Monthly Archives: May 2015

Expo2015: Wines from Lombardy


Tomorrow is June 1 and the first month of the Expo2015 has come and gone, and while I know there are some complaints, most of the people I know in Milan are very pleased with how the event is proceeding. Apparently, it is also open until 1100pm and many eat dinner there rather than in local restaurants but that said, it seems to be going well for my adopted city and I am pleased to know that.

Mountains in Milan

Together with the National days and the clusters, I have now discovered there are also specific food days. May 29 for example was a specific day in which Milk was the topic. I have also discovered an online magazine dedicated to the Expo..

In other news, the Italian wine pavilion, Vino, started offering an aperitivo on the weekends at the Expo.

I don’t know which wines they will be serving but they certainly have a enough to choose from even just within Lombardy. Lombardy has always gotten a bad rap in my opinion in the wine world, or more precisely short shrift. People in the US have now discovered Prosecco and many are discovering Franciacorta but I wonder when other great underrated wines will make a splash.

Lombardy has five DOCG wines, 22 DOC wines and 15 IGT denominations. I bet few can even name them although exports of wines from Lombardy rose 3.6% in 2014. The two principal markets for the sales of these wines are the U.S. and Germany, following by the UK and Switzerland. Of the 22 DOC, I am not very familiar with a few of them and this week will be dedicated to those wines. Buona lettura.

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Women in Wine Fridays: Caterina Gargari from Pieve De’ Pitti

Chianti Tasting

Last month I had the good fortune to attend a tasting of Chianti Wines, there were two big Chianti tasting and I chose to go the first one not to the Gran Selezione which I thought would be more crowded. I don’t love walk around tastings but I do like smaller intimate ones where you have the opportunity to say hello to producer friends and to meet new ones and to taste their wines.

Chianti Lands

At this tasting I met Caterina Gargari, a producer from the area around Pisa, specifically from Terricciola. I had never heard of the winery, Pieve De’ Pitti.
I do know a bit about the area however. Pieve De’ Pitti. Like many producers from her region, she does not put Chianti Colline Pisane on her labels but uses the Chianti Superiore DOCG nomenclature instead. I asked why this was the case and like other producers I know from her area, she said it was a marketing issue.

In fact, there are seven Chianti sub-zones other than Chianti Classico but few put the specific sub-zone on their labels. Chianti Colline Pisane just like Chianti Colli Aretini is seldom seen on the labels of producers from these areas.

This particular winery began in 2000. It’s soils are sand and clay, rich in fossils and shells. The vineyard is subject to maritime breezes. It is located at 160 meters above sea level. These are among the wines I might call “Tuscan” coastal wines. The vines were first planted in the 1970s but have been replanted within the last 10 years. They grow mostly Sangiovese, Tuscany’s signature grape, as well as Canaiolo, white and black Malvasia, Trebbiano,and Vermentino and international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot.

Cerretello Riserva

At the tasting I tried their Cerretello DOCG wines, both a 2011 and a 2008. A blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia Nera, I found the wines lovely with bright red fruits and floral notes. They were among the most elegant and balanced of the wines I tried that day, memorable for the subtle, soft finish, unexpected in a Chianti with 90% Sangiovese and no Merlot. Rather than use wooden aging vessels, the wines ferment and age in concrete vats. I often think these neutral vessels while allowing to show the typicity of the wine and the terroir, also provide a stabilizing impact on the wine. Chemically I can’t exactly tell you why, although I should know for my exam next week, but that is my observation. Perhaps the reductive winemaking used here does just that, provides a harmony to the wines.


Caterina was quite an interesting character and seemed to really know her stuff. I know the wines were imported before and I believe she was looking for distribution again. I hope she finds it soon as I would love to have these wines in our market.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, Travel, Tuscany, Women in Wine

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Greco di Tufo


This week’s indigenous variety is Greco di Tufo. Thought to have been brought to Italy from Greece, in the 7th-8th century B.C. by Greek colonists, it is generally considered to have landed near the area around Vesuvio in Campania. It produces lovely white wines with a golden color, good acidity and astringency. It is grown in different parts of Campania including Avellino, Benevento, Napoli, and Salerno as well as in Puglia. It is also grown in parts of Tuscany and Lazio. Greco di Tufo became a DOCG, the highest Italian wine denomination some years ago.

Many wonderful wines are made from this grape. I remember one that I tasted a couple of years back during Vinitaly with Terry Hughes, formerly of Domenico Selections. I actually remember tasting it and shedding a tear it was so beautiful. I don’t spend enough time in Campania to make recommendations on particular wines from that area. Of course the most famous producers such as Feudi di San Gregorio or Mastroberardino I know well but for the smaller ones, I suggest reading some of Tom Maresca’s posts on wines from the region.

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Umbria Jazz and Memories of BB King, Second Week at Expo2015

italy 600

When I heard the news that BB King died, I was really saddened. I loved his music and thought his story quite remarkable. What a life. I saw him many years ago at Umbria Jazz. I will never forget those concerts. I also saw him at North Cove (Battery Park) sometime in the past two years which was remarkable. I can’t find the photos now but I was so happy to be able to do that. Thank you for many years of listening pleasure.

I didn’t write about the Expo2015 last week because I thought every day about the Expo is maybe too much. But I decided to check in and discuss the Expo at least once a week. One of the interesting things about the Expo this year is the separation of areas into what are known as Clusters. According to the website, “Clusters bring together communities, not by geographical area, but by a common theme and food group.” Once a week, I will write about each of the clusters and other events going on at Expo.

For today, I want to stay in the BB King theme however and discuss a jazz club in Milan on Via Borsieri for those who are there for Expo, the Blue Note Milano. When I lived in the city, I saw a number of concerts there. Italy has some great jazz musicians of its own. No one is BB King though, let’s face it.

I just checked out the wine list and they have a lot of interesting selections. I might try the Antica Tindari wines from Sicily. I met the owners of this winery at Vinitaly two years ago. Nice to see their wines on the list.

Via Borsieri, the street where the Blue Note is located, is in an area of the city called L’Isola. Years ago it was funky and mostly immigrants lived there. Now it is much more mainstream and has lots of cute shops and restaurants. There is so much new construction in Milan that the city is at times, unrecognizable. This area has changed considerably. Many would say for the better and I guess I agree but it took some getting used to. I worked in the neighborhood for three years and spent many a lunch hour in those places.

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Expo 2015, Streets of Milan, Franciacorta

Mountains in Milan

Today is day 8 of Expo2015 and one of the themes of the day is the importance of bread. In fact they are giving out fresh bread. Obviously giving bread is a religious symbol as well. The Expo as we know is about feeding people and our planet so this seems quite appropriate to me.

Speaking of bread, one of the aspects that I love about Italy is the variety of breads on offer at any local bakery. I used to have a great time buying bread in the city. One of my favorite bakeries was on Via Solferino in Brera. Today’s street in Milan is Via Solferino. A very chic shopping street with this amazing bakery that sold fresh pasta, Pattini..

Back to the wine world, I’m sending a shout out to Jeremy Parzen of Dobianchi who is writing a blog for Franciacorta and appears to be on hand at Expo today. Looking to see great posts on that blog and hopefully everyone will finally catch on to how great those wines are. My very first Italian wine class experience was all about a bottle of Bellavista Saten but that’s for another day.

Buon weekend.

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Expo 2015 Day 7, Streets of Milan, Austrian Connection

Milan Museum

Today is Day 7 of Expo2015 and they are showcasing the Austrian Pavilion which is apparently an open air forest of sorts. I found this quite curious and interesting and was then off and running and thinking about the connections between Milan and Austria.

The Austrians actually ran the Duchy of Milan from 1706 to 1797 and again in the 1800s. Their legacy can be felt throughout the city in the buildings, pastries and other delicacies.


Even the name of one of Milan’s most famous bars for an aperitivo, an espresso or other is named for an Austrian, Radetzky’s. I think this may have been the first or second bar I went to over 20 years ago in Milan but it is still going strong and is a key hangout to meet people for an aperitivo as I did on a recent trip to Milan.

Today’s street is Corso Garibaldi in fact, where Radetzy’s is located. I lived on this street for a couple of years after my Via Vigevano experience. The buildings are beautiful, the bars and restaurants lovely as are the shops.

Getting back to the Austrian connection, some years ago, I went skiing at St Anton, ripped my ACL and spent the better part of my trip exploring the area. Here is a link to some of those stories because after all, this is a wine blog.

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Expo2015 Day 6, Streets of Milan, Italian Indigenous Grapes

Ceppeto - vigneto-vineyard Ischio - estate-summer 2006

Today is day 6 of Expo2015 and it is a celebration of biodiversity. Today’s street is Via Brera which is home to the Accademia di Brera, one of the world’s great museums as well as the Orto Botanico or botanical gardens. It is also home to other art galleries and the famed Bar Jamaica, a hip bar among artists, students and locals for decades. While there is not the same concentration on biodiversity in the vineyards of Italy as say in New Zealand, there is renewed interest among many producers on this topic. With a focus on natural wines and biodynamics, this topic is very much at the top of mind. Italy is home to more indigenous varieties of grapes than almost any other country in the world. I have been writing a series on these grapes for the past five years and have only gotten to the letter “G.”

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