Monthly Archives: March 2017

Pomp & Circumstance – Sometimes It’s Appealing

Just reposting this because it is the only post I have written that includes English wine. Like everyone else, today I am thinking about London, the Uk and the statement keep calm and carry on. Westminister is in my heart since I was a small child as my Dad is a huge Churchill fan. I am saddened and alarm but their resilience is legendary and I have no doubt yesterday’s attack will be met with the same resolve Britain has always shown.

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I confess I was up early and spent two hours watching the Royal Nuptials. I loved it. It brought me back 30 years to that night in camp when we all got up at 4:00 AM to watch Prince Charles marry Lady Diana. Of course I’m no longer that blushing tween but I do still have some of that. Also, after going to a funeral service yesterday for a dear friend’s father, it was nice to watch something light and fairytale like early today, especially when so much of the news is so dire.

I, like everyone else who pens a wine blog, is likely thinking of British sparklers to celebrate the occasion. I’ve only had ones from Nyetimber, which were delicious but quite pricey. I did find an entire website dedicated to English wine producers. Years ago this would have been unthinkable. While the growth of their…

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Wine Wednesday: Si Mon Père Savait(Cotes du Roussillon)

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This week’s wine Wednesday is about a wine from Bernard Magrez, Si Mon Père Savait. Made from a blend of 69% Syrah, 17% Carignan, and 14% Grenache, it screams Southern France and particularly Roussillon. Infact, it is from the Côtes du Roussillon. The vines are grown on schist soils. The grapes are vinified separately in inox and then blended in a second step. Half the wine ages in barrels and half in inox and then they are blended. The vines are on average 30 years old. The Grenache and the Carignan are bushed trained and the Syrah is on a royal cordon trellising system. It had that wonderful “garrigue, Mediterranean vegetal aroma” and really made me want to visit the south of France. Berries and bramble, earthy notes and black fruit made it a great pairing for my weekly Peruvian chicken. I found this page about it on wine-searcher.com. This was the 2011 so the blend is a little different. Bernard Magrez is world famous for his big Bordeaux estates like Château Pape Clément. This is an  very affordable and delicious sample of what he can produce.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Sardegna Bianco

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Today’s indigenous variety is Malvasia di Sardegna Bianca. This Malvasia can be found in two DOCs, Malvasia di Bosa and Malvasia di Cagliari. Both of these areas are in the province of Cagliari in Western Sardinia. They were each awarded their DOC designation in 1972. There are various versions of Malvasia di Bosa, some sparkling, some dry, some sweet, others oxidized and still others fortified.

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One of the producers of Malvasia di Bosa makes his wine aging it under yeast with flor. This oxidative style is what they are known for Cantina Giovanni Battista Columbu. Another well-known winery from Bosa is Azienda Agricola Silattari. They have a historic property from the 1700s. Although the winery has a long history, they are not resting on their laurels. The two people running it now have a project to create a community of people who become “owners’ of some of the vines on the property. They come, work on the vineyard and eventually leave with their bottles of wines, the project Ofelia as it is known is very interesting. Apparently so many tourists visit the property that they came up with this idea. I have never tried this Malvasia but look forward to trying it at Vinitaly. As I write these posts on all the different types of Malvasia in Italy, I am struck at how important this variety is in so many regions of Italy. All of the information in this post is new to me. I had never heard of Malvasia di Bosa.Western Sardegna though as always been on my radar mostly because it is very beautiful and is also home to Vernaccia di Orestano and a series of mines that have lunar like landscapes.  Just like Malvasia, Vernaccia can be oxidatively aged in barrels under flor. The barrels, just like with some versions of Malvasia are not filled to the brim. The aromas are almond, nutty and yeasty.

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The Sardegna tourist board also posted the above picture of the area. It looks amazing and I would love to visit. I was in a different part of Sardegna in 2015 and it is just incredibly beautiful. I can’t wait until my next trip.

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day With Porterhouse Red Ale

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Happy St. Patrick’s day. In the nine years that I have been posting on this blog, I think I have written about beer twice or maybe three times. It’s not that I don’t like beer it is just that I gravitate to other beverages on a continual basis. Sometimes though, after a big tasting or during the right kind of event, I crave a beer. Recently, I went to a historic New York hotspot, Fraunces Tavern. I haven’t been there since I worked on Wall Street right after college as a paralegal. A lifetime ago and another world. My memories of the place were not spot on and it has changed remarkably.

They have a great bar with live music a few days a week and a huge list of both beers and whiskeys. While they are well known for their dark beers, I chose a red ale, not being partial to the darker stout. The Red Ale was delicious and refreshing with just enough citrus and hoppy notes to strike my fancy. The Porterhouse Brewing Company is a chain of six bars Irish bars in Bray and Dublin, London and New York. It was founded in 1989 by Liam La Hart and Oliver Hughes. Fraunces Tavern, on the other hand, has been open since 1767. To judge from the crowd last night, they are poised for another 200+ years. I bet today is a big day there as well. I have only been to Ireland once but I have been around the Irish my whole life, as a New Yorker and an America. There is nothing quite like the lilting sound of an Irish accent. It thrills me when hear it. I used to have an Irish boss and I remember having a hard time actually listening to the what he was saying because I love the tone of it. Go figure. I bet I’m not the first lass to fall for the accent and I doubt I will be the last.

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Wines from the Valtellina: Nino Negri Sfursat 5 Stelle 2011

Thinking of my friend in Valtellina today as he celebrates his birthday. It’s so cold here in NY that I continue to think I should be skiing at least and drinking great mountain wines from places like Valtellina. I just tried a Sfursat from Mamete Prevostini at Tre Bicchieri and it was fantastic! Infact the acidity, in my view, due to the elevation of the vineyards, enables these concentrated wines to be imbibed with slightly lighter food than what an Amarone requires. Worth learning to pronounce, try wines from the Valtellina, Sfursat and others, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Last week’s Italian extravaganza of wines included some wines from the Valtellina in Lombardy, particularly this one from Nino Negri. I got about 10 text messages from a friend who lives in the Valtellina last week asking me if I had seen that Eric Asimov had finally taken note of Valtellina. Yes I had read the article. Funny that even in Sondrio, what the New York Times writes about, is what they have their minds on. That said, I actually had first visited the Valtellina with the person who texted me over 15 years ago. His family has a house there and we went to visit and tasted wines along the way. I loved the wines from Sandro Fay I remember and a few others. One of the famous names forever from that region though is Nino Negri. Last week I just had the pleasure of tasting his Sfursat…

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Wine Wednesday: Petite Arvine from Ottin (Valle d’Aosta)

Ottin Petite Arvine

This week’s blizzard has really made me miss ife on the slopes, all of it. I always remember the panini with speck and asiago cheese that I would eat when skiing in Italy and the desire to drink Vin Brule but the knowledge that too much of it would make me a worse skier. Hopefully, a settimana bianca will again be part of my life as Niccolo’ learns to ski and wants to go. It’s a great tradition in Italy that I miss.

This week’s wine of the week for wine wednesday is about Petite Arvine from Ottin. It was very clear and crisp with nice minerality and acidity. A straight-forward wine, “franco” the Italians wood say.

This is a fresh and friendly white wine which is a perfect drink on the mountains after a tough day on the slopes or after a hike in that beautiful countryside. I’ve always had it with mountain cheese such as Fontina DOP, charcuterie such as Jambon de Bosses DOP, Lard d’Arnad or alone as an aperitif.

I wish I had great pictures from the Valle d’Aosta. It is such a marvelous and special place. I have been skiing there a number of times (Monte Cervino, Monte Bianco, La Thuile) in my years in Italy and each time came back with a renewed respect for the mountains, the land and the wines. I have not spent much time there during the summer but I am sure the hiking rivals the skiing.

Each year they have an exposition for their wines in September. The association is called the Associazione Viticulteurs Encaveurs. In Italian, the term “viticultura eroica” means that those harvesting the wines are basically “heros” because it is so difficult in terms of the slope of the terraces.

In terms of wine production, there are a number of cooperatives as well as many individual producers. I also learned that some 40% of the members of the cooperatives are women, a fact I found quite interesting.

I spent a long time with a sommelier from the Valle d’Aosta at VInitaly one year. He was so incredibly well prepared and knowledgeable that I felt I had taken a trip through the region and through the vineyards with him. In fact, I highly suggest going to the sommelier booths at Vinitaly in years to come. You learn a lot and can taste many wines. I went on the last day of the fair at 900 AM and was alone with him for about one hour. I realize not everyone has that luxury. I felt very lucky that I did. It was one of my favorite tastings at the fair and among the most instructive.

For now, just an invitation and a suggestion – visit the Valle d’Aosta on your next holiday, winter or summer and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Lipari

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This week’s indigenous variety is Malvasia di Lipari. Like all of the other Malvasia varieties, this ne is also part of the Malvasia family. Lipari is a beautiful island in the Aeolian Islands. Malvasia di Lipari is usually made into a sweet wine. The grapes are harvested late and usually dried for a brief period on mats before being made into a sweet wine. The wine is golden and fascinating and exquisite.

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Florio, part of the Banfi portfolio makes this particular Malvasia di Lipari and is widely available in the US.

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I spent an amazing week sailing around the Aeolian Islands some years ago. It was an incredible experience. These volcanic islands are fascinating for their beauty, beaches, wines and food. I loved it and will always remember it. I can’t wait to go back some day.

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