Sunday, April 8, 2018

Taste and Talk: Uncovering Cremisan Wine of Palestine with Terra Sancta

Cremisan: The Wine Star of Bethleham

Did you know that Palestine produces wine?  Well, I didn't.  When I thought about wine coming from the Holy Land...I always thought of Israel.  However, I was in for a surprise.  I had the pleasure of speaking with Jason Bajalia from the Terra Sancta Trading Company, which specializes in beer, wine and spirits from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Upon hearing this, I was happy to have Terra Sancta on #WiningHourChat and the Wines of Cremisan, Palestine were the feature.

Cremisan Cellars is located in the Cremisan Valley in Bethlehem between West Bank and Jerusalem. Cremisan is also home to The Salesian Sisters Convent and School and the Salesian Monastery, both founded by Don Bosco. Don Bosco, also known as St. John Bosco, was an Italian Roman Catholic Priest who spent his life trying to improve education for all and helping the disadvantaged. He Founded the Salesians of Don Bosco or the Salasian Society, which is responsible for many educational and charitable works throughout the world. Today, the Salasian Society is the third-largest missionary organization in the world.
Cremisan Winery, Palestine

Cremisan Cellars has been around since 1885 and the establishment of the monastery in the 19th century. All Cremisan wines are organically produced, with vines being tended without the use of pesticides and chemicals. Vines are pruned, sorted and picked by hand. Cremisan's wine cellar, including the wineries of Beit Jemal, is located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem with the border wall of Israel crossing through it. The grapes are primarily harvested from the al-Khader area. Today, enologist Riccardo Cotarella (Falesco winery in Italy) is part of Cremisan Winery.

Wine production in Palestine dates back some 5,000 years ago with the Phoenicians who traded wine from the Caucuses throughout the Mediterranean with the Canaanites, Nabatean Israelites, Romans Christians and Byzantines Crusaders.  While still only produced on a small scale, grapes are the most planted crop in Palestine, second only to olives. "Our producers consist mainly of very old churches and the vineyard owners in the local vicinity of the churches, as well as some ancient villages who are reclaiming their vineyards." The soil is typical rock soil, similar to what you find in most Mediterranean regions. "Rocky, chalky limestone over a pretty thin layer of humus (not hummus), which is over deep chalky bedrock."  Upon further investigation, I learned that humus is the organic material in soil and not only does it provide nutrients for plants, it also increases the ability of soil to retain water. The climate is a cooler, micro-climate. Without a doubt, these conditions lead to the production of wines with character and great minerality.  
Cremisan Winery and Monastery 
It is not hard to imagine the difficulties involved in producing, exporting and distributing wines from Palestine.  When asked about challenges, Jason commented, "The major challenge is perception.  People think desert, not Mediterranean.  Once we manage to clear that one, we are in good shape."  This is certainly true in terms of viewpoints about the Middle East.  

I also noticed the different labels on Cremisan wine bottles. It appears that one label is used for export to the U.S. and another for outside of U.S.  "You may have heard there are some political issues there ;) Yes, it is extremely challenging to import from a country that doesn't control its own borders. There are also, there are labeling issues.  Palestine is not recognized as a country by the USA, so labeling is complicated."  Understandable. Yet, we were gracious to sample three wines from Cremisan! Let’s discuss what we tasted.
Cremisan Wine Label
Cremisan Wine Label outside of U.S.

The Wining Hour Tasting of Cremisan Wines

Star of Bethlehem Hamdani Jandali
Hamdani Jandali is a perfect way to begin exploration of Palestinian wines.  Made with the indigenous Hamdani and Jandali grapes, this white wine is undergoes traditional vinification methods.  Following is fermentation in stainless steel tanks with controlled temperature. I never tasted the grapes before, so it was exciting to try something new. Tropical notes of peach and pineapple on the nose, and apricot, green apple and lemon zest on the palate.  No sign of oak, but clean, crisp and light. Beautiful minerality and balanced acidity. This wine scored 90 points from Wine Spectator and it was easy to see why. I paired Cremisan Hamdani Jandali with hummus.  After all, if it grows together, it should be paired together.  This wine is also great with soft cheeses, fish and as an aperitif. 13.5% ABV

Star of Bethlehem-Dabouki
Dabouki is another autochthonous dry white wine made the same way as Hamdani Jandali.  It is made from 100% Dabouki grapes, which were thought to have originated in Armenia.  This wine is medium-bodied with tropical fruit and wet stone on the nose.  Apple, pear and anise on the palate.  Clean finish with good acidity.  This wine would pair with fish, chicken, vegetable dishes and mature cheeses. 13.5% ABV

Star of Bethlehem-Baladi
Finally, we tasted this Palestinian red wine made from 100% Baladi grapes.  Baladi, when translated from Arabic, means “native”, “indigenous” and/or “of the country,” which helps us to emphasize its authenticity. Baladi has earthy notes, along with red berries and plum on the nose.  The palate also has plum, raspberry and other wild berry fruits. Complex, yet elegant with a persistent finish. Baladi is a medium bodied wine with 12.5% ABV.

