The Organic Contessa

It's always great fun to meet with a winemaker.  And it's especially fun when the winemaker is a woman—in a somewhat-still male dominated field—and when she's also an owner of an estate that goes back well more than a thousand years.  And she's a Contessa! So I was very much looking forward to a wine-soaked lunch earlier this week with Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini, whose family and estate have been around since the 1200s!  I spent three hours with her at Manhattan's Quartino Bottega Organica, an especially fitting place because Ginevra transformed this ancient business into an organic and biodynamic farm and winery more than ten years ago. The winery uses no herbicides, chemical fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, and uses naturally-occurring indigenous yeasts for fermentation. Even the corks are…

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Tuscany Comes to Soho

The world of Italian wine might be more complex and mystifying to most Americans than any other wine region, including France or Spain. Yet it’s only been the last 25 years or so that Italian wines have really taken off here, due in large part to a couple things—one, a revolution of a sorts in modern winemaking, and two, the introduction of the so-called “super-Tuscans”, wine based on the Sangiovese (Chianti) grape, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot added for structure and body.  That actually points out one of the things that’s typically been a stereotype but true about Italian wines; they’ve always been known for their finesse, moderation and balance, true food wines, rather than blockbusters. And of course, that…

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Wine of the Week: Banfi Chianti Superiore DOCG 2012

This Chianti, mostly from the Sangiovese grape, is a classified wine, and the DOCG means Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  That ought to mean something but it doesn't mean all that much. Still, this is a very nice bottle of wine, especially for 11 bucks, which is about what you'll pay of for it in most wine stores, though you can find it in places for as little as $9.  A great value either way. A nice ruby red color, this is a medium-bodied, easy-drinking wine that won't bowl you over.  But it's got some tannin for structure, a little leathery, and fresh black cherry and plum flavors. What I noticed above everything else is that it's nicely acidic…

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Wine of the Week: Argiano Non Confunditur 2009

In this wine, Italy does meet France. Argiano is an Italian winemaker with 120 acres of vines in Montalcino, Tuscany, and also produces a Bordeaux-style wine entirely from French grapes, in addition to three 100% Sangiovese wines. This is a full-bodied, very satisfying wine that a bunch of work colleagues and I enjoyed the other night at Eno Terra in Princeton.  Forty percent Cab, and twenty percent each Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah, this is one of the most interesting blends I've ever tasted.  Nice blackfruit, a touch of spice, noticeable but not overwhelming tannin and a really nice, long finish, this is a great wine with food or just by itself on a cold, winter night.  Like we're having here…

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Wine of the Week: Banfi Chianti Classico 2008

For thirteen bucks, you really can't do much better. That's my opinion, and it's also the opinion of a bunch of wine Judges at the Ultimate Wine Challenge in NY City this past May. Normally I don't put too much stock in wine contests, but this one I liked, especially as the tastings were blind and the top scorers were were then tasted by a whole different group of judges. And they put a lot of emphasis on affordable and value wines.  This is certainly one of them. Anyway, what a great food wine: medium bodied, with flavors of black and bing cherries, a hint of leather, nice acidity, and enough tannin to chew on but not overwhelm you. Most of this is Sangiovese,…

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