Monthly Archives: April 2016

Wine Wednesday: Aleatico Passito from Masseria Li Veli (Puglia)


I know this picture is very blurry but in addition to having tried many wines that afternoon, I also had just seen Sting sing two of his songs in what felt like my living room so perhaps I was overcome with emotion.


All of this took place during the first day of my trip to Verona earlier this month. Sting decided to play a couple of pieces during the press conference and needless to say, I and everyone else there, was delighted. The last time I saw Sting was actually when he played in the Arena in Verona in the early 2000s. It was a real kick to see/hear him so close to me. Other than having Bruce play in front of me like that, I can think of few artists that I would rather listen to.

Getting back to the wine part of this post, the wine in the picture is an Aleatico from Puglia from Masseria Li Veli. Aleatico is also grown in Tuscany and in Lazio. I have had examples of this wine from both of those places as well.

The Aleatico grape is particularly aromatic. It produces rich, profound wines with dried fruit, plum and fig aromas and flavors. The Italians would call this a “vino da meditazione.” It also had that Mediterranean note that is often called “garrigue” and is a combination of herbs and spices that one finds in the hills there.

Apparently the vineyards where the grapes are grown are a mixture of clay, calcareous rocks. The grapes are picked by hand and then laid to dry in baskets in a controlled and ventilated room for 45 days. Once the drying process is completed, the grapes are destemmed and put into 500 liter casks where fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for a minimum of 42 months in 112 liter oak barrels. Before bottling it is put into a steel vat to let the sediment settle to the bottom.

This wine was absolutely striking and delicious on its own as it would be with a dessert on the drier side such as a ciambella (a dry donut-like cake).

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Filed under Italian indigenous varieties, Italian regions, Opera Wine, Puglia, Vino da Meditazione

Wine Wednesday: Lis Neris Cabernet Sauvignon


This is an old photo of Alvaro and his daughter Federica from Lis Neris at Vinitaly in 2008. The stand looks the same and I like to think we all do too. This year for the first time I had one of Alvaro’s wines in Milan at a dinner with friends the night before Vinitaly. Alvaro’s winery is located in San Lorenzo, very near the border with Slovenia. The soil is a gravelly tableland and Alvaro, a very meticulous winemaker, has the grapes picked by hand.


I first tried his reds a number of years ago and was a much bigger fan of his whites but with time, I think he has hit it out of the park with this Cabernet. It was, much like Alvaro himself, elegant and slightly restrained. My friends couldn’t get enough of it and I think we finished two or three bottles at a lovely little neighborhood restaurant near my old stomping grounds in Milan, Cumino Bistrot.

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Filed under Friuli, Friuli Venezia Giulia, wines

Happy (Almost) Passover: Kosher Chianti from Terra di Seta

I am reposting this blog which has always been one of the most popular on this site. I never would have thought that a Kosher Chianti would get so much play but it does and since it’s almost Passover….


Today is the first night of Passover and I brought a bottle of Kosher wine to my family gathering. I brought the wine all the way from Italy in fact, it’s the 2009 Chianti Classico Riserva from the Terra di Seta winery. I just met with Daniele and his life wife Maria at Vinitaly. They gave me a bottle of this wine to try at home and I thought I would save it for tonight.

I wrote extensively about them on this blog last year. They are a lovely couple that make a really nice Chianti at Italy’s only all Kosher winery.

Many in the States know other Italian wines but most are made by teams of religious Jews who work in an otherwise none Kosher winery. Today as my family celebrates the Exodus I know my Dad will tell the story of when his two relatives showed up after…

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Sometimes, it takes little courage to survive VinItaly

Wine Openers

VERONA – Day one VinItaly 2016 and Happy 50 years of VinItaly. Under sunny skies and mild temperatures, the 50th edition of the world’s largest wine fair opened Sunday with Italian president Sergio Mattarello among the thousands of enthusiastic wine lovers in attendance.
The opening day was a Sunday, which may account for the late-arriving attendees, but you still found the expected boisterous jam around many of the stands. Of course, having the President here, with his large contingent of security men and advisors, simply added to the general hysterics.

