Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Mediterranean Heart of Calabria with Librandi

Earlier this month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) featured the region of Calabria. Calabria is situated at the pointy tip of the boot. Reminds me of all the wonderful Italian leather shoes they have over there and those that I brought home with the pointy toe. It's closely situated to Sicily and is seperated by the Strait of Messina. Calabria is known as the enotria, land of wine, and was a name granted by the Greek settlers that first settled here. 

The winery I'm sharing with you today, Librandi, states on their site that they are “cuore mediterraneo”, mediterranean at the heart. Based on where they are situated and the wines they produce demonstrate their mediterranean heart and soul of what the mediterranean is all about. 

To stay true to the theme this month I wanted to share probably one of the most known red grapes from Calabria, gaglioppo. You may have never heard of it, but if you at least known that much you're off to a good start. Most likely if you are to look for red wines from Calabria you'll see Ciro wines from the Ciro area of Calabria and these are primarily based on the gaglioppo grape. 

gaglioppo grapes of Ciro in Calabria
Gaglioppo grapes by Fabio Ingrosso

The Librandi winery is one of the well-known wineries of this region in Calabria. The winery was initially founded by Nicodemo and Antonio and today is run by Nicodemo and his family. The Librandi winery partners with 42 associates within the Ciro DOC and sources their grapes only from this area. 

I had tried the 2009 Librandi Duca San Felice Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC. Wow that's a mouthful! The Duca San Felice wine is is named after the oldest vineyard owned by the Librandi family and it was the last vineyard planted by the father, Raffaele Librandi. It's located in the Ciro area of Calabria and is considered one of the cru sites named Ponta. 

I always value the wineries that experimenting with new grapes or restoring those ancient grapes of the past that face extinction. The Librandi family is doing just that working and experimenting with grapes such as mantonico bianco, magliocco, arvino and pecorello. I wrote about these grapes earlier this month, specifically magliocco and mantonico bianco. Personally, I had never heard of any these so it would be great if they could be reintroduced to the repertoire of wines that Calabria offers.

2009 Librandi Duca San Felice Ciro RossoThe 2009 Librandi Duca San Felice Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC is made 100% from gaglioppo.and is aged 3 years in stainless steel with an additional few months in the bottle. is clear in color with garnet hues. A dry wine, medium bodied, smooth with moderate tannin. On the palate are notes of tea leaves, roses and some spice. This wine retails about $19. 

Have you tried this particular wine or the wines of Librandi, or better yet any of the wines from Calabria? 

Don't be shy to tell me your stories. I love to hear from my readers.

Source: Librandi Winery


Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Passing of an Italian Winemaking Legend, Giacomo Tachis

A little late, but never to late to honor a legend. On February 6, 2016 Giacomo Tachis passed away in his hometown of San Casciano in the Val di Pesa of Tuscany. If you aren't familiar with Giacomo Tachis, maybe you're familiar with some of the most famous wines of Italy including Tignanello, Sassicaia and Solaia. Maybe you know some of the wineries of Tuscany: Tenuta San Guido and Antinori; Sardegna: Argiolas, Agricola Punica and Santadi or Tenuta SanLeonardo of Trentino. If you have visited any of these wineries and tasted any of these wines than you have experienced the works of Giacomo Tachis.
Wine tasting at Tenuta San Guido Bolgheri Tuscany
2006 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri

Giacomo Tachis was born in Piedmont where he attended the Enology School of Alba. Upon completion of his career he started working in the wine business with wineries and distilleries, but his career got it's real start when he began working with Tenuta San Guido in Bolgheri, Tuscany in the late 60's until he left in 1992. Upon leaving he began consulting for wineries all over Italy instructing and guiding winemakers on many of his achievements he discovered helped produce some top quality Italian wines.
Antinori Tignanello
Tignanello by Dido
Giacomo is most known for introducing international varieties into Italian winemaking than working with just native varietals, including grapes like cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc. He also introduced aging wine in barrels at a point in time where this wasn't a common practice. Working with these wineries all throughout Italy and understanding their terroir, including the soil, climate, topography, etc. and introducing these achievements he was known for in introducing to Italian wines helped many of these wineries advance and become known for the quality wines they would then produce with Giacomo's assistance.

I have recently just been asked to work with L'Italo Americano and be one of their contributing writers on Italian wine and the full story on GiacomoTachis and his history will be my first article has been published.  In the meantime raise your glass to Giacomo and the life and legacy he left behind.


Friday, February 12, 2016

Sparkle your Valentine's Day with Brachetto of the Roero with Demarie

Valentine's Day is this month and I'm sure everyone's well aware as the stores quickly move out all the Christmas items and start marketing the next holiday so quickly.  Personally I've always believed it's one of those holidays that is more for retail than anything else, but in light of the holiday I'm going to get your brain going on an idea for some bubbly to add some fun to this years Valentine's Day whether you're celebrating it with a loved one, friends or just alone.  There is nothing like hearing the cork pop on a bottle of wine or bubbly to get an evening started.

