Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pregaming and Preparing to Plunge into Chiaretto di Bardolino

Previewing the Palate-A Taste of Chiaretto 

Corvina Grapes, Used for Chiaretto
Photo Credit:
Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC
Yes, preparation is everything, especially when it comes to wine.  The Chiaretto Consorzio Tutela Vino Bardolino DOC organized an amazing press tour to facilitate a closer look into this lesser known Italian indigenous varietal.  Chiaretto is a dry rosé wine produced primarily from Corvina grapes in Northern Italy on Lake Garda.  Production extends into the provinces of Brescia in Lombardia and Verona in Veneto.  As this was my first taste of this Italian DOC, I was very excited to taste the pink goodness! Chiaretto is light, dry, crisp and pairs well with a variety of foods. 

My palate was pleased with a wonderful preview of Chiaretto at a delicious Pizzeria in Lake Garda. Although many of these Chiarettos will be discussed in further detail in upcoming posts, here are some of the wines previewed:







Delicious Spicy Sausage Pizza and Caprese salad
Needless to say, these wines paired well with pizza and salads. Pregaming is always fun, and Chiaretto di Bardolino made the experience that much more enjoyable!

Remember, this was just an intro and a preview, so stay tuned to learn more about the keys to Chiaretto.

    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.­­­

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Chianti Superiore: A Wine with Many Faces #ChiantiExtravganza

Chianti-Taste one, taste all?


This month, the #ItalianFWT group decided to have a Chianti Extravaganza to further explore and celebrate....Chianti, of course!  We all know Chianti as the heart of Tuscany and the renowned wine region. However, there is much more to learn about this intricate wine region. The Chianti territory is vast and its boundaries are from Florence in the north to Siena in the south region and include Pisa in the west and Arezzo in the east.  To help manage the large area and to allow winemakers to attach wines they produce to their territory, sub-zone were established.  When referring to the vino, which is a red wine made predominantly from Sangiovese grapes, there's Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, Chianti Grand Selezione and Chianti Superiore, each of them having to abide by specific grape, territorial and aging requirements (See the chart and be sure to read the articles from my fellow bloggers!) Despite my regular and frequent visits, I am enlightened and awed each time. As we all took different directions for this Chianti Extravaganza, I want to draw more attention to Chianti Superiore DOCG.
Chianti Wine Classification
Photo Credit: Wine Folly

What is Chianti Superiore?

Chianti Superiore are DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wines that have been authorized since 1996.  Chianti Superiore is produced under strict regulations, as (1) it can only be produced from grapes cultivated in any of the Chianti sub-zone wine areas (except for the Classico sub-zone), (2) the wines must be aged for nine months, three of which must be in bottle before being released and (3) vineyards registered in Chianti sub-zones, outside of those in Classico, must omit the sub-zone name on the label. 
Map of Chianti and the Sub-Zones

Where in Chianti is Chianti Superiore produced?

Chianti Superiore wine is produced in eight sub-zones across the Tuscan provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. The sub-zones are: Colli Fiorentini, which stands for Florentine Hills, north of Florence; Montespertoli, which is southwest of Florence and within the Colli Fiorentini sub-zone; Chianti Rufina northeast of Florence; Classico, which is literally in the center of Chianti in the provinces of Florence and Siena; Colli Aretini in the province of Arezzo to the east; Colli Senesi south of Chianti Classico in the province of Siena, which happens to be the largest of the sub-zones and includes the Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano areas; Colline Pisane, in the province of Pisa to the west and Montalbano in the northwest part of the zone within the provinces of Prato, Pistoia and Firenze.

