Saturday, December 9, 2017

Holiday Wines with a Sicilian Flair #WinePW

I'll start off letting my readers know that Vino Travels welcomed a new member to my family, Lorenzo, born 2 weeks early on November 19th weighing in at 9 pounds 3 ounces and 21 ¼ in length.  We're all doing great and taking each day as it comes, but even more reason to jump back into the wine tasting game as we now have a 17 month old running around and a newborn.   

I'm joining our Wine Pairing Weekend crew as it's been awhile and we're featuring gift giving of holiday wines.  If you're a follower of Vino Travels you know I'm a fan of Sicilian wines for their value and unique qualities, especially those wines produced in the Mt. Etna area.  With such a strong presence in the market and quality wines to back up their reputation, today's holiday wine suggestions brings me to those from the winery, Donnafugata.  I won't repeat much history on the winery as you can reference my previous articles on them.  Overall, the winery began in 1983 by Giacomo and Gabriella Rallo and they produce their wines from 3 sites including Marsala where the family has a cellar since 1851, the island of Pantelleria known for the unique zibibbo grape and Contessa Entellina in southwestern Sicily. 

Per Folio Wine Partners "the winery was one of the first wineries in Italy to produce all of its electricity from solar energy, taking advantage of the bountiful Sicilian sunshine, and in 2015 the island of Pantelleria was given UNESCO certification recognizing its unique vine training method." 

Let's dig right in to the wines themselves.  Unfortunately due to the circumstances I wasn't able to prepare dishes themselves for each pairing, but recommendations provided. 

Donnafugata Tancredi, Ben Rye, Mille e Una Notte
2012 Donnafugata Tancredi 
A blend of cabernet sauvignon with indigenous nero d'avola along with tannat and other varieties.  These grapes are hand harvested from their Contessa Entellina vineyard.  They're aged 14 months in new and old French oak barriques with an additional 30 months in the bottle.  Deep red in color with a fragrant nose. A combo of red and dark fruits with good structure and a lengthy finish.  Donnafugata recommends this wine can be aged over 10 years.  Give it some time breath in advance.  If you're one for ratings their previous 2011 vintage scored 90+ points plus was a winner of the Tre BicchieriABV 13% SRP $40 

Food pairing: Donnafugata recommends T-bone steak, game and burgers.  I'd even recommend pasta alla norma that I've prepared in the past, which is made with eggplant. 

2012 Donnafugata  Mille e una Notte 
Donnafugata's standout wine made up of nero d'avola, petit verdot, syrah and other grapes also sourced from the Contessa Entellina vineyard.  This is a wine with power and elegance that is rich in ripe dark fruits of plums and blackberries.  Finishing on the palate with persistence.  Aged 14 months in new French oak barriques and an additional 36 months in the bottle.  Recommended to age over 20 years.  ABV 14% SRP $80 

Food pairing: Donnafugata recommends rack of lamb, pappardelle with pork ragu and other roasts.  I think these are the perfect recommendations due to the weight and complexity of the wine.  Since the south is rich in vegetables maybe pair the meat with fagiolini alla peperonata, green beans with tomato in a bell pepper sauce.   

2015 Donnafugata Ben Rye 
This wine has been a previous pick for me in previous vintages.  A dessert wine after my heart.  Sourced from the island of Pantelleria off the western coast of Sicily.  Made from the zibibbo grape, also known as muscat.    What's unique about this wine is that part of the wine is made from dried grapes, which lend concentration and sweetness.  Aged in stainless steel for 7 months and an additional year in the bottle.  Deep golden/amber in color.  A luscious mouthfeel with apricots and peaches backed with acidity to balance off the sweetness.  Potential to age over 30 years if you care to hold onto it that long.  ABV 14% SRP $40 

Food pairing:  Donnafugata recommends pairing this wine with carmelized duck, foie gras and blue cheeses.  I also recommend a Sicilian Cassata, which is a sponge cake originating in Sicily consisting of layers of ricotta and candied fruit and nuts. 

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

Here are the other topics the #winePW crew will be covering:

Jade from The Tasting Pour will tell us "How to Choose a Wine Gift"
Jeff from foodwineclick will share "Holiday Wine Gift Ideas: Not Just Any Champagne"
Cindy from Grape Experiences will post "Wines from The Hess Collection – Will You be Naughty or Nice?"
Here on Cooking Chat we will write about "Christmas Wine Gifts: Tips and Bottles To Give"
Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will share "Spreading Christmas Cheer"
Michelle from Rockin Red Blog is telling us "How to Give the Gift of Wine"
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator will share "Good Gifts Have Good Stories: 4 Wineries from Napa"
Culinary Adventures with Camilla is talking about "Sips Worth Sharing"
Lauren from The Swirling Dervish is blogging about "Family, Food, and Wine: The Gift of Memories"
Jill from L'Occasion will share "Wine Wrapped Up: The L'occasion Gift Guide"

