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Issue 34, October 2005
Contents


Editorial    Summary of Editorial column
 Vintage 2005: The Previsions
At the end of summertime - when most of the people still think about their vacation - the ones involved in wine business mainly think about the forthcoming vintage, while trying to foresee how the harvest will be and what they can get… [more]
 MailBox



ABC Wine    Summary of ABC Wine column
 Sardinia
Sardinia
In the suggestive Italian island, keeper of millenary traditions and cultures, wine has always represented an important resource, an ancient history which is capable of surprising even today… [more]



Wine Tasting    Summary of Wine Tasting column
 Aromatic Sweet Wines
The wines selected for our comparative tasting
Sweet wines represent an extraordinary sensorial experience for any taster, a world of complex and charming aromas made of endless surprises, and when aromatic grapes are involved, there is also magic… [more]
 Wines of the Month
Sole dei Padri 2002, Spadafora (Sicily, Italy)
Focus Merlot Zuc di Volpe 2003, Sole dei Padri 2002, Soave Classico Monte Alto 2003, Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Bianco Zuc di Volpe 2004, Bucciato 2003, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 1997, Schietto Cabernet Sauvignon 2002… [more]



 Conte Loredan Gasparini
Mr. Giancarlo Palla, owner of Conte Loredan Gasparini winery
Capo di Stato and Venegazzù della Casa, two wines which told the world about the quality of Italian wines, a quality which is also supported by very good wines and refined distillates… [more]
 Cellar Journal


Events    Summary of Events column
 News



Corkscrew    Summary of Corkscrew column
 Matching Wine and Rice
Red wine risotto: creamy, colored and tasty!
One of the most common cereals in the world, important resource for all human beings, is an extremely versatile and interesting food in the matching with wine… [more]



 Lentils
Lentils, among the most common legumes in the world, it is a tasty and nutrient food
Lentils, the meat of poor men. One of the legumes which contributed to the rebirth and repopulation of Europe after the medieval famines and epidemics… [more]
 Aquavitae
Grappa di Barbera 2001, Casa Luparia (Piedmont, Italy)
Review of Grappa, Distillates and Brandy, Acquavite d'Uva Moscato di Canelli 2001, Grappa di Barbera 2001, Grappa di Barbaresco 2002, Liquore di Grappa e Camomilla, Grappa di Venegazzù Riva Vecia, Grappa Capo di Stato… [more]
 Wine Parade



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  Editorial Issue 34, October 2005   
Vintage 2005: The PrevisionsVintage 2005: The Previsions MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Vintage 2005: The Previsions


 At the end of summertime - when most of the people still think about their vacation - the ones involved in wine business mainly think about the forthcoming vintage, while trying to foresee how the harvest will be and what they can get from the cellar. Their thoughts are absolutely understandable and legitimate; after all, depending on how the harvest will be, they will get their profits while wishing to be able to offer consumers good - hopefully very good - quality wines. For wine lovers instead, this is the period in which they try to get as much information as possible about the wines which will be then poured in their glasses. Two ways to see the “result of vintage”, however being interesting in both cases. Even this year - punctually - there were some rumors about this subject, both from producers as well as from professional association involved in wine business. Concerning the previsions for vintage 2005 in Italy, it seems we are having good and bad news at the same time.

 There are good news because, according to what has been said, the overall quality of grapes - and therefore of wines - has increased since 2004; bad news because the quantity of grapes which will be harvested in vineyards is lesser than the last year. Whether we can be happy of the fact in 2005 we will have very good quality wines, on the other hand, the lesser quantity which will be produced further confirms - and not only for reasons connected to the meteorological conditions of the year - the non very happy period the marketing and the consumption of wine are facing. In fact, many wineries still have in their cellars unsold bottles of the last vintage, therefore increasing the production with the harvesting of 2005 does not seem to be a good solution. According to what it is said, it is more likely many of these bottles will take the way of distillation, therefore meeting truly different glasses, very different from the ones generally used for wine.


