We will be chatting about wines for the Christmas feast tomorrow, Saturday, December 2th at 11 am ET. If you’d like to weigh in on your favorite wines or simply want to listen in, join us on Twitter at the appointed time, using #ItalianFWT and making sure to add it to all of your tweets. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for links to articles written by each of our members.
I’ve spent many Christmases in Italy and each one has been a wonderful experience of food, wines, nature and love. I love Christmas in New York as well and this year will be spending the holidays right here. When in New York for the holiday, I do the same series of things, visit the Christmas trees around New York City, see Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall, Alvin Ailey at City Center, maybe the Nutcracker at the Metropolitan. I also tend to serve similar wines at the holiday meal or versions of those wines.
With the holidays upon us, I feel it necessary to drink even more sparkling wine than I do normally. Lucky for me, there is an endless supply. Many Italian wineries are now making sparkling wine from their indigenous grapes. I’ve had sparklers made from Cannonau, Nebbiolo and even Sangiovese. Those that I talk to about this new trend say that in part it is due to the popularity of Prosecco and in part due to their desire to complete the range of wines that they can offer clients.
Some years I start the holiday meal with a wonderful sparkling wine from Trentodoc. Other years with one from Franciacorta, yet this year, I am going to start the meal with wines from Congeliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G.
I recently had the opportunity to try eight different samples of Prosecco DOCG wines thanks to the Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene and #winestudio. It had been ages since I had really sat down with these wines. Prosecco of all types has been doing so well in the last few years that I had begun not to take them as seriously as I should have. I was impressed with the wines that we tried and with their depth and diversity. The wines really shined with loads of minerality, freshness, great acidity and finesse. Some were more to my liking than others but on the whole I was very impressed with the quality of all of the wines.
I found the wines to be a perfect complement to various foods that will grace my holiday table as well. Some of the drier versions such as Bortolmiol and Collalto will work with our hors d’oeuvres.
While the hint of sweetness in the Cartizze wines from Le Colture and Colesel, will work well both with salmon that we usually start with and that became a part of my tradition following all those years in Italy. I have visited Cartizze but didn’t know that because of its southern exposure, the grapes were able to get riper and therefore the lion’s share of the wines are made in the dry (sweeter) style. Some producers also make brut but historically Cartizze which is a cru if you will produced wines in this style. I was amazed at how much I liked these wines with higher residual sugar and think they are perfect for the Christmas feast with its combination of flavors and aromas, sweet and savory.
As the meal continues and the sparklers flow, I hope to find a place for Masottina and Val d’Oca, wines from Rive. Beautiful expressions of Prosecco. These wines from the “rive” come from very steep slopes where producers have to practice “heroic viticulture.” This area of Prosecco is also considered a cru and they are widely known for both their steep hills as well as the biodiversity.
We usually have a crown roast on Christmas. While the Prosecco DOCG would work perfectly with this part of the meal as well. I am thinking of having two wines I received as samples. These two Chianti are from Marchesi Gondi. Rufina. Rufina is a very special part of the Chianti area which as we know has seven subzones and many different terroirs.
The Gondi family has a long and illustrious history. I could write a book about the family but for this post, suffice it to say that their ancestors are even mentioned by Dante, in the Divine Comedy. Luckily they are in paradiso. The coat of arms which is visible on the capsule of their wines recalls their warrior heritage. The family traces its history to an ancestor named Orlando di Bellicozzo who was a member of the Council of Florence in 1197. Bellicozzo in italian means warlike or bellicose.
It was on September 24, 1716, that Cosimo III de’ Medici declared, in an edict, that there were four areas of Tuscany producing the highest quality wine. Chianti was one of these areas along with three other sites in Tuscany: Carmingnano, Pomino and the upper Valdarno. Rufina has been a DOC denominated wine since 1967 and a D.O.C.G since 1984. It’s the smallest of the Chianti sub-zones with 750 hectares of vines that produce 3.5 million bottles of wine a year.
The vines here are exposed to an important diurnal temperature change which allow the grapes to ripen completely and to maintain and develop wonderful aromas and flavors. I tried two of their wines which I hope to have again at Christmas dinner with our roast.
The first, called San Giuliano was from 2015. The wine comes from grapes grown at 300 meters. It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino and 10% Merlot. I thought it was an elegant wine. 2015 was a complicated year but apparently going to be considered a good one for longevity as well. I thought the wine was lovely now with dusty cherry, earth and red fruit notes. It was elegant and balanced with a nice finish. It will pair well both with our Christmas meal but also with the one we have the night before in a pizzeria, the V & T, a historic Upper West Side restaurant we go to following the afternoon Christmas ceremony at St. John the Divine.
The second wine I was lucky enough to try was a beauty. Pian dei Sorbi, a Chianti Rufina Riserva D.O.C.G. that was Sangiovese 80% and Colorino 20% was just a perfect Chianti. It had everything I want in a Sangiovese based wine, earth, spice, cherries, violets, forest floor and black pepper. It was also full bodied with great structure and length. The tannins were well integrated, it spends two years in oak, and really will be the perfect match for our Christmas roast. This is also a wine that can be put in the cellar. They say 8-12 years and I agree with that. 2013 was supposed to have been a great year as well. With a perfect September and first two weeks of October.
Join us on Saturday, December 2nd at 1100am ET using the hashtag #ItalianFWT, you will find the interesting posts below by members of our group but it’s open to all. We would love to hear what you have to say. Look for the following posts from our group and more posts will be forthcoming at #ItalianFWT:
Katarina from Grapevine Adventures brings us “Sparkling Wine All Through the Christmas Dinner with D’Araprì Winery.”
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers up “Buon Natale, Baccalà, and Barolo”
Tracy from The Traveling Somm shares “Tis the Season for Barolo.”
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish pens a piece entitled “Feast of the Seven Fishes and Wines to Match.”
Lynn Gowdy from Savor the Harvest adds “A Vin Santo Holiday”
Jill Barth from L’Occasion writes “A Romantic Italian Christmas At Home.”
Gwen from Wine Predator shares “Christmas in Tuscany California Style.”
Here at Avvinare I’ve written about “Prosecco DOCG and Chianti Rufina, Wines for the Christmas Feast.”
I’m always awed by the history of Italian wine families. Looks like you have some treats for holiday enjoyment indeed! Prosecco… a great way to start!
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A great range of Italian wines for the holiday! I, too liked the wines we sampled from the Rive subzone, and found their hint of sweetness quite amiable with a wide range of food. Your red wines sound delicious too! Happy holidays!
Cheers….I think I will pour some Prosecco this Christmas season.
Chianti Classico and Prosecco were on my list too!
I think this was a year of Prosecco- so many highlights and fresh discoveries. Lovely way to shine on this wine, with holiday cheers!
[…] People will continue to drink ever more sparkling wines but not just Prosecco DOC. Franciacorta, Trentodoc from Italy along with Cava, more premium Cavas […]