Tag Archives: Italy

Toast to the Emmy Awards with Ferrari Brut

Forget what the stars will be wearing at the 68th annual Emmy Awards, it’s all about what the stars will be drinking!

And they’ll be drinking one of my favorites: Ferrari Brut.

The sparkling wine from the Trentodoc appellation in northern Italy is the Official Sparkling Wine of the Emmys.

Ferrari Emmy AwardFerrari Brut is your go-to sparkling wine when you want to try something beyond France. It gets its bubbles via the traditional method just like Champagne, and is made from Chardonnay (one of the three grapes allowed in Champagne).

But you don’t need to compare it to Champagne. Ferrari Brut — and the other sparkling wines produced by the Trentino winery — stands out on its own. It is always winning awards, and was just named the “World Champion Blanc de Blancs” at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships.

Ferrari was founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari (no relation to the car company, which wasn’t founded until much later). Giulio did not have children, so he entrusted the winery to Bruno Lunelli in 1952. The Lunelli family still owns and operates Ferrari today.

Ferrari suggests making your Emmy party more exciting by asking guests ahead of time to guess who will win each category. Click here for a PDF of the official ballot.

No champagne flutes? No problem! Ferrari suggests enjoying the Brut in a standard wine glass as it showcases the bubbles and aromas even more.

Tweet how you’ll be toasting with Ferrari Brut @FerrariTrento with hashtags #ToastFerrari and #Emmys.

The 68th annual Emmy Awards air live Sunday, September 18th starting at 7pm Eastern on ABC.

For more information on the sparkling wines from Ferrari visit www.ferraritrento.it.

image courtesy Ferrari

Valdo Prosecco

AG Pick: Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco

Ring in 2016 with a Prosecco that has the finesse of a fine French sparkling wine with a budget friendly price tag.

The Oro Puro Prosecco Superior DOCG Brut is made by Valdo, an Italian winery that was started in 1926 and purchased by the Bolla family in the 1940s. The estate and vineyards are located in Valdobbiadene, in northeastern Italy. The vines grow on hills that range in altitude from 600 to 1200 feet above sea level.

Valdo ProseccoThe Oro Puro Prosecco is a dry sparkling wine made entirely from Glera grapes. The grapes were harvested by hand, and the first fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine gets its bubbles from the Charmat method, where the second fermentation takes place in tanks rather than in the bottle.

Pale yellow in color, the Oro Puro Prosecco has citrus and floral aromas. Dry flavors of white grapefruit, pear and golden apple are enhanced by a creamy mouth-filling texture and lively bubbles.

This is a versatile sparkling wine that pairs with a variety of foods, from oysters and caviar, to white fish, salads and hors d’oeuvres. Or enjoy a glass on its own as you toast to the New Year.

$19.99, 11.5% alcohol

Imported by Pasternak Wine Imports

Brunello glasses

Brunello of Montalcino: A Taste of the 2010 Vintage

By Maxine Howard

Montalcino, a small town in the southern part of Tuscany, is the only place winemakers can produce Brunello. It was the first to receive a DOCG designation guaranteeing the origin of this product. The grape from which Brunello is made is not unique: it is the Sangiovese grape grown around Italy and in other countries around the world. But this variety is Sangiovese Grosso, and the grapes are larger than those of the Sangiovese used in Chianti.

To be called Brunello, a Sangiovese must be:

  • Grown in Montalcino
  • Aged in oak two years
  • Aged in the bottle four months
  • Bottled in the production area
  • Beleased no sooner than January 1 of the fifth year following harvest

In addition, the wine must have a minimum alcohol content of 12.5%, although most are over 13%.

The terroir and climate vary through the growing area. The ground characteristics run from loose to rocky, the slopes have varying orientations, and the mild Mediterranean weather will have differing impact based upon placement of the vines. But there is one unifying characteristic to the Brunellos: they age slowly and retain their fruit and structure for many years.

The 2010 is said to be the best vintage in recent history, surpassing the previously revered wines of 1997. A major reason for the success of the 2010’s was the longer-than-usual growing season.

At a tasting of seven representative bottles from 2010, the strengths of Brunello and the variations among producers was on full display.

A bottle from Sassetti Livio Pertimali displayed what I considered classic traits for the wine: it had a pronounced aroma of dark fruit. On first taste rich, dark fruit came forward tempered by a wonderful earthiness. It displayed both roundness and length. The tannins were well controlled, but remained at the finish. This wine is aged for 36 months in Slavonian oak (from northeastern Croatia) and 6 months in the bottle. The alcohol content is 14%, and it retails in the US for $65.

