Saturday, April 20, 2019

Vino Travels celebrates 6 years of blogging about Italian wine

When the reminder popped up on my computer that it had been 6 years that I start blogging about wine I couldn’t believe how fast time has gone.  As I’ve mentioned in the past I started a wine blog to encourage myself to read, research and learn as much as I can due to my love and passion for Italy and wine, especially Italian wine.  I will never claim myself as an expert as I’m far from it, but this is my own personal journey and I’m very thankful to my readers for joining me along for the ride.   

In trying to think about what wine I wanted to feature for such a special occasion it’s hard to just pick one bottle.  There are wines that I brought back from my travels from Italy over the years that I’m aging in my basement.  The question is what am I waiting for.  Life is too short, but for special bottles I do like to take a moment to sit and savor the sips and with 2 little munchkins running around my house that’s not always the easiest to do. 

I decided to enjoy a 2008 Secretum Brunello di Montalcino DOCG that I must have brought back from Italy some years ago.  I’m not sure why I had picked this particular bottle and if my memory serves me correct I was in a wine shop in Montalcino and chose this bottle to take home and try.  Unfortunately, after countless efforts online I couldn’t dig up any information about the winery, which is what I love to tell most of to my readers. 

So why did I pick this particular wine?  Well, I fight with the question of what is my favorite Italian grape and it’s impossible to pick just one.  I always seem to lean towards sangiovese in its many styles whether it’s chianti classico, vino nobile di montepulciano, brunello di montalcino or from southern Tuscany in the Bolgheri wine region where it’s blended with international grapes.  There are also great sangiovese wines from Emilia Romagna known as Sangiovese di Romagna that you don’t see too much of, but are definitely something to try. 

The 2008 Secretum Brunello di Montalcino DOCG was deep garnet in color with a hint of orange on the rim (typically comes with age).  On the nose were beautiful ripe cherries, almost with a hint of cherry chapstick to it with some notes of licorice at the end.  Classic sangiovese cherry notes on the palate with nice acidity and moderate to firm tannins.  The wine needed a little time to open up as initially the tannins overpowered the fruit.  A good lengthy finish with notes of vanilla at the end.  Overall an enjoyable brunello with a smile on my face as I look back at how far I’ve come with a long road ahead.   
2008 Secretum Brunello di Montalcino
Please drop me notes or leave comments as I love to hear from my readers and it doesn’t happen all too often.  I love all sorts of feedback and comments and for those that participated in my survey earlier this year I greatly appreciate the feedback so I can bring you more of what you’d like to read.    


Friday, April 12, 2019

Biodynamic Wines of the Alto Adige with Alois Lageder

Last month I shared some organic wines of La Valentina in the Abruzzo wine region of Italy.  Today we’re taking it one step further and going biodynamic with Alois Lageder from the Alto Adige wine region with our Wine Pairing Weekend crew.  
The Land 
Coming together as one region, Trentino-Alto Adige, with Alto Adige to the northern part of the region bordering Austria and Trentino to the south.  The region, once part of Austria, became a part of Italy in 1918 after World War I.  As you can imagine there are many cultural influences here because of the mix of cultures with both Italian and German spoken there. 
Trentino-Alto Adige is also part of the Tre Venezie with the Veneto and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy as they were all once part of the Venetian Empire as well. 
Due to Alto Adige’s proximity to the Dolomite mountain range the climate has very cold winters, but otherwise it basks in 300 days of sunshine highlighting a warm Mediterranean climate outside of the winter months with cool nights providing optimal grape growing conditions.   
Alois Lageder biodynamic wines Alto Adige
 The Grapes 
Alto Adige along with its counterpart Trentino share some similaries with their northern neighbors, Austria and Germany, in the fact that they produce along of single varietals leaning towards more German style grapes like riesling, muller thurgau, sylvaner and gewurztraminer.   

