Books,Colonarra Viticultori,Le Marche,Tuscany,Wine,Wine Book,Wine Country,Wine Novel,Wine Writer

Cucina Tipica by Andrew Cotto ~ When you’ve been in Italy, books help the cultural return

BOOK REVIEW: How Andrew Cotto unravels his Cucina Tipica novel is cleverly maneuvered. I just couldn’t put the book down for much else, until I got to “The End.” As I was about to finish his book, my heart was pounding and so wanting an ending I could live with. Cucina Tipica is story about finding an identity, for someone disheartened, which dates back to our hero’s birth right. Jacoby Pine had an isolated youth, for reasons you’ll want to explore, and it’s doled out in measured increments.

Life hasn’t been easy or entitled for Jacoby, and a trip to Italy soothes his soul in many ways. But does he have to return to a life on the East Coast of the US, which was so unfulfilling? The anxiety had tears running down my cheeks, while I feigned irritated eyes to my husband. The one delight I have with any novel written, by someone who’s wine and region knowledgeable, is that I learn so much about our wine business and its culture in the process, almost as much as visiting a wine region. The fact that this book was written where I had just traveled? It held me in spellbound suspense, right up to the time when I finally and reluctantly closed Cucina Tipica, having all of the answers.


As I was on the last page of Cucina Tipica, my eyes swelled and a tear indiscriminately rolled down each cheek. I know, I know, it’s a girly thing. Still, it’s also a guy thing, if – in any way whatsoever – you (guy) can related to the main character Jacoby Pines. And I know there are plenty of guys who can relate…

Last October, I had the good fortune to accompany Michael Yurch, of Bluest Sky Group, to visit two of his Italian clients, located on Central Italy’s peninsula (Castello di Meleto and Colonarra Viticultori), as a guest writer. It was life altering in many ways. Now, if an unexpected inheritance should ever happen, I’d buy an Italian villa, fill it with my entire family, and never look back. That was what I was thinking then, and it’s what I’m still thinking.

I had no more finished and written a review for Root Cause, by Steven Laine, set in Tuscany, when I received an Email from Andrew Cotto. He’s written a novel entitled Cucina Tipica, and he wanted to know if I’d also read and review his book. If the book’s name didn’t just drag me in immediately (which it did), the fact that it was set in Tuscany absolutely sealed the deal. Yes, indeed, I’d love to read this book… If only because – like Steven Laine’s book Root Cause – the book still had me exploring Tuscany. (I’m not really ready to let anything Italian go.) This blog page is my evidence, if you just search on “Italy.”  My recent readings, including Cucina Tipica, are keeping a piece of my soul solidly on Italian soil.

About Andrew Cotto, from his Website 

Andrew Cotto is the award-winning author of three novels and a regular contributor to The New York Times. Andrew has also written for Parade, Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post, Condé Nast Traveler, Italy magazine, Maxim, and more. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is an educator at local colleges.

If you’d like to know more about Andrew Cotto, this YouTube video is very insightful.


Books,France,Wine,Wine Writer

Antoine Laurain’s Vintage 1954… It Was An Intriguing Year

Antoine Laurain’s Vintage 1954

WINE-BLOG REVIEW: From the moment I touched the book, it was immediate love… The smell and feel of its pages… A tender, Parisienne SciFi, stepping back through a 1950’s portal… all because of a bottle of wine, the right circumstances, and four characters… Every detail of 50’s in this story, and today’s modern times, are found within its pages. There are two realities; or, existentially are they?  It’s for the readers to discover. Antoine Laurain has written a very alluring novel, that I will be reading again, just for the fun of it. My eyes were devouring word candy.


Sharing Press Release  

This captures the heart and soul of Vintage 1954.

Antoine Laurain has captivated American readers with charming books that combine a philosophical idea with an uplifting narrative. Each of his books are like a good fable that leave the reader with something to ponder.

Laurain’s new novel Vintage 1954 features a charming quartet of protagonists, a fabulous bottle of wine, vineyards, a love story and offbeat time travel. It is set in the nostalgic Paris of everyone’s imagination — when Paris was truly the style and cultural capital of Europe and the epitome of utter Frenchness.

When Hubert Larnaudie gets locked in the cellar of an old apartment building that’s been in his family for generations, he celebrates his rescue by opening an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais with his new friends, a ceramics restorer, a bartender, and a tourist from Milwaukee. They have no idea that this batch of wine has special properties. One sip and the next morning they wake up are find themselves in Paris in 1954.  How are they going to get back and what will they learn in the process?

After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and ‘An American in Paris’ begins to work its charm on them. The four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel allows. But, ultimately, they need to work out how to get back to their own lives. And the key lies in a legendary story and the vineyards of the Chateau St Antoine.


From Amazon: About Antoine Laurain

Novelist, journalist, screenwriter and collector of antique keys Antoine Laurain was born in Paris in the early 1970s. After studying cinema, he began his career directing short films and writing screenplays. His passion for art led him to take a job assisting an antiques dealer in Paris, an experience which provided the inspiration for his prize-winning debut novel.

Antoine Laurain is a journalist, antiques collector and award-winning author. His novel The President’s Hat was a Waterstones Book Club and ABA Indies Introduce pick in 2013. Antoine represented France at European Literature Night 2014.  Gallic also published his novels: The Red Notebook, French Rhapsody and The Portrait.

Other details, if you’d like more: Gallic Books, Publication date: June 2019, Trade Paperback, $14.95, 204 pages


Beaujolais,France,French Wine,Importer,Imports,Quintessential Wines,Red Wine,Wine,Wine of the Week,Wine Samples,Winery,Wines

Wine of the Week: Georges Dubœuf Fleurie 2016 (Flower Label)

Sample: Quintessential Wines ~ Georges Dubœuf Fleurie  2016 (Flower Label)


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: This information came from an interview I had with Franck Duboeuf
  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s notes

Photo Credit: ricochet64 ~ Chapel of Saint Pierre in Beaujolais with Mont Brouilly

World Region ~ A.O.C. FLEURIE, FRANCE


Fleurie is the name of the village where this wine is produce. It is one of the largest Beaujolais Crus, in terms of volume, as well as prestige, to the obvious satisfaction of its owners. From a geomorphological standpoint, its vineyards slope down from a chain of granite hilltops, which face eastward toward the morning sun, thus creating optimal exposure for the grapes. There is some variation of soil, according to altitude; from thin, dry and acidic on higher levels to the clay terrain below. The granular textured pinkish soil, which geologists call granitic sand, distinguishes, Fleurie from the other top cru wines, imparting characteristic elegance. Finely The soul is so French. perfumed, Fleurie is “delightful like the first days of spring.”


