Making Pinot Grigio Ramato :The Dal Cero Family of Corte Giocobbe

It’s been a while since you’ve seen me. I think I have a good excuse! Mr Joy of Wine and myself decided to put our house up for sale, and after meeting with a realtor on April 6, we set off doing the little things (and a few VERY big things too…) to make our house more appealing to potential buyers. On May 21 the sign went up and two weeks later, it was officially sold! Three weeks after that we packed up and moved our house into a rental townhouse unit closer to where both of us work. I do know I had some nice bottles of wine during that time (and also shared some with others), but with the life busy-ness I often just forget to post!

Now that we’re mostly settled, I’m glad to be back in the groove with the #ItalianFWT and this month’s theme of Ramato wines, a hugely popular, trendy style of Pinot Grigio made by using some skin contact to obtain that ramato (copper) colour of the wine.

Where I live, we have no monopoly, and there are a LOT of pinot grigios. So much so, that it tends to get overwhelming for the consumer. True story:  when I started at my current job, we had over 30 different pinot grigi on the shelf. Seriously? That’s 25 too many if you ask me and if it was ramato, it most definitely stood out! The Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe Pinot Grigio Ramato, happens to be one of the best selling pinot grigios in the entire province. For my friend who imports this wine, it’s his best selling and indeed his bread and butter. It’s so good, we keep stacks of it available!

The Dal Cero family is now three generations of properties and winemaking with sites in the Cortona region of Tuscany, Soave, and Valpolicella. If you see labels of Dal Cero, Tenuta di Corte Giocobbe or Tenuta Montecchiesi, it’s all owned by the Dal Cero family whose ancestral home is in Soave.

It’s a family affair with siblings Davide managing the vineyards and winemaking, Francesca takes care of exports, and Nico looks after the Italian market. If I may be so bold:  this family does not make a bad bottle of wine! Their pinot grigio ramato is likely one of their most exported wines.

I’ve tried many ramato style wines, but I always come back to this one, because the aromatics and flavours punch it well above its competitors, and great quality at its price point. Immediately upon pulling the cork, the aromas of peach waft out of the bottle. This wine is hugely aromatic! Pour into a glass and the peaches morph into mango, tangerine and some bitter Italian herbs. The acidity was super zingy which always makes it a great match with any food, but my simple meal of grilled sauteed vegetables and a loaded hamburger – one of my favourite summertime meals, accentuated the Italian herbs from the nose onto the palate. Happy Canada Day from me and a great start to a summer of fantastic patio wines!  

I hope you’ll join us tomorrow for the Twitter chat and read these other great posts from my collegues at #ItalianFWT:

Salute and Happy Summer!

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Bellone: The Great White Grape of Lazio #ItalianFWT

This month at #ItalianFWT, we turn our focus to Lazio, a region well known for its culture, famous landmarks, and Italy’s capital city: Rome. Frascati also dwells in Lazio with the grapes of Malvasia del Lazio (Puntinata) and Malvasia di Candia, along with Trebbiano, that take centre stage.

Bellone, however, is native grape of outstanding quality. It is an ancient grape dating back to Roman times and is capable of producing both dry and sweet wines (it likes noble rot). What I’ve tasted reminds me of Chardonnay in some form, so working in a retail environment, it’s a correlation that people can understand: If you like Chardonnay, I’ll bet you will like Bellone! Sadly, many of the vines of Bellone got ripped up and producers who have the opportunity to make some great Cannellino Frascati DOCG, don’t use Bellone, but rather inferior grape varieties.

 

 

If you DO happen to come across Bellone, it’s a fabulous wine, and one of my favourite whites to drink! Casale del Giglio was founded in 1967 by Dino Santarelli.  The vineyards are located 50km south of Rome where the Mediterranean oceanic climate with persistent sea breezes and warm, mild days with cool nights give the grapes the much needed diurnal swing to keep the acidity high, while allowing a fast ripening process. Indigenous yeasts are used, adding to the complexity of the wine. No oak here, just four months in stainless steel to keep the wine fresh and the acidity high. 

