Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Casorzo Nero (Piedmont)

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This week’s variety hails from the province of Asti in Piedmont and is known as Malvasia di Casorzo Nero. This Malvasia belongs to the same family of grapes that we have been visiting each week but this one is a red grape.

This Malvasia can be made into sweet wines, either frizzante or spumante versions or more infrequently into a passito.

Malvasia di Castorzo

I found a couple of producers who describe the wines made from this grape as being fruity and floral but who swear it is not unctuous and cloying. There is a historic Cantina Sociale Sometimes the wine is made with a percentage of Barbera which gives it a more sapid note but often it is made from 100% Malvasia di Casorzo.

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On wine-searcher.com, I was able to find this wine and the price which was about $15.

Malvasia di Casorzo Nera seems to lack a presence in the U.S. for the moment but that may change as more people turn to sweet red wines. When I think about the popularity of Bracchetto d’Acqui, I smile and think Casorzo has a future too.

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Women In Wine Fridays: Le Donne Del Vino 26 Years Of Success – Part 2

This is the second part of that very long blog post from 2014. 29 years and going strong.

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Donne del Vino Seminar

This is the second part of my post on the Le Donne del Vino seminar held by Civilta del Bere last year at Vinitaly. My post was getting so long yesterday that I feared no one would read it on the web and each one of these women deserves to be recognized and written about together with their wonderful wine from 1988.

The fifth winery that was presented was Castello di Querceto. The winery is located some seven kilometers from Greve in Chianti, in the heart of Chianti Classico. They have 60 hectares that are planted with vines in a property that is 190 hectares. The property is owned by the Francois family and the castle was renovated in the 16th century from previously existing medieval ruins. The winery has been operating for 115 years. They are lucky enough to have library wines starting from the year 1904. In…

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Women In Wine Fridays: Le Donne Del Vino 26 Years Of Success – Part 1

On International Women’s day I thought I would republish these two posts I wrote about the Italian organization le Donne del Vino. It will be their 29th year this year. I think it’s a good time to celebrate them.

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Le Donne del Vino - Vinitaly

It is hard to believe it has been a whole year since the last Vinitaly but life seems to have a way of speeding up as you get (a little bit) older, as some of you may have noticed. In any event, this post is about the 25th anniversary of the organization Le Donne del Vino, even if this is their 26th year. The organization which began in 1988 started as the brainchild of Elisabetta Tognana and today has 650 members.

I first heard about the organization when I began seriously studying Italian wine in Milan in 1997. I did my first women in wine interviews in 2005 when Pia Donata Berlucchi was the President of the group. Thanks to this long standing interest in the group, I was invited by Alessandro Torcoli of Civilta del Bere to one of his seminars at Vinitaly last year dedicated to the…

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La Festa delle Donne – International Women’s Day March 8

Tomorrow is a celebration of women. Many will be staying out of work to protest what is going on in our politics however most women can’t take the day off from their jobs and certainly from their children and family responsibilities. I think women should be celebrated everyday for all the paid and unpaid work we do. While we are certainly farther along than in the past, we are not yet at a place of true equality – not by a long shot and that’s why it is still important to discuss where we stand today.

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I have always had an aversion to this day because I think women should be celebrated everyday but I know there is a larger meaning to it and that it commemorates a specific event and that women all over the world suffer great injustices and a lack of civil rights, in the most basic rights. I read a horrible story yesterday about a woman in India who was burned alive by her family because she left her husband and married someone else. Horrific things happen to women all over the world everyday, just because they are women. I’m happy to live in a country where I do have rights and I can exercise them. Today I want to mention a dear
friend Kristen Engvig  who started a whole movement about women and what they bring to the workplace, W.I.N. I lived with Kristin in Milan when she created this organization…

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Discovering Tasca d’Almerita, A Sicilian Icon

I first heard of Tasca d’Almerita  many, many years ago. I knew it was one of Sicily’s great wineries with a long and noble past and family behind it. What I didn’t know was how innovative the winery is as well.

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Tasca d’Almerita is its 8th generation of their history. They have five estates and
about 600 hectares of vines in Sicily. They are exported all over the world and are brought into the US by Winebow

They also have two amazing resorts and a serious commitment to sustainability.
The estates are Capofaro on the Aeolian island Salina, Tascante on Mount Etna, Sallier de la Tour in Monreale, a joint venture, with the Whitaker Foundation on Mozia, and the Regaleali estate which now stretches over 500 hectares in the very heart Sicily. They also have Villa Tasca (formerly Villa Camastra) in Palermo.

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I first met one of the two brothers running Tasca today –  together with their father Count Lucio –  at Vinitaly in 2011. I was translating for the Wine Spectator at meetings they had with groups of 10 wineries from each region. All of the Sicilian wineries that day were impressive but Tasca was something more.

Every year I spend a long time at the Tasca stand at Vinitaly. It is always artfully done with interesting materials and with vegetation from Sicily. One year they brought orange trees, another herbs that grown on the island. It is usually so packed it’s hard to get a space to taste but I always taste through all of their wines.

