Dolcetto, Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola…Wine Tasting

Let’s start with Dolcetto, the first of the three wine we tasted. This grape variety is native of Piedmont in particular of the area of Monferrato, can be found in Liguria as well under a different name: Ormeaso…getting creative here. What kind of wine is in the glass? Is time to find out, DolcettoD’Asti DOC 2015 Casata Monticello 12.5 %
You want to look at the color of the wine as the first thing, with something white underneath will be optimal. COLOR: Ruby, generally intense almost opaque with purple blues, exacerbated by the fact that is usually very young when it reaches our tables. NOSE: The wine we tasted was acceptable, it means: slight aroma and bouquet. we all agreed on that.
You can “meet ” with complex , fruity and floral Dolcetto where Cherries, Blackberries, Plum Strawberry, Raspberry and Blackberry. Violet, red rose , cyclamen will be there for you to find in your glass. We know that every year is different and so are the wine-makers. Isn’t seeking for bouquet and aromas is the most fascinating part?
Sometimes is challenging, isn’t always evident…we need to practice don’t we ? Hard , very hard! I’d like to give you some homework: explore and create your own aromas memory,. Every place is a good place _ more or less… – Grocery stores, wood, meadows… you name it. It’s easy to get lost, wine is always be a interesting topic, so much to learn, so much to say…Let’s get back to the Dolcetto, we know that the aging in wood barrel isn’t frequent so do not look for tertiary here which are the aromas released by the barrel, you’ll be disappointed. Now we’ve looked at wine we’ve put our nose in that glass…Is about time to TASTE it: Not a sweet wine despite its name –Dolce means sweet in italian–,
on the contrary the palate is very dry, not very tannic. the acidity is moderate. You’ll find yourself wondering about what fruity taste is jumping out the most : cherry , blueberry and you’ll be surprised by the final : Almond. I said surprised because this is more a characteristic of white wines. The pairing…we know there isn’t such a thing as an ideal pairing but “something” that is as close as possible to enhance the wine and the food… we can pair the Dolcetto with tagliatelle with Meat ragu’, Ravioli Ricotta e Spinaci, Meat is an option if you go for a burger or a steak.
Let’s keep going , the second wine is a Negro Amaro Copertino 2008 Riserva DOC Cantina Sociale Cooperativa. We’ve left the cold foggy northern Italy to go south, we are in the heel right now in the Puglia region here the landscape is half hill and half flat. It has a terrific vineyard area (about 110,000 hectares). Negro Amaro together with Primitivo is definitely the flagship product of Puglia’s enology. This is a very versatile grape, has been used as a blending grape ever since. It is very rare to find it in purity, as a matter of fact also the wine tasted wasn’t 100% Negromaro, 5% was Malvasia Nera, It helped with Alcoholicity, Sapidity and Body. Let’s take a look to the COLOR: it’s ruby red with a lack of transparency almost impenetrable. NOSE: Little Manure, Violet, Balsamic tobacco. At the TASTE we found it warm and soft, good sugar with good tannins balance. A good pairing is with homemade pasta: that’s how we had it with Paciarino’s Goat cheese ravioli and Pomodoro Sauce: heaven!
Our last wine was from Sicily: Nero d’Avola. The Nero d’Avola is actually a vine all Sicilian. In the Island it is located in various denominations in blends with other varieties. The Nero d’Avola can give rise to wines of important structure and complexity, also suitable for long aging.We are talking about one of the most famous red wine produced in this region, also known as Calabrese – which suggests that originates in the Calabria region- We had a Lamuri Tasca d’Almerita 2014 Sicilia DOC 13%.this vineyard is between 450 and 750 meter of altitute (1476 ft and 2460 ft).Ruby COLOR with moderate transparency, this is a young wine, the color will change in time from ruby to garnet and it will gain more transparency. NOSE: Blackberry, Black Cherry, Leather, Vanilla. At the TASTE: Smooth, with a good structure. PAIRING: salumi: prosciutto, mortadella, salame etc
meat: great with a burger or a steak. aged cheese and of course pasta : wild board rage’, porcini mushrooms (we’ve had that at the tasting).
Buon appetito e “SALUTE” !