 

 Let's proceed with order. According to the previsions of CIA, the Italian Confederation of Agriculturists, released at the beginning of August, it seems the overall quality of vintage 2005 will be pretty high, among the best ones in the last ten years and it will certainly surpass 2001, even with diffused excellent cases, just like 1997. A prevision which can certainly make happy both producers and wine lovers. Also according to what Italian Confederation of Agriculturists said, the quantity which will be harvested this year will be lesser of about 10% than 2004. These news, to tell the truth, do not worry that much: vintage 2004 was considered by everyone as abundant in terms of quantity and, in particular, it set a reprise - indeed, a return to normality - after the non truly happy 2002 and 2003 vintages. Moreover, according to the number of bottles produced in 2004 and still unsold because of the general crisis of which the market of wine is subject to, a lesser production in terms of quantity seems to be providentially coherent with what is happening in consumptions.

 Anyway, we still have the good news about the prevision of a very good quality 2005, better than 2001 - which certainly was a good vintage - and that will even surpass 1997. All this, of course, in general terms and provided there would have not been “bad surprises” in September, a fundamental month for the fate of vineyards. The meteorological conditions for 2005 have been pretty different - of course - in the many regions of Italy. Whereas in the northern part there was a cold winter with little rains, in the southern regions, rains have been pretty abundant. Temperature played the role of “condition equalizer”, which was everywhere pretty low. The arrive of the hot temperatures - even since the end of springtime - has made the ripening of grapes harder, however the subsequent conditions allowed a normal process and seemed to ensure a harvesting in pretty normal times and conditions. According to previsions, the harvesting will begin with early ripening varieties from the half of August in the southern regions and in the islands, then it will follow in the other regions, whereas late ripening varieties will be harvested during October. This is what can be said according to previsions, even though it is good to remember that at the end of August and during September, in some Italian areas there have been rains and hail which have damaged vineyards.

 According to the previsions of Italian Confederation of Agriculturists, the production of wine in Italy for 2005 will be something less than 50 millions of hectoliters, with a slight decreasing in respect of the abundant 2004 of about 10%. Veneto - with its about 8 millions of hectoliters - will be confirmed as the most productive Italian region, followed by Emilia Romagna, Apulia and Sicily, all virtually occupying the second rank with about 6 millions and 600 thousand hectoliters. As for the other regions, the production will be of about 3 millions and half for Abruzzo, between 2 and 3 millions of hectoliters for Piedmont, Tuscany and Latium and between one and 2 millions of hectoliters for Campania, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige and Lombardy. The other regions will have a production lesser than one million of hectoliters, from 20 thousand of Vallée d'Aoste to 900 thousand for Umbria. Despite the decreasing of the production, there will however be an increasing of grapes destined to appellation wines (DOCG, DOC and IGT) whereas it is expected a decreasing for the production of table wines having no appellation.

 As for the acreage destined to the cultivation of vineyards, it has been recorded a decreasing in the whole territory of Italy, in particular in Sicily, Latium, Sardinia and Basilicata. Despite of this, Sicily is still the Italian region having the largest acreage, together with Apulia, Veneto and Tuscany. The region having the highest quantity to hectare ratio is Emilia Romagna with 120 hectoliters per hectare, whereas the last position is occupied by Sardinia with 24. Rigidity of previsions and numbers apart, the news of having an excellent vintage - they say among the best ones in the last ten years - certainly is the best thing we would have known about. However it will be necessary to wait for the reality of facts and the will of Mother Nature - in the hope it will be benevolent and will not change this good prevision - as well as the good job wine makers will do in their cellars. We just have to wait, always ready with our loyal glasses that - with joy - we will be ready to raise to welcome the very good vintage 2005 with a happy toast, in the hope it will not disappoint expectations as well as our senses.

 



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  Editorial Issue 34, October 2005   
Vintage 2005: The PrevisionsVintage 2005: The Previsions MailBoxMailBox  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

MailBox


 In this column are published our reader's mail. If you have any comment or any question or just want to express your opinion about wine, send your letters to our editorial or fill in the form available at our site.

