Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

Music and wine.

Music and wine.

 

 

Stroll through the vineyards at Il Paradiso di Frassina in Montalcino and the sound of Mozart soothes your ears. If you like Beethoven, Bach or Boulez, not to mention Miles Davis, Madonna or Motörhead, you will be disappointed. Musical variety is not the point here. The Sangiovese vines are given a permanent aural diet of Mozart, pumped through 58 strategically sited speakers, and nothing else.

Sound waves have an effect on the way plants, not just vines grow, according to winemaker Federico Ricci. “Low frequencies seem to have the biggest impact, and that means certain types of classical music. We are still experimenting, but Mozart seems to work best.” Even the most ardent lover of Mozart could tire of the great composer’s oeuvre, but not vines, apparently.

If you think this sounds a bit loopy – like Prince Charles talking to his hedgerows – Ricci points out that the Mozart vineyards are stronger are more resistant to disease than those where there is no music playing. Il Paradiso di Frassina picks the former as much as two weeks before the latter. “It gives us more flexibility,” he says, “and means that we can harvest our grapes when they are perfect.”

 

Read on …

Tuscany's Golden Coast.

Tuscany’s Golden Coast.

 

Now that the land rush is subsiding, the true worth of the region’s vineyards is being reflected in spectacular wines.

 

Map of the area.

Map of the area.

The Viale dei Cipressi offers an unforgettable journey to those who travel down its path. At approximately three miles in length—with 2,000 columnar trees on either side of the gently undulating avenue—it’s said to be the longest cypress-lined road in the world.

The road cuts a route across coastal Tuscany, from the shimmering Tyrrhenian Sea to hilly brush, slicing through some of the world’s most prized vineyards along the way. The strada provinciale starts at the octagonal San Guido chapel at the shore and finishes inland, at the gates of the medieval Castello di Bolgheri.

The Viale dei Cipressi represents a cultural, historical and environmental continuum by which the entire area is measured. But in spiritual terms, this glorious passageway leads to the Shangri-La of Italian wine.
Three-quarters up the Viale dei Cipressi on the right is the 42-acre vineyard of Sassicaia, named after the many stones (sassi in Italian) that pepper its gravelly clay soils. This vineyard lends its name to the wine that fulfills the enormity of Italy’s enological promise.

“We are all children of Sassicaia,” says vintner Michele Satta, whose eponymous estate produces Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Sangiovese. “It is the inspiration for all Italian wine past, present and future.”

That inspiration drives the exciting work underway in coastal Tuscany. Previously known as the birthplace of super Tuscans—a passé catch-all name for iconic wines made outside obsolete Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) regulations—Tuscany’s coast now bustles with a new generation of pioneering vintners.

From concept wines without roots (like the nebulous super Tuscan category), the region’s vintners now pursue wines in tune with their geographic origins comparable to the greatest appellations of Tuscany: Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The emphasis has clearly swung in favor of territory, territory, territory.

The 120-mile coastline that extends from the port city of Livorno to the postcard-perfect hilltop town of Capalbio is home to six wine regions, plus the island of Elba. Each possesses unique climatic and geologic conditions, grape varieties and individual wines.

 

Bolgheri
Ribot, according to many, was the greatest racehorse of all time. Undefeated in 16 races throughout the mid 1950s, the British-bred, Italian-trained “horse of the century” was owned by Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, of the fabled Marchesi Incisa family.

Banking on more successes, Mario created Cabernet Sauvignon-based Sassicaia in 1968 (the first commercially released vintage) in what started as a playfully competitive nudge at Bordeaux.

Since then, Bolgheri has undergone radical change. Despite the continued success of Sassicaia, the region is practically a newborn.

In 1985, there were just six producers that—like Ribot—raced to success as individual brands. Only when producers embraced the concept of territory, united behind a single Bolgheri identity, did the region hit its winning stride.

Read on …

 

Dante Alighieri.

Dante Alighieri.

 

A winemaking descendant of the poet Dante Alighieri is urging the local government of Veneto to tighten planning laws to protect Valpolicella from urban sprawl.

Count Pieralvise Serego Alighieri, the owner of Serego Alighieri, has said that the combination of lax planning regulations and growing population is putting the countryside at risk.

Along with other producers and environmentalists, he has presented the government with an appeal that demands an immediate freeze on the building of all homes, factories and industrial estates in the area around Valpolicella.

 

 

The appeal adds that as the population of the valley outside Verona has doubled in the past 25 years to over 70,000, the beauty of the countryside is at risk.
Read on …

What do you think, shall we buy?

What do you think, shall we buy?

 

As prices stabilise and Robert Parker prepares to re-evaluate 2010, Jon Barr, director of EF Wines, has declared “Bordeaux appears to be back”.
Speaking to the drinks business, Barr said that Lafite sales were strong again in Hong Kong, although he added that, “this may just be for the Chinese new year.”

Nonetheless, he continued: “It’s stabilised and people are getting interested again. Prices haven’t gone down, Liv-ex is showing some rises, I think it will be a good year”.

His comments come after a year when Bordeaux was subject to severe price drops as the market took a dip and as buyers branched out into other areas, notably Burgundy, Champagne and the Super Tuscans.
Read on …

Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Stellenbosch, South Africa.

 

 

Tradition snubbed. New picks from U.S.-based wine mag dominated by offbeat wine regions around the world

Bordeaux’s not on the list, and that’s one reason it’s interesting.

New York-based Wine Enthusiast Magazine has released its picks for best wine travel destinations for 2013.

