Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Thanksgiving Italian Wine Picks

Jen of Vino Travels
2017 Donnachiara Greco di Tufo DOCG
There isn't just one easy choice for whenwhen it comes to the Thanksgiving meal with the large variety of accompaniments to the turkey.  I usually choose a dry, crisp white to start followed by wines from the Veneto, usually an Amarone, but if not a Valpolicella of some degree.  I recently just tried the 2017 Donnachiara Greco di Tufo and if I had a 2nd bottle I'd be having that with my Thanksgiving feast.  This wine hails from the Campania region in southern Italy within the Avellino province.  This wine was dry and delicate filled with citrus.  It was backed with good acidity along with nice salinity and minerality rounding out with a lengthy finish. SRP $20 ABV 13%
2017 Donnachiara Greco di Tufo DOCG
David of Cooking Chat
2016 Capanna Rosso di Montalcino
When thinking of an Italian wine pick for Thanksgiving, my first thought was a number of Italian whites could work nicely, but I already had quite a few whites waiting in the wings.  This Rosso di Montalcino might seem like a bit over the top for Thanksgiving given the high alcohol content and tannins.  But this Sangiovese-based wine has a lot of elegance, drinking well above its price point.  I tasted it yesterday at Pairings with some salame, and they were great paired together.  I plan to bring some of that salame to nibble on along with this wine and all the other food. ($27, 14.5 ABV)
2016 Capanna Rosso di Montalcino
Lauren of The Swirling Dervish
2016 Brunori San Nicolo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
Thanksgiving traditions vary from one family to another, but the one thing we all have in common is that our tables are laden with a variety of dishes – some sweet, others savory. Turkey, stuffing, roasted vegetables, and (maybe) a dish of canned, jellied cranberry sauce. It’s hard to think of just one wine to accompany them all, so I’m offering up a wine that will sing with your vegetable dishes. The grape is Verdicchio and it comes from Le Marche in central Italy, along the Adriatic coast. It’s a citrusy white wine with some herbal undertones (think fennel) that makes a smashing partner with carrots, potatoes, yams, and celery root. One of my favorite dishes with Verdicchio is roast fennel and potatoes dressed in a lemon-parsley vinaigrette. And it will pair nicely with an herb-roasted turkey too! SRP $18
2016 Brunori San Nicolo Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
Katarina from Grapevine Adventures
2015 Aquila del Torre Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso
For my wine recommendation for this Thanksgiving holiday, I actually need to take a jump back to May earlier this spring. In mid-May, I was invited to a lovely lunch at the restaurant Gurdul├║ close to Piazza Santa Spirito right in the center of Florence. However, we were not there to taste Sangiovese wines but rather the organic and biodynamic wines of Aquila del Torre winery in Friuli Venezia Giulia. I met Michele Cianis who together with his father Claudio is running this very interesting winery in Povoletto in the province of Udine.
The wine that caught my attention was their Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2015. I am always fascinated by these grape varieties that are lesser known or that in the past have been considered less suitable or fine wine production. This interesting grape that produce somewhat rustic and a bit woodsy wines yet with a certain elegance has had a come-back during the last years. This 2015 vintage has lovely rich notes of red and dark fruit, such as cherry, combined with spices, cocoa beans, a green undertone of moss. Distinct tannins that are not invasive. A mix of austere, woodsy, full-bodied, and elegant in its character.
I would say it can be paired perfectly with many of the dishes on a traditional as well as untraditional Thanksgiving table.

