Showing posts with label Veneto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Veneto. Show all posts

Monday, January 24, 2022

Bubbles From Italy - Valdo Prosecco

Bubbles are often leaned on for special occasions, to make them more special - remember New Year's Eve?  You shouldn't need any help making Valentine's Day more special, but if you do, try something bubbly.  Let’s say you've already broken the bank on a gift for your sweetheart, and you need bubbles that are a little more reasonably priced than Champagne, but still festive and fun.  Meet Prosecco, Italy's favorite sparkling wine.

Valdo was founded in 1926, in Italy's Veneto region, the town of Valdobbiadene, then bought by the Bolla family in 1938.  Winemaker Gianfranco Zanon makes some really nice Prosecco there.

Valdo Marca Oro Brut Prosecco DOC  

This wine was made from 100% Glera grapes, grown in the Prosecco DOC in Veneto, in the northeastern part of Italy.  Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks and the wine got three months of Charmat aging, one month in the bottle.  Alcohol is at the typical 11% abv and the retail price is $15.

The fine bubbles sit on the straw-yellow wine and dissipate rather quickly.  The nose gives aromas of apples, candied apricots and peaches.  The palate offers delicious citrus, apple and mineral flavors, with a hint of custard on the finish.  Delightful. 


Valdo Marca Oro Prosecco DOC Rosé

A mix of 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir grapes, this Prosecco Rosé has a lovely pink hue and persistent perlage, those tiny bubbles.  Alcohol is no higher than 11% abv, while the retail price is $15.

This pink bubbly shows nice, fine bubbles and offers a beautiful nose of cherry, strawberry, pear, apple and a hint of citrus.  The palate carries those same fruit flavors, with a bit more lemon than on the nose.  The acidity is perfectly juxtaposed against the wine's sweetness.  Have it with anything, but it will pair best with Mediterranean dishes. 


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Amarone Wine From Valpolicella

Amarone wines are made through a process called appassimento, in which harvested grapes are left to dry out for a time before vinification begins, causing the grapes to shrivel considerably, leaving a more concentrated fruit.  The Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso recently held a virtual tour of Italy, in which one important stop was Valpolicella, where Amarone is made.

Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Sant'Urbano 2016

Speri was founded in Valpolicella in 1874 and is now run by the seventh generation of Speris, although the estate dates back to the 16th century.  Valpolicella is in Verona, part of the Veneto region of Italy.  The Speri organic wine is made from grapes grown in three different districts of Veneto, and each vineyard is vinified separately so that each wine is a single-vineyard effort, not just the Amarones.  

The grapes in the 2016 Speri Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Sant'Urbano are 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Corvinone.  Winemaker Alberto Speri says the grapes were dried for four months, eliminating more than 40% of their original weight.  Vinification starts in stainless steel tanks, then finishes in oak barrels.  The wine was aged two years in Allier oak tonneaux, plus 18 months in Slavonian barrels and another year in the bottle.

Alcohol is a bit higher than most Italian wines - 15% abv - due to the drying of the grapes.  It sells for around $50.

This dark wine offers aromas of blackberry, vanilla and cedar on the nose, along with a strong sense of minerals.  Dark fruit dominates on the palate, with sweet oak spice, chalky limestone minerality and very firm tannins.  Have a steak with it, or game meat dishes.  

Tenuta Sant’Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli 2016

Four Brothers - Armando, Tiziano, Paolo and Massimo Castagnedi - established Tenuta Sant'Antonio in 1987, in the heart of Valpolicella.  Paolo is the head winemaker, who turns the estate's Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella Croatina and Oseleta grapes into magic.

The grapes for the 2016 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Amarone della Valpolicella Campo dei Gigli came from the town of Mezzane di Sotto, in the Monti Garbi District of Verona.  Those grapes are 70% Corvina and Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina and 5% Oseleta.  Vinification took place in oak casks, as did the three years of aging, with new oak all around.  The wine's alcohol level sits at 16% abv and it retails for about $60.

This wine has a rather explosive nose - aromas of black cherry and smoke provide an ample backdrop for the balsamic notes that come later.  I get a whiff of smoked meat and a bit of black olive at times, too.  On the palate, the dark fruit is simply luscious, while the taste of licorice hangs around on the lengthy finish.  The tannins seem fairly tame at first sip, but they sharpen up later.  


