Saturday, October 7, 2017

Chianti of Terricola with Fattoria Fibbiano

This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is celebrating a Chianti extravaganza.  Having toured this area of Tuscany many times before I was excited to write about the area and one of my favorite Italian grapes, sangiovese.  One of my fellow Italian wine lovers, Katarina of Grapevine Adventures, introduced me to Matteo and Nicola Cantoni of Fattoria Fibbiano, the sons of founder Giuseppe Cantoni.   

Fattoria Fibbiano is located in Terricciola, which is within the province of Pisa and close to one of my favorite Tuscan towns, Volterra.  Located on only about 50 acres of vines,  the soils are treated with organic fertilizers.  What I love about one of their philosophies is Nicola's following statement, "We pursue the dream of the indigenous, the real Tuscan wine. We have no intention chasing the tastes of the moment, but we believe in the contrary, that the market has expanded its borders and that the consumer is ready to taste and appreciate something unique, that is born and grows only in a precise place and that becomes like a book that tells the story of a land and
men who live it."

I have yet to visit this winery myself, but did an interview with Matteo and Nicola to get a better understanding regarding the history of the winery and the area.  Enjoy!

How did the winery begin and when was it established?
In 1997, Nicola and Matteo's family moved to Tuscany and bought the Fattoria Fibbiano Winery.  The winery itself has been operated by the family ever since.  They have a very old vineyard estimated to be about 118 years old.  The Cantoni family is from south of Milan and have been farmers for generations and moved to this area to start the winery to rediscover their roots.
Fattoria Fibbiano winery Tuscany
Tell me about the area, Terricciola, and what makes the area unique for winemaking.
Terricciola, known as the city of wine, and together with the Old Valley used to be based on a seabed. Today, the winery is located on top of the hill, at approximately 150 meters above water level and the soil is the same seabed, very rich of sea shells, clay and coral reef. The area is unique for wine making due to the the terroir, the exposition and the climate.  The vineyards have been growing there since Etruscan times, back 3,000 years.

What is the family's background in the wine industry?
The family is quite newer to the wine industry as it's only 20 years that they started. However, they've been farming for generations and their belief is that to make great wines starts with the production of great grapes.  Many times people just talk about wine making, but this is just the end of a very long process, where the grape is the origin of everything.  The family continues to keep learning day by day.
Matteo Cantoni of Fattoria Fibbiano winery
Matteo Cantoni
Why did the family choose this area to establish the winery?
There are two reasons why they chose this property: 

  • The location is perfect. On top of a hill, beautiful landscape views with a beautiful old stone big house (that they fell in love with) and in the middle of everywhere in Tuscany
  • The fact that on this property there was (and still is) an old vineyard.
Torricciola Fattoria Fibbiano winery Tuscany
What does the winery pride itself on and are their particular wines that are considered your flagship wines?
They are very proud to produce what they call "real Tuscan wine", meaning Tuscany wines produced with old indigenous varieties.  Everything started from the old vineyard, where they selected old clones for all the existing vineyards within the property.  They believe that people are ready to taste and appreciate something unique, that is born and grows only in a unique place, like a book telling the story of a land and men who live it.
Wines of Fattoria di Fibbiano
What are the goals of the winery in upcoming years?
Their goals are to continue to increase the quality and soon they're ready to launch on the market some new wines produced with very old indigenous unknown Tuscan varieties that will make unique wines for unique people.

Do you export to the United States and in what markets?
Actually USA is still our biggest market with 45-50% of the whole production. We do export 90% of our production all over the world: Europe, Asia, Canada and North Africa.

I sampled the 2014 Fattoria di Fibbiano Casalini Chianti Superiore DOCG which is comprised of 80% sangiovese and 20% ciliegiolo.  With a ripe bouquet of red fruits and bunches of cherry jumping out on the palate this wine has rather smooth tannins with nice acidity.  
2014 Fattoria Fibbiano Casalini Chianti Superiore

Join our Italian Food Wine and Travel group on Saturday Oct. 7 at 11am EST on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. We'll all be posting and chatting, join us! Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter Saturday morning! 