Jason discussed the versatility of these wines and how they pair well with the regional gastronomy. He elaborates, "The Palestinian way of eating, like throughout the Mediterranean, consists of small plates of dips, salads, nuts, and cheeses called Mezze. The Dabouki and Hamdani Jandali are made for mezze. After mezze come the grilled meats, and the Baladi red is the perfect accompaniment."  I couldn't agree more, as I paired my Baladi with grilled lamb chops.

These wines represent the land of Palestine, in that they are all made from indigenous varietals, and the wines are named after the actual grapes. According to Terra Sancta, Jandali, for example, is said to "date back to the time of King David and the Torah and the wine served at The Last Supper is thought to be Dabouk. Cremisan was the first winery to return to making wine from these grapes."  These Palestinian wines are, without question, an expression of their territory, as the distinct minerality unique flavor profile exude.  
Find Cremisan Wines in restaurants and retail outlets in FL, CA, NY, NJ, PA, MN, DC, MD, VA, AZ, CO, as well as online at  or . Alternatively, you can also reach out to Terra Sancta Trading Company for more information about Middle Eastern and Eastern European wines.

    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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

A New York State of Mind with 13th and Third Wines

Love NY, Love Wine? Then 13th & Third is a Win-Win

NYC Skyline...of course
New York is the big city of dreams, bright lights and opportunity.  It's also a wine-producing state! When one thinks of wine in NY, the Finger Lakes and Long Island Wine Country may come to mind.  However, 13th & Thirds Wines, a producer of small lot Rhône-style wines, should also be on your radar. 

Photo: Courtesy of 13th & Third Wines

While the name does not refer to the location of production, 13th & Third does refer to the place where the Founders, Gregg and Julie Rothberg met. Not only did they quickly realize their mutual feelings for each other, Gregg and Julie also discovered their mutual passion for wine. As this passion grew, they worked to turn their dream into reality by making the kinds of wine they enjoy, ones that are "delicious, food friendly wines that can be enjoyed with family and friends--where occasions and moments are transformed into lasting memories."
Gregg and Julie Rothberg
"New York roots, California Vines" perfectly describes 13th & Third, as the fruit is sourced from California vineyards, but firmly rooted in the spirit and culture of New York.  As New Yorkers, born and raised, the artwork on the wine bottles are expressions of all that embodies New York. To design their wine labels, 13th & Third partnered with Joe Iurato, who collaborated with Logan Hicks to develop their newest labels.   

I had the pleasure of meeting Gregg at a wine event on the North Fork of Long Island in the summer.  It was there that I experienced 13th & Third's 2016 Rosé.  It was there that I knew I wanted to learn and taste more from 13th & Third. Earlier this winter, I was able to have a more intimate encounter at their launch party. I got to meet Julie and the winemaker, Don Burns.  Ultimately, I was able to taste two other wines from 13th & Third: 2016 Lily and 2015 NMR.

13th & Third Launch Party

Don Burns, Winemaker

Wining Hour Tasting of 13th and Thirds Wines

13th & Third 2016 Rosé 
With it's deep coral color, this rosé of Grenache has a nose of ripe strawberry, lemonade and watermelon. The palate is dry, crisp and fruity with notes of red grapefruit and raspberry.  It was a pleasant surprise, as it balances fruit and tannins to deliver a delicious, refreshing treat. This Rosé would go with almost anything.  I recommend roasted chicken, grilled shrimp tacos and meaty fish like mahi mahi. 14% ABV.  This wine is a great summer treat, but can be enjoyed throughout the year.

13th & Third 2016 Lily
Lily is named in memory of Gregg’s grandmother because this wine embodies her 'flamboyant' personality.  It blends Rhône varietals: Grenache Blanc (44%), Roussane (38%),Viognier (11%) and Picpoul (7%).  The Grenache Blanc was fermented in stainless steel, while the Roussanne, Viognier and Picpoul were co-fermented with whole clusters then aged in neutral French oak barrels. Lily is said "grab your attention with its exuberance, vibrance and stylishness."  It does just that.

