All posts filed under: Italy

Sicily’s native grapes and the dawn of Italian wine culture

Archeologists researching the dietary habits of prehistoric Sicilians have discovered that wine was on the menu 6,500 years ago. The discovery made by a team of archeologists led by Dr. Davide Tanasi of the University of South Florida pushes the timeline for established viticulture in Italy back from the latter part of the Bronze Age (1600–1100 BCE) to the Copper Age (4500–3500 BCE). While excavating a site on Monte Kronio in the Agrigento province in southwest Sicily, Tanasi found tartaric acid and its salts both of which are natural by-products of winemaking on unglazed pottery dating to 4500 BCE. It’s believed that the Mycenaean Greeks established viticulture in Sicily during the Bronze Age but the discovery has unearthed a much earlier point of origin for Italian wine culture. Native varieties being trailed in the experimental vineyards at Donnafugata’s estate in Contessa Entellina. PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG As the history of winegrowing in Sicily continues to evolve so do the efforts of forward-thinking producers who are working to preserve the island’s native grape varieties. Sicily’s indigenous …

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Campania Update: Focus on Falanghina del Sannio DOP

If you’re keeping tabs on wine quality in Southern Italy with its myriad indigenous grape varieties and oftentimes limited access to distribution, this update on the Sannio DOC should prove to be useful. Through a combination of research trips to Campania and the opportunity to judge the Radici del Sud “Roots of the South” wine competition which has been held in different venues in the town of Bari, Puglia since 2006, it provides a look at the key factors for the region and a snapshot of wine quality.

Q & A with CEO Sid Patel, The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show

San Francisco continues to be one of the world’s most important destinations for leading players in the wine industry, so it’s no surprise that a major conference dedicated to the private label and bulk trade is making its way to the city on July 26-27.

Go with the flow

To filter or not to filter? You’ll find winemakers in both camps. But when filtration is called for, cross flow technology is proving to be the best case scenario for leaving wine sitting pretty. Although there are scenarios where older filtration technologies like hardwood cellulose pads or diatomaceous earth (DE) are better suited to the task, the minimal risks and considerable rewards of state-of-the-art cross flow filtration are readily apparent in the cellar and in the glass. “There’s a time and place for unfiltered wines,” says Gary Sitton, newly-appointed winemaker at Ravenswood Winery (Sonoma, Calif.), founded by winemaker Joel Peterson in 1976. “We view filtration as a tool that lets us guarantee the quality of our Vintners Blend and County Tier wines.” In an effort to work more sustainably in the cellar when filtration is necessary, winemakers like Sitton have found alternatives to crystalline silica-laden DE filtration, which requires workers to wear protective gear and to dispose of hazardous waste. “From a quality perspective, cross flow has let us move away from the use of pads …

Veneto Consortium Debuts at 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference

The Prosecco wines of Italy’s Veneto region, home to the country’s greatest concentration of winegrowing areas designated as DOC and DOCG, are charming the socks off consumers in mature markets like the United Kingdom and besting other sparkling imports in growing markets like the US. Bubbles from the Veneto may be trendy but they’re no “it girl.”  Their quality and appeal are definable and they’re not the only wine style that stands to benefit from the collective efforts of the newly-formed (IDVES) or Consortium of Italian Wine and Food of no less than 21 premium producers who have allied to promote the region’s gamut of wine styles. In a country that produces one quarter of the world’s commercial grape varieties and where the global demand for Brunellos and Barolos often outweighs their supply, the traditional wines of the Veneto have stood the test of time. The ancient method of appassimento which produces both dry Amarone and sweet Recioto wines serves as proof that although popularity may wane, quality never really goes out of style. As a …

Lugana’s Turbiana Isn’t Trebbiano

The gentle, rolling terrain and southern shores of Italy’s Lake Garda are home to a unique indigenous white grape variety—Turbiana. Mistakenly referred to as Trebbiano di Lugana, the Turbiana grape is a relative of both Verdicchio and Trebbiano, but it’s genetically different from both, and the wines
produced from it differ as well.

A Prima Vista

A prima vista [at first sight] is an Italian saying that typically applies to love, or—in our case—a first encounter with an Italian wine and its maker. A trio of producers from Italy’s pristine Alto Adige region—Tobias Zingerle, Martin Hoffstätter and Ines Giovanett—were in town for a masterclass led by Tim Gaiser, MS at Epic Roasthouse. “Alto Adige is a four-dimensional region,” said Gaiser, who shed some light on the Adige Valley’s diverse terroirs—white volcanic pryazinic soils of the northeast, glacial soils or scree around Bolzano, calcareous clay of the cooler southeastern slopes and the crystalized porphyry rock found at Cantina Terlano. Each producer addressed a flight of four like-variety wines that included current and older vintages: Zingerle, his own Kaltern Caldero Pinot Biancos and those of Cantina Terlano; Hoffstätter, his Gewürztraminer and those of Tramin; Giovanett’s Girlan Pinot Noir and examples from Castelfelder. Intensity, minerality and purity are hallmarks for these wines, with oak playing a secondary role. Gaiser remarked on the diversity of Pinot Noir styles as ranging from Volnay to Central Otago. …

Taking The Cure: An Age-Old Practice Serves Up A New Classic

  When applied to wine grapes and to beef, the artisanal process of drying to concentrate and increase the complexity of flavors produces a savory, umami-driven experience. While there’s no mystery behind the affinity between red wine and beef, Amarone producer Masi teamed up with local purveyor Flannery Beef for a tasting that elevated this classic to new heights. Staged at San Francisco restaurant Perbacco, Umberto Gibin’s long-running destination that serves as a home away from home for visiting Italian wine producers, Masi’s Rafaelle Boscaini and Bryan Flannery shared a few insights about their respective methods of air-curing and then let their extraordinary products do the talking. Boscaini poured a bold Masianco 2013 Pinot Grigio to accompany a seasonal composed salad and followed with two Amarone—a 2008 Riserva di Costasera and 2007 Moncenisio, a Molinara-dominant wine that ages in cherry—served with Flannery’s unique cuts of 20-day and 40-day dry-aged beef. The pairings were masterful in that they were utterly complete; the 2007 was better suited to the longer-aged rib cap, a cut formed from the outer part of …

Fanfare for Castello di Nipozzano’s Vecchie Viti

Story and photos by Deborah Parker Wong