Saturday, June 2, 2018

Swept Away to Soave with Gini

Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel groups theme this month is Soave.  I visited the wine region of Soave within the Veneto for the first time back in 2009 and also tasted some of the Soave wines produced from some of the wineries when I visited the Valpolicella a few years back.  Even though I only visited a few wineries at the time back in 2009 I had a great visit in the center of town where a food festival was taking place with plenty of chocolates and pastries to indulge in.  Even the fountain of wine, fontana del vino, was offering out free wine. 
food of Soave
food of Soave
visiting the town of Soave
Free wine offered in the center of town
The one thing about the wines from Soave is that there is so much variety.  Unfortunately soave's image was tarnished from back in the 60's when the focus was on quantity over quality.  I've tasted many soave at an event some years back with Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein including those from the flat plains, hills and the Classico area as well as the wines where winemakers used oak in their winemaking vs. those that use stainless steel.  As you can image each result in a totally different wine.  Then there are those producers like Azienda Agricola Gini that I'm writing about today that are known for their quality and allow you to get a true sense of what soave is all about.    You should also seek out those from Inama, Suavia, Pieropan and more.

So what is soave?  It's primarily comprised of the indigenous white grape of the Veneto, garganega, and some producers may also add u pto 30% trebbiano di soave.  Soave is not only the name of a wine, but it's also the name of a medieval walled town in the Veneto in which the wine is produced.  In 1931, Soave became a delimited wine zone along with the Chianti wine region.  According to the Soave Consorzio, “in the 1970's soave surpassed chianti as the largest selling Italian DOC wine in the US”. 

What pairs well with it?  Recommended by the Soave consortium, soave can pair well with citrus based dishes, pork, chicken, quail or cornish hens, all types of fish, pastas with light cream or butter sauces or risotto alla primavera and paella. Pairing with cheeses you can choose from mild cheeses like chevre, feta or brie as well as burrata.
Castello di Scaligero
Castello Scaligero

Azienda Agricola Gini have producing wine since the 1600's and therefore claims to be one of the oldest wine producers in the area.  They are located in Monforte d'Alpone, which is part of the Classico area of Soave. They are a certified organic winery with vineyards that range between Monforte in the Soave Classico DOC as well as Campiano in the Valpolicella DOC.  I haven't visited their winery myself, but their wine cellar sounds intrigued dug into the volcanic rock where you can actually see some of the black tufo. 

2014 Gini La Frosca Soave ClassicoI had a bottle of the 2014 Gini La Frosca Soave Classico in my cellar that I tried.  This wine is made from 100% garganega and is named after the volcanic hill where the vineyards reside.  A wine straw in color with  fragrant notes of peaches and pears.  There was definitely minerality in the glass along with some lemon, pears and apple accompanied by some nice acidity.  The wine was still holding up well and as Gini recommends it is a wine that can withstand some age. SRP $21

I'll finish with Gini's great statement on their site that states "Nature must be indulged and at the same time governed.  Every vintage is different and every harvest needs to be interpreted in a unique way.  We believe it is important to let the grapes do the talking.  Our role is knowing how to listen".

To discover more about Soave wine, food and travel, join me and my fellow writers of the #ItalianFWT group on Saturday, June 2 @ 11am/EST on Twitter. Here's what we'll be sharing:

  • Li at The Wining Hour will share "Soavemente, Bacciame! Getting Intimate with Soave"
  • Jeff at FoodWineClick will share "The Name Says It All: Soave Classico"
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share "Salmone al Forno + Pieropan Soave Classico 
  • Susannah at Avvinare will share "Soave Looks Ahead to New Frontiers"
  • Nicole at Sommstable will share "Inama Soave Classico with Brown Butter and Herb Crayfish Rolls
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest will share "Strolling to Soave and Cantina del Castello
    *Information sourced by the Consorzio Tutela del Soave and Gini.


