Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What You Need To Know About Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG

As you reach for that bottle of Prosecco this holiday season, reach for one with the DOCG label. Why? During the months of September and October I took part in a program all about Prosecco with #winestudio and boy was it an eye-opener for me. I wasn’t a big fan of Prosecco and I guess I just didn’t understand it. Not all Proseccos are produced the same. There are some from the DOC, some DOCG, some produced in the Charmat method some produced with the second fermentation in the bottle. How do you know what Prosecco you should purchase? As for the price, it can all be relatively just a few dollars apart in price but miles in quality. I previously wrote about Prosecco fermented in the bottle. If you missed it click here.

Prosecco has a few tiers of designations. The DOC is on the bottom, so there aren’t so many strict laws governing the production. The DOCG designation is a higher more prestige designation and quality than DOC. The famous day was August 1, 2009 when the territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene became Italy’s 44th DOCG which represents the highest quality for wines in Italy. When labeled Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superior DOCG it is grown in the hills and hilltops of the region where the vines have been custom tailored to the shape of the hills. The east-west running chain of hills deriving from the collision of tectonic plates that created the Alps. The altitude ranges from 50 to 550 meters above sea level. The vines are planted only on the south facing side of the hill due to the great variation of micro-climates. Conegliano Valdobbidene DOCG consists of 15 villages in the province of Treviso. Vineyards located in Conegliano Valdobbiadene can use Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Conegliano only or Valdobbiadene only on their label regardless where they are located in.

As we climb the Prosecco pyramid, nestled in Conegliano is the area or Rive. Rive wines are often obtained from the most precipitous high-quality vineyards. The term Rive indicates in local dialect, the slopes of steep hills that are the characteristics of Conegliano. In Rive, the area doesn’t refer to the steepness where the vines are planted, it refers to the distinctive combination of soil, exposure and microclimate. There are 43 single vineyards in Rive and the wine produced from them are some of the most terroir driven wines in Conegliano.You will find Processo produced from Rive are vintaged, hand picked and usually Brut or Extra Dry. The words Rive on the label followed by the name of the designation indicates a Prosecco Superiore made entirely of grapes from one of the designated Rive vineyards grown in a single commune or area. The restrictions are that to be labeled Rive, grapes must come from the prescribed area, maximum 13,000 kg/ha, be vintaged dtated and hand picked.

At the top of the pyramid is Cartizze, the most expensive vineyard land in all of Italy sometimes referred to as the “Grand Cru” of Prosecco. Superiore di Cartizze is produced in a well-defined area of 107 hectacres of vineyards in Valdobbiadene and managed by 131 growers located on the south facing hillsides in the hamlets of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol. The glera grapes coming from Cartizze are riper which gives the Prosecco a more fuller, rounded flavor profile. The sandstone and clay soils allow the grape to achieve full maturation and with an unusual concentration of aromas. To be called Superiore di Cartizze it must be Spumante. The prices are generally more expensive due to the limited acreage and difficulty of harvest. Unfortunately there is limited imports of the Cartizze to the United States.
Tasting notes from the wines during #winestudio that changed my perspective on Prosecco.If you would like to follow #winestudio, tune into twitter Tuesdays at 9pm and follow the hashtag #winestudio.

Val d’Oca “Rive di Santo Stefano” Brut Natural Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior DOCG - Soft bubbles with nuisances of honeydew melon, pear and macintosh apple with a hint of lime zest.
Masottina Extra Dry Rive di Ogliano 2016 Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG - Pale in color with notes of broiche, flowers and lime leading to sweet apricot and citrus flavors.Great to impress the boss with.
Tenuta degli Ultimi Rive di Collalto “Biancariva Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG- Golden in color with chalky minerality, passion fruit, green apple and lime make for a great romantic occasion.
Colesel Brut Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG - A hint of sweetness derived from the ripeness of the grapes with nice sandy minerality, honeysuckle, fresh stone fruit and citrus zest.
Le Colture di Cartizze Dry Valdobbiadene Superior DOCG - Rich, complex and flavorful with fresh peach, lemon, orange peel, white flowers and minerality. As it warms in the glass you can tastes the ripeness of the grapes.

As you reach for that bottle of Prosecco this holiday season, look for the ones labeled DOCG.  - Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Disaster Relief - Are We Prepared?

After spending a week in the Napa and Sonoma after the fires I occurred to me what kind of emergency management processes does your town have in effect. What can we learn from what happened in the wine country fires.

The fires happened so fast and changed instantly when the wind shifted many people didn’t have time to gather belongings, they had to run for their lives. It was difficult to get information due to power being out, internet down. Natural disaster is not just the fires that happened in California, there are the floods in Texas after the hurricane. Natural disasters happen in many forms; fires, tornado, earthquake, floods, blizzard,hurricanes…is your town or region ready?

During the Wine Bloggers Conference I sat in on a discussion about the role bloggers and citizens played in the fire to warn people what roads were open and closed, how to escape from an area where the fire was heading, where the fire was heading. This made me think is my town ready for a disaster? And what can we learn from this tragic event.

Some key items to think about that happened during the fires:
 1. When an event happens in the middle of the night, how to alert people. I heard stories of cats waking their owners to the smell of smoke.
 2. People like you and I have smartphones we get alerts on, what about the elderly who don’t have smartphones, perhaps a flip phone or no cell phone. With the electric out, how can they receive information.
 3. What happens when the cable and electric go out 4. What happens when the cell phone towers are compromised.

These are all questions that came up. I remember reading my facebook feed and sharing the information because I have friends in that area and didn't know if they knew. Social media played a huge role in alerting people what was going on.

Don't dismiss local social media influencers. These people are front and center and disbursing the information because they care and are trusted. During the fire, not only were they disbursing information, they were finding people and relaying the info via social media back to their loved ones that grandma was okay. These aren't people the influencers knew, but people who saw their posts on the fire, and realized this way was the only way they were going to get information about what was really going on in the region.

Another item everyone should do is sign up at Nixle. This is a public safety service that will keep you informed and up-to-date with safety information in your area.  Either sign up on the website or text your zipcode to 888777 to opt-in.

My question to you is 'Does your town or county have an emergency management plan?' If they do, does it cover these situations?

Friday, November 10, 2017

Napa - Sonoma Open for Business

Many of you know, last week I headed out to California for a conference,  I am still here, writing this from the lobby of the hotel in Santa Rosa. Yes, Santa Rosa experienced the worst devastation during the fires. As I talk to many people and hear there stories I’m in awe on how they all coped during such a trying time.

 On Monday I headed to Sonoma town square and did a fantastic tasting with Cindy at Passaggio Wines and then Fulcrum Wines next door. It’s business as usual.  I even ran into Karen from Jean Edwards Wines and learned they are moving their tasting room right across from Cindy. Things were busy on Sonoma Square, people shopping, wine tasting and business as usual.

I then went up to Hanzell Vineyards and although they were only 1.3 miles from Sonoma Square it took 15 minutes because it was up a mountain with fantastic views. It was here where I could see some of the fires path. When I got into the Land Rover for a tour of their property the car smelled of smoke. My wine tasting was wonderful (blog post to come on all mentioned wineries)

On my return trip to Santa Rosa up Rt 12 is where I saw the fires path into Sonoma. Behind Kunde and Chateau St Jean the hill were all charred. As I was driving I was trying to look and keep my eyes on the road.  But it wasn’t until yesterday when I took a excursion from the conference over to Calistoga to Sterling Vineyards where I saw the real devastation. Houses just gone. At time the only thing standing is the remains of the chimney. Cars burned. People didn’t have time to think, they just had to run because the fire came up so fast. Piles of rubble.

The best thing we can do to help everyone up here is to visit.  The tasting rooms are open, the hotels are open, the restaurants are open. People are trying to get back to some kind of normalcy. I think there has been a lot of misconception out there about the area and the damage.  Most of the vineyards are fine. I spoke to the manager at Paradise Ridge, one of the wineries that burned,  They lost most of their 2017 vintage because it was all fermenting in the winery, but all the other vintages were safe in a storage facility not to far away. They have set up a temporary office and doing what they do best, getting people to taste and purchase their wine (which was very good by the way).
If you have plans to come out to California Wine Country, come.  If you are thinking about your next vacation, make it California Wine Country. When you are in the liquor store looking for that bottle or case of wine for dinner or the upcoming holidays, think California wine. They need our support.

Friday, November 3, 2017

As you read this I am on heading to Sonoma for the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference and the Wine Bloggers Conference. I am looking so forward to this.  It's the first time I'm attending the Wine Marketing & Tourism Conference.

My first stop is Sacramento to visit with my friend Patty.  We are going to head up to the Shenandoah Valley in Amador County today to do some wine tasting.  This will be my first time in that wine region and I am hoping to visit BellaGrace Vineyards as their 2015 Vermentino  was included in my February 2017 Wine Bloggers Conference Scholarship Fund Wine Club.

Sunday I am heading to Santa Rosa, CA where I am going to do my part in supporting the economy after the fires. I know Monday I am going to visit Cynthia at Passaggio Wines and I hope to visit Flanagan Wines because it's been a while since I met Eric in the Vintner's Collective tasting room.

Then it's on to the two conferences.  I hope to learn lots. Visit with old friends and meet new ones.  One of my favorite people Doug Frost is the keynote speaker at the Wine Bloggers Conference. Doug and I go way back to the New York Wine & Food Classic and I had the opportunity to judge with him at Ultimate Wine Challenge.  He is full of knowledge and quite a funny guy.

I'm off to do my part and buy some good wine and eat in some wonderful restaurants in Sonoma and Napa. If I have a chance I will try and post some of my experiences. Follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and you'll be able to keep up with me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Winephabet Street E is for Etna

This month on Winephabet Street Lori and I explored the Mt Etna region of Italy for the letter E. I had a great presentation all prepared and then my 18 month old Lenovo computer crashed. I wasn’t a happy camper and tried to recreate what I had put together for the event.

Mt Etna is a DOC regions that sits on the north, east and south slopes of the Etna Volcano in the province of Catania. It’s been farmed since ancient times going way back to when the Greeks conquered the region in 729 BC and planted grapes.

Thirty years ago there were just 5 wine producers in the region. The resurgence is due to Giuseppe Benanti who began producing wines from local varieties on his farm in the Etna region in the early 1990’s. Now many are buying up land and planting in the region.

Etna’s primary wine producing zone rises up the slopes of Mt. Etna to an elevation of 3,500 feet and higher. They are the highest commercial vineyards in the world. Due to the steepness the harvesting is all done by hand. Etna’s soil is rich wiht volcanic nutrients that are hospitable to growing frapes. The high elevation vineyards are also an inviting environment for growing grapes with the hot Mediterranean sun while the warm Mediterranean breezes are conductive to an extended growing season. Etna’s rich volcanic soil also contains a high concentration of sand a compination that has proved to be highly resistant to the phylloxera root pest that decimated other European vineyards in the late 1800’s.

The wines produced in the region are primarily red and white with some Rose (Rosato).

Etna Rosso (red) is a blended wine with 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio both indigenous to the region. It’s been said that Etna Rosso wines have a nice structure similar to Barolo. They don’t require aging and like to be drank young.

Etna Bianco is a blend of 60% Carricante and 40% other whites grown in the region.

For this episode I choose a Firriato Le Sabbie Dell’Etna Etna Bianco which is a blend of Catarratto and Carricante. I was so pleasantly surprised on how much I enjoyed this wine. 
You’ll see how excited I am when you listen to the video or audio. I’ll save it for there.

Don’t forget to sign up for November 20th when Winephabet Street explores F for Furmint. Sign up here.

Ep. 5 Welcome to Winephabet Street E is for Etna

Below find the replay of Winephabet Street. If you have problems viewing you can view it in YouTube.

Don’t have time to view it the podcast is below for download or you can listen to it on Uncork Your Mind in Itunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, IHeart Radio, Soundcloud. Don’t forget to leave us a review.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Prosecco Fermented in the Bottle

I always thought Prosecco was tank fermented which is called Charmat method and besides the grapes that is what set Prosecco apart from Champagne. I was incorrect because 5% of Prosecco is made with the second fermentation done in the bottle similar to the method they make Champagne. Turns out Prosecco originated with the second fermentation in the bottle and post WWII is when many of the wineries in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene area where Prosecco is made were able to purchase an autoclave (tank) for the second fermentation.

Courtesy of Tina Morey - #winestudio
Many producers continued to make Prosecco bottle fermented, but they saved it for themselves. What distinguishes the traditional bottle fermented Prosecco from Champagne (besides the obvious where Prosecco is produced in Italy with the Glera grape and Champagne is produced in Champagne, France with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.) is that the Italians didn’t disgorge the yeast out of the bottle and it produced a cloudy sediment in the wine. This is known as Col Fondo - “with sediment”. You will find Col Fondo on the label to identify that it was produced in that method. You will also find Rifermentato in Bottiglia on the label that means it has gone through the second fermentation in the bottle. Now when you pick up that bottle of Prosecco you are going to find yourself looking more closely at the label.

Courtesy of Cathrine Todd - Dame Wine

Another production difference is the amount of time the wine matures. With Champagne the minimum is 15 months and 3 years for vintage Champagne. When Posecco is made in the autoclave it sits on the lees for three months. If the wine sits on the lees for 6-9 months it’s called Charmat Lungo. Prosecco made in the Metodo Classico (the Italian fancy name for Méthode Champenoise) the juice sits on the lees 6 months to 2 years. Col Fondo sits on the lees until you pop that cork and pour it in your glass.

I got to taste two different Prosecco’s both fermented in the bottle, however the difference is one was not disgorged. Both wines come from the Eastern Conegliano side of the zone. They were both very good, yet very different. Both bottles of Prosecco retail for $23.

Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Bruit “Sei Uno” Rive di Carpesica 2015 underwent the second fermentation in the bottle, spent 4 months on the lees and was disgorged. Immediately upon popping the cork I got that slightly yeasty aroma with hints of lemon curd.In the glass it had persistent bubbles but they were dancing all over. It was clear, crisp and light on the palate. Hints of Brioche and a touch of minerality.

Malibran Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG “Credamora” Rifermentato in Bottiglia was not disgorged. The lees were still in the bottle and if you notice, the color is a bit more golden than the Bellenda. The wine wasn’t as clear as the Bellenda but that isn’t a bad thing. I found a lot of citrus aromas of tangerine and lemon coming from the glass. In the discussion it was said to be cider like, and I can see where some had that opinion. After all that citrus I had a hint of licorice on the palate. The bubbles in this glass went straight up.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Have You Tasted White Pinot Noir?

You most likely haven’t tasted a White Pinot Noir. I know I didn’t until I tasted Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir last year. I always thought Pinot Noir was red, a beautiful light garnet color with the aromas and flavors of strawberries and raspberries. The red color comes from the juice sitting on the skins, this extracts the color and tannins. Pinot Noir juice is actually white. Left Coast Cellars in the Willamette Valley in Oregon makes a nice White Pinot Noir.

A little about Left Coast Cellars. They are LIVE certified which is a certification of environmentally and socially responsible wine growing through a third part certification of collaborative science-based wine growing standards of Integrated Production. They use fewer and less toxic pesticides, they promote biodiversity, focus on fish and wateshed protection through their partner Salmon-Safe, conserve energy and water, promote safe and healthy work environment. Their winery is solar powered and they have a 17 acre spring fed lake that collects rain water for their gravity fed irrigation. They also have a ground mounted solar panels by their Latitude 45 vineyard that provides 100 percent of the power to their guest cottage, front gate and all the estate irrigation needs of their vineyards and landscaping. Pretty impressive!

Left Coast Cellars 2016 White Pinot Noir is a blend of 91% Pinot Noir and 9% Pinot Blanc. It’s crushed in very cold temperatures so no coloration from the skins bleed into the wine. The wine is then fermented in stainless steel tanks and ages on its lees for 4 months. Nuisances of pear and pineapple fill the glass leading into delicate minerally palate of wet stone, honeydew melon, hint of peach and orange zest. I paired this with Tofu Quesadilla picnic on the beach. SRP $24

Not to be ignored is another white selection from Left Coast Cellars their 2016 The Orchards Pinot Gris. I was never big on Pinot Gris until I tasted some selections from Oregon and they won me over, like this one. This is a blend of 91% Pinot Gris and 9% Pinot Blanc aged in stainless steel for 4 months. The site of the vineyards use to be a historic apple and pear orchard that dated back to the pioneers who settled Oregon. I found a lot of citrus showing through on this wine, lemon curd, lime, grapefruit with a hint of pear and honeydew melon. I served it with sausage and peppers from my garden. There was a hint of sweetness to this that really blended well with the hot peppers from my garden. SRP $18