…Not every “Bubbly” wine is the same

Champagne or Spumante? Metodo Classico or Charmant? Spumante of the Valdobbiadene? Prosecco or Bubbles ( Bollicine)
They aren’t all the same, let’s acknowledge that!
I love sparkling wine, to me this is:”the Wine”. Definitely the easiest wine to pair. It’s an incredible product…my hope is that by the time you’ll done reading you won’t “face” a glass of Champagne in the same way anymore.
Now, let’s get started. Let’s figure what is what so we’ll better understand why some of the sparkles costs us big bucks and some “just few”.
Champagne or Classic Method … well, It’s all about refermentation. Let’s make this simple: Champenoise Method is the traditional way of producing sparkling wine. For the first time this technique was used in the Champagne Region – in France- that’s also why no other wine even if is produced by following the same technique can use the “appellation” of Champagne. In Italy we have the Spumante: same technique, different location: makes this impossible to refer to this wine as Champagne, so we have the Spumante. Let’s take a closer look to the process since is fascinating. After a primary fermation (let me know if you wanna know more about this topic and I’ll write on it), that usually takes place in stainless steel tanks, the wine is bottled. It’s right now that the winemaker kick-starts the effervescence by adding a sweet solution known as “liqueur de tirage”. The bottle is closed with a special cap known as “bidule”, held in place by a wire cage/metal cap. The bottles are now transferred to the cellar and stacked “sur lattes”horizontally. Inside the bottle the wine undergo a second fermentation. The yeasts consume the sugar,releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide together with esters and other superior alcohols that contribute to the wine’s sensory profile. The wine is hold to a relatively constant temperature of 12 Celsius (54F) Champagne must spend at least 15 months on Lees. The greater Champagne wines can spend several decades maturing in a wine cellar.
Towards the end of their long resting period, the bottles must be moved and rotated to loosen the sediment – a mixture of dead yeast and riddling aids- thrown by the second fermentation. Known as “remuage”(ridding) this process causes the sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle in preparation of the disgorgement : the ejecting of the sediment under pressure that then leaves the wine perfectly clear. The Remuage (as a shaking and twisting technique practice over the centuries by skilled cellar masters) takes 6 weeks and involves on average 25 turns per bottle while on the pupitre (a frame-shaped ridding rack) can be done manually or automatically.In Franciacorta, which is one of the destination of my wine tours, we have the chance to admire and enter the old cellars and see and taste the process on first hand (shoot me on e.mail for any further info). I just mention the disgorgement, this is a critical point in the life of the Champagne wine: the Grand Finale! it can happened also by hand ( a la volée ) or it can be mechanical, of course I love the traditional way: it so Romantic. Now is the time for a little addition of a small quantity of ” liqueur de dosage” to the wine also know as ” liqueur de expedition” …if any is added.
All right I know this was a tough one .It’s time to move forward, let’s have a quick look to Metodo Martinotti also known as Metodo Charmant. Italians will always find their way to “good stuff” that’s probably way Federico Martinlotti, an Italian Enologist, invented in the 19th century this method. Just like the Classic Method, the wine as to undergo two fermentation. The primary fermentation is exactly the same for both production processes. However the secondary fermentation doesn’t take place in the bottle. Instead it takes place in large stainless steel tanks. The wine is placed in a tank where a mixture of yeast and sugar is added to induce the second fermentation. At this point the tank is sealed, CO2 produced during the second fermentation can’t escape and is trapped in the wine. At the end of the fermentation ( it usually takes 15 to 20 days) the wine is fined and filtered to remove lees and sediment. if any “dosage ” is made it has to be done now just right before the wine is and bottled.
it will be very interesting to taste the Metodo Classico and the Metodo Charmant together. we’ll find the first one much more complex in the bouquet, because of the prolong amount of time spent on the lees and the “perlage” will be inferior. This Charmant tend to be less aromatic and in general of lower quality.
We are not done jet with the world of sparkling wines, it’s not really alike that we’ll be drinking champagne every time we’ll drink bubbles. What are our other choices? I mentioned Vino Frizzante,this is a possibility, a good possibility. Actually if you are traveling around Italy and you’ll end up in seafood restaurant and you are in the mood for a sparkling wine you can confidently order a Prosecco di Conegliano -Valdobbiadene DOCG .
The most important think is to experiment …that why I wish you a good tasting life…I’ll love to share to “ideas and suggestions with you guys…email me. Ciao And SALUTE!

