Friday, January 10, 2014

Website and Social Media

Well its taken some time and patience working through the learning curve of building websites, social media etc. I am pleased to report you can find me at the following.

Uncorked Sommelier Services Website 

Email Dianne 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Final entry

It is my last day in Europe after being away for two months. I could have opted not to write a final entry, however I wanted to briefly write about my last three winery visits in Italy, because they are worth writing about.
And thank-you to those who have followed and read my blog. Especially to my loyal family members who I am sure I have bored to tears with all my wine-geeking:)

My former employer, Mark Anthony Brands organized a visit to Alois Lageder in Magred, Italy, which is in the southern part of Alto Adige. I also learned that Magred is considered the language boarder and the last German speaking town before driving south. Alois Lageder owns 55ha and purchases additional grapes from farmers in which they have long established relationships.
I was given a tour, tasting and light lunch from the winemaker Clemens Lageder.  Alois Lageder has a second line called Tenutae Lageder for their biodynamic wines and are labeled with the "Demeter" certification logo. I asked where did the name Tenutae name come from? It means "winery" in Ladin, NOT Latin, Ladin. Naturally the next question I asked was, what's Ladin?? Its the third language of Alto Adige. Huh, cool, and politically correct to recognize the third language.
The wines that you would likely see in Canada are their AL Pinot Grigio and Lagrein. Lagrein is going to be one of the first wines I purchase when I return home. It is a cousin of Syrah and I would like to try these varieties side by side.

Further South in Trento is Ferrari, the largest sparkling wine producer in Italy using the Champagne Method. I understand that some people may shy away from large producers out of fear of compromised quality. Its certainly not the case at Ferrari. Outstanding wines! I tried samples from their base line (Brut) and vintage wines (Perle) and I would run to buy these bottles....only if I could find them in Canada. The wines are Champagne quality using the same vinification and the same grapes, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as Champagne, for a fraction of the price!!

I had one last day in Italy and chose to visit Tedeschi in Valpolicella. Tedeschi was able to welcome me for a tour and tasting on short notice. Its a family run business started by the father who created their Amarone style in the 1960's. The winemaker (and son) Riccardo Tedeschi hosted me, took me to one of their premium vineyards, Fabriseria, their appassimento (grape drying facility) and a flight of their Valpolicella wines including back vintages (1998) and their rare Recioto.
Here are some things to know about Valpolicella and what does Ripasso, Amarone and Recioto mean?
- Valpolicella is a blended wine. The grapes used are Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta. Normally Molinara would be part of the mix however it is becoming obsolete as it is considered a lower quality grape
- there are four different styles of Valpolicella
- Valpolicella is a dry, fruit forward, affordable wine
- at the top level of the Valpolicella family is Amarone. Amarone is made with grapes that have been semi-dried for three months (appassimento process). Drying the grapes concentrated the juice and sugars giving more structure and alcohol to the wine.
- Ripasso wine is made from basic Valpolicella wine vinified with the left over skins of Amarone
- Recioto is a dessert wine made from grapes that are dried 15 days longer than Amarone grapes. It is higher in residual sugar and tastes dry at first then finishes sweet. Its delicious! I would love it on its own after a meal, but you can enjoy it with blue cheese, figs or chocolate.

Mr. Tedeschi and Riccardo

Appassimento drying crates

Monday, September 16, 2013

I'm on vacation, finally!

I have been quiet on the blog the past week as I feel like I'm finally on vacation and have taken a break! I know that hopping all over Europe visiting wineries, beautiful places and eating well sounds pretty good but its a lot of work!!! I think the last time I was on holiday was October 2012.

About eight days ago I flew from Milan to London Heathrow to visit my boyfriend Chris who is working as a freelance chef. Chris is Canadian but also has British Citizenship. He is in the UK taking advantage of his passport and to get some London food experience. Our time together started out rather busy with some sightseeing and catching up with friends from BC. My ISG Diploma classmate Matt and his wife (Shannon) were in London for a wine event the same time I was in town. Ironically, Matt and Shannon have more or less book ended my four months of travel while living out of a suitcase. After leaving Vancouver in June, one of my first blog posts was visiting Matt and Shannon at their home in Kelowna.  Not only did the four of us have a great night of sightseeing together, I was able to meet up with Matt and some other Canadian's at a wine event called the Beautiful South. This was a collaboration of tastings from producers in Argentina, Chile and South Africa.  I was very pleased that I got in. It is for people in the trade only, there was no cost to attend, they gave me $10 for lunch and I attended 3 wine seminars for free!!!!

Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse. As my brother would say, "London weather today- its going to be cold, wet and sh*#tty". That just about sums it up. Chris was sick for two days with brutal cold and I am at about 85%. I have been enjoying some time indoors watching episodes of Downton Abbey starting with season one on Netflix:)

Yesterday Chris and I managed a few hours at the British Museum then walked Oxford Circus, Regent Street and Picadilly. I also got to browse through the wine shops of all the big department stores: Selfridges, Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols.

There are still two or three posts from my time at wineries in Italy that I would like to complete....but all in due course. Tomorrow I head back to Zurich for three nights then onto Waterloo, Ontario! I can't believe it.

Shannon, Matt & Chris at Gordon's Wine Bar
Rain and cloud over Buckingham

Big Ben - Parliment
The British Museum and 4 hours of blue skies.....

Fortnum & Mason Department Store

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kalern, Sud-Tirol, Italy....and some friendly Germans

I traveled to another northern, cool climate wine region of Italy, Trentino Alto-Adige (TAA). This is a region that may not sound familiar,  but I can almost guarantee that you have had a wine from here or very close by. That wine would be Pinot Grigio. Ring any bells? Back in the liquor stores in Canada I have found Pinot Grigio from Northern Italy dominating the shelves in Canada compared to other varietals from this area. Here is a list of the other grapes you will find in TAA:
White - Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Sauvignon
Red - Vernatsch, Lagrein, Pinot Noir

I have been curious about this area from the beautiful pictures I've seen with the mountain corridor that surrounds it. Also curious to try the clean crisp wines and for the regional history. Alto Adige was formally part of Austria and became apart of Italy after WWI. What came as a surprise to me is how they have held onto their Austrian traditions and language for almost 100 years. The street signs, cuisine, language, clothing (lederhosen and dirndl's) are all still of Austrian heritage. So just after I was getting the hang of speaking Italian pleasantries I had to go back to German.

I was only able to spend about two days and had to make my plans as efficient as possible. In the morning I drove into Bozen and tasted wines from two wineries,  Muri-Gries and Kelleri Bozen. I wanted to visit Muri-Gries since they export their Pinot Grigio to the LCBO. Then located conveniently across the street was Kelleri Bozen. Between these two wineries discovered and tasted varietals that I was not familiar with (reds): Lagrein, Vernatsch, St. Magdalener and Kalterersee Auslese (note: in this case Auslese is not related to an sweetness lever, rather a place of origin). And here is some trivia: What are the synonyms for Vernatsch? Schiava and Trollinger.

For my one night in the region I stayed at Villa Weingarten in Kaltern, which I highly recommend! A lovely B&B with large rooms and the most stunning panoramic views of vineyards and the Dolomites. (Photo from my room below). My plan was to arrive in the early afternoon, park the car, visit some vineyards, wineries and check out the wine festival in the village that evening. I drove in around 2pm and the hotel keeper was chatting with a young couple staying there from Germany. They were speaking in German about wine so I could understand what I was over hearing. The couple's names are Sebastian and Steph and they spoke very good English. We started chatting and within 30 seconds Sebastian invited me to spend the rest of the day with them and his twin brother and girlfriend (Danny and Billy). I thought, for real? Maybe you want to ask your girlfriend or brother? Anyways, when you get a good vibe go with it right? So the four of us ventured off together and went for a quick lunch to get acquainted, then to Erste-Neue winery (fantastic Vernatsch and
Gewurztraminer), dinner and then the Kaltern wine festival with over 20 Kaltern wine producers. I was blown away with how kind and welcoming these 4 were! (And they thought I was in my early 30's, LOL). We hit it off and I think they all enjoyed the chance to practice their English. Plus, Sebastian is an aspiring wine nerd so how can you not get a long:) I have a nice photo of the four of them below and a big thank-you to them for inviting me along and keeping me out past 10pm!

Alto Adige in the North and Trentino in the South

View of Kaltern from my B&B, Villa Weingarten

L to R: Billy, Danny, Steph, Sebastian

Kaltern Wine Festival

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Nino Negri, Chiuro, Valtellina

Nino Negri is by far the largest producer in Valtellina with over 25 Nebbiolo (Chiavenassca) wines in their portfolio. First I would like to outline a few things about the region in addition to the previous blog post:
- Located in Italy next to the Switzerland border in the Italian Alps
- home of the most terraced vineyard area in all of Italy
- the vineyards are all south facing taking in the sun all day
- close to 100% Nebbiolo/Chiavenassce
- and for those of you that don't know, the region famous for Nebbiolo comes from Barolo

An now a few things about Nino Negri:
- the winery is located in the small village of Chiuro
- the winemaker Claudio, has been with the company for six years and was previously in Borolo
-  founded in 1897 by Nino Negri and is now owned by GIV (Gruppo Italiano Vini)
- they have vineyards in Sassella, Grumello, Inferno and a Cru area of Valgella called Fracia, which are all DOCG zones
- owners of 31ha of vineyards and also purchase grapes from local growers
- all grapes are harvested by hand around early October
- Nino Negri uses helicopters to quickly take harvested grapes from the vineyard to the winery
- all wines (with the exception of 2) are stainless steel fermented, pressed and spend another one or two months in stainless steel before going to the barrel for aging, which is typically for one year
- they make the reputable Sfurzat wine called "5Stelle", which is only made in the best years and is known as the best Sfurzat in the region. Once these grapes are harvested they are kept in huts in their respective vineyard to be air dried for 110 days (called appassimento). They are kept in small bins and benefit from the afternoon breezes of Lake Como that comes in through the open walls of the huts. This gives a concentration to the grapes making the wine sweet yet dry at the same time. Then the grapes go to new french oak for 16 months for fermentation and aging.

Sadly, I have not come across any Valtellina wine in Canada, however Nino Negri has a strong presence in the USA. I will be seeking it out my next time down in Florida when I visit my Dad!

Below are photos of the bottles from my tasting as well as the winery and the different barrel formats they use.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Il Tabernario wine bar

If you are ever in Valtellina, I have the perfect wine bar to recommend!

I had a fantastic evening while in Sondrio, Italy which is the centre of the Valtellina region. I was only in the village for one night and I wanted to try as much of their wines as possible. The region is very difficult to get to. No express trains or airports close by, just narrow Italian apline roads. See my map from school below. I have put a circle around the small narrow Vally.
In the early afternoon I walked into Il Tabernario, enoteca della Alpi.

The man working there spoke good english and recommended the best vineyard zones for me to walk trough and to come back when they reopen after 6:00pm for a tasting.

They sell only local wines made from the Nebbiolo grape, or as they call it Chiavennasca.
I was set up with a flight of wines from a variety of producers and from each of the DOCG zones. There are no more than 40 producers in this small region of only 1,250 ha. So you can imagine if you are involved in wine everyone knows everyone. The DOCG classified zones (which is held in the highest regard) are as follows from West to East:
Maroggia DOCG
Valtellina Superoire DOCG
Sassella DOCG
Grumello DOCG
Inferno DOCG
Valgella DOCG
Also, there there is a style of wine called Sfurzat where the grapes are left to dry for three months before vinification. Sfurzat is made only in the best years and holds the DOCG when the grapes are from one of the above mentioned zones.

I was treated with great hospitality by the Sommelier Marco. He said he is a wine geek and enjoys talking about the region. He presented me with a map of the region with explanation and plate of the local cheese and Bresola meat. The cheese pairs perfectly with the Sfurzat and the mouth filling texture and fat from the Bresola was a perfect match with the acidity of the wines. For those of you that are not familiar with Nebbiolo wines, they are typically high acid, high tannin with medium body. I always like to experiment with this wine and surf n' turf. Tannins for the beef and light enough body for the seafood.

Towards the end of my tastings some of the locals came in and brought some unique wines that they invited me to share: sparkling wine from Sicily, a Champagne (FRA) and a local producer came in with a magnum of Chiavennasca he bottled that day.

See some photos below of the terraced vineyards, the wines and Marco:)