The Wining Hour Tasting of Chianti Superiore DOCG: 


3 Chianti Superiore DOCG Wines

We did a pound for pound, bottle for bottle, wine for wine comparison, as it were, of three Chianti Superiore wines from different sub-zones. We tasted Fattoria Fibbiano Chianti Superiore (Colli Pisane), Banfi Chianti Superiore (Colli Senesi) and Ruffino Chianti Superiore (Colli Senesi). Here's our findings: 




Fattoria Fibbiano Casalini Chianti Superiore DOCG (Chianti Colli Pisane)
Colline Pisane is the sub-zone west of Florence in the province of Pisa.  The region is a hilly area that is closer to the Mediterranean sea than most of the other sub-zones. This location contributes to a more moderate climate with warm sea breezes. Moreover, the Pisane area soil is in rich on fossil shells, composed of limestone-based clay and shale, as it was a seabed millions of years ago. The soil drains well and is very conducive to wine-growing. This was certainly manifested in Fattoria Fibbiano's Chianti Superiore. I had the pleasure of visiting this winery in the summer and was able to see and taste the fruits of their labor and the Chianti Pisane terroir.    
Vineyards at Fattoria Fibbiano
Terricciola, Chianti Colli Pisane


Casalini is produced from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo grapes grown in mainly clay soil. After harvesting and fermentation, the wine is aged for 8 months in Slavonian oak barrels where malolactic fermentation occurs, and then bottled to age for at least another 3 months.  Fattoria Fibbiano's Casalini Chianti Superiore is ruby red in color with intense aromas of cherry, raspberry and blackberry. The palate is full of dark, ripe berries, vanilla and spice. The earthy, clay pot notes are evident as well. As some Chianti wines can be quite light-bodied, Fibbiano's Chianti is more full-bodied, with a great layering of flavors, elegant tannins and a persistent finish. Casalini Chianti Superiore was enjoyed with a delicious rib-eye steak.  Other red meats, pasta and ripe cheese would be good accompaniments. 



Banfi Chianti Superiore DOCG (Chianti Colli Senesi)
Chianti Colli Senesi, in the province of Siena, is the largest of the sub-zones as it includes the southwestern part of Chianti Classico, far north to San Gimignano, and the areas of Montepulciano and Montalcino.  As this zone is so large and diverse, the climate and soil also varies. Parts of the terroir reach to about 1000ft (300m) above sea level, providing abundant sunshine and cooling. Other parts are influenced by the Mediterranean sea. The soils tend to be sandy clay that drain well.   


Castello Banfi is located in between the Orcia and Ombrone rivers in Montalcino. Their Chianti Superiore is made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo Nero grapes grown in Calcerous soil with a mixture of sand and clay.  After maceration and fermentation, the wine is aged in French oak barriques. Banfi's Chianti Superiore is an intense ruby red color, with fruit forward aromas and floral notes. Delicious violet, cherry, plum and red berries explode in the mouth. The oak contributes to the spicy fruit and tobacco flavors on the palate, along with vibrant acidity and structure. 
This made a great match for my lasagna.

As per Banfi, their Chianti Superiore is "crafted to the meticulous profile of our estate, is pleasingly smooth and satisfying with its clean and distinctive flavors."

Ruffino Ruffino Castello del Trebbio Chianti Superiore DOCG (Colli Senesi)
Athough another wine from the Chianti Colli Senesi sub-zone, Ruffino is very different. The location is different, the soil is different, the wine is different. First, Ruffino should not be confused with the Rufina sub-zone.  Ruffino is a huge, well-known winery in Monteriggione, Siena. "Ruffino was among the first wineries to rediscover the Chianti Superiore appellation, which forms the perfect bridge between simpler Chianti DOCGs and more complex, deeper Chianti Classicos."  Ruffino's Chianti Superiore is made from 70% Sangiovese blended with 30% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grown in moderate clay and galestro rock soil. Following fermentation, this wine is aged in concrete and stainless steel vats and then the bottle. Ruffino Chianti Superiore is ruby in color, with more violet hues.  It has fruity aromas with blackberries, plum, cherries and blueberries on the palate. This Superiore is light to medium-bodied and well-structured. This wine would also go with lasagna, other pasta dishes and antipasto.  


Why Chianti Superiore or Chianti at all?