Georges Duboeuf ‘Flower Label’ Fleurie 2015 100% Gamay’s Harvest is done manually, with whole bunches, de-stemmed. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation at temperatures between 82°F-86°F. Maceration is between 8-10 days.

Fleurie is the name of the village where this wine is produce. It is one of the largest Beaujolais Crus in terms of volume, as well as prestige, to the obvious satisfaction of its owners. From a geomorphological standpoint, its vineyards slope down from a chain of granite hilltops, which face eastward toward the morning sun, thus creating optimal exposure for the grapes. There is some variation of soil, according to altitude; from thin, dry and acidic on higher levels to the clay terrain below. The granular textured pinkish soil, which geologists call granitic sand, distinguishes, Fleurie from the other top cru wines, imparting characteristic elegance. Finely perfumed, Fleurie is “delightful like the first days of spring.”

After a careful selection of grapes from small parcels in the region, they are pressed and undergo temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats. Twenty percent of the wine is aged in French oak barrels. Harvest is done manually, with whole bunches, de-stemmed. Indigenous yeasts are used for fermentation at temperatures between 82°F-86°F. Maceration is between 8-10 days.


Fleurie is a temptress, a bouquet of flowers, where you just bury your nose to take in of the sumptuous aromas. I really loved this one. Hints of spring, when my irises, violets, and roses begin to bloom again…. those aromas! Then, it develops into more rich flavors of summer, then into fall on the finish. Before it finished, though, the mid palate was the joy of juicy strawberries just picked. It followed into the roundness of peaches, and finished with deep purple/brown figs.

This is a wine that I’d recommend to anyone, at any time, because it makes you think!

[PHOTO: fontaineg1234]


Brut,Event,Ferrari Trento Brut,Italy,Sparkling,Sparkling wine,Wine

St. Valentine’s Day to Sparkle and Shine

Valentine’s Day is a very special day, dedicated to love. As my husband once told me, though, “Everyday is Valentine’s Day.” I thought it was his excuse for not caring about the assigned day for “lovers.” His saying of “Every day is Valentines Day,” as I came to learn, is that it’s an infinity commitment, not a calendar marking. He won’t make one hold be the only day he’s a passionate lover. (Very cool.)

[PHOTO:  Lukas Gojda]

Still, some of us do occasionally enjoy the calendar’s marking, also knowing that every act of love all year long is still a Valentine’s Day moment.

Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers… This  lovers’ festival dates from at least the fourteenth century. Imagine… Blessed are those who find true lovers and true love.

Sparkling wine (of any kind) is escribed to this lovers’ day

Champagne, Sparkling, Brut
~ All bubbles in a bottle

Does anyone else feel it’s easier to digest food, with this sparkling wines’ carbonation?  It settles my stomach, I’m not sure about yours. I just  know my body that well. And… I love bubbles. So, I looked up: “Is Champagne good for digestion?” Sure enough!

“…But champagne is king of the health drinks!” Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby

Champagne is packed with polyphenols, which are antioxidants from the grapes. They help protect your brain and your heart, keep your blood pressure low, and increase the “feel-good” chemicals in your brain.

As it turns out, champagne is very healthy.

Champagne gives you the same amount of antioxidant heart protection as red wine, and way more than blueberries and most fruits, increasing heart muscle energy production, and protecting your heart’s cells from free radical damage.

Lots of reasons to continue from yesterday’s theme

This is still Valentine’s Time To Shine



  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: This information came from the wineries’ notes.
  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery.
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s Musings


Ferrari Trento Brut


Ferrari Trento has been awarded the title of “Winery of the Year 2019” by Gambero Rosso (Italian food and wine magazine) “for the amazing quality across its range and for its constant promotion of Made in Italy around the world.”


According to Ferrari Trento, the main reason for this choice is the obsessive search for excellence, which has been leading every single activity of the winery for more than a century. The aim has always been to perfectly express the vocation of Trentino and of its mountain viticulture to produce outstanding bubbles. Gambero Rosso’s focus on the quality for the whole range awards Ferrari’s careful work of research and development, which has led the winery to create new Trentodoc bubbles in the last 20 years. Every new label is at the same time distinctive and


There is no way to say this any better than my initial thoughts on Instagram:

#notetoself ~ I don’t care how excited you are to see the Italian Brut arrive, let Ferrari Trento Brut rest for more than an hour; any time, ever again. You had it so right: you covered the top with a towel, you felt for its pressure point, inched it up carefully, and guided it out of the bottle, but didn’t account for how much pressure those tiny bubbles felt – as they popped into the room. A tiny angle’s share after, and a memorable opening, as the yeast aeronautics burst in, like a spring breeze. Dry, delicious, and delightful… the total package. Very enjoyable…



Extra Brut Première Cuvée MV from Champagne Bruno Paillard, SRP $50

So, I got to acquaint myself with  the fruit of Bruno Paillard’s  labor. It was pre-Christmas, and I knew I could open this sample and experience it. Santa wasn’t yet watching. These bubbles were just exquisite. It made me want to set the table with Limoges for dinner that evening.

SIDEBAR REMINDER: Champagne AOC ~ Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) ~ From Champagne.fr ~ The AOC designation links a product with its geographical origin and makes it subject to rules of production and manufacturing. It expresses the close link between a product and its terroir, coupled with the decisive and enduring impact of human savoir-faire.


Bruno Paillard: Captivating person of wine, from his BIO:

Bruno Paillard is not a businessman who created a Champagne house: he’s a man who created a House to make the Champagne he loves. Bruno Paillard is a part of his Champagne’s DNA, creating a highly personal expression. He makes the blends, nosing and tasting over new 250 base wines each vintage. Comments daughter Alice, who now shares in  the decision-making process: “He has an excellent nose.”


But there is … reason for cellaring these wines: well-made champagnes have an exciting, ever-changing, long post-disgorgement life, evolving through the era of youthful fruit, then flowers, spices, biscuit and finally to the mature elegance of honey and candied fruits after a decade under cork. To indicate where the wine is in its life-cycle, Bruno Paillard states the disgorgement date on each bottle. Today it is fairly common practice, but Bruno Paillard was the first in 1983 – and for nearly 20 years the ONLY producer to provide this valuable information. One reason Paillard did so was to counter the widely-held misconception that champagne under cork cannot age. But, older champagnes taste delicious!



