Central Italy- the top 2 grapes

Italian_southernredsbacklabel

The two most widely grown red grapes of Italy are:

#1 Sangiovese– mostly grown  in central Italy (Tuscany, Emilia Romania).

#2 Montepulciano– mostly grown on the Adriatic Coast (Abruzzo, Apulia, Marche).

The wines selected to showcase their differences, similarites:

2010 Scopone L’Olivare – This wine is a bit on the modern side (produced in smaller barrels with shorter maceration which produces an earlier drinking wine).

Sangiovese is a high acid grape with what some call “gravely” tannins. The name translates to “blood of Jove” and many believe it’s highest expression comes from the specific Brunello clone isolated by Clemente Santi (Biondi Santi ancestor).

It has red fruit flavors along with distinctive flavors of orange peel, tomato leaf and balsamic. The more “serious” Sangiovese wines that are made for aging have pronounced earthy qualities as well.

Brunello di Montalcino, by law is 100% Sangiovese. 2010 is a phenomenal vintage and prices are reasonable but they will need some time to develop. If you want to drink now decant for a few hours beforehand.

2009 Umanchi Ronchi, Cumaro, Rosso Conero– Umani Ronch is a fairly new winery owned by the a Bianchi-Bernetti since 1959 and Cumaro’s first vintage was 1985. This is 100% Montepulciano fermented with natural yeasts and hand picked.

Montepulciano has some riper red and black fruit flavors like plum and (sour) cherry. The wines can also have a boysenberry flavor which I happily associate with childhood camping trips.

Lower in acidity than Sangiovese the wines are also a little softer and easier to drink, especially Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which I often suggest to the closet Merlot drinkers.

 

 

 

 

100% Italian!

While studying for my Italian Wine Professional Certification I put together a list of the known Italian Denominations that are required by law to use 100% of a grape in the wine.

Most wines, around the world, are blended wines so if you want a true expression of any of these Italian grapes look for these Denominations (in bold) on the label:

Piemonte (Piedmont)

Reds

Barbaresco DOCG (100% Nebbiolo)

Barolo DOCG (100% Nebbiolo)

Diano d’Alba DOCG (100% Dolcetto)

Dogliani DOCG (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore/Ovada DOCG (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto d’Alba DOC (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto d’Asti DOC (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto d’Aqcui DOC (100% Dolcetto)

Nizza DOCG (100% Barbera)

Whites

Asti DOCG (100% Moscato)

Erbaluce di Caluso / Caluso DOCG (100% Erbaluce)

Gavi (di Gavi) DOCG (100% Cortese)

 

Toscana (Tuscany)

Reds

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (100% Sangiovese)

Rosso di Montalcino DOC (100% Sangiovese)

 

Basilicata

Reds

Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG (100% Aglianico)

Aglianico del Vulture DOC (100% Aglianico)

 

Puglia

Red

Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG (100% Primitivo)

 

Umbria

Red

Sagrantino Montefalco DOCG (100% Sagrantino)

 

Veneto

White (dessert/sparkling)

Recioto di Gambellara DOCG (100% Garganega)

 

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF I MISSED ANY SO I CAN KEEP THE LIST UPDATED…

 

 

Anything, but Santa Margherita

WineTastingMemorial Day Italian wine tasting- anything but Santa Margherita.

SantaMargheritaFor 14 years in a row, from 1995 to 2008, it was the most popular imported wine in Wine & Spirits magazine’s annual restaurant poll. And as a popular Wine Blogger Blake Gray reports “With 2.5 times the sales of the next-most-popular wine over $20, this is easily America’s favorite wine splurge. It tastes like nothing, and the logical conclusion is that’s what many Americans are looking for.”

 

WIneLineupWe tasted 4 alternatives against Santa Margherita Pinot Grigo:

This was an informal tasting, on the beach, so we used my favorite summertime wine accessories: stainless carafes.

ORANGE• Santa Margherita Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2013- This wine needs no introduction, as Santa Margherita is the standard for the crisp, refreshing notes of Italian Pinot Grigio. Your Price: $19.97

Villata_ArneisAQUA• Villata Arneis Terredavino- Piedmonte NW Italy- Generous, crisp, and refreshing, releasing aromas of blossoms and green apple

$8.50 on sale grape varietal Arneis means “little rascal” in Italian. Difficult to grow.