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I’d be hard pressed to say which one I prefer because honestly I love almost all of them. One that of course stands out is Almertia Extra brut. It is made from 100% Chardonnay and has the Contea di Sclafani D.O.C designation and hails from the Regaleali Estate. It stays on its lees for 36 months. It has rich, apple flavors with a great almond note. I also love that Tasca has a female winemaker, Laura Orsi on their team at Regaleali. Tasca planted Chardonnay in Sicily in the 1980s, the first to bring Chardonnay to Sicily.

Another Tasca wine that has always appealed to me is their Regaleali Rose made from 100% Nerello Mascalese. I drink a lot of rose all year and this one went well with the lovely pizza I had this weekend. I was surprised at its freshness but then I remembered that the estate is located at 400-900 above sea level and therefore the grapes do get to rest from the heat of the hot Sicilian sun.

Regaleali Rose

Tasca is not only at the forefront of Sustainability but they also are trying to make wines without sulfites. I tried a version of their wine Antisa that was made without sulfites in 2015. Antisa means “wait.” It had great acidity, again thanks to the elevation at Regaleali.

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Catarratto bianco is a widely planted grape on the island of Sicily. There are two very common types of Catarratto grown: bianco comune e bianco lucido. Antisa is made with bianco comune. The wine was also under screw cap which was interesting. Tasca tries everything it seems.

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Nozze d’oro is another famous Tasca wine. This one is made from 72% Inzolia and 28% Sauvignon Tasca, This Sauvignon clone  has been growing at Regaleali since the First world war. It was soft, fruity and beautiful and I am not even a huge fan of Sauvignon.

Tearing myself away from tasting wines from Regaleali, I did a tasting of their wines from Etna. I was particularly taken with one of them called Buonora. Made with Carricante, it was rich and sapid with loads of minerality. I also love their version of Nerello Mascalese from Etna, known as Il Tascante. It had depth and layers of nuanced flavors much like a great Pinot Noir. It was elegant with finesse as well.

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Before I write more about other Tasca wines, I want to mention that  Tasca is at the head of a group of wineries working on a project called SOStain that is involved in protecting the environment. The mission of the project is to promote sustainable agriculture. Tasca is convinced that the responsibility of each producer is to make great wine and to protect the land and the local flora and fauna while doing so. They have also created a mini-agricultural group called Naturaintasca that involves a group of local farmers who work with typical Sicilian products. At one event I attended, Alberto Tasca d’Almerita showed a film I just loved about his family but I can no longer find it on the website. At a certain point in his speech, Alberto said the following line which I really appreciated as well, “We didn’t receive the gift of our lands from our fathers but as a loan from our children/Non abbiamo ricevuto la terra in eredita dei nostri padri ma in prestito dai nostri figli.” So much more to say about this project but for now I will go back to the wines.

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Three more wines which I must mention are  their Riserva del Conte 2010, Contea di Sclafani D.O.C. made from 67% Perricone and 33% Nero d’Avola. The grapes are vinified together with ambient yeast.  The wine then ages in 500 liter wooden barrels made from Chestnut wood for 26 months. After 40 years, they wanted to commemorate the first vintage of the Riserva del Conte  and made this wine in 2010.

Ruby red in color with developing aromas of earth, fruit, animal skin and bacon, the wine was dry and full-bodied on the palate with flavors of oak, chocolate, and vanilla. It had sweet ripe tannins and a velvety mouthfeel.

Rosso del Conte is their flagship “SuperTasca.” Count Giuseppe planted vineyards of Perricone and Nero d’Avola in 1954 with a desire to create a wine to rival  French wines for both their elegance and longevity. The true expression of their family and their terroir. It spends 18 months in 100% new French oak (Allier & Tronçais) 225 liter barrels and 6 months in bottle before being released. According to their exhaustive website, it is  made from a selection of best Nero d’Avola grapes (63%) and other red vaieties among those authorized by the DOC (37%). I always find it a sensual wine with sweet tannins and a long finish.

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The last wines to mention are from their incredible estate Capofaro on Salinia. I went on an amazing sailing trip to Salina but didn’t get to Capofaro. I hope to spend time their one day. Their amazing Malvasia are always the perfect ending to these exquisite tastings. They have two and every year I try to decide which one I like better. One is sweeter, Malvasia Capofaro and the other Didyme which I was told means twins but is also the ancient name for Salina is dry with great acidity.

Tasca also makes interesting wines with Cabernet Sauvignon, Grillo, Grecanico and Syrah which I have tasted but the ones I mentioned were my favorites among their very vast range.

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I am an unabashed fan of this fantastic Sicilian winery and I look forward to this year’s mega tasting. Tasca is at almost every big wine event in the U.S and in restaurants and wine stores all through the country so everyone should have the occasion to try their wines.  Don’t miss out, I’m sure you will become a fan as I have.

