanico has aromas and flavors of lemon and citrus.

A wine without the addition of sulfites still has some sulfites in it because they are produced during fermentation. This wine spends four months on its lees which is a natural level of protection for the wine. As we know, sulfur is added to wines as an anti-oxidant and to stabilize the wines.


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Filed under Indigenous Varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Sicily, wines

Women & Wine: What Wine Would Hillary Clinton Be? A California Cabernet Called The Rule

The Rule

With all the news of Hillary Clinton launching her campaign this week, I began to think what wine might represent her. It came to me fairly quickly, a California Cabernet from Napa that I opened earlier in the week – The Rule. I don’t usually compare people to wines or music to wines as many of my friends and wine writing colleagues do but this one hit me over the head. Why you may ask? This wine specifically because unexpectedly it had real staying power. I opened it one day and it was as I would expect, a fruit forward Cabernet with a decided amount of oak. I had some the next day and again, it held its own. Incredibly three or four days later the wine was still open and unfinished in my home and I decided to try it again. It still was good, fresh and drinkable. That’s what reminded me of Hiliary, even after all of these years in the spotlight, she has staying power. Let’s see where we go from here.

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