Be sure to check on Saturday morning for these great articles! We will also hold a live Twitter chat on Saturday, Dec. 9., 11 am Easter Time / 8 a.m. Pacific. Just tune into the #winePW hashtag on Twitter at that time to join the conversation. You can check out past and future #winePW topics by visiting this page.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Liven up the holidays with Bervini 1955 bubbly

As we approach the holidays it's the perfect time to pop some bubbly in celebrations, although do we really all need an excuse for bubbly or wine for that matter? Plus, they're highly versatile wines to pair with food. I recently tried some samples from the Bervini 1955 winery including their prosecco and rose spumante that I'm sharing with you today. 

The Bervini 1955 winery is named after the year the winery was established by Antonio Bergamo and his son Giuseppe then known as Azienda Vinicola a. Bergamo. Today the winery is operated by the 3rd generation. They are located in the region of Friuli tucked up in the far northeastern part of Italy within the province of Pordenone. Their winery is located between the Prosecco DOC and Friuli Grave DOC wine areas. The soils from where their grapes are grown range from claylike, rich soils for their red wine production and soil comprised of stones and gravel perfect for their white wines.
Bervini 1955 Prosecco Millesimato & Rose Spumante
2016 Bervini 1955 Prosecco Millesimato Prosecco DOC Extra Dry 11% ABV (SRP $18.99)
Even though this wine is labeled as extra dry it doesn't literally mean it is extra dry based on the levels of sweetness with brut being the driest to extra dry and then dry. It's made 100% from the glera grape. Light yellow in color there is plenty of lasting bubbles in this bubbly paired with citrus, pears and lively acidity. The winery recommends drinking it within 2 years of production. 

Bervini 1955 Spumante Rose' Friuli Venezia Giulia Extra Dry 11% ABV (SRP $18.99)
A light salmon pink color in the glass. It's produced with both the raboso and cabernet grapes. Generous bubbles fill the mouth with raspberry notes and bright acidity. 

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


Saturday, November 4, 2017

Venturing through Chianti with the Sangervasio Winery

Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is taking you back to Tuscany this month as we dig a little deeper into Chianti.  I'm heading back to the same area of Tuscany in the province of Pisa as this time I explore the Sangervasio winery in the Era Valley.  Yes, there is lots to cover when it comes to Chianti and it's subzones and communes, but it's also nice to compare wines from the same area, but different producer and processes/methods used.
Sangervasio winery
Sangervasio is named after the town of San Gervasio where they are located only 15 miles from the Tyrrhennian Sea.  Their 55 acres of vines exist on ancient seabeds displaying lots of minerals in the wines.  The winery likes to produce wines in a more modern styles incorporating some international varieties along with the indigenous grapes of the area.  They also grow their grapes organically and biodynamically and are hand harvested and go through fermentation with natural yeasts.
I interviewed Lisa Tommasini, the daughter of the Tommasini family, as she shared insight into the history and wines of Sangervasio.
Luca & Lisa Tommasini

Tell me about the history of Sangervasio and when it was founded. 
Sangervasio is a medieval village built in 900 AC on a top of a hill in the surroundings of Pisa. My grandfather, Furio, was born in the countryside and was always connected to the country life.  In 1960 he had the opportunity to make this investment. At that time Sangervasio was the typical Tuscan farm, with animals, olive oil, seeds and wine production. Everything changed in 1994, when my father Luca wanted to try to make high quality wine. He met Luca D’Attoma, who has been our oenologist for 20 years, and together they started this new adventure. In 1996 the whole estate has been certified organic.
Luca Tommasini

What is special about Sangervasio and the vineyards/area where you are located?
Sangervasio is located in a unique place, 200 meters high, 35 kms far from the coast.  The influence of the ocean is very important, as the breezes contribute to clean the air from pollution or humidity that could affect the grapes.  The soil is pliocenic, rich of minerals, sand, clay and fossil shells. In this special environment the vines grow without being stressed too much as the soil is also rich of underneath water.
What are your flagship wines or those that you pride yourself on? 
Our flagship wine is A Sirio, dedicated to my grand-grandfather. The first vintage of this wine was 1995 and since then we worked to increase the quality now making it with 100% Sangiovese, as we did with the 2015 vintage. I think that A Sirio is the real expression of our sangiovese since only the best grapes are used to make this wine.  A  hard selection is made both in the vineyards and in the cellar.  Recently they presented the 2015 vintage during the 20th anniversary party at the winery.
Why has the winery chosen to produce organic wines?
Being organic for us is not for the market. We were the first winery to be certified in the Pisa district and at home we always had organic food since I was born. My parents have been pioneers on this so it was normal to take the organic philosophy inside the family winery. We have to protect our land and the environment we are living in.

