Tuesday, October 4, 2016

South American Gems: James Suckling's Great Wines of the Andes #NYC #winetasting

Highlights from Great Wines of the Andes, NY

Great Wines of the Andes, is another premium wine tasting event wonderfully curated by the trusted wine critic, James Suckling. The wine tasting experience features over 100 of the finest Argentine and Chilean wines, all rated 90 points or higher.  Over 50 wine producers, both big and small, in Argentina and Chile were featured, and participants were able to enjoy live music (Surhan Sidhu), delicious cheese, charcuterie, empanadas and great wine. According to Suckling, "something extraordinary is happening in the Andes."  He mentions that Chile and Argentina are making some of the most "drinkable wines."  He thinks highly of Chilean Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  He also maintains that Malbec remains "the ultimate communicator of fine wines in Argentina," despite several other excellent varietals.  The wines were enjoyed in a keepsake 100 Points Bordeaux Wine Glass, which is a part of the Lalique 100 POINTS Collection of stemware by James Suckling. The Great Wines of the Andes wine-tasting event is an excellent way to highlight just what that region has to offer. For 2016, the event is held in Miami, New York and Beverly Hills.

The Wining Hour & James Suckling
This year marked the third annual Great Wines of the Andes tasting event by James Suckling, and the New York event was held in conjunction with the premium wine retailer, Zachy's Wine & Liquor. Zachys Vice President, Andrew McMurray remarks, “The time to discover the wines of Argentina and Chile is now.” We couldn't agree more!  Zachy's, located in Scarsdale, N.Y., is known as a "true destination for premium wine and spirits tastings," and they also have an impressive collection of fine wine and spirits.

The Wining Hour's Experience at Great Wines of the Andes: 
While we tasted many incredible wines, here are the ones that blew us away:

*Achaval Ferrer 
These wines were produced with grapes from three vineyards to truly feature the terroir and varietal.

Achaval Ferrer Malbec Mendoza Finca Bella Vista 2013 (95 points)
The Bella Vista is vibrant and full of raspberry and blueberry fruits, both on the nose and the palate, with a persistent finish.

Achaval Ferer Malbec Mendoza Finca Mirador 2013 (95 points)
Mirador is smooth with blueberry aromas, and wild berries, spicy plum and black currant on the palate. These wines were both enjoyable, but we may have enjoyed the Mirador just a tad bit more.

*Bisquertt Family Vineyards 
La Joya Syrah Valle de Colchaqua Gran Reserva  2014 (91 points.)
This was the only Syrah we tasted that night, but it left its mark. The Chilean La Joya Syrah had savory flavors of plum, cocoa, boysenberry and tobacco.  Full-bodied and fantastic. Bisquertt calls their Syrah "savory and delicious." It sure is.

Carmen, established in 1850, was the first wine producer in Chile.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Maipo Gold Reserva 
(91 points)
This Cabernet Sauvignon Gold Reserva is very aromatic with notes of cassis, black currants and tobacco.  The palate is fruit forward, tasting of spicy, ripe black fruits.  Long, smooth finish.

Carmen Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Maipo Gran Reserva 2013 (91points)
Carmen's Gran Reserva is rich and vibrant, with red fruit and cedar aromas and blackberry and currants on the palate.  Firm tannins, complex finish.

*Bodegas Caro 
Bodegas Caro is an alliance between "two cultures, two families, two varietals, one wine."  The alliance is between the Argentine and French cultures, the Nicolas Catena and Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) wine families, and Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals.

Bodegas Caro Mendoza 2013 (96 points)
The Mendoza is 50% Malbec and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, with aromas of black currant and plum and black fruits and velvety vanilla on the palate. Smooth and full-bodied.

Bodegas Caro Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza Amancaya Gran Reserva 2013 (93 points)
The Amancaya Gran Reserva is also a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.  It greets with a fruity and floral bouquet.  This medium to full-bodied wine tastes of dark cherry, spicy plum, and chocolate that persists.  Tannic, but balanced.

*Concha y Toro 
Concha y Toro was one of the first to bring Bordeaux varieties to Chile.

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Don Melchor Puente Alto Vineyard 2012
(98 points) Don Melchor, named after its founder, is an exceptional, full-bodied Argentinian blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon and 7% Cabernet Franc. Aromas offer notes of currant, blackberry and cassis, while the palate is rich and complex, with layers of fruit, chocolate and spice.  The tannins are elegant and smooth, and the finish is unforgettable. It's what we call "the Chilean wine of the Chileans!"

Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Maipo Marques de Casa Concha 2014 (92 points)
Another great Cabernet Sauvignon.  Cherry, blackberry, blueberry and cedar on the nose. Smooth and smoky dark berries on the palate. Firm tannic structure, long finish.

*El Enemigo
El Enemigo, or "the enemy," is a reference to "defining the battle that's fought within."

El Enemigo Cabernet Franc Mendoza 2011 (93 points) 
El Enemigo Cabernet Franc marks the first we've tasted from South America. This wine is 92% Cabernet Franc and 8% Malbec, sourced from grapes grown in rocky, limestone soil. It was aged for 16 months in French Oak and 20% new barrels. Peppery, perfumed aromas permeate and tastes of black raspberry, strawberry and gravel please the palate. Silky and full-bodied.

El Enemigo Mendoza Gran Enemigo 2012 (97 points)
Meanwhile, El Enemigo Mendoza Gran Enemigo proves that Mendoza has much to offer in terms of excellent wine production. This wine is an expert blend of four grapes, all in rock, limestone soil: 73% Cabernet Franc, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 5% Malbec. Although young, this Bordeaux-style wine was awesome, with aromas of licorice and dried herbs, and a palate with blackberry, black currant and black cherry.  This wine is smooth, complex and balanced.  Excellent. Clearly, these are wines of character and substance, both in name and in taste. Both of these wines were absolutely outstanding.

Interestingly, Casa Lapostolle, the Chilean estate founded in 1994, also owns Grand Marnier. It's obvious they have excellent taste.

Lapostolle Valle de Colchagua Clos Apalta 2012 (96 points)
Clos Apalta is produced from bio-dynamically grown grapes and consists mostly of Carmenere (85%), with small percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aromatic notes of vanilla, clove and peppery spice.  The palate is smoky, chocolaty and herbal.  Excellent blend and balance. Although this Clos Apalta is awesome now, it has lots of time to mature and be even better.  
Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Valle de Colchagua Cuvee Alexandre 2013 (94 points)
There was just one delicious Cabernet after another.  However, this one was a tasty blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Carmenère and 1% Cabernet Franc, also produced bio-dynamically. You just can't go wrong with these grapes. Cherry and spicy plum on the nose, raspberries and cherries on the palate. Balanced and persistent finish.  


Rutini Malbec Mendoza 2012 (93 points)
100% Malbec.  Full bodied and all that a Malbec should be. Wild berries, tobacco and vanilla on the nose. Loaded with dark fruit flavors, like sugarplum and black cherry, milk chocolate, and cocoa on the palate.  Long, peppery finish.  

Rutini Malbec Mendoza Apartado Gran Malbec 2010 (93 points)
Apartado Gran Malbec is for the Malbec-lovers who want a little more.  Also made from 100% Malbec, but with grapes from three different Argentinian vineyards. An aromatic bouquet of red berry fruit and plum.  Notes of black raspberry, cherry, sweet tobacco and chocolate on the palate. Balanced acidity and lingering finish. This wine represents the style and diversity of the winemakers. 

Seña is the product of a collaboration between Eduardo Chadwick and Robert Mondavi. Only 700 cases per year are produced of this Chilean Bordeaux blend.

Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2013 (99 points)
A spectacular, expert blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Carmenere, 12% Malbec, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, all grown bio-dynamically.  This wine delights the palate with complex layers of juicy red and black fruit, oak and spice.  Pleasant and polished.

Seña Valle de Aconcagua 2014 (97 points)
This vintage was also tasty, but young. A blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Carmenere, 11% Malbec, 8% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.  Balanced, with a clean finish.
Eduardo Chadwick, Winemaker

*Susana Balbo Wines 
Susana Balbo was Argentina's first female winemaker.

Susana Balbo Wines Torrontes Valle de Uco Barrel Fermented Signature 2015 (93 points)
This wine happened to be one of the few white wines that we tasted, and we were happy we did. 100% Torrontes with floral aromas and tastes of honey, vanilla and lime.

*Viña Von Siebenthal
Viña Von Siebenthal is a winery in Chile that has consistently produced wines that express the extraordinary characteristic of the Valle de Aconcagua terroir for over two decades.