We tasted three very different bottles of Chianti Superiore. One was more rich and earthy, one more fruit forward and the other, aged in stainless steel, is more of a medium-bodied wine with darker fruit. It is clear that not all Chiantis taste the same.  Regardless of whether they are from the same sub-zone or from wineries adjacent to one another, each Chianti comes with its own character.  There are so many factors that impact wine production, including producer preferences and specialties, aging, cultivation and fermentation methods, amount of sun, level of elevation, and of course, the soil.  Different terroir results in different tastes.  In fact, we know that every vintage does not even taste the same!  I have been to many wineries throughout Chianti and its sub-zones.  They all have something different to offer. Each winemaker is able to reveal a different face, or should we say a different taste? Some Chiantis are more fruit forward, others more herbaceous, and others are chock-full of minerals and earth.  The versatile characteristics of Chianti across the region and sub-zones can be likened to family members who all bear a resemblance to each other, yet each one has their own distinctive characteristics.  Chianti is truly a wine with many faces. many personalities, many tastes.  One can be pleasantly surprised by the diverse characteristics embodied by this region. This makes Chianti a prime region to spend more time and explore.  After all, tasting one Chianti is NOT tasting them all!

What has been your experience with Chianti? Read on for more.

Join our Italian Food Wine and Travel group on Saturday Oct. 7 at 10am CDT on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. We'll all be posting and chatting, join us! Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter Saturday morning! See what our Italian Food Wine & Travel Enthusiasts have to offer:
  • Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy shares "Chianti of Terricola with Fattoria Fibbiano"
  • Nicole at Somms Table shares "Cooking to the Wine: Borgo Scopeto Chianti Classico with Italian Meatloaf & Pasta Pomodoro"
  • Jane at Always Ravenous shares "Classic Tuscan Ragù Paired with Chianti"
  • Li at The Wining Hour shares "Chianti, A Wine with Many Faces"
  • Jill at L'Occasion shares "Chianti Lessons"
  • Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares "Rolling the Dice on a 1979 Chianti Rufina"
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares "Experience Chianti Classico with Montefioralle"
  • Katarina from Grapevine Adventures shares "Collaboration, Passion, and Tradition Makes You Stronger - Vignaioli di Radda"
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares "A Glass of Chianti & Dreams of Porchetta"
  • Gwen at Wine Predator shares "Chianti: Beyond the Straw Bottle"
  • Susannah at Avvinare shares "Wines from Chianti Colli Fiorentini - Worthy of Our Attention"


  • 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.­­­

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Taste and Talk: Organic and Biodynamic Wines at Ehlers Estate

Our Experience with #EhlersLove

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate
Earlier this year (yes, I'm a little late), #WiningHourChat decided to feature some organic, biodynamic and sustainable wineries.  Ehlers Estate, located in St. Helena California, of course, was a priority. "The story of Ehlers Estate is one of passion, patience, and hard work, intertwined like the tendrils of robust vines that have been part of the landscape here since the mid-1800s." We could not wait to hear more about their story.

We were able to converse with Elizabeth Smith, the social media and wine club manager at Ehlers Estate. It was a basic Q & A format with the winery and our #WiningHourChat participants.  Here's a recap of what we learned: 

WiningHourChat: Can you please share a little about the history of Ehlers Estate and the winery itself?

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate
Ehlers Estate: The Estate was Founded in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers. It changed hands a few times due to bootleggers during Prohibition! A century later, Jean and Sylviane Leducq culled together a 42-acre estate, including the original Ehlers Estate. It took the Leducqs 14 years to put together today's estate. We have 39 acres planted and also an olive grove. The olive grove also dates back to 1886 and still produces fruit for our estate olive oil. We are biodynamic and certified organic. We do not source fruit or outsource work. Everything is done in-house. Although this is more expensive, it is a natural approach to wine-growing. 

Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate
WiningHourChat: Wow, that's fantastic! I know the natural approach is no easy feat.  What are some of Ehlers biodynamic farming practices?

