Monthly Archives: March 2016

Checklist for Vinitaly: Seven Tips For Enjoying The Fair

Pre-event at Vinitaly

This photo is one of setting up at Vinitaly, the large Italian wine fair that starts in about eight days. I love Vinitaly. This will be my 10th in a row and I think my 12th show over all. I never get tired of it and it is a highlight in my spring calendar. That said it is tiring so what I tell people are the following tips for enjoying the fair.

1. Wear comfortable shoes. While we all want to look beautiful down to our shoes, especially in Italy, comfort is key. The fair is huge and you will be exhausted. One spends most of the day walking.

2. Pace yourself and make appointments. I always go to Vinitaly wearing different hats: PR maven, Journalist, Blogger, trade relations manager, student, translator, friend. I always meet clients, look for new ones, taste new wines, attend seminars, hang out with fellow AIS sommeliers and end up translating for an importer or two. I like to leave myself openings in my schedule though just to discover new wines. Build in free time. Also, spit a lot of wine in the morning, especially. Italians tend to spit less than Americans. You can spit, even if you are female.

3. Have lunch at one of your contacts’ stands. This is key. The lines are huge at the restaurants and in the bars however, every stand has some food and usually, clients and friends want to share with you.

4. Bring a bottle of water. Drinking water throughout the day can help keep you fresh.

5. Visit stands where AIS sommeliers are pouring wines to discover new gems. They are usually incredibly well-prepared. I love the ones from the Valle d’Aosta but they are all good.

6. Remember if you have evening and day appointments, it can be a slog by day 2. Again, pace yourself. I like to really take advantage of the days and my nights are a little more tame. Everyone is different however but remember, you still have to get up the next day.

7. Wifi in the pavilions is not always great. If you have to meet people, choose an exact place and give it 20 minutes of leeway. The halls get really crowded and walking around is sometimes hard.

Buon divertimento!

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Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events

Wine Wednesday: Zago Prosecco Doc

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Today’s wine of the week is the Zago Prosecco DOC. The winery from Taiedo di Chions in Friuli has 8.5 hectares and makes three types of Prosecco using the Glera grape, Extra Dry, Brut Millesimato and Sui Lieviti (on the Lees). It is this last one that is pictured above and which I enjoyed most at recent tastings in New York. I loved the toasty, nutty elements of the wine that the lees brought to this refreshing sparkler. This Prosecco which is made in the traditional way that was used in the 1800s sees the wine entering fermentation thanks to its own indigenous yeast cells and aging in the bottle rather than using cultivated yeast, more common in today’s world of Prosecco. The wine is cloudier than a typical Prosecco and has more weight if you will on the palate. At only 11% alcohol, this is a great apertif. I really enjoyed all three of their wines.

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Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, sparkling wine, wine wednesday

Pasquetta: Time for A Picnic, What to drink?

gauginWhile today’s weather hasn’t been perfect, it does remind me of many Easter Monday picnics I used to have when I lived in Italy. Traditionally a holiday, most Italians go out for a picnic with friends and/or family. There is a saying in Italian, “Natale con i tuoi, pasqua dove vuoi” which translated actually means Christmas at home and Easter whenever you want. The big question is always what to drink at a picnic. I can think of lots of wines that work well with picnic food, red, rose or white, sparkling and still. If I had been at a picnic today, I might have brought this wine from Amastuola made from Fiano and Malvasia. I tried this wine during wine week in February. I was impressed with its aromas and flavors and also by the fact that the winery was organic, not that common in Italy and in Puglia specifically. It was great because it was also only 12.5% in alcohol, a relief after so many high alcohol wines. I love this part of Puglia where I have been lucky enough to spend time, the Salento. I highly recommend traveling there for the wines, the food, the people, the towns and the sea, the Mediterranean at it’s best.

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Filed under Apulia, Holidays, Italian indigenous varieties, Italian regions, Organic Wines in Italy, Puglia, wines

Winery of the Week: Peter Zemmer from Alto Adige

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I had the good fortune to meet Peter Zemmer through Tony DiDio a couple of years ago. I never wrote about the great lunch we had at the Gotham Bar and Grill but the wines have stuck in my head and I have tried the newer versions since that time. They are always consistent, clean expression of the various varietals and in my mind representative of what that region has to offer. The winery has been in the same family for almost 100 years, founded in the 1920s and now the third generation is at the helm. The winery is located in Cortina on the wine route and is among the smallest villages in Alto Adige. It is in the middle of the valley floor and therefore has a great micro-climate, protected from the harsh winter. In fact, their are many fruit trees close to the vineyards. The mild weather allows the grapes to reach phenolic ripeness. Zemmer makes both whites and reds which were all very interesting. His Pinot Grigio is one to write home about and can make the case for why Pinot Grigio should not be discounted. I also greatly enjoy his Pinot Bianco, a favorite.