See what our Italian Food Wine & Travel Enthusiasts have to offer:
*Wines were received as samples, but opinions are my own.  All pictures copyright of Katarina Anderson of Grapevine Adventures.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Donnafugata highlights of 2017

One of the places I've traveled to for a weekend many years ago and am dying to go back to in Italy is it's largest island, Sicily. One of the popular wineries of the island that I've written about a couple times now is Donnafugata. I'm pleased to share with you some of their latest releases including their 2016 SurSur Grillo, the 2016 Lighea Zibibbo and the 2015 Sedara blend.

Donnafugata Sur Sur Grillo, Lighea and Sedara
Donnafugata SurSur 2016 – Grillo Sicilia DOC

Grillo is the indigenous white grape of Sicily that typically lends a lot of tropical flavors due to the intense heat and sun of the island allowing the grapes to reach full ripeness. The name of the grape, grillo, translates to cricket, and is also a representation of good luck. In ancient times the Arabs were one of the cultural influences that inhabited Sicily and cricket in Arabic means sur sur, hence the name of the wine.

This wine smells like spring in a glass. Fresh, white flowers and a little grassiness. Immediate peach notes hit the palate with some melon. A pleasurable, easy drinking, refreshing white wine (SRP $23)

Wines of Sicility with Donnafugata
Donnafugata Lighea 2016 - Zibibbo Sicilia DOC

Another grape stemming from the arabic word, zabib, meaning dried grapes is zibibbo. It's called zibibbo in Sicily, but it's also known as moscato and part of the muscat family. It is typically best known for producing the wine, passito di pantelleria, hailing from the island of Pantelleria off the western coast of Sicily. In one of my favorite Italian books, Vino Italiano, they describe a good wine of this area “is like biting into the plumpest golden raisin you can imagine”. It can also be produced in a dry style as is found here with Donnafugata's Lighea. The labeling shows off the vibrant colors that radiate off the island of Pantelleria.

Another fragrant, florally wine of pears and tropical luscious fruits also found on the palate. It's a dry, round wine with nice minerality . (SRP $20)
Donnafugata Pantelleria wine estate
Donnafugata's Pantelleria estate
2015 Donnafugata Sedàra - Red Sicilia DOC

Sicily's most prominent red grape, nero d'avola (also known as calabrese), is what predominately makes up Donnafugata's Sedàra wine. In addition, it is blended with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and additional grapes. I love the labeling of Donnafugata and the Sedara shows the cellars of Contessa Entellina and the land in which the grapes are grown. Nero d'avola typically produces dark, inky colored wines comprised on dark berries with good structure and tannin. Many may compare it to syrah.

Filled with loads of red fruits including cherries and strawberries. A fresh, crisp red with some spice and soft tannins. SRP $16
Donnafugata Contessa Entellina winery
Contessa Entellina estate
*These wines were received as samples, but as always opinions are my own.  Pictures mostly sourced from Donnafugata.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Romagna Albana: The First White DOCG of Emilia Romagna

Today our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group (#ItalianFWT) is covering the region of Emilia Romagna centrally located in northern Italy.  This region is full of gastronomic pleasures especially known for prosciutto di parma, parmigiano reggiano and the authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena.  I traveled there for my honeymoon some years back and there was plenty to indulge in.

When it comes to wine, Emilia Romagna is probably best known by the average wine consumer for lambrusco, but of course like every region of Italy there is so much more, especially the indigenous grapes of a particular region.  I cover many of those on my Emilia Romagna page including lambrusco, pignoletto and sangiovese.  Today we're adding to that list with the romagna albana grape.

First, to start off, Vino Travels has slowed down a little with a 14 month old running around the house and packing up our house for a move next spring.  So forgive me during this slower time.  Even bigger news though I have to share with you is that the Vino Travels family will be expanding by one as of December 3rd!  Therefore, I won't be sharing with you a particular wine that I tasted for a couple reasons due to lack of time to seek out a bottle and even though I can sip and spit, I'd really hate to purchase and waste a whole bottle ; )
Italian wine blog
So let's get back to the topic at hand, romagna albana. The grape's name stems from the latin word, alba, meaning white since this is a white grape.  It's in the same family as the garganega grape most commonly found in the Veneto and that is used to make up the wines of soave.  Albana di Romagna was actually the first white wine in the area receiving DOCG status when it was established in 1987.

