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Let’s Make America Great Again

In An American in Rome by Lindsay GabbardLeave a Comment

 

image2 I am American (even though sometimes I am embarrassed to admit it). I come from a country that in recent times is proving to be quite Grape-ist. Grape-ist? – you ask, what on earth is that? I am speaking about our overall trend to colonize the US, and really the entire planet for that matter, with Cabernet and Chardonnay (and maybe a few others). But when did we decide that we only want one flavor of wine? What happened to celebrating diversity? Several nights a week, I host tastings for people from all over the world, but quite often from the US. When we go around the table and introduce ourselves, say where we’re from and what wines we drink, I can almost always guess what the Americans will say….I drink Cabs, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, blends, maybe an Oregon Pinot (because those are quite trendy at the moment). Rarely someone mentions a place they drink, like Bordeaux or Carneros (which are still quite general), Barolo or Finger Lakes. Am I surprised? Never. Because sadly, in terms of commercially significant wine, about 95% of what we drink comes from less than 10 varieties. So why and how did this happen? And most importantly, how can we ‘make America great again’? Well, let's start one at a time. America has a really short history in terms of wine. Sure vines have been planted for 300 years, but it's really a product of the last 50-60 years due to phylloxera, Prohibition, and depressions decimating the industry. Wine is something that needs time, as they have had here in Europe. Monks weren't concerned with the bills of today and the costs of land that we face now. Europeans knew they were making wine for their grandchildren's grandchildren. There was time to learn, experiment, make mistakes and define local flavors and varieties. Now, winemakers driven too often by the bottom line, are making what is easy or trendy in the moment. The other sad thing is that wine is "dumbed down" at nearly every turn for us. In the 70s, Americans knew practically nothing about wine and what regional wines of Europe tasted like (please don’t mention ‘Bottle shock’), so in an effort to grow CA's wine industry (which was at that time making some progress) and push out European sales, they started naming wines by varietal instead of appellations or origins - making it easier to understand and more approachable by giving you a dozen names to remember, as opposed to thousands, and essentially dumbing down what was always a cultural experience, strictly linked with place. image3To make matters worse, much of the wine industry in the US has been dictated by one person's palate (which sadly has now even affected how wines in much of Europe are made). Robert P, the emperor or dictator of wine as he is known, single-handedly changed the way wine is made and tastes with his palate's preferences towards big, bold wines with oodles of fruit, and through his 100-point scoring system which he admits was done to make wine easier for us Americans to understand. All this has done is entice winemakers to please his palate for a good score, and in turn colonize our palates to think that this is ‘good wine’. And for a country that is fed up with being overrun by Wall Street and large corporations, let it be known that only 30 companies control 90% of the wine sold in the US. For a country that prides itself on freedom, we've given it all away to 1 man, 10 varieties, and a mere 30 companies....I digress. But, believe me, believe me... I have a tremendous plan to 'Make America Great Again'! (and yes, there is actually a 'plan'). To fix this problem, WE must be the solution. WE must never allow them to consider us dummies who are susceptible to marketing tricks like 100-point scales which only help stores and wine makers to profit more. WE must educate ourselves on the world of wine...worst case, you learn a bit about history, culture, places and pairings. WE must demand more than cabs and blends and take risks with unknown wines so that we have the chance to experience something new. WE must start taking a trip to our local wine shop instead of being lazy and using the supermarket for one stop shopping. WE must believe in our own palate instead of blindly following one man. WE must start experimenting with planting different varieties and be willing to make mistakes. WE must stop making decisions for the flavor or trend of the week and be willing to sacrifice for the betterment in the long run. WE have the power to choose choice and freedom, and together, WE can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. *PS...to all the winemakers making experiments and planting numerous varieties, we thank you. image
 

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Roscioli Tasting Notes | 10b | Wine Club 2

In Wine Club Tasting Notes by Lindsay GabbardLeave a Comment

 

Barolo 'Ciabot Tannasio' 2014, Sobrero


Grape:
Nebbiolo
Region: Castiglione Falleto, Barolo (PIEMONTE)
Drinking Window: now - 2028+ (patience rewarded)
Pairings: Pot roasts with Barolo, red meat and game, stuffed guinea fowl, first courses featuring meat or mushrooms.
Winemaking Notes: 35 days of maceration, not filtered, 10-55 year old vines, large oak barrels, 20,000 bottles produced.
Description: Ok. you all know Barolo right? So there's no point talking about it. Why don’t we do an experiment so: I’ll put some music on, The Goldberg Variations of J. S. Bach played by Glen Gould, a bite of an aged cheddar and silence. A sip of wine, a bite of cheese. and silent.