Jill @ L'Occassion
2017 Primitivo di Manduria 'Passo del Cardinale' Paolo Leo 
At Thanksgiving we are all about family, so this year I’m featuring a wine that my cousins brought back for me in their suitcase from a recent trip to Italy. My cousin is a chef, and while she was in Puglia for work, she visited Paolo Leo. Pop this open and drink away was the advice from the producer, so here we go. The harmony of fruit and spice, delivered on a persistent finish makes this a bold, brash red wine option. We are having a ‘help yourself’ Thanksgiving so guests can sample wine from a wide spectrum. Primitivo di Manduria ‘Passo del Cardinale’ will fit right in. Warm holiday wishes from our house to yours! SRP $10
2017 Primitivo di Manduria 'Passo del Cardinale' Paolo Leo
Susannah of Avvinare
2016 Botonero Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio I.G.T. 
My Thanksgiving wine hails from the Valtellina, a part of Lombardy famous for its Nebbiolo which they call Chiavennasca and its heroic mountain viticulture. Valtellina which I have visited, is beautiful and the wines can be sublime and rival their more famous counterparts in Piedmont. There are 44 producers who are part of the Consorzio and Mamete Prevostini whose wine I am recommending is the President. Valtellina has a number of sub-zones: Sassella, Grumello, Inferno, Valgella and Maroggia,, each known for their particular differences. The Mamete Prevostini winery, was started by Mamete’s grandfather about 70 years ago. Their goal is to produce wines with elegance, finesse and power. They have a famous family restaurant called Crotasc and all of their wines are very food friendly. Mamete took over in 1988 and is a firm believer in terroir. My choice for the Thanksgiving meal is one of their entry wines, Botonero Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio I.G.T. The grapes can be sourced from the entire production area of the Sondrio Province. The wine is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes grown on soils that are a mix of sand, silt, limestone with a high content of granite rock and little clay. The wine ferments and undergoes maceration in stainless steel tanks and then ages in the bottle before release. It sees no wood and will pair well with a number of the Thanksgiving dishes, particularly dark meat Turkey and Ham, two of my favorites. At 13% alcohol, it won’t overwhelm your palate and at a SRP $14 it won’t hurt your wallet too much either.
Botonero Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio I.G.T.


Friday, November 16, 2018

Pride in Nero d'Avola with Gulfi

The Winery ~ Gulfi
In 1995 Vito Catania inherited the land from his father and this were the early beginnings of the Gulfi winery.  His father, Raffaele, had saved the money to purchase the land from his 15 years of living in Paris where he moved after WWII in search of work.  His aim was to purchase the land that is in the family today so that his family had a place to go back to when they returned to Chiaramonte Gulfi.
Gulfi winery in Sicily
The Gulfi winery is a bioorganic winery where they believe in the least amount of intervention as possible.Their oldest vineyards are located in areas of the Val di Noto and Pachino.

The Catania family labels their best wines as their "cru" wines, which are located in Pachino.  This is where they feel that nero d'avola grows best.  These areas are Neromaccarj, Nerobufaleffj, Nerobaronj and Nerosanlore.  These winegrowing areas have a variety of soils which lends to a variety of styles in the way wines are produced from each cru.

In addition to the nero d'avola and frappato that we're sharing today, Gulfi also produces a variety of other grapes including whites carricante and chardonnay and in the Etna area they grow nerello mascalese with some small experimentation with pinot noir.
Gulfi winery in Chiaramonte Gulfi
The Grape
The highlight of the wines today is the nero d'avola grape.  This grape hails from the island and region of Sicily.  Originating from the town of Avola in southeastern Italy of the Syracuse province.  It has grown to become one of Sicily's most popular indigenous red grape.  It's a grape that typically produces wines fuller bodied rich in dark fruits and combined with the intense heat of Sicily it can really pack a punch. 