You can find romagna albana mostly produced in the provinces of Ravenna, Bologna and Forli-Cesena.  I've been to two of 3 of these towns excluding Forli-Cesena, but boy do I wish I loved wine back then.  There is so much I could've explored trying wines all over Italy.
traveling around parma visiting prosciutto di parma museum
My visit to the prosciutto di parma museum
authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena
Authentic balsamic vinegar of Modena with Acetaio di Giorgio
The clusters of grapes of romagna albana are distinct long narrow bunches of grapes of beautiful yellow color.  
albana di romagna grapes of Emilia Romagna
Albana grapes photo copyright of Gianluca Giunchi
It's most known for it's passito style where the grapes are dried for a short period of time, concentrating the flavors in the grapes and the wines they produce.  They are then aged at least 10 months exuding strong floral aromatics and intense flavors of apricots, honey along with some spice.  You can also find amabile, dry and dolce  versions of this grape.  There are sparkling wines made from romagna albana known as Romagna Albana Spumante, but they can only be labeled under the DOC designation.

Has anyone had a chance to try this grape or even better yet visited this region?

There is so much more to be shared on this wonderful region of Emilia Romagna so please continue with my fellow Italian food and wine lovers.  If you can join us this Saturday at 11am EST on Twitter we'll be chatting live at #ItalianFWT.  Hope to see you there!

Lynn Gowdy from Savor the Harvest highlights two of the region's main attractions in Italy’s Heart and Soul of Wine and Food.
Jill Barth, author of L'occasion serves as our guide to a favorite local tradition with Ancient + Native: Rural Festival Emilia.
Katarina Andersson, host of Wines of Italy Live Stream and Grapevine Adventures, explores Podere Palazzo - An Organic Winery in the Heart of Romagna.
Camilla Mann from Culinary Adventures with Camilla introduces us to a unique specialty of the region with Nocino: A Green Walnut Liqueur from Emilia-Romagna.
Our host today, Lauren at The Swirling Dervish will delve into The Winemaking Traditions of Cantina Braschi.

Join us back here for another edition of Italian Food, Wine and Travel Saturday October 7th as our host Jeff Burrows of Food Wine Click will be featuring a Chianti extravaganza.  
*Information sourced by the Consorzio Vini di Romagna


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Vineyards of the Dolomites with 2013 Castel San Michele Moscato Rosa

I was excited about the topic for this month's Italian Food, Wine & Travel group as I love the alpine regions of Italy. I've been lucky to visit a few of them and the scenery is stunning with the background of the dramatic mountain ranges including the Dolomites, Monte Bianco, the Appenines and more. 

Back in early 2015 I visited the Trentino-Alto Adige region for the first time and journeyed from Verona via train to the town of Trento, about an hour due north. I spent a wonderful day there doing what I typically love to do in visiting new towns, strolling around, checking out hidden side streets, piazzas, watching the locals interact, visiting any historical monuments or sites and of course shopping. I wanted to bring home some wines from the region of grapes that I've never tried or wines that I just wasn't too familiar with. 
Piazza Duomo in Trento
Piazza Duomo in Trento
I found a great local wine shop in town and took the expertise of the store owner whom directed me over to a bottle of Castel San Michele Moscato Rosa made from the Instituto Agrario, which I'm sharing with you today. 
town of Trento in Trentino
I love the Alpine backdrops!  Trento, Italy

The winery is found in the region of Trentino and is part of the Edmund Mach Foundation Farm named after Austrian Dr. Edmund Mach. that is home to 120 hectacres(about 296 acres). The land is used to grow agricultural crops and vineyards that are used mostly for research and experiments at the agricultural school and research center. 

The winery itself can found inside an ancient 12th century Augustinian monastery, San Michele (hence the name of the wine today). They produce about 30 different types of wines as well as a classic method sparkling wine. The aim of the winery is to share what the terroir of Trento represents.   
Instituto Agrario Edmund Mach Foundation
Winery at the Augustinian monastery copyright of Edmund Mach Foundation