    Friday, May 25, 2018

    Malvasia on the Island of Sicilia with Tasca d'Almerita

    A few weeks ago I was invited to a tasting of the Dalla Terra portfolio where 9 families of Italian wine producers were visiting Boston.  I love opportunities like these, especially when they all Italian.  It was the perfect opportunity to take the day off of work and meet these folks.  I made it through 7 of the 9 so I have plenty of stories and wines to share with you in upcoming weeks.  Life is a little crazy right now with getting our house ready for sale while trying to find one never mind balancing two little ones under 2, but that's why we have wine right?!
    Giuseppe Tasca of Tasca d'Almerita
    Giuseppe Tasca

    The wines I'm sharing with you today are made from the malvasia grape from Tasca d'Almerita on the island of Sicily.  This was my first stop of the day and I was greeted by co-owner of the winery and VP, Giuseppe Tasca.  Giuseppe, along with his brother Alberto and father Count Lucia Tasca, manage the operations of the winery today.  Giuseppe greeted me with such enthusiasm and was so proud to tell me the history of his family and the estates that they own.  He walked me through all his pictures and explained the differences between the 5 farms, known as tenuta, and how the expressions of the grape varieties differ from the variety of landscapes that they're grown on.  Those 5 estates include
    • Tenuta Capofaro (Salina)
    • Tenuta Tascante (Mt. Etna)
    • Tenuta Whitaker (Mozia)
    • Tenuta Regaleali (DOC Sclafani county)
    • Sallier de la Tour (Palermo province)
    Tenuta Capofaro of Tasca d'Almerita
    Tenuta Capofaro
    The malvasia wines I'm sharing come from the Tenuta Capofaro estate.  This particular estate is located on the Aeolian island Salina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, off the northeastern coast of Sicily.  At the estate they only grow malvasia, known there as malvasia della lipari, on their vineyards that consist of 6 hectares situated on ancient lava rock.  This area is known for malvasia typically produced as a sweet wine.  Tenuta Capofaro wanted to present it also in a different light and show it as a dry style wine with freshness and elegance, hence their Didyme wine I tasted below.
    Malvasia della Lipari Tenuta Capofaro
    Giuseppe was showing me pictures of the resort that guests can stay at on their estate. Looked like heaven to me!  They purchased this estate back in 2002 and at the time majority of the hectares were already planted with malvasia, but they restructured some of the vineyard and kept the best quality vines.  
    Tenuta Capofaro Sicily
    The 2 wines I tasted were the 2016 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Passito called "CapoFaro" and the 2017 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Didyme.  I hope you have an opportunity to taste these wines and to experience malvasia in its different styles.

    2016 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Passito "CapoFaro" Salina IGT made of 100% malvasia.  These malvasia grapes are dehydrated indoors, concentrating the sugars in the grapes.  They're fermented in stainless steel and aged for 6 months.  The wine showed a beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity without the heavy viscosity of other dessert wines.  Beautiful notes of honey and peaches.  SRP $38 (wine-searcher)

    2017 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Didime Salina IGT made also with 100% malvasia.  This wine is named after the old name of the island "Didyme".  A light-bodied dry wine that is crisp, elegant, showing nice minerality and acidity combined with some citrus, flowers and herb notes.  SRP $16 (wine-searcher)
    Tasca d'Amerita Malvasia Bianca Didyme
    Happy Memorial weekend to everyone!

    *Pictures and information sourced from Jarvis Communications and Tasca d'Almerita.


    Saturday, May 5, 2018

    Vermentino of Toscana with Aia Vecchia

    In the Boston area this past week we have experienced a blast of heat and definitely got me into the mood for some whites, which is the highlight of our Italian Food, Wine & Travel groups feature this month as we discuss the white grape of Italy, vermentino. 

    Vermentino is a grape that can be found in a number of regions within Italy and as if it's not hard enough to learn about all the indigenous grapes of Italy, but in certain regions it is known under a different name.  This grape can be found in Tuscany, Piedmont where it's known as Favorita, Sardinia and Liguria where it's known as Pigato. 

    Vermentino is a dry, light-bodied aromatic white wine with refreshing acidity, floral and citrus notes and a finish at times that includes almonds.  Jancis Robinson calls vermentino a grape that is "racy, citrus, often mineral and sometimes marine character of refreshing dry wine, usually unoaked and moderate in alcohol".