 

I am writing to you in order to have more information about the current evaluation form for distillates. As I think you are up to date and know your job very well, can you please tell me where can I find such a form? Thank you.
Tonia Papagno -- Barletta, Bari (Italy)
The practice of organoleptic and sensorial evaluation of distillates is mainly determined by the type of distillate to be examined. This means the evaluation criteria applied - for example - to a fruit brandy are different from the ones used for the evaluation of wine brandies. For this reason, the evaluation forms are mainly based on the methodologies and techniques suited for the tasting of any single distillate. To this should also be added the fact every association or consortium of production, use their own evaluation forms created according the principles and methodologies adopted by the association or the consortium itself. This is also the specific case of DiWineTaste, as in the evaluation of the distillates published in our guide Aquavitae we use our own methodology as well as our own evaluation form.



I am writing my thesis about marketing of tourism and wine. Some books I have read cite the pyramid of quality of Italian wines. Can you please provide me more information about the quality system used in Italy?
Ilaria Ferrucci -- Radda in Chianti, Siena (Italy)
The current system of production for Italian quality wines is regulated by CEE regulation n° 823/87, Italian law n° 164/92, Italian DPR n° 348/94 and by the disciplinary production in force for every appellation. The base of the pyramid is occupied by vini da tavola (table wines), which are not regulated by any law, there is no obligation to write in the labels the name of grapes used for the production but only the type. Next follows IGT wines (Indicazione Geografica Tipica, Typical Geographical Indication), regulated by specific disciplinary, require the area of origin to be written in the label and grapes used for production can also be mentioned as well. The next category - VQPRD (Vini di Qualità Prodotti in Regione Determinata, Quality Wines Produced in Determined Region) - includes two categories: DOC (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata, Denomination of Controlled Origin) and DOCG (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita, Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). The wines belonging to this category are regulated by specific disciplinary, more rigid and scrupulous in the case of DOCG wines. To the top of the pyramid is found DOCG with indication of the subarea wines, that is wines having in the label the mention of a particular vineyard, area, place, farm or commune. To know more about this subject, please refer to the article “Italy” published in DiWineTaste's issue 1, October 2002.



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  ABC Wine Issue 34, October 2005   
SardiniaSardinia  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Sardinia

In the suggestive Italian island, keeper of millenary traditions and cultures, wine has always represented an important resource, an ancient history which is capable of surprising even today

 Sardinia certainly is one of the most charming places of Italy, not only for the natural wonders found in this island, but also for its very ancient and rich traditions; an indissoluble heritage from culture, from places and from people who live here. Rich traditions and cultures which are also found in the ancient heritage of cooking, made of the many traditions which are found in the many areas and places of Sardinia, including wine, which in this land represents an important element of identity and history. From white wines to reds, an enological path also passing in the other styles and, among them, authentic rarities, extraordinary representatives of the island's wine making, such as Malvasia di Bosa and Vernaccia di Oristano. Two wonderful examples of wines with an extraordinary ancient taste, which give their best with very long times of aging.

 Sardinia has worth representatives in other wines as well - or better to say - in other grapes too. Vermentino is the most renowned white berried grape of the island and from which are being produced - in the whole territory of the region - excellent wines. Cannonau is still the most famous red berried grape of the island, even though since many years other red grapes are getting more and more famous thanks to the excellent results they produced in wine making: Carignan and Bovale. The richness of grapes in Sardinia goes beyond the ones already mentioned and which represent the most famous ones outside the region. In fact, Sardinia has a pretty interesting heritage of autochthonous grapes and, despite many of them have been introduced by Spaniards, after centuries of adaptation in the territory, today are being considered among the typical grapes of the region. Of course, here are also found the so called international grapes which are usually added to local varieties, as well as typical grapes from other Italian regions, such as Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Barbera.


Sardinia
Sardinia

 According to archaeological studies and researches, vine and wine are present in Sardinia since about 5,000 years. In fact, are dated back to this era the first findings of amphoras and cups in the area occupied by Nuraghi, the ancient people who lived in the island. Despite the age of these archaeological findings, it is believed vine was introduced in Sardinia by Phoenicians, during the period in which they occupied the island. In fact, it is believed the introduction of the vitis vinifera occurred in the seventeenth century b.C., in particular in the colonies of Tharros, Othoca, Cornus, Bithia, Karalis and Noca, all being situated in the western coast. Another important archaeological discovery - dated back to the fourth century b.C., in Roman times - witnesses the historical importance of the wine in the island. In 1984, near the Nuraghe Arrubiu di Orrioli - in the province of Nuoro - has been found a “wine making laboratory” with vessels and tanks for the fermentation and aging of wine. In the course of the diggings were also found some grape pips belonging to unidentifiable varieties.