 

What a beautiful colour this wine was! Yellow with a green tinge; an expressive nose of citrus and melon, along with hints of papaya and pineapple. On the palate, the citrus and melon continued with medium body, high saline acidity and a bitter almond finish! It went down pretty easy…

When choosing this wine, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would pair with it at the time, but decided something with umamu might fit the bill! It was Taco Tuesday so it worked out perfectly! The saltiness of the meat, along with the added creaminess of the cheese and the acidic bite of the tomatoes worked very well with the wine! It was so good that I had to have two tacos (and another glass of Bellone…)

If you’d like to know more about the wines of Lazio, please check out what the other #ItalianFWT bloggers are writing about!

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Lazio in California: The Quintessential Roman Pasta + 2017 Big Sur Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: Alberico Appia Antica 400 Rosso 2016 paired with Stracci di Antrodoco

Terri at Our Good Life: Pietro Est! Est!! Est!!! with Crab Dip Crostinis

Susannah at Avvinare: Cesanese del Piglio, Classic Wines From Lazio

Gwendolyn at Wine Predator: “If You See Kay” — Lazio in Paso Robles? #ItalianFWT

Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles: Lazio – Exploring low intervention wines inspired by tradition and nature #Italian FWT

Katarina at Grapevine Adventures: How Wine in Lazio is Reimagining its Past Greatness

Enjoy everyone! Salute and Buona Pasqua !

 

 

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White Rioja: Taste & See What You’re Missing #WorldWineTravel

White Rioja. It’s like White Bordeaux or White Burgundy. I mean, we all know straight up what Rioja, Bordeaux or Burgundy is but ask for white, and the average joe might go…huh?  Burgundy not so much, but when someone comes into the store asking for White Bordeaux or White Rioja, my heart goes pitter patter. YES! Someone who knows exactly what they want!

Many of us in #ItalianFWT have crossed over to discuss other regions of the world, and 2021 is a focus on the regions of Spain for #WorldWineTravel. Rioja is a great place to start, given that it’s one of the oldest regions and only one of two with the highest quality designation. I always say “God bless the Spaniards”, because they have done the ageing for us! In fact, it’s not unusual to see Rioja wines aged 10 years, or even more. Currently, I have a 2001 on the shelf at the store – that’s 20 years old and she’s drinking beautifully!

So what does White Rioja mean exactly? Viura is THE white grape of Rioja (also called Macabeo, when referenced to Cava, or other regions of Spain) and traditionally these wines were made in an oxidative style. Expose the wine to air and get all those toasted nutty notes. My fellow writer Lauren from The Swirling Dervish, has already given us a  great review of white Rioja and talked specifically about Lopez de Heredia. She actually OPENED her wines to taste, and I have to say, I was living vicariously through her tasting notes and pairings! I am not yet ready to open mine.

The WHITE of Lopez de Heredia are far more of a cult wine than the reds. That being said, the reds are outstanding, and I have several available for sale at the store where I work. The whites however, are twice as much in price as the reds, and in my store, you can’t buy a bottle of white without buying at least two of the reds as well.  If I didn’t do that, I’d end up with 48 bottles of red and no white on the shelves! That’s the way it is. I named my price and they will sell. These are whites that are capable of great ageing, and their rosé is even more cultish. I’ve got that too, and it will wait patiently in my wine fridge for the right time and the right people to open it with. (Perhaps this summer or fall when COVID is a distant memory? One can only hope…) As you can see by the photo, the age of these wines range from 10-12 years. Sorry, I just can’t bring myself to open them just yet.

What I DID open was pretty spectacular though. The Bodegas de la Marques Valseranno in Rioja Alavesa is a family owned winery, now owned by the 4th generation, and currently being run by the 5th generation. Vines are an average age of 30 years and in their 65 hectares of estate land (along with 15 ha of vineyards they purchase from), tempranillo, garnacha, mazuelo(carignan), graciano and viura are cultivated. The natural underground cellars, which are over 200 years old, are home to the barrels for ageing.