If you’re experienced at VinItaly, negotiating the crowds is no problem and if you are particularly fortunate you’ll find a friendly booth where you might escape for a few minutes to rest and learn about a new wine region or more about an old fave.

Susannah Crociani holds a bottle of her Vin Santo, a sweet wine made only in…

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Monday Musings On Wine Education – Vinitaly International Academy


Wine study is the topic of my Monday posts on Avvinare. Last week I wrote about a couple of French wine programs that I have undertaken and today I want to emphasize the new Italian wine certificate program run by Vinitaly International Academy. I was not able to do the progam this year because of timing but do hope to do it in the future. For an understanding of how it was from the student perspective, I am sure Joel Mack of Vintrospective will write about his recent experience. I have known Ian D’Agata, the Director of the VIA for a few years and I am sure it is an intense yet funny experience. Ian has the gift of being super smart and knowledgeable but also making people feel at ease, not an easy task and not always a combination that one finds in the wine world. This year was the second edition of the program and I believe around 50% of the students passed. I am not sure when I will be able to do the class but it is definitely something in my future. Ian’s book on indigenous grapes is right up my alley and as I wrote last week, I am a fan of education

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Memorable Events, Monday Musings, Wine Education, wines

Vinitaly Day 1 – Toscana, Liguria, Abruzzo, Sicilia, Lombardia

Arena di Verona

Today is the first official day of Vinitaly which is celebrating its 50th edition. As usual there are so many events and seminars and wines to taste that one can be overwhelmed. I am lucky enough to be able to spend time in the relatively calm press area where WIFI, bathrooms, coffee and computers are all available, at times a luxury during this crazy wine fair. I love Vinitaly, the energy, the people and mostly the wines of course.

I figured out that I need to go to five regions a day to at least spend some time in every part of Italy. Between client meetings and wines I want to taste, there is not a lot of time to write on this blog however I wanted to share the excitement that is going on today in the beautiful city of Verona.

Verona 3

One of the changes that are taking place this year is a new refined competition called 5 star wines. It is judged by a panel of very competent international wine experts and wines will now be rated on a 100 point scale. There is also a new prize sectiom called Wine without Walls dedicated to wines with less than 40 mg/l of sulfites and that were made without using specific techniques such as micro-oxidation, irrigation and others.

Today I was lucky enough to participate in a wine tasting of wines without sulfites, organic wines and ones that respect vegan regulations. I will write about that more at length at another time. I also saw friends from the Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Vino Nobile di Montepulcino, and Brunello consoritum. Happily I also was able to taste lots of bubbles from Liguria that I had never tried, ones made from indigenous varieties Pigato and Ormeasco as well as a Rosato made from Sangiove from Malenchini.

It is only a little after 300pm and it seems I have already seen a lot of friends and clients but more to do, no rest at Vinitaly.

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Filed under Abruzzo, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Liguria, Lombardia, Memorable Events, Sicilia, Toscana, Trade Fairs, Vinitaly, wines

Wine Wednesday: Tokaji from Hungary


Unfortunately this photo is very blurry but the wine was perfect. Perhaps the photo is a sign of how much I enjoyed the evening at the Hungarian Embassy with Les Dames d’Escoffier. I was inducted this past year into this extraordinary group of women and one of the perks is invitations to exciting events around the city such as this one last week.


We tried a number of wonderful wines and interesting bites and I learned a lot from the discussion by their sommelier, Helga Gal. I visited Hungary many years ago right after the Berlin Wall fell, another life time ago. I would love to go back and visit that interesting country, especially the wine regions. I am actually partly Hungarian so it seems fitting to dip back into my roots and explore the country further.


We tried six wines from indigenous varieties that were all very difficult to pronounce.


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Filed under Hungary, Les Dames d'Escoffier, Tokaji, Wine Wednesday, wines