Right? There was really no point of speaking with this 'pairing'. What’s the point of telling you that Barolo is one of the most important regions in the world? that it is a land that has been divided in more than a 100 different vineyards based on the composition of the soil? No reasons to tell that the Nebbiolo (the grape variety) is one of the most complex in the world, capable of giving you wines that can be aged up to 40 years, wines with structure and elegance, fruit and earthiness, complexity and finesse. And what a great opportunity to taste too Barolo in one night. One more fruity and aggressive (Sobrero) the other one more elegant and soft.

Perhaps in your mind you thought... it was like an erotic dance with a strong handsome man who's a bit rude and a nice elegant and soft woman with a deep desire in her eyes, they are dancing and hugging each other and suddenly he grabs her…

 
 

Alta Fedelta 2015, Do.t.e.


Grape:
Syrah
Region: Cortona (UMBRIA)
Drinking Window: Now
Pairings: Cured meats, game, pizza.
Winemaking Notes: Spontaneous fermentation, no clarification and unfiltered, steel tanks and cement vats, no systemic pesticides (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides), total absence of chemical and enological products (no sulfites added) .
Video Description:

 
 

Permano 2015, Terenzuola


Grape:
Canaiolo Nero 85% and other red grapes 15%
Region: Fosdinovo (TUSCANY)
Drinking Window: now - 2024
Pairings: Pasta with meat sauce.
Winemaking Notes: Organic farming, hand harvested, 4,000 bottles produced.
Video Description:

 
 

Villa 2015, Pacina


Grape:
Sangiovese
Region: Castelnuovo Berardenga (TUSCANY)
Drinking Window: now, patience pays off
Pairings: Ossobuco, grilled red meat
Winemaking Notes: Indigenous yeasts, malolactic fermentation, cement vats, no clarification or filtration, no sulfites added.
Video Description:

 
 

Ddefiu 2017, Abbazia San Giorgio


Grape:
Zibibbo
Region: Pantelleria (SICILIA)
Drinking Window: now - 2022
Pairings: Strong soft cheeses (goat), smoked mackerel, pesto
Winemaking Notes: Organic farming, 2 week skin contact, up to 100 year old vines, no added sulpher, Rimessa Roscioli exclusive wine - 600 bottles produced.
Video Description:

 
 

Brut Metodo Classico, Lieselehof


Grape:
Souvignier gris
Region: Kaltern (TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE)
Drinking Window: now - 2022
Pairings: Versatile as an aperitif, or with shrimp, shellfish, and fish.
Winemaking Notes: Methode Lieselehof (champenouise), organic farming, no pesticides/herbicides, extremely low sulpher, resistent grapes.
Video Description:

 

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What I Like About Italian Wine Culture, Part One

In An American in Rome, Articles by Christopher MacleanLeave a Comment

 

26974682252_c6f0221c9fMy buddy Gene, an American who has lived in Italy three times, makes the case that Italians have “basically perfected the art of the meal." This may sound like hyperbole but it rings true to my ears.

One premise of Gene’s argument is the idea that Italian food and Italian wine, when paired well together, can lift your meal to a whole new level.

Let’s call that item number one on the list of things I like about Italian wine: It makes your Italian food better. Simple as that.

Sure, the same can be true of other national cuisines and their wines. But if you eat Italian food as often as I do…
Actually, allow me to illustrate why I think it’s a pretty great idea to try to pair Italian food with Italian wine, whenever possible.

There we were, just last night, at a traditional restaurant in Rome. I ordered Rigatoni all’Amatriciana and Coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail), both of which have rich and salty tomato-based sauces.

The wines on the table: 2010 Frank Cornelissen Etna Rosso “Contadino,” purchased for 20 Euros; and a 2013 Hubert Ligner Morey St. Denis, 48 Euros.
The Contadino had an element of natural funk to it, but the wine was well-integrated and complex, with its earthiness, fruit and minerality all coming together on a long, slightly bitter finish. Best of all, it retained its expressiveness when paired with the two dishes, and added a new flavor dimension to both.

As for the otherwise excellent Lignier red Burgundy, it was oaky and sweet with the Amatriciana, and was only slightly better with the oxtail. I know better than to pair the red-sauced dishes with a mature Burgundy, but I thought a 2013, with its fruity, youthful vigor, might stand a chance. No such luck.

One friend had a breaded lamb dish (Abbacchio Panato,) and while it fared much better with the Burgundy, it too favored and improved the Etna Rosso "Contadino.”

Granted, these three pairing samples do not a conclusive scientific study make. But you get the idea. Can anyone name an Italian dish that shows its best form with a non-Italian wine? I'm not even joking; I need to know these things.

Item number two on my list of good things about Italian wine culture: The way you are treated at wineries in Italy. Has anyone else visited an Italian wine producer and left feeling like their family temporarily adopted you during the tasting? The generosity and warmth you encounter in Italian wine country is really something special. I've had great visits in the U.S., France, Spain, Germany, Australia, etc., but probably nine of my ten most memorable winery visits were in Italy.

Item number three: That you can still find affordable wine list options at most restaurants in Italy. Even in Rome, there are many restaurants where the mark-up is less than 50% over retail. Last night for example, we found two very interesting Italian white wines on the list and paid less than 20 euros a bottle. When was the last time that’s been possible in the U.S.? 1985?

Okay, those are my first few salvos, the things I like about Italian wine culture. I’ve got a few more in mind. Soon enough I’ll get to the things I don’t like. It’s a shorter list of course. In the meantime, what have I overlooked that's great about Italian wine?

 

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An American Chardonnay in Rome

In An American in Rome, Articles by Christopher Maclean13 Comments

 

alessandro-pepeTo be honest, my record is mediocre at best. In my many attempts to show Alessandro Pepe that American wines can be interesting, I've failed more often than I've succeeded. The most recent attempt was a few weeks ago in Rome. Going in, I was certain the bottle would be a winner. It was a 2013 Cameron Clos Electrique Chardonnay, a great producer's best wine in a great vintage.

Cameron was new to me just a few months ago. Since moving from Rome to Washington, DC in late 2014, I've spent my free Saturdays working at a local wine store. During one shift in October, a knowledgeable customer told me he had given up on U.S. Chardonnay, which he found too clumsy almost without exception. But he mentioned a few he still buys: Cameron, in Oregon's Dundee Hills, and Ceritas, a California producer sourcing fruit in the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Sonoma Coast. I threw out a couple of suggestions of my own, like Mount Eden, Rhys and Arnot-Roberts, and vowed to try his picks. As luck would have it, he had a cold bottle of Ceritas Porter-Bass Vineyard Chardonnay in his car and opened it for the store staff. This great fortune, I might add, reminded me of why I decided to work in a wine shop in the first place.

The small pour I took of the Ceritas was a revelation. It was probably the best old world-style American Chardonnay I'd ever tasted. There was elegance, harmony, and a Chablis-like, chalky and complex minerality that cleansed my palate. Almost immediately, I thought this Ceritas would be a wine to open for Alessandro Pepe. My customer then relayed that Cameron in Oregon was similar in style, but the wines had more pronounced earthy notes and perhaps a bit more opulent fruit. To me, that sounded even more Alessandro-friendly than the Ceritas!Cameron_06_16_2011_106-1018px In short order, I grabbed two bottles of Cameron 2012 Clos Electrique Chardonnay from the store, opened one to test, and, sufficiently blown away, brought the second bottle to Rome in November. It turns out Cameron is a biodynamic producer who somehow gets his barrel-maker to fly out from Burgundy every year. How could a winemaker like that fail to impress my great, albeit a bit snooty, Italian wine friend?!! Just to be sure, I decided to test the second Cameron 2012 on other Italian palates, before subjecting it to the Alessandro test.

Sure enough, my Italian wine geek friends loved it. My buddy Gianluca asked me to bring more bottles back to Italy so that he can open them blind next to Meursault, with hopes of fooling his Burgundy-loving friends. Since the 2012 was out of stock at the store, I promised to return with the 2013, which was reported to be even better. With Cameron now well-tested, I gave a bottle of the just-arrived 2013 to Alessandro on March 14th, 2016. He decided to open it that same day, slightly too warm, during an industry tasting lunch in Rome, with producers, restaurateurs and a distributor all present. You could say the pressure was high, but I was confident, and looked forward to seeing Alessandro's reaction.

Well, tIMG_3535_1024x1024hat bottle of wine was a clunker. I wouldn't say it was flabby, although it was definitely softer than the 2012 version, with more overt oak and little of the persistence I remembered. The worst part was that Alessandro, as is his habit, shared it with everyone within shouting distance, including a small group of (excellent) Italian winemakers, all of whom were anxious to sample the foreign wine. On second thought, the real worst part may have been their pity. The winemakers all said nice things about the wine, but their body language confirmed my own opinion. Fellow American Lindsay Gabbard tried to make me (and the wine) feel better by saying something like, "you know, I can see why the style of this wine was appealing. There are plenty of American Chardonnays with less backbone." More pity.