 Because of the strategic geographical position of the island in the Mediterranean, Sardinia has been - in the course of the centuries - subject to conquests by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs, Aragonese, Genovese, Pisans and - finally - by Sabaudi. Because of the influence of the people who dominated the island, viticulture and wine making has been strongly affected by the traditions and cultures of the many people, while living alternates periods of decay and of truly splendor. Among the people who mainly contributed to the development of enology in the island, are remembered the ones coming from the Aegean sea and from the Iberian peninsula. In fact, these people introduced new and fundamental viticultural and enological techniques, as well as the introduction of new grape varieties, still today found in Sardinia where they play an important role. Many of the famous grapes of Sardinia - such as Cannonau and Carignan - have been introduced by Spaniards, however the quantity of autochthonous grapes is pretty interesting and capable of making very good wines.


 

 A fundamental event for the viticulture of Sardinia - as well as for its agriculture - was represented by the promulgation of Carta De Logu. It was in 1392 Eleonora di Arborea - by continuing the job done by her father Mariano IV - promulgated this important document which regulated the viticulture and agriculture until 1827. Carta De Logu had in its goals, the purpose of increasing, safeguarding and incentivizing the cultivation of the vine and the production of wine. Moreover, there were also emanated heavy fines and corporal penalties to anyone not obeying to Carta De Logu's laws, which also provided the cut of the hand to anyone who fired vineyards or furtively uprooted vineyards. To the ones who did not plant vineyards in their lands, they were confiscated and given to others capable of working them. At the end of feudal times, rural property was abolished and many lands were therefore destined to pastures, then, in 1736 - thanks to marquis of Rivarolo - Carta De Logu was reintroduced again, therefore contributing to the development of viticulture in Sardinia.

 It was in this period wines of Sardinia began to become popular outside the borders of the region, in particular Cannonau produced in the areas near Nuoro, Vermentino di Gallura, Vernaccia di Oristano, Malvasia di Bosa, Monica passito (sweet), Girò, Moscato and Nasco. The development of wine making in Sardinia - here as it was everywhere else - was stopped with the arrive of phylloxera: only the vineyards planted in sandy soils could be saved. It was just in the beginning of the 1950's viticulture in Sardinia could resume its development thanks to the establishment of countless cooperative wineries. In this period the production was mainly attracted by quantity instead of quality, in particular for colored and concentrated red wines, with high alcohol volume, frequently used for strengthening other wines. With the introduction of quality production - which requires low yields in vineyards - many of cooperative and private wineries of Sardinia ended their business. This event - here as well as in other Italian regions - has allowed wines of Sardinia to reach the current remarkable quality levels, including the historical and typical wines of the island produced with autochthonous grapes.

 

Classification of Sardinia

 Wines of Sardinia are classified according to the quality system in force in Italy. In Sardinia are currently defined 19 DOC areas (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata, Denomination of Controlled Origin) and one DOCG (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita, Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), recognized to Vermentino di Gallura. The production of Sardinia is pretty vast and interesting: besides white and red wines, in the island are also produced excellent sweet wines as well as a wine with an ancient and complex taste: Vernaccia di Oristano, which would certainly deserve a better attention. The 19 DOC ares of Sardinia are: Alghero, Arborea, Campidano di Terralba, Cannonau di Sardegna, Carignano del Sulcis, Girò di Cagliari, Malvasia di Bosa, Malvasia di Cagliari, Mandrolisai, Monica di Cagliari, Monica di Sardegna, Moscato di Cagliari, Moscato di Sardegna, Moscato di Sorso-Sennori, Nasco di Cagliari, Nuragus di Cagliari, Semidano di Sardegna, Vermentino di Sardegna and Vernaccia di Oristano. In Sardinia - just like in other regions of Italy - the production of IGT wines (Indicazione Geografica Tipica, Typical Geographical Indication), is very rich and interesting, in which autochthonous grapes are frequently used with the so called international varieties.