    I opened a 2015 Aia Vecchia Vermentino of Tuscany that I had on hand last week and days later happened to receive an invitation to meet one of the members of the Pelligrini family that produces the wine so it all happened at just the right time.
    Elia Pelligrini
    Aia Vecchia is located between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci and lies oalong the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The winery began in 1996 with their first vintage in 1998.  Their aim was to produce wines of high quality from small plots that were Super Tuscans.  Prior to producing their own wines most of their grapes were sold to other historic estates in the area. 

    They have vineyards in both the Maremma and Bolgheri areas of southern Tuscany.  Of their 104 acres of vines planted, 74 of those are under the Bolgheri DOC.  Within Bolgheri you’ll find more international varieties like merlot and cabernet sauvignon vs. the more indigenous grapes of Italy. Aia Vecchia grows Bordeaux grapes including cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot which are showcased in their wines "Sur Ugo and Lagone" that I tried at the event this week and will share in an upcoming article. 
    Tuscan wine regions including Maremma and Bolgheri
    Tuscan wine regions including Bolgheri and Maremma copyright of Wine Folly

    The vermentino I’m sharing today grows on their estates known as Magiano in Toscana and Orbetello located in Grosseto.  There is a small percentage, 5%, of this wine that includes viognier for weight and florals.  The 2015 Aia Vecchia Vermentino Toscana IGT was straw colored with lemon and citrus notes in the glass.  A dry white light on the acidity and a round mouthfeel with some tropical notes and a hint of almond.  I enjoyed the 2016 that I had at the tasting more than the 2015 due to its salinity and citrus notes, but I personally feel with a lot of these white wines the fresher the better. SRP $14. 13% ABV.

    Join the rest of our Italian crew this Saturday May 5th live on Twitter at 11am EST #ItalianFWT and learn all about vermentino around Italy.  Join in the fun! See you then for a taste of summer.

    Saturday, April 14, 2018

    Pilgrimage to the Navarra with Bodega Inurrieta

    It’s been some time since I joined my Wine Pairing Weekend friends so we’re venturing away from Italy and taking a short jaunt over to the Navarra in Spain.  If you’re not familiar with the Navarra it is located in northern Spain at the base of the Pyrenees Mountains.  It’s near Pamplona and part of the Camino de Santiago (the pilgrimage route of St. James), which was used amongst monks traveling to France and is partially why French grapes are part of vineyard life in the Navarra.
    Navarra wine region featuring Ribera Alta
    Wine region of the Navarra sourced from
    Today I'm sharing the wines of Bodega Inurrieta.  They are situated in 1 of the 5 sub zones known as the Ribera Alta district of Navarra.  This is considered the heart of the Navarra and home to the Navarra D.O. headquarters.  This D.O. is one of the oldest in the country created in 1933 and consists of about 90 wineries and 2,500 growers.  The red grapes dominate the landscapes by about 90% over whites.  The Ribera Alta is a warmer section of the Navarra with the Rio Elga flowing through the land.
    Bodega Inurrieta wine cellars
    Bodega Inurrieta Ribera Alta
    The winery is named after the land where the ancestors grew vines over 100 years ago.  The vines of today were planted back in 1999 with the first bottle release in 2003.  As the President Juan Maria Antonana states “Inurrieta is a young winery but our family has a long tradition in the world of wine.” The wineries altitude ranges from 300-480 and consists of 3 different soil types so they are able to produce 6 different grape varietals including sauvignon blanc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, graciano and garnacha.
    Bodega Inurrieta wines of Navarra
    Bodega Inurrieta Ribera Alta wines
    I tried both their sauvignon blanc known as Orchidea and their Crianza blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon known as Cuatrocientos.  Check out the pairings!