So Alessandro was right again, much to my chagrin. Where did I go wrong? I'll have to do better the next time I'm in Rome. Any suggestions on what I should bring? My first 6-pack of Ceritas Chardonnay just arrived a few days ago. Maybe I can find another 2012 Clos Electrique somewhere. I'm definitely not giving up on this noble quest. Christopher MacLean

 

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A Santa Barbarian in Rome

In An American in Rome by Lindsay Gabbard2 Comments

 

 FullSizeRender

From Sunny Cabs to Dark Nebbiolo

Here we are.  The time is now to explore the depths of the glass in front of us.  The time to look and explore all that lies far beyond the polished surface of the glass to really understand the elegant and gritty components of what brings beauty to a wine, a culture, life.

My journey from Santa Barbara to Rome finds me in worlds apart.  Yet both could be, and are, equally respected for beauty, joy and enjoyment.  Where I come from there is a sort of superficiality to what we would consider beauty.  The buildings are white, uniform, and aesthetically soft on the eye.   The natural beauty is inherent in our oceans, mountains, sunrises and sunsets.  There, the people are relaxed and smiling, almost always.  And why wouldn't they be?  After all, it's 75 and sunny nearly every day.

And with Rome, you could paint nearly the complete opposite picture.  Nothing is easy here. The labyrinths of cobblestone streets are noisy from traffic and nestled between dilapidated buildings with bars over windows.  But when you understand the history of why, you immediately find yourself in the most rich and beautiful of places.  And for those people who spend only a day or two here, with no time to truly grasp what lies behind the madness of rock piles, well then I am sure it will be just another city that you can say you saw.  But for those who look beyond, there is an eternal, never-ending story that will imprint your entire existence.

So this is why I'm here, in Rome and on this blog.  To learn, share and explore the cultural differences in life and wine here.  To find a deeper sense of enjoyment than just what is visible through the glass and to explore the acidity and tannins of life which bring all the structure and beauty to what could merely be considered a fruit juice with alcohol.

Alla prossima...ciao! Lindsay Gabbard (an American wine passionate in Rome)

IMG_2945

ps Meanwhile I was taking this picture Rome was literally grabbing me from the dark Lindsay Gabbard

 

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Wine Club 1/2 Tasting Notes

In Wine Club Tasting Notes by Lindsay GabbardLeave a Comment

 

PROSECCO COL FONDO 'CREDAMORA', MALIBRAN


Grape:
100% Glera
Region: Valdobbiadene-Conegliano (Veneto)
Drinking Window: Ready
Pairings: a perfect aperitive, meaning pairs with nearly anything.
Winemaking Notes: secondary fermentation in the bottle, non-filtered, no disgorgement.
Video Description: (At minute 2.24 of this video, everything is explained). I’m not talking about what Maurizio says. I’m talking about what happens in the background when Maurizio’s father, 85 years old, after a hard day of work in the vineyards comes to calm his thirst. In France they call them Vin de Soif, wines to drink. I believe that this Credamora is more than that, but surely that fact that you can drink it as easily as water is a good starting point. I know that I've said many times that prosecco is the worst wine of Italy. 320 million bottles (and maybe more) produced without any respect of quality and what a wine should be. A cheap fruit juice with alcohol most of the time not even made with grapes but only chemical residues and artificial aromas. So, I’ll stay on my point, don’t drink prosecco. But there are few wineries and more than that few special places where Prosecco is more than an industrial and cheesy bubbly wine. The hills of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are even more suggestive than Chianti. Soft and quite, far away from the Mid-West style flat vineyards where the industrial Prosecco is made.

Quality producers? There aren't more than 10-15 and Malibran is one of them. Col Fondo means with yeast sediment, as the Prosecco used to be done 50-60 years ago. And only recently it's getting trendy again, but Malibran never stopped doing it. A natural fermentation, with it’s own sediments, crispy and refreshing, tight and fruity. The complex simplicity of a wine able to surprise you, with soft natural bubbles, a Vin de Soif, a wine to drink, on as summer-winter day, after a hard day of work or on a lazy Sunday. Pair it with everything, doesn’t really matter. A good Prosecco is something so unique that can go with any pairings.

 
 

Rosso 2015, Monte di Grazia


Grape:
Tintore - 90%, Piedirosso - 10%
Region: Tramonti (CAMPANIA)
Drinking Window: Now - 2020
Pairings: Aged cheeses, red meat, pork dishes.
Winemaking Notes: Organic farming, indigenous yeasts, vines from 20 -100+ years old, 3500 bottles produced.
Video Description:

 
 

Rosso di Contrada 2017, Marabino


Grape:
Nero d'Avola
Region: Noto SICILIA
Drinking Window: Ready now - drink by 2021
Pairings: aged tuna is ideal, Sicilian side dishes with unique flavors, spicy or peppery foods but be careful, tuna steak or marinated tuna, salami.
Winemaking Notes: organic/biodynamic farming, no sulfites added.
Video Description: (At minute 2.24 of this video, everything is explained). I’m not talking about what Maurizio says. I’m talking about what happens in the background when Maurizio’s father, 85 years old, after a hard day of work in the vineyards comes to calm his thirst. In France they call them Vin de Soif, wines to drink. I believe that this Credamora is more than that, but surely that fact that you can drink it as easily as water is a good starting point. I know that I've said many times that prosecco is the worst wine of Italy. 320 million bottles (and maybe more) produced without any respect of quality and what a wine should be. A cheap fruit juice with alcohol most of the time not even made with grapes but only chemical residues and artificial aromas. So, I’ll stay on my point, don’t drink prosecco. But there are few wineries and more than that few special places where Prosecco is more than an industrial and cheesy bubbly wine. The hills of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano are even more suggestive than Chianti. Soft and quite, far away from the Mid-West style flat vineyards where the industrial Prosecco is made.

Quality producers? There aren't more than 10-15 and Malibran is one of them. Col Fondo means with yeast sediment, as the Prosecco used to be done 50-60 years ago. And only recently it's getting trendy again, but Malibran never stopped doing it. A natural fermentation, with it’s own sediments, crispy and refreshing, tight and fruity. The complex simplicity of a wine able to surprise you, with soft natural bubbles, a Vin de Soif, a wine to drink, on as summer-winter day, after a hard day of work or on a lazy Sunday. Pair it with everything, doesn’t really matter. A good Prosecco is something so unique that can go with any pairings.

 
 

Julien 2016, Lieselehof


Grape:
Bronner / Johanniter
Region: Kaltern (TRENTINO-ALTO ADIGE)
Drinking Window: Now - 2020
Pairings: White meat and well seasoned fish, also ideal for sushi and Asian.
Winemaking Notes: Organic farming, hand-picked, 18-24 months in oak, 4,000 bottles produced.
Video Description:

 
 

Barolo 2015, Sobrero

Grape: Nebbiolo
Region: Castiglione Falletto, Barolo (PIEMONTE)
Drinking Window: now - 2028+ (patience rewarded)
Pairings: Pot roasts with Barolo, red meat and game, stuffed guinea fowl, first courses featuring meat or mushrooms.
Winemaking Notes: 35 days of maceration, not filtered, 10-55 year old vines, large oak barrels, 20,000 bottles produced.
Video Description: Ok. you all know Barolo right? So there's no point talking about it. Why don’t we do an experiment so: I’ll put some music on, The Goldberg Variations of J. S. Bach played by Glen Gould, a bite of an aged cheddar and silence. A sip of wine, a bite of cheese. and silent.

Right? There was really no point of speaking with this 'pairing'. What’s the point of telling you that Barolo is one of the most important regions in the world? that it is a land that has been divided in more than a 100 different vineyards based on the composition of the soil? No reasons to tell that the Nebbiolo (the grape variety) is one of the most complex in the world, capable of giving you wines that can be aged up to 40 years, wines with structure and elegance, fruit and earthiness, complexity and finesse. And what a great opportunity to taste too Barolo in one night. One more fruity and aggressive (Sobrero) the other one more elegant and soft.

Perhaps in your mind you thought... it was like an erotic dance with a strong handsome man who's a bit rude and a nice elegant and soft woman with a deep desire in her eyes, they are dancing and hugging each other and suddenly he grabs her…

 
 

Brunello di Montalcino 2013, Poggiarellino


Grape:
Sangiovese Grosso
Region: Montalcino (TOSCANA)
Drinking Window: Now - 2028+
Pairings: Bone steak, game, cured meats, pork, red meat, earthy dishes.
Winemaking Notes: Large Slovenian oak, non-filtered.
Video Description:

 

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WE'LL BRING ITALY TO YOU.

Be part of the finest Italian Wine Club and bring Italy to you wherever you are.


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