Brunello

I had a very different tasting experience with the Brunello from Le Macioche. The producer says the grapes are harvested manually before vinification in wooden vats with spontaneous fermentation by wild yeast and a 25-day maceration period. The wine is aged for 36 months in oak and 14 months in the bottle. The wine announced its distinctiveness immediately with an aroma that was both floral and herbaceous. The taste was lean, with well-controlled fruit and a slightly tannic finish. It was startlingly different from the other Brunellos, but was very tasty on its own terms. The alcohol content is 14.5%.

BrunelloPerhaps my favorite bottle of the tasting was from Le Chiuse. This property is owned by the Biondi-Santi family, which was the original producer of Brunello. Le Chiuse ages its wine in Allier and Slovenian oak barrels for three years. The aroma was of dark fruit; the first sip demonstrated a richness, intensity, and body that demanded attention. The wine had great structure. Its tannins, although controlled, were still substantial. The wine will definitely benefit from additional aging, but you can already see that this is a great Brunello. The alcohol content is 14.27% and it retails in the US for $50 to $60.

Based upon this brief survey of the Brunellos of Montalcino, it is clear that the 2010 vintage is worth seeking out and cellaring for the future. It will pair well with a fine steak or leg of lamb, but will also be a great accompaniment to your cheese course.

Collazzi Liberta Toscana

AG Pick: Libertà dei Collazzi Toscana IGT 2012

Somehow Tuscany is both approachable and intimidating. Approachable because it’s one of the best known wine regions in Italy, thanks to Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, “Super Tuscans” and an extremely photogenic landscape. Intimidating because of the number of wines produced and labels that may need deciphering to figure out what you’re drinking.

Today we’re sharing a Tuscan wine that doesn’t need an advanced sommelier degree to enjoy.

Collazzi Liberta Toscana 2012The Libertà Toscana IGT 2012 comes from the Collazzi estate just south of Florence in the heart of the Chianti Classico. Designated as IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica – this wine may be considered a Super Tuscan as it is made with non-native grapes and a small portion of Sangiovese (and thereby does not meet the stricter requirements for a DOC or DOCG designation).

Libertà means freedom, and is a reference to the Collazzi coat-of-arms. It is a blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 15% Sangiovese. The grapes were hand harvested and the wine spent 10 months aging partly in oak barrels.

The wine opens with spiced red fruit aromas. Flavors of cherry and red currant mingle with cedar, nutmeg and balsamic. There is a hint of sun-baked tomatoes that calls to mind images of sun drenched Tuscan vineyards. Round tannins and a smooth, lingering finish make this a crowd-pleasing wine to sip with friends.

For more information on the wines of Collazzi visit collazziusa.com.

$24, 14% alcohol by volume

>> Connect:
Facebook: CollazziUSA
Twitter: @CollazziUSA

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Piccini Memoro Bianco

AG Pick: Piccino Memoro Vino Bianco

Take a trip around Italy in just one bottle with the Piccini Memoro Vino Bianco, a non-vintage white blend that brings together different grapes and regions for a fun, easy to drink wine.

The history of Piccini dates back to 1882, when Angiolo Piccini started the winemaking estate in Chianti with 7 hectares. Today the fourth generation of the Piccini family runs the operations, which have expanded to four separate estates.

Piccini Memoro BiancoThe compass rose on the Memoro label signifies the four varietals, each a typical expression of a distinct Italian region. The Viognier (40% of the final blend) comes from Sicily; the Chardonnay (30%) is from Trentino in the north; the Vermentino (20%) is from Maremma in Tuscany; and the Pecorino (10%) is from the Marche on the eastern coast of central Italy.

The Memoro, a product of thorough research and experimenting, offers balanced fruit and acidity. There’s pear, apricot and golden apple from the Pecorino and cool climate Chardonnay, soft honey and white flowers from the Viognier, and additional delicate floral notes from the Vermentino. The wine is silky in the mouth, with a lingering finish that has a hint of bread and dried herbs.

Pair the wine with creamy sauces, poultry and seafood.

For more information visit www.tenutepiccini.it.

$9.99, 14% alcohol by volume

Snapshots from Kobrand Tour D’Italia

Earlier this month Kobrand Wine & Spirits brought its Tour d’Italia to the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead. Winery owners and winemakers shared their latest releases with members of the wine trade and media.

