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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SIP TRIP: Beyond Santorini’s Blue and Whites

Striking and charming whitewashed buildings topped with azure-blue domes are perched on sheer caldera cliffs that soar out of the Aegean Sea. This is the Santorini that many people are enchanted by. But, to go beyond the postcard is to discover the true beauty and colors of this volcanic island. As the only inhabited volcano cauldron in the world, Santorini is already special. Sitting  half way between Athens and Crete, its crescent shaped island offers an astonishing array of contrasts.…

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