Wines of Sicily and Sardinia

Author: danielem  //  Category: Wine View

Sicily: A major share of Sicily’s DOC production is represented by Marsala, a sweet wine originated by English merchants two centuries ago. Marsala, Sicily’s proudest wine has enjoyed a comeback in recent years among connoisseurs, who favor the dry Vergine and Superiore Riserva, with the warmly complex flavors that rank them with the finest fortified wines of Europe.

The other DOC wine made in quantity is the pale white, bone dry Bianco D’Alcamo. Moscato di Pantelleria, from the remote isle off the coast of Tunisia, is among the richest and most esteemed of Italian sweet wines in the Naturale and Passito Extra versions. Malvasia delle Lipari, from the volcanic Aeolian isles, is a dessert wine as exquisite as it is rare.

The dry white and red wines of Etna, whose vine adorn the lower slopes of the volcano, show class. Production of other traditional DOCs-the dry red Faro and sweet Moscatos of Noto and Siracusa- has been slight in recent years. But the volume of Premium wines has increased somewhat with the addition of DOCs from various parts of the island.

The greatest surge in volume of quality wines has come from the rapid expansion of IGT wines. Many fine wines come from native varieties, notably Nero d’Avola, Nerello Mascareseand Perricone (Pignatello), among the reds and Inzolia and Grecanico among the whites. Also prominent are such international varieties as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah, which show real promise in Sicily, whether as single varietals or in blends.

A major share of Sicily’s wine is produced by cooperatives, but the number of privately owned estates has been growing. Prominent wine houses from northern and central Italy have invested in vineyards and cellars on the island.

Sardinia: The island’s most productive vineyards area is the Campidano, the fertile plains and rolling hills northwest of the capital and major port of Cagliari. The varieties grown there -Giro’, Malvasia, Monica, Moscato, Nasco and Nuragus- carry the name of Cagliari in their denominations: Cagliari DOC.

The wooded slopes of the northern Gallura peninsula and the northwestern coatal area around Sassari and Alghero are known for premium whites. Vermentino makes whites of depth and style, under Vermentino di Gallura DOCG.

Moscato can be either still or sparkling. But it is always sweet. Notably the one from Sorso and Sennori, around the hills of Gallura. Malvasia, may be sweet, but it is perhaps most impressive dry wine, from the town of Bosa and the Planarigia hills, on the western side of the island, as well as under the Cagliari DOC. Still other refined sweet white is Semidano DOC from the town of Mogoro.

A distinguished Sardinian wine is Vernaccia di Oristano. Grown around the town of Oristano, it becomes a Sherry-like amber wine with a rich array of nuances and bouquet and flavor.

A popular white variety is Nuragus, which is believed to have been brought ther by the Phoenicians. Nuragus is the source of modern dry white. Clean and crisp in flavor.

The island’s important red varieties are Cannonau, a relative of Granacha, brought from Spain, and Carignano and Monica, also of Spanish origin. Cannonau and Monica can be dry or sweet, though trends fovor the dry type, toned down in strength.

Vineyards in the rugged eastern coastal range around Nuoro are noted for rich, red Cannonau. Cannonau also makes a fine sweet wine, which can be reminiscent of Port. In addition to it’s 20 wines DOC and DOCG, Sardinia has 15 IGTs, the most of any region.

Wines of North East Italy

Author: danielem  //  Category: Wine View

 Auronzo Dolomites

Veneto Region has many great wines both reds and whites. Venice’s Region has solidified its position as Italy’s largest producer and exporter, as well as the leader in volume of classified wines. Verona region produces the well-known trio of Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella, plus the very popular bubbly of Prosecco. Since DOC/DOCG represent a third of production. Veneto also produces and exports a good quantity of IGT wines, often at modest prices.