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Master Class: Part Two

Virtual wine tasting events are no stranger to me, especially in the era of COVID-19.  Get the box, open the box, log on and taste from home.  No social distancing to strain the process, no mask needed.  I was invited to take part in a Zoom gathering recently along with two dozen other wine writers.  The event was called the Tre Bicchieri Web Show, which featured twelve different Italian wines from various producers.  My shipment was delayed several times - it came from Italy, after all - so I didn't get to take part in real time, but the box finally arrived and I was finally able to taste the wines inside.

The Tre Bicchieri Web Show was presented by Gambero Rosso, a Rome-based Italian wine and food magazine that was founded in 1986.  It was their first-ever Master Class, which indicates that there are more planned.

The interactive event was hosted by Lorenzo Ruggeri, the wine guide's international editor, with comments along the two-hour journey from each winery's representative.  This is the second installment on Now And Zin Wine to feature the wines that were tasted.  We started with four amazing white wines and now move on to four of the eight reds included in the assortment.

Velenosi Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Prope 2017 

Ercole Velenosi and Angiolina Piotti established Velenosi in 1984 in Ascoli Piceno, in the Marche region.  They now make Abruzzo wines in Controguerra, to the east and across the border to the south.  The first vintage from that outpost was in 2005.  Angela Velenosi now sits on the board, while Filippo Carli and Luca Fioravanti work in the cellar.

Prope is made completely from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, grown in gravelly clay soil.  They are destemmed and placed in stainless steel tanks for vinification, which could last as long as a month.  Then, the wine is transferred into large barrels for 12 months of aging.  Alcohol is 14% abv and the retail sticker should be around $15 when it is available in the U.S. market.

This wine is tinted medium dark ruby and shows purple around the rim.  It smells of bright, ripe cherries and strawberries.  There is not a big influence of oak.  The palate is nice and fresh, with fruit in the forefront and a gentle acidity.  The tannins are easy-going enough for gulping, but the wine does pair well with tandoori lamb from my favorite Indian restaurant.  Ruggeri noted the flavor of dried fruit and meatiness at the end of the sip.

Conte Leopardi Dittajuti Conero Pigmento Riserva 2016 

The Count Leopardi winery is in Numana, Marche, on Italy's Adriatic coast.  The estate is owned by the Leopardi Dittajuti family and has been for some 15 centuries.  Back then, one of the Leopardis was made a bishop, then killed by pagans, then made a saint.  Today, Piervittorio Leopardi is dedicated to the beautiful area, the forests, the limestone massif, and to Montepulciano, Conero's traditional grape, which has been vinified by Leopardi for nearly forty years.  The vineyards between Numana and Sirolo are rich in limestone and marl and cooled by the Adriatic Sea.  

Leopardi's Pigmento Riserva was made by winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, completely from Montepulciano grapes.  The fruit was late-harvested - in the end of October and early November - a roll of the dice that dared the fates to bring damaging rains.  He lucked out.  Leopardi says this elegant, full-bodied, well-balanced Riserva wine has great structure, good concentration and smooth, consistent tannins.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the price tag reads $38.

As the name implies, this wine is very dark colored - hardly any light gets through.  The nose is complex and lively - black cherry, cassis, vanilla, cedar.  On the palate, a bit of licorice joins the fruit profile.  Acidity is brisk, but not racy.  Tannins are firm, but not toothy.  I would like a sausage or pork chop with it, but I would settle for a salami.

Giordano Emo Capodilista - La Montecchia Colli Euganei Cabernet Sauvignon Ireneo 2016 

Giordano Emo Capodilista's estate is located in Veneto, in the Euganean regional park.  The vineyards lie in the northern part of the area - in the almost Alpine territory of Selvazzano.  More recent acquisitions are in the volcanic hills to the extreme south - in the more Mediterranean area of Baone.  The two sites are not that far apart - only about six miles - but they feature very different terroir.  The grapes that make up Irenèo are 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, grown along the slopes of Monte Castello, while the 6% Merlot and 4% Carmenère came from the area around Villa Emo Capodilista.  The wine was aged for a year in barrique barrels, then six months in the bottle.  Alcohol hits 14% abv and the retail price is $30.

This Italian Cab has a bit of Merlot and Carmenère mixed in.  The color is medium dark garnet with a bit of bricking around the edge.  Aromas of blackberry are joined by the smell of minerals and a whiff of smoke.  The palate has a chalky note to it - the owner referred to the wine in his presentation as "salty."  The tannins are manageable and the acidity is middle-of-the-road.  The wine really puts me in mind of Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles, not Napa.  I paired the wine successfully with grilled kielbasa and charred Brussels sprouts.

