Tuesday, March 29, 2011

UNA - The official wine of the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy

I was honored with an invitation by Stevie Kim (Veronafiere) to go to the Metropolitan Club in NYC yesterday to taste two wines that were made to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. After a short presentation by Veronafiere CEO, Giovanni Mantovani, we were introduced to the unique wines.

They were created thanks to the blending of 20 white wines and 20 red wines that came from the same number of autochthonous grapes, 20 white varieties and 20 red varieties, from each Italian region and chosen by the region’s Agricultural Supervisor.

The wines were then evaluated by a commission of enologists who were chosen by the Associazione Enologi Enotecnici Italiani (Italian Enologist and Enotechnicians Association). They proceeded to select the wines to be used and the percentages of each that would be added to the final blends.

The white wine is a representative selection of wines made from autochthonous varieties harvested in 2009. None of the wines were aged in oak.
13.5% alcohol. Straw yellow, not very aromatic, with good acidity and a citric character; the wine was fruity, fresh and said loud and clear: "Hey, I'm Italian!"

The red wine comes from wines that were produced during the years 2005 to 2009, some of which were aged in wood.
14% alcohol. Brilliant ruby red, a complex nose with lots of fruit, spices and a hint of wood. The same sensations on the palate with a very good integration between the fruit and the oak. The wine has a good tannic structure and needs more time in the bottle to show his full potential.

I'll publish the list with the grape varieties (and from each region) in the next few days, giving to you the opportunity to try to guess what they are...

And I hope I'll see you at Vinitaly next week. Let's enjoy together a glass (or two) of a great Italian wine?


One of the  pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy    having discoveries... TheWineHub exists to  help you with that. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Who would imagine feeling like you are in Montefalco (Umbria) drinking Italy's BEST Umbrian wines at a restaurant in New York on a cold, windy, wintry, yet sunny day in early Spring. Thanks to AMELIA DURAND (PR) and NATHAN WASHBURN of Sherbrooke Cellars http://www.sherbrookecellars.com/ I lived the Italian DREAM at one of New York's PREMIER Italian restaurants, CARAVAGGIO (23 East 74th..212-288-1004). ANGELO and LETEZIA FONGOLI, the 30 year old husband and wife team, owners and winemakers of FONGOLI Vineyards, http://www.fongoli.com/ hosted a luncheon to show off their new Vintages. In October of 2010, I visited FONGOLI and witnessed ANGELO'S wine making passion, first-hand. I toured the vineyard, thanks to BRIAN and MARIA DORE (both International OPERA stars) and AMELIA DURAND, tasted barrel samples and learned about the terroir, family history and the culture surrounding the gentle hills of the MONTEFALCO region. This peaceful and fertile winegrowing area produces the prestigious MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO (DOCG) and MONTEFALCO ROSSO (DOC) wines. The FONGOLI Family has been making wine for over 80 years. Their 100 acre property includes 60 acres of vineyards and 40 acres devoted to olive oil and walnut groves. An ANTIQUE farmhouse, located in the center of the estate, hosts wine tastings and typical, regional Umbrian meals for guests.
The FONGOLI Family cooks and serves original recipes paired perfectly with their wines. Speaking of wines from FONGOLI, ANGELO and LETEZIA FONGOLI poured their " MAGICAL" Wines, which set the STANDARD for wines from MONTEFALCO. Paired with the 'Classic Italian' food from CARAVAGGIO, the MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO D.O.C.G. (Vigna Del Sospiri), hand picked, late harvest (mid-October), Slavonic oak barrel aged (36 months) wine was PERFECT in all aspects. The 2006 MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO D.O.C.G. was deep garnet in color with an elegant nose of dark red fruit, followed by long tannins, with hints of raspberries, chocolate and strawberries on the palate. At 14.5% alcohol, this was possibly the BEST wine from Montefalco that I have ever tasted. Next was the BEST WINE BUY from Montefalco, Fongoli's 2009 MONTEFALCO ROSSO D.O.C. This 13.5% alcohol blended wine ( Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Merlot and Montepulciano) was off the charts with flavor and charm. Aged for 18 months in Slavonian barrels, this ruby red wine was elegant, smooth and red fruit oriented, followed by a hint of blueberries and vanilla. I always lean towards the values of ROSSO wines and this wine is a true BARGAIN. Not to be upstaged by Montefalco Sagrantino D.O.C.G. and Montefalco Rosso D.O.C., the MONTEFALCO ROSSO RESERVA D.O.C., is an EXTRAORDINARY wine that is made from a blend of Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Barbera and Merlot. At 13.5% alcohol, this elegant wine is rich in tannins, complex and distinctive. It is a perfect match for savory red meats, beef stews and cow's milk cheese. All wines from FONGOLI are available at your local wine merchant. If not, ask for FONGOLI wines by name. My friends buy FONGOLI wines from ZACYS wines at http://www.zachys.com/ PHILIP S. KAMPE philip.kampe@thewinehb.com

