Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guided Tasting - Vino 2009 Miami - part 1

On January 30 The Italian Trade Commission brought Vino 2009 to the Intercontinental Hotel in Miami, Florida. The morning session consisted of a guided tasting followed by a sumptuous buffet lunch. Sixteen different wines were poured from the regions of Lombardia, Toscana, Abruzzo and Calabria while moderator Lyn Farmer, the Senior Editor of Wine News, walked us through each wines history, characteristics and vinification. We will begin with Lombardia and Abruzzo for this first article and save Tuscany and Calabria for the next installment.

We began our tasting with four sparkling wines from Lombardia, which is located in the north of Italy. The first, Ca’Maiol Brut Spumonte DOC Lugana is produced by Provenza located on the shores of Lake Garda. The estate is 100 acres made up of four separate vineyards. Provenza was established in 1967 by Walter Contato who also founded the Consorzio of Lugana which protects and enforces DOC regulations. This sparkler is produced in the classic method and aged three years. It contains a minimum of 90% Trebbiano grapes and has a delicate nose of peach, almonds and tropical fruit. Next we tasted Saten Brut 2007 DOCG Franciacorta. Franciacorta refers to the region as well as the product. The wine is produced by G. Ricci Curbastro & Sons, who hand pick the grapes for gentle pressing and ferment in French oak barrels. The estate has 28 hectares under vine, a wine making and farm implement artifacts museum, eight agriturismo apartments and a tasting hall. The “Saten” is made with 100% chardonnay grapes and has the fragrance of ripe fruit, flowers and nuts. Number three was Castel San Giorgio Brut Rose’ 2004 DOC, produced by San Giorgio in the center of Oltrepo’ Pavese. San Giorgio is one of the oldest vineyards in Oltrepo’ Pavese, purchased by the Perdomini family in 1978. They have 30 hectares of vineyards and a wine store where one can taste their wines along with other local products. They will even arrange full meals upon request. This Brut Rose’ is 90% Pinot Nero, 10% Chardonnay and shows off a pleasing rose color with a hint of orange, and peach and floral fragrances. Our final wine from this region was Montebello Rose’ Metodo Classico DOC from Oltrepo’ Pavese, produced by Ca’ Montebello. The estate was established in 1936 and has about 35 hectares of vineyards with grape varietals including, Pinot Nero and Barbera. Montebello Rose’ is 100% Pinot Nero, hand picked grapes and spends 18-20 months on the lees. The color is a bright rose with pinpoint bubbles and a delicate fragrance.

With our fifth wine, Spiria Cococciola 2007 IGT, we move on to the Abruzzo region, located south and east of Tuscany on the Adriatic side of Italy. The producer is Cantina Colle Moro, but unfortunately this wine isn’t yet available in the U.S. Hopefully they were able to find an importer at the convention. I would hate to have to wait until my next trip to Italy to sample another glass of this wine. It has a pale straw color with a bit of a greenish hue, delicate nose with hints of green apple and flowers. It is balanced, dry and very smooth and creamy. Lucanto 2007 DOC Trebbiano d’Abbruzzo produced by Torre Raone is number six. It is 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, the color of straw, intensely and persistently fragrant, dry, balanced, smooth and creamy with spice on the finish. Next in line was Pecorino Colle dei Venti 2007, IGT Terre di Chieti, produced by Caldora Vini. Pecorino is the name of the ancient grape that makes 100% of this wine. It does not refer to the goats milk cheese we all know and love. Caldora Vini is part of an area co-op called Ortono. Their most popular wine is Yuma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo made from very old vines belonging to “Soggiorno Proposta” which is an organization dedicated to helping people recover from drug addiction. To return to our Pecorino… the grapes are hand picked and the wine is aged six to seven months in lightly toasted Austrian Oak barrels, producing a wine of a light straw color with greenish reflections. It smells of white fruits, pears and a hint of balsamic. It has good acidity and a long finish. Our last wine from Abruzzo is Sorab Pecorino 2007, IGT Colline Pescaresi, produced by Contesa di Rocco Pasetti. Made from 100% Pecorino grapes, this modern winery boasts a low impact method of wine making that produces wines with a strong link to the territory. This wine is bright yellow in color with herbal notes and a smokey finish.

Stay tuned for my next installment of the guided tasting where we will explore samplings from Tuscany, an area that is familiar to many, and the southern region of Calabria. Thank you to the Italian Trade Commission for introducing us to so many great wines and the fascinating people who produce them.
- the Brew Crew
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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Bio- Beer: Coming Soon to a Health Food Store Near You

A 2003 BBC news article reported that the old Guinness slogan “Guinness is good for you” might just contain an element of truth. A University of Wisconsin study indicates that a pint of the stout a day may work as well as an aspirin to help prevent the clots that can cause heart attacks. Guinness stopped touting the health benefits of its brew decades ago. Recently, however, a group of Rice University students participating in the International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition began a quest to engineer a cancer fighting health beer they have dubbed “BioBeer”.
Rice’s iGem team, the BiOWLogists, are using genetic engineering to develop a strain of brewing yeast that will ferment beer while also producing a pharmacologically significant amount of resveratrol. Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound found in a few foods such as peanuts, blueberries and red wine. Studies have shown it to have cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits in mice and other animals. While resveratrol’s health effects have not been clinically proven for humans, its presence in red wine is often credited for the “French Paradox”, the apparent contradiction between the rich French diet and their relatively low rate of cardiac issues.
The Rice BiOWLogists still have a lot of research to do before they are ready to produce their first bottle of BioBeer, but they did take home a gold medal and second place for best presentation in the 2008 iGEM competition for the work they have done so far to build a beer-fermenting, resveratrol-producing strain of brewing yeast.
Congratulations, BiOWLogists! And, remember, always consume BioBeer, and its more conventional cousins in a responsible manner.
-the Brew Crew
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Vino 2009 Distinguished Service Awards

by the Italian Trade Commission
2/6/09 The Italian Trade Commission, New York, has announced its first Distinguished Service Awards for professionals in the wine industry who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing the understanding, appreciation and sales of Italian wines in the United States. The awards will be presented during the Italian Trade Commission’s inaugural Vino 2009 - Italian Wine Week, which will commence in Boston January 23-24, continue to New York January 26-28 and conclude in Miami on January 30.
For information visit
"We want to recognize those working in the wine industry in the United States who have helped make Italian wines the number one imported wines in America today. These are individuals who have devoted their lives to the appreciation of Italian wines, to the country of Italy and to the Italian way of life," said Aniello Musella, Trade Commissioner and Executive Director: "These awards will represent a Who’s Who of the Italian wine industry in the United States. We intend to recognize those who are currently working in the industry as well as those no longer with us."
Awards will be presented in the following categories: Restaurateur/Retailer, Journalist/Educator and Importer/Distributor based on the number of years an individual has been in the profession. A gala awards dinner announcing the Award attended by wine industry leaders from the U.S. and Italy will take place on January 27, 2009. At the dinner eight Hall of Fame honorees will be announced and presented special recognition awards.
Vino 2009 is open exclusively to wine and food professionals, including importers, distributors, educators and journalists from around the nation. The program will include a series of seminars, tastings and discussions led by some of the country’s most knowledgeable industry leaders covering a wide range of topics.
Winners Announced!
The award categories are Hall of Fame, Platinum, Gold, Silver and Distinguished Awards. Eight Hall of Fame honorees were named.
Burton Anderson - award winning author
Darrel Corti - Co-owner of Corti Bros.
Victor Hazan - Author, opened cooking schools in Bologna and Venice.
Leonardo Lacascio - president and CEO of Winebow Inc. Leading importer of premium
Italian wines.
John Mariani Jr. - Chairman Emeritus, Banfi Vintners and Castello Banfi.
Hubert Opici - Chairman Opici Wine Group
Pier Selvaggio - Owner of the Valentino Restaurant Group.
Anthony Terlato - Chairman of Terlato Wine Group
Click her to see the complete list of honorees.
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