Lily is quite a distinctive wine. Floral notes and tropical fruit entice the nose, while honeysuckle, white peach and brioche are on the palate. Lily is a medium-full bodied white, with good capacity to age and 14% ABV.

13th & Third Lily (White Blend)
13th & Third 2015 NMR 
NMR, which is named after Gregg's father, Norman Martin Rothberg, is 13th & Third's flagship wine.  This artisan wine, is truly Rhône-style, as it blends 48% Grenache, 25% Syrah and 27% Mourvèdre aged in French oak. NMR has a violet-ruby hue and greets with blackberry and fig aromas.  Spicy plum, black currant and licorice permeate palate.  NMR is balanced with a persistent finish. While this 2015 is drinkable now, it shows great aging potential. 15% ABV.
13th & Third NMR (Red Blend)
It is always a pleasure to discover new things in this great city, especially when they are wine-related!  I truly anticipate big things for 13th and Third.

So, these are my thoughts on 13th and Third Wines, but you are strongly encouraged to taste this part of New York for yourself. They have it covered with a white, rosé and red.

Find them at 13th and Third.
    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

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Taste of Valtellina with Nino Negri and Carpaccio #Vino #Travel #Italy

High Altitude Wines of Distinction

Valtellina Valley, Italy

Photo Credit:
Valtellina may be one of Italy’s lesser known regions, but it is truly a hidden gem.  I was able to spend some time in Tirano, one of Valtellina's main towns, on my way to the Swiss Alps.  Located in the northernmost part of Lombardy, it borders Switzerland in the North and also shares borders with Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto and Emilia Romagna.  This places Valtellina in a strategic position as it is a crossroads for trade, travel and optimal cultural diversity.  From breathtaking landscapes consisting of lakes, mountains, hills, waterfalls, valleys and vineyards to parks, nature preserves, thermal spas and skiing resorts, Valtellina has a lot to offer. Not only are the three Italian Lakes (Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore) nearby, the Valtellina Valley is recognized as a prime location for winter sports and skiing, as it is the home to Bormio and several other ski resorts.  Furthermore, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this alpine valley is ideal for it's wine production as well.  

Wines of Valtellina

Wine production in Valtellina dates back some 2000 years.  As a result of the hills and mountains in the area, the region is characterized by its terrace-style farming and vineyards.  Most of the vineyards have an elevation of 230-765 meters.  Clearly, the harvest presents a challenge, as everything needs to be done by hand or in the absence of machines.  Vines grown in high altitudes thrive due to their ideal position, adequate sunlight, airy climate, breva, or wind coming from the lakes and mineral rich soils.  Wines of Valtellina were even praised by Leonardo da Vinci for their remarkable quality.  

Valtellina produces two DOCG wines: Sforzato (Sfursat) di Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore (which can be a Riserva), which is divided into five subzones: Grumello, Inferno, Maroggia, Sassella and Valgella. Additionally, the region produces a DOC and an IGT wine.  Chiavennasca, also known as Nebbiolo in Piedmont, is the primary grape used for wine production in this region. Although there is a relation, the two regions produce wines with very different characteristics.  Chiavennesca tends to be lighter, less tannic and more elegant than the Nebbiolo wines from Barolo or Barbaresco. 
Valtellina Wine map

The Sforzato (Sfursat) di Valtellina and Valtellina Superiore DOCG wines, established in 2003 and 1998 respectively, require at least 90% Chiavennasca grapes.  The remaining 10% can be a blend of local grapes, such as Brugnola, Rossola and Pignola. Sforzato di Valtellina is aged for a minimum of 18 months and the Valtellina Superiore is aged for at least 2 years.  If the wine is a Riserva, the minimum aging is 3 years. Valtellina Rosso or Rosso di Valtellina DOC, which was established in 1968, also requires at least 90% Chiavennasca but does not have minimum ageing requirements.

The Wining Hour with Vini Valtellina:

For this Wining Hour, I enjoyed two (DOCG) wines from Nino Negri in Chiuro.  Nino Negri was established in 1897 and is the largest wine producer in Valtellina. 