http://www.thewinehub.com/ One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries... TheWineHub exists to help you with that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida?

 Last week I attended the 1ST INTERNATIONAL WINE MEETING AND TASTING in Celorico da Beira in Portugal.
The event was organized by Maria João de Almeida and she paid for my expenses to attend the event (flights, hotels and meals).

People who follow me on the “blogsphere” are familiar with my way of just saying positive things about the events in which I participate. I was going to write about the good things that happened during the event as I normally do, such as the good presentations by some Portuguese speakers like Luis Lopes, Antonio Amorin, Andre Ribeirinho, Dirk Niepoort and Luis Pato; and also about the very interesting presentations of the international speakers (Jancis Robinson, MW – Tim Atkin, MW – Jamie Goode – Sarah Ahmed), but then, on the last day of the event, something really bizarre happened: We were taken to a place where a small group of sommeliers (not really, but according to the organization they were) was going to taste 40 fortified wines - “a selection of top wine, including some rarities, divided by the styles - Porto (Vintage and Tawnies), Madeiras e Moscatéis. “The aim is to show the great capacity of aging of these wines” - and it turned to be total disaster. Not for the tasters of course, who had the opportunity to taste some magnificent old wines, but for some journalists were simply in disbelief that they were taken there, but that they couldn’t actually taste the wines...

So, for the first time, I’m forced to post something negative about an event in which I participated. It makes me feel even worse about it, because it’s going to be about an event that took place in a country that I love and that has been so kind to me. So, before I start to go into more detail on what happened last Saturday, I would like to apologize to all my Portuguese friends for talking about these facts.

I’ll make of this article an open letter to Maria João de Almeida, who I hope will come here to answer the questions and tell us her side of the story (and I really hope there is another side to this story).

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you took us to Pousada de Linhares da Beira if we were not going to participate at the tasting? Why weren’t we taken to Celorico da Beira where 46 producers were waiting for us? Some producers mentioned that they were there for over two hours standing like fools with almost nobody to taste their wines!

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you offered us to go to a paraglide simulator? We were all wine professionals there. We are not tourists and time is one of our most precious assets. If we want to spend time doing something that is not related to wine, we want to do it with our families and friends. And again, why do it where the tasting was taking place? You were really trying to make us see the fabulous wines that were being tasted and that we couldn’t? Another type of “simulator experience”?

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you exposed such great wine personalities to such an embarrassment? Hendrik Thoma (Master Sommelier from Germany) offered to Ilkka Siren (blogger from Finland) to share his glasses and table with him... Jamie Goode said on twitter when I asked him about having us there for the tasting: “it was terrible of them - I felt embarrassed”

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you tried to convince us that we had misunderstood you? One person can get it wrong... I could have got it wrong... But an entire group of people? I’m a speck of sand in the wine industry, but when you tried to explain to very renowned journalists - Per Karlsson and Angela Reddin (to name only two among many) - that the tasting was only for the “famous sommeliers”... Don’t you think you were offending them?