I sampled the 2015 Sangervasio Chianti DOCG that is 100% sangiovese based from organic grapes.  Filling the palate with cherries, lively acidity and solid tannins.  Plus, the terroir is reflected in the minerality from the soil of this area.   Aged 6 months in concrete tanks plus at least 4 months of bottle aging.
For all you Chianti lovers there is plenty more to join.  Check out my fellow Italian wine lovers as they share their wines of Chianti with you.  If you catch this in time you can live chat with us on Twitter Saturday November 4th at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Jen from Vino Travels takes us Venturing through Chianti with the Sangervasio  Winery.

Jeff from FoodWineClick will serve as our guide to Exploring Chianti Rufina with Marchesi Gondi

Gwendolyn from Wine Predator will tempt us with Five Chiantis and a Vermentino Paired with Puttanesca (#ItalianFWT). 

Katarina from Grapevine Adventures brings us 2 Chianti Classico Wineries, 2 Different Sub-Zones at #ItalianFWT. 

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla offers up Sangervasio Chianti with a Soup from Brazil

Tracy from The Traveling Somm shares her experience of Living the Dream in a Relais and Chateau in Tuscany

Lauren at The Swirling Dervish will compare Two Weeknight Wines: Chianti Classico and Chianti Colli Fiorentini Riserva


*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are my own.  Most pictures copyright of the Sangervasio winery.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The success of Argentinian Susana Balbo & her value wines Crios

Venturing outside of Italy today I've always enjoyed the wines of Argentina and today's particular focus I was intrigued by when presented with some samples as the owner and winemaker of these wines is a very successful woman in the wine industry, which we all know is a male dominated industry. Her name is Susana Balbo and she is owner of the Susana Balbo Winery, which was established in 2002 in the town of Agrelo in the Lujan de Cuyo province of Mendoza at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Susana's son and daughter later joined her at the winery in 2011-2012.
Susana is the first female enologist in Argentina whom graduated from the Don Bosco University in Mendoza, Argentina. She began her wine career working in the wine area of Salta where her workings with the torrontes grape are what grasped the attention of others with her 1st vintage in 1983. Torrontes is an aromatic grape that does particularly well in the higher elevations of Salta and is typically used as a blending grape and Susana was working wonders with it as a single varietal.
Susana is well respected and highly praised wine figure in the Argentinian wine industry. She is known for her innovative spirit working with a variety of barrel sizes during fermentation as well as egg shaped concrete tanks for her premium wines. She also works with wild yeasts for fermentation. Her motto best states it all, “where there's a will, there's a wine”.
She has received a list of awards including being named Woman of the Year in 2015 by the Drinks Business. Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate named her barrel-fermented Torront├ęs as one of the “10 Argentine Wines to Drink Before You Die”. She has also been elected three times as President of the Wines of Argentina association.

I sampled 5 of the value wines that Susana Balbo creates called Crios that are very fruit driven wines. The Crios line of wines was named by Wine & Spirits 3 times as the value brand of the year. You can't beat the price. Have you tried them yet?

  • 2016 Crios Torrontes Argentina - Pale yellow, almost clear in the glass with a slight green tinge. aromatics of peaches and green apples. Medium bodied, crisp and delicate on the palate with nice acidity and flavors of guava and pineapples.  A tingly touch on the finish. (SRP $15)
2016 Crios Torrontes Argentina
  • 2017 Crios Rose' of Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina Deep pink in color. A dry wine with good body full of ripe raspberries and strawberries and a hint of spice.  Make sure to drink in its youth.  (SRP $15)
2015 Crios Rose of Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina
  • 2015 Crios Red Blend Mendoza Argentina - Comprised of 40% cabernet sauvignon, 30% malbec, 20% cabernet franc and 10% merlot.  It's aged 8 months in French oak. Juicy, dark and red fruits with some complexities.  A little earthiness and a great price point.  (SRP $15).
2015 Crios Red Blend Mendoza Argentina
  • 2015 Crios Cabernet Sauvignon Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza Argentina - Dominated by cabernet sauvignonn with an addition of 5% cabernet franc. Herbal notes on the palate balanced with fresh fruit and spice creating a wine with elegance. (SRP $15)
2015 Crios Cabernet Sauvignon Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza
  • 2015 Crios Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina - Ruby with purple tinges. Toasty and blackberries on the nose.  On the palate there are fresh and juicy berries combined with bright acid and firm tannins ending with a nice finish.  (SRP $15)

2015 Crios Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina
  *Wines were received as samples, but opinions are my own.  Pictures copyright of Susana Balbo Winery.