This region like most of Trentino-Alto Adige have always been dominated by co-operatives and as you’ll see below Alois Lageder works with many other growers as well as their own estate grapes.   
I’m featuring both of Alois Lageder’s pinot grigio and pinot biancoSo you may ask what is the difference between both pinot bianco and pinot grigio.  They both originate from the same pinot family in different mutations, as if that was hard to tell.  They are both white grapes and pinot bianco is typically more lighter in style and occasionally can be aged in some oak.  It’s usually more rounder than pinot grigio and a little less acidity.   
Schiava, on the other hand, is a light styled red wine, known as vernatsch in German.  It is a grape that prefers the shade therefore Alois Lageder grows them under pergola trellis vines.  Lower in tannin and acid it lends flavors of strawberries, raspberries and ripe cherries.  I really enjoy this grape, especially in the warmer months when I am all white wined out and am looking for something red, light in body but with plenty of flavor.  
The Winery 
Alois Lageder is well respected wine producer in the region of Alto Adige.  The winery was established back in 1823 and is today operated by both the 5th and 6th generations. The wineries slogan upon visiting their website is “cultivating nature as a habitat of life”.  Their belief is that practicing organics and biodynamics enriches their landscape by enriching the soil and creating a diverse environment for all beings.  Perfect to our theme this month on biodynamics and how passionate some of these wine producers are about not only producing high quality wines, but also preserving the land for today and generations to come. 
Alois Lageder winery in Alto Adige
Clemens and Alois Lageder
Local farmers bring their cows during the fall and winter into the vineyards increasing the vitality of their grapes.  As with all organic and biodynamic practices no chemicals or synthetic substances are allowed.   

Collaborates with 80 grape growers throughout the Alto Adige covering about 250 acres that are about 50% biodynamic and organic as well as their own estate vineyards of about 135 acres that are completely organic and biodynamic.  They are looking to get everyone converted over to the Demeter certification by 2023 so they work very closely with their farmers.  All grapes are hand picked and vinified back at the Alois Lageder winery.  Over 25 different grape varietals are grown under the Alois Lageder brand. 
Its terrain is very steep with vineyards situated at about 700 to 4200 feet growing over 25 different grapes.   
Alois Lageder wines of Alto Adige
The Wines 
2017 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco IGT 
A light straw-colored wine.  Aromatics of peaches, pineapple, citrus and apple.  Light in body, but good acid with a nice crispness coming through clean with mostly citrus.  This wine was still drinking well for me after a few days shockingly (yes it did last that long since I’m the only one that drinks in my house).  Just a perfect wine coming into spring.  Light enough to sip on, but plenty to liven up the day.  ABV 13% SRP $15 
2017 Alois Lageder PORER Pinot Grigio  
What’s unique about this particular wine is the way in which it was produced.  Part of the grapes were pressed upon arrival to the winery.  Another part of the grapes were left in contact with the skins for 15 hours.  Lastly, another part was left to sit with the stems and skins for a year.  So as you can imagine this isn’t your average pinot grigio.  It was lively wine with nice aromatics of stone fruit.  Rather fuller than your average pinot grigio, but fresh with some nice salinity.  ABV 12.5% SRP $26 
2017 Alois Lageder Schiava  
Apparently Alto Adige was mostly a red wine region until the 1970’s per their website and schiava was king.  Definitely opposite of how this wine region is positioned today primarily as a white wine region.  It’s very pale in color, ruby almost a dusty rose.  With notes of cherry this schiava is light in body, soft and elegant with a hint of strawberry.   ABV 12$ SRP $16  

Pairing: I paired this wine with a creamy pasta with salmon and spinach.  I typically always prefer white wine with fish, but always enjoy a lighter style red with salmon and this schiava was a great match.
schiava wine pairing with salmon pasta
I don’t envy those that tend to the grapes and the vines as well as those that partake at harvest as Alois Lageder’s vineyards are very steep situated between 700 to 4200 feet.  That along with the close attention to practices of organics and biodynamics shows you the passion that these growers have invested in these wines and is solely the reason why I love sharing these stories with you!  

Join the rest of our Wine Pairing Weekend group of fine wine and food bloggers below and on our live Twitter chat at #winepw this Saturday April 13th at 11am EST. 

