Tag: Italian wine

Gavi – a Great Spring & Summer White Wine

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] White wines from Italy are very often over-looked by the wine geeks, mostly because of the mass-produced, insipid versions of Pinot Grigio that appears on most low-end Italian restaurants.  HOWEVER…what we found over the years is that Italy produces wonderful white wines, if you are willing to experiment a bit – with many quality wines under $20 per bottle. We saw a great article by one of favorite wine writers, Lettie Teague, in the 4/11/15 issue of the Wall Street Journal.  Ms. Teague talks about her early love affair with Gavi – a popular wine from the Piedmont region.  In her words, “Gavi offered a more stylish alternative to other Italian whites such as Frascati and Orvieto, was almost as popular as Pinot Grigio (in the ’90’s) and it was just as easy to say (“Gah-vee”). But perhaps more important, it was the favorite wine of my boyfriend back then. (Love stories of wine often begin with love stories of a different kind.)” We have always loved Gavi, since our first trip to Italy in the ’80’s.  Gavi is a DOCG wine made from Cortese, which is found predominately in the province of Alessandria near the Ligurian boarder.  […]

Five Sexy Meals Ideas

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text] There is nothing sexier than making a great meal for your sweetheart.  Why battle the hungry hoards on Valentine’s Day, and putting up with dumbed-down menus to accommodate the folks who venture out only on Valentine’s Day.  Besides, this is THE DAY for the Serious Foodie to impress with a hand-crafted meal for the significant other(s) in our life, with matching wines, candle light, flowers, and other romantic touches.  Before you dive into the recipe details, you should also take a look at the Serious Foodie 10 Steps for Sexy Meals (click HERE to see the article now).   While doing our research, we came a across some fun websites that talk about sexy meals: Bon Appetit poles 11 celebrity chefs on their sexiest meals ever (click HERE). There’s a website call Seduction Meals – the title says it all   (click HERE). Food & Wine gives a very broad selection of menus (click HERE). We really liked the meals selected by Delish for Valentine’s Day (click HERE). What about the vegetarian in your life?  Take a look at this great Buzzfeed article (click HERE). Here’s five of the Serious Foodie favorite suggestions on what to serve that special […]

Sangiovese Tasting – Round 2

We did a Sangiovese-inspired wine & food tasting a while back –  it was a great success, so we decided to expand the efforts, increasing the number of wines, the geographic scope, and the number of tasters. After some more research, we found a selection of wines that were mostly sourced from local stores (Tampa to Venice FL), with all the wines easy to obtain.  We picked eight wines for this effort, keeping to wines that were at least 80% Sangiovese, and retaining two wines from the previous Sangiovese tasting. This event included: Volpaia Chianti Classico (2007) – Tuscany Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montelcino (2011) – Tuscany Paolo Bea Montefalco Riserva (2007) – Umbria Mocali Morellino di Scansano (2012) – Tuscany Tolaini Al Passo (2009) – Tuscany Tre Monte Campo di Mezzo (2011) – Emilia Romagna Avignonese Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (2011) – Tuscany Bibi Graetz It’s a Game (2010) – Tuscany We keep to a very simple scoring system: Weasel pee Let’s move on – drinkable, but save it for cooking wine Not bad – might buy it. Pass me another slice of pizza This is good stuff – I want more! Yes, yes, yes! (“I’ll have what […]

Sangiovese Tasting – Round One

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] We often share our favorite Italian foods and wines with friends who love Italian wine almost as much as we do.  One night, as we were sipping a wonderful 1997 Brunello (Siro Pacenti), we began talking about sangiovese – it’s many expressions, it’s status as one of the best wines with food, and the fact that none of us had ever done a sangiovese tasting across Italy’s many sangiovese wine regions.  We decided that this last fact needed to be changed. There are twenty regions in Italy, and sangiovese is grown in eight (Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marches, Abruzzo, and Molise).   The other regions are either too cold or too hot – the weather and the soil in central Italy is perfect for sangiovese. Within these eight regions, sangiovese is most often blended with other grapes. We did the research, and assembled a core team of tasters to try out this idea.  We picked only six wines for this initial effort, focusing mostly on Tuscan sangiovese wines, and picking wines that were at least 80% sangiovese. Our first tasting included: Casanova di Neri Rosso di Montelcino (2011) – Tuscany Carpineto Chianti Classico Riserva (2008) – Tuscany Tenuta […]

Montepulciano By Any Other Name

We (the Dinner Doctor and Mr. SeriousFoodie) are insane about our wines – we drink, we study, we buy, then we repeat these steps.  And we’ve had lots and lots of wine from a variety of grapes, especially from Italy.  So, we fumbled a bit when we were dining with friends who asked us, “This Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is delicious.  What region is it from, and what grape do they use?”First, we had to explain that Montepulciano is a the beautiful hill town in the southeast part of Tuscany where they make an excellent wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (and sometimes a rosso called Montepulciano) – which is not made from the Montepulciano grape.   There is a lesser quality (but sometimes also very good) wine called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which is made from the Montepulciano grape – but Abruzzo is a few regions south and east of Montepulciano. If this sounds confusing, try learning Italian grammar.  By the way, there is no connection between the town and the grape as far as we know.So, here are two fairly common Italian wines, made from entirely different grapes from different regions, with different price points and quality, but sound similar.  So, […]