Among the many delicious wines there were a number of standouts. Take a look at the AG’s picks in the snapshots below (click to enlarge), and look for them at wine shops and restaurants in the Atlanta area.

Geography Guide:

Piedmont (Northwest Italy) — Michele Chiarlo
Veneto (Northeast Italy) — Masi Agricola
Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Northeast Italy, east of Veneto) — Fernando Pighin & Figli
Tuscany (Central Italy, on western side) — Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute, Tenute Silvio Nardi

photo credit: Cara Isdell Lee

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Finding the Perfect Pairing: Allegrini Cook-Off for a Cause

Vino Venue was the location of a friendly food fight last Thursday for the Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Cook-Off for a Cause. Three top local chefs competed to see whose dish paired best with the Italian red wine for the chance to win a donation to their selected local charity.

Allegrini Cook-OffAllegrini is an estate and winery located in Fumane di Valpolicella, just north of Verona in northeastern Italy. Now in its third year, their Cook-Off for a Cause has traveled through eight U.S. cities and donated more than $35,000 to charity.

The competing chefs for the Atlanta cook-off were Ford Fry, Kevin Gillespie and John Metz. They were chosen because they all source locally and add importance to the community.

Chef Fry of JCT. Kitchen & Bar, No. 246, The Optimist and King + Duke was competing for City of Refuge, a non-profit organization that offers life saving resources and life building tools to Atlanta individuals and families who are living on the margin.

Chefs John Metz, Kevin Gillespie, Ford FryChef Gillespie of Gunshow was competing for the FitWit Foundation, which improves the lives of Atlanta children and teens through fitness, tutoring and personal development programs. Since 2008 more than 500 kids have participated in the program.

Chef Metz of Marlow’s Tavern, Aqua blue Restaurant & Bar and Sterling Spoon Culinary Management was competing for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Founded in 1979 with the mission of fighting hunger, the ACFB procures more than 45 million pounds of food and groceries each year and distributes it to more than 600 nonprofit partner agencies in metro Atlanta and north Georgia.

Allegrini Cook-OffAs the chefs prepared their dishes, Marilisa Allegrini gave an overview of the estate and wine. Marilisa is the sixth generation of her family to work in the wine business and manages the winery with her two brothers.

The Palazzo della Torre is a blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Sangiovese made in the ripasso style. After the harvest, 70% of the grapes were vinified immediately and 30% were left to dry until the end of December. The wine made at harvest was blended with the fermenting juice of the dried grapes, initiating a second fermentation. This winemaking style helps to create a more complex and concentrated wine. The wine spent 15 months in one year-old French oak barriques.

The Allegrini Palazzo della Torre is dark ruby red in color, with an intense dark berry aroma and flavors of blackberries, ripe and dried cherries, mocha and dates.

Allegrini chefsThe chefs had a couple of weeks to get to know the wine and come up with their dishes. Guests were asked to judge each dish based on three criteria: the dish on its own, the uniqueness of the dish and how well it paired with the wine.

Up first was Chef Fry, who paired the Palazzo della Torre with Pekin duck risotto. Duck stock added a rich flavor to the Arborio rice, which had duck cracklings, foraged mushrooms and herbs folded in. Rich without being heavy, the risotto matched the elegance of the wine.

For the second round Chef Gillespie served a smoked cabbage dumpling with country sausage, caramelized turnips and potato puree. The smoky and savory flavors in the dumpling paired nicely with the cherry notes and tannins in the wine.

The final round was a rustic country rigatoni from Chef Metz. The pasta was served with oregano roasted chicken, sausage meatball, oven roasted tomato, baby escarole, oyster mushroom, canellini beans and parmesan cheese. Hearty and with layers of flavor, the pasta complemented the layered and complex wine.

After dining, discussing and casting votes it was time to announce the results. The winner: Chef John Metz, who thanked the audience and spoke passionately about his cause. The Atlanta Community Food Bank will receive $3,000 from Allegrini.

Chef Kevin Gillespie came in second, and Chef Ford Fry came in third. Their causes will receive $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.

Allegrini wines are imported by Winebow. For more information on Allegrini visit www.allegrini.it.

photo credit: Sarah Dodge, dodgeandburned.com (first three photos in article)

Allegrini chefs

AG Pick: Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2010

Serving ham or lamb at your Easter meal or looking for a red wine for a dinner with friends? Try a bottle of the Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni 2010, a red blend from Tuscany.

Tenuta FrescobaldiThis wine is what is often called a “Super Tuscan” – a red wine from Tuscany that contains Sangiovese and a blend of other grapes, most often Bordeaux varieties. The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni contains 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Sangiovese. The wine spent 12 months maturing in barriques and additional two months in the bottle before it was released.

Red fruits dominate the aromas and flavors of the Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni. Notes of cherry, red currant, plum and strawberry are layered with gentle flavors of cedar. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ground coffee and a touch of black pepper add depth. Subtle tannins give the wine a pleasing mouthfeel, and the acidity is fresh and well balanced.

The Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni is a wine that should be served with food, rather than sipped on its own. Pair it with lamb, roasted or sautéed beef, pork or rabbit.

Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni is imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners, a Michael Mondavi Family Company. For more about the wines from Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi visit www.frescobaldi.it.

$25, 13.5% alcohol by volume

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Wines for Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Whether you prefer to say “I love you” with something sparkling, sweet or pink, here are wines that are perfect for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Demarie Birbet Brachetto
Roero, Italy
$20, 6.5% alcohol by volume

Lightly sparkling, a touch sweet and a deep magenta hue make Brachetto an ideal sip on Valentine’s Day. This wine comes from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy and is made entirely from the Brachetto grape. Like Prosecco, Brachetto gets its bubbles from the Charmat method.

The Demarie Birbet Brachetto has flavors of ripe raspberry, strawberry and cherry, with floral notes of rose and violet. Enjoy the Brachetto as an aperitif or with dessert.

 

Biltmore Pas de Deux
Monterey & Arroyo Seco, California
$19, 12.5% alcohol by volume

The Biltmore Estate, a popular destination in Asheville, North Carolina, produces a range of wines using grapes grown at the estate and sourced from California. The Pas de Deux, a gently sweet Methode Champenoise sparkling wine, is made entirely from Muscat Canelli grapes from California’s Central Coast.

Meaning “a dance for two,” the Pas de Deux is meant to be shared with someone special. It has round flavors of orange, lemon, white raspberry and wildflower honey, with small and energetic bubbles. Enjoy the Biltmore Pas de Deux as an aperitif or with lightly sweet or cream based dishes.

Click here for more sparkling wine suggestions

 

Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer 2011
Alsace, France
$30, 14% alcohol by volume

If it’s flowers you enjoy giving or receiving on Valentine’s Day, then Gewurztraminer is the grape for you. This white wine is extremely aromatic – take a sniff and you may be able to smell honeysuckle, jasmine, gardenia and rose.

The gentle sweetness in the Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer is nicely balanced with mouth-tingling acidity. Flavors of Meyer lemon, tangerine and a hint of white chocolate culminate in a pleasing finish that has a lingering touch of orange blossom honey. Oysters are a great pairing with the Zind Humbrecht Gewurztraminer, as are other shellfish, seafood, and spicy dishes.

 

Domaine de Triennes Rosé 2011
Var, France
$18, 12.5% alcohol by volume

The French know love – and rosé wine. This rosé from Provence is a partnership of two of Burgundy’s great estates: Aubert de Villane, co-owner of Domaine Romanee-Conti and Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac. The wine is mainly made from Cinsault, with some Grenache and a dash of Merlot.

Light peachy-pink in color, the Triennes Rosé is elegant and aromatic with red fruit and floral notes. Round flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and a hint of herbes de Provence come together in a clean, dry finish.

Mini Rosé 2010
Languedoc, France
$11, 11% alcohol by volume

This rosé from southwest France is made from the Cinsault grape. Pale salmon in color, the Mini Rosé has delicate flavors of white raspberry, strawberry and red grapefruit with refreshing acidity. Enjoy this wine with fish, grilled chicken, salad or pasta. Bonus: with only 87 calories per glass, you won’t feel guilty consuming a few extra pieces of chocolate.

 

Dark Lady of the Labyrinth Pinotage 2011
Wellington, South Africa
$20, 13.5% alcohol by volume

Smoky and seductive, the Dark Lady Pinotage is sure to spice up your Valentine’s Day. This red wine from South Africa offers a unique alternative to Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Intense aromas of smoked meat, leather and black fruit introduce a palate of blackberry, black cherry, black pepper, mocha and pipe tobacco. The wine has a silky mouthfeel, with gentle tannins and a long, satisfying finish. This wine demands to be served with a steak.

Winter Whites: White Wines in Season

White wine is in season even when the weather is cool. Here are five white wines to try tonight:

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay 2011
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
13% alcohol
$22

If you think the only white wine that comes from New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc, you’re missing out. Craggy Range produces delicious single vineyard Chardonnay on the North Island.

This wine comes from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand’s second largest winegrowing region. The grapes were mostly harvested by hand, and the wine spent five months aging in 12% new French oak barrels.

Reminiscent of Chablis, the Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay has citrus and white peach aromas. Lemon, grapefruit and tart white apricot flavors mingle with vanilla and a hint of almond, with lively acidity and chalky minerality giving the wine a bright finish. It’s the happy medium for people who can’t decide between a stainless steel or oaked Chardonnay.

 

Vincent Gaudry Le Tournebride Sancerre 2010
Sancerre, France
12.5% alcohol
$25

All wines tell a story, and this French wine has a dynamic – that is, biodynamic – one. Vincent Gaudry’s wines come from the Sancerre AOC in the eastern part of the Loire region, in central France. The domaine has passed from father to son for several generations; they began farming organically in 1993. Today the domaine is not only certified organic, but it is certified biodynamic too —  Gaudry cuts wood for his barrels only on days suggested by the biodynamic calendar, and the wines are bottled according to the lunar calendar. There are no artificial yeasts or additives in the wine, and the wine is not filtered. What you drink is a true expression of the place where the wine came from.

Le Tournebride, named for a small path leading to the domaine, is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes came from 30 year old vines that grow in limestone and marl soil. The wine was fermented in tanks, then spent eight months on the lees before bottling.

The nose of Le Tournebride Sancerre is a mix of citrus and tropical fruit. Flavors of lemon, peach, pineapple and tart lychee unfold on the palate, with a hint of Marcona almond on the lingering finish. Well balanced acidity and refreshing minerality make this wine a pleasant sip.

 

Barbi Orvieto 2011
Umbria, Italy
12.5% alcohol
$18

Orvieto is both the name of a region in central Italy and the wine produced there. White Orvieto can be a blend of several grapes; the Barbi Orvieto is a blend of Grechetto (40%), Procanico (30%, also known as Trebbiano), Verdello (10%), Malvasia (10%), and Vermentino (10%). These combine to make a wine that is crisp, refreshing and aromatic, with a slight touch of sweetness adding a lift at the end of each sip.

The grapes in the Barbi Orvieto were grown in vineyards that are 960 feet above sea level, in clay and sandy soil that is rich in fossils. Fermentation was stopped early to retain some residual sugar.

Melon and honeysuckle aromas introduce a palate of honeydew, green apple, yellow pear and a hint of white pepper. Vibrant acidity gives the Barbi Orvieto a lively mouthfeel and a clean finish.

 

Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso Blanc 2011
Paso Robles, California
14.2% alcohol
$25

If winter weather has you feeling down, try the Côtes de Paso Blanc from Halter Ranch. Its fragrant floral aromas will make you feel like spring is already in bloom.

Rhône grapes shine in Paso Robles, the Central California region where Halter Ranch Winery is located. This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc (33%), Roussanne (26%), Picpoul Blanc (20%), Marsanne (12%), and Viognier (9%). After fermentation in French oak barrels, the wine spent four months aging on the lees in 100% neutral French oak barrels.

Aromas of white flowers and peach expand on the palate, along with flavors of white apricot, jasmine, orange blossom and toasted hazelnut. Elegant with refreshing minerality and a satisfying finish, the Côtes de Paso Blanc is a white wine that is sure to cheer you up on a cold day.

 

Standing Stone Vineyards Riesling 2011
Finger Lakes, New York
11.7% alcohol
$14

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is becoming the go-to spot for new and exciting Riesling. Even the president is a fan – on Monday a Finger Lakes Riesling was served at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon.

Standing Stone Vineyards is located on the east side of Seneca Lake. The grapes for the 2011 Riesling were fermented in stainless steel tanks using three different yeasts. The final wine is a blend from the lots, which brings together the most desirable characteristic of each.

This off-dry Riesling is wonderfully aromatic with notes of ripe citrus, tropical fruits and wildflower honey. On the palate are flavors of tangerine, sweet grapefruit, guava and mango. Gentle acidity balances out the sweetness, and flinty minerality makes for a clean finish.

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