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Cultural Heritage of Mamuthone and Cannonau of Azienda Giuseppe Sedilesu

This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is highlighting the island wines of Italy.  Obviously a broad range as Italy has over 450 islands with some of the largest being Sicily and Sardinia.  There are plenty of wonderful smaller islands to explore that produce wine as well including Capri, Ischia, Elba and more.  I’m taking you to the island of Sardinia, known as Sardegna in Italian.  It is the 2nd largest island in Italy.  I actually brought this wine back from Italy a couple years ago as I was browsing a wine shop in Verona.  Since it was a wine I'd never seen or tried I had to take it home and no better than the present to try it. 

The Winery 
Azienda Giuseppe Sedilesu is situated amongst the Barbagia mountains in the tiny village of Mamoiada.  The winery began 35 years ago from a purchase of 1 hectacre of land by Giuseppe and Grazia Sedilesu and was a venture with their 3 children, whom now manage the winery today.  The winery has grown to 15 hectacres and 95% of their vines are planted to the cannonau grape with the other 5% a white grape, granazza. 
The wine had always been sold in bulk on the island, but in 2000 when the children took over they decided to bottle it for the market and doubled their production 10 years later and built new cellars. 
Giuseppe Sedilesu wines of Sardegna
Giuseppe Sedilesu and his wife ~ Copyright of Giuseppe Sedilesu
The Grape 
Cannonau is the most planted grape on the island of Sardinia and is what the Sardinians take great pride in.  If you’re familiar with grenache then cannonau comes from the same grape variety, but recent research shows that cannonau does originate from Sardinia and wasn’t transplanted from Spain where you’re most familiar with grenache or garnacha.  It’s a wine that will trick you with its color as its lighter color doesn’t lend to its medium body, rustic, earthy nature rich of red fruits.  It is a wine that is ageworthy.  Some of the best examples can be found in the centrals areas heading east into the Nuoro province in the area of Nepente di Oliena as well as Ogliastra and Oliena.
Giuseppe Sedilesu winery in Sardinia
Copyright of Giuseppe Sedilesu
The Wine 
The wine is named after the mamuthone masks that are used in the masquerade and sacred rituals of the area.  I’m not going to lie that these masks are a little intimidating as they’re paraded through the streets.  Those participating carry 60 pounds of cow bells on their backs to ward off the evil spirits and are covered in black sheepskins with hand-carved wooden black masks upon their face.  Bonfires are lit at night with dancing in the piazzas.  The event takes place January 17th honoring St. Anthony as well as in February during Carnival.  It represents a transition of seasons of winter into spring with the promise of good fortune in the upcoming harvests.  Regardless, it’s a tradition that dates back thousands of years.  
Giuseppe Sedilesu Mamuthone
The mamuthone mask of Giuseppe Sedilesu ~ Copyright of Giuseppe Sedilesu
2012 Giuseppe Sedilesu Cannonau di Sardegna 2012 Giuseppe Sedilesu Mamuthone Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 
This is their flagship wine produced from 100% cannonau and aged 12 months in barrel and at least 3 months in the bottle.   Ruby in color leaning more towards a brick red.  Rich, ripe red fruits on the nose.  The alcohol was apparent on the palate, full bodied and dense with firm tannins and acid with some spice and plenty of blackberries, currants and cherry.  Finishing off with oak and vanilla and some nice length. ABV 15% SRP $27  
Wine pairing: The winery suggests the following as potential wine pairings with cannnonauhandmade pasta filled with ricotta and herbs, dishes based on sheep meat, vegetables soups, stewed potatoes with legumes and wild herbs, roasted suckling pork, pecorino cheese and the typical cold meats.”  I had intentions to pair this with lamb meatballs with a dash of mint, but unforeseen circumstances this week took over. 

Sardinians are known for living long lives of 90+ years due to their diets and with a healthy dose of cannonau Im sure that helps the longevity!
Giuseppe Sedilesu winery in Sardinia
I love this photo featuring the generations involved in the winery ~ Copyright of Giuseppe Sedilesu
Please join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers sharing their Island wines all over Italy.