Friday, October 12, 2018

You Had Me at #MerlotMe with Ca'Momi

Another year has passed and the time has come for another month full of merlot.  Every October our Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) group celebrates International Merlot Month that began back in 2012.  It’s our opportunity to sample wine from a large variety of winery participants that take part in this event.  This year I’ve been blessed with the chance to try a number of merlot bottles from a variety of producers including Duckhorn, Ca’ Momi and Markham Vineyards.  All the wines shared hail from California where merlot is the 3rd leading red grape grown.  I even will be trying NorthStar Merlot from Columbia Valley, WA this month.  So grab a glass of merlot and join us in the fun!

2016 Ca’ Momi Merlot Napa Valley
ABV 13.5% SRP $19.99
The winery was started in 2006 by 3 Italians: Stefano Migotto, Dario De Conti and Valentina Guolo-Migotto.  It's name represents the "House of Momi", which is an important landmark in the owner's mother country. Growing their grapes in Wild Horse Valley and the Carneros district.

Made from 100% merlot.  This wine was full of juicy red berries.  A medium-bodied wine with nice bright acidity up front with plush tannins.  Finishing with vanilla notes.  This wine is aged 8 months in both French and American oak.  
2015 Ca'Momi Merlot
I paired this wine with a classic roast chicken dish and I also tried it the next night with a creamy parmesan herb chicken mushroom pasta.  It went well with either dish, but I actually enjoyed it with the simplicity of a roasted chicken.
creamy parmesan mushroom chicken pasta
2013 Ca’ Momi Merlot Reserve Carneros Napa Valley
ABV 14.5% SRP $44.00
This is the 1st release of their reserve wine for Ca’ Momi.  It hails from the Carneros district of Napa Valley.  A full-bodied wine with much depth and complexities.  Rich, ripe fruit full of raspberries, plums and blackberries.  The wine needed to open up a bit since when I first opened it the tannins  jumped out to say hello ; ).  As it had an opportunity to open up the tannin became well integrated into the wine backed with good acidity. 
2013 Ca'Momi Merlot Reserve Carneros Napa Valley

I paired this wine with a hearty beef bourguignon in the slow cooker.  Slow cooker meals are a life saver some days.  I did also try it with the chicken dish, but it stood up much better to the beef.  It's depth and body stood up well to the spice and beef in the dish.
slow cooker beef bourguignon
Join in our merlot conversation this Saturday at 11am EST on Twitter at #WinePW.  Read on for many fantastic food and wine pairings with merlot.

    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Love for the Wines of Lugana

A couple years back I was invited to a wine tasting in Boston fully dedicated to the white wines of Lugana.  It was quite a pleasant surprise to discover the beauty of these wines that aren’t often enough at the top of every winelover’s list.  Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is exploring what these wines are all about including the wide variety of styles and how ageworthy they are.

Lugana is a wine region located on the southern tip of Lake Garda.  It’s in northern Italy and borders both the Veneto and Lombardy regions.  It’s comprised of the following towns: Sirmione, Pozzolengo, Desenzano, Londato del Garda and Peschiara del Garda, with the latter being the only to reside in the Veneto.  It’s a short trip from the major cities of Brescia and Verona.  I ventured over to Peschiera del Garda for the first time on my last adventure to Italy over a year ago. 
The area of Lugana was once completely covered as a forest, known as “Selva Lucana”, probably hence where the name came form.  When the glaciers came down from the alpine region it formed Lake Garda and created the unique morainic soils.      

Wines from Lugana are primarily made from the turbiana grape also known as trebbiano di lugana.  There is a 10% allowance of other non-aromatic white grapes, but many producers are making these wines with 100% turbiana.   The regular wines of Lugana can typically only be aged about 2-3 years, but the others including the superior and riserva wines have capabilities to be aged 10+ years. 
Turbiana grapes - Copywright of Selva Capuzza

There are 5 different styles of Lugana: regular, Superiore, Riserva, Late Harvest and Sparkling.  The regular wines of Lugana make up 90% of the production of the Lugana DOC.  The wines made in the Peschiera del Garda area actually produce about 60% of the wines in the area.  I’m sharing one from the regular style Lugana and one from the late harvest, known as vendemmia tardiva.
Copyright of Selva Capuzza

Luca Formentini of Selva Capuzza - Copyright of Selva Capuzza
The wine from Lugana I’m sharing today is from Selva Capuzza in the Lombardy region.  It’s location is situated of the site of the important Italian battle, San Martino e Solferino, that took place in 1859.  The 2013 Podere Selva Capuzza Lugana DOC is their wine they make with pride and is sourced from their highest and oldest vineyard.  A wine that is fresh and rich with florals and fruit combined with mineral notes.  13% ABV SRP
Copyright of Selva Capuzza
The other wine I’m sharing is the 2011 Tenuta Roveglia Filo di Arianna Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva DOC.  This wine is harvested late October to early November allowing the grapes to fully concentrate before they are hand picked.  The wine is aged 12-14 months in oak barrels.  It’s a wine of full body with almond notes seeming silky on the palate.  13.5% ABV SRP    

Tenuta Roveglia was started by a Swiss businessman by the name of Federico Zweifel when he relocated to the area at the end of 19th century. Four generations later his family continues to carry on the production and traditions of the winery as it stands today.
Copyright of Tenuta Roveglia

Copyright of Tenuta Roveglia
See what my fellow bloggers have to say about Lugana wine:

*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Italian Grapes of Amador County with Terra d'Oro

It doesn’t happen all too often that I get the opportunity to try wines made from Italian grapes outside Italy.  I had the opportunity to try some from Terra d’Oro located in the Sierra Foothills of Amador County in CA.  I connected with their winemaker, Emily Haines, and will be sharing some of the questions to give you further insight into their workings with some Italian grapes.   