 

Production Areas

 In Sardinia the vine is cultivated in the whole territory of the region and many DOC wines are being produced in the entire territory of the island. Sardinia has a pretty rich heritage of autochthonous grapes and the ones introduced in the past centuries by the people who controlled its dominion, are now considered as local grapes. In the island is also recorded a presence of international grapes generally used in the production of wines and added to the local varieties. Despite in the whole region are being produced different wine styles, in Sardinia is found a sort of territorial division in the preference of production for specific styles. Whereas in the central and northern parts there is a higher production of white wines, the production of red wines is mainly concentrated in the southern part of the island. The main white berried grapes of Sardinia are: Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia di Sardegna, Nasco, Nuragus, Semidano, Torbato, Vermentino and Vernaccia di Oristano. As for red grapes, here are mentioned the main ones: Bovale, Caddiu, Cagnulari, Cannonau, Carignano, Girò, Monica and Nieddera.

 

Vermentino di Gallura

 The white berried grape with which are produced the most famous wines of Sardinia certainly is Vermentino. Despite this grape makes very good wines in the whole territory of the island, Gallura - the territory found in the northern part of the region - is the most classic and representative area. Vermentino di Gallura - the only DOCG wine of Sardinia - is extremely interesting, in particular the superior style, which, according to the disciplinary, it must have at least 13,5% of alcohol by volume. The main characteristic of this wine, of average structure, is represented by its evident aromas and flavors of almond. According to historical facts, Vermentino arrived in Gallura after 1850, probably coming from France after having passed Corse, the island where it is still cultivated. In Gallura Vermentino is the most cultivated grape and represents about 80% of total production, whereas the rest is represented by Muscat Blanc, Bovale, Caricagiola and Nebbiolo, the renowned grape from Langhe, Piedmont, here used for the production of interesting IGT wines.

 

Cannonau di Sardegna

 The most famous red berried grape of Sardinia - as well as the most cultivated one in the region - is Cannonau. Despite historians agree on the fact Cannonau was introduced in Sardinia during the dominion of Spaniards, it is not clear what is the original variety to which it belongs to. In fact, it is believed Cannonau is pretty similar to Canonazo - common in the area of Seville - as well as to Granaxo of Aragon and, finally - being the most common hypothesis - similar to Grenache Noir. Cannonau is cultivated in the whole region, however the most typical area is in the province of Nuoro, where are found three of the four Cannonau di Sardegna sub areas: Oliena, Nepente di Oliena and Jerzu. The fourth sub area - Capo Ferrato - is located in the southern part of the island in the province of Cagliari. Cannonau makes wines - in particular the ones of the Oliena area - with high alcohol volumes and robust structures, however the introduction of modern technologies allows today the production of excellent and very balanced Cannonau wines. Because of its low acidity, Cannonau is also vinified together with other grapes, usually autochthonous, in order to improve the gustatory balance.

 

Vernaccia di Oristano

 Vernaccia di Oristano is one of the most suggestive wines of Sardinia and which would certainly deserve a better attention and consideration by consumers. Vernaccia di Oristano is also one of the most ancient wines of Sardinia - the first historical information are dated back to the 1300's - and it is also the first wine of the region to which was recognized the DOC status, in 1972. The wine is produced with the homonymous white grape, which is probably autochthonous of Sardinia. Despite Vernaccia di Oristano is legitimately considered a white wine, its production is pretty different from the wine making techniques used for these wines. Vinification and aging are still done according to ancient traditional methods, a process which frequently makes Vernaccia di Oristano to be considered similar to Spanish Jerez (Sherry), indeed it has its own and precise identity. The aging of Vernaccia di Oristano is done in partially filled chestnut cask, in which develop a colony of yeast (flor) which will give the wine - after tens of years - complex and unique organoleptic qualities. Time represents the main secret for this wine, as it improves as years passes by and with proper aging it can express extraordinary aromas of almond, hazelnut and its typical rancho aroma.