De Stefani Colli di Conegliano Rosso Stefen 1624 2015 120 USD

Still in Veneto, up north in Piave, owner and winemaker Alessandro di Stefani steered away from the so-called easy money of Prosecco in favor of still wines with character.  The results should make everyone glad he made that choice.

The 2015 De Stefani Colli di Conegliano Rosso Stefen 1624 was made from 100% Marzemino grapes grown in clay soil which is mixed with minerals from the Southern Limestone Alps, the Dolomite Mountains.  Marzemino is said to have been Mozart's favorite wine grape, and that is completely understandable.  The single-vineyard grapes were destemmed and slowly fermented on the skins up to a point, when the juice was put into oak barriques, where it stayed for three years.  Aging continued in the bottle for 18 months before release.  Alcohol checks in at a lofty 15.5% abv.  Depending on the vintage, it can be as high as 17.5% alcohol.  The sticker price is up there as well, at $120.  

This wine is deep, dark and delicious.  The nose opens with a whiff of smoke, which leads to aromas of dried cherry, cedar and pipe tobacco.  The palate shows a nice mix of fruit and savory - the cherry flavor finds a black raspberry partner.  Firm tannins and bright acidity make it dance on the tongue.


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Monday, June 17, 2019

Prosecco: Fun, Festive, Fruity

Vino dei Fratelli translates to "wine of the brothers," those bros being Castor and Pollux.  Legend has it that they were made immortal by Zeus and now reside in the night sky as the constellation Gemini.  They appear on an ancient Roman coin which adorns the bottle.

The label covers several winemaking families across Italy, in areas like Collio, Chianti, Abruzzo, Langhe and Venice.

The Vino dei Fratelli "extra dry" Prosecco was made from 100% Glera grapes grown in Italy's Veneto region and harvested in 2016.  Fermentation took place in stainless steels tanks, with no introduction of oak.  Alcohol is predictably low at 11% abv and the wine sells for $18.

The Vino dei Fratelli Prosecco pours up with nice bubbles which quickly dissipate.  The nose is a riot of apples, flowers, lemons and limes.  The palate is fruity and clean with a brisk acidity that lends to the wine's festive nature.  Citrus on the finish leaves a great taste in the mouth.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Spumante Surprise

If you are anything like me - God help ya - you may be a tad surprised to hear the name Santa Margherita and not hear Pinot Grigio immediately afterward.  I was not so surprised to find the Italian winery making other wine styles.  Their Chianti is on the shelf at the supermarket, too.  There's a marketing push behind the company's sparkling rosé, as I was supplied with a sample.  So, you might expect to see it in the wine aisle soon, too. 

Santa Margherita's vineyards originated eight decades ago in the Veneto region.  Now they also raise grapes in Alto Adige and Tuscany. 

Santa Margherita Vino Spumante Rosé

The Santa Margherita Vino Spumante Rosé hits only 11.5% abv and sells for around 20 bucks.  It's an interesting rosé, because it's not made by limiting the skin contact to get pink.  It's made by blending white grapes with white.  The mix is 55% Chardonnay and 40% Glera grapes with a 5% splash of Malbec.  The grapes came from a hilly area of Treviso and an Eastern area in Veneto - the far northwestern corner of Italy.

This wine has frothy bubbles that disappear in an instant.  The nose comes on like a basket of cherries and strawberries, with a strong earthy streak through the middle of it.  It's dry on the palate with a tingly fruit presence and a nice acidity that will pair well with food.  The earthiness lingers on the finish.  If you drink Prosecco for your bubbly fun, you should try this lovely pink sparkler.


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Monday, August 29, 2011

ITALIAN WINE TASTING AT ENOTECA DRAGO


Enoteca Drago

In Los Angeles, the Drago family is to Italian food and wine as the Rockefeller family is to money.  They know it, they live it, they breathe it.  Wine importer V.E.D.I. Wines brought some of the wines they represent to Enoteca Drago in Beverly Hills recently for an afternoon trade tasting, and I had the good fortune of an invitation.

Here are some of the tasty Italian treats I discovered from Veneto, Lombardia and Abruzzo, along with some sparkling wines from Valencia, Spain.

Cava Pago de Tharsys:

Pago de Tharsys poured those extremely nice sparkling wines produced in Valencia.  There were a lot of earthy notes in these Cavas, and some very interesting grapes.