Sparkling wines from Italy, mostly prosecco, have really increased in being imported to the United States over the years.  It's usually one of the first things you think of when you think of sparkling wines in Italy.  There are other options as well including Franciacorta of the Lombardy region that rivals the champagnes of France and also you can go for Moscato d'Asti and Brachetto d'Acqui of the Piedmont region.   Today we're going to focus on the brachetto grape with a wine from the Demarie winery of Piedmont that I received from Uva Imports. 

What is brachetto?
Brachetto is a red and very aromatic grape that can be find as a still wine or sparkling mostly in the Piedmont region.  You typically see it labeled as frizzante or spumante.  Frizzante means slightly sparking where spumante is sparkling.  Within Piedmont it’s mostly produced in the towns and areas of the Roero, where the Demarie winery is, as well as Asti and Acqui.    
Demarie Birbet Brachetto for Valentines Day
The Demarie winery in the area of the Roero of Piedmont I've written about previously on my blog when I've sampled through some of their other wines, but today I'm sharing with you their sparkling wine called Birbet, which is a Brachetto d’Alba.  It's a sparkling rose based 100% on the brachetto grape.    With only 6.5% alcohol by volume this wine can be the perfect way to end your meal, especially paired with chocolate.  I have a sweet tooth myself and if you’re full from your meal it’s sometimes nice to finish with a dessert wine such as this that is a lighter style dessert wine and refreshing than some of the other unctuous dessert wines you may have tried before.  

What to pair Brachetto with?
Demarie recommends pairing this wine with dry pastries or hazelnut cake. Any sort of dessert with strawberries and/or raspberries topped with some rich cream.  It pairs really well with chocolate covered strawberries too.  
Wine pairing with chocolate covered strawberries
Plus, check out this amazing Walnut Tart receipe I've made in the past that was simply delicious with Brachetto.
brachetto d'acqui food pairing
You can find wines made from the brachetto grape in hopefully many of your local wine shops so get out there and pick up a bottle of this sparkling wine this Valentine's Day.  Even if you have someone on your list who isn’t a big wine drinker they may be surprised to enjoy this wine because of the lower alcohol levels and higher amount of residual sugars so it may be more appealing to someone with a sweeter tooth.  

Plus, Demarie is one of the participating wineries in a Piedmont Wine Giveaway: 12 bottles of wine in Lazenne wine luggage.  Who doesn't love free stuff, nevermind wine bottles from Italy?

Don't stop there!  There are lots more Valentine Day pairings for you to consider this weekend.   Plus, join our live chat on Twitter Saturday February 13th at 11am @ #winepw.  See you then!

Jade from Tasting Pour:
David of Cooking Chat
Cindy from Grape Experiences:
Join us for a live Valentine's Wine Pairing Twitter chat at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, February 13, using the hashtag #winePW. And get ready for the March #winePW, where we will share our Open That Bottle Night experiences. Check out the upcoming and past Wine Pairing Weekend events on this page.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Reinvigorating the Almost Extinct, Native Grapes of Calabria

Earlier this week I shared with you food, wine and travel to the region of Calabria.  Our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group (#ItalianFWT) this month is featuring Calabria and all that it has to offer.  We started off the New Year exploring the south and some of the lesser traveled to regions to showcase what makes them special and what the culture is of these Italian regions. 
Beaches of Calabria
Beaches of Calabria by Kov09
Like many wine producing areas within Italy, grapes that were native to a region over the years were replaced with grape varieties that were more productive for winemakers.  In Calabria, wines that were blended were always preferred, but as the focus shifted towards more single varieties many native grapes got lost.  Due to this, many of these native grapes became extinct and some wineries, like Librandi in Calabria, are working to bring some of those native grapes back on the wine scene. 

Unfortunately I don’t recall ever having the chance to try either of these grapes I’m sharing with you today, but I hope one day I can experience some of these native varietals of Calabria.  It’s all about education and to open our eyes to just how many grapes are out there being produced in Italy that many of us aren’t familiar with.

Magliocco grape
Magliocco, also known as magliocco canino, is one of the hidden treasures and red native grapes of Calabria that faced extinction.  Wineries are working further on bringing this grape back into existence and are using it in blends or some are making wines with 100% magliocco.  One of the DOC’s where this grape grows a lot is the Terre di Cosenza DOC.  In other areas such as Scavigna, you’ll find it blended with aglianico and in Lamezia, you’ll find it blended with nerello mascalese, greco nero and nerello cappuccio. 