Viña Von Siebenthal Valle de Aconcagua Montelig 2008
This was the first our very first wine of the night...and boy, were we blown away.  "Montelìg is the
fusion of "monte" which is Spanish for mountain and "lìg" which is the native pre-Inca indian language for light. The mountains and the light are the most striking and moving elements of the Chilean landscape. The velvety, refined texture of the light against the aristochratic mountains of Panquehue are evoqued beautifully by Viña von Siebenthal's premium wine Montelìg."  Montelig is a blend of Cab. Sauvignon 40%, Petit Verdot 30% and Carmenère 30%, all oak-barreled for 25 months. This comes out in the velvety flavors and complex character.  

Viña Von Siebenthal Valle De Aconcagua Tatay De Cristobal 2011 (96 points)
This is a bold and mysterious wine that blends Carmenère 90% and Petit Verdot 10%. We love a good Carmenere! This one is superb, with delicious plum, tobacco and chocolate.  Smooth, ripe tannins.

Great Wines of the Andes was a fantastic way to taste some gems from South America.  Do you have any favorite South American wines?

Also see our highlights from Great Wines of Italy

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

Follow The Wining Hour:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Taste of #Washington State with Charles Smith Wines

Exploring Washington Wine Month with CS Wines

We all have our preferences (Italian wine for me) and tend to stick to them.  Sometimes, we are presently surprised when we go out of our comfort zone and try a new bottle, new winemaker or new wine region. August happened to be Washington State Wine Month, so for that month, we made wines of Washington the focus for #WiningHourChat. For the most part, everyone came to the table, or the twitter feed, with a different Washington State varietal each week.  For the most part, everyone enjoyed their WA wine and made plans to try other wines from that region.  We accomplished our goal!

Washington State Wine Region
WA Wine Map c/o Wine Folly
Washington Wine Country currently consists of 14 American Viticultural Area's (AVA): Ancient Lakes, Columbia Gorge, Columbia Valley, Horse Heaven Hills, Lake Chelan, Lewis-Clark Valley, Naches Heights, Puget Sound, Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, Snipes Mountain, Yakima Valley, Wahluke Slope and Walla Walla Valley. Yakima Valley was the first AVA, originating in 1983. Today, there are over 750 wineries in Washington Wine Country.  The main grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling and Syrah.  

Washington State is a premium wine producing region due to its ideal geography and growing conditions.  The sandy, gravelly soil is conducive for grapevines and fruit development and allow all the vineyards to be planted on their own roots.  The latitude contributes to lots of sunlight, which also provides optimal conditions for the development and texture of the wine. Although Washington is known for its Bordeaux-style red wine blends, it produces many tasty varietals.  In fact, Washington State second in the U.S., after California wine country, in terms of quality wines.

Featured Winemakers:

Charles Smith
Charles Smith, Winemaker
Charles Smith is a self-taught winemaker, who left a lucrative music career in Europe and returned to the States in 1999 to open his own wine shop.  His interest and passion for wine magnified and he released 330 cases of his first wine, K Syrah, in 2001. That was only the beginnings of a rocking winemaker.  In 2008, K Vintners was recognized by Wine & Spirits magazine as one of the “Best New Wineries of the Last Ten Years,” and as “Winery of the Year” in their annual buying guide. In 2009 Food & Wine magazine awarded Charles “Winemaker of the Year” and in 2010 Seattle Magazine recognized Charles as their “Winemaker of the Year.” Today, Charles produces wine under brands: Charles Smith Wines, K Vinters, Sixto, Charles & Charles, ViNO, Substance, Secco and Casa Smith. Formerly a rock band manager, Charles Smith made the switch to wine and continues to be a rockstar in the wine industry. 

Charles Bieler, Winemaker
Charles Bieler 
Charles Bieler is a winemaker whose initial time in the wine business was spent in Provence, France, and several years at Chateau Routas. He was and continues to be a supporter of the rosé movement. Charles Bieler produces wine under Three Thieves, BIELER Pere et Fils, Sombra mezcal and Charles & Charles.  Charles & Charles Wines are a collaboration between Charles Smith and Charles Bieler. The Charles & Charles portfolio includes a red blend and rosé from Columbia Valley vineyards. According to the winemakers, the bottles under the Charles & Charles label are designed with an abstract play on the American Flag, as "the labels showcase the intent to provoke thought of the future while honoring the past."

