Etna’s Hotspot: Benanti

Etna’s greatest great winemakers are fierce and passionate, working under Mother’s Nature’s unapologetic direction season after season, they remain steady ambassadors of their land. The winemakers of the Etna region of Sicily are a remarkably different breed. Resilient and courageous, they risk many of the climatic challenges, from scorching hot summers to untimely rain and hail, plus a decidedly active volcano – all in the pursuit of making some of the greatest wines in the world.  “The eruptions are frequent. I…

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Wine Field Study: Look down and taste Santorini

Santorini is already special. It’s the only inhabited cauldron in the world. Formed by volcanic eruptions, the crescent-shaped island, which sits half way between Athens and Crete, offers an astonishing array of contrasts.  Jagged rocky promontories and smooth downhill slopes meet the Aegean Sea. Arable land crawls with volcanic rocks. Deep ravines break up the scrubby plains. Native grape vines showcase their curious shapes, and the wine is unequivocally “Santorini.” What makes Santorini’s wines so special? We can start by…

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Sipping Tequila Terroir

Discerning drinkers know that Tequila is the spirit of a classic Margarita and that it comes from the blue agave plant. Furthermore, they can recognize the major styles: Joven, Resposados, and Añejo, for example. But then still other drinkers approach Tequila like it is wine, spending time learning about the history and terroir and how the soil and climate affect the final product in the bottle. As a wine lover, I can really relate. Recently, I had the opportunity to taste …

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Amarone: The taste of time and love

Italy’s illustrious Amarone della Valpolicella lends a mouth coating texture with an illusion of sweetness, yet the wines are fermented dry. Spellbinding, even magical, delicious, pricey and worth it, Amarone is the product of love and devotion that is inherently Veronese.

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Lugana: Lake Garda’s imbibable breeze

There is something enticing about Lugana. It’s the wine that shimmers with reflections at the southern shores of Lake Garda. A purity, a light, kissed by the sun, fresh and breezy, invigorating. A single sip begs for another. Even on this cool overcast December day, the crisp, dry wine from this corner of the world energizes the soul – mine especially – knowing that it may very well had its beginnings right where I was standing. For three generations, Le…

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Field Study: Tasting the land at Cain Vineyard

The drive was slow, steep, and bumpy. But, the rugged surroundings from the windows of the vintage four-wheel-drive vehicle eventually led to a clearing at the top. We emerged high above the fog line that morning. And, while carefully treading the peak which straddled both Sonoma and Napa valleys, Cain Vineyard winemaker Christopher Howell reached down to pull a weed firmly from the ground. “Here, smell this. It’s tarweed,” he said. Tarweed, a sticky, hairy plant with little drab beige…

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You Never Truly Drink Alone

By Kirk Peterson and Marisa Finetti Great wine is art that must be destroyed to be enjoyed. It is an anachronism, a vestige of another time, and another way of living. Vines are fussed and fawned over, cajoled and supplicated to give up their fruit for wine to then be locked away from the world, aging and changing and developing at a rate entirely its own. It presents an opportunity to taste the labors of people long gone, a bottled…

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Pairing Italian wine & cheese 101

Italy produces some of the finest wines and cheeses in the world. Separately, they are already delicious. But, as with any food and wine pairing, when enjoyed together wine and cheese, can elevate the flavors and take the tasting experience to a new level.

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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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