Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Category: "Italy"

Fours and a Pour: Something Old and a Whole Lotta New

Change is abound and many are still feeling the energy of fall and that deeply ingrained back-to-school excitement.  Although this is sounding like an astrological horoscope, it is a time of renewal for many aspects of life,  one of which is changing my living space.  The concept of decorating and furnishing has sparked much creativity in me, so this week's Fours is primarily dedicated to interior design.   (I'm learning my style leans towards bordello chic - I foresee a lot of leopard print). 

The Fours
1.  Yogibo Fly - Holy crap, it's an indoor hammock.  From a practicality standpoint, what better way to provide seating in a small space?  But come on,  it's an indoor hammock!  I want this. So badly. My hammock obsession is thisclose to being realized.

2. Urbio wall garden - I've never been able to keep a plant alive longer than a week, but this Urbio wall garden is inspiring me to give some TLC to low maintenance succulents (and truthfully, saying "succulents" makes me giggle).

3.  Apartment Therapy's Big Book of Small, Cool Spaces by Malcolm Gillingham-Ryan - Ingenious ideas for tiny space dwellers can be found in this coffee-table book.  Read it and try not to be inspired. 

4.  Vynebar hanging storage - this rack will serve as both wine storage and an art installation on my wall.  It will probably encourage me to drink more as well so I can rotate the bottle selection and create new "art." 

Bricco Boschis, Cavallotto, Barolo, 2004
And the one old - this gorgeous Barolo that I've been saving for a special occasion and finally had a chance to open.  It started off with deep cherry and plum but beautiful violets wove their way through the nose.  It sat and breathed for a while, which then produced the plum, earth and tobacco and a bit of rose.  On the palate, the deep berries burst on the tongue along with some strong acid and tannins. They kept integrating into one of the most beautifully balanced wines I've had in a long, long time.   

Arrigoni Private Wine Tasting

Forget April showers, the month was awash with tasting events. I capped off a busy week at the end of the month at a private tasting of wines by the producer Arrigoni. I met the very charming Davide at a Chianti tasting earlier in the week and he followed up with an invite to a private tasting a few days later. In addition to the reds featured at the grand tasting, they showcased some of their whites.  In total I tasted 6 wines but wanted to highlight 4 in particular and examine a pure Vermentino varietal to a blended one, as well as a classic Chianti to a 100% Sangiovese expression.

Colli Di Luni Vermentino DOC "La Cascina Dei Peri"
This Vermentino, blended with 5% Pigato, was a simple but accessible wine. Pear, kiwi and a ripe grapefruit appeared in this crisp white.  I've always felt Vermentino was overshadowed by the Pinot Grigio marketing machine; it is a very good Italian white that deserves more recognition.

Colli Di Luni Vermentino DOC "Vigna Del Prefeto"
This one is 100% Vermentino and one of my favorites from the tasting. The flavor profile was similar to the previous one but it showed a bit more complexity. There was a roundness and depth to it that kept me interested while sipping. The crisp acidity was still present but overall this wine had a few more embellishments than its simplified precursor.

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG
A blend of Sangiovese, Malvasia Nera and Canaiolo (also known as petit verdot), this wine was exemplary of Chianti.  Ripe berries, licorice, earthy, and a little bit green. Fairly high in acid with pronounced, but integrated tannins, this was a very enjoyable red.

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG "Poggio al Vento"
The final wine in the tasting was 100% Sangiovese. Cranberry, ash and oak were all immediately present, but the oak was not as well integrated as it should be and muscled through the crowd of tasting notes to become the dominant factor. Obviously, this wine was undeniably tannic, which might have held up well with some food but in this context, felt rather unbalanced in the glass.

Arrigoni currently does not have distribution in the U.S. but hopefully will get picked up soon. I'd love to have that Vigna Del Prefeto on the table for an alfresco summer dinner.

Keep tasting, friends...

An Ode to La Spinetta

One of wine's most important elements is its ability to evoke memories. We tend to gravitate towards particular wines not only for the way they taste but for the way they can transport one to a particular moment. You may remember that beautful bottle that was served on your birthday and now, whenever you see it on a menu, you may smile with recollection.  Or what about that bottle of rose that you drank at dinner on a beach vacation, overlooking the ocean?  I'm sure you are more apt to select that bottle over any other in a wine store.

La Spinetta wines hold that special memory for me.  With that first sip, I'm instantly transported to our first dinner on the patio at La Villa, our hotel in Piedmonte, on what was to become a pinnacle trip in my burgeoning passion for wine.  Sitting amongst the vineyard-covered hills, the setting sun alighting the mountain peaks like small volcanoes, I felt an ease and fluidity in my being I had never experienced before. The marriage of land and wine became a crystalized concept and I knew this was the beginning of a passionate journey.