The Wining Hour's Charles Smith Wine Selections:

For our weekly #WiningHourChat in August, we selected and featured 6 of the Charles Smith Wines and Charles & Charles Wines:

2014 Charles & Charles Cabernet Sauvignon
This bold Cabernet is actually a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah grapes.  The Syrah was was fermented whole cluster (with stems) in stainless steel tanks with yeast and the Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested and fermented separately, whole berry (stems removed) in stainless steel tanks with native yeast. According to Charles & Charles, this wine was made using a "slow, small batch winemaking" process that "brings an intensity and richness."  The fermentation process of the Syrah leads to the dark fruit and spiciness, while the dense black currant on the palate comes from the Cabernet Sauvignon. Charles & Charles Cabernet Sauvignon & Syrah is a black-dark red plum in color and emits aromas of cassis, baking spices, herbs and violets. On the palate is spicy black currant, blackberry, vanilla and chocolate.  Full bodied with smooth tannins. From the first sip, this wine was smooth, bold and delicious.  This wine would pair nicely with roasted or grilled lamb and pasta dishes with hearty red sauces. Actually, this wine will pair well with...anything. While it is versatile, it is a rockstar on its on as well.  13.5% ABV.

I have been a longtime fan of Charles Smith's Cabernet Sauvignon.  I've tasted each of his 2007-2014 Cabernet vintages.  I have yet to be disappointed.

2011 Charles Smith Superstar Chardonnay
Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, unoaked.  Therefore, it does not have an oaky taste, but it does not have a buttery taste either.  Pale straw to the eye and pear, apples citrus blossom and saline on the nose.  This Chardonnay is not too fruity, but tastes of green apple, a twist of lemon and minerals. This crisp Chardonnay is just right for a spring or summer treat. It is light, zippy and refreshing with 12.5% ABV.  Charles Smith Superstar Chardonnay is nice as an aperitif, with salads, white fish, poultry and vegetarian dishes.

2010 Charles Smith Syrah
Made with 100% whole-cluster Syrah, this wine spent 40 days on skins in 60% New Oak and 22 months aged on lees in puncheons.  This garnet red wine has scents of tar, chocolate baking spice, dark fruit and lavender.  The palate is earthy with hints of ash, herbs, black olives, peppery red and black fruits and berries.  Charles Smith Syrah is complex and full-bodied with a smooth texture was smooth.  13.5% ABV

2014 Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling
While Riesling is not a varietal of preference for us, it was interesting to taste and see how it measures up against others we've tasted.  Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling received 89 Points from Wine Spectator, and received awards for being in the “Top 100 Wines” in 2014 and 2013 and “Best Value” Five Years in a Row.  Charles Smith's Kung Fu Girl is made from 100% whole-clustered Riesling barrel-aged for two months on lees. This 12% ABV white wine has a yellow-gold hue with a nose of white peach, green apple and lime.  The palate is long, with citrus zest and minerals.  Kung Fu Girl Riesling is light to medium-bodied with a fresh finish.   

2013 Charles Smith The Velvet Devil Merlot
Ahh, Merlot.  This one is made with 99% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Sauvignon that underwent whole-berry fermentation in 30% New French Oak, and 10 months barrel-ageing on lees. After observing its deep, ruby red appearance, floral scents, dark berries, black currant and clove tickle the nose. This Merlot is rich, with layers of coffee, chocolate, black and red plums and spicy wild berries on the palate. With 13.5% ABV, it would pair nicely with beef, roasted chicken, Cornish hens, soft cheeses or on its own. This Velvet Devil will certainly make people rethink Merlot, as it was a delightful surprise and reminder of just how good a Merlot can be. Charles Smith's Velvet Devil Merlot is just that, it's velvet.  Velvety smooth, medium-bodied, full of fruit and well-balanced tannins with a persistent finish. 

2012 Charles Smith Malbec
This wine is the yield from great growing season that produced many wines with structure and elegance-wines such as this Malbec. This awesome wine is 100% Malbec from Wahluke Slope, Washington.  The grapes were fermented whole-berry for 46 days on skins in 60% New Oak and barrel-aged on lees for 22 Months. It is an inky, dark, purple-red color with inviting aromas of blackberry, vanilla and tobacco.  This Malbec is bold and bursting with flavor. On the palate is spicy oak, red plum, blueberry, blackberry, baking spices and leather. This Washington Malbec is a good accompaniment for a juicy steak.  14.5% ABV

Although #WiningHourChat was celebrating all of the wines of Washington and shared wines from many different WA winemakers, it was great to see that I was often not alone in my feature of CS Wines.  Many in the group enjoyed these wines as much as I did.

What's next?  I am looking forward to trying CS Rosé, Eve Chardonnay, the Secco line and more from Charles Smith and Charles & Charles. Have you tasted wine from Charles Smith or Charles & Charles?