The Wines
2013 Gulfi Nerojbleo DOC is made up of 100% nero d'avola sourced from multiple sites.  Aged 12
months in oak and it spends 8 months in the bottle.  Deep ruby in color with hints of purple.  Lots of juicy, rich cherries and plums on the nose and up front on the palette.  This is a medium to fuller bodied, dry wine with moderate tannins with notes of vanilla and oak on the lengthy finish.  After enjoying this wine I'd be very interested to try the "cru wines".  This was my pick of the two.  ABV 13.5% SRP $20

Val Canzeria for Nerojbleo of Gulfi
The Val Canzeria where Nerojbleo grapes are grown
2016 Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG is a blend of 50% nero d'avola and 50% frappato. A very dry, medium bodied wine with deep cherry notes.  Good acid and low on tannins.  Nicely balanced.  ABV 13.5% SRP $20
2016 Gulfi Cerasuolo di Vittoria

There are many styles of Nero d'Avola and I appreciated these wines as I'm not a huge fan of fruit forward wines and these had some unique qualities that I hadn't had in some previous nero d'avola that I've tried.  So get out there and try some and let me know what your favorites are.
Vigna Stidda vineyards of Gulfi cerasuolo grapes
Vigna Stidda where the Cerasuolo is grown.


*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are my own.  Most pictures are copyright of the Gulfi winery.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Ciro: The Ancient Jewel of Calabria

The region of Calabria is located in southern Italy at the tip of the boot.  Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) is here this month to feature Calabria and its native grapes.  It's not a highly regarded region for winemaking and doesn't get much attention for the wines that it does produce.  It's most popular wine hails from the Ciro DOC, which is required to be made of at least 95% of the gaglioppo grape with up to 5% of greco bianco and trebbiano.
Calabria wine region
Copyright of Federdoc
The Winery
Today I'm featuring Azienda Agricola Scala that has been around since 1949 and is operated by its 3rd generation family. The winery is located in Ciro Marina along the Ionian Sea.  Their focus is on producing native grapes such as gaglioppo, nerello, magliocco, greco and mantonico.  A couple of these grapes, magliocco and mantonico, are grapes that have been revived in recent times.  The goal is to refocus the quality of wines produced in Calabria and reestablish the indigenous grapes of the region. 
Azienda Agricola Scala in Calabria
Left to right: Luigi Scala and Francesco Scala
The Land
Calabria's geography is mostly mountainous with some plains along the Ionian Sea.  It was a region heavily populated by Greeks that contributed greatly to the culture and winemaking within the region. There is plenty of sunshine and warm weather, but the breezes coming off the sea help contribute to making prime grapes.
Azienda Agricola Scala
The Grapes
Calabria is mostly known for producing red wines and majority are made from the gaglioppo grape.  Unfortunately a lot of the grapes of the region are shipped north and is probably part of the reason that this region hasn't gotten the attention it deserves with its native grapes as it should.

There are 12 DOC's of the region with the leader being Ciro DOC.  Its been said that the wines of Ciro were served to winners of the Olympic games in ancient times. 

The Wine
2015 Azienda Agricola Scala Ciro Classico Superiore
Yes that is snow already in northern NH
I tried the 2015 Azienda Agricola Scala Ciro Rosso Classico  Superiore made from 100% of the gaglioppo grape.  It's fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in concrete.  More garnet in color with tinges of orange on the rim.  Medium-bodied with red dried fruits, mostly cherry, and toasty notes with baking spices.  Low to moderate tannin with a lengthy finish. I found this to be quite an interesting wine with lots of complexities. At this price point it's well worth trying.  The Calabrians food fare tends to be on the spicier side so grape a bottle and seek out some nduja, a spicy sausage spread.
ABV 13.5% SRP $14-16

Join us this Saturday November 3rd on Twitter at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT as we chat about the wines of Calabria.  Join the rest of my fellow bloggers as they share some great Calabrian wines and foods to be enjoyed.

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share “Braised Beef Cheeks over Garlic Gnocchi + Statti Calabria Gaglioppo 2015”
Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “The Food and Wine of Calabria”
Lauren at The Swirling Dervish will share “Exploring Calabrian Wine: The Du Cropio Estate in Cir├▓”
Jeff at Food Wine Click will share “Exploring the Toe of Italy’s Boot with Ciro Rosso”
Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will share “A New Golden Age for the Gaglioppo in Calabria”

*Pictures copyright of Azienda Agricola Scala