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

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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

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

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
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, May 13, 2017

#Vinitaly2017: 51 Years Of Innovation #Wine #Vino

Highlights from Vinitaly 2017 Verona, Italy

Vinitaly “where business meets tradition, innovation and glamour,” is “the leading wine event in the world in terms of exhibition area and international operator and visitor numbers.”  This international wine and spirits exhibition event embraces the historic city center of Verona and, for 2017, it extended to Bardolino on Lake Garda. Vinitaly included many activities, b2b meetings, workshops and a multitude of tasting events.  There was the Executive Wine Seminar organized by VIA-Vinitaly International Academy, Tasting Ex…press and other numerous tasting events.  Additionally, Sol&Agrifood and Enolitech were held in conjunction to highlight the biodiversity of the local area and to provide an overview of the quality Italian food and wine sectors based on culture, products and unique technology.

Milan Expo 2015:
Vino: A Taste of Italy
Milan Expo 2015:
Vino: A Taste of Italy
Vinitaly debuted in 1967 and has continued to expand each year and receive global recognition. Milan Expo 2015 showcased the Vino: A Taste of Italy pavilion, which was the first ever dedicated to wine in the history of the Universal Exposition. The expo featured 150,000 bottles, about 800 tastings and was visited by 2.1 million people.  Read more with our post on Milan Expo 2015

Milan Expo 2015:
Vino: A Taste of Italy
 The 50 year celebration in 2016 was inaugurated by President Sergio Mattarella.

This year (2017) marked the 51st anniversary of Vinitaly in Verona.  Verona, Italy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Verona is beautiful and the whole city relishes in the festivities.  Vinitaly was held for four days, April 9-12 and attendance is always extremely diversified, with Vininternational and international exhibitors, as well as many international buyers. While the event attracted more than 49,000 international visitors from 140 countries last year, 2017 saw even greater numbers. There were over 4200 exhibitors and over 2100 journalists in attendance from all over the world.

The City of Verona, Italy

Arena di Verona, Piazza Bra

Ponte Pietra, Verona
It is without question  that Vinitaly is “the event that more than any other has marked the evolution of the wine system on a national and international scale, helping to make wine one of the most exciting and dynamic realities in the primary sector.”

The Wining Hour(s) at Vinitaly:
In terms of wine, Italy is confirmed as the world’s largest producer for the second consecutive year, with an estimated 50 million hectoliters in 2016.  The country is also the second largest exporter in terms of volume and value.* There are 75 DOCG, 344 DOC and 118 IGT wines.  Vinitaly celebrated and represented every part of Italy, and also highlighted wines from the main international wine-making countries.

*Source for world statistics: ISMEA based on OIV and HIS/Global Trade Atlas data 2016

A major highlight was our participation in a vertical wine tasting with Fattoria di Montemaggio. The Montemaggio Estate is located in Radda in Chianti and situated where there was once a 14th century tower.  MonteMaggio, or Monte Maggiore, means big mountain, indicating its elevated position. They specialize in Chianti Classico, of course, and their wines provide an elevated experience for the palate!

Montemaggio certainly did not hold back in giving us the good stuff!  Dennis (cellar guy) bought out wine after wine.  Our vertical tasting consisted of:

1999 Chianti Classico di Montemaggio
This vintage showed that it is still very much alive and kicking. Earthy, leathery notes, limited red fruits such as ripe plum.

2007 Chianti Classico di Montemaggio
This is an amazing vintage.  Notes of graphite, sand and ripe fruits, like cherry and blackberry. The typical light color of Sangiovese is evident.  We learned that no chemicals are used, but instead, indigenous yeast.  Dry ice is also used to preserve the must against oxidation.  This also preserves the aromas and further extract the color.  

2011 Chianti Classico di Montemaggio
This is the vintage on the market now. An intense and elegant bouquet, balanced, mineral, earthy notes.  This wine is a very different vintage.  It's young, more fresh, less concentrated.  It is a mixture of characteristics of the previous two.

Montemaggio Chianti Classico Riserva
paired with yummy Ribollito 

1997 Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
The riserva is clearly an old style, big barrel-aged wine.  Even after 20 years, the fruit is still there. This is a balanced vintage, with smooth, round tannins.

2004 Chianto Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
Only 4500 bottles of this vintage were made.  This wine would pair perfectly with ribollito, or wild boar stew (and it did!)  The color of this wine is much richer, deeper.

2007 Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
The color is a more intense ruby red and full of spice.  This wine is elegant, with smooth tannins and leathery notes.  It is very well balanced. 

2010 Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
Spicy plum, chocolate and vanilla on the nose.  Black cherry and coffee on the palate.  Pleasantly tannic with a lingering finish.

We discussed Montemaggio's new Etruscan logo, and how it represents women as growers of wine or viticulturists.
Montemaggio's Logo

Notetaking as Ilaria speaks about Montemaggio Vini 
2003 Torre di Montemaggio
Torre is a Merlot di Toscana, made with 100% Merlot grapes. It is aged in barrique and then tonneaux. This vintage was a low yield, but has long life. Great for aging.  Torre is intoxicatingly aromatic, with baking spices, vanilla, red berry fruit and anise on the nose. This vintage is packed with flavor, balanced and more towards the full-bodied end of the spectrum. Montemaggio's Torre is truly a game-changer.  This was my favorite vintage of Torre. 

2006 Torre di Montmaggio
The tower of Montemaggio is on the label. This vintage has aromas of vanilla with notes of clove. Very tasty.

2007 Torre di Montemaggio
Intense purplish-red and very aromatic.  Elegant and smooth like velvet on the palate, Torre is full of rich, dark berry fruit, ripened red plum and black cherry, spicy vanilla, chocolate, coffee and cedar. Ok, actually, I cannot decide between the 2003 and 2007.  I just need cases and cases of both vintages!

2015  Rosé di Montemaggio
This delicious, refreshing rosato is an IGT, and is an organic Tuscan wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes.  Bright rose color, with strawberry and mineral notes.  A beautiful summer wine. We discussed the pink, reusable glass cork, which preserves the quality and the authentic taste of this wine. 

We had a wonderful vertical tasting and 'wining hour' experience with Montemaggio at Vinitaly 2017. Special thanks goes to Valeria (owner) and Ilaria (manager) for hosting, and to Katarina of Grapevine Adventures for facilitating this tasting.  Be sure to check out our other experience with this winery at their estate in The Marvels of Montemaggio Vini!

We had our pick of guided tastings, walk-around tastings, vertical tastings and a multitude of other tasting events and exhibits.  Here are a few:

Consorzio del Vino Chianti
Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

Vinitialy Bio
This exhibit was dedicated to certified organic wine made in Italy and abroad.

Well....of course!  
As there were many contacts to meet, meetings and workshops to attend, exhibits to see, Italian gastronomy to indulge and wines to taste, we could not do it all. We did try though!  Next year, we plan to allocate more time to partake of all the Vinitaly has to offer.  

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