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Italy

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Montecucco: The New Face of Tuscany

Have you imagined taking a fantasy vacation in Tuscany? People around the world fantasize about the “beautiful life” offered … typically a panoramic view of hills (often including a slice of ocean or castle tower) and Old World stone buildings and lots of time to spend with friends and family, Agriturismo is increasingly popular way […]



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Visiting Amiata Vini in Montecucco, Italy

It was such a pleasure to meet Simone Tonielli the proprietor of Amiata winery located in Montegiovi, an ancient village in the municipality of Castel del Piano (a province of Grosseto) which is an incredible 400 meters above sea level at the foot of Mount Amiata, an ancient extinct volcano. First off, it was so […]



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Visiting the Pieri family of Poggio Stenti

“My father wanted to be a butcher as a young man,” says Eleonora Pieri, as she drives me to her family’s farm in an area of Montecucco which is just within sight of the Banfi tower in Montalchino. We stop by for a visit – it is quite charming, with well-arranged meats and what can […]



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Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG: The Other Sangiovese

Since the 2011 Vintage, Sangiovese produced in Montecucco can bear the DOCG label if certain specifications are kept, such as at least 90% of the grapes must be Sangiovese and the wine is aged a minimum of 12 months in wood and six months in bottle. However, many producers go beyond this, aging the wine for […]



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Visiting Casale Pozzuolo in Montecucco, Italy

Delightful visit to Casale Pozzuolo to kick off my visit to Montecucco, as of 2011 a new DOCG region for Sangievese. First, you have to imagine the landscape – incredible green rolling hills everywhere you look, absolutely stunning countryside with brooks and meadows everywhere. Casale Pozzuolo, a stunning castle that has been lovingly refurbished by […]



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Tasting with Giacomo Conterno in Barolo

    “My goal is put my signature on my wine,” says Giacomo Conterno, speaking about the importance – or not – of critics in the wine world. This statement follows a discussion of the twenty-year debate between the “traditionalists” and “modernists” in Barolo. A brilliant and charming conversationalist, I found him a fountain of […]



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Visiting G.D. Vajra Family in Piedmont

Wonderful visit today with the fabulously closely knit G.D. Vajra family, who produces Barolo as well as Barbera, Dolcetto, native grapes … and Riesling! Okay, so here’s the story. This is a family of poets and dreamers, with everything beginning with Aldo Varja, an organic winemaker and traditionalist who adheres to old style winemaking methods […]



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Visiting Oddero Winery in Piedmont

It’s not often you find a winemaker who looks more like an Milan-based socialite, yet Mariacristina Oddero of Oddero winery in La Morra fits the mold. Beyond Mariacristina’s charm, the first thing one notices is the gorgeous “L-shaped” house/winery at the top of the hill and the tall green trees in the driveway. The winery […]



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A look at Marchesi di Gresy in Barbaresco

  So the first thing you notice when you step inside the ancient doors of Marchesi di Gresy and see the tall fair-haired man with his welcoming outstanding hand is the New Zealand accent – and upfront friendliness – of cellar master Jeffrey Chilcott. He came to Italy years ago, having bitten the wine but […]



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Exploring Pio Cesare

Augusto Boffa is a man who likes to drive fast, hugging the vine-filled curves of the tiny hillside road that runs from the winery in downtown Alba to the pretty outdoor La Contea restaurant in Nieve. Maybe he’s just hungry, yet there is a certain determination in the way he drives – the same determination […]



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Conversation with Pietro Ratti of Renato Ratti

So I still remember the moment I heard Pietro Ratti speak – possibly seven years ago in New York – about his winery and the exciting changes in Piedmont in terms of the historical move toward quality. With that, you can imagine my excitement for Pietro to personally give me a tour and tasting of […]



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Experiencing the wines of Giacomo Fenocchio in Barolo

“Would you like a taste of my special 90 day maceration Barolo?” asks energetic Claudio Fenocchio with a smile. In his hand are four glasses and we are immediately off to the cellar to sample some vintages just about to be bottled. This is my first encounter with Giacomo Fenocchio in Monforte d’Alba though this […]



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Experiencing Terre del Barolo

“Wine is not a job, it’s a passion,” says enologist Danielle Ponzo, technical director of the Terre del Barolo cooperative with over 400 producers. The consortium was created on December 8, 1958 when local school teacher Arnaldo Rivera and a few friends decided to form a cooperative for small growers who lacked the finances to […]



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Experieincing Massolino winery in Serralunga d’Alba

Sometimes you just get lucky in life. The gentlemen above, Alessandro Pontarelli, has the challenging – yet interesting – job of being a combination host/educator for the Massolino family in Serralunga d’Alba. Founded in 1896 by Giovanni Massolino, this winery has remain dedicated through four generations to producing soe of the best high quality wines […]



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Visiting Elio Grasso in Barolo

“Welcome,” says Roberto Bordignon, pictured above with Madame Grasso of Azienda Agricola Elio Grasso in Monforte d’Alba, an enormous property near the top of the highest hill. The family had owned the area for centuries – yet back then it was mainly a farm with livestock, fruit, and vegetables as well as wine for their […]



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Experiencing Paolo Scavino in Barolo

  “Welcome!” says beautiful blonde Enrica Scavino, welcoming to her home. She looks a bit like a modern Samantha from the ancient TV show “Bewitched” and is extremely charming. I snapped a photo of her great great grandfather in the 1970’s as he stood in the vines, quite a charming photo Yet according to Enrica […]



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Visiting Luciano Sandrone in Barolo

So I remember the first time I met Barbara Sandrone … it was in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York city, and she was pouring her Barbera in a gorgeous “modernist” yellow and black dress that were the same colors of the New York City taxi cab. She was pouring her Barbara and I […]



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Le Rive: the pure essence of Terroir

Le Rive: the pure essence of Terroir A few months ago I read an interseting article about Le Rive in Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg.  I found it interesting as I had just visited this region a few months earlier. Le Rive an Italian local dialect name which means vineyards planted on steep ground. This word […]



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Exploring Conegliano Valdobbiadene: The Land of Prosecco Superior

“Prosecco?” the gentlemen asks, a bit startled by my question about it’s “image.”  “It’s sexy, cool, a fun sparkler to order in a bar,” he responds. Yes, Prosecco today has a super sexy image, and why not? It has that great Italian name that rolls off the tongue and conjurs up images of romance, an […]



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Vinitalytour 2014

Wow, Vinitaly Tour USA 2014 was such a fab experience. One of the most intensive storms of the season and the city’s best journalists, buyers, and sommeliers turned out to taste new offerings and attend top seminars on Amarone, Franciacorta, and Barolo led by Ian D’Agata, a specialist in these fields. Lucky participants had 7 […]