The selections are notable for including offbeat wine regions around the world, from a castle in Puglia, Italy, to a university town in South Africa.

Other picks include: Danube, Austria; Vale dos Vinhedos, Brazil; Monterey County, California; North and South Forks of Long Island New York; and Willamette Valley, Oregon.

For each destination, the magazine recommends… read on

A good reason to celebrate!

Italy, number one!

Prosecco emerged as the wine favourite among shoppers in the UK at Christmas, with soaring sales of the Italian sparkler reported by Majestic, Waitrose and Tesco.

Tesco said sales of Prosecco in 2012 were likely to be double those in 2011, while Waitrose wine buying manager Ken Mackay reported it as ‘the biggest seller by far’ in a 23% sales surge for sparkling wine over the Christmas period.

Majestic chief executive Steve Lewis told Decanter.com that sales of Prosecco had soared by 55% by value in the last seven weeks of 2012, while Champagne sales were flat and overall sparkling wine sales rose 22%.

Majestic reported overall sales up 5.1% over the same period, with like-for-like sales rising 1.1% – broadly in line with the company’s performance over the rest of the year to date.
Read on …

Also read:

italian-wine1

 

 

The third of our 10-part analysis on Australian wine trends considers the country’s embrace of Italian grapes and newfound success with the Moscato wine style.

Although the planting of Mediterranean varieties from Greece, Spain and Portugal is in vogue, it’s the potential of those from Italy that really seems to be exciting winemakers Down Under.

Historically, as André Bondar, at McLaren Vale’s Mitolo, records: “Australia used to plant French varieties regardless,” but today growers are realising that many Italian grapes are more suitable to certain climates in Australia.

For Corrina Wright, director at McLaren Vale grower and producer Oliver’s Taranga: “Italian varieties in general are gaining traction because they have high natural acidity and a lovely texture and they are well adapted to heat spikes.”

Notably she has planted five acres of Sagrantino. “We’ve had it for 12 years and it’s hard to grow and low cropping, but produces wines with fabulous tannins.” She would like to plant white grape Greco too, she says, but has run out of vineyard space.

For many, Sangiovese elicits excitement. Coriole’s Mark Lloyd points out that he was the first to grow Sangiovese in the country, having planted it in 1985 in the McLaren Vale because, he recalls: “It was going to be the antithesis of big, sweet Shiraz.”

Read on …

Who needs the French?

Who needs the French?

 

 

Sales of Prosecco are outperforming Champagne at a number of the UK’s largest wine retailers.

Prosecco sales at Tesco are up 50% year-on-year, with the Italian sparkling wine outperforming both Champagne and Cava at the world’s largest wine retailer.

“What makes the rising demand for Prosecco even more startling is that until about five years ago it was generally only known by connoisseurs,” Tesco’s wine category manager, Alain Guilpain, told The Guardian.
Read on …

 

Also read:

“If you think about it, good wine, good sex — they’re both feel-good things.”

 

Natalie Oliveros poses in her apartment in New York

Natalie Oliveros.

 

 

There’s a good chance that you might recognize Natalie Oliveros, a.k.a. Savanna Samson, from her roles in such award-winning adult films as The Masseuse with Jenna Jameson, The New Devil in Miss Jones and Debbie Does Dallas… Again. (We’ll spare you the hyperlinks). But would you believe us if we said we knew her instead from her work with acclaimed winemaker Roberto Cipresso of Fattoria La Fiorita? Didn’t think so. Oliveros started working with Cipresso in 2006 and has since become a partner in the winery. The newest release, La Fiorita Brunello di Montalcino 2006, will be released in early 2013. She talked to us about her transition from adult film to Italian wine.

Have you always been into wine?
When I was still in the adult industry, I thought making wine would be a way to carry on a legacy, something my family and I could be proud of. But it actually brought me back to my roots. When I was a little girl, I made wine in the basement with my dad. My sister and I would take turns churning grapes. We would get in trouble because neighborhood boys were sneaking in to drink the wine. So, I always had an affinity to it.

Read on …

Sassicaia

 

The table wine that put Tuscan cabernet sauvignon on the map is now one of the most sought-after Italian reds in the world. Kerin O’Keefe reports.

Sassicaia is the Italian wine world’s rock star, and not just because of the unusual rocky soils where the wine’s grapes are cultivated. A rebel when it was first released in 1971, Sassicaia – like the defiant rock musicians of the same period – shook up the status quo and spawned generations of imitators.

It can also claim the title of Original Super Tuscan as it was the first of Tuscany’s renegade wines to break with the antiquated rules that governed Italian winemaking in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Although no longer a revolutionary, Sassicaia is one of Italy’s most iconic and seductive wines.

Sassicaia was the brainchild of Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted cabernet sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri in 1944, back when this strip of Tuscan coast – known as the Maremma – was a mosquito-infested backwater with no tradition of quality winemaking.

According to Mario’s son Nicolò, who has run the property since his father died in 1983, “my father loved fine Bordeaux and decided to try his hand at making red wine. He chose the first and subsequent vineyards not only for the right sun exposure and altitude, but above all for their rocky soils – unique in Bolgheri and Italy but similar to the gravel found in Graves.”

Sassicaia, a derivative of “sassi” – Italian for rocks or stones – owes its catchy name to this uncommon soil. Nicolò also points out that the original cabernet sauvignon his father planted in the 1940’s was not imported from Château Lafite, as legend often states. Rather, it hailed from 50-year-old vine cuttings cultivated on a friend’s estate near Pisa, which have long since been pulled up.
Read on …

 

Also read: