Alpine Wines of Italy

Italian wines of the Alps.
.Alto Adige Wine with a view! Courtesy: Alto Adige Wines
Several years ago my husband and I drove through the Alps of France and Italy, leaving me with a sense of admiration for the natural abundance as well as the man-made influences of the mountains. We drove through the Fréjus Road Tunnel which connects Modane, France to Bardonecchia, Italy under massive Col du Fréjus. 80% of the commercial road traffic between the two countries travels via the tunnel.
Italy, Switzerland and France - road trip made possible by Alpine passes.
Our European road trips have offered some excellent Alpine views. Credit: Jill Barth
We’ve also crossed the French border into Switzerland on Alpine roads, checking in at the crossing to purchase our road-tax sticker, or vignette. The concept of crossing so easily from country to country, over and through astoundingly huge mountains is fascinating. Writing about the Alpine wines is, for me, one way to understand the lives of the communities ...
Alpine pass from France to Switzerland
Alpine wines of Italy, Alto Adige

Fresh Wines from Lazio and Umbria: Falesco

When I wrote in my notes…
Create curiosity and knowledge.

…I knew I’d come to admire Dominga Cotarella.
Dominga Cotarella of Falesco, Italian Winemakers
Dominga Cotarella in the vineyards. Credit: RB Design
Dominga (I’ll use first names throughout, to avoid confusion) is a second-generation producer in the Cotarella family winemaking business, Falesco, originated in 1979 by her father Renzo Cotarella and her uncle Riccardo Cotarella. Dominga and her cousins Marta and Enrica eased into the Falesco leadership roles in 2015. The first generation was all-male, the second generation is all-female. The energy that Dominga and her cousins bring to the transition is indicative of what it takes to maintain buoyancy in the modern landscape of making wine. My conversation with Dominga happened in an entirely modern way, over Skype. We shared a tasting of her wines and a discussion that covered everything: wine, creativity, progress, art, terroir, cuisine and family.  Her theme seems to be the ...
Italian Merlot advocates and growers.
Montiano Merlot from Lazio, Italy
Second-generation female winemakers in Italy.
Tellus Chardonnay from Umbria, Italy
Italian vineyards in Lazio.
Italian Merlot
A lineup of fresh summer wines from Umbrian and Lazio

Wine of the Day, No. 271

The Olianas Vermentino 2016, Vermentino di Sardegna, is frankly one of the most beautiful wines I have tasted this year. Its making, along biointegrale methods, is meticulous. Twenty percent of the grapes are harvested slightly early and fermented naturally in stainless steel tanks and clay amphora. This portion is then used to produce spontaneous fermentation in the remaining 80 percent of the grapes. The blend ages five or six months in a combination of 70 percent stainless steel and 30 percent tonneaux, usually about 900 liters (237.75 gallons), so little of the wine has actual contact with wood. The result is a vermentino of shimmering purity and intensity that features a very pale straw-gold hue and penetrating aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, roasted lemon, grapefruit and lemongrass and back-notes of flint and damp limestone. The texture is seductively talc-like in softness yet taut and lean with crystalline acidity and ...

Wine of the Day, No. 269

Sometimes you just want a decent robust red wine to down with your pizza or burger and not have to furrow your gentle brow about whether or Contrade Negroamaro 2015 FRONTnot you should be drinking it. Such a one is the Contrade Negroamaro 2015, a 100 percent varietal wine from Italy’s Pulgia region, way south in the heel of that complicated peninsular boot. Contrade — implying an enclosed vineyard — is a second label from Masseria Li Veli, whose products regularly show up on my radar for their moderate prices and excellent cost/value ratio, but the Contrade wines are something else. The wine aged briefly in oak — a mere three months — so what we get here is largely the grape itself in all its rustic, full-blown, black leather jacket glory. Let’s not make huge claims, but this wine’s black cherry, blueberry and mulberry scents and flavors, woven with notes of loam, ...

Wine of the Day, No. 268

Here’s a Summery pinot grigio to remind you that the grape doesn’t have to produce bland, insipid, watery wines intended for mindless consumption. Tommasi “Le Rosse” Pinot Grigio 2016, Delle Venezia, displays a pale straw-gold hue and offers pleasing aromas of heather and sea salt, roasted lemons and almond blossom, white pepper, verbena and quince, all seamlessly meshed with zephyr-like ease and delicacy. The wine is quite sprightly on the palate, surprisingly dense and lithe; totally dry, it builds nuances of dried Mediterranean herbs, lemongrass, spiced pears and a kind of sunny-leafy quality that makes it eminently attractive and drinkable. From mid-palate back through the finish, a tide of limestone and flint minerality seeps in for crystalline structure. A comfortable 12 percent alcohol. Drink through the end of 2017 and into 2018 with grilled shrimp, tuna tartar, virtually any roasted or grilled fish, preferably pulled right from its watery lair ...