Their viura (macabeo) is grown in the poorest soils, yet at the highest altitudes with great ventilation and the best sun exposure.  Interestingly, the back of the bottle tells me that this wine is 95% Viura with 5% Malvasia, yet the website says they’ve added Chardonnay for extra body and texture. With that said, I don’t know the percantage. Indeed, there is texture, but I feel it’s due to the batonnage stirrings weekly.  It’s also been fermented in new Allier oak, which would of course, add to the all around flavour of this wine. On the nose, I found honeydew melon, Meyer lemon, sponge toffee and hints of vanilla cookie. On the palate, more melon, honeycomb, yellow apple, medium+ acidity, with a nice full body mouth feel (from the lees ageing no doubt), and a slightly oxidative finish that was really quite long. Super impressive! I am a big fan of white wine in general (It never gets the respect it deserves…). Give me a well made, good, ageable white wine and I’m happy! After a long week of work, I didn’t want to cook, so I ordered in for myself and Mr. Joy of Wine. Shawarma was the perfect match to this wine with all the salty, sweet, flavourful combos of the tabouli, chicken, pickled veggies and pita. There was enough body in this wine to make it work!

Rioja anyone? Want to see what my fellow writers are talking about? Check out all things Rioja with these posts on #worldwinetravel!

  • Andrea at The Quirky Cork shares “Marqués de Cáceres Crianza with Chorizo Sweet Potato Pockets”
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm shares “Mexican Ham Soup and a Spanish Rioja Wine”
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla shares “Catalan Coques + La Rioja Alta Viña Arana Rioja Gran Reserva 2014”
  • Steve at Children of the Grape shares “Tasting Rioja With Aging Eyes”
  • Allison and Chris at Advinetures share “Rioja: The Confluence of Tradition & Modernity”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles shares “Viura – There is more to Rioja than Tempranillo”
  • David at Cooking Chat shares “White Bean Stew with Sausage and a Rioja”
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest shares “Revisiting Rioja: Vinedos Singulares with Bodegas Ontañon”
  • Nicole at Somms Table shares “One Day in Haro”
  • Lauren at The Swirling Dervish shares “White Rioja: There’s a Style for Every Palate”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Classic Rioja Alta to kick off virtual trip to Spain”
  • Terri at Our Good Life shares “Our First Rioja with Assorted Easy Tapas”
  • Susannah at Avvinare shares “Exploring Legendary Winery Marqués de Riscal”
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator shares “Regional Rioja: Tempranillo, Viura, Rosado paired with hearty soup, salad, lamb, papas frites”
  • Martin of ENOFYLZ shares Reconsider Rioja Blanca with Lopez de Heredia
  • Jeff at Food Wine Click! shares “Rioja Oriental – A Cinderella Story”

Salud!

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Celebrating the Season with Sparkling Freisa #ItalianFWT

For those of you that know me, you know I’m a bit of wine geek when it comes to Italian grape varieties! The learning never ends, and it’s a bonus when I get to buy native Italian wine varietals then smile from ear to ear when I can hand sell them, and sing the praises of all these grapes that I love so dearly!

Let’s call a spade a spade shall we? 2020 has really…for lack of better word, sucked. It’s been a rollercoaster of lockdowns, then ups, then a few freedoms; for everything to just be restricted once again. Cheers to my friends in the Southern hemisphere who are moving into summer and (hopefully) much lightening up of restrictions and lockdowns. It’s been a challenge to say the least.

But everything can always be made better with bubbles right? I was never really a fan of the bubbly, but as I get older, I just can’t get enough of them! Any shape, size, grape, method; bring it on! Bubbles make ME happy, and I’m sure they make many others happy too! Christmas and New Years is certainly a time when the bubble buying and consumption increases, and I’m always content to write about them! Especially if it’s a bubbly made from a lesser know Italian variety!

Enter Freisa…a relative of the great nebbiolo, grown in Piemonte and ripens after nebbiolo. In fact, its a very close relative of the famous grape, perhaps a child of nebbiolo with another unknown parent.  The name Freisa is derived from the latin fresia which means strawberry, and notes of strawberry are typically evident on any wine expression.  Like nebbiolo, it is light in the glass with a perfume of strawberry and sour red cherry. For those who have tasted Freisa, you know what I’m talking about. It has a fragrance and freshness like no other and the high acidity and tannic edge is always useful when pairing foods that are in need of something palate cleansing!

