I Collazzi and a Big Ol’ Steak #ItalianFWT

Super Tuscans: You love them or you hate them. They are wines that statistically score high, but are they all necessarily good? What does it all even mean?

Tuscany is known more for the sangiovese grape, with various amounts of it in five DOCG up to 100% in the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG. However, with the popularity of international grape varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, producers wanted the option to be able to use these grapes. Because the laws never permitted these grapes, the wines were downgraded to simple Vino di Tavola, yet they were far from simple!

Brands like Sassicaia and Tignanello were big on putting Super Tuscans on the map, as they believed in these grapes because the climate was suitable for their growth. After much perserverance from the Tenuta San Guido Estate (Sassicaia), the designation for Bolgheri DOC now exists (1994) and one for its very own, Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC in 2013.

Today, I’m not here to talk about them, but rather I Collazzi, an estate owned by the Marchi family since 1933. Of their vast land holdings of 400 ha, only 25 ha is actual vineyards, with surprisingly very little sangiovese. They grow mainly cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, and interestingly enough have an outstanding single varietal petit verdot called Ferro in their lineup.

The IGT Toscana I Collazzi consists of Cabernet Sauvignon 50%, Cabernet Franc 25%, Merlot 20%, Petit Verdot 5% – pretty much a true Bordeaux blend and not terribly expensive at $64 CAD for the 2016 vintage.

But the real deal here is what I like to call a Baby Super Tuscan, their Libertà featuring not only merlot and cab franc, but with the addition of Syrah to put a little spicy kick in this wine! The name Libertà has some history behind it also! The city of Florence gave a gift to eight Florentine families, of which one such family was the then owners of the Collazzi property who fought valiently to free

the city.

The 55% merlot keeps the wine soft, the 30% cabernet franc brings structure and complexity to the blend and the 15% syrah kicks it into the spice camp. You’ll also find amazing flavours of ripe plum, red currants, ripe red cherries, forest floor and hints of pepper spice and a nice touch of oak.  Just the right amount of smooth tannins and some tangy acidity; it’s just begging for a big piece of meat! It drinks well beyond its price point, which in my market is an absolute steal at $20 CAD/bottle! By the way…I did a Riedel tasting on my last trip to Italy, and they poured 2012 Sassicaia in the Cab glass.  I was underwhelmed. So that to say…that not all the big names in Super Tuscan land are winners!

And when in Florence and surrounding area, la bistecca is the go to meat, and there’s nothing better than a big ol’ steak with a full bodied Super Tuscan wine, even if it’s a Baby Super Tuscan! Little did I know, that my 20-year-old daughter had found a recipe online for steak marinade and put the steak to stew for five hours. She blended (all things Italian really) balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, basil…and a few other ingredients) to make this unbelievable tasting steak that my husband then put on the grill. Those flavours, plus the wine, was like a unicorn dancing on a rainbow…one of the best combos I’ve ever had! The fruit was explosive and dancing in my mouth and the flavours of the steak, the marinade, the asparagus and my fresh greens (from my garden I might add) all came together as some sort of Utopia…I think I finished half the bottle of Libertà, it was just that good…

It’s not all about me though! Get in on the conversation (or maybe the controversy) and have a look at my fellow #ItalianFWT writers to see what they have to say! And join us for our Twitter chat, June 27, 2020!

Super Tuscans, Take-Out Pizza, and a Spicy Summer Salad |Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Super Tuscan Wine Pairing: I Sodi di San Niccolò and Scallop Shrimp Pasta with Tomatoes and Mushrooms |The Wine Chef

Super Tuscans: What’s It All About? |VinoTravels

A Stop at Brancaia and a Pizza Night |Somm’s Table

Super rating, super price – Is this Super Tuscan super? | My Full Wine Glass

Have You Tried These Super Tuscans? |The Wining Hour

There’s no need to Fear, Super Tuscans are here! |Our Good Life

Are Super Tuscans still relevant and worth my time and money?|Crushed Grape Chronicles

Cooper’s Hawk: A Great Concept and a Super Super Tuscan |A Day In the Life on the Farm

No Super Tuscans for Me! | FoodWineClick

Super Tuscans: Keep Your Sassicaia, I’ll take the Sangiovese |WinePredator

Supertuscan Is All About The Name, Not In The Wine |GrapeVine Adventures.

Looking Beyond the Name Super-Tuscans |Avvinare

Naming Rights + Super Tuscans |Our fearless host Jill Barth at L’Occasion

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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day 14

We made it! After succesfully completing 14 days of self isolation, one would be ready to go back to work. However, many of us no longer have a job so the isolation will continue. If you are reading this and you don’t have a job to go back to, I’m very, very sorry. This is not an easy time for anyone, and I think often of parents with school-aged children, trying to not only keep themselves from going stark raving mad because the kids are around all the time, but trying to home school them and/or keep them entertained. For those that work at home, the balance of trying to get it all done as well as being a parent. Tough stuff. I also think of those who have been laid off and are on endless hold on the phone, or on a website that is continually kicking you off or timing out, just to figure out the future of your finances. Or, there are people like my parents who are both almost 80. They don’t always understand why they have to stay inside, but we beg them to do so, hoping they will listen, and by staying in, keep them from getting sick.