…cloudy wine: the Chasselas is protagonist!

… Switzerland is just few steps away from Italy. If you are anything like me, when you think Switzerland you think chocolate,  mouthwatering chocolate and of course you’ll think banks of any kind. Cheese  is also well know…but Wine…well this is a finding  you must agree with me!  While I was crossing the country by train to get to the Lake of Neuchâtel region I was very please by the relaxing views. Bern was my destination, what a beautiful, sweet little town, I very much enjoyed exploring the city with an exceptional guide: my sister who knows the area very well. What a gift! She drove me around the all region and I have been pampered in the most amazing ways: Thank you again Sister!  As we start approaching Neuchâtel the amount of vineyards increased dramatically until we’ve got completely surrounded. There is no way to know by what variety of grape at the first sight but being a wine expert really helps:  I thought Pinot Noir right away …then a well hidden information in memory popped up: Chasselas !  This is the most important and widely planted white grape in Switzerland. Fruity, Floral and Mineral, very peculiar. I couldn’t wait to try the famous “Non Filtré “: it’s a speciality from Neuchâtel, the first wine of the year, it goes on sale on the 3rd Wednesday in January. Here I’m angry and thirsty, the perfect combination. We decided for La Golee  in Auvernier. It’s a very local  place: the fondue is one of a kind, we had the one with the Non Filtré wine, very good with the right amount of garlic…     I was in the right mood for a wine tasting but, the local beer, a blanc beer just called me so badly that i couldn’t say no, plus I was really willing to talk with the vigneron on my first tasting of this wine. You ask and the Universe respond: while we where touring the tiny little village we found an open vineyard and …the vigneron was there! I love listening to the “Maker”, that’s – why  I started organizing wine tour in the first place-: they really share their love for what they do, they love the territory and taking care of the vineyard is a priority. If you are lucky enough and you find the one who is willing to share you’ll get to know any sort of  stories  and secrets about the place, the people, their family  and, of course the wine. There is nothing like tasting the wine where the wine is made, surrounded by centuries of history. We tasted three pinot noir: Pinot Noir Neuchâtel AOC vignes cultivees en biodynamie  2015 – Just so you know I’m going to write on this topic sooner then later-  youthful ruby red color, pleasant wild berry nose not a lot of light body , slightly bitter at the finish. Pinot Noir Neuchâtel AOC elevé en barrique 2014 – usually well know yo have been  problematic, in Europe – I found this wine well balance, tannins were there, another year of aging, at least, would have helped. The third Pinot we tried was one of a kind: 2014 again, Haute Couture AOC Neuchâtel elevé en barrique: you can tell it has a good  potential, grape is hand picked, velvety ruby color, pleasant to the nose, good acidity, tannic… but …if you are willing to spend the money and wait for a couple of year, I’m sure you’ll really enjoy this wine. NOW straight to the point, that is why I entered the Cave, my curiosity about the Non Filtré wine. The Vigneron poured for us this cloudy intriguing wine: Chasselas  grape. She kept the bottle upside down, just for a little bit  in order to let the sedimentation move around in the bottle…and here we go:  the first revealing sip is happening: not very high in alcohol about 11%, citrus fruit, very slightly bubbly, nice vivacity masked by the yeast which is causing the cloudiness. an easy drinking, it’s said to drink it within the year. perfect as an aperitif …not so sure about the fondue…but I wanna trust the popular tradition so i did tried it and …the acidity really helped  with the fatness carried by the cheese. Once again the ancestors were right.

 

 

 

 

find Buddha in Tuscany

I’m not joking!