Nino Negri Sforsato di Valtellina 2006 
This Sfursat is a dry red or passito rosso secco, made with 100% dried Chiavennasca grapes, similar to the "passito" process used for Amarone style wine.  The grapes are hand-selected from the highest altitude vineyards and then laid out on aerated mats to dry for three months. Afterwards, the grapes are crushed, vinified, macerated and then aged in stainless steel and French oak.   Although made using a similar appassimento process, Sfursato di Valtellina is drier than Valpolicella wines.
Drying the grapes in Valtellina
Photo Credit: La Strada del Vino Valtellina

Nino Negri's Sforsato di Valtellina has a deep garnet color.  The nose is quite aromatic and complex with spicy notes of cinnamon, clove and vanilla. The palate is big, full of dark fruits like plum, black currant, and spicy black cherry.  This wine is elegant, with balanced acidity, smooth tannins and a persistent finish. I sipped a little with some pecorino and the carpaccio, but plan to dive back in later with a steak.  Afterall, there is a whopping 15.5% ABV!

Nino Negri Mazer Inferno Valtellina Superiore 2005 
We all know inferno to mean fire or heat.  Inferno from Valtellina is so called because it comes from the smallest, hottest and steepest sub-zone of the Valtellina Superiore DOCG, Inferno. Following manual harvest and slow fermentation, the wine is aged in Slovenian and French oak barrels.

Inferno has a garnet color with a slightly orange tinge, typical of Nebbiolo. This wine greets with bitter aromas of sour cherry and flowers. The palate is smooth and full of personality.  Inferno has 13.5% ABV, is well-structured, medium-bodied and elegant. "Mazer," in Valtellinese, means "good, beautiful, generous."  That describes this wine perfectly.  

Speck Carpaccio was my pairing choice, as I was unable to get the typical bresaola. Bresaola is a cured beef that originated in Valtellina and enjoyed throughout Lombardia.  Nevertheless, Speck is also from the northern Italy (Alto Adige) and found in Valtellina as well.  I used thin slices which I let marinate in garlic and olive oil.  Then, it was garnished with arugula.  A nice and simple treat!
Bresaola Carpaccia

Speck Carpaccio
My previous experience with Valtellina included the wines of Aldo Rainoldi. See Lombardy: Vines and Views of Valtellina Valley.  
Keep going! There's way more to discover in Valtellina.  Check out these other articles from my #ItalianFWT group: 
Susannah Gold is sharing "Exploring the wines of Mamete Prevostini in the Valtellina on Avvinare.

Jennifer Martin will share The Valtellina: Home of Chiavennasca on Vino Travels.

Camilla M. Mann will be dishing on “Sassella and Short Ribs” on Culinary Adventure with Cam

Katarina Andersson will share Valtellina – Winemaking in a Mountain Landscape” on Grapevine Adventures

Martin Redmond writes  “A Taste of Valtellina: 2014 ArPePe Rosso Superiore Paired With Wild Mushroom Ragout over Creamy Polenta” on Enoflyz Wine Blog

Jeff Burrows shares “Double Secret Winery: Giorgio Gianatti in Valtellina” on Foodwineclick

Wendy Klik brings “Celebrating Love: Pork Filet Mignon with Valtallina Wine” to life on A Day In the Life on the Farm

Li Valentine shares “A Taste of Valtellina with Nino Negri and Carpaccio” on The Wining Hour

    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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Uncovering Corvina With Vigneti Villabella

Food and Wine at Villa Cordevigo

Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo
Tiziano Delibori and
Franco Cristoforetti (President of Consorzio)
In an attempt to further kick off our discovery of Chiaretto, the Consorzio Di Tutela Vino Bardolino facilitated a 'light lunch' followed by a Corvina wine tasting.  Our lunch took place at Villa Cordevigo located in Cavaion Veronese, the heart of Bardolino Classico, on the east side of Lake Garda. Villa Cordevigo is an enchanting eighteenth century manor house offering accommodations complete with vineyards, olive groves and a chapel. The Villa also promotes the estates' wines. Vigneti Villabella, the estate winery, was founded in 1971 by Walter Delibori and Giorgio Cristoforetti. Today, both families still own and run the Winery and Villa. Franco Cristoforetti, is actually the President of the Consorzio Di Tutela Vino Bardolino, so we were in for a real treat. In fact, they could have locked me up and kept me there if they so desired. According to its owners, the villa, which was acquired in 1998, is "a viticultural and natural oasis that is organically farmed. Here we have sought to preserve the genius loci of the countryside that surrounds the Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais." Villa Cordevigo is magnificent and is the very essence of what happens when a French chateau and Italian villa meet.   

Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Gardens
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Rooms
The Pool at Villa Cordevigo
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Park
Photo Credit: Villa Cordevigo-The Vineyards
Now, let us discuss the Italian "light lunch."  I must say that a "light lunch" in Italy is never a light lunch. I suppose it could have been light, but I just kept eating. No regrets. Needless to say, I was not prepared for the spread set before me. No complaints. 

After our tour of Villa Cordevigo, it was time to manga! Lunch was replete with charcuterie, salads, breads, cheeses, soup and pasta. Delicious pasta that prepared by artisans that just compelled me to eat more and more. No regrets. No complaints. Bliss. Satiation. Moreover, this was when I had my first experience with a Chiaretto Spumante, and I enjoyed it this immensely. Villabella Bardolino Chiaretto Spumante DOC is obtained by traditional vinification of the indigenous Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes a brief maceration on the skins, followed by a long, slow fermentation. The Martinotti method is used for this 12% ABV cuvee. These bubbles have a delicate bouquet of strawberries, wild flowers and cherries on the nose, yet it was juicy, creamy and full-bodied on the palate. Villabella's Spumante is fantastic alone, as an aperitif or with a variety of fish and seafood dishes.  It was yummy, so I had it throughout lunch, with everything! 

Following this awesome lunch that was fit for a queen, I sat down for a wine tasting of their  Vigneti Villabella estate wines.👌Villabella wines are sourced from grapes grown around Bardolino and in each of the five Valpolicella communes. The combination of the stony and calcareous morainic soil and climate, due to its proximity to Lake Garda, yields more fresh and fruity wines. This is a prime location, as they are influenced by the circles of morainic hills. Vigneti Villabella produces all of the major regional wines, such as Chiaretto, Bardolino, Lugana, Custoza, Soave, Valpolicella (Ripasso and Amarone) and other Veronese IGT wines. I was able to sample a few of these, providing a nice overview of the wine region. However, the focus of this wine tasting was on the Corvina grape.  Corvina is the primary grape used in Chiaretto, the dry Italian rosé.  

Here are the wines I tasted:

Villa Cordevigo Bardolino Chiaretto DOC Classico Biologico 2016
The organic Bardolino Chiaretto Classico is produced with 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella grapes. Chiaretto is traditionally made, as are most rosé or skin-fermented wines, by macerating on the skins for a one night.  However, now Chiaretto is produced with just a few hours maceration, in order to extract a very light color. The cold fermentation serves to enhance the expression of the wine’s fruity and floral aromas. Bardolino Chiaretto Classico is pale pink with floral and citrus notes on the nose. The palate embodies freshness and minerality due to the morainic soils. Initially, the acidity is high, but the finish is dry and refreshing. Although the producers state that the wine should preferably be drunk within a year of the vintage, this wine does have aging potential. Chiaretto di Bardolino is bottled while young and usually released and presented in March. 12% ABV.

Villa Cordevigo Heaven Scent Bardolino Chiaretto DOC 2016
Heaven Scent is made from 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella grapes in mostly clay, morainic soil. The grapes are expertly harvested at the right time to ensure the right acidity and sugar, making this wine very well balanced. Its logo is even celestial-like to further convey its message and have international appeal. Named appropriately for the heaven-like place in which it was produced and the heavenly taste on the palate, Heaven Scent bears some similarity to the Chiaretto DOC, yet it is different. It is an intense peach pink with citrus and floral notes on the nose. The palate is young, fruity with good acidity, sapidity and round finish. 12% ABV.
Villa Cordevigo Bardolino DOC Classico Biologico 2015
The Bardolino Classico Biologico is a red wine produced from Corvina 70%, Rondinella 20%, Corvinone 10% organically-grown grapes from the pebbly clay soil of the Villa Cordevigo estate vineyards in Cavaion Veronese.  This wine undergoes fermentation and skin-contact maceration for 10 days and is then allowed to mature for one year in stainless steel tanks.  Bardolino Classico is aged in cool temps to preserve the fruit and freshness. I found this all very interesting, to be able to experience a red wine aged in stainless steel as opposed to oak. A light, ruby red in color with elegant aromas of violet and cherries. The palate was smooth and tangy with notes of bright red fruit, black pepper and clove. This is a classic, easy-drinking Bardolino wine that demonstrates its versatility and aging potential.  This particular varietal can be aged for 5-6 years. 
Vigna Morlongo Bardolino DOC Classico Anniversario 2013 & 2014
This fragrant red wine is made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione grapes from clay soil mixed with limestone.  It is aged in cool temperatures to preserve the fruit and freshness.  The wine matures in large oak casks.  Bright ruby, with a delicate bouquet of cherries, strawberries and red currants on the nose and spicy raspberry and cherry on the palate.  Dry, round, fresh and balanced. 13% ABV. This tasty wine is a winner of Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri Award.  
Villa Cordevigo Rosso IGT Veronese 2010
This delicious dry red red is made from 65% Corvina, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot 15% grapes, all grown in clay soil mixed with pebbles. After a late harvest, the grapes are dried briefly using the traditional technique employed in the Province of Verona.  The Rosso marked the first wine, of many, made from dried grapes tasted on this tour.  Next is maceration on the skins for 10-14 days at a controlled temperature to extract the wine’s ripe fruit aromas and flavors.  The wine is then aged for 30 months in cherry wood casks and tonneaux and at least 6 months more in the bottle. 