It’s definitely one for the record books…

If you have a “stash” of wine, pick out something good for yourself tonight. A bottle you’ve been saving for a special occasion, a bottle received as a gift for a special occasion. Whatever it is, dust if off and just open it. Simple or expensive, it doesn’t matter. After you’ve opened it and poured it in your glass, Savour. Every. Single. Sip. Think about what you are smelling and tasting, what you might eat with this, and then when you might have this exact same bottle again – in a different, better time.  Think of the person who gave it to you, if it was a gift. Mostly, think of what the wine reminds you of. All good things I hope. Through all of this, I want everyone to remember that “this too, shall pass.” For those of you living in warmer climes, I envy you, for you can at least sit on your front steps, or your veranda, your deck or porch, and listen to the birds and watch the sunset. I can’t do that (yet). I won’t see blossoms or buds for another month, and the city will be mucky and slushy and dirty until that time. Enjoy the view for me.

This is what I decided to have a glass of tonight.

It’s nothing special, but for me, it reminds me of the place I get to go every year – Verona. Sadly, there will be no trip to Verona for me this year, and no exploring the lands of Prosecco before or afterwards. So I’ll have a glass, and likely even make it an Aperol Spritz…not that I can enjoy being with friends while I sip it, or sit outside in the sunshine and enjoy it, but I’ll think of all the amazing times I DID sit outside and sip one, and it was usually among friends.

Wherever you are, whether you’re alone or with a loved one, here’s to you: stay safe, and remember that we will get through this together. #andratuttobene


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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation – Day 13

I don’t know about you, but the days are really starting to run together…when I woke up this morning, I had to think about what day it was. Ah yes, it’s Saturday. The day when many are off work and enjoying the next two days off. However, if you’ve been home in isolation these past two weeks, it won’t really feel like a weekend anyway. It’s not even like vacation…because you’re stuck inside!

I would be remiss if I did not include South Africa in my list of quarantine wines. They too are going through this (although we certainly don’t hear much about it here). So to pay homage to my friends and fellow wine peeps in South Africa, I must include wines from the Farm I was privileged to be a part of for a month in February of 2018. I fell in love with South Africa after being there, tasted amazing wines, met some fabulous people (who are amazingly generous) and the food! Oh my the food! I was seriously spoiled in SA with the food. (Yes, and everything else)

Journey’s End is a smaller property owned by the Gabb family of the UK and local South African’s run the various aspects of the winery. I spent most of my time in the winery working with Mike & Leon learning about crushing, fermentation, destemming, barrel ageing, and much of my learning came in the form of measuring how the fermentation was progressing on a daily basis. Really cool stuff…IF you’re a wine geek and want to learn about this stuff!

Tonight I’m opening their top end. The Destination Chardonnay 2016 is produced from 17 barrels and only in the best vintages.  It’s named such because “we hope that once opened, this wine will entice people from far and wide to finish their quest for the ultimate Chardonnay at Journey’s End”. (journeysend.co.za). I actually enjoyed a bottle of the Chardonnay at the beginning of March, along with some friends to go with some spaghetti agli e olio and pork souvlaki. It was awesome then, but it just kept getting better and better as the night went one, and day three was a pretty stunning glass of wine. Notes of lemon cream, spiced vanilla, baked apples, candied lemon, hints of a savoury mushroom and ripe peaches. Just spectacular!

The Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, is named for the south-easter wine that blows in from False Bay, keeping the berries healthy and also cleansing the air from smog and impurities. Again, only produced in exceptional years and in 2012, it was made from only 12 barrels. Always big alcohol in South African wines (due to the heat) but these are so well balanced! The wine is really intense with aromas and flavours of fruit cake, cassis, blackberry, smoke, cinnamon and nutmeg. The tannins are firm but smooth. No doubt this wine could be put away for another 8-10 years easily!

If you have any South African wine stashed away, tonight is the night to open it! To my friends in South Africa – Gesondheid!


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Quarantine: 14 Days of Isolation Wines – Day 12

Well, another Friday is upon us and some of us are on the home stretch of being done Isolation. However, even after two weeks, we wonder if everything is ok to resume. That said, this might be our “new normal” for awhile. To be honest, I can’t say that I like it.

So with these last couple of days to complete two weeks, I want to open some old favourites and some really, really, ridiculously good (looking) wine.

Super Tuscan wine took the world by storm in the early 70’s with wines that were produced outside of DOC and DOCG zones, made with other grapes than what was allowed.  These wines are typically made with a variety of Bordeaux grapes, as well as Syrah and Sangiovese and now have the IGT designation (they previously could only use the lowly Vino di Tavola). Today, they are very much considered cult wines, and have the price tag to go with it. One such wine is Sassacaia, which is typically constructed of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Every year, this wine scores top marks from the critics and it’s a wine that many want in their cellars. The 2016 Sassicaia scored 100 points and just the other day, I sold the last three bottles I had on the shelf at the store! I get a bit giddy when wines like that go out the door!

However, this evening’s wine will be from the I Colazzi winery…a family business since 1933, the Marchi family doesn’t just make wine, but olive oil and honey! One of their wines is the absolutely amazing Ferro – made from 100% Petit Verdot. But that’s not what I’m having…I absolutely love the Libertà, essentially, a baby Super Tuscan. Made from  55% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Franc and 15% Syrah, all of these grapes are making an appearance for a perfectly blended wine! Soft on the palate with those plummy notes from our steady Merlot, forest floor, earthiness and hints of capsicum courtesy of the Cab Franc, and just a hint of meatiness and pepper, thanks to Syrah. This wine is an absolute steal at only $21 CAD on the shelf. Great balance and structure here without it being too tannic. It’s pure and easy to drink. I know I can’t afford Super Tuscans every day, but I can sure afford this! Bring on the babies! Salute!


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Brachetto: The Sweetie of Piemonte – #ItalianFWT

I love Brachetto. Full stop. I love selling Brachetto. I love people’s reactions when they say they want something different than Moscato, and then their minds are blown with something Moscato-like, but it’s a RED wine!

Brachetto is one of the few aromatic red grapes of Italy. Yes, there’s aromatic white grapes – lots of them, but aromatic red grapes are something of an anomaly. In Piemonte alone, there are seven aromatic reds: Brachetto, Ruche, Malvasia di Casorzo, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia Nera Lunga, Moscato Nero d’Acqui and Brachettone del Roero. I have tasted five of these and Brachetto is high on the list in both quality and flavour. Brachetto is an aromatic grape due to its high levels of geraniol and nerol (those flower notes that we always smell in the wine!)

In the beginning, Brachetto was always made as a still, dry wine. The popularity of the grape was boosted by a decision to make this a sparkling frizzante version back in the late nineteenth century by Arturo Bersano. Clearly, it was a good decision as the sweeter profile, and an alcohol level of 5.5%, similar to that of moscato wines, makes it highly competitive in the market. So much so that it the style we see most of in today’s market.  The best are labelled Brachetto d’Acqui but are often made around the town of Asti, (Brachetto d’Asti) and these can be good too.

I recently wrote about Brachetto in January’s #ItalianFWT, to introduce folks to Italian wine. I’ll feature the same brachetto wine in this post, because I feel that it truly exemplifies the Brachetto grape and the typicity of it.

La Gironda is proud of their area of Monferatto/Nizza, where some of the best wines of the world are made! They are a completely sustainable vineyard with no herbicides/pesticides, hand harvesting, and reduced consumption of environmental resources! I would be pleased to drink any of their wines and their Brachetto d’Acqui is definitely a real treat! A small family run winery fueled with passion, commitment and dedication run by Susanna and Alberto and their family. Although I have been to Monferrato, (and welcomed warmly, I might add), I will one day visit their winery to learn more about this fascinating grape, and taste through their portfolio of wines! Susanna, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re staying safe during this time! I salute you!

I decided to keep it simple: Chocolate covered strawberries and Brachetto! I skipped right to dessert because after all..Life is short! The wine is a beautiful light ruby colour with delicate bubbles. The aroma is intoxicating with ripe raspberries, tons of floral rose notes, with hints of cinnamon, strawberry, red currant and rhubarb. Great acidity on the palate that perfectly balances the sweetness in this wine. There’s also a savoury hint on the back end which would make this super fun to pair with some savoury food…I’ll have to talk to friend Bev about this and have her come up with something! Then with the chocolate covered strawberries? Totally brings out all the aforementioned flavours of the wine! 

Who needs a meal when you can skip right to dessert? Enjoy the posts on Brachetto written by my fellow #ItalianFWT collegues! Salute!

Susannah at Avvinare explores “Brachetto d’Acqui – A Treat from Piedmont”

Nicole at Somms Table is pairing “Marenco Pineto Brachetto d’Acqui and Simple Strawberry Treat”

Lynn at Savor the Harvest is ready to “Brighten Up Lockdown with Brachetto d’Acqui Sparkling Wine #ItalianFWT”

Jennifer at Vino Travels Italy is enjoying “Brachetto: The Sweet Red Bubbly of Piemdont”

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing “Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso + Brachetto d’Acqui”

Gwendolyn at Wine Predator is pairing “Brachetto d’Acqui and Grandma’s Biscotti with Cherries Poached in Red Wine and Marscapone #ItalianFWT”

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm is “Whiling Away the Time with Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui Pineto”

Jeff Burrows at Food Wine Click finds “Piemonte Brachetto: Sweet, Fizzy and Red!”

Terri at Terri Steffes is spending “An Afternoon of Wine Learning: Brachetto d’Acqui” 

Linda at My Full Wine Glass is “Bingeing on Brachetto, Biscotti, Berries and a Chocolate Bunny”

Cindy at Grape Experiences, gives us “Bring Joy to the Table with Brachetto d’Acqui and Budino al Cioccolato (Chocolate Pudding Italian Style)”


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