Now, at a crossroads in my life, La Spinetta brought me back to a place of peace. Recently, Eataly hosted a tasting of four La Spinetta wines, including a first vintage rose. Tasting through these, I was transported to that moment of happiness, felt in its purest form

Langhe Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 ($46.80)
This was a gorgeous, old-world style sauv blanc, a must-drink alternative to the popular Italian pinot grigio. A bit pricey, yes, but it oozed character. Green apple, citrus and a brisk minerality announced themselves right away on the nose and palate. The acid, high and bright, was somehow tempered by a softness and roundness that is often found in Sancerre. I adore this wine.

Il Rose di Casanova, 2012 ($14.80)
This was their premier effort at rose and I hope they continue production. This wine came from their Tuscany estate and was 50% Sangiovese/50% Prugnolo Gentile. More Provence in style than the full-bodied deep Rosatos of Italy, this one had fresh-picked wildflowers, light cherry, strawberry fields and an overall brightness. Again, there was a good amount of acid on this fresh vino. Summer, where are you already?

Ca' Di Pian, Barbera, 2009 ($27.80)
Looking back at old posts, I'm shocked I haven't written about this one yet, considering it's offered by the half bottle at many wine bars in the city and I drink it all the time. At any rate, this is what I consider to be a textbook example of a good Barbera. On the nose, black cherry, plum and violets give way to cherry, raspberry and a solid earthiness on the palate. Again, acid is very prominent and some moderate tannins. Classic, classic, classic.

Vigneto Bordini, Barbaresco, 2005 ($53.80)
This was a lighter, refined style of Barbaresco. Violets, cranberry and an almost strawberry note wafted in the glass, layered with tones of chocolate. On the palate, the cranberry was even more noticeable, along with well-structured tannins and acidity. This is a barbaresco that I think could be sipped on by itself, along with being a great food wine.

Dedicated to S.P.

It's Rose Season!

What's in the box?

You could say it's part of my spring cleaning.  However, I'm not going through my closets and packing up snow boots (who in Manhattan has enough closet space to do a full swap-out anyway?); I'm making room in the wine fridge for.....


These gems are Proprieta Sperino Rosa del Rosa, Piedmont, 2012 ($21). Last year, while sitting on the patio during a girls' reunion weekend, we opened up a bottle of the 2011 amidst the chatter of memories and recollections. Literally, I stopped talking for a good few minutes as I was so beguiled by my glass.  This nebbiolo-dominant rose was stunning; round and juicy but still crisp and refreshing.  Last week, when Moore Brothers Wine Company sent the email announcing the newest vintage had arrived, I rushed over and secured myself two bottles. 

More and more, I find with a great wine there is often a great story attached to it; it's as if the passion and courage are infused in the bottle.  This wine is no exception.  According to Moore Brothers, the winemaker, Paolo De Marchi, produced award-winning wines down in Chianti Classico; however, his ultimate desire was to restore his great, great uncle's vineyard in Piedmont, which had been abandoned since 1952.  Ten years ago, Paolo and his son went to work revitalizing the vineyard and implementing traditional winemaking methods from the region.  To date, they are now producing some gorgeous wines and creating a mini-reinassance in the region.

 I can't wait to open them and share some tasting notes with you.  (I know, you're waiting with baited breath). So, who's going to join me and have a glass? 

Pizza! Pizza! (and more dessert)

New York is a pizza town.  From the classic slice to the gourmet pie, nearly every international style of pizza is represented.  Neapolitan?  Grandma square?  Dollar slice drunkenly consumed on the street corner?  We've got 'em all.

Wine enthusiasts often debate what's the best wine to pair with pizza and more often than not, Italian wines reign supreme. With their high acidity, Italian wines are very complementary to the tomato-based dish. It also harks back to one of my general rules of thumb: when in doubt, pair like with like.  A wine from the same country of origin as the cuisine will match well. Yes, you can start to drill down to specific regions and grapes and debate what goes best with all those fancy toppings, but in general, Italian wines are a sure thing.

A recent Saturday night brought us to a new place, Sotto 13.  Perusing the wine list, we opted for a Valpolicella, a red from the Veneto region of Italy.  This wine was produced in the Ripasso method, meaning that a percentage of the grapes were dried out on mats for weeks (a technique called Passito) in order to increase natural sugars and flavors.  These grapes are then fermented with other grapes in order to increase the intensity and flavor profiles of the wines.

So, did it work with pizza?  You bet.

Impero Valpolicella Superior, Ripasso, 2009

This wine was a blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara  grapes, very traditional for a Valpolicella. Immediately, this wine revealed plums, raisins and cherries, along with some black tea and earthy notes.  It was juicy and round with notable wood tannins. The acidity of the tomato sauce mellowed out the wine's acid levels and a rich, complex wine, with a slight chocolate essence at the end, emerged.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but after, we went to Minetta Tavern for that infamous soufflé.  Yep, two weeks in a row.  Feel free to stage an intervention at any point.

(this sucker didn't even stand a chance)

With it, we paired a Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti.  The beautifully perfumed notes of orange blossom, honeysuckle, candied apricot and honey matched the gooey chocolatey center of the soufflé perfectly.  Heaven.

Keep tasting, friends....