Ehlers Estate: We are 100% organic. So, use of biodynamic preps in the vineyard (#500 the horn manure and the #501 silica), timing of our vineyard practices with the #biodynamic calendar, creating our own compost with the #biodynamic preps.  Maintaining diversity on the property with insectaries, hedgerows, orchards and gardens, incorporating animals and wildlife whereever we can with chickens, blue bird boxes and more. Wine-making originates in the vineyard. Everything is organically farmed, with minimal human intervention.  The fruit and the land speak.  We are uniquely located at the pinch between the Mayacamas & Vaca Mountains with loamy, benchland soils.

WiningHourChat: That's fantastic, and I'm sure its a big undertaking. I love the holistic approach!

Ehlers Estate: We have a year-around, full-time vineyard crew. It makes all the difference, as it is definitely hands-on! All employees have their own vines...even me! The vineyards are 100% hand-harvested. All of us do harvest at least one day! We are organic, biodynamic, sustainable, and green!

WiningHourChat: So when I(we) drink Ehlers Estate wines, we are really saving the earth! 🌎Can't beat that. Love it!
Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate
Some inquired about your logo, and we see that the logo is an E, with a heart. Hence, "Ehlers Love!" Ahh...we see now.
Ehlers Estate Logo

Tell us, which varietals are produced Ehlers Estate?

Ehlers Estate: Only Bordeaux varietal wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Sauvignon Blanc. We make eight wines: three Cabs, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Franc Rose, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc.
Photo Credit: Ehlers Estate


#WiningHourChat's Ehler Estate Wine Tasting


WiningHourChat: We also see that making wines that 'express your terroir' is the goal. In that vein, we tasted Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc, which is beautiful, structured, firm & compelling. It is a deep garnet color and smelled of raspberry, cola & bell pepper aromas.  This CabFranc is velvety smooth, with notes of black cherry, vanilla, chocolate and leather. I enjoyed this one with a chuck steak & zucchini. Yum and Yum.  An outstanding Cabernet Franc. 


How is is made? Vinification?

Ehlers Estate: It is 100% Cabernet Franc. Aged for 22 months, 50% new, 50% once-used oak. Native yeast fermentation in stainless steel.

WiningHourChat: Ehlers Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a Bordeaux style Cab. How so?

Ehlers Estate: Our Cabernet and our 1886 Cabernet are left-bank style Bordeaux blends. The Cab is 83% Cab, 9% Merlot, 8% Cab Franc. The 1886 Cabernet is 85% Cab, 8% Cab Franc, 5% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot.

Cara (@CaraMiaSG) really enjoyed this one. "I'm tasting @EhlersEstate's 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% delicious 😋 #EhlersLove"


WiningHourChat: We also tasted your Merlot.  How does Ehlers Estate Merlot express the Bale Mill Terroir?

Maggie's (@winegal57) experience with Ehlers Merlot was a first time.  She remarked that "It's Luscious! This Merlot tastes of luscious licorice, black raspberries, red currants and cappuccino.  It's dark, bold and juicy."  Maggie enjoyed her Merlot with pizza.

We were honored to have had Ehlers Estate on #WiningHourChat. Our participants were delighted to learn more about EhlersLove and about their organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines. If you haven't tasted #EhlersLove yet, what are you waiting for? Check out Ehlers Estates.

*In order to use the "organic" label, certification by an organization such as California Certified Organic Farmers or CCOF is needed.  Organic farms or wineries would not use any synthetics, or any artificial fungicides, herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.  Grapes are grown organically, without the use of sulfites, even though these are naturally occurring to an extent.  Biodynamic farming refers to self-sustaining, self-sufficient farming methods, or methods that are in-tuned with nature. Characteristics of biodynamic farming include the integration of plants, and livestock into the process, by means of composts, herbs, manure, etc.  Anyone can incorporate biodiversity, but to have the "biodynamic" label, certification by Demeter is necessary.  Lastly, sustainable or sustainably farmed focuses on three things: giving back to the environment, economic profitability and minimal use of synthetic materials.  Sustainable farming methods may include organic and/or biodynamic wine-growing or wine-making techniques.