About The Wining Hour

The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)
For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

Follow The Wining Hour:

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sicily's Scorched Earth Wines at Gambino Winery

Tasting Volcanic Wines at Gambino Vini 

On a recent trip to Italian peninsula, we were able to spend some time in the south.  Having some root in the boot (Sciacca), we spent the most time in Sicily.  Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean to the very south.  Sicily has nine provinces: Palermo, Catania, Messina, Siracusa, Ragusa, Enna, Caltanissetta, Agrigento, Trapani. It's varied landscapes add to its beauty, charm and character.  Sicily has an amazing coastline (all the provinces have one, except Enna) and mountains, such as the volcanic Mount Etna. Sicily is known for its great cuisine (arancini, pasta alla Norma, caponata, italian ice, spumone, ) which has Greek, Spanish and Arab influences. The region is also notorious for its beaches, such as Cefalu and Mondello.  However, Sicily is not only known for its outstanding food and breathtaking beaches--it is also known for its wine region.

Although Sicily has 7 IGT appellations(Avola, Camarro, Fontanarossa di Cerda, Salemi, Salina, Sicilia, Valle Belice.), there is one DOCG wine (Cerasuolo di Vittoria), there are 22 DOC Appellations, with the Etna being one of the main ones. Etna is an Italian wine DOC which covers the slopes of the volcano.  The Etna DOC was the very first in Sicily, created in August 1968.

While there, we explored a few of the wineries on the Mount Etna Wine Trail.  However, we spent the most time at Gambino Winery.

About Gambino Vini:
Gambino Winery is a family-run winery located in Linguaglossa, Sicily.  Their location is on the northeast side of Mount Etna, and near to the Mediterranean Sea, which creates an ideal climate and soil for winemaking.  Here, wines are made with both traditional and sophisticated methods. Francesco Raciti Gambino, the Owner and Winemaker of Gambino Vini, insists that grapes and quality are their priority, not mass production.  Therefore, Gambino does everything organically. They do not use pesticides or sprays, and all harvesting is done by hand. Gambino explained their philosophy, that "wine=a mix of knowledge and generation," in which there is a combination of old and new, of experience with technology.

The vineyards and grounds at Gambino Vini
As Gambino Vini is located on the northeast side of Mount Etna, the terroir plays a huge role in the production of wine.  Volcanic ash and rocks facilitate prime conditions for the vines to absorb water and nutrients.  Mount Etna is active and is in an almost constant state of activity so its lava is able to transport nutrients to the plants. Therefore, the fertile volcanic soil is more than conducive for agriculture and the volcanic soils naturally contribute to the distinctive mineral quality and taste in the wines produced in this region. Moreover, the high altitudes help the grapes retain acidity.   Gambino maintains that, while their region is not always easy, it is an "interpretation made up of experience, contingency and long-sightedness."  Gambino Vini absolutely captures the essence of Etna and its scorched earth.

The Wining Hour's Gambino Vini Tasting:
After a tour of the winery and stroll through the vineyards, we sat down to talk and taste the fruits of their labor with Francesco, who was the most hospitable and presented a tasting fit for a Queen.  We tasted wine after wine, each one tantalizing and delighting our palate. We appreciated that each of their wines have names that reveal a history and characteristics about the wine. Along with an abundance of meats, cheese, olives, bread and more, here's what we tasted:

Feu d'O Sicilia Bianco (IGP)

This wine is made from Grillo and Carricante grapes grown in chalky, volcanic soil.  It was aged in stainless steel for 5 months. This wine is pale straw in color with flowers, melon and peach on the nose.  It was light and dry, with citrus bursts on the palate. Feudo, in Italian, means fief, which is an estate of land. This wine effectively expressed the earthy, mineral characteristics of the region and had 13.5% ABV. Feud'O Sicilia Rosso is also available. Clearly, we were off to a good start with our volcanic wine tasting!

Gambino's Winemaker & Owner

According to legend, Tifeo (also known as Typhon or Typheus) is actually the name of a giant, monstrous figure in Greek mythology who battled with Zeus.  Their dispute was over Zeus' imprisonment of the Titans.  Eventually, Tifeo was defeated and condemned to imprisonment under the island of Ischia.  Here, Tifeo could express his anger and let his (hot) tears flow.  These tears supposedly led to the natural thermal springs that exist there today. Ischia is another volcanic island in the Campania region.  However, the giant Tifeo was large enough to reside under the entire region between Etna and Cuma, linking volcanic activity in Campania to Sicily.  As indicated by its name, Gambino's Tifeo wines are the manifestation of scorched earth soil.

