Daou’s Seeds of Hope

For brothers Daniel and Georges Daou of Daou Vineyards, the desire to find happiness was a result of a near-death experience. At the tender age of 10 and 14, they fled their homeland during the Lebanese civil war after a bomb hit their home. Yet, the times of rubble also marked the beginning of a life that they would learn to love … and share. “Not only did it create a desire to be happy, but it created a bond between…

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G.D. VAJRA: Wines Guided by Nature

Standing next to a glistening stainless steel fermentation tank in the cellar of G.D. VAJRA winery, Francesca Vaira draws attention to the stained-glass windows. While the design does not directly reference winemaking, it has everything to do with her family’s philosophy and style, she says. In the hamlet of Vergne, a few miles west and high above the village of Barolo, G.D. VAJRA is a pioneer among Barolo producers, established in the 1970s by Francesca’s father, Aldo Vaira. He had…

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Tasting Italian Wine: Toe to Leg Warmer

In Italy, where food and wine are fervently wedded, winemaking is an instinctive and magical mingling of heritage, culture, and tradition. Italy’s two million acres of vineyards are home to two-thirds of all known grape varieties.  Each wine bears a story and embodies a specific region; no two are alike. This kind of bewildering diversity seduces us to explore further and taste Italy from the top to bottom. As with any first course, bubbles are a starting point with Italy’s…

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From the endangered list to the wine list

Written by Kirk Peterson and Marisa Finetti Overshadowed by popular—even famous—A-list neighbors, certain grape varieties can fall to the background, even approach extinction. The celebrated versatility and hardiness of well-recognized grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay have also severely diminished diversity, both in the vineyard and in our wine glasses. But in the last half century, rare and indigenous grape varieties are being revived by passionate winemakers and conservationists who believe in their quality and potential, encouraging adventurous…

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SIP TRIP: The school of rocks in the Monferrato

Author Walter Alvarez said, “What makes rocks so wonderful is the fact that they barely change at all, and as a result, they… preserve the way they formed, whether a million years ago or a thousand million years ago.” In his book  The Mountains of Saint Francis he traces Italy’s billion-year geologic history.  Being a lite geology enthusiast myself, as I drove through the Monferrato region last spring, I imagined that this area was under the sea four to five millions…

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Ramen: Cult and Culture

A steaming, umami-rich bowl of ramen is an international symbol of cultural prowess of Japanese cuisine. It’s a celebrated experience which brings enormous satisfaction and happiness to many who slurp it up.  But the rise of ramen from the humble and historically unglamorous fuel of the working poor, to the international icon of Japanese culture took all of its 100 years to impact the world. And in its process, it’s garnered a reputation as an affordable and fashionable representation of…

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Darjeeling tea and why wine lovers drink it

A conversation with a friend the other day reminded me of my long-time favorite tea, Darjeeling. Why it hasn’t made a regular appearance in my cup as of late is something of a mystery, but I’ve been enamored with this tea for over 25 years. I came across Darjeeling at Rosallie, a French café in Las Vegas this week, and as I sipped it on that cold, windy morning feeling utterly content, I thought about owner Jonathan Pluvinet and how…

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DISH & TELL: Edible silk handkerchiefs and porchetta happiness

I’ve got one word for you.  Mandilli. OK, full name – Mandilli di Seta.  It means silk handkerchiefs (in the Ligurian dialect) and you know how they feel – soft, silky, supple, luxurious. Now imagine folds of pasta with the very same textures that is then generously loved with the most refined basil pesto you’ve ever had. The flavors of aromatic basil and almond gently pull through your spools of tastebuds like luscious, velvety ribbon, all to be enjoyed at The…

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WINE – Sip Trip: The orange wine powered by the moon from Bosnia-Herzegovina

While Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn’t produce a significant amount of wine, it does have a few thousand acres of productive vineyards situated mostly in the lower-lying areas between the Adriatic coast and Mostar. And located in the small town of Čitluk, a mere speck at the heart of the Bosnia-Herzegovina wine production, enterprising winemaking Josip Brkić and his twin sons produce wine made of native grapes Žilavka (white) and Blatina (red) that are not only as close to truly representative of the region, but…

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Sip Trip – What is it?

Ah, the sip trip.  It’s a phrase I’ve been using since the day I realized what an incredible opportunity we have to be a able to connect the juice that is in the glass to a place in the world where it came from.  It is virtual travel at its best. And why is this important? We don’t all have the privilege to travel the world and taste wine while standing on the very soils they come from. Short of…

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