Sigh… A work of art via alchemy… the yeasty aromas, the zippy bubble rushing toward the daylight after a slumber of all slumbers… It was just what the Pleasure Police ordered. Champagne, oh Champagne… How I love thee, Bruno Paillard, for what you do. You’re bubbles are ex

When I finally got to process my image on Instagram, there were my hashtags: #Champagne #BrunoPaillard #HappyChineseNewYear #Solushandlovely #creamy #verydelicious #Sample #gratitude

Just every lovely description imaginable, this was a very fine moment. Highly Recommended.


Bubbly,Bubbly Wine,Champagne,France,Holiday,Sparkling,Sparkling wine,Wine

The Sweetheart Bubbles I’ve Really Enjoyed ~ Perhaps You, Too?

The following #sample collection of bubbles are all from France, imported by Vineyard Brands. When a box of bubbles arrives, it instantly become party time… party in the sense of something very special just happened. For no apparent reason, no matter what was just happening, it just got really better.

I’m reminded of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s How Do I Love Thee, Let me count the ways:

“Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace. I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light…”

Living in the quiet paradise of Alexander Valley’s mountains, the days when sparkling wines arrive, always take a thrilling turn from best to superlative. And, this is today’s sparkling wines theme, as we head toward Valentine’s Day.

Tiny Bubbles that Wow the Senses…

I’ve tasted many bubbles from intriguing producers, and those notes have set the stage to share thoughts about some delicious sparkling wines from around the globe. And, with Valentine’s day just around the corner, this is a great time share what I’ve loved recently; perhaps inspiring you, too, to enjoy our annual day of romance.

These Vineyard Brands’s bubbles were all scintillatingly delightful

Imported by Vineyard Brands, founded in 1971 by Robert Haas (who later went on to create Tablas Creek Vineyard, in Paso Robles). Today, Vineyard Brands has two offices; one in Birmingham and the other in the heart of New York City.  Their portfolio of wines is very impressive, as was the arrival of the following four sparkling wines, which became part of this tasty afternoon delight…

Champagne, Bubbles, Sparkling… All there, present and accounted for. There’s a choice for all budgets and desires, as these samples prove.


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: This information came from the wineries’ notes.
  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery.
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s Musings


La Vieille Ferme, translated as The Old Farmhouse


THE WINERY: Jean-Pierre Perrin established La Vieille Ferme over 45 years ago, when he chose to produce an inexpensive, straightforward Rhône wine, to sell by direct mail to French wine lovers. He used the same grape varieties in similar proportions to those planted at the family’s Château de Beaucastel, and employed a similar winemaking process. The result was an immediate success in France, proving that it is a wine of character and style in keeping with its Beaucastel heritage.


La Vieille Ferme Réserve Sparkling Brut (SRP $16.99) and La Vielle Ferme Sparkling Rosé (SRP $16.99) provides a his and her options for your Valentine’s Day. Made by famed Famille Perrin, this new sparkling wine is a brand new method of production—Méthode Contemporaine (Méthode Contemporaine involves introducing CO2 into the wine just before bottling). Both a Brut and a Rosé are produced. If you’re up for the adventure, both wines can carry you through your entire date night, from appetizers to deserts.


The La Vielle Ferme Sparkling Rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Pinot Noir grapes, which were planted on limestone soils. It tasted like Strawberry Fields Forever… The aromas reminded me of a Strawberry Crème Brûlée; then, delightfully linger, linger, lingering on my palate. Just heavenly, and lovers will adore this sparkling wine. It’s definitely meant for appetizers…

The La Vieille Ferme Réserve Sparkling Brut  ~ Tiny bubbles rushed to the top of the flute, seemingly exuding great joy to escape their extended rest. This  dry sparkling Brut has a rich roundness to its flavors that combine “the tension of the limestone terroir, the freshness of Chardonnay and the roundness of ageing on the lees.” Fragrances of rising bread dough yeast and delicate hazelnut aromas were very seductive. As I enjoyed its dry character, which reminded me of a refreshing, spring rain, the wine was filled with the magic and promise of what’s to come… completely refreshment.



[PHOTO:  Konstantin Kalishko, Vineyards of Loire Valley, France]

Domaine Xavier and Agnès Amirault Crémant de Loire les Quarterons


This sparkling Brut wine is made by husband and wife duo (and namesake of the Domaine) Xavier and Agnès. Blending the breadth of Chenin Blanc and the confidence of Chardonnay, cheers to the friends or lovers that expand your horizons and strengthen you. Made by lovers, for lovers… Happy Valentine’s day.


Located in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil in the Loire Valley, Domaine Amirault’s Clos des Quarterons is a 92-acre vineyard that is farmed according to the precepts of biodynamic viticulture. The domaine has been in the Amirault family for six generations and is currently managed by Xavier Amirault and his wife, Agnès. The estate is 100 percent certified organic by Ecocert, and certified biodynamic by Demeter.  The biodynamic methods focus on both the environment and the terroir: soil, place, climate, varietal, and the methods of farming. The goal is to achieve a natural balance across the 53 plots of mostly Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc planted at the estate. This is the domaine’s secret to offering unique and living wines, vintage after vintage.


If a wine is organic and/or biodynamic, I’m all in, as I just wrote to one reader.

He wrote: “I am honestly not sure if I want to obtain organic or nonorganic wine as they differ in the taste can easily be tasted. I prefer the nonorganic one as it has a longer life once you open the bottle and keep it in the open.”

I countered, just to go on record… Hi… “I prefer to know there’s as little chemical intervention as possible. I was organic long before it was even called “organic.” I’m thankful that I did stay chemical free (with the newly called “organic”). When I recently  went into a supermarket and saw “conventional” fruits and veggies, I asked, “What’s conventional?” He answered, the ones with the poisons. (Thankfully, no boss was around.)

This one was very easy to enjoy, with its light and lively flavors. The primary Chenin Blanc gapes for this wine gave it a refreshing character. I adore Chenin Blanc, and its structure has given this Brut a bit more roundness. As suggested by the winery, I agree that it’s a perfect aperitif wine. The Domaine Xavier and Agnès Amirault Crémant de Loire les Quarterons reminded me of living in Maine and walking the Atlantic Coast, where fragrant wild roses exist… Their perfume, the soil’s subtle minerality, the making of sparkling wine, all lending a hand in its clean style. (SRP $38.99)

On another note…


Champagne Delamotte Brut Rosé


FROM THE WINERY: Delamotte was founded in Reims in 1760, by François Delamotte, a vineyard owner. At more than 250 years old, it is the fifth oldest house in Champagne. Alexandre Delamotte brought the cellars, caves, and offices of the House of Delamotte to one beautiful mansion at the end of the 18th century and in 1828, his brother, Nicolas Louis Delamotte, also known as the Chevalier Delamotte Barrachin, assumed management of the House. In his tenure with the Chamber of Commerce, Nicolas was well known for hosting spectacular events, namely the coronation of France’s last king, Charles X.

The House was sold to the Lanson family in the 1830s, who later started producing a Lanson label. It was eventually acquired by Marie-Louise de Nonancourt, née Lanson, in the period between the two World Wars. In 1927, Marie-Louise made the decision to transfer the activities of the house of Delamottte to Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The management of the company was entrusted to the capable hands of Marie-Louise’s youngest son, Charles de Nonancourt. It was Charles who established the golden rules for the business: ensure a consistent quality by purposefully limiting production and maintain at least three harvests in the cellars at all times. In 1988, the House of Delamotte joined forces with the still enigmatic Champagne Salon under the umbrella of the parent company, Laurent-Perrier, led by Charles’ brother, Bernard. Today, the House of Delamotte and its sister company Champagne Salon are under the direction of Didier Depond.


Delamotte Brut Rosé is made by the traditional saignée method, extracting color and complexity from the skins through maceration before and during fermentation. This traditional rosé method is seldom used in Champagne because of the complex process, although it brings much elegance and structure to the wine. Eighty percent of the Pinot Noir is sourced from Grand Cru vineyards located in the southeast slopes of the Montagne de Reims: Bouzy, Ambonnay, and Tours-sur-Marne. The twenty percent Chardonnay is from Le Mesnilsur-Oger.

SOUL ~ The Proposal Champagne

This is an exceptional bottle of wine… Which, of Course, we can call Champagne. The Champagne Delamotte Brut Rosé (SRP $92.99) is a gorgeous and very Valentine’s Day appropriate. Its salmon-pink color is due to balance between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It’s true elegantly, structured style will bring great joy to any Valentine’s Day celebration. I swirled my flute, held it to my nose to take in its scrumptious aromas. It had a pristine, unmistakable identity… Champagne. Hints of raspberries, crisp acidity, and a creamy texture. Heavenly wine to be sure, and a perfect ending on a very happy note…





February is American Heart Month ~ Open Letter to California Wineries to Open Hearts

February is American Heart Month

Imaging Saving a Life

I don’t have to image. I have saved a life; and, I know what an amazing feeling it is to still think back to that fateful day in the 1960s. That moment is as vivid today, as it was then. I saved a man’s life, by ripping open his zipped jacket – like it was zipped with Velcro. But, it was zipped with a good ole fashioned metal zipper. It was truly zipped, while his chest was heaving from the pressure. I knew I had to just rip it open; and I did, like it was a piece of photocopy paper. What an adrenaline miracle! Later, I had to figure out what I had done, because I was in completely in the moment.


You may have heard about Ron Rubin’sTRAINED FOR ‘SAVING LIVES'” foundation (Ron Rubin Winery in Green Valley of Russian River Valley).

Ron will not stop until he’s supplied 450 Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) to California wineries, virtually free to them. The suggested retail price for the ZOLL defibrillator is $1,700, BTW.

There is a $360 fee to have a staff training by the American Red Cross. In the event that someone’s heart does stop beating in wine country, someone else needs to have the knowledge and confidence to quickly step forward and use the AED. So, training is essential and critical.

[Photo: Santa Rosa Press Democrat]

The program is now in its second year, with 205 AED’s distributed so far. Link for your friends already on board

Ron Rubin’s commitment has been receiving prestigious awards for selfless philanthropy. It’s not why he began this journey, however. For Ron, this foundation was created as a “giving back.” Had his son Todd Rubin not been with him on his fateful day, when he experienced  a too rapid heartbeat ventricular tachycardia and saved  by defibrillator, the likelihood of this foundation probably wouldn’t even exist.

But it is a reality, and it’s because of this program that I’m writing to you. Ron Rubin is a client and in my 17 years of working in the wine business, this is the most selfless act I’ve witnessed for the preservation of human sustainability, as a one-on-one, so far.

“How to” become involved


In order for a California winery to qualify to receive its ZOLL AED PLUS, California winery owners (or an authorized representative) must contact Ron Rubin: ron@ronrubinwinery.com.


After a winery’s qualifications are approved to receive a ZOLL AED PLUS, it will be promptly contacted, by a representative from the American Red Cross. This will be to schedule a CPR/AED/First Aid training for your winery’s team. To be approved, each participating winery must agree to have its staff CPR Training FOR $350.00, payable to the American Red Cross.

Final Thoughts

[Photo: Press Democrat]

In 2018, Ron Rubin received two awards of excellence for the TRAINED FOR “SAVING LIVES” program:

  • The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission’s 2018 Spirit of Sonoma Award, honoring individuals who contribute to the economic development and enhancement of the communities in which they live, work, and conduct business, through donations of their time and expertise in support of local business and in helping others.
  • North Bay Business Journal’s 2018 Wine Industry + Spirits Awards; a special award specifically given to Ron for his outstanding commitment to the wine community, by donating these AEDs.

Good Samaritan Laws in California

FROM: WALLIN & KLARICH ~ What are California Good Samaritan Laws?

California Good Samaritan laws protect those who attempt to help others.

California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102 says, “No person who in good faith, and not for compensation, renders emergency medical or nonmedical care at the scene of an emergency shall be liable for any civil damages resulting from any act or omission.” The law also clarifies that a person cannot be held liable for civil damages unless their actions or omissions constitute “gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. “

The law says that the intent of California Health and Safety Code Section 1799.102 is to encourage people to help each other during emergency situations, while ensuring that those who do volunteer to help act responsibly.1

Join me in being that hero in a heartbeat…




A Tasting Like No Other In Cupramontana Italy ~ Well Known For Its Native Varieties

Imagine having flown into a new country, and adding that to one’s wine educational repertoire. Now imaging becoming part of a team for a week, meeting everyone for the first time. Then, all the new foods; and lastly, tasting indigenous varietal wines, mostly for the first time… You have to navigate it all, and you have to learn every inch of it very quickly, so you can get back to home base and begin to spread the word. It’s always a new dream come true, with each  new region.

Welcome to Cupramontana in the Le Marche region of Italy

Beginning with Verdicchio, then going Beyond into more new Varieties

I was the guest of  Colonnara Viticultori in Cupramontana ~ In the Castelli di Jesi region of Le Marche, arranged by Michael Yurch of Bluest Sky Group. I had just been in Tuscany for three days. at Castello di Meleto, and then we drove 124 miles eastward via Raccordo Autostradale A1 Perugia [E78]. We went into tunnels, and drove through the Apennines Mountains; which are the highest I had ever seen, at 9,000 feet. I’ve been to Colorado and New Mexico, so I’ve seen and been in elevations of 7,000 feet… 2,000 feet more really does make a difference, as you see the ridges looming ahead. Imagine the inland terroir created by the separation of the Apennines’ranges from Tuscany to Le Marche, now imagine Marche with Adriatic Sea influences. We’re talking terroir with night and day environments. It was a fabulously enriching adventure.

[Purchased Photo]

Into Le Marche we went, where a strong bond begins from the love of their land. The growers here have a common commitment to respect their terroir and the enhancement of the products that have always characterized the Marche: grapes and wheat. The partnership with Girolomoni (wheat company) is rooted in the work for some of our members who, in addition to vineyards, have been cultivating organic wheat for years, then transform it into their excellent pasta. More on pasta later…

Where exactly is Le Marche? From Encyclopedia Britannica:

Marche, English the Marches, region in central Italy fronting on the Adriatic Sea and comprising the provinces of AnconaAscoli PicenoFermoMacerata, and Pesaro e Urbino. A region of mountains and hills, its only pieces of level land are scattered along river valleys and on the Adriatic shore northwest of Ancona. Its mountain backbone is the Umbrian-Marchigian section of the Apennines, rising to 8,130 feet (2,478 metres) at Monte Vettore. The administrative boundary between Marche and neighbouring Umbria, on the west, is the watershed between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic slopes.

The Cooperative has existed since 1959, when 19 farmers collaborated to create a specific style that would define their unique terroir. Today, it’s still comprised of very focused wine growers from the Cupramontana area. The members are all dedicated to their craft, with the focus of continuing their devotion to excellent quality, for growing the best wines possible; and then to making exceptional wines. The members do this by combining their traditional knowledge and inexhaustible innovations.My Cupramontana hosts were Emiliano Bernardi (Italian commercial wines) and Cora Tabarrini (export manager). When we first arrived, we went right into their wine cellar that stores their sparkling wines, and then into a tour and tasting of the Colonnara Viticultori Co-op wines. One of my travel companions mentioned he’d like to have my notes, while we were tasting. All I could say was, “Good luck! I’m tasting all of these for the very first time!”

Wines crafted by this group and to discussed in several stories:

  • For me, new varieties crafted by ColonnaraConero, RossoLacrimaPasserina, and Verdicchio.  
  • Others tasted before this trip were Pecorino, Montepulciano, Trebbiano, and Sangiovese.


Verdecchio Has Its Own Sexy Bottle Shape And Flavors

From Colonnara’s Website:

A contest was announced in 1953, wanting a new bottle is shaped to replicate an ancient Etruscan container. This is the deign created; and, I might add, it’s very sensual.

“The symbolic shape of a [green] bottle of Verdicchio, designed by the architect Antonio Maiocchi in 1953, which became so common that it is now found in wine manuals, as one of the typical, classic bottle shapes. [Verdecchio] is known as a young, fresh wine, suitable for everyday family meals and shared moments with friends.”

Contemporary Verdicchio producers now tend to use the Burgundy-style bottles, as a more classic shape for more modern times.


Exploring Colonnara Viticultori Wines ~ First the Verdicchios


Colonnara Anfora Verdicchio – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico ~ This wine belongs to the province of Ancona. This bottle represents Verdicchio’s symbolic bottle shape, designed by the architect Antonio Maiocchi in 1953. It became so common that it’s now found in wine manuals as one of the typical, classic bottle shapes. This is a young, fresh wine that I think of as a “house wine.” It’s great for everyday family meals and shared moments with friends, who drop in.

SIDEBAR: The shape of the bottle is a classic shape, with Archi from Milan trademark on the bottle. The first vintage was in 1968. 15 years later created 10 pieces of art in the world This is one. Antonio Maiotthi is the artist

Tùfico Verdicchio – Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva DOCG ~ The Verdicchio variety, grown in a single vineyard in Cupramontana. The low yields are harvested, by hand, very late in the season. A long fermentation mean that Tùfico will acquire some truly unusual characteristics. This wine owes its name to Luigi Veronelli, who suggested giving this wine a distinctive accent, via the longer fermentation.

From Tùfico: A dry white wine of Marche‘s native Verdicchio grape. Its classic zone of origin is Castelli di Jesi – located more than ten towns near Jesi, where Cupramontana is based. The vineyards are 1181 feet above sea level, in an area that once was the sea. It mainly has sandy soils called tùfo, hence the name. The harvest is done manually, in late autumn. The wine is fermented for seven months on wild yeasts, and matured in the bottle for the next six months. The Tùfico is a unique, original and elegant Verdicchio, classified as a Clasicco Superiore version, one of the best in the whole range of the producer. Its strength is expressed by its aroma as well as structure and alcohol content, as far as 15 percent.

Lyricus Verdicchio – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico ~ Named to suggest a wine leading one onto an all-embracing path of melodies and harmonies, is very suitable for one’s first encounter with Verdicchio. Hand-harvested, softly pressed, and the winemaking of this wine all happened in stainless steel tanks, at a controlled temperature.

The nose on this wine is of fresh fruit… Verdicchio has a green tinge to it, so think Granny Smith apples. It also has come tropical fruit, like kiwis (also green) and grapefruit… more on the tart side of citrus. See if you also pick up a bit of celery on the nose and finish.

Cuprese Verdecchio – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore ~ This one is the  leading Verdicchio of the winery, and has been in production since 1985. Whether young or aged, this is a wine’s emphasis is that it’s uniquely and unequivocally expressing all of the characteristics for this local Verdicchio variety.

From Wine Alchemy: It’s in the province of Ancona where you’ll find the Castelli di Jesi DOC and DOCG. The name means the Verdicchio of the castles of Jesi. It refers to the numerous hilltop villages that dominate this region, surrounding the central town of Jesi. Each has its medieval fortress. Communities such as Staffolo, Cupramontana, Montecarrotto, Castelbellino and Castelplanio are some of the main gems. They are balconies offering breathtaking views of their surrounding landscapes.

Cuapro Verdicchio – Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Doc Classico Superiore Biologico ~ This Verdicchio wine was manually harvesting, vinified in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures. It was bottling during the year after harvest. After a long time on the noble lees in stainless steel, it created a wine with good structure and balance with minerality and savoriness. The final notes of a zesty bitter tastiness, typical expression of the grape evolved. This wine is a certified organic wine ~ Superiore Biologico designated.



Book Sample,Books,Champagne,France,Italy,Wine

It All Begins in The Vineyard with “Root Cause”

[PHOTO: Steven Laine with his new novel Root Cause, borrowed from his Facebook page.  ADVANCE COPY]

If you love wine, love to read, and love to occasionally embark on a fantasy wine journey based on actual wine facts, Steven Laine is going to deliver an impactful novel, of epic proportions. This story begins in the vineyards of Tuscany, Italy, and then takes you around the world’s wine regions, with its spellbound drama and your heart racing to keep up. As I was nearing the end of this journey, with all of its intriguing characters, my heart was pounding in my chest. Our characters Corvina Guerra and Bryan Lawless were either going to be heroes for world history, or major wine criminals, forever more. Never, in my lifetime of reading, did I ever wish I could read much faster… I even had the thought, “I wish this was a movie, so it could all just be delivered with quicker speed.”

And… minor observation: he’s got an obsession for women’s silk scarfs worn by Corvina, his woman of interest… “a Bombay paisley silk chiffon, draped loosely around her shoulder…” ~ for instance.

The drama is epic. It all begins in the vineyard, and it’s also where it ends.

SIDEBAR: Published by Turner Publishing, history lessons are delivered in Root Cause, in ways we might not have yet discovered: prohibition, phylloxera, and Champagnes chalk caves, for instance.

The Chalk Caves of Champagne: Although I’ve had wine travels into Europe, I’ve yet to visit France. I had no idea about caves constructed by Romans, and now I want to go to Champagne to view them, absorb their historic aromas, feel the cool, moist air on my own cheeks… I’ve dreamed about travels to Paris, Burgundy, and Bordeaux. My passions have been awakened for Champagne, now before any other regions. From Architectural Digest:

[PHOTO: Natalia Bratslavsky ~ Rows of dusty champagne bottles in Reims cellar, France]

Five Historic Champagne Caves and Wine Cellars to Visit in France

Around 80 B.C. the Romans dug into the ground below Reims, France, in the Champagne region to mine salt and chalk. Hundreds of years later, in the 1600s, local winemakers found a new use for these caves: Champagne storage. Since these were the days before artificial refrigeration, the caves provided the chilly temperature, humidity control, and protection from sunlight and vibrations needed for the perfect maturation of this delicate beverage. Wine cellars and caves have a similar subterranean history, when wine was buried in ceramic jugs during fermentation. Later, catacombs were used as wine storage, until the French began digging dedicated wine caves.

The Wineries to visit: 1) Château de Meursault, Meursault, France, 2) Taittinger, Reims, France, 3) Ruinart, Reims, France, 4) Cattier, Chigny Les Roses, France, 5) Château Margaux, Margaux, France

According to his biography, Steven Laine was raised in Ontario, Canada and has dual Canadian and British citizenship. He has traveled the world working in luxury hotels for international brands including The Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, and Jumeirah. When he was Beverage Manager of a five star hotel in London, he learned all about wine and has since visited over one hundred vineyards and wineries in Napa, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, and South Africa. As the only North American ever invited to be a Member of the Champagne Academy, he had the privilege to tour the major Champagne Houses in France. His circle of friends is made up of winemakers, Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, restaurant managers, and wine distributors from all over the globe. He is now working on his next novel.

And, I can hardly wait for that one, while I highly recommend this one, Root Cause.



Petaluma,Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance,Petaluma Wind Gap,Viticulture,White Wine,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Country,Wine Culture,Wine Hospitality,Wine Making

Petaluma Gap Wines ~ Wildly Flavorful

[PHOTO: Dr. Mark Greenspan, borrowed from his Advanced Viticulture Website]

From the famed viticulture expert Dr. Mark Greenspan in a Petaluma Gap Newsletter:

According to viticulturist Mark Greenspan in this Wine Business Monthly article, “Wind is a significant factor in many regions [including] the Petaluma Gap of Sonoma County… We see thicker skins and more intense color in Pinot Noir vines grown in the Petaluma Gap relative to the neighboring Russian River Valley… I like to put a positive spin on the windy climate effect. One could argue that wind conveys an element of terroir to a region. But, from a grower’s perspective, wind sucks.”

As for thicker skins, because I’m from Maine and have picked tons (maybe not that many) of wild Maine Blueberries, along the coast line… Think Maine blueberries. They, too, grow in wild, less-nitrogen soils, along the coastline. The berries are so tiny, and they’re so flavorfully intense… Quality over quantity. Along any coast line, the plants are very hardy, because they’ve adapted to that chilly terroir, otherwise they won’t survive.

Now, equate that with Sebastopol’s climate as it equates to the Pacific Ocean, and how that factors into the grape berries that are going to become wine… Let’s just say, you’ve got the beginnings of some very aromatic and flavorful wines. Whites are a natural variety, in this cooler climates. Think about wines from Northern Europe, and Italian Wines along the Adriatic Sea in places like the Marche region. Red wines have to be carefully monitored, because they need a modicum of heat to ripen fully, and when they do… Ooo lala… Polished, restrained, and also quite tasty.

Petaluma Wind Gap

I attended a Petaluma Gap wines tasting a while ago, hosted by the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. I was very impressed with some of the wines, especially those grown on location and made in small lots, bottling with their own winery name and AVA listed.

There are some big name wine companies, buying grapes from this region, too. Names you’d easily recognize, buying grapes grown in the Petaluma Gap area, but they’re not all putting the American Viticultural Area (AVA) on that wine’s labels… yet.

How the wine industry typically works, among the old guard: they aren’t going to help build the obscure regions. It’s like my grandfather taught me, when we were picking Maine blueberries: “Do not make a sound when we’re picking. Someone will know we’re here, will see the blueberries, and now we have competition.”

I’m going to list some of the wines I tasted during that visit, most especially those located in the Petaluma Gap AVA

It all Began In a Charming Little School House

When I drove to the invite’s locations, it, like Petaluma Gap’s wines, was well hidden. I arrived a bit late, because I had zipped right by the Green String Farm location on Adobe Road. As I traveled farther and farther away, instinct said, “turn around.” In my mind I had no idea how small this tasting was going to be. I thought I could just slink in. I wondered if it was an optical illusion, “Does this tiny house go much further back?”

As I entered the school house, I realized, no, there were just three of us writers, and an uber selection of wines for us to taste. We sat around a couple of tables, set for my wine writer colleagues Linda Murphy (Writer for – among others – Decanter Magazine, and co-author, with Jancis Robinson MW, of “American Wine: The Ultimate Companion to the Wines and Wineries of United States) and Deborah Parker Wong (Wine Educator and the global wine editor for SOMM Journal, The Tasting Panel, and Clever Root magazines).

The tasting was organized by Cheryl Quist, the executive Director of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers Alliance. We were also joined by Erica Stancliff, VP of the Petaluma Gap Winegrowers and Charene Beltramo (our host from Cline Cellars).

So much time and energy went into setting up this tasting, just for the three of us, I was so humbled. My hat is off to all of the brands and the wines that were submitted. It’s worth mentioning all of them. DeLoach Vineyards slipped in right at the end, so I’m mentioning here, as an FYI.

Lots of Pinot Noir and Chardonnays, as one would expect. And now that Syrah is considered to also be a perfect cool climate wine, yes, we tasted a rosé of Syrah, and a few other Syrahs. But then, there were a couple of Italian wines in the mix. Tasting them I thought, “this what Syrah wants to be… A Syrah’s Syrah….

  • Enriquez Estate Wines Tempranillo (a Spanish grape), I wrote this one as being really lovely. It had delicious strength, more than the Pinots and Syrah. It stood out with great expression. Bring on the castanets.
  • McEvoy Ranch‘s Montepulciano (a Tuscan grape), I very much appreciate those who march to their own drummer, and this wine was that kind of a segue from the Pinots; however, my notes stated: This one is really light and lively with cherry and berry flavors. It was so completely refreshing: yes, please, I’m all in. 

Have had quite a bit of time between that tasting, thinking about it, and right now. Also done a lot of visiting these places via the Web. Yes, I’ve convinced myself to go take a day and visit locations, not only for the wines, but also for the vistas. Let’s just say,

  • If I’m coming from the Bay Area to the north, I would be truly remiss if I didn’t get off the freeway in Petaluma. This is such a gorgeous rural area, just after the hustle and bustle of quite a few “down towns” headed north. The Petaluma Gap AVA is perfect for city crazed people just needing a “get me to the county and make sure the vistas will knock my socks off right now” kinda place. It’s Zen, it’s what we hope the just relaxin’  weekend will deliver… including wine. Are you kidding me?
  • And, if the hustle and bustle of other wine country locations north of the bay have you a bit dazed, I’m going right back to the Petaluma Gap. It has backroads less traveled, filled with charm and down home people… and their Burgundian-style wines.

These are the wineries with Petaluma Gap grapes in the bottle. Check them out, when you’re looking for a new adventure!


Adobe Road Barrel Samples Reds TBD
Azari Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir
Azari Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir Corkscrew
Brooks Note 2016 Pinot Noir Marin County
Brooks Note 2016 Pinot Noir Azaya Ranch
Bruliam Wines 2015 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown
Bruliam Wines 2015 Pinot Noir Sangiacomo
Cline Cellars TBD
Enriquez Estate Wines 2012 Tempranillo
Enriquez Estate Wines 2013 White Blend Brisa
Fogline Vineyards 2017 Chardonnay Zephyr’s Block
Fogline Vineyards 2014 Pinot Noir Hillside Block
Karah Estate Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir Estate
Karah Estate Vineyard 2016 Pinot Noir Estate Reserve
MacPhail Wines 2016 Chardonnay Gap’s Crown
McEvoy Ranch 2016 Montepulciano Il Poggio
McEvoy Ranch 2016 Pinot Noir Evening Standard
Pax Wines 2014 Syrah Griffin’s Lair
Pellet Estate 2016 Chardonnay UnOaked, Sun Chase Vineyard
Pellet Estate 2015 Chardonnay Sun Chase Vineyard
Rodney Strong 2016 Chardonnay Sonoma Coast
Rodney Strong 2016 Chardonnay Blue Wing Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Rodney Strong 2014 Pinot Noir Estate, Sonoma Coast
Thirty-Seven Wines 2015 Red Blend “The Hermit” [Merlot/Petit Verdot]
Thirty-Seven Wines 2015 Syrah Estate, Paradise Vineyard
Three Sticks Wines 2016 Chardonnay Gap’s Crown
Three Sticks Wines 2015 Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown
Trombetta Family TBD
Waxwing 2013 Pinot Noir Spring Hill Vineyard
Waxwing 2013 Syrah Flocchini Vineyard



Biodynamic,Imports,Italy,Wine,Wine Book,Wine of the Week,Wine Writer

Le Sincette, Chiaretto DOC, Italy; Where Have you Been All of My Life?


Thanks to Jane Nichols, a reader of this blog, she sent an update to me, regarding La Sincette’s appellation:

I was so interested in the wine you wrote about that I did a bit of research and happened to find out….the appellation of the wine is actually the Valtènesi  DOC…which (amazingly/confusedly) has been discontinued as of 2017 when this happened: the Vigneti Valtènesi Riviera del Garda Bresciano DOC, Valtènesi DOC, and the Classico subzone of Garda DOC were combined as Riviera del Garda Classico DOC. Technically, Riviera del Garda Bresciano DOC was renamed, and it absorbed the other two. As of June 2017, the Valtènesi DOC no longer exists as a separate DOC, but is considered part pf the Riviera del Garda Classico DOC. The Garda DOC still exists, but without the Classico subzone. (Information via the brilliant Italian Wine Central website).

As you read below,

I will remember Le Sincette… Why?

  1. Because I got to taste this 12.5 percent alcohol wine, with two varieties from Italy I had never heard of, and were used in this most unusual Le Sincette blend:
  2. Namely, the indigenous, Italian varieties of Groppello and Marzemino. (More about them further down in this story.)
  3. I got to add two new varieties to my Wine Century list, bring me to 175 varieties tasted in my life time of wine.
  4. This wine was a highlight for me, because it reminded me of journalist and wine writer Kevin Begos’ book Tasting The Past, and that’s what we were all doing.

So many mental connections to this wine were made, so there are now many triggers for my memory of Le Sincette.

When we explore why wine traveling in the world gives us much better cognitive references, experts have come to define that there are more memory connections made there, and that’s to our advantage. The more connections, the easier it is to recall more exact details. Seems simple enough, and yet when do we ever focus on what makes our brains work better and quicker? Memories are not simply a spelling word connection with no context. Experiences become memories with history connections, and we can then recall what the tasting experience was all about, for some even the exact taste. (I’m not that good at it, until I taste the wine again a few more times.)

From, The Human Memory:

After consolidation, long-term memories are stored throughout the brain as groups of neurons that are primed to fire together in the same pattern that created the original experience, and each component of a memory is stored in the brain area that initiated it (e.g. groups of neurons in the visual cortex store a sight, neurons in the amygdala store the associated emotion, etc). Indeed, it seems that they may even be encoded redundantly, several times, in various parts of the cortex, so that, if one engram (or memory trace) is wiped out, there are duplicates, or alternative pathways, elsewhere, through which the memory may still be retrieved.


The sample of La Sincette was provided to Wine-Blog for possible inclusion in a story. This Le Sincette, Chiaretto DOC, Italy. [According to Jane Nichols above: the appellation of the wine is actually the Valtänesi DOC] definitely qualifies on the level of being unique. It’s grown in the heart of Brescia’s traditional wine-growing region. But, it’s also on our doorstep for a wine being sold in the US. You, too, can taste from that far away!


  1. HEART ~ THE WINERY: This information came from the wineries’ notes.
  2. SCIENCE ~ WINEMAKING ~ From the winery.
  3. SOUL ~ Jo’s Musings


Le Sincette is the name of the plots on which the vineyards and olive groves are cultivated. It is individual and unmistakable, bearing positive connotations through the reference to something precious and gracious.

The estate of Le Sincette is located in the municipality of Polpenazze del Garda (Brescia), at Picedo, in the area known as Valtenesi, a land of glacial moraine hills, and southwest of Lake Garda’s Brescian shore. In the heart of Brescia’s traditional wine-growing area, it enjoys a mild climate. The estate covers a total of 86 acres: 27 acres of vineyards and 12 acres of olive groves. The rest is land cultivated with a rotation of Alfalfa, wheat, and barley.


It’s located where?  Polpenazze del Garda is a comune (financial location) in the province of Brescia, in Lombardy, northern Italy. It is situated near the western shore of Lake Garda.

[PHOTO: Rodica Ciorba]


ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA: Brescia, Latin Brixia, city Lombardia (Lombardy) region, in the Alpine foothills of northern Italy at the lower end of the Val (valley) Trompia, east of Milan. It originated as a Celtic stronghold of the Cenomani that was occupied by the Romans c. 200 BC; the emperor Augustus founded a civil colony there in 27 BC. Plundered by Attila the Hun in 452, it later became the seat of a Lombard duchy. In the 11th century it became an independent commune, and it was active in the Lombard League from 1167. After falling to the tyrant Ezzelino da Romano in 1258, it was held successively by the Veronese Scaliger family and the Milanese Visconti before passing to Venice in 1426. Read More



We are a small company on the shores of Lake Garda. Thanks to our daily hard work and nature’s gifts, we seek to produce a unique wine. This bestows wonderful sensations on those who know how to respect nature and its rhythms, and who love quality of life, simplicity and balance.

This Rosé is a blend of Groppello, Marzemino, and Barbera. All of the varieties in this blend are from biodynamic cultivation. The production philosophy of Le Sincette wines is based on respect for the balance of nature, and inspired by the principles identified by Rudolf Stainer, founder of the biodynamic approach to agriculture. This involves environmental ethics: the complete exclusion of fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and synthetic fungicides; protection of the land extended to all forms of life (biodiversity).

The BLEND: Groppello, Marzemino, and Barbera.

  • EASY: Barbara, plenty of it grown in California.  From Wine Folly: if you don’t know about this Italian variety.
  • NOT SO EASY: Groppello. From Wine-searcher.com: Groppello is a red-wine grape variety grown all along the southwestern side of Lake Garda in northern Italy. The Garda DOC that makes use of the variety straddles the regional border between Lombardy and Veneto, and is one of very few DOCs to cross over from one region to another. This may seem very forward-looking and collaborative (it should not be forgotten that Italian regional unity was only achieved in the late 19th Century), but divisions remain: on the Veneto side of the border, Groppello retains its local name, Rossignola.
  • NOT EASY AT ALL: Marzemino.  From Wine-searcher.com: Marzemino is a late-ripening, dark-skinned grape variety grown mainly in Trentino-Alto Adige but also in the Veneto, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna wine regions of Italy… Marzemino’s most prestigious role is as the key ingredient (95 percent) in the sweet Colli di Conegliano Refrontolo passito wines, for which grapes are dried out in the winery (traditionally on straw mats) for weeks or even months after harvest. In Lombardy it is almost never used for varietal wine, but is instead blended with the likes of Sangiovese, Barbera and Merlot, notably in the wines of the Capriano del Colle and Botticino DOCs.

[PHOTO: 소희 김]


The art on the label totally gives it away, in so many ways. And, this is a biodynamic wine, details here by VinePair.

The official definition of biodynamic farming according to the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association is “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, gardens, food production and nutrition.” Biodynamic wine is made with a set of farming practices that views the farm or vineyard as one solid organism. The ecosystem functions as a whole, with each portion of the farm or vineyard contributing to the next. The idea is to create a self-sustaining system. 

While biodynamic might seem sketchy to those not connected to their core intuition, it’s the most primal way of feeling nature, acting and reacting. Did you know, for instance, that ancient ancestors used travel the seas for long journeys, with only their own biological compasses. Between the skies visuals, handed down for so many generations of time, and wooden charts they created, they “knew” where land was, because they also followed cloud formations… Clouds were always formed over land.

So, that intuition is brought back, with rhymes, reasons, and rituals. It just makes perfects sense to me. I rely heavily on intuition. Tasting a wine that’s only 5-percent alcohol let’s me know that this is an excellent appetizer wine, for a long night of indulging, or swapping off to it, when you know you’ve just about had enough.

It’s also a perfect wine from a wine initiate.

[PHOTO: Brent Hofacker]

Among the crowd, remember Le Sincette for any of the reasons listed above.

  • Appetizers
  • Swapping off to something lighter, as you are winding down from a long night of indulging
  • You’re just starting out and you really want to enjoy wine

Find it in that crowd, it will be worth your time, energy, and pairing with your favorite foods… All of these wines are wonderful, by the way. I’ve enjoyed each of them and they are to follow.