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 6 p.m. PST. (For more, see links at the top of this page)

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

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

A #WiningHourChat with Katarina Andersson of #WinesofItaly

Conversing with Katarina


When you combine brains, drive, innovation, initiative and a passion for wine, you get Katarina Andersson. She is truly a powerhouse in the world of Italian wines. Katarina is the Founder of the #WinesofItaly livestream and the Founder of Grapevine Adventures.  Although we are good friends, I had the pleasure of having her as a guest on #WiningHourChat last month.  We decided to follow-up with our interview, in case you missed it!

Katarina has lived in Florence, Italy for the past 17 years. Although she is originally from Sweden, she totally knows her way around Italy and Italian wines.  First, we talked about her livestream. The #WinesofItaly livestream was created to educate, to draw attention to and to promote the various wines, varietals and indigenous grapes of Italy. Katarina gives highlights lesser known wineries, gives a voice to smaller producers and helps us to discover some of Italy's gems. Her goal was to do so in an non-pretentious manner, but instead, one that is easy-going and cool to talk and communicate about Italian wine, history and traditions.  I inquired about her inspiration, challenges and passions. Some of her responses were videos, which help others to see more of her personality. Here's what we discussed: 

#WiningHourChat: Benvenuto Katarina. You produce #WinesofItaly. What inspired you to do so?

Katarina: Video Response Re: What inspired me to do #WinesofItaly



Photo: Monte Sasso by Katarina Andersson
#WiningHourChat: What's in your glass tonight? A Tuscan wine?

Katarina: Tonight I had Monte Sasso, a Romagna DOC Sangiovese from Braschi Vini. This is a smooth and elegant wine.  So, it's not a Tuscan wine in my glass tonight, but almost. Romagna is very close, and still it was a Sangiovese wine.  Sangiovese di Romagna is a different terroir, lighter perhaps not as much longevity, but still complex.  The guys at Braschi Vigne and Vine are great.  You can find them also on my #WinesOfItaly on my FaceBook page with same name. 


#WiningHourChat: What are some challenges you've faced with your #WinesofItaly livestream?

Katarina: In regards to the technical side, you have to be flexible. Sometimes things just don't work well, such as the internet, the sound, or the webcam.  Often in the beginning it was hard finding people to want to be guests. Sometimes I felt a bit desperate... Luckily, I have Livio at La Divina Enoteca, my sommelier friend, who helps out a lot to be guest and co-host. Also, it has been hard sometimes to do all on my own, checking both Facebook and Twitter for questions from followers, etc. Well, with time it got easier. The more #WinesOfItaly episodes I did, the more I was recognized, and it was easier to convince guests.  It's a great way to interact and connect with people. Though there are things that you just cannot control, you need to be real and people love you for that.


#WiningHourChat We can certainly agree with and identify with that!  Now...Katarina, you are a woman of many talents. Tell us about #GrapeVineAdventures and what else you do.

Katarina: Video Response Re: Tell us about Grapevine Adventures and what you do. 



Via GrapeVine Adventures, Katarina is also a writer, blogger, translator, social media strategist and facilitator of/at wine gatherings.

#WiningHourChat:  Lastly, if you were blending your own Italian wine, which varietals would you blend?
Katarina: Hmm, difficult.  I am more of a single variety type of person. However, I like Sangiovese blended with local varietals. For example, Foglia Tonda, Mammolo, or perhaps Vermentino Nero. The same for grapes from other regions, I guess I would say a blend of local grapes. I am not much for adding international grapes.  But, I do enjoy all types of wines, also international style wines.

We also talked briefly regarding trends in the wine industry.

Katarina: Many Italian denominations have been a bit corrupted by allowing Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon, etc., in my opinion . There is a new indigenous trend, going back to the roots...which is very interesting.

I noticed this as well, as many winemakers in Chianti do not feel that it is authentic to add these other varietals..but that is a separate conversation.  This one was just to learn more about Katarina Andersson.  