Cosenza Calabria grape growing
Countryside of Cosenza by Michele Palermo
Magliocco shares very similar characteristics to the gaglioppo grape, one of Calabria’s most popular red grapes.  According to another Italian wine lover and writer, Do Bianchi, “magliocco is a tannic grape with a wonderful roundness to it (when vinified monovarietally), good dark red fruit, and healthy acidity."  Wine Searcher recommends pairing magliocco with spiced pork chops, braised short ribs and zucchini stuffed lamb. 

Mantonico Bianco grape
A white native grape of Calabria, mantonico bianco produces dry and passito style wines.  As a dry wine it takes well to barrel fermentation.  You’ll typically find it grown along the coastlines of Calabria.  DNA results have shown that this grape may be closely related to garganega, most commonly found in the Veneto region in wines such as soave.  Described by Ian D’Agata in his book Native Grapes of Italy, “Mantonico Bianco wines are characterized by strong acid and tannin contents.  The sweet wines are the best, redolent with honeyed tropical fruit aromas and flavors.  Recommended by Wine Searcher to pair with mushroom soup, smoked salmon and zabaglione. 

Has anyone been lucky to find these grapes in your area and try them yourself?

Join us on Twitter this Saturday @ 11am EST at #ItalianFWT to talk about the food, wine and travel to Calabria.  We'd love to hear your experiences or just come to learn more about this southern region in Italy.   Here are fellow bloggers sharing their insight into Calabria:

Culinary Adventure with Camilla – Ciambotta, A Delicious Calabrese Mess
Rockin Red Blog – Calabria: A Rustic Food and Wine Pairing
Cooking Chat - Italian Wine for an Easy Indian Feast
Confessions of a Culinary Diva - Exploring Gaglioppo & Aglianico
Enofylz Wine Blog - Calabrian Gaglioppo Paired with Lamb Chops Calabria Style
Food Wine Click - Swordfish and Ciro from the Land of Scylla and Charybdis
The Wining Hour - Calabria: Sun, Sea and Ciro Bianco

Next month we feature the region of Molise on March 5th and hope to see you again then!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Preview into the Food, Wine and Travel to Calabria

As we continue into February with our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) we remain in southern Italy today exploring the region of Calabria.

Calabria is situated at the front tip of the boot closely situated to Sicily right off the coast, connected via the Strait of Messina. Also, surrounded by the seas of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian it faced many invasions. Definitely not the top of the tourism list for many traveling to Italy, one of it's most attractive features is it coastline, beaches and seaside villages. Plus, with it's close proximity to Sicily it makes it an easy jaunt to experience the culture of another region. For the outdoorsy lover there are also national parks in its mountainous center for exploring.
Map of Calabria
Copyright of Federdoc
Food of Calabria
A lot of the food of southern Italy is known as peasant food, cucina povera. It's considered simple food produced with plenty of flavor. As you can imagine being surrounded by water there is never a shortage of fresh seafood, especially sardines being a highlight. Frseh fruit and vegetables are in abundance with eggplant, bergamot organes, licorice and the red onions of Tropea being some of the highlights. As with many regions within Italy they have their own particular cheeses favorited that include caciocavallo, sciungata and butirro. When we all think of olive oil as well we probably think of Tuscany, but Calabria is a very popular region for olive oil with production at least half of the overall production within Italy. There is a also a focus on spice within the cusine so you'll find it as well in many of the dishes.

Wines of Calabria
Greeks, like most of southern Italy, were the first to grow vines in Calabria. Devastated like the rest of Europe by the phylloxera disease in the late 19th century Calabria has struggled to rebuild itself as a wine growing region in comparison to others. Another region with no DOCG classifications it does produce one of the oldest wines in the world and most known from this region. Those wines are Ciro, mostly made from the gaglioppo grapes. Gaglioppo is one of the primary red grapes along with some greco nero and whites including trebbiano and greco bianco.

Join us!
Our ItalianFWT group will feature a variety of articles sharing with you some of our experiences with the region of Calabria. Here is a preview of more to come:

Vino Travels - Reinvigorating the Almost Extinct, Native Grapes of Calabria
Culinary Adventure with Camilla – Ciambotta, A Delicious Calabrese Mess
Rockin Red Blog – Calabria: A Rustic Food and Wine Pairing
Cooking Chat - Italian Wine for an Easy Indian Feast
Confessions of a Culinary Diva - Exploring Gaglioppo & Aglianico
Enofylz Wine Blog - Calabrian Gaglioppo Paired with Lamb Chops Calabria Style
Food Wine Click - Swordfish and Ciro from the Land of Scylla and Charybdis
The Wining Hour - Calabria: Sun, Sea and Ciro Bianco

Join our online live chat on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  We can't wait to hear from you all!