Rosado Brut 2008:  100% Garnacha; strawberries and earth
Brut Nature 2008:   80% Macabeo, 20% Chardonnay; yeasty and earthy with notes of guava
Tharsys Unico:  100% Bobal; yeasty and crisp with a nutty edge
Dominio de Tharsys Brut:  75% Macabeo, 25% Parellada;  very fruity and fresh
Dominio de Tharsys Rosado:  Bobal; earthy cherry nose, cherry syrup flavor with a hint of banana

Marcato had a couple of notable sparklers from Italy's Lessini Hills of Verona, in the Veneto region.

Durello Spumante Brut:  85% Durella with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well; multi-vintage; steel fermented, Charmat method; nutty nose; light and fruity, with a citrus/tropical play
Durello 36 Mesi:  Durella, Pinot Noir & Chardonnay again; creamier, yet still vibrant and fresh; traditional method

Cavalchina is from Veneto.

Cavalchina is the name of the district where this winery is located, on the southeastern border of the Garda amphitheatre.

Bianco di Custoza:  40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda, 15% Trebbiano, 15% Trebbianello; very nutty with a light acidity
Amedeo Biano di Custoza Superiore:  40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda, 15% Trebbiano, 15%Trebbianello:  more acidity than in the Bianco di Custoza
Chiaretto Bardolino:  Rose harvested and vinified separately from the rosso, not as a bleed-off; very light pink with strawberries and flowers
Bardolino:  the red bardolino; gorgeous nose, black cherry and chocolate, unusual for a steel fermented wine; flavor is fruity and floral
Santa Lucia Bardolino Superiore:  60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 15% Marzemino e Barbera; nice tannic structure, the wood aging doesn't overwhelm

Vigneti Prendina is from Lombardia.

Merlot Garda:  85% Merlot, 15% Rondinella; the grapes are harvested at different times, so separate vinification is required; neutral oak barriques, smokey fruit
Pinot Grigio Alto Mincio: oakless Pinot Grigio with a lovely aroma
Falcone Cabernet Sauvignon:  85%  Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot; dark and smokey; 12 months in barriques

Contesa is in Abruzzo, centrally located in Italy, but considered part of the south.  The region borders the Adriatic Sea.

Nerone:  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo; great drak nose showing tar, tasting of smokey plums
Contesa Montepulciano d'Abruzzo:  great acidity, very smooth; 24 months in large barrels
Vigna Corvino Montepulciano:  very smooth; dusty cherry notes
Vigna Corvino Trebbiano:  stainless steel fermentation; rather like a new world Sauvignon Blanc; grassy and earthy; grape dates back to Roman times in Abruzzo
Vigna Corvino Cerasuolo:  dry rose with a lovely nose; one day skin contact gives a lovely cherry color
Pecorino:  citrus and a nutty quality
Sorab Pecorino:  four weeks barrique fermentation; weightier with delicious use of wood; aged on its lees for 6 months


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Saturday, July 10, 2010

CORNARO ROSSO VINO DA TAVOLA


Cornaro Rosso Vino da Tavola

Here's a fantastic summer wine that looks and drinks like a rosado, even though  it's marketed as a red by the folks who make it.
This light red is 11% abv.  It comes from Italy's Veneto region, produced by Cantina Montelliana, a cooperative that's been making wine since the 1950s.  They're in the Treviso province and take grapes from Montello and Colli Asolani.  Exactly what grapes they take is a mystery to me - perhaps someone more knowledgable than I on Italian wine can fill in the blanks.  It reminds me a lot of Refosco, and I would not be surprised to find it is fermented without any wood.  It is a Vino da Tavola - table wine - and as such is unregulated by the Italian wine beaurocracy.
Whatever grapes are in it make the wine as dark as a rosado, a ruby red tint I can see through it easily.  There's a trace of tiny bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass.  In fact, the wine shows just a touch of frizzante, especially when not chilled.  The nose is so fresh and perfumed, like a basket of fresh-picked cherries.  The taste is not sweet, but it is rather reminiscent of a cherry soda from a flavor standpoint.  There's a fairly big strawberry profile, too.  Throw in a hint of spiciness and you have a light and delicious red that tastes great slightly chilled for a summer day.
The wine's nice acidity makes it a cinch that it will pair with salads, pasta or even chicken, pork or veal.  When served cold, a really grapey taste comes in.  Reminiscent of, but not exactly like, the taste of Spanada wine from back in the '70s.