 

Other Areas

 Besides the grapes and wines already mentioned, there must also be cited other typical varieties of Sardinia and from which are being produced interesting wines. One of the most interesting is the famous Malvasia di Bosa, produced in limited quantities, with a sweet taste and that with time improves by increasing its complexity and charm. As for sweet wines, there should be mentioned Moscato di Cagliari, Moscato di Sardegna and Moscato di Sorso-Sennori. Among white berried grapes should be mentioned Nuragus which, after having been the main grape of the island in terms of quantity, today - thanks to the modern wine making techniques - it is capable of producing good quality wines, different from the ones of the past, considered “rustic” and modest. For the Alghero area are mentioned the wines produced with Torbato grape - of Spanish origin - both whites and sparkling. Among red berried grapes, are mentioned the excellent results obtained in the last years with Carignan grape: elegant full bodied wines which reached the top of Sardinia's enology. Other interesting red grapes of Sardinia used for the production of wines include Monica, Cagnulari, Nieddera and Bovale, frequently used together with Cannonau and Carignan.

 




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  Wine Tasting Issue 34, October 2005   
Aromatic Sweet WinesAromatic Sweet Wines Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Aromatic Sweet Wines

Sweet wines represent an extraordinary sensorial experience for any taster, a world of complex and charming aromas made of endless surprises, and when aromatic grapes are involved, there is also magic

 Tasting sweet wines - the ones produced with dried grapes, naturally dried in the vine or exposed to air after harvesting - is like traveling in the past, in that magic world capable of impressing with rich and charming aromas and tastes. A journey in the past because, in ancient Greek and Roman times, wines were mainly sweet - dry wines will be produced in later times - a magic world because aromas and tastes these wines can develop do not compare to any other wine style. Even in later times, sweet wines were considered rare and valuable, a real status symbol for those times and that were usually found in the tables of rich and noble people also for impressing their guests. just like any other wine, progresses and development made by wine making technologies have introduced changes - sometimes even drastically - in the production of sweet wines, frequently adapting them to the taste of our times, although keeping intact their charm, value and prestige.

 Being sweet is not enough for a wine in order to reach the Olympus of quality and prestige. Just like any other style - and in sweet wines this factor is even more important - the quality of grapes and of production techniques represent a fundamental requisite. Whether making an excellent wine is difficult, making an excellent sweet wines is even more difficult. A necessary premise: in this specific context, we are exclusively talking about those wines whose sweetness is exclusively produced by grape sugar - generally obtained by concentration as a consequence of withering - not certainly about those wines to which sugar is added at the end of vinification. It is the withering process - the phase in which the quantity of water contained in the berry is drastically reduced - which allows the making of the “miracle” of sugar concentration as well as of grape's aromatic and organoleptic qualities. Moreover, the organoleptic qualities of the grape are transformed, are being developed characteristics - like to say - more complex and richer than the ones of fresh grape, therefore allowing the wine to get its charming quality.

 

The Wines of the Tasting


The wines selected for our comparative tasting
The wines selected for our comparative tasting

 The wines selected for our comparative tasting, are all produced with dried grapes belonging to the category of aromatic varieties, that is which develop aromas directly recalling the one of grape. Only one of these wines was fermented in barrique: this will let us understand the influence of wood in the production of aromatic sweet wines. The wines we are going to compare in our tasting are produced with three classic examples of aromatic grapes used in Italy for the production of sweet wines: Muscat Blanc, Zibibbo (Muscat of Alexandria) and Malvasia delle Lipari, the latter to be considered as a semi aromatic variety. Muscat Blanc - despite the fact it is present in many Italian regions - is the most typical grape in Piedmont for the production of sweet wines, including sparkling wines. Zibibbo is the most common grape in Sicily for the production of sweet wines and - in particular - at Pantelleria island, where it is being produced the homonymous sweet wine. Finally, Malvasia delle Lipari is the queen grape in the Eolian islands and with which is being produced the homonymous grape, in particular at Salina island.

 The tasting will have as a purpose the study of organoleptic analogies typical in sweet wines produced with aromatic grapes, as well as to understand how the use of wood influences this style of wines. The only wine fermented in barrique selected for our tasting is Franco Mondo's Moscato Passito Sileo, a sweet wine produced with 100% Muscat Blanc and fermented in barrique. We will use this wine to compare two classic examples of sweet wines from Sicily, none of them being fermented or aged in wood. The first one is Donnafugata's Moscato di Pantelleria Ben Ryé, produced with 100% Muscat of Alexandria grape - locally called Zibibbo - in the famous island of wind. The aging of this wine is done in steel tanks which is then followed by an aging of 4 months in bottle. The third and last wine is Carlo Hauner's Malvasia delle Lipari Passito, produced with 95% of the homonimous grape and the remaining 5% with Corinto Nero. The wine is aged for 18 months in inert containers and for 6 months in bottle. For our tasting we will use three ISO tasting glasses and the three wines will be served at a temperature of 14°C (57°F), in order to allow aromas to properly develop without excessively accentuating the sweet taste.