This awesome Rosso IGT is deep garnet to the eye and very aromatic.  Intense wild berries and tobacco on the nose, with dark, rich cherry and berry fruit on the palate.  This wine has smooth tannins and a long finish.  Sexy and seductive.  15% ABV. Balance was the goal for this wine, and it was certainly achieved. This wine is definitely one for my cellar, as it displays power and strength, along with excellent fruit flavor. Villa Cordevigo Rosso is absolutely a winner.  

Oseleta Rosso Veronese IGT 2007
This Rosso IGT wine is made from 100% Oseleta grapes grown in pebbly clay morainic soil.  Oseleta, which means “little bird” in the Venetian dialect, is an indigenous Veronese grape variety with small bunches that are particularly suited to undergoing the appassimento technique. Oseleta, thought to have been extinct, is related to Corvina Veronese and Rondinella and is making a huge comeback. After the drying of the grapes, fermentation and maceration, Oseleta Rosso is allowed to mature for 36 months in wood, barriques and tonneaux. The color, a deep purplish ruby, is mesmerizing. The nose is fruity and spicy, while it is very tannic on the palate. 14.5% ABV. 2007 was the first vintage produced, and although it has been aging, it is still a great candidate for more maturing. I tasted this wine solo, but would love to taste it again with a juicy steak, mature cheese or rich pasta in a tomato-based sauce.
Oseleta Grapes

Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2010
This bottle certainly presents another side of Corvina. It is produced with 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione from soil of limestone mixed with clay.  The grapes are sourced from each of the five Valpolicella communes  (Furmane, Marano, Negrar, San Pietro Incariano and Sant'Ambrogio di Valpolicella) and are produced with the ripassimento method, undergoing a second fermentation with dried grapes. This lends itself to a richer wine. Initial green almond and peppercorn spices on the nose, later opens up to notes of cherry and plum. The palate rich strawberry, black cherry cinnemon and carob. 14% ABV and not as big as Amarone, yet a palate-pleaser all the same. This Valpolicella Ripasso was a delicious 'baby Amarone.'
Fracastoro Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico Riserva 2007
Again, I was able to see a marked difference in the regions of Bardolino and Valpolicella. Fracastoro, named after the Italian physician, poet, and scholar in mathematics, geography and astronomy (Girolamo Fracastoro) who lived in Lake Garda region, is also made from 70% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 10% Corvinione from limestone and stony clay soil in the Valpolicella Classico area. According to the the owners, climate change is having a huge impact on the vinification process.  The traditional ripasso technique of a second fermentation on the skins of the dried grapes sometimes occurs in 80-90 days, less than the regular 120. Following, a portion of the wines mature in traditional Slavonian oak casks and the rest in small Allier oak barrels. 

The resulting wine gain greater body, structure, and complexity.  The Monte Baldo winds lead to low temperatures which is good for the aromas, and this wine is absolutely aromatic.  A deep, brilliant garnet red appearance and an intense nose of black cherries, fig, brown sugar  and tobacco.  The palate is warm, dry, smooth and well-structured.  I loved the balance of fruit and spice in this Amarone as it went down.  Lingering finish and 15.5 % ABV.  Villabella Amarone Classico is elegant and drinkable, but it could certainly be aged.

My time at Villa Cordevigo tasting Vigneti Villabella wines was both well spent and appreciated.  It was a perfect way to learn more about the Corvina grape and its role in many of the regional wines.  The lunch was excellent too!

Should you find yourself in Verona or around Lake Garda, be sure to visit Villa Cordevigo and taste the wines of Vigneti Villabella.  Read more about The Lake Effect: Lake Garda's Impact on the wines of the region.

    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