I’m a big fan of family owned wineries. Given a choice, I will always sell them over any big brand. The Russo family of Monferrato is Crotin 1897. Started by their grandfather in 1897 (hence the name), it is now run by daughter Daniela and her three sons who work together to make wine from their native grapes; run an agroturismo, and a guest house where visitors can have a full experience of Piemontese food, wine and culture.  There, you can have salami from their own pigs, bread and pasta from their own wheat, and jam and honey from their own fruit and hives–what they call “0 kilometre eating”. A “one stop shop” so to speak. You can find their wines made from Barbera,  Freisa, Grignolino, Albarossa (one of the most successful crossings: Barbera x Chatus), and Bussanello (a white grape that is also a crossing: Riesling Italico x Furmint). They only make 2500 cases annually…of everything. Period. Lucky us, in this market, we have access to the Freisa, Grignolino, Barbera, Bussanello, Albarossa and the subject of this post: the Nautilus. It’s a sparkling Freisa (but for total authenticity, there is 20% Pinot Nero in the bottle). Because of Freisa’s natural high acidity, it’s a perfect candidate for sparkling wine. I firmly believe this is why we are seeing so many sparklers coming from Italy’s native grapes: high acid=potential sparkling wine!

The label on all Crotin wines features a seashell, which pays homage to the soils on and around the property. I look forward to visiting one day, but apparently your feet might come in contact with these shells while walking through the vineyards!

I was expecting a super fresh wine, since it’s made with the Martinotti method, and indeed it was. Aromas of wild strawberries and citrus pith, the palate was refreshing and lively with more wild strawberries, red currants, cranberry and blood orange, with herbal undernotes (think rosemary and thyme). There was some creaminess going on in my meal because of the sauce I had on my pasta, and the bubbles helped to cleanse my palate and be ready for the next bite! My thought process for pairing was always some sort of vegetable dish (which to be honest was the highlight of the meal with the colour: autumn veggie choices of zucchini and brussel sprouts, along with heritage cherry tomato and spices), with the other parts of my meal complementing nicely. Mostly, it was a great way to have a full-flavoured meal (dill and garlic being the primary spices) and have a lovely refreshing wine to “wash it all down” with!

The sparkling Freisa hit the spot and if you’re looking for a sparkling wine for your turkey (or other poultry) dinner, this would be a good choice if you can find it! Or, just celebrate the season with a good bubbly and raise your glass to saying good riddance to 2020 and hello to 2021!

If you can’t find a freisa, please check out my fellow bloggers in #ItalianFWT to see what sparkler they are quaffing this holiday season, and it just might be available in YOUR market. Salute e Buon Natale!

  • Terri of Our Good Life says Beviamo alla nostra! Prosecco Superiore and Happy Christmas!
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences writes about Pure Trentodoc – Sparkling Wines from the Mountains.
  • Jill of L’Occasion encourages us to Be in Italy for the Holidays with This Bubbly Wine Lineup.
  • Gwendolyn of Wine Predator pushes Beyond Prosecco? Try These Sustainable Sparkling Wines from Italy’s Erbaluce, Franciacorta, Lambrusco, Pignoletto.
  • Lynn of Savor the Harvest gives us Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco to Make Your Holiday Sparkle – La Tordera Rive Di Guia.
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm says Cheers to 2021…2020 Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out.
  • Susannah of Avvinare pours Versatile Lambrusco for the Holidays.
  • Deanna of Asian Test Kitchen serves Val D’Oca Prosecco Paired with Party Starters.
  • Payal of Keep the Peas offers A ‘SeeYaNever2020’ Toast with Italian Bubbly.
  • Linda of My Full Wine Glass says Hello Again, Lambrusco – Everyone Deserves a Second Chance.
  • Jane of Always Ravenous pairs a Frizzante with Holiday Sweet Treats.
  • Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles pours Prosecco – Joyful Bubbles to “Wring” Out 2020.
  • Jen of Vino Travels is ready to Sparkle up the Holidays with Italian Prosecco.
  • Martin of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog offers A Taste of 21st Century Lambrusco; Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara Radice.
  • Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla is Celebrating with Prosecco Superiore Amidst the Pandemic.
  • Katrina of GrapevineAdventures is discussing A Year in Need of Sparkling Wine Surprises