Join the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel Group (#ItalianFWT) later today  as we virtually return to Italy’s southernmost wine region, and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea – Sicily! We’ll be posting and chatting about our discoveries with a live chat on Twitter 8-9am PST/11-12 EST . Come join us!

Italian Food Wine and Travel is a bloggers group that focuses monthly on a particular region of Italy showcasing our experiences with the food, wine or travel from that region.

  • Cam of Culinary Adventures With Camilla with be sharing Gnocchi Con Salsa di Pistacchi + Donnafugata Sherazade Rose 2014
  • Jill of L’Occasion offers a Winemaker Rendezvous: Lucio Matricardi of Stemmari
  • Susannah of Avvinare will be Discovering Tasca d’Almerita, A Sicilian Icon
  • Jennifer of Vino Travels will be serving Sicilian Steak with Eggplant Caponata & Nero d’Avola
  • David Crowley of Cooking Chat Food will be offering Pairings That Work With Sicilian Wine
  • Jeff of FoodWineClick with be having Sicilian Fun with Frappato, Grillo, Swordfish and Artichokes
  • Lauren of the Swirling Dervish – A Week-Night Dinner in Sicily
  • Gwendolyn of the Wine Predator will be serving up Sicilian Wine and Food by Candlelight
  • Martin of Enofylz Wine Blog will be exploring Two Tastes of Sicily’s Autochthonous Grape – Nerello Mascalese!

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica Bianca (Emilia)

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This Malvasia di Candia Aromatica Bianca hails mainly from Emilia Romagna and can be found in the DOCs Colli Piacentini, Colli di Scandiano e Canossa, Monterosso Val d’Arda, Trebbiano Val Trebbia. It also grows in Lazio and can be used in the DOCs Cerveteri, Circeo, Cori, Genazzano, Montecoprati Colonna and my favorite, Zagarolo. A

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I recently had the pleasure of tasting wines from the Colli Piacentini at Slow Wine’s New York event last month. The winery is called La Tosa They make a wine called “Terrafiabe” COLLI PIACENTINI D.O.C. VALNURES. It’s a sparkling white which uses 40% Malvasia di Candia aromatic, 40% Otrugo, and 20% Trebbiano. They think of the Malvasia as bringing significant aromatics to the blend.

Emilia-Romagna has a number of DOC wines, although few that are very well known. I spent a considerable amount of time tasting wines from the Colli Piacentini while staying with friends in Bobbio, a wonderful town in the northern part of the region.

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Parma is another city that I love and I have tasted numerous wines from the Colli di Parma DOC, as noted in yesterday’s repost of an article I wrote two years ago about these wines. Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa DOC are wines I know less well while the Colli Bolognesi are favorites from my graduate school year in Bologna. Reno DOC, Bosco Eliseo DOC, Colli d’Imola DOC, Colli di Rimini DOC, Colli di Romagna Centrale DOC are all wines that are seldom seen in the States. I’ve tried some of them during the years I frequented the Lidi Ferraresi with my exes. Yes plural. Both of my long term Italian partners had families in different parts of Romagna. Thus, it is an area that was and remains close to my heart.

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Wine Wednesday: Quinta Monte Sao Sebastião

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This week’s Wine Wednesday post is all about Quinta Monte São Sebastião from the Douro Valley. The quinta’s history started in 1950. They have 4 hectares devoted to wine and three to olive growing near the town of Murca out of a property of 50 hectares. Pinhao is the largest city near the winery. We arrived there after a long day and had perhaps the best meal of the week that I was in the Douro Valley. The fantastic homemade meal was a moment to also try their wines with food.

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They also have guest rooms where one can stay while visiting the Douro. The quinta is located in the Cimo Corgo Sub-region, that runs  from the junction of the Corgo river
and the Temilobos stream to Cachão da Valeira. They grow mostly only indigenous varieties such as white grapes Códegado Larinho, Gouveio and Rabigato and red varieties Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca and Tinta Roriz. The white varieties grow on granite at an average altitude of 500 meters in order to preserve their natural freshness, while the red grapes are grown at lower altitudes.

Unlike most of the other farms we visited in the Douro, they also make sparkling wine such as the one seen in the picture above. They make three types of these wines and are doing quite well with it, we were told. This was not at all typical of the area. Pedro Guedes is their winemaker who we nicknamed winegyver because he apparently was quite inventive with his use of random tools to make fermentation tanks and the like such as a washing machine drum and a fish tank tube…

I also really liked their white wine, which was a blend of Rabigato, Gouveio and Codegado Larinho. It was an easy drinking wine with bright acidity. Apparently that comes from the Rabigato while the Codegado grape brings aromatics.

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They also made a red that was interesting using Tinta Amarela, Tinta Barocca, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Nacional. It went through a cold soak for 48 hours. It was ripe and full bodied with juicy, silky tannins.

I thought the owner and his father were truly lovely and welcoming. We didn’t get too spend much time visiting the winery but it’s definitely a place to watch and somewhere I would return if and when I get back to the Douro valley.

 

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