    2017 Inurrieta Orchidea Sauvignon Blanc
    Brilliant, crystal pale yellow in color with a tinge of green.  On the nose the aromatics are jumping out of the glass with waves of tropical fruits (pineapples and grapefruits). A light to medium bodied wine rich in tropical fruit with vegetal undertones.  Well balanced.
    Pairing: I paired this wine with a pintxo appetizer topped with salted ham, roasted peppers and goat cheese drizzled with some delicious extra virgin olive oil I received from Azienda Agricola Pernigo.  I was a big fan of this pairing as the acidity and tropical notes of the wine integrated well with the savory ham along with the peppers and goat cheese.
    2017 Bodega Inurrieta Orchidea Sauvignon Blanc
    Inurrieta Cuatrocientos Crianza Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon
    This wine is a blend of 60% merlot and 40% cabernet sauvignon.  Crianza in the Navarra has a requirement of 24 months aging with a minimum of 9 months in barrel.  Bodega Inurrieta uses both French and American oak.  This wine is deep, dark ruby in color.  Sweet smelling on the nose and rich in blackberries and raspberries as well as on the palatte.  A full bodied, meaty wine with vanilla notes from the barrel aging.
    Pairing: I paired with this stuffed peppers filled with turkey, black beans, diced red peppers and corn.     
    2011 Bodega Inurrieta Cuatrocientos Crianza
    If you catch this in time join us live on Twitter Saturday April 14th at #WinePW as we chat all about the food and wine of the Navarra wine region in Spain.
    Jill Barth of L'Occasion: "Eat and Drink like Hemingway in Spain’s Navarra Region"
    Nancy Brazil of Pull That Cork: "Wines of Navarra and a Meal to Match" 
    David Crowley of Cooking Chat: "Steak with Manchego Mushroom Sauce with Red Wine from Navarra" 
    Jade Helm of Tasting Pour: "Lamb Sofrito Nachos Night of Navarra Wines" 
    Nicole Ruiz Hudson of Somm's Table: "Cooking to the Wine: Senorio de Otazu and Broiled Skirt Steak with Romesco Sauce" 
    Wendy Klik of A Day in The Life on the Farm: "A taste of Navarra Spain
    Camilla M. Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla: "Pacific Rock Crab Claws + 2016 Otazu Merlot Rosado " 
    Jane Niemeyer of Always Ravenous: "What Foods to Pair with Wines from Navarra Spain" Sarah Ozimek of Curious Cuisiniere: "Basic Spanish Flan and Navarra Wine" 
    Cindy Rynning of Grape Experiences: "¡Salud! to Tapas Night and the Wines of Navarra" Julie Santiago of Wine N Friends: "Taste of Pintxos and Navarra Wines" 
    Rupal Desai Shankar The Syrah Queen: "Navarra - Spain’s Hidden Gem" 
    Lauren Walsh The Swirling Dervish: "Sipping and Cooking with Patxaran: a Taste of Ancient Navarra
    Host Gwendolyn Alley The Wine Predator: "Along the Way with Wine and Food from Navarra Spain."    
    Bodega Inurrieta  Navarra wine region
    *Wines were received as samples from Wines of Navarra, but opinions are my own.  Information sourced from Bodega Inurrieta and


    Saturday, April 7, 2018

    Verdicchio of the Marche with Tenuta di Tavignano

    This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is exploring verdicchio from all over Italy.  One of the areas I am most familiar with when it comes to verdicchio is the region of Le Marche, which is located in central Italy.  Le Marche has a long coastline along the Adriatic and touches 5 other regions to its west including Emilia Romagna to the north, Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio to the west and Abruzzo to the south. 

    When considering verdicchio from Le Marche wine region there are 2 main wines to consider.  Those from Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica.  I have previously wrote a comparison of the two verdicchio some time back that you can read more about.  You’ll also find this grape in the wines of the Veneto, specifically those of Soave where its known as trebbiano di soave.  There it is used as a blending grape with garganega lending it’s high acidity characteristic.

    Tenuta di Tavignano is located in the town of Cingoli in the Ancona province.  Set up on a south-eastern sloping hill overlooking the Jesi valley the winery is surrounded by mountains including the Appenines and Mount San Vicino.  You’ll find the vineyards of Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi located on the northern side of the Misa river.  The Jesi were an ancient tribe that resided on the castelli, or castles, situated on top of the hillsides as Tenuta di Tavignano is.
    Tenuta di Tavignano Marche wine region
    The history of the winery goes back to the 70’s when it was purchased by Stefano Aymerich and his wife Beatrice Lucangeli, a descendant of nobility in the Marche region.  They didn’t begin to start thoughts of making wine until the 90’s when they revamped the estate and planted grape varietals.  Their goal was to become a producer of top quality verdicchio.  Today the winery is managed by Stefano’s niece, Ondine de la Feld on 30 hectacres of vineyards.  The winery since 2015 has also been working towards being organic.
    Ondine de la Feld and Stefano Aymerich Tenuta di Tavignano
    Ondine de la Feld (left) & Stefano Aymerich (right)
    All their grapes are hand harvested and whites are softly pressed at low fermentation temperatures.  I had a bottle of their 2014 Tenuta di Tavignano Villa Torre Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore that I opened this week.  I wish I had time to prepare something with it, but it was a very enjoyable wine all on its own.  I know everyone is all about wine pairings, but I thoroughly enjoy having wine solo before any pairings are involved anyways. 