 

Appearance Analysis

 Let's begin our comparative tasting by analyzing the appearance of the wines: we will then need to pour all the three wines in the respective glasses. Despite this could seem obvious to many, the first element we get from a preliminary observation of the three wines is offered by color. The three wines are all produced with white berried grapes, with the only exception being represented by Malvasia delle Lipari in which is present a small percentage of Corinto Nero, a red berried grape. As opposed to dry white wines, in which are usually observed colors ranging from straw yellow to golden yellow of variable intensity, in sweet wines colors get pretty intense and deep hues, from golden yellow to dark amber yellow. The reason for this deeper intensity of the color is mainly because of the drying process, during which both the skin and the pulp of the grape get a darker color which will be then passed to the wine. Longer drying times will give darker and more intense colors, as well as a higher concentration of organoleptic qualities and a higher loss of water.

 The first wine we will examine is Franco Mondo's Piemonte Moscato Passito Sileo. The color of this wine shows a brilliant amber yellow and - by tilting the glass over a white surface - will be noticed nuances of the same color. Despite this wine was fermented in barrique, if we compare its color to the other two wines, we will notice the wood factor seems not to have contributed in an evident way on the color. The second wine we will examine is Donnafugata's Moscato di Pantelleria Ben Ryé. By holding the glass in vertical position, it will be observed an intense amber yellow color and - by tilting the glass over a white surface - will be noticed amber yellow nuances. The appearance of this second wine, fermented in inert containers, is pretty similar to Piemonte Moscato Passito Sileo, which is fermented in barrique instead. The last wine we will examine is Carlo Hauner's Malvasia delle Lipari. The color of this wine - although still showing an amber yellow hue - is more intense than the previous ones, and the same can be observed in nuances. It is good to remember in this wine is present a small quantity of Corinto Nero, a red berried grape.

 

Olfactory Analysis

 The olfactory analysis of the three wines will let us understand the typical qualities of the so called aromatic grapes. It is appropriate to remember only those grapes whose wines are characterized by a clear aroma of grape are considered as aromatic. In our case, only Muscat Blanc - present in Sileo - and Muscat of Alexandria - present in Ben Ryé and called Zibibbo in Sicily - are to be considered aromatic, whereas Malvasia delle Lipari - just like any other grape belonging to this family - is considered a semi aromatic variety. As our goal is to study the aromatic qualities of the three wines, it will be appropriate to serve them at a temperature of about 14°C (57°F). Although higher temperatures would have exalted the aromatic qualities of the wines even more, this condition would have caused an excessive exaltation of the sweet taste, therefore making the wines too sweet. Because these are aromatic grapes - that is capable of developing aromas of strong intensity - we could have served them at a lower temperature, however we would have penalized the other complex aromas which require higher temperatures in order to develop.


 

 The first wine we will examine is Carlo Hauner's Malvasia delle Lipari. From the first smell - done by holding the glass still - will be perceived opening aromas of raisin, apricot jam, dried fig and almond. After having swirled the glass - operation that will favor the oxygenation of wine and will allow a better development of aromas - will be done a second smell in which will be perceived aromas of peach jam, orange marmalade, hazelnut, orange skin, candied fruit, date, honey and - at the end - a pleasing hint of rosemary. We will now proceed with the olfactory evaluation of Donnafugata's Moscato Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé. The first smell - by holding the glass still - will reveal aromas of raisin, although having a character of freshness, dried fig and candied fruit, aromas that we have already found in Malvasia delle Lipari. The second smell - done by swirling the glass - will allow the perception of aromas of apricot jam, peach jam, date, almond, litchi, lavender, orange skin and honey. Despite the fact these are two different wines, we found many analogies already.

