Saturday, June 23, 2018

A Taste of Orange Wine in Vermont with Iapetus

I’ve been fortunate lately to participate in a new wine group and drink outside the box than my typical Italian wines.  Last month I attended a couple virtual tastings via the #winestudio program.  We chatted with Ethan Joseph, the winegrower of Iapetus that shared their wine called Tectonic, a Vermont made wine. 
Ethan Joseph of Iapetus Shelburne Vineyard
Living in the northeast I have visited a couple wineries in each state including Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine and if you’re a follower of my blog you know that I typically make an annual trip up to the Finger Lakes.  I have yet to visit any vineyards in Vermont so when I was presented with the opportunity to try the one from Iapetus I was intrigued.  I will admit that when I received the wine in the mail I questioned what it was going to taste like as it was unfiltered and was not your average looking wines.

Vermont’s wine scene began with Snow Farm in 1997 and many other wineries have sprouted since then totaling 13 producers state-wide with Shelburne Vineyard being the largest grape producer.  Ethan described the wine scene in Vermont as a “small and supportive community”.  Grape growing in the area originally started with New York hybrids and german grapes, but as the 2000’s approached the wineries transitioned over to cold-hardy Minnesota hybrids.  

Ethan shared his days of growing up a Jersey boy and his attraction to Vermont stemmed from his studies at the University of Vermont where he was drawn to Lake Champlain.  He began his wine career working part time at Shelburne Vineyard and sippin on good old Carlo Rossi. 

Iapetus is the name of an ancient ocean that once covered the Champlain Valley.  Ethan chose the  name Iapetus to connect the wine of the past and present and relate it to why he remained in the area and to what drew him there.   “We aim to craft our product and farm in a way that acknowledges the broad history written into the earth from which we work”, claims Ethan.  They began their production in 2016 with about 500 cases and continues to grow and expand today.  The biggest challenges they face are the New England cold temps and short growing season.  
Shelburne Vineyard Iapetus 
All the Iapetus wines are spontaneously fermented, unfiltered and unfined.  Their spontaneous fermentation means that 7-10 days before harvest they gather the cleanest fruit from the block in  addition to an assortment of flora from within and around the vineyard. 

2016 Iapetus Tectonic La Crescent grapeThe 2016 Iapetus Tectonic wine is made of 100% la crescent grape where it spends 50 days macerating with the skins.  Fermentation and maceration take place in stainless steel and then aged 8 months in barrel.  Tectonic had notes of citrus and loads of oranges and tangerines with some rosewater.  Some folks in the tasting compared it to qualities of a cider with spice, which I sensed myself.  I was rather impressed and surprised and it’s one that you must experience.  ABV 14% 

Recommended pairings from our chat included pistachios, charcuteries, roasted beets, Mediterranean foods and oysters. 

Have you tried other wines from Vermont or the north east that you recommend?


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.