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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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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Grape harvest calls for a game of bocce!

While living in the California wine country, Mother Nature’s habitual tendencies became intrinsic motivators in our lives. We’d see the fuzzy little bud break on the first warm spring day, anticipate the coastal fog that would blanket the vineyards during the summer every six days like clockwork, observe our beloved chocolate Labrador Retriever quietly plucking berries off the vines. “Kona!”  Oh, how we loved that dog! We’d recognize the telltale rise of steam emanating from piles of fermenting pomace during…

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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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Whispering rosés and magic with Alain Riviere

We’ve had a passionate and stormy relationship with rosés. At one time we loved and cherished them. Then we lost interest and banished them, regarding domestic rosés as our grandmother’s tipple – cheap and sweet, in the shade of her “blush.”  And while sweet wine is still widely popular today, dry rosé from Provençe has created an international rosé wine movement unlike any other. So much that being seen with a glass of it elevates our reputation and announces our…

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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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For the love of Pomerol

One of the last things that Christian Moueix said to me at his winemaker dinner showcasing Château La Fleur-Pétrus was, “Love is never lost. It’s diffused in wine.” His sentiment would sum up the evening at SW Steakhouse in Wynn Las Vegas, where 20 guests gathered to taste his wines from the darling appellation of Pomerol. In Bordeaux’s Merlot-driven Right Bank, where Pomerol is located, wines tend to be more immediately seductive, supple and fleshy, next to the more rugged and…

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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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