Veneto has three main area of production of premium wines: the Western province of Verona in the hills near Lake Garda and the town of Soave; the Central hills in the province of Vicenza, Padova and Treviso; the Eastern plains of the piave and Tagliamento river basin along the Adriatic coast northeast of Venice. Four of the top ten wines in the DOC/DOCG appellation are found in Veneto by volume: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene (Prosecco) fourth, soave fifth, Valpolicella sixth and Bardolino tenth.

Verona’s classic wines are made with native vines Soave. It is usually dry and still, though sparkling and sweet Recioto versions are also recommended. Soave Superiore and Recioto di Soave have been promoted to DOCG, while regular Soave remains DOC.

Valpolicella made from a blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes, is a hearty red to drink young. Grapes from the vineards in the hills north of Verona can be partly dried and made into the richly dry Amarone della Valpolicella or the opulently sweet Recioto della Valpolicella, both DOCG.

Amarone, amply structured red is long to the palate, is one of the favorite wines for aging the world over. Valpolicella Ripasso is a new DOC wine and is produced by the Ripasso Method, by which Valpolicella is fermented a second time with the pomice of Amarone oe Recioto to gain body and strength.

Bardolino, made from the basic grapes of Valpolicella grown along the shores of Lake Garda, is enviably easy to drink, whether in the red Superiore DOCG or the deep pink Chiaretto version. Treviso province is the source of the very popular Prosecco wine. Noe DOCG, a Cornegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco is a dry to softly sweet white, almost always bubbly, whether frizzante or fully spumante. A refined version of Prosecco from the hills near Valdobbiadene is known as Superiore di Cartizze.

To help build the supply for a wine much in demand, Prosecco DOC has been created in parts of Veneto and nearby Friuli. Producers of Prosecco have used their experience with sparkling wine, to build a market with Pinots and Chardonnay, made either by tank fermentation or the Metodo Classico , fermentation in the bottle.

Merlot and Cabernet Franc, have been the workhorse varieties of central and eastern Veneto for decades, often in light and easy wines to drink young. But some producers blend the two, increasingly with Cabernet Souvignon, and age the wines in barrels to develop great style and complexity.

Pinot Grigio, Souvignon, and Chardonnay continue to gain ground, often in youthfully fruity versions  but also as oak-aged wines of dept. Veneto shares six DOC zones with other regions: Garda, Lugana and San Martino della Battaglia with Lombardy, Lison-Pramaggiore and Prosecco with Friuli and Valdadige with Trentino. Once a year Verona hosts the largest wine expo in Italy called Vinitaly.

Recent Wine Tasting

Author: danielem  //  Category: Wine View

On May 9th, 2013, I had the opportunity to meet several Wine Producers from region Trentino in the Uppermost North-Western Region of Italy bordering Austria. The event took place at the Astor Center, Downtown, West Village, New York  City.

I was impressed with the quality of denomination TrentoDoc “Sparkling Wines”, made with  “Metodo Classico” (Classic Method), with fermentation in the Bottle.

I met several Managers of local Wineries (Azienda Agricola) where they produce fine wines without chemicals, therefore these are ‘ Organic’.

I was especially impressed by the ‘Spumante’ wine produced by Azienta Agricola  MASO MARTIS of Martignano, Trento. They had six TrentoDoc to choose from. Mostly ‘Brut’ (Dry), but not too dry. They are produced with Metodo Classico, consisting of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Nero, ageing 24 months in bottle , with alcohol content of 12.50%.

They have a Maso Martis Brut Rose’. with 100% Pinot Nero, ageing 24 months, a little on the ‘sweet side  and a Maso Martis Brut Riserva  70% Pinot Nero, 30% Chardonnay ageing 52/60 Months before release. It tasted great, with hints of fruit and aromas. To top it all, a Madame Maris rare vintage, 70% Pinot Nero, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier. A great taste culmination to a day full of activities.