Anyone interested in Italian wines should know Katatrina and check out GrapeVine Adventures and #WinesofItaly. We were happy to feature her on #WiningHourChat. Follow her on Twitter @Ricasoli99


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.­­­

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Vines on the Verge: Mezzacorona's Cliffhanger Wines #Trentino #Vino

On a Cliff, But Not Left Hanging  

Photo: Courtesy of Mezzacorona
Mezzacorona's Cliffhanger Vineyards are located in Trentino. Along with South Tyrol, these two make up the northern region in Italy known as Trentino-Alto Adige (Sudtirol) in the autonomous province of Trento. Trentino-Alto Adige borders Austria and Switzerland. This area is reknown for its awesome mountain peaks, such as the Dolomites and its rivers, such as the Adige River, along with other notorious geographic features. Needless to say, Trento is great for skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, snowboarding and more.  It's also great for wine production and Mezzacorona is at the forefront.
Arco di Trento Cliff in Trentino, Italy
Since 1904, Mezzacorona has been caring for, protecting and molding their Trentino vineyards and producing wines that are true expressions of their environment. Mezzacorona has a deep respect for the environment and have been promoting the "Protocol of quality in vine production in Trentino" in an effort to "control green methods of cultivation and upkeep of green areas and sustainable agriculture." Their state-of-the-art winery manifests their respect for the environment, as its wavy or undulating roof resembles the pergolas typically used to grow their vines.  In fact, Mezzacorona's winery is known as a "Cittadella del Vino" or Citadel of Wine, because it is a "work of contemporary architecture in amongst vineyards where the most modern technology meets environmental sustainability."
Photo: Courtesy of Mezzacorona
It is not easy to produce wines in high altitudes, and the Alpine climate presents another set of challenges.  Despite that, Mezzacorona produces some great aromatic white wines, delicious red wines and tasty sparkling wines. Mezzacorona's wines "are fragrant and elegant wines, authentic and virtuous just like the men who have produced them, they are as special as the land which bears them." While the company produces several wines, Cliffhanger is one of their lines that showcases their wine-producing passion and skill.

Introducing Cliffhanger Vineyards 
Video: Courtesy of MezzaCorona

The Wining Hour: Tasting Cliffhanger Wines

According to Mezzacorona, "Cliffhanger is our concept for wines crafted on the “Edge of Perfection” the closest one can come to such an ideal."

No dispute here.  We tasted two wines from the Cliffhanger line:

Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio

When it comes to Pinot Grigio, some of the best are produced in northern Italy.  The Trentino DOC area is prime for producing Pinot Grigio, given the composition of the soil, its conditions and the mico-climate in the area. The grapes used in Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio are cultivated along the Adige River which leads to the fresh, fruity notes and acidity.  Other grapes are selected close to Lake Garda, which enrich the taste of the wine. After manual harvesting, the grapes are crushed, destemmed, soft pressed and then allowed to settle. Following is fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Once complete, the wine rests for 3-4 month with periodic batonnage. Lastly, half of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, which lessens the acidity and increases the mouth-feel of the wine.

Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio is a lemon-lime color. It smells light and elegant with notes of honeysuckle, Asian pear and peach.  The palate exudes delicious citrus zest and peach, as well as mineral notes like crushed rocks or concrete, which manifests the composition of the Dolomite minerals (calcium and magnesium limestone). Mezzacorona maintains that this Pinot Grigio "shows the two faces of Trentino region: the cool climate of the north with some citrus and white fruit aroma and acidic touch; and the warm and Mediterranean climate of the south, with ripe stone fruits and floral notes, complete with round and soft acidity."

Cliffhanger Proprietary Red Blend

Cliffhanger Proprietary Red Blend is made from 70% Teroldego and 30% Lagrein, which are grapes indigenous to the Trentino region. After the grapes are harvested, de-stemmed and separated from the skins, maceration begins. Fermentation follows and the wine is then aged for 24 months, 12 of which occurs in oak barrels (Allier and Troncais). Finally, it is refined in the bottle.