Tifeo Etna Bianco (DOP)
This Etna wine is made from Carricante and Catarratto grapes grown on the slopes of Mt. Etna, 800 meters above sea level. Carricante is the dominant grape used in white Etna DOC wines like Etna Bianco and Etna Bianco Superiore.  Tifeo Etna Bianco was aged sur lie for 6 months to extract maximum flavor, and then for another 4 months in the bottle.  To the eye, it has an intense straw color.  Emitting an herbal and floral bouquet on the nose, the palate is refreshing with citrus notes of green apple, kiwi, melon and a higher concentration of earthy, limestone minerals. Tifeo Etna Bianco is dry, acidic, and bright. 13%ABV.

Tifeo Etna Rosato (DOP)
What's better than sipping a delicious rosé to cool off in the Sicilian summer sultriness?  A volcanic rosé! This vino rosato is made from Nerello Mascalese grapes that went through sur lie aging for 5 months, followed by another few months in the bottle.  In the glass, Tifeo Etna Rosato is a pink, strawberry color with summer fruit aromas.  The rich, clay pot minerals are on the palate, along with watermelon and strawberry. Tifeo Etna Rosato is fresh, dry and crisp with balanced acidity.  It would work solo as an aperitivo and with other light fare. A very tasty rosato at 13% ABV.

Tifeo Etna Rosso (DOP)
This Sicilian red wine is made from Nerello Mascelese and Nerello Cappuccio grapes, grown in volcanic soil, rich in minerals. It aged for 12 months in oak barrels.  Tifeo Etna Rosso is a garnet color and very fragrant, with a nose of herbs, black plums, mulberry, chewing tobacco, dark chocolate and licorice.  Did we say that it is very fragrant? On the palate was spicy prunes, blackberries and candied red fruit.  This wine could certainly be a crowd-pleaser for any red wine lovers, and it will compliment most red meat or game dishes. 13.5% ABV.

Alicant Sicilia Rosso (IGP)
This wine is made from an awesome mix of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache grapes.  In fact, the Alicant, is the Italian name for grapes also known as Cannonau, and originally known by the Spaniards as Grenache. Alicant was aged for 12 months in barriques and minimum of 6 mo in the bottle.  Alicant Sicilia Rosso has an intense ruby appearance, with equally intense perfume of spicy, mature, dark red fruits.  Blackberries and currants accompanied every sip. This wine is full of flavor and well balanced with a lingering taste of almonds.  14% ABV.

Duvanera Sicilia Nero D'Avola (IGP)
A Sicilian winery would not be complete without a Nero D'Avola, Sicily's most important indigenous grape.  We gathered that Duvanera is a wine near and dear to Francesco, and a special wine it is.   It was aged for 12 months in French oak and 6 months in the bottle.  Duvanera is a deep ruby red, and is intoxicatingly aromatic with an onslaught of spicy dark berries, chocolate and vanilla tickling the nose.  The palate is caressed with ripened plum, blackberry, black currant and chocolaty leather.  Duvanera is definitely a complex wine with lots of character.  Well-balanced, with a long finish and 14.5% ABV.

Petto Dragone Etna Rosso (DOP)
Petto Dragone is actually the subdivision in which Gambino Vini is located, so this wine is their territorial namesake.  As such, it definitely represents well. It is produced with Nerello Mascalese grapes planted on volcanic soil at 800 meters above sea level and aged in huge oak barrels for 12 months and then another few months in the bottle. To the eye, Petto Dragone is ruby with hues of garnet.  An earthy nose of volcanic rocks, rhubarb and stewed plums. The palate is warm and spicy, with minerals, jammy blackberry, raspberry and plum.  Petto Dragone is fruity, tannic, smooth and medium-bodied. Tasty. 14% ABV

We enjoyed Gambino's wines immensely and were compelled to more than a few home with us. If you have you have not tasted volcanic, scorched earth wines, do try the aforementioned from Gambino Vini. Regarding their portfolio of wines, Francesco Raciti Gambino explained that it is "the small details that must be the expression of the place where the grapes are grown."  This was quite evident in all of the wines we experienced.  Our tasting and time spent at Gambini in Sicily was exquisite, exciting and explosive! The scorched earth, volcanic wines of Gambino Vini truly express the terroir in which they're from.