The Reds of TrentoDoc are all made with indigenous Vines, like Teroldego Rotaliano e Lagrein, Marzemino, Nosiola, and others. They are strictly wines Doc. Very well made with modern techniques, and a superb taste of  ’Chestnuta’ and ‘Frutti di Bosco’.

I was very much impressed with the quality of these wines grown at altitudes of 600 meters at the foothills of Italy’s Rockies, the Dolomiti Mountains.

UPDATE :

Lagrein: A full-bodied red wine with a pleasant and stimulating taste, thanks to its continously evolving bouquet, with hints of wild berries and spicey flavours. An ideal wine to pair with strong dishes.

Merlot: A great mouth-filling red wine, full bodied with balanced fragrances and flavours. Round and mellow. Strong and delicate. A wine for great occasions.

Pinot Nero: Bright ruby red colour with fragrances of morello cherries and smoked meat. Pleasantly sharp with ann elegant and pleasant taste. Aged for a few months in small wooden casks and bottled when still very young.
Cabernet: Obtained by fermenting cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc grapes together. It is a generous wine with a strong personality for its garnet red colour, and for its rich bouquet with green and herbaceus notes. Recommended for roasted red meats, game dishes and aged cheeses.
Chardonnay: White wine, with bouquet and taste of mountain apples, the pride of trentino farming. A bouquet of exotic fragrances, with a hint of vanilla. A full aftertaste remind you of fragrances of freshly picked fruit.
Pinot Bianco: Elegantly aromatic, smooth and lively. A delicious aperitif. Its aromatic qualities make it ideal wine for pairing with fish and white meats dishes.

Pinot Grigio: A dry crispy scented white wine, with intense and full flavours, with taste of apples and fruits. Ideal for aperitif. when young. At all times it is ideal to accompany a whole meal. Serve chilled.

Muller Thurgau: A white wine slightly spiced, evoking wild grasses. Floral on the finish, evoking hints of jasmine. It has a strong aromatic structure and should be uncorked while still young. Serve chilled.

Moscato Giallo:A  fresh aromatic and fruity white wine. It is balanced and armonious. Serve chilled.

Gewurztraminer: Aromatic white wine par excellence. With a deep yellow colour and golden highlights. To the nose an intense fragrance of incense and rosehip. A finish with notes of tropical fruits. Smooth and pleasing to the palate. An ideal aperitif wine. It also goes well with gourmet pastries. Serve chilled.

Teroldego Rotaliano DOC : A lively red wine with an intense ruby red colour and purple nuances. The nose offers a pleasing fuity bouquet, with rasberry and wild fruit notes. On the palate it is dry and savoury.

Trenti and Alto-Adige, the region on the North-Whestern part of Italy, near Switzerland and Austria, with its majestic mountains ‘le Dolomiti’, offers a quality production of good DOC wines, both reds and whites. Look for them in your local wine bar or liquor store and enjoy the taste of the ‘ Dolomiti’ !

Daniele Matteo, May19, 2013

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Daniele Matteo (right), with Wine and Food Institute (iwfi.org), President Lucio Caputo

Tasting Notes Gala Italia, NYC, 2014.

This February I had the privilege to attend the 29th Edition of Gala Italia 2014 held in the Grand Ballroom of the Pierre Hotel in New York City. It is an important event organized every year by the Italian Wine and Food Institute, the Italian Trade Commission, under the patronage of the Italian Embassy in Washington, D.C. and sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Development of Italy. Its mission is to promote Italian wines and food of Italy in North America!

There were many exhibitors present straight from Italy. Others were represented by their Agents here in the U.S. Following is a list of wines I sampled, and a brief tasting note for each.

Sassoalloro, IGT Rosso Toscano 2009 –  This dry, medium-bodied wine had a clear ruby-red color, a distinct aroma and a smooth taste of wild berries, with a pleasant finish.

Brunello di Montalcino DOC, 2008 – A full-bodied wine made from sangiovese grapes. Deep red color and nice buquet, but still too young, since it is packed with fruit that with aging will develop into layers of rich, complex, smoky-spicy fruit flavors!

Terralba, Bianco 2012 – Made from Tocai and Rondinella grapes in the Veneto Region near Padova. Nice strw color, flowery fragrances and citrus aromas. It was awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury.

Terraforte, Rosso 2009.- A blend of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes. Full-bodied. Ruby red color. Pleasant fragrances, rich aromas, with hints of dried fruits!

Chianti Classico DOCG, il Picchio Riserva 2009 – I was impressed by this wine.Dry, great color, with distinct aromas and a pleasant aftertaste.

Teroldego Rotaliano DOC, Riserva 2007 – It was awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. A well-balanced wine. Good structure. Dry with hints of dry fruits. Nice buquet and a smooth finish.

“Quaranta”, Nero D’Avola 2012.- Awarded with the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. It is a dry well-balanced winewith hints of fruits. Nice aromas and pleasant finish.

Rubesco Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG, 2007 – It also won the “Certificate of Merit ” by the Jury. The winning blend of Sangiovese and Canaiolo grapes imparts this wine a dry, full-bodied wine with pleasant aromas and a pleasant aftertaste.

Duca D’Atene, Negroamaro, DOC Salento 2007 – Awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. This is a dry, full-bodied wine with a ruby red color, with pleasant fragrances and a balanced finish.

I was also impressed by two  wines from Sardinia :

La Cala Vermentino di Sardegna DOC, 2012 – A straw-colored white, with flowery bouquet, citrus aromas, and smooth finish.

Cannonau di Sardegna DOC Riserva 2009.- Awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. This dry wine made from Grenache grapes, has very distinctive aromas and a pleasant finish.

Secco Bertani Valpolicella Valpantena DOC, 2011- Also won the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. A combo of Corvina and Rondinella grapes, made by the Ripasso Method, where dry grapes are added to new wine. It depicted a dry full-bodied wine, with bouquet of dried fruita, with distinct aromas and a balanced finish.

Another standout was Alta Luna, Pinot Noir Dolomiti IGT, 2011. It also won the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. It is a dry, medium-bodied wine from the Italian Alps in Trentino. It is a well-balanced wine, with an elegant bouquet and a smooth finish.

I was impressed by two wines of Irpinia: Greco di Tufo, 2012 – A dry, pleasant straw-gold color white, with flowery bouquet, citrus aromas and a smooth finish.

Rubrato Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2011 – It was awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by the Panel of the Jury. It is a dry, full-bodied wine. Garnet color, with hint of tobacco and dried fruita, with a balanced finish.

There would be no event without some entries by Casa Zonin.

Zonin, Prosecco Cuvee 1821, NV- It also got the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. It is a blend of different grapes, dry, floral bouquet with a distinctive aroma of citrus fruit.

The other two entries who also got the “Certificate of Merit” by Jury are:

Feudo Principi di Butera, Nero D’Avola IGT, 2011, from Sicily, and Ca’ Bolani, Altrusio Refoso Friuli Aquileia DOC, 2007.  I can only say that the Nero d’Avola was exceptional, and the Refoso from Friuli had a great aroma.

Another Prosecco who won the “Certificate of Merit” by Jury, was

“Oro Puro” Prosecco di Valdoddiadene. Superiore DOCG, NV.- I also liked it. It wasn’t too dry with citrus aromas. Finally according to my notes ‘Consorzio Asti’ presented one “Asti DOCG 2013″, which won the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. It was excellent, in the tradition of Asti Spumante appreciated all over the world!

And at last, some very interesting proposition from the tiny island of Pantelleri, off the coast of Sicily.  Kuddia Gialla, Bianco IGT Sicilia 2011- As the name implies, a dry white wine, straw-yellow color, very aromatic and smooth finish.

Passito di Pantelleria DOC, 2008 – It was awarded the “Certificate of Merit” by the Jury. A superb dessert wine to die for! – Drink Up America! Salute!-(c) Daniele Matteo. Food & Wine Editor- 2014.

 

DrGrayBeard !

Author: danielem  //  Category: Wine View

Hello there !

This is my blog about Italian wines.

 I’m Daniele Matteo, Blogger/Wine Broker and this is my humble effort at blogging.  I am a kind of self proclaimed connoisseur of Italian wines. I am Bilingual: Italian/Spanish-English. I love ‘ la Cucina Mediterranea ‘ and Italian Wines. I love to cook, so a page has been dedicated to simple recipes of Italy. I enjoy the company of good old friends and I love The Beatles, Saturday-nite-fever, The Bee-Gees etc. Salute !

I love writing about Italian wines from different wine producing regions of Italy. In this blog, I will be writing about various kinds of Italian wines, grapes and  some methods used to make such great and fantastic wines.

I have been thinking about a website dedicated mainly to the great Italian Wines. So finally, I dreamed up this Website, in  which I will try to present my take, on various Italian Wines, my Wine tasting escapades , Wine producing  regions of Italy and the grapes, the processes etc., used for this.

Italy is one of the well known producers of premium Wines: Red, Whites, Spumante and Proseccos.

I really don’t have any specific favorite region to talk about. Each region, be it North-West, or North-East, Central, including Tuscany, and South: Campania, Puglia e Calabria, including  the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, has it’s own special wines and products.

I plan on blogging about each one of them, in due time.

Daniel.

 

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ITALIAN DENOMINATIONS; DOP; DOC; DOCG;IGT. etc…

I’ve been Blogging about Italian Foods and Wines for about one year now, and some of you faithful readers, still wonder what some terms mean when designating a particular product.

 Here’s a brief explanation of what they mean. Italian Government and European Commission give certain Designations to some Products of a specific Region. For example Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, is given DOP: which means Denominazione di Origine Protetta. Protected from counterfeit  mozzarella from other zones in the world. Also Chianti wines DOC: Denominazione di Origine Controllata. means ‘wine made from at least 85% sangiovese grapes in the town of Chianti, Florence, Italy. Chianti California is NOT Chianti DOC !

Similarly Brunello di Montalcino is designated DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata and Garantita. It is made with 100% sangiovese grapes, and applies only to the producers in the town of Montalcino, Italy. Also, Taurasi DOC, a red wine made in the Province of Avellino, Campania, with 100% Aglianico, grapes ! IGT, on the other hand, refers to many fine local wines da Tavola It means: Indicazione Geografica Tipica. Specific to that town! Vernaccia di San Gimignano was the first white wine to receive DOCG Denomination in 1966. Today thre are more than 350 Zones, designated as: DOC/DOCG, and IGT for wines and DOP: Denominazione di Origine Protetta for other foods and products!

 Although sometimes producers stray from the requirements and do incur penalties! Italy boasts thousands of vine varieties and producers like to plant Indigenous vines to make unique wines. These vines varietals are found only in Italy and nowhere else in the world! In Italy they are called Autoctone. Have you heard of Soave outside Italy? What about Trebbiano? Uva di Troia? Malvasia? Cerasuolo? Primitivo? Coda di Volpe?

 Italy also makes a great amount of white wines. They vary from light and fruity to Barrel-matured ones, which can last for years! Some Regions in the North are known for their bubbly wines. They can be lightly fizzy, fruity or the full Sparkling Spumante, known in France as Champagne! 

It is made in two ways:

By seal-tank Charmant Method or Bottle-Fermented: Metodo Classico Tradizionale! The consumers in America and other parts of the world may be overwhelmed with all these choices! This is where DrGraybeard.com comes in. I want to explain in plain English the nuances of the varieties of wines from each Region of Italy! The better informed you are the more you enjoy your selection!

Salute! Cheers! Cin-Cin!-(c) Daniele Matteo : Food and Wine Editor 2014.