    2014 Tenuta di Tavignano Villa Torre Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore
    Color: brilliantly crystal, straw color with a tinge of green, almost clear.
    Nose: Grassy, citrus, grapefruit.
    Palette: A crisp, dry white wine with a nice balance of fruit, lemon citrus backed with solid acidity, good sapidity and minerals.
    ABV 13% SRP $11

    Pairing: Due to its proximity to the sea I can definitely see this wine pairing well with seafood dishes. 

    It saddens me that so many people are out there drinking cheap pinot grigio when they can get such fantastic white wines like this verdicchio for such great values, but don’t have the knowledge of what a verdicchio is.  Hopefully we help break some of that here on Vino Travels.

    *Pictures copyright of Tenuta di Tavignano

    Friday, April 6, 2018

    Vino Travels Celebrates 5 years!

    Gosh time flies!  It's hard to believe that the thought of starting a blog 5 years ago has brought me to where I am today.  This month Vino Travels celebrates its 5 year anniversary.  I started this blog as an idea to encourage myself to learn more about Italian wine weekly by doing researching and sharing the gained knowledge with my readers.  I never thought it would have taken me on the long journey it has.

    I've met so many great folks in the industry mostly online, but also in person via events that I have attended.  My greatest accomplishment was becoming certified as an Italian Wine Specialist with the North American Sommelier Association.  I've made blogger friends all around the world having the ability to be able to meet some of them in person.  I've been fortunate to have visited Italy by invitation on a couple of occasions to dig into the wine regions, meet winemakers and tour the facilities with more offerings recently, but unfortunately my 2 little bundles of joy that I've had over the past couple years have kept me from doing so.  It's only a moment in time and I know I'll be able to get back over there soon and be able to share some of those personal explorations with you soon enough.
    My reasons for the recent slow down on blog, but all worth it, dont you think?!
    I wanted to thank all my readers for the support in following my journey as I further explore my passion for Italian wine.  There is always more to learn, especially in the world of wine. I highly encourage you to reach out to me as I love to hear from readers whether it's to share your thoughts on my blogs, what you'd like to see more of or just tell me a little about yourself as I love to hear all about everyone's passion for all things Italian or wine related.  I wish I heard from my readers more.

    Here's to tasting many more great Italian wines, sharing more stores and another great 5+ years.  Cin cin!


    Thursday, March 29, 2018

    Aglianico del Vulture from Cantina Il Passo in the Basilicata

    Sticking with the theme of aglianico this month I’m sticking with the Basilicata wine region and sharing an aglianico from Cantina Il Passo.  I have been in connection with one of the family members, Maria, to get a background history on the winery. 

    Maria's children are the 5th generation owners of the estate.  Their great great grandfather, Francesco Grimolizzi, in 800 purchased acres of the farm in the town of Rapolla within the province of Potenza.  
    Cantina Il Passo in Basilicata
    The property was divided amongst the children and now the family owns 50 hectares cultivated of cereal (durum wheat, orzo and oats), 3 hectares of olive groves and in 2012 they purchased a vineyard containing 30 year old vines of Aglianico del Vulture.  Since then they have all purchased another vineyard in Barile totaling 5 hectares of vines.  With this purchase they decided to produce quality wine with the collaboration of wine consultant, Fabio Mecca.  Enologist, Fabio Mecca, born in Barile, consults for wineries in central and southern Italy.  According to WineNews, in 2011 he was awarded one of the 4 Best Emerging Oenologists.
    Fabio Mecca Italian enologist
    Fabio Mecca
    The winery is named Il Passo because it’s the name of the first terrain that one encounters on the property as you approach the winery, which is an olive grove that extends towards the hill.  The wine is named after the land in which the winery resides, Contrada Alberi in Piano.  Their vineyards are planted with exclusively aglianico that is set at the foot of Mt Vulture in the Basilicata region.  Their wine cellar also exists in carved out tufa caves underground.  
    Cantina Il Passo Basilicata wine region
    In 2013 Cantina Il Passo Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture won the platinum medal by Decantur being named “Best Southern Italian Red” with a rating of 95 points.   

    2013 Cantina Il Passo Alberi in Piano Aglianico del Vulture
    2013 Cantina Il Passo Aglianico del Vulture Basilicata
    The tree on the bottle represents the Grimolizzi roots of the family.  This wine is aged 3 months in steel and then 18 months in new French tonneaux before it is bottled.  For this price point you’re getting much more than you pay for.  A full bodied wine that is rich in dark, brooding berries and well balanced between acidity, flavor and tannins with the tannins showing on the silkier side.  A lasting finish to enjoy once the last sip is gone! SRP $23 ABV 14%

    Pairings:  I personally paired this with a classic homemade lasagna and meatballs, but there are many choices you could go with.  Cantina il Passo recommends leg of lamb on a bed of peppers and dried tomatoes.
    homemade lasagna
    Have you been to this region yet or are you an aglianico lover yet?  What are you waiting for!?

    Most pictures copyright of Cantina Il Passo and wine was shared as a sample, but opinions are my own.


    Saturday, March 3, 2018

    The Sacred Vines of the Basilicata with D'Angelo Aglianico

    The Basilicata in my opinion is one of the lesser known and traveled to destinations for many and this week our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is going to expose one of it’s greatest achievements in winemaking for the region, the grape aglianico. 

    The region of Basilicata is located in southern Italy surrounded by the regions of Puglia to the east, Campania to the north and Calabria to the south.  It touches both the Gulf of Taranto as part of the Ionian Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea.  It’s one of the mountainous, if not the most mountainous region in southern Italy with Monte Vulture being a geological highlight of the area’s terrain.  This volcanic area is actually where many of the great aglianico wines originate from known as Aglianico del Vulture.

    Aglianico is a grape I discovered some years back and although I don’t have a chance to sample it too often is one that has grown to become one of my favorites.  It was brought to the region of the Basilicata back around the 6th and 7th century by the Greeks.  The name is believed to derive from the word Hellenic or Ellenico.  You’ll also find this grape produced in the region of Campania.  Many call this grape and the wines it produces the “Barolo of the South”, but I say appreciate it for what it is without comparison to others and enjoy!  These wines tend to have high acidity with firm to gripping tannins with plenty of depth, complexity, dark fruits and aging potential.  

    The D’Angelo winery is located on about 86 self owned acres where they produce about 300,000 bottles annually.  The D’Angelo SacraVite wine is labeled as a Basilicata IGT making it more affordable around the $14-15 price point, but without skimping on quality.   Sacra Vite stands for sacred vine and is what the D'Angelo winery prides itself on, which is working with the aglianico grape for over a century.  
    2013 D'Angelo Sacravite Aglianico Basilicata
    The 2013 D'Angelo SacreVite aglianico is aged for a few months in Slavonian oak barrels and is produced in a softer, more approachable way to try aglianico.  It’s made of 100% of the aglianico grape.  On the nose I picked up plenty of dark berries.  Full bodied that is rustic with plums and juicy dark berries combined with some fresh acidity and a lingering finish.  Since this is a young aglianico, and with all aglianico wines, you'll want to decant them.  

    Join the Italian Food, Wine & Travel Group as we dive deep into wines made from the Aglianico grape. This Saturday March 3, our posts will all be live and we’ll be chatting about our discoveries. Join us on Twitter Saturday March 3 at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.
    Take a look at all the great ideas our group will be posting:


    Saturday, February 3, 2018

    The Valtellina: Home of Chiavennasca

    I'm a big fan of northern Italy, especially the Alpine region.  Although I'm a big fan of many regions of Italy (who isn't?).  I fell in love with the Alpine regions when I traveled to the Valle d'Aosta for my honeymoon.  This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) takes you to the Valtellina. 

    The Valtellina is a lesser explored wine region tucked into the mountainous landscapes of northern Lombardy near Lake Como with the Alps and Switzerland bordering to the north.  The Adda river runs through the area from east to west.  It's also been nominated as a UNESCO world heritage site. 

    Nebbiolo is most famously known for the Piedmont region, but it's also the dominant grape of the Valtellina where its known as chiavennasca.  Here is produces more delicate and feminine style wines compared to those of Piedmont that are typically deeper and more concentrated.  To gain more concentration in the wines some producers dry their grapes, known as the appassimento process.  You may familiar with this process as amarone from the Valpolicella wine region of the Veneto also uses it. These wines produced with dried grapes in the Valtellina are called sfursat or sforsato. 
                                 nebbiolo chiavennasca of valtellina
    Grape growing and winemaking in the Valtellina presents a handful of challenges with the largest obstacle being the vineyards themselves.  The high altitudes up to 2,000 feet and steep, terraced, south facing slopes make it extremely difficult to harvest and care for the grapes.  It's a workout not for the faint hearted.   

    The weather here has extremes of cold winterse and hot summers.  Luckily with the proximity to Lake Como they receive the warm winds, breve, that carry themselves up to the vineyards in the valley.
                                 Vineyards of the Valtellina Lombardy

    The wines that you'll find produced in the Valtellina include the following:

    • Terazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT - This is a catch all including reds, whites, sparkling nebbiolo and late harvest.
    • Rosso di Valtellina DOC - These wines require 7 months aging and is mostly made of nebbiolo with some other varietals allowed.
    • Valtellina Superiore DOCG - Must age a minimum of 24 months with 12 months in oak.  Riserva must age 36 months.  They are made of at least 90% nebbiolo.
    • Sforzato di Valtellina DOCG - As discussed previously these are dried in the fruitaoi, a climate controlled room, for about 2-3 months where they lose 40% water.  They are then aged 20 months.

    There are 5 special zones that are considered the cru of the Valtellina and are named after castles and churches of the area.  Each demonstrates their own style of nebbiolo.  Those zones are: 
    • Grumello – These wines are more approachable and fruit forward 
    • Inferno – Steep and rocky producing wines with power.  The rocks here retain much of the heat absorbed during the day that is released at night. 
    • Sassella – Another rocky, steep area that produce powerful, concentrated wines.  The most prestigious of the area.
    • Valgella – This is the largest of the 5 with the highest altitudes producing the most delicate and perfumed wines   

    • Maroggia - The smallest of the zones.  Here you will find balanced wines of acidity, tannin and ripe red and black fruits. 
    Some of the most common producers of this region to seek wines out from include Nino Negri, Domenico Triacca, Sandro Fay, Ar.Pe.Pe, Conti Serfoli Salis and Aldo Rainoldi to name a few. 

    Think hearty fare when pairing food with the wines of this region.  Lots of beef, including bresaola, pizzocchieri pasta and their local cheeses include casera and bitto 

    Have you been to this region yet or sampled the wines from here?  What are you preferences in comparison of the nebbiolo from here compared to those of Piedmont?

    There's more Valtellina coming your way.  Check out my fellow bloggers as they share their wine and/or food pairings from this region.  If you catch us in time we are chatting live on Twitter this Saturday February 3rd @ 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  We hope you can join us!

    Susannah Gold is sharing "Exploring the wines of Mamete Prevostini in the Valtellina" on Avvinare.

    Camilla Mann will be dishing on "Short Ribs + the Balgera Valtellina Superiore Inferno #ItalianFWT" on Culinary Adventures with Cam.

    Katarina Andersson will share "Valtellina - Winemaking in a Mountain Landscape" on Grapevine Adventures

    Martin Redmond writes "A Taste of Valtellina: 2014 ArPePe Rosso Superiore with Wild Mushroom Ragout over Creamy Polenta" on Enofylz Wine Blog

    Jeff Burrows shares "Double Secret Winery: Giorgio Gianatti in Valtellina" on Food Wine Click

    Wendy Klik brings "Celebrating Love: Pork Filet Mignon with Valtellina Wine" to life on A Day In the Life on the the Farm

    Li Valentine shares "A taste of Valtellina with Nino Negri and Carpaccio" on The Wining Hour

    Information sourced and pictures copyright of Consorzio di Tutela Vini di Valtellina.