The name Terra d’Oro means land of gold in Italian and was where the Gold Rush miners settled in the 1800’s.  When the gold dried up they were also the first to plant vineyards.  By the end of the century there were over 100 wineries, the largest wine region in the state back then.  The miners had transitioned their money making from gold to wine production.   
Terra d'Oro in Amador County Sierra Foothills
Terra d'Oro vineyards copyright of Terra d'Oro
The winery began back in 1973 under Cary Gott and father-in-law Walter Field, but at that point in time was named Montevina.  According to the Terra d’Oro site it was the first winery of Amador county that was producing wines after Prohibition.   The winery produces a variety of grapes, but being most interested in Italian grapes I was pleased to find that they produce barbera, pinot grigio, sangiovesemoscatoteroldegofreisanebbiolo and aglianico.  I am sharing their 2016 Terra d’Oro Barbera and the 2017 Terra d’Oro pinot grigio.   
Terra d'Oro barbera and pinot grigio
2016 Terra d’Oro Barbera   

Barbera is native to the wine region of Piedmont in northwestern Italy usually seen as Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba.  Terra d’Oro quotes that it’s the 6th most planted red grape in California.  Bright ruby in color with purple hues.  On the nose ripe forest berries.  A soft, easy drinking, smooth wine with juicy raspberries and blueberries.  It’s aged 2 weeks in stainless steel tanks plus 15 months in French and Hungarian oak.   Terra d’Oro suggests to pair this barbera with roast pork or a pasta bolognese.  ABV 14.5% SRP $18 

2017 Terra d’Oro Pinot Grigio 
Pinot grigio is one of the most overlooked grapes due to the high quantity on the market and the large variety of quality out there.  I truly enjoyed this grape and was my pick of the two.  Almost clear in the glass this wine had a very aromatic nose.  Smooth on the palate with nice acidity and plenty of pineapple and green apple notes.  This wine is fermented in stainless steel for a month.  ABV 13.55 SRP $16 
Emily Haines winemaker of Terra d'Oro
Emily Haines Copyright of Terra d'Oro
Interview with Emily Haines, winemaker of Terra d’Oro 

As a winemaker, what is it that attracted you to producing wines for Terra d’Oro? 
I am originally from Washington State and made a lot of Cab, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling.  I’d made some Barbera and Zinfandel over the years, but definitely never had made AglianicoTeroldego, or Freisa.  Coming to Terra d’Oro offered a new venture into winemaking that I had never been down before.  I’ve spent much of my time here tasting the Italian representations of these wines along with representations across the country.  I’m taking what I’m liking in those tastings and creating winemaking designs that tip the hat to the traditional, while also innovating and creating wines that are advancing with wine lovers new and old, alike.  

Why was Terra d’Oro named Montevina prior?  
Montevina was the name of the winery when we crushed our first wine back in 1970.  As the winery grew, it was natural to create a higher quality luxury tier, which was named Terra d’Oro.  As time went on, it became clear that it was time to focus our efforts into the Terra d’Oro brand.  But fret not, we still create wine under the Montevina label. Montevina wines we varietally correct, yet more fruit forward.  

What vineyards are your other Italian grapes planted in?  
Our estate vineyards in Amador County add up to 800 total acres over 4 properties, 500 acres of which is planted.  On our Amador properties, we have the following Italian varieties planted: Barbera, Sangiovese, TeroldegoAglianicoFreisa, and Nebbiolo.  

I was reading that Barbera is the 6th most planted grape in the state of CA.  Why is that and what is it about this grape in particular that attracted you to it to plant in Amador County?  
Barbera is widely planted here in Amador County.  Terra d’Oro was one of the first to plant Barbera in our region.  The shallow soils filled with Iron and decomposed granite made the perfect home for this Italian Variety.  We get big robust cherry flavors along with the signature clean acid finish, making Barbera an excellent food pairing wine.   

In your description of the pinot grigio you mention that it finishes with a touch of elegant French oak.  Is it aged and barrel and for how long?  Why did you decide to take this approach in particular with a pinot grigio 
Since the 2016 vintage we changed the winemaking style and vineyard sourcing to bring more liveliness and a crispness to our Pinot Grigio, but, as an homage to the previous style, we did a little extended yeast lees contact to add more viscosity and density to the traditionally linear wine. We feel Pinot Grigio doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.  It’s a very expressive variety, especially here in California, where we get flavors and aromas of, pear, green apple, ripe melon, along with some refreshing minerality and floral characteristics.   

I saw that your pinot grigio is grown in Santa Barbera.  Do you have a vineyard site there or do you purchase them from another winery?  If so, what part do you take in the production of those grapes? 
Our Pinot Grigio from Clarksburg is all from our own company-owned vineyards.  We have 4 different clones of Pinot Grigio from that site, which gives us many different flavors to work with, resulting in a lovely aromatic and flavor complexity ranging from ripe fruit to minerality to even a little bit of fresh hay.  We hand pick these grapes so they pick up the least amount of color on the 2 hour trek from Clarksburg to Amador County.   

I saw that the winery also produces sangiovese and moscato.  What is it about the land there that made you decide to produce so many wines based on Italian grapes?    
In the infancy of Amador County, people tried to plant Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, white varieties, but they never performed the way it was expected.  After Barbera has been planted, it wasn’t long for Sangiovese to come in.  We also produce Aglianico and Teroldego from our estate vineyards.  Much of this is attributed to our very warm climate.  Despite being in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas, our summers are very long and hot.  Varieties that do well in these climates were incredibly important in the planting of this region.  In addition to Italian Varieties, Spanish varieties and Zinfandel do exceptionally well here.  


*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.