Category: Italian wines

Revisiting Sangiovese

We were really happy to see one of our favorite wine writers - Lettie Teague from Wall Street Journal - give some love to one of our favorite food wines that has somehow gone out of style:  Chianti (click HERE to see the article).  As our readers know, we have a long standing love affair with the Sangiovese grape in all its wonderful forms and expressions (take a look at some of our previous articles: Sangiovese Round One and Round Two).  It might be the most food-friendly grape on the plant, as long as you pick up the right bottle.  Ms. Teague mentioned that she couldn't recall the last time folks talked about Chianti - most likely because of all the bad stuff that had flooded the market.  We hope to reverse the trend a bit by first mentioning the wines from Ms. Teague's article, then by talking about some of our favorite Sangiovese bottles. The Chianti List Let's start with Lettie Teague's list, since there was quite a few familiar faces, all at reasonable prices: From WSJ 2/27/2016 You won't go wrong with any of these producers, especially if you can grab some older vintages.  But our top bottle [...]

Intriguing Wine from the Island of Sardinia

We stumbled on a very intriguing wine this week – Argiolas Costera-  and we had to immediately share it with our readers because of the high quality at an amazing value – we purchased it for $13.  We were familiar with the whites from Sardinia (mostly using the Vermentino grape), but didn’t know much about the red wines.  Now we come to find that there is more red wine produced in Sardinia than white. There are quite a few unusual native red grapes on Sardinia, such as Monica (a light, bright, berry-flavored grape), Carignano (also known as Mazuelo in Spain and Carignan in France – deep colored, very fruity grape), Bovale sardo (related to Carignano, but smaller less fruity grapes), and Cannonau (also known as Grenache).  The warm climate, and the constant air movement from Mediterranean breezes give the Cannonau grapes more concentration and more body.  It is fragrant, has good tannin to acid balance – just don’t be put off by the color.  It is not going to be the deep red you would expect from a Grenache-based wine. The Argiolas Costera for 2011 is made up of 100% Cannonau (other years, the winemaker will mix in up to […]

Red Wines of the Veneto: A Vapolicella Tasting

You might be ignoring Valpolicella wines - most folks see them as light, fruity red wines with little character or finesse, a wine that you might find in checkered table cloth, red sauce only Italian restaurants.  We wanted you to re-think Valpolicella, so the Serious Foodie decided to dispel some of these myths and misconceptions with a wine tasting event featuring reds from the Veneto. It's a pity that Valpolicella lost favor with the US market, mainly because of heavy advertising pressure from mass-produced versions (many of which are still light, fruity, and insipid).  Like other Italian wines, there has been winemaking renaissance in the region for Valpolicella, spurred by producers of the outstanding artisan Amarone wines such as Allegrini.  The Valpolicella wines are produced solely in the Veneto region, just west of Verona, in an area between foothills of the Alps and Lake Garda. The primary grapes used are Corvina (40-70%), Rondinella (20-40%) and Molinara (5-20%), but the vintner can also add up to 15% complementary varieties, which include Rossignola, Negrara, Trentina, Barbera, Sangiovese, and the recently revived Oseleta grape (almost solely due to efforts at Allegrini).  What makes these wines so interesting is the variety of flavors and [...]

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.  […]

Tuscan Reds Under $25 – Our May Tasting Event

Our May tasting event took us to the Central NJ area – specifically Ringoes, NJ – where we had the enviable task of selecting Tuscan red wines that were easy to drink, food friendly, available locally, and relatively affordable (nearly all our wine selections should be available nationwide, or via internet sales).  Proceeds from this affair went to the wonderful folks at the Princeton Festival.  If you are in the area from June 7 through June 29, or willing to travel, you would not be disappointed at the outstanding selection of jazz/opera/chamber music/etc from this award winning group (click on for more information).  I know that Serious Foodie is certainly looking forward to the A Capella Jazz concert on June 7, and Porgy & Bess on June 22 and June 29.   Roasted Tricolored Carrots As with our other events, we worked to match our wine choices with an array of foods that would match, focusing on simple Tuscan inspired dishes.  Here is the menu from this event: Proscuitto wrapped mango, with the Serious Foodie Orange & Fig Finishing Sauce Freshly made Parmesan crisps Genoa salami crisps Pesto bruschetta with home roasted tomatoes Mascarpone and pancetta stuffed crimini mushrooms […]

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, […]

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