 

AloisLageder_PGBOTTLE (covered in foil)• Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio 2013– Crisp, mineral driven, lively, delicious. The perfect summer sipping beverage, and a killer pairing for seafood. It’s cheaper, and better than SM, and just a fantastic wine period. – PJ Wine: $12.97

 

DelSannino_FalanghinaGREEN• Mastroberardino Sannio Falanghina –Campania Italy. The tongue of the boot. 2013- The nose whacks you with a cool sea-breeze of peach, pesto, and salt. It’s also got this fantastic fennel thing going on and smells like sweet basil being extracted by the mid-day southern Italian sun. PJ Wine $16.97

 

Luisa_RibollaGiallaSTAINLESS• Ribolla Gialla is a signature varietal of Friuli Venezia Giulia. The origins of this varietal are uncertain, but some have identified its ancestor as Avola, a varietal brought to Friuli during the occupation of Friuli by the Romans. However, others say Ribolla Gialla is a native varietal of the region. Record of its existance in the region goes as far back as the 12th century. This is a fine and pristine expression of Ribolla Gialla, with bright fruit aromas of peach, citrus and pear. There’s a touch of dusty mineral at the back and the wine is fresh and tart on the close. $17.95

CONCLUSION: The Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio was the most expensive and least favorite of the group.

The BEST Barolo…

MicheleChiarloHow do you find the best Barolo producers? Thanks to Wine-Searcher for some detective work…they ranked the “king of wines” based on vineyard site rankings.

The “best” regions (in bold) and some recommended producers listed below:

Third Tier:

Francia (Serralunga d’Alba)

Villero (Castiglione Falletto)

Second Tier:

Monprivato (Castiglione Falletto)- Giuseppe Mascarello

Rocche dell’Annunziata (La Morra)- Renato Ratti

Vigna Rionda (Serralunga d’Alba)- Bruno Giacosa, Luigi Pira, Cappellano

Top Tier: Continue reading

The Best Margherita Pizza- “Secret” Recipe

Living in New York we are very fortunate to have an excellent selection of places to enjoy food and wine. Recently I had some delicious (Neapolitan) pizza-click on the photo for NYC location. Not everyone is as lucky, so I am passing along a “secret” recipe for Margherita Pizza that you can try to perfect at home.

Prego (Italian for “You’re welcome!”)


Some wines that are great with Margherita Pizza (Tolerant Taster approved):

Barbera (d’Asti or d’Alba):

Vietti- Tre Vigne– around $20 and delicious.

Michel Chiarlo– around $10 and pretty easy to find anywhere.

Montepulciano

Masciarelli– under $10 !

Fattoria Le Terrazze (Rosso Conero)- under $20-if you can find it.

good Chianti (doesn’t need to be expensive)-

Monteraponi– harder to find but classic and delicious. Around $20.

Fattoria Viticcio– under $20 and pretty easy to locate.

 

 

Excellent summer white wines! Memorial Day Part Deux…

Two years ago I setup a Rosé wine tasting for family and friends to see if we could all agree on a summer favorite. Click to read.

The group asked if we could do it again, with white wines, so I was happy to oblige.

The 5 wines I chose are all wines that I recommend to people on a regular basis for these reasons:

They are inexpensive, all under $15, and a few under $10 on sale.

All are relatively easy to find- they are carried in most wine stores in the country.

They are consistent-not too much variation from vintage to vintage.

Granted, these wines aren’t going to blow you away with layers of complexity, but let’s be honest… summer wines should be simple, well chilled, and refreshing.

*All wines were tasted blind with tasting sheets for the drinkers to circle flavors, grape variety, country of origin and to write comments.

So here are the wines with some “professional” tasting notes along with comments from all of us non-professional wine drinkers who just want a great summer white…
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Why don’t Americans drink Chianti?

I recently attended the launch of the Slow Wine Guide as well as the Italian Wine Masters class on Tuscan wines.

One of the wines that we tasted and discussed, was Chianti.

Forget everything you know about straw basket Chianti. The main grape of Chianti, Sangiovese, with it’s high aciditiy, produces some of the most affordable, food friendly, versatile wines that I enjoy.

Also, because Chianti can be made in so many styles you are sure to find one that suits your tastes.

So why don’t we drink Chianti, more often? STRAW BASKETS!

It is probably due to Americans past negative experiences with Chianti…

1. Originally the laws for making red wine in Chianti were very restrictive:

•  Wines needed to include a white grape, Malvasia (they don’t anymore)

•  Producers had to match the “recipe” or established percentage of each grape set in the mid 19th Century (now vast improvements have been made by winemakers)

2. Quality of wine exported to the United States was not very good. Producers focused on quantity, for exports, and kept the best wines for the local market (Italians)

3. The main grape, Sangiovese, doesn’t grow well outside of Italy so we are not as familiar with it as we are with other California staples like Cabernet and Merlot.

NEW, IMPROVED Chianti… On to the wines

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