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I always think of the whites from Alto Adige but the reds had the same clean clarity about them as the whites. He does use oak on many of the reds which I didn’t find as much in the whites but it was a judicious and subtle use of oak, not overpowering. His reserve line from which he makes a Lagrein that we tasted are only made in certain years. It was an exciting tasting and I was lucky to go. I look forward to trying additional wines of his at Vinitaly, if I can get near the stand, the area is always very crowded.

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Wine Wednesday: Lacryma Christi from Campania – I Nobili (Enodelta)

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I recently wrote a post in which I erroneously said that Lacryma Christi was a grape variety, a reader pointed out to me. Lacrima is a grape from Campania but Lacryma Christi is a wine made from another indigenous variety, usually made from Piedirosso and Aglianico or 100% Piedirosso. The wine above is from  Enodelta and is made from 100% Piedirosso. I tried it along with other wines made by this family at the Italian Wine Week tasting. The name of the wine means “Christ’s tears” and it is a very compelling wine with great minerality, salinity and beautiful fruit as one might imagine from this volcanic area. I’d love to try the white version of this wine. I also tried the other wines in the “I Nobili” line from this company. I thought they all showed the same great combination of freshness and depth, at times hard to find in a red wine.

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I also got a real kick out of listening to the songs on their website which reminded me of a fantastic sailing weekend I spent around the islands near Naples. With everything going on in the world, I can think of nothing better than to be on a sailboat around those Italian islands, drinking a wine like this Lacryma Christi. The area received Denominazione d’origine controllata (DOC) status in 1983. Many producers make wines from this area but they aren’t that well represented on US wine lists.

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Filed under Campania, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, wines

Mindful of Earth Day, Brussels, Refugee Crisis

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Today I don’t feel like writing about wine but I do feel like drinking it. Copious amounts in fact. I can’t stand the news, more terrorist attacks, more refugees in search of a home, melting glaciers. I decided to post this picture that I took some years ago in Chile where I went hiking at the Torres del Paine park in Patagonia.

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I cried when I saw my first glacier, I was so moved by it’s beauty. To think that they are melting and that one day much of what we see now and many animals might no longer walk the earth is staggering.

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I can’t watch the news about Brussels and another horrific and senseless act meant to terrorize us. It’s also hard to read the paper and see more photos of mothers and their children desperately fleeing war zones and landing on shores where they are not particularly welcome. Today everything seems grey. As Dr. Seuss would say, today is one of my many colored days. I think wine might be just the antidote actually.

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Women In Wine: Elisabetta Fagiuoli from Montenidoli

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Elisabetta Fagiuoli from the winery Montenidoli is what Italians call “una forza della natura (a force of nature).” She is a strong, vibrant and amazing woman who I got to see at both Slow Wine and Tre Bicchieri in February. The Vernaccia di San Gimingnano that they make and that is in the photo above is delicious, vibrant and nervy filled with minerality, a note of sapidity and of course, a bitter almond finish characteristic of the variety. This wine spends time on its lees and those aromas and flavors are evident in the glass. Montenidoli however is more than a winery but also a foundation and a place of respite. The foundation, named after Elisabetta’s late partner Sergio, the Patriach as he was known, is dedicated to helping others. According to the website, they offer the following,”We want to host, free of charge, elderly people in need of rest and love, for their well-being in the fields and the woods. We want to invite youngsters in search of their identity, so that they can find themselves and grow through the message of nature. They will be our guests for a month in original country houses, in the middle of vineyards, olive trees and woods, on the hill overlooking San Gimignano, in the heart of Tuscany. During their stay they will learn our way of life and our daily work, and they will find themselves part of the big family that lives and works at Montenidoli. They will have the chance to meet all the friends of Montenidoli: geologists, biologists, agronomists, vine growers, wine personalities.”

I loved meeting her, albeit briefly, and hope to spend more time with her at another moment. She raised, together with Sergio, nine children on their land along with their vines, hopes and dreams. Amazing stuff is happening in San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town that had its heyday in the 12th-13th centuries. Tuscany never ceases to create awe, both for its landscapes and the people living there.

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