Marvelous Marzemino

We came across this unusual grape from the northeast region of Italy (primarily from the area around Isera in Trentino) when we were sourcing an Italian red that would match well with fish.  Marzemino wines are made in limited quantities, and are hard to find in the US.  The grapes have a long growing season, ripening late and is susceptible to many grape diseases, making it a bit finicky to grow. Our friends at the Italian Wine Merchant  had told us about the wines from the region, and suggested the Pratello Marzemino Poderi Ogaria.  We bought a case of the 2006 for our annual Feast of the Fishes party, and went through most of it – we immediately went back for another case.  Surprisingly, this wine has held up well in our cellar, showing outstanding fresh tastes of blueberry, lingonberry, and sweet herbs that has a surprising long lasting flavor.  It is light to medium bodied, with soft tannins and high acidity.  We recently opened up a few bottles of the 2006 for a pizza party we held, and it was a big hit.  We found only five bottles of the 2010 from the Virginia Wine Experience – so beware, […]

Fattoria del Cerro – Great Tuscan Bargain

Fattoria del Cerro is a winery, restaurant, and hotel near Montepulciano, which is on the eastern end of Tuscany.  They specialize in  Vino Nobile di Montepulciano vineyards, and is the largest private estate producing Vino Nobile. The grounds are beautiful, and tasting wine at this vineyard is one of life’s great pleasures.   All Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are made from the prugnolo gentile grape, which is a clone of Sangiovese.  We’ve tasted several wines from Fattoria del Cerro, and two appear on our list of 20 under $20 bargain red wines for 2013.  The regular Vino Nobile di Montepulciano D.O.C.G. can be found at $15 to $20, and often appears on restaurant wine lists at about $40.  We love the striking up-front cherry, wild herbs and spice flavors of this smooth wine, with a nice elegant finish for a wine of this price.  This wine leaves a mouthwatering impression, with a nice balance of acid and tannins. The Riserva Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva D.O.C.G., and the single vineyard selection Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Antica Chiusina” D.O.C.G. are quite a bit pricier (about $60), but does raise the bar with more intense and lingering fruit flavors. We’ve also added […]

Lugana – A Beautiful Wine from a Beautiful Region

We happened on this wine at our favorite Italian trattoria in Sarasota – Cafe Epicurean – when we asked for a white wine that would work with a large variety of flavors coming to our table.  The waiter brought us Lugana from San Benedetto (2011), and we loved it.  The price was modest for any restaurant ($28), so we set out to find some for our selves.  We found a few bottles at the Total Wine at $15. Lugana is not an area we knew – it sits on the border between Lombardy and the Veneto on the south end of Lake Garda, part of the fertile Po Valley plain which is just a stones throw to Northern Italy’s lake country and the glacial foothills of the Alps.  The major grape of this region is Trebbiano – which is not a very well regarded varietal in Italy.  Trebbiano is mostly used to add to other white grapes such as Garganega.  However, when cultivated properly, and when not over-produced, this grape can easily be used to make some exciting wines. What makes Lugana so special is its food-friendly quality – it worked well with crisp calamari, then somehow matched with a […]

Garganega – But It's Soave By Any Other Name

Soave is one of those wines that is sometimes ignored by the serious wine drinker, and mostly misunderstood by the casual wine drinker.  Many folks cannot tell the difference between Soave and Pinot Grigio – primarily because the same grape is used in both.  Although I poke fun at Pinot Grigio (like Miles in Sideways saying, “No more f****** merlot”), there are a few noteworthy Pinot Grigio wines that have made it in the house of the SeriousFoodie (the amazing wines from St. Michael-Eppan in Alto Adige and the Attems from the Venezia-Giulia region, which is a 20 under $20 wine).  But the focus here will be on Soave, which is the best expression of garganega in our opinion. Garganega is, unfortunately, over produced in Italy, and most of the over produced product ends up being labeled Pinot Grigio.  But in the Soave region, especially the Classico zone, yields are lower, and the best flavors of the grapes come through – think citrus fruit like lemon or lime, and some nutty flavors like almond or hazelnut.  Garganega is the main grape of Soave (at least 70%), but can also be blended with Trebbiano and Chardonnay. In addition to Soave, Garganega […]

Pignolo – Not the Nut, But the Wine

Most foodies know that pignolo is Italian for pine nut.  So, it was a big surprise when Andrew the sommelier at Felidia’s in NYC asked us if we’d like to try a Pignolo -we thought he was joking.  He served us a 2000 Pignol from Bressan, a producer in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia.  It was a great wine, having just the right notes of pepper and spice – it was med-full bodied but had sensational aromatics, with a nice after-taste of raspberry.  So, we were intrigued, and wanted to learn a bit more about the Pignolo grape. The grape is a native red variety grown predominantly in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy.  Besides being the same name as the pine nut, it also means “fussy” in Italian, which very much describes the grape. So, it is no surprise that Pignolo wines are somewhat rare, with just a few dedicated producers. But it’s worthwhile to try to find, since the wines are typically well balanced (flavors, tannins, acidity). Look for the Bressan wine (about $60), Jermann (about $30), Livon (about $30), or Moschioni (a top-end producer – expect to pay about $100).

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