The Teroldego and Lagrein used in this red blend produce a very intense ruby-garnet color. It emits aromas of ripe blackberries, red currants and baking spice. Given the fact that these grapes are related to Pinot Noir and Syrah, an interesting and complex flavor profile can be expected. The palate is juicy, with spicy black and red fruits (black cherry, red plum, black raspberry ) clove and earthy notes.  This wine is balanced with just the right acidity and would pair with almost anything.

Mezzacorona's Proprietary Red Blend is a rich, delicious, full-bodied, bodacious treat.  It does not hold back at all. Instead, it delivers bold and intense flavors that will please almost any palate.  I would even say that this Cliffhanger seals the deal.

Cliffhanger Vineyard wines are delicious wines that expertly convey the region from which they are produced.

Are you ready to go off a cliff in the World of Mezza? Try Cliffhanger Wines from Mezzacorona.

Check back soon for our review of their Italian Glacial Bubbly, which was also featured on #WiningHourChat!

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.­­­

Sunday, May 21, 2017

24K Magic in the Air: Bottega Gold Prosecco

It Really is Liquid Gold!

Ok, so if you know me, you know that I love vini Italiani and I loooovvvvee prosecco!  I sip prosecco almost every day as an aperitivo.  I stumbled upon these beauties a few years ago while in Italy and I fell in love.  It's about time that I share the goods...or should I say, 'gold?'  Bottega Gold Prosecco is definitely a liquid treasure!

Photo Credit: Bottega SpA

About Bottega

Photo Credit: Bottega SpA
Alexander Blown Glass
on Bottega Grappa
Bottega SpA, originally known as Distilleria Bottega, is located in the Veneto region of Italy and was established in 1977 by Aldo Bottega, who followed in the footsteps of his forefather, winemaker, Domenico Bottega.  While Bottega initially made grappa, in 1992, they began producing Il Vino dei Poeti, a Prosecco that was their segue into the wine market. The 1995 launch of Fragolino helped to solidify their position in the industry.  Bottega acquired their head office in Bilbano di Godega di Sant'Urbano in 2007.  This area, which is close to the Venetian alps, proves to be ideal for wine-growing and producing prosecco due to its climate and the hills of Valdobbiadene.  As Bottega continued to grow, direct management of two wineries in Valpolicella and Montalcino followed between 2009 and 2011. This acquisition served to help them control the production of Amarone, Brunello and other varietals indigenous to these regions.  In 2011, the Alexander Blown Glass factory was opened in Pianzano.   Alexander is a trademark under Bottega, where artistic bottles are produced.  Today, Bottega SpA is distributed in more than 120 countries worldwide.  
Hills of Valdobbiadene, Italy

Here's a little more about Bottega's History:
BOTTEGA - Presentazione Aziendale (ITALIANO)

About Prosecco

The sparkling Italian white wine, known as Prosecco, is made from Glera grapes.  Glera, formerly known as Prosecco grapes, was named after a regional town with the same name.  In making prosecco, up to 15% Glera grapes are used, along with other varietals such as Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Verdiso and a few others.  Both Prosecco DOC and DOCG are produced. Prosecco DOC, which is produced in nine provinces between Veneto and Fruili Venezia Giulia, can be sparkling (spumante), semi-sparkling (frizzante) or still (tranquillo).  Prosecco Superiore DOCG is available as Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, which can only be made in Treviso between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, which is made near the town of Asolo.

Charmat, also known as Metodo Martinotti or Metodo Italiano, is the method used when making Prosecco.  This method was first developed and patented Federico Martinotti in 1895 and expounded upon by Eugène Charmat in 1907.  In regards to production, the wine, sugar and yeast are mixed in stainless steel tanks. Once the sugar is converted into alcohol, the yeast is filtered and removed. Second fermentation takes place and the wine is bottled until the desired bubble or sparkle quality is achieved. 

Now, let's get more acquainted with Bottega Gold Prosecco.