However, there is much more to discover about volcanic wines.  Continue the exploration with our crew:

The #ItalianFWT Crew Presents...
listed alphabetically by blog name
About The Wining Hour

The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)
For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

Follow The Wining Hour:

Friday, August 5, 2016

There's Rosé Under the Tuscan Sun Too!

Rosé from the Rolling Hills of Tuscany

With so much to eat, drink, see and do and such rich history, where does one begin when writing about Tuscany?! Tuscany a marvelous region in central Italy that borders Liguria to the northwest, Emilia-Romagna to the north and east, Umbria to the east and Lazio to the southeast.  It stretches from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea and consists of the provinces of Arezzo, Florence (the capital), Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa-Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.  Tuscany, specifically Florence, is known as the birthplace of

the Italian Renaissance and the home of many influential figures in terms of banking and finance (think The Medici Family), art and architecture (think Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo), science (think Galileo) and much more.  Several things make the Tuscan region a prime tourist destination.  Tuscany has the beautiful Duomo, Santa Maria Novella, numerous monuments, many well-known museums (Uffizi, Pitti Palace, Galeria Dell'Accademia) and houses UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Orcia Valley, Pienza, Pisa (Leaning Tower), Siena (Palio), San Gimignano.  The list goes on. Moreover, Tuscany is a major wine producer of some of the worlds top wines including Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, Vernaccia, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vin Santo. From amazing art and architecture and an unparalleled landscape full of rolling hills, beautiful beaches and the Cinque Terre, to wine, olive oils and truffles--Tuscany has it all.  Tuscany also produces Rosé.

Tuscan rosés, better known as vino rosato, are usually made from the native Sangiovese grapes. Therefore, the characteristics are very similar to Chiantis and exude huge red fruit flavors. Typical flavors include cherry, wild strawberry, raspberry and clove. Tuscan rosato will pair with typical Tuscan fare, of course.  It would also pair with melon, proscuitto, salads and paninis. There are three methods used to make rosé wine: direct pressing of red wine grapes for a short period of time, bleeding of the must (also known as the saignée method), and blending white and red wines. The amount of time the grapes are in contact with the skins dictates the color or the shade of the wine. As the shade differ, the sweetness level and type of rosé wine differs; some may be still, others may be sparkling.


The Wining Hour's Tuscany Rosé Selections:
We selected 3 rosés from different parts of the Tuscan region: Greve in Chianti, Siena and Bolgheri.

Cinciano Gotifredo Rosato (Siena)
I have enjoyed Cinciano wines many times.  Gotifredo Rosato is produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes, which make it a pink Chianti. The grapes are harvested manually.  According to Cinciano, this rosato is "produced from the younger vines and the aromas are preserved by means of cold. Thus it expresses very high finesse and intensity." Gotifredo Rosato is light pink in appearance and had notes of strawberry, peach and clay pot minerals.  This minerality is likely due to the fact that the vineyards are at 200 meters of altitude with southwest exposure and chalky soil, providing rich structure and a little clay.  This minerality is also on the palate, along with honeydew melon, and strawberry.  Cinciano's Gotifredo Rosato is a light to medium bodied wine with 13.5% ABV, that would accompany fish, chicken, salads or alone as an aperitivo.  Fresh, with a long finish.

Villa Canaiolo Rosato (Greve in Chianti)  

This rosé is from Conte Capponi in the Chianti Classico area.  It is made from 100% *Canaiolo grapes all harvested by hand.  The grapes were fermented in stainless steel tanks after 6 hours of skin contact. Fermentation lasts about eight days at a maximum temperature of 20°C. Villa Canaiolo Rosato a is light and refreshing wine that has a light salmon appearance and a nose of grapefruit and citrus blossom. On the palate were notes of tangy red fruits like bitter cherries and cranberry.  Villa Canaiolo Rosato would pair well with most things.  Fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes are good choices. Medium bodied, moderate acidity and balanced with 12% ABV.

*Canaiolo is a red grape grown throughout Central Italy but is most noted in Tuscany. It is used along with with Sangiovese and Colorino to create Chianti wine and is also used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Scalabrone Rosato DOC (Bolgheri): 

This rosé is from Tenuta Guado al Tasso in Bolgheri, which is on the south west coast of the Tuscan region. The Guado al Tasso estate extends from the Tyrrhenian sea to the inland hills.  This rosé gets its name from a Robin Hood-esq bandit who lived in the area in the 19th century and attacked ships in the port and canal of Bolgheri.  This rosate is made from 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 30% Syrah.  Each grape variety was harvested and cultivated to produce Scalabrone was fermented separately. The harvested grapes are then de-stemmed and soft-pressed. Next, maceration with the skins occurs at low temperatures for a period of three to five hours on the basis of the characteristics of the individual variety in order to obtain a must without astringent notes. Finally, the must is fermentated and aged in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks.

Scalabrone Rosato is yet another delicious wine from the Antinori family. This Bolgheri rosé has a bright pink color and aromas of cherries, raspberries and flowers.  The palate has a lingering finish of rose petals and raspberries. Due to the grape varietals used, this 12.5% rosé could handle beef, spicy food, mature and hard cheese and chicken.

When pondering how Italian Tuscan rosé compares to its worldly counterparts, we would say that it all boils down to a matter of taste.  Some enjoy the lighter, drier rosés, others enjoy more fruit forward rosés, while others prefer sweeter rosé wines.  Tuscan rosato suits us just fine.  

Have you tasted Tuscan rosato?
If you enjoy a good rosé and want to hear more about these pink wines in Italy, you're in for a treat....

Want More on Italian Rosé? Join us this Saturday, August 6 at 11am EST on Twitter at ‪#‎ItalianFWT‬‬ to chat about Rosé wines from Italy. Check out what our Italian blogging group has lined up for you:
About The Wining Hour

The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)
For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#ItalianFWT Raises a Glass to Italian Rosato-Check out a Preview!

Italian Food, Wine and Travel Weighs in on Rosé 

Our Italian Food, Wine and Travel blogging group (#ItalianFWT on Twitter) has been writing about all of the different regions in Italy and what they have to offer in terms of food, wine, travel, culture and more.  We have discovered many tasty bottles of vino, cooked up new, mouth-watering recipes to accompany our vino and uncovered lots of hidden gems and exciting places to travel in Italy.  This month, we are excited to take a closer look at the blush colored wine we know as Rosé, and Italians know as Rosato.

What is rosé and how is it made?

There are three methods used to make the pinkish, rosé wine: maceration or skin contact method (direct pressing of red wine grapes for a short period of time), saignée method (bleeding of the must), and blending method (blending white and red wines-very uncommon). The amount of time the grapes are in contact with the skins determines the color or the shade of the wine. As the color or shade of rosés and/or rosatos vary, so does the sweetness level. Additionally, a rosé can be still or sparkling.

Although Italian rosato is usually associated with Puglia, it is found all over the peninsula, in every region. Moreover, Italian rosés are made from many different grape varieties, as opposed to the same few that other rosé-producing countries use (syrah, grenache, pinot noir).  Some examples of the grape varieties used in Italian rosato production are Bonarda, Brachetto and Lambrusco in the northern regions, Nebbiolo, Canaiolo, Sangiovese and Montepulciano in the Central regions, and Negro Amaro, Aglianico, Bombino Nero, Frappato and Nero d'Avola in the southern regions.  There are over 1000 Italian wine grapes, so...you get the point!  

Therefore, this month, the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group are discussing Rosato from any region in Italy. It will interesting to see how Italian rosato compares to rosés from other countries, or even from one Italian region to the next. Since we also love to write and read about food and travel, we invite bloggers to share their stories on the regions of Tuscany or Puglia (since these are also rosé- producing regions).

So please join us, as our Italian Food Wine & Travel group weighs in on the rosés of Italy!

Join our Italian blogging group this Saturday, August 6 at 11am EST on Twitter at ‪#‎ItalianFWT‬‬‬ to chat about Rosé wines from Italy. Here's a Preview of What's to Come:
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla will share "Pizza con Patate + Cantina Zaccagnini Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Rosé "
  • Orna at Traveling Italy will share "In the Pink: Rosato wines from Puglia"
  • Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva will share "Summer Sipping with Italian Rosés "
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels will share "Around Italy with a Glass of Rosé"
  • Jill at L'Occasion will share "Rosé or Rosato? Is There a Difference?"
  • Jeff at FoodWineClick will share "Rosato: A Rosé by Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet"
  • David at Cooking Chat will share "Fresh Tomato Salsa Pasta with an Italian Rosato"
  • Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog will share "#SundayFunday With Tormaresca Calafuria Rosé #ItalianFWT"
  • Li at The Wining Hour will share " There’s Rosé Under the Tuscan Sun too!"
About The Wining Hour

The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)
For more information, please visit www.thewininghour.com.­­­

Follow The Wining Hour: