Breakfast with Gaia Gaja

It was early morning inside Aria’s sunlit cafe, and before the server even could ask, Gaia Gaja said with Italian charm and conviction, “I know what I want  – coffee.” The charismatic daughter of Angelo Gaja –  the legendary, dynamic and inventive wine producer who propelled the Piemonte region of Italy into modernity – doesn’t come to Las Vegas very much. So when she visited in October 2017, we sat over Greek yogurt and seasonal berries to talk about her…

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

DISH & TELL: Gelato made with love

Can we agree that ice cream in its many forms is one of the most beloved foods on this planet? But, there’s only one other dairy-based dessert that can hold its ground against good old fashioned American ice cream. That is the Italian gelato. At Gelato di Milano (4950 S. Rainbow Blvd.) in Las Vegas, the cones are from a company in Rome that has been in the business of making cones since 1938, the pistachios are from Sicily, the hazelnuts from Piedmont.…

Continue reading

WINE: Raise your wine IQ with rare and affordable wines worth discovering at Esther’s Kitchen

It happens all the time. We get obsessed with a favorite wine and we end up ordering it over and over again. With a little sense of adventure, we can leverage our obsession with our favorites and use it as a springboard to explore. What’s more, newly discovered wines – whether they be old world gems or a new world up-and-comers – are bound to raise both our eyebrows and our wine IQ. When a wine list clearly states that…

Continue reading

Things of Beauty: Barolo Chinato and Valentina Abbona

Her appearance is as familiar as the girl next door. Yet, Valentina Abbona is bright, worldly, passionate and the face of the sixth generation of the Marchesi di Barolo estate. She and her family inherited a long-standing winemaking tradition of creating world-renowned wines. Overlooking the quaint village of Barolo located in Piedmont, Italy, it’s hard to miss the canary-yellow building finished with forest-green shutters marked in distinguished, large letters “Marchesi di Barolo.” The name is certainly rooted in history dating back…

Continue reading

Sauternes: France’s Sensuality in a Glass

In all of Bordeaux, wines can be compared amongst each other and even preferred to one another, but Sauternes is different. As one of the world’s longest-living wines, this sweet, sensual, richly textured flower-scented, luminous liquid gold is often underappreciated yet incomparable. The success of Sauternes depends on the microclimate in the southern part of Graves and a fungus that would seemingly be harmful to the grapes. Yet chateaux owners sit on pins and needles each season in hopes their…

Continue reading

Passopisciaro: Volcanic wines from Mount Etna

During a dramatic eruption in Sicily, fountains of fiery red lava from Europe’s most active and fearsome volcano, Mount Etna, spewed into the night sky last May, not far from the vineyards growing on its northern slopes. It is seemingly an unlikely place for producing quality wines, but Etna’s wine producers don’t dwell on the vicissitude of her unpredictable nature; they embrace it. Vines grown in the shadow of an active volcano are an inherently risky proposition, but they are…

Continue reading

Raisin Wines of Italy

Wines made from dried grapes are a centuries old tradition dating back to the Roman times.  Called passum, “raisin wine” was made from half-dried grapes which were often left on the vine.  In many ways this practice remains today.  The style of wine is produced in both in sweet and dry versions and central to this unique style is appassimento, the process which involves drying grapes in ventilated drying rooms through the cooler months. Intoxicatingly delicious, these wines are charming…

Continue reading

Collisioni 2018 shines bright with the Vino & Food Project

I saw a firefly for the first time in my life. While taking an evening stroll with colleagues after a sumptuous dinner at the Michelin Star Laconda del Pilone, as if like a miniature shooting star, the firefly appeared amongst the grape vines under June’s waning moon.  Quite literally, this was the spark that marked the beginning of my experience at the 2018 Collisioni Festival Vino & Food Project. More than 70 selected wine experts, writers, and importers, sommeliers from 11 countries…

Continue reading

Tasting the flavors of Piedmont

Piedmont, like other regions of Italy has a good problem.  Location. It’s because of Italy’s geographically varied landscape, the 20 regions are distinct in every way. Situated in the northwest corner of Italy, Piedmont is bordered in the north by the Swiss Alps, on the west by the French Alps,  and to the south, the Ligurian mountains. This unique isolation has served to preserve their extraordinary cuisine. Highly influenced by France, dishes are rich with milk, butter, cream, meat, and…

Continue reading