 Let's now evaluate Franco Mondo's Piemonte Moscato Passito Sileo. The opening aromas are characterized by raisin, even in this case similar to fresh grape, as well as fig jam, whereas in the second smell - done after having swirled the glass - will be perceived aromas of candied fruit, apricot jam, quince jam, peach jam, date, almond, lavender, orange skin, honey, orange marmalade and vanilla. It is good to remember this wine is fermented in barrique: despite of this, vanilla seems to be the only aromatic factor the wood passed to wine and the aromatic qualities of the grape continues to be perfectly perceivable. Of course, this consideration is specifically valid for this wine: a different use of barrique would give an obviously different aromatic result. Also note how many aromas are present in all the three wines, in particular the ones of raisin, apricot jam, peach jam and dried fig. These aromas are generally found in sweet wines produced with dried aromatic grapes. Finally, note that whether it is true in dry wines produced with aromatic grapes the aroma of grape is perceived as fresh, in sweet wines produced with the same dried grapes, this aroma evolves as raisin.

 

Gustatory Analysis

 As for the gustatory analysis, saying the main characteristic perceived during the tasting of this style of wines is the sweet taste is of course obvious and useless. Despite this is the dominant gustatory quality, it is also evident this is not the only quality. Because of the intense sweet taste, most of the times the other organoleptic sensations are ignored, in particular acidity, a determinant quality - together with alcohol - in order to have a perfect balance. Therefore, by considering this premise, during the taste of these wines it is good to pay particular attention not on their sweet taste, indeed on all the other organoleptic qualities and their efficiency in balancing the strength of sweetness. Acidity, alcohol, roundness and - in case of wines fermented or aged in cask - astringency, are qualities to be scrupulously considered during the analysis of sweet wines. Let's begin by analyzing Carlo Hauner's Malvasia delle Lipari: the first sip will emphasize the sweet taste, however wine's roundness should be carefully evaluated, the alcohol volume and - in particular - the appreciable acidity which makes this Malvasia very balanced. Also note the excellent correspondence of aromas perceived in the nose to the flavors perceived in the mouth.

 The second wine we are going to evaluate is Donnafugata's Moscato di Pantelleria Ben Ryé. The first impact is clearly characterized by the sweet taste, however let's pay attention on the intense raisin flavor, stronger than the previous wine. Even in this wine, roundness is a dominant quality, an effect caused - among the other things - by the quantity of residual sugar. Let's now pay attention on acidity: even in this case its contribution is determinant on wine's balance. The last wine we will examine is Franco Mondo's Piemonte Moscato Passito Sileo. After the intense sweetness perceived at the beginning, let's pay attention, once again, to the strong raisin taste: this quality is - just like the previous wines - a characteristic in sweet wines produced with aromatic grapes. Besides acidity - fundamental for the balance - also note how in this wine it is possible to perceive a slight astringency - a clear effect of the fermentation in barrique - which does not however disturb and contributes to balance sweetness very well. After having swallowed every single wine, note how the acid taste tends to reveal in the mouth together with the sweetness sensation.

 

Final Considerations

 Saying sweet wines are very pleasing and charming to taste, is something truly obvious. The charm of these wines is mainly appreciable in the gustatory analysis, also thanks to the predilection of human beings for sweet taste. Indeed, the most interesting thing to observe after having swallowed the wine, is the long taste-olfactory persistence. All the three wines are characterized by long and pleasing taste-olfactory persistence with strong flavors recalling their aromas, in particular raisin, dried fig, almond and apricot jam. The long gustatory persistence in these wines is one of the fundamental qualities for the appreciation of sweet wines produced with aromatic grapes. A good sweet wine produced with aromatic grape should have always been characterized by a long gustatory persistence, just like the wines of our tasting. Finally, it is appropriate to remember the aroma of raisin - typical in aromatic grapes - can also be found in other sweet wines produced with other grapes, however it is in aromatic wines it expresses all of its strength, to which it is frequently added the aroma of fresh grape as well.

 






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  Wine Tasting Issue 34, October 2005   
Aromatic Sweet WinesAromatic Sweet Wines Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Wines of the Month


 

Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Schietto Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Spadafora (Sicily, Italy)
Schietto Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
Spadafora (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: € 20.15 Score:
This wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