Castel San Michele Moscato Rosa
The 2013 Castel San Michele Moscato Rosa Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT is made from moscato rosa Becchetti land, plated in 1960, and Oberrauch land, planted in 1988. Everything is hand harvested and as I'm sure you'll see from a lot of other bloggers that many grapes of this region are hand harvested due to the steep terrains in which the grapes are grown. Very tedious, hard manual labor. They produce only about 1,500 bottles of this particular wine and it's all produced in stainless steel. Brilliant ruby color with a very aromatic nose of red berries and roses. A fuller bodied wine with a hint of baking spices. Regardless of the sweetness to this wine there was plenty of acidity to create a nice balance. The Institute recommends pairing it with forest fruits and berry pies and I'd even recommend some chocolate dishes. 
grapes. The grapes are grown on hills from their

I hope for those of you that have never ventured to northern Italy, and furthermore the alpine region, that you put that on your bucket list. So far for me the most amazing place I've visited up there was the Aosta Valley, Valle d'Aosta. You must check out some of my pictures of Aosta if you need convincing.
Join us on Saturday, August 5th at 10 am central on twitter to chat about the Alpine Wines of Italy. Look for the hashtag #ItalianFWT. Everyone is welcome to join us for the chat, which includes questions and answers from these top wine bloggers. Ask your questions, share your travel experiences or clue us in on your favorite Alpine wines.  In time for the chat, the following writers will publish their posts on the topic. Look forward to:
SUSANNAH from AVVINARE will cover White Wines from Aosta Hit High Notes
KATELYN from THRONE & VINE presents Divinely Alpine - Exploring the Wines of Elena Walch
LAUREN from THE SWIRLING DERVISH tells the story of Hearts on Fire: A Summer Tradition in Alto Adige
LYNN from SAVOR THE HARVEST recommends The One High Altitude Wine REgion you Must Try #ItalianFWT
CAMILLA, of CULINARY ADVENTURES WITH CAMILLA, cooks up Beef & Barolo, Two Piedmontese Darlings
JEFF, author of FOODWINECLICK! gets into Unique Mountain Wines of Alto Adige
MARTIN over at ENOFYLZ WINE BLOG provides A Taste of Lugana; 2013 Tenuta Roveglia "Vigne di Catullo" Lugana Riserva #ItalianFWT
GWENDOLYN from WINEPREDATOR writes about heading Off to the Alps for #ItalianFWT
Jill from L’OCCASION presents A Winemaker Rendezvous: Ivan Giovanett of Castelfeder. 


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Albarino Shines in Rias Biaxes

Earlier this summer (a little late to the game I know) I attended a virtual tasting hosted by Snooth with co-founder, Mark Angelillo, and guest speaker and Advanced Sommelier, Jill Zimorski.  The tasting was focused solely on albarino from the Rias Baixes wine region. I love these tastings because we're not only able to share in the wines focused on the theme of the night together, but we gain some great knowledge and expertise from those with a long history in the industry providing their insights to enrich us all.  It can't all be about Italian wine all the time, can it?

Rias Baixes is located in northwestern Spain in the Galicia region, which is also known as “Green Spain”. The Rias Baixes DO (denominacion de origin) was established in 1988 and consists of 5 subzones that Rias Baixes Wines goes into depth on each one on their website.

  • Val do Salnes
  • Condado do Tea
  • O Rosal
  • Ribera de Ulla
  • Soutomaior
Making up 96% of the production in Rias Baixes is the indigenous white grape, albarino. When I first started learning about wine, this always seemed to be a grape that I enjoyed and I always found them at great price points. Mark admitted in the tasting that this was one of his first wine loves as well.  It's been awhile since I've had this grape and nothing has changed in terms of the value provided with the most expensive of all 10 bottles at the tasting totaling $25. How can you go wrong not to at least try one if you never have. Famous wine writer and expert, Jancis Robinson, describes albarino wines in 4 ways: fashionable, high quality, fresh and an aromatic variety.

You can find many other grapes in Rias Baixes, produced on a smaller scale in comparison to the dominant one, albarino. Those include treixadura, loureiro, caino blanco, torrontes and godello. The Rias Baixes region and all its winemaking zones lie either right on the coast or pretty close to it. It's a rather cool climate with abundant rain, sunshine and the soils are full of minerals. 
albarino and rias biaxes wines
Copyright of Rias Baixes Wines
Jill described the following wines with “styles that range from a crisp, aromatic melony character in Val do Salnés, to a peachier, softer style in O Rosal, and a less fruity and earthier style in Condado do Tea.” She best describes the albarino grape as “pale golden lemon, they are all crisp, elegant and fresh. These wines are bone-dry and aromatic, packed with flavors of white peach, apricot, melon, pineapple, mango and honeysuckle. They share good natural acidity, have mineral overtones, and are medium bodied with moderate alcohol (12%).” All the wines tasted were produced in stainless steel.

Below is a list of all the wines sampled. The tasting was only an hour and as you can imagine it doesn't leave much time to cover each wine so I'm sharing with you my top 3 favorites of the night and a list of everything tried. The #1 choice for the night for me, and what seemed many others as well of the group, was the 2016 Pazo Senorans. It was a lush, rich wine. Many in the tasting compared this to muscadet. Following that I would choose the 2015 Pazo de San Mauro for it's tropical fruit, florality and honeyed notes. Lastly, the 2015 Altos de Torona. Full of yellow ripe fruit and florals.
Rias Biaxes albarino recommendations

Sub-region: Val do Salnés
  • 2015 Condes de Albarei Albariño Rias Baixes, SRP: $15
  • 2015 Vionta Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $15
  • 2015 Martin Codax Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $16.99
  • 2016 Pazo Senorans Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $25
Sub-region: Contado do Tea 
  • 2015 Pazo de San Mauro Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $17
  • 2016 Señorío de Rubiós Robaliño Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $18
Sub-region: O Rosal
  • 2015 Valminor Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP: $18.99
  • 2015 Bodegas Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albariño Rias Baixas, SRP $19.99
  • 2015 Altos de Torona Albariño Sobre Lias Rias Baixas, SRP $14
  • 2015 Santiago Ruiz Albariño Rias Baixas , SRP: $20
You can experience the tasting yourself as well as Snooth has it up online: Rias Baixes Virtual Tasting.

*All wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own. Information sourced from Rias Baixes Wines


Friday, July 14, 2017

Villa Maria Wine Tasting with Winemaker Helen Morrison

Warning that we're breaking out of the Italian shell today and virtually traveling to a country that has long been on my bucket list, New Zealand. I recently attending a virtual tasting hosted by Snooth with guest appearance by Helen Morrison, the winemaker at Villa Maria. Experience the tasting yourself at the Villa Maria virtual tasting with Snooth.

If it wasn't such a long journey from Boston I've would've already made my way there and probably have visited the Villa Maria winery by now, but for now I'll settle with drinking their wines here in the states. Villa Maria wines were some of the first I've ever tried from New Zealand and was the reason why I fell in love with sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. To this day they're still my favorite sauvignon blancs. 

Sir George Fistonich started the company in 1961by leasing five acres of land from his father and growing vines on one of those acres. He still takes part in the operations today. Through the years the winery has been recognized for a multitude of awards, but George prides himself and the winery by making sure the focus is on quality and the rest will follow.Here are some pretty neat facts on the timeline of Villa Maria's history:
  • 1962 – first vintage
  • 1970's – started hiring staff
  • 1988 – began exporting
  • 1995 – became a member of the Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ)
  • 2000 – the winery in Marlborough opened
  • 2001 – the winery became 100% dedicated to screw caps
  • 2005 – the winery and vineyards opened in Auckland
  • 2009 – George Fistonich received a knighthood recognizing his contribution to the New Zealand wine industry
    George Fistonich owner of Villa Maria
    George Fistonich in the beginning years of Villa Maria
Villa Maria has 4 vineyards located in Auckland, Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne and they're all either located on the ocean or close by. Regardless of the difference in climates there is an aim to create balance between the ripeness of the grapes, acidity and aromatic flavor profiles.
The following wines are those I sampled and enjoyed them all for different reasons, plus some great values. If you haven't tried wines from New Zealand Villa Maria is a perfect place to start.
Wines of Villa Maria New Zealand
2016 Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc
This wine hails from Marlborough on the northeastern tip of the island. Crisp mornings are followed by sunny, warm days with moderate rainfall. The Private Bin tier is the most widely distributed and most recognized. The wine is produced by blended vineyards. It demonstrates a classic New Zealand sauvignon blanc with fresh fruit, citrus, grassiness with some herbs. ABV 13%. SRP $13.