 

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Being Thankful

Canadian Thanksgiving is today…and it’s truly one of my favourite holidays! I love the crisp, cool air, the endless sunshine (in these parts, we get a lot) and the panorama of autumn colours is pretty astounding! The Capital Region River Valley (I live in the Capital city of Alberta – Edmonton, just in case you’re wondering) teems with folks walking their dogs, throwing the toys for retrieval, and those same dogs taking a dip down by the river’s edge. The dogs don’t care that the water is cooler, they just like to chase that stick!

As we know, 2020 has been a challenging year, and one might wonder what there is to be thankful for! But indeed for me there is…I still have my health, I’ve had a job through all the lockdowns, shutdowns, smackdowns, whatever, I’ve still been employed! I’m one of the blessed ones, as I work in an industry that is deemed “essential”. I’m holding out hope that ours (as well as other economies) will remain open, albeit with some strict(er) measures. I fear that to shut everything down again would lead to some serious demise. And when I say demise, I mean anarchy & riots. All that to say, I’m thankful. My house is warm & secure, I’m employed full time, as is Mr. Joy of Wine and one daughter who is full time in her chosen field (a Registered Nurse) and the other, University & part time work. All of us in an “essential” service, so there’s much to be thankful for and I always like to put it in writing!

My job offers me the ability to taste, analyze and purchase wine for the consumer; keeping in mind that it is something I think might sell for immediate consumption, cellaring, or gifting. By the way, Christmas is only 11 weeks away…it’s never too early to start shopping! Stay tuned for another blog about gift ideas!

My big turkey dinner was last night. Canadian Thanksgiving calls for Canadian wine. It’s a  tradition in fact to drink Canadian wine on Thanksgiving! Two amazing wineries (one small and one medium sized) with well-made wines to grace our tables! They also happen to be two of my favourites. The winemakers have been in the industry for a good while, making them somewhat mavericks of their areas and the grapes they grow.

Grant Stanley of Spearhead Winery, has been in the area for more than 15 years. A New Zealander originally, he comes by growing and producing Pinot Noir honestly. It’s the signature red grape of the region (NZ), and it’s one he specializes in, and does so very well. But his Clone 95 Chardonnay graced my table yesterday (Btw, another grape he is fond of growing!) and married well with all those flavours of roast turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and roasted Brussel sprouts with bacon. My bad, I failed to take a photo of said food spread, but needless to say, it all went over very well (with everyone having their own serving spoon to dish up…sigh). The wine disappeared very quickly.

Then there was Marcus Ansems Daydreamer Pinot Gris. The Australian born MW and his wife Rachel had a dream to start their own project, and with a little piece of Naramata Bench in the Okanagan they did just that. The 2018 left with a hint of RS on the palate to deliver a weightier, fuller mouth feel Pinot Gris with just a hint of sweetness on the tip of the tongue. By the way, turkey soup is on the menu tonight and the saltiness of the soup will enhance the sweetness of this wine. Oops, I’ve already had a bowl for lunch so I know this is true! (Yes, there was some leftover wine today, but won’t be by tomorrow!) It was a perfect match, my soup and the pinot gris. This wine is a great way to start diving into the world of quality wines, for those that need a wine which is a bit sweeter. It reminded me of ripe pears and golden delicious apples, baked in the oven with nutmeg & cinnamon…flavours of Fall indeed!

That was all last night. Today, I’m thankful that we can celebrate just being Thankful. In fact, we should be doing it everyday, not just on a specified day where many of us as Canadians have the day off. Let’s be thankful for the freedom to still be with those that we love (albeit in smaller numbers). But this, like any other pandemic, will soon be a distant memory. I’m being optimistic when I say that. I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping for a bit of “normalcy” in 2021 and beyond. My American friends will have their day later on next month.

There’s always something to be thankful for. Always. It might only be one thing, but there’s always something. Enjoy a glass of good wine tonight with someone you love and celebrate all the things we are Thankful for! Salute!

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