The New Wave of South American wines

What comes to mind first when you think about South American wines?  Until recently, for me it was generally a plush, dark, oaky Argentine Malbec; or an inoffensive, fruity, good value Bordeaux blend from Chile. For the past thirty years, this was an accurate portrait – for the most part – of what South America’s largest wine producing countries had to offer to the wine … Continue reading The New Wave of South American wines

Etna wines: The Power of the Volcano

It was 5.40am on a Sunday morning. I was sound asleep when I suddenly felt the deep rumblings that turned into a prolonged, loud roar. My first thoughts were: “Is it an earthquake?  A bomb?  A strong thunderstorm?” (Having grown up in Central America, I’m used to all three of them). Then I realized the noise coming from deep within the center of the earth … Continue reading Etna wines: The Power of the Volcano

Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part II

The final article of the Native Italian grapes series closes in Southern Italy, focusing on a combination of hearty, robust, sun-loving grapes from Puglia and Sicily as well as more delicate, light bodied varieties from across the region. NEGROAMARO (Region: Puglia) One of the most important red grapes of Puglia. Its name means “black bitter,” probably in reference to its dark color and somehow bitter … Continue reading Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part II

Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part I

We continue our exploration of native Italian grapes, this time we’re traveling to the south of country, where producers are crafting some of the most exciting wines from indigenous grapes such as Greco, Fiano, Vermentino, and Carricante. All of them share the typical crisp, fresh acidity of Italian wines, coupled with salty, savory notes that make it ideal for the dining table. FIANO (Region: Campania) … Continue reading Lesser-known Italian grapes: The South – Part I

Lesser-known Italian grapes: Central Italy

For the second post of the series on native Italian grapes, we’ll explore a few of the most notable varieties from the regions of Umbria, Lazio, Marche, and Abruzzo in Central Italy. SAGRANTINO (Region: Umbria) Native to the medieval hilltop village of Montefalco in eastern Umbria between Perugia and Spoleto. Historically known for its sweet passito-style wines, the grape almost disappeared in the mid-20th century, … Continue reading Lesser-known Italian grapes: Central Italy

Lesser-known Italian grapes: The North

Like most wine lovers and serious enthusiasts, you have probably enjoyed or at least heard of the classic Italian wines from well-known, quality regions: Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Amarone, etc. Though they only represent a small percentage of production, these wines command the largest mindshare are the first that come to mind when thinking about Italian wines. However, with over five hundred native varieties and a … Continue reading Lesser-known Italian grapes: The North

On becoming a Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador

This past June I became an Italian Wine Ambassador. Yes! I attended and passed the rigorous exam organized by Vinitaly International Academy (VIA), which awards the certification which has become the gold standard of Italian wine education and expertise. VIA’s main goal is to build a global network of qualified professionals who will promote and advocate for Italian wines throughout the world. The program consists … Continue reading On becoming a Vinitaly Italian Wine Ambassador

Valtellina: Nebbiolo from the mountains

Nebbiolo, the finicky, pale-colored grape from northwest Italy has a place close to my heart.  Wines from the fog-prone hills Langhe hills of Piemonte, particularly from Barolo and Barbaresco, are some of the most complex, aromatic, ethereal wines and single-handedly brought Nebbiolo to the top echelon of the fine wine world. Top-quality Nebbiolo is rarely seen outside Piemonte, however, the alpine region of Valtellina, in … Continue reading Valtellina: Nebbiolo from the mountains

Alto Adige: Alpine wines from the roof of Italy

Pristine alpine blue skies and sun-drenched Mediterranean valleys surrounded by a spectacularly beautiful mountainous backdrop at the northern tip of Italy.  We are in Alto Adige (Südtirol in German), an autonomous province within the region of Trentino-Alto Adige, which enjoys a distinct identity, language, and culture that sets it apart from its neighbors to the south.   One of the first things you notice as … Continue reading Alto Adige: Alpine wines from the roof of Italy

Cangas: An undiscovered gem in Asturias, Spain

There are spectacular mountainous landscapes in Cangas, vineyards growing on steep hillsides in deep river valleys, all surrounded by lush greenery among the clouds. In the province of Asturias, this may be one of the least-known wine regions in Spain, but not for long. A land of heroic viticulture The Principality of Asturias is located in North-central Spain. It belongs to an area known as … Continue reading Cangas: An undiscovered gem in Asturias, Spain