The Wining Hour's 24K Prosecco Tasting: 

The Bottega Gold line was launched as a limited edition in 2001. It wasn't long before everyone wanted the gold, and it was distributed in Duty Free and the best bars all over Europe, America and Asia.

Although the focus of this writing is on my other tasting (below), I would be remiss if I didn't include my this one.

Bottega Gold IL Vino Dei Poeti,  Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry
My first experience with Bottega SpA was in Italy, of course.  I had the pleasure of tasting Il Vino Dei Poeti, and this is, by far, one of the best Proseccos I've ever tasted. According to Bottega SpA, "Vino dei Poeti is a name that evokes the way poets, artists and art lovers raise their glasses to toast the joy of being alive and drink their beloved light, fragrant sparkling wine." Exactly. This prosecco transports me to Italy with every sip. There is no question that this is a high quality prosecco. Glera grapes are picked in cases by hand to produce this wine. The must is extracted via soft pressing. Following is "static decantation and fermentation with selected yeasts coming from the production area. Second fermentation (usually with must and wine) in autoclave occurs according to the Charmat method at a temperature of 14-15° C. The wine is then cold stabilized at a temperature of -3° C and finally filtered and bottled."

Il Vino Dei Poeti is pale yellow to the eye.  On the nose, are floral notes of acacia and honeysuckle. The palate delights with yellow apple, pear and honeysuckle. Fresh, crisp and dry.  Rich and persistent.  IL Vino Dei Poeti is perfect as an aperitivo and will go well with almost anything.

This bottle of bubbles absolutely evokes life and energy.  I search for it on every trip to Italy and I am beyond delighted when it is in my glass.  However, Bottega Gold does not stop here.  Their sparkling portfolio is hidden treasure. 
  
Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC
Bottega's Venetian Gold Prosecco is a spumante made with Glera grapes grown in the Valdobbiadene hills. The grapes are picked manually and then soft pressed.  In line with the Charmat method, the must is stored in stainless steel then fermented for nearly 40 days, with the addition of selected yeasts. Afterwards, it is filtered and bottled. The length of fermentation affects the quality of the bubbles, as longer fermentation preserves aromas and leads to finer and bubblier bubbles. Bottega Gold Prosecco is a straw yellow spumante, with floral and fruity scents of lily, pear and melon.  The palate is dry, tasting of green apple and citrus blossom. Elegant and persistent.


Bottega Rose Gold Prosecco DOC
Bottega's Rose Gold Prosecco is a spumante made from Pinot Nero grapes. Those who love rosé or bubbly rosé will love this one. As Bottega harvests manually, these grapes are hand picked and vinified at a controlled temperature. Typical when making rosé or other skin-fermented wines, the skins stay in contact with the must for 24 hours. Then the must and skins are then separated by soft pressing and followed by fermentation. The year after the harvest, second fermentation occurs in steel containers.

Bottega Rose Gold is salmon-pink in color. A nose of cranberry, strawberry and rose petal and wild strawberry, red currant and celery on the palate.  This bubbly rosé of Pinot Noir is a real treat, perfect for any occasion.  It is delicate with good acidity.  

The golden, metallic bottles were selected to protect the wine from light, preserving its aroma and freshness thus giving the wine a longer life.  Note: Unless you are a very skilled at taking photos, it is very hard to photograph these beautiful bottles without capturing the reflection of the surroundings as well!  Nevertheless, these bottles are very classy and the contents are golden!
Despite the fact that these bubbles did not stay around long in my house, Il Vino Dei Poeti, as well as both Bottega Gold Prosecco and Bottega Rose Gold Prosecco demonstrate excellent perlage, or the ability to retain its effervescence.  Bottega Gold Proseccos are trendy, deliciously refreshing and worth their weight in gold.  These sparkling wines will definitely get a party started, take any celebration to the next level and make anyone feel special whenever they are consumed.  Go for the gold.
Photo Credit: Bottega SpA
About The Wining Hour
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