  • What were you thinking Maria João de Almeida when you could clearly see that you had a bunch of dissatisfied journalists in front of you? Didn’t you consider acknowledging that you had made a mistake and that the damage could be minimized if you asked for help? Dirk Niepoort was there and he told me that he would gladly help (by bringing his wines) if you had asked him. Would that solve the problem? Probably not, but at least people would see that an effort was being made to mitigate the disaster. Instead, you kept saying that you didn’t have enough wines for all of us... How Portuguese is that? I’ve been to Portugal a few times and I can certainly say that the Portuguese are arguably the best hosts of the planet! The will take you to their houses, offer you their best wines and make you feel like you are really welcome in their homes. The problem is: I know it because I’ve been there before, but what about the journalists that were there for the first time? What kind of impression were you giving them? Not a good one I guarantee you.
I was debating with a few people if this should be made public or not. Mostly for fear that this tragedy being brought to light could damage the image of Portugal and its wines. However, I believe that the Portuguese have already proven that they can put together very well organized and professional events. ViniPortugal (who had nothing to do with this one in Celorico) had organized an amazing event in Oporto in December and I think that this fact in itself proves that when things are done properly, they become a huge success.

I have a huge interest (both personal and professional) in the success of Portugal and I’ll keep working hard to promote the amazing quality of the Portuguese wines. Again, my apologies to everybody in the Portuguese wine industry (many of them my personal friends), but I believe that Maria João de Almeida has done a great disservice to Portugal and its wines and (hoping that something like this doesn’t happen again in the future) I had to make this horrible experience public.

Please feel free to express your opinion. Let’s make something good out of this!

Luiz Alberto

One of the pillars of TheWineHub is Wine Tourism. Whether you are a wine maker, or a wine drinker, we all enjoy having discoveries...
TheWineHub exists to help you with that.  

Friday, March 18, 2011


CIVIDINA , distilled by BEPI TOSOLINI, from Italy's northeastern region, FRIULI, is made the
the centuries old way: MANUALLY and in traditional COPPER STILLS.

What is GRAPPA? Grappa is an aromatic BRANDY distilled from the solid parts of the grape that remain after pressing. The solid parts are referred to as POMACE.

A true Grappa, like CIVIDINA, by law, must be distilled in ITALY with fermentation and distillation of the POMACE occurring without the additon of water.

What occurs is MAGIC!!

CIVIDINA is very soft on the palate, with notes of peach, apricot and almonds. The aroma is crisp and flowery with hints of citrus oil.

CIVIDINA (40% alcohol) is a pleasure to drink for the first time Grappa drinker, as well as the long time Grappa drinker. There are many Grappa's in the market, many flavored like the Vodka's of the 90's, but, none as TRADITIONAL and TASTY as CIVIDINA.

CIVIDINA has been producing it's aromatic spirits for over 60 years, using the original recipe, formula and distillation method.

Bottled in ONE LITER containers and retailing in the $40 range, CIVIDINA is a true MUST BUY for all Grappa Lovers......


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Visit to the A.A. Ferreira Lodge - FTLOP Tour

Our visit to the A.A. Ferreira Lodge ( Written by Roy Hersh). This was the very first visit of our FTLOP tour last month. We went to Gaia where we were met by one of the most brilliant and charming women in the Port trade, Joana Pais.
We were given the historical background of Ferreira and told that it was the first Portuguese family-owned Port Company, originally held by a group of winemakers. The Lodge we were in, had stood for well over 200 years in this place although it used to extend much closer to the waterfront, making it easier to roll the Port “pipes” (casks) off the Barco Rabelos (boats) and directly into the Lodge itself.
Up in the Douro, the 21st Feitoria (or Pombalino stone) was placed next to Ferreira’s property in 1758. Ferreira owns 250,000 hectares of which 30,000 are planted to grapes. The parent company of Ferreira (Casa Ferreirinha (Grupo Sogrape) controls many other Port as well as table wine related ventures like the famous Barca Velha. This was Portugal’s first premium non-fortified red wine, produced from the grapes of the Douro which was first bottled in 1952. Ligia provided an excellent historical insight into the eminence of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, a figure so prominent in the Port industry, that no space I can dedicate here could possibly do her legend justice.
The visit to the cellars was followed by an incredible tasting of Vintage Ports. Here are some of the pictures taken that morning.

Luiz A. G. Alberto
TheWineHub – www.thewinehub.com

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