Renzo Cotarella’s first love: Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala

“Firsts” are special. For Renzo Cotarella, CEO of Marchesi Antinori and director of winemaking, Cervaro della Sala might as well been his first child. Excitement, loving devotion, and emotional connection for this wine was clearly evident during a vertical tasting before a group of sommeliers and myself. “This is a wine which I really love, particularly because it’s the first wine I made,” says Cotarella. With that in mind, glasses upon glasses of Cervaro della Sala, which lined the table…

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Grignolino: The underrated gem from Piedmont

I was smitten. The first time I tasted Grignolino was inside the castle of Costigliole d’Asti in the Piedmont region of Italy. In the glass was this incredibly alluring light ruby-colored wine, perfumed with rose hips, violets, and flavors of crunchy pomegranate, barely ripe berries, and spice. The juice-inducing acidity of the wine made me want more of this freshness and this crispness that had an enjoyable tannic clench. Could it be that I was charmed by Grignolino because I…

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Blushing with Chiaretto

In and around the ladel-shaped Lake Garda, situated halfway between Venice and Milan in Northern Italy, every little town brings discoveries: a cluster of umbrella-shaded tables at the shore’s edge, a restaurant perched high above the lake with a wine cellar which once housed ice during the winter, a vintage lemon arboretum, flower-lined promenades, thermal pools fed by the mountain run-off and vines upon grapevines that produce easy-drinking wines that coincidentally suit the lake life. Lake Garda is a place where F.…

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Once Upon a Vine: Wine and My Amphibian Crush

Standing calf-deep, my rubber boots are suctioned into the slick, clay-rich banks. Twilight robs the colors of the day. The sky’s mercurial reflection shimmers on the vineyard pond and across the shoreline, a lone bullfrog tunes the others. Had I known these frogs were remotely symbolic to my wine discovery, I’d kissed each one until I found the prince.   But, they say to sustain an emotional connection to wine, one must kiss a lot of frogs – in other words,…

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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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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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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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SIP TRIP: Discovering Ruchè inside Castagnole Monferrato’s original castle wall

It was raining off and on as I walked along the ramparts behind the original castle of Castagnole Monferrato until I arrived at 62, the address of La Miraja and Eugenio Gatti, a Ruchè producer. When I first had Ruchè a few years ago I was immediately captivated by its alluring characteristics. It happened to be Eugenio’s bottling and since then I’ve tasted Ruchè from other passionate producers, which have only fortified my love for this wine.  Ruchè’s origins are…

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