2015 Villa Maria Bubbly Sauvignon Blanc
This wine is slightly carbonated with fine bubbles. The wine is full of lime and grapefruit with softer acidity. ABV 12.5%. SRP $15

2016 Villa Maria Private Bin Bay Rose'
Produced in Hawkes Bay this wine is predominately made from merlot and actually a touch of the Italian grape hailing from Piedmont, arneis, which adds softness, richness and stone fruit. This wine displays juicy strawberries and cherries with soft acidity and a creamy texture. ABV 12.5%. SRP $14.

2015 Villa Maria Taylor's Pass Chardonnay
A fan favorite of the night this single vineyard wine comes from a cold subregion in Marlborough and from stony parts of the vineyard. In the wine you taste that minerality, citrus and creamy toastiness from the wine aging in new french barriques. ABV 13.5%. SRP $45. 

2014 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Pinot Noir
Produced from Marlbough vineyards the pinot noir grape is the most widely planted after sauvignon blanc. A pretty soft wine demonstrating dried herbs, fresh acidity with cherries and raspberries with a touch of spice and smokiness from the oak. ABV 13.5%. SRP $26

2013 Villa Maria Cellar Selection Merlot-Cabernet
Produced in Hawkes Bay this area is much warmer than Marlborough. It consists of 70% merlot and 30% cabernet sauvignon. Sometimes malbec and cabernet franc is added in small percentages depending on the vintage. This was considered a great vintage for them with George claiming it's the vintage of the century. The wine goes through about 18-20 months of maturation time. ABV 13.5%. SRP $20

*Wines were provided as samples, but opinions are all my own.  Most pictures copyright of Villa Maria.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Italian Red Wines to Enjoy in the Summer

Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group this month is featuring Italian summer red and white wines. I'd say most folks gravitate towards whites, but I want to share with you some Italian red wines that you can enjoy even in the hot, summer days. 

Of course we'd all love to be sitting in a piazza, watching the locals take their evening passagiata while sipping many of Italy's fine wines, but for those of us that can only dream of it right now can still be left with some suggestions to pick up a bottle, close one's eyes and only dream.

Italy has a never ending list when it comes to native varietals to select from, but here are just some of my suggestions on some Italian reds to enjoy this summer. One of the key points to remember when drinking these suggested red wines below is to make sure they have a slight chill to them. 
Italian red wines for summer
My recent trip to Peschiera del Garda.  Let's all dream of sipping with this view!


Home to Emilia-Romagna in north central Italy, this wine is well beyond what many remember as the inexpensive, sweet wine clouding many images in folks minds. Lambrusco comes in many different styles and is best known as being dry, slightly frizzante full of red fruits. You can read more about the different styles of Lambruso on a previous blog. Start your meal with it alongside some salumi or enjoy it on it's own. 
Styles of Lambrusco
Copyright of Consorzio Tutela DelLambrusco di Modena

Located in the region of Trentino-Alto Adige in northeastern Italy, but more specifically in the Alto Adige. It's also known as vernatsch. This wine is delicate and light bodied as well as light in color. It's full or aromatics and fruity, red berries with slight spice.


Another grape from northern Italy found in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. Known as “little sweet one”, this is purple hued in color with juicy red fruits of cherry and raspberries with some spice and low in tannin. It is typically light in body, but there are definitely more modern style dolcetto out there that are heartier reds as well. 


This wine can be found in eastern Sicily. It's used mostly in the Cersasuolo di Vittoria wines, the only DOCG of Italy, where it's blended with nero d'avola. Enjoying this wine on it's own though will leave you satisfied in the summer months as it is light-bodied, aromatic, full of strawberries and bright acidity. 

Don't forget about any of the wonderful rose' wines of Italy, known as roasto. Depending on your palate and preference the rose' wines of the south, due to the climate, typically tend to have more body and riper fruits where those of the north are more delicate, lighter and crisp. Either way you can't wrong so choose depending on your mood or what you're pairing it with. On my recent trip to Italy last month I tried a new rosato release from the Pasqua Winery 11 Minutes. It's a blend of corvina primarily with syrah, carmenere and trebbiano di lugana. It received it's name from it's 11 minutes of skin contact with the juice. Light salmon in color, it's a very soft, delicate and elegant rose' with nice acid and notes of strawberry. A perfect wine for beginning our evening recently in Piazza Dante in Verona.
2016 Pasqua 11 Minutes rosato

