Monthly Archives: September 2015

Cork: A New Understanding Of What Is Behind Every Stopper


I have the good fortune to be in Sardegna as I am writing this. A magical and mysterious land, I think of it as a place of beaches, crystal blue water, rocks, sun, sheep, silence, Vermentino, Cannonau and Pecorino,. What I didn’t know was that it also has the second largest cork factory in Europe after Amorim. I once interviewed the head of that Portuguese company but I have never had the opportunity to visit a factory – until now.

Italy is one of the most important producers of cork in the world. Of the 2.2 million hectares of cork forests, some 225,000 of them are in Italy, 90% of which are in Sardegna and the other 10% in Sicily, Calabria, Lazio, Tuscany and Campagna. The wine industry is without a doubt the largest client of the cork industry and uses 70% of Italy’s total cork production.


While some countries have completely adapted to alternative closures such as Austria and Australia even on premium wines, the more traditional markets such as Italy, France, Portugal and even to some extent, the United States, still feel that for a prestigious bottle of wine, you must have a cork.

Despite the thousands of corks I have opened personally or seen opened, I never knew how many hands touched the cork before it went into a bottle or how much work it was to make quality corks.

My visit to the Sugherificiomolinas in Calangianus will be the subject of my next post but for the moment, suffice it to say, my view of cork has changed for life. Every time I pull a cork now, I will see the faces of those working in the factory amid the smell of cork and the noise of the machines used to punch stoppers out of cork or to press the cork grains into flat panels to be used as construction materials.

I will think of the trees I saw that looked like they had lost clothes, stripped from the trunk down. Of the objects whether it be wallets, notebooks, boards or insulation that are made from cork lots that have been personally tasted by a team of professionals using modern technology and optical sorters and well as the human eye.

Before a new cork forest is mature, 20-25 years must go by. Cork trees can live to be 150 years old but they can only be harvested every ten to twelve years in Sardegna. As if that weren’t enough to make cork a prestigious item, in order to be a good quality cork, the third harvest yields corks that are considered to be of the right quality to be used with any prestigious wine. The cork industry is therefore one that calls for patience, longevity in terms of your outlook and time. I’ll write more on this visit in the next post.

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Wines In the News: Ferrari – A Personal Favorite Arrives At Emmy Awards


Ferrari, one of my favorite sparkling wines and one I used to celebrate all occasions, including my baby’s first birthday, was just the toast of the town in LA at the Emmy Awards. I know this because I got a press release from their PR firm but I was impressed and thought I would mention it. The Lunelli family who own Ferrari have always been lovely to me on the many occasions that we have met and it’s exciting to see an Italian wine served at such a big US event. According to the press release,”Television royalty toasted their victories last night at the 67th Emmy Awards in Los Angeles with a Ferrari… Ferrari bubbly that is! Ferrari,…, kicked off the celebration with Ferrari Brut Trentodoc, a prestige cuvée served to Emmy guests departing the awards ceremony and entering the “ultimate after-party” – the Governors Ball for the Primetime Emmys.” I should be commenting on Viola Davis’ acceptance speech but this is a wine blog and I fear those who read it aren’t so interested in my political views. That said, good for her. A little abrupt as she began but kudos for making your 5 minutes count and saying something worthwhile.

Apparently, Ferrari was also just named, “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year” in The Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. I have written many times about the winery and its wines. Here’s a post I wrote about the winery last year.

Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari and their name is synonymous with sparkling wine in Italy. Made in the Metodo Classico style from chardonnay, Ferrari was among the first wineries to bring sparking wine into every Italian household. Giulio had studied at the School of Viticulture in Montpellier and dreamt of making an Italian equivalent to Champagne. They produce some 4.5 million bottles a year.
Giulio Ferrari didn’t have any children and chose a friend and local merchant Bruno Lunelli as successor for his winery, who took over in 1952. The company was run by Bruno’s three sons, Gino, Mauro and Franco, starting from 1969 until 2005, and then Bruno’s grandchildren, Marcello, Matteo and Camilla took the reins of the firm. They have a team of eight winemakers, led by Marcello Lunelli, and four agronomists.

Salute to them!

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Tenuta Di Blasig- Auguri 1788-2008

This was I believe my very first post on Avvinare, seven years ago. My writing has faded because of family obligations but I am still determined to keep my hand in the blogosphere. I just read quickly through 100 blogs for a client and I am impressed with how people maintain blogs, day jobs, families, a home, pets and a sense of humor. I never had much of the latter which is why my posts are always so “informative” rather than witty or funny but that said, I do admire those that have it all together. In the meantime, I am still drinking copious amounts of wine and hoping to write about them. Another reason I find it hard to write, in addition to my one year old, is that so much is going on in the world that is heartbreaking. I sometimes find it hard to write about wine after seeing the scenes of physical devastation in Calfornia, Utah and Piacenza (natural causes) or the torrent of refugees (man-made). Anyway, on this beautiful final Friday of the Summer I will be participating in a Spanish Snooth virtual tasting. Maybe it will kick off a new season. Saludos.


Vino, Donne e Canto

“Se uno non ama il vino, la donna ed il canto, pazzo rimane per l’intera vita” Martin Luther

Tenuta di Blasig celebrated 220 years of activity today with an impressive fete with soloists from the Vienna Philarmonic, dance and jazz as well as lectures on the Ronchi dei Legionari area by an interesting group of professors. Elisabetta Bortolotto Sarcinelli kindly invited me to the festa but alas alack, I could not attend. Today therefore seems like a good day to publish a very long post on Elisabetta and her winery.

I met Elisabetta at Vinitaly in 2007. I was trying wines at a stand nearby and was pulled over to try her wines as well. She was gorgeous and very tall. I was immediately struck by her beauty and by her German-accented Italian. I actually thought she was from Austria or Germany and spoke Italian very…

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We Remember 9/11

Candles 911

While September starts on September 1 and my baby’s birthday is in early September, the year always starts slow and until after the 11th, never feels quite right. I was in Italy on this day 14 years ago but the impact that it had on me as a New Yorker, really as a person, remains. Every year I watch the ceremony, as I feel we should bear witness to those we perished. Despite the sunshine outside, today is always a little somber and sobering. Certainly a day of reflection. I thank my lucky stars for everything and everyone in my life. Here is a lovely article about the lights. Watch the video, it is actually quite uplifting,

Towers of Light

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Sindromo da Rientro – Back to Work


As September rolls around, I am afflicted with that not so terrible malady: il Sindromo da Rientro – back to work after the end of vacation. This year I had a short vacation on Cape Cod, a place that I absolutely adore. Lot of fun with family and many first forays for piccolo Niccolo’ – my baby. Now however, it’s time to get back to work, client work and writing. I miss the blog when I don’t write and apparently no one reads it if I don’t update it very frequently. Today I spent a long time on other people’s blogs looking at what they do for a client. I’ve rediscovered so many talented writers and am amazed at how they find the time to have day jobs, families and update their blogs so regularly. I need to take some lessons in time management it seems. Two blogs that I happily read today were Vindulge and Another Wine Blog. I met the two ladies behind those bliogs years ago at a Snooth blogger event. Kudos to them for all the great writing and their ability to juggle various life commitments.


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