…near Pisa, hidden in the charming hills of the Tuscan countryside, lies the Buddhist Center of Pomaia, this  quaint little village is home to one of the largest Tibetan Monasteries in the western world: ILTK Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa   www.iltk.org/en/ Being in Pomaia makes you feel blessed. Definitely looks easy to reconnect to the “real you” while you are surrounded by history, nature and Monks. It’s fascinating the way you become part of the “Whole”, picking up the rhythm is very natural. You wake up in the morning, everything starts early: breakfast is at 7.30 until 8.30 … I’m an early riser, which worked very well for me, since I had time for my shower and a “visit” to the Dorge for the morning meditation…and here you go, finding yourself wondering about how could it be your life if you decide to stay and become a voluntary and protracting the permanence … you can do that, I’ve met amazing people who were doing so while I was there. As the day went by, the occasions of sharing the experience with other “Inner Travelers” didn’t lack. That ‘s how I get to acknowledge  about this or that secret place. I was I little concern  about the food…you know…it’s really important when you are determined to enjoy your self …No Need for that: The food is really good. Being in Tuscany in March makes quite a difference especially if you live in cold      New England, where the spring is not really showing up until…does it ever show up? Being outdoor, with just a light sweater is so inviting . I found myself with some time in my hand between breakfast and my class so I decided to go and explore the surrounding, I love hiking is a fantastic meditation and a very healthy way to discover new views and meet the local people… After four days of retreats is time to leave, I’m taking with me amazing memories and I feel good about myself.

Synchronicity is so very alive.

 

 

WINE…the Soul of Grapes

…I love wine. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Isn’t fascinating? Here you are with this glass in your hand wondering about what is the magic that just happened to make this incredible liquid possible. Who is the winemaker? Don’t you wanna know? Where it comes from? Why is so mineral? Should you pair this wine with meat? …with fish? …with ? You name it! this is not a detail, it can be a life changing experience, I’m not joking! Have you ever had aged Parmigiano cheese with a good glass of Malvasia dell’Emilia? this is a very interesting and different pairing considering that the parmigiano is salty and the Malvasia is sweet. While I’m here in Italy I couldn’t help my self and I had a bite – not just “a” …maybe a little more then that- of parmigiano reggiano cheese aged 24 months with “a” sip of Marsala dry (secco)…soo incredible! We need to talk about this…we need to know and to experiment, we need to enjoy and have fun…let me tell you one thing, and I went through this myself…do NOT pair Barbera with chocolate: it really is awful.

La Casa di Manzoni a Milano

I was born in Milan, I love this crazy city, there is always something going on. When we think Milano we think Fashion and that’s right, although there is way much more and I have to say thank’s to the EXPO many hidden treasures have been revealed to the public…maybe not really revealed , just brought to the attention: a light as been switched on. It’s the end of March, the weather is fantastic -in the 70- I’m wearing just a very light sweater – a very fancy one, I’m in Milan for god sake , you cannot mess up with what you are wearing – and with a big smile, very happy and thankful for this opportunity i reach out to what is there to discover. Milano reminds me of a shy lady, very secretive, not easy to meet and to get along with at the first …but it lasted  just a blink of an eye and Milano is there for me and the Milaneses as well. I decided to reconnect with the City through a very special visit. something very unique, the House of Alessandro Manzoni, every Italian has read the “Promessi Sposi” (the Betrothed), it has been called the most famous and widely read novel of the Italian Language. What a Character, what a House! The Man choose this place him self and lived here for 60 years , he had 2 wives and 10 children , he wrote the betrothed and the majority of his works in this amazing …HUGE house. To me it has been like jumping into the past, like I have used a time machine: Incredible! What a great place to visit. the desk in front of the window he used is still there, the books are there: in the very same order they have been left by Alessandro. The room, where he passed is still there with his bed and the very few things he kept closed until the end. we decided to walk the his same “daily walk” …to bad the baker’s he used had shut the door at the end of the 1800 century because at that point I was so much into the Manzoni Life that I would have enjoyed a piece of the bread he use to eat..