Blogs

Bubble Head

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Italians have a thing with bubbles. A big thing.
 
France still consumes more sparkling wine, but in my non-scientific observations over 15 years living in Europe, Italians seem to enjoy it more.
 
Go to any restaurant or bar terrace on a warm evening in northern Italy and watch the endless flow of Prosecco, Franciacorta, other vini spumanti or frizzanti and spritzes. Italians don’t sip daintily at their bubbles or serve them in little flutes. Look at those generous glasses and see the way people seem to simultaneously swirl, drink, talk, laugh and gesticulate.
 
Some attribute bubble-mania to the Italian temperament.

High in the Dolomites: Martin Foradori of Hofstatter

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From a high slope on the east side of the Adige Valley that cuts across the Dolomite foothills, Martin Foradori explains some of northern Italy’s strangely un-Italian terroirs.

“My winery is built on two pillars—Pinot Noir and Gewürztraminer,” Foradori says. Gewürztraminer dominates on the western side of the valley, around the village of Tramin, which gets morning sun. Pinot Noir is more adapted to the eastern side. “The evening sun is cooler than the morning sun, so the microclimate is fresher,” he explains. “Here we are in Pinot-land.”

Pinot Noir? Gewürztraminer? In Italy?

Welcome to the Alto Adige, Italy’s bilingual Tyrolean stepchild, adopted nearly a century ago after World War I—and now known for some of Italy’s top white wines and intriguing reds.

Foradori, 46, is deputy mayor of Tramin (or Termeno if you use the Italian name over the German one), which is home to his J. Hofstätter winery. It’s a postcard-perfect village, population 3,300, that looks like it came right out of the Sound of Music.

Foradori is considered a gifted interpreter of the vineyards here...read the full blog at winespectator.com 

Life changing whites

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Terlano sets the bar high in the Italian Dolomites

In Italy, “wine cooperative” can be a pejorative, synonymous with grape-buying collectives that produce oceans of basic wine destined for supermarkets.

Northeastern Italy’s Alto Adige is an exception, known for co-ops that produce wines as good as those from top independent winemakers. Here, on the edge of the Dolomites, just six miles northwest of the regional capital, Bolzano, Cantina Terlano produces some of Italy’s most prized—and most historic—white wines.

How good? Since it began exporting its wines in the mid-1990s, this cooperative has released 73 wines that scored 90 points or higher in Wine Spectator's blind tastings. Something special seems to happen to white grapes—particularly Pinot Bianco—grown in the quartz-rich volcanic soils (known as red porphyry) at up to 3,000 feet in the hills above sleepy Terlano (pop. 4,200).

“It’s a different culture here,” says enologist Klaus Gasser, 48, who has been the winery’s public face for 20 years. He is maneuvering a four-wheel-drive up steep, narrow roads flanked by terraced vineyards and tidy, white stucco Tyrolean farmhouses. “It’s a little bit more organized. It’s the German spirit of taking care of the land.”

Indeed, the Alto Adige, or South Tyrol, was annexed by Italy from the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918....read the full blog at winespectator.com

 

Amarone Family Soap Opera

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The battle over who controls an elite wine name

“What’s in a name?” Shakespeare’s tragic-romantic heroine Juliet lamented, mournfully questioning the Verona family feuds that kept her from her Romeo.

Now, centuries later, the families of Verona are embroiled in another drama over a name: Amarone della Valpolicella.

The conflict began in 2009, when 12 longtime Amarone producers, led by Masi patriarch Sandro Boscaini, banded together to create a new elite confederation called Amarone Families (Famiglie Dell’Amarone d’Arte).

The Amarone Families—Allegrini, Begali, Brigaldara, Guerrieri Rizzardi, Masi, Musella, Speri, Tedeschi, Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Tommasi, Venturini and Zenato—signed a manifesto calling for voluntary higher production standards and creating a hologram sticker to identify their wines.

Wine and Punishment

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Prisoners in the big house serve top Italian wines and fine food!

Massimo Sestito knows how to put together a compelling Italian wine lineup.

As maitre d’ of one of Milan’s newest and trendiest restaurants, InGalera, he has carefully curated an 80-label list that is sprinkled with 90-plus-point gems and spans from Sicily and Calabria up to Barolo and Friuli and most everywhere in between.

Branding Vino

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How a hard-charging New Yorker helps drive Italian wine

When Stevie Kim dines out on her home turf in Italy, she shuns wine lists. She prefers to let restaurant owners surprise her.

 "I try different wines everywhere I go," says Kim. "For me, wine is something fun—it's not so serious." 

Kim is nonetheless a serious force in Italian wine as managing director of Vinitaly International, a global promotional vehicle for the country. When the 50th edition of Vinitaly—one of the world's largest wine fairs—opens on April 10 in Verona, it will bear the stamp of more than six years of her modernizing efforts. 

Just how did an Asian-American woman who grew up in New York end up as a leading promoter of Italy's vino?

"It helps that I'm not Italian and that I'm not a wine expert," says Kim, a tiny woman with a long black mane that flies about as she shifts from type-A New Yorker English to expressive and fluent Italian, complete with hand gestures....read the full blog at Wine Spectator

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