Join my fellow wine bloggers as they share more Italian wines for you to indulge in this summer. Also, join us live on Twitter this Saturday July 1st at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  See you then! 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Italian Summer Red & White Wines

We’re at the start of summer and the grills are fired up, time is being shared with friends including good food and of course good wine.  Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group this month is featuring summer Italian red and white wines. Most folks gravitate towards whites in the hot summer days, but there are reds as well to be enjoyed and of course don’t forgot rose’ or sparkling wines.  And it’s the perfect time for suggestions with the 4th of July upon us with plenty of festivities all around.
Summer Italian wines
My recent trip to Peschiera del Garda.  Perfect wine sipping weather!
Here is a preview into what our group will be sharing with you this Saturday July 1st.  You can chat with us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  We look forward to seeing you then!

  • Gwendolyn of Art Predator will be sharing "Our New Favorite Summer Italian Wine: Lambrusco!"
  • Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be sharing "Quick Summer Dinner: Salumi, Formaggi, e Amarone"
  • Jill at L'Occasion will be sharing "Fresh Wines from Umbria and Lazio"
  • Lauren at Swirling Dervish will be sharing "Verdicchio and Vermentino - Italian White Wines Perfect for Summer"
  • Jen of Vino Travels will be sharing "Italian Red Wines to Enjoy in the Summer"


Friday, June 23, 2017

"Mai Dire Mai", Never Say Never with Pasqua Wines

Last week I took a trip back to Italy as I received an invitation from the Pasqua winery to go and visit the winery and their vineyards and taste some of the wines that they produce. It was a wonderful trip and myself along with two other international folks in the wine industry were warmly welcomed and treated very well.
Italian wine press trip to Italy with Pasqua

The Pasqua winery is located in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy within the winemaking area of the Valpolicella. Their winery is specifically located in the Valpantena, one of the top winemaking areas of the Valpolicella. The winery started over 90 years ago and just recently celebrated their 90th anniversary in 2015. 
Pasqua winery in Valpantena of Valpolicella
Pasqua winery
Our trip started off with a guided tour of the Giardino Giusti, the serene and peaceful renaissance gardens located over the Adige River in Verona. The gardens reminded me very much of the Boboli Gardens of Florence, but on a smaller scale. The Giusti family actually originated from Florence.
Giardino Giusti in Verona
Giardino Giusti

We proceeded to the Torre dei Lamberti in Piazza Dante after a quick aperol spritz, where we met Pasqua's PR and marketing person, Sara Biasi, who greeted us and kicked us off at a private tasting at the top of the tower. The tower was privately reserved for us as we made our way to the top with views overlooking all of Verona and even Lake Garda in the far distance. We started the evening enjoying a glass or two of the Pasqua Prosecco before proceeding to our dinner in at Cafe' Dante. 
Torre dei Lamberti with Pasqua winery
Torre dei Lamberti
Torre dei Lamberti Verona
Views from the top

A beautiful night to sit outside in the piazza and we were graciously joined by the owner and President of the Pasqua winery, Umberto Pasqua. A very down to earth and personable gentleman. We sampled a number of the Pasqua wines including their prosecco, 11 minutes rose', Passione Sentimento Bianco and Rosso. The last pairing was my favorite as we paired the Sentimento Passione Rosso with risotto all'amarone drizzled with monte veronese cheese of the area.
President of Pasqua Winery Umberto Pasqua
President, Umberto Pasqua
Our next day was lovely as we started off visiting Pasqua's top vineyard site, Monte Vegro, located in the town of Ilasi in the Valpolicella. This winery was named Monte Vegro (monte=mountain and vegro=unattainable) due to the fact that many folks said that grapes couldn't be grown there. So the wines of this area are called Mai Dire Mai meaning “never say never”
Monte Vegro vineyards of Pasqua winery
Monte Vegro vineyards

The vineyards that day were loaded with sunshine on our visit as a single tractor traveled through the vines. Set high up on the hills with many south facing slopes the soil there was comprised with layers of limestone.  There is such a peacefulness I find when visiting vineyards and it's the perfect way to understand how the wines are developed as it all starts there. 
Monte Vegro vineyards of Mai Dire Mai wines
Limestone @ Monte Vegro
The vines reside on 26 hectacres and since land is so limited in the Valpolicella with maybe 1 hectacre changing hands every year it results in the price of the land to be rather expensive. It was mentioned by one of the guests/sommelier that the land costs about half a million a hectacre, but I don't have facts to back that up.

Next, we made our way to the Pasqua winery, which is very deceiving from the outside, but quite the operation with floors upon floors inside. I have to be honest that I have seen the label Pasqua wines before, but don't believe I had yet to try them. Even though the majority of their wines seem to be more bulk wine that either they grow or purchase the juice from other areas of Italy including Sicily, Tuscany and Puglia, the wines that we were fortunate to sample I found to be very enjoyable.
wines of Pasqua winery in Valpolicella

Upon arrival we were immediately introduced to the winemaker Giovanni Nordera, whom is actually a cousin of the family. He has been winemaker at the Pasqua winery for over 10 years and at the impressive age of only 38 years old. He had traveled to many wine regions of the world including Chile, South Africa and France working in the industry before he eventually ended up at the Pasqua winery. Giovanni walked us through all the wines you'll find listed below. 
Winemaker of Pasqua winery, Giovanni Sordera
Giovanni Nordera, winemaker

The winery produces about 14-15 million bottles a year. We toured the factory with Giovanni after our tasting and he walked us through the lab and the bottling operation where they typically bottle about 60,000 bottles a day. I always find those machines to be quite fascinating to watch. We walked through where the stainless steel tanks are kept where their largest tanks hold about 200,000 liters, which is mostly their pinot grigio as they produce about 3 million bottles of this wine. On our tour we were introduced to quite a unique room that was created for the launch of Pasqua's new rose' released this year called 11 Minutes.  Yes, those are hundreds of bottles hanging in a room surrounded by mirrors.  Pretty cool, huh?!
Pasqua 11 Minutes Rose
Room of Pasqua's 11 Minutes Rose'

After the tour Giovanni even walked us through making our own wine including blending, bottling, labeling and corking.  We finished lastly in the wine cellar where a dinner was being prepared for us directly amongst all the barrels.
winemaking with Pasqua winerywinemaking at Pasqua winery

Wine dinner in the wine cellar of Pasqua

An absolutely lovely time over the 2 days and I'll share with you a couple of the towns I visited after on upcoming blogs sharing some of the wines typically produced in those areas so stay tuned.
Wine tasting at Pasqua winery
Below is the list of wines we tried over the couple days and there truly wasn't one that I didn't enjoy, some more than others.  My favorites during my visit were the Pasqua Passione Sentimento Bianco, Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella Superiore and the Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella.  You'll see my notes on these particular favorites, but I'm happy to share others if there is interest.  Shoot me a message.
Pasqua Prosecco Spumante Brut DOC
2016 Pasqua 11 minutes Rose' delle Venezie IGT
2016 Pasqua Passione Sentimento Bianco IGT
  • Made of 100% garganega these grapes go through the appasimento process, drying the grapes out on trays for 1 month in the fruitaio. This wine had good structure with aromatics of stone fruit and citrus.  On the palate it was dry and a nice balance of fruit and refreshing acidity leaving a round mouthfeel and lingering finish. ABV 13%  SRP $14
2015 Pasqua Passione Sentimento Rosso IGT
2012 Pasqua Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
2012 Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Valpolicella Superiore DOC
  • Produced with 50% corvina, 30% corvinone, 10% rondinella and 10% oseleta (a reinvigorated grape once facing extinction).  Aromas of ripe, rich dried red fruits.  A more traditional style of Valpolicella Superiore with lots of complexity including dried cherries, spice and bright acid.  Aged in tonneaux and barriques for 18 months.  This wine was drinking well, but can still withstand some aging. Only 4,000 bottles produced. ABV 15%  SRP $35
Pasqua Mai Dire Mai Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
  • Produced with 65% corvina, 15% corvinone, 10% rondinella and 10% oseleta.  Displaying on the nose sweet, dried fruits.  A structured, concentrated wine loaded with rich, dark fruits showing hints of mint and toasty characteristics.  Aged 100% in new oak and barriques for 24 months.  This wine still needs some more time in the bottle.  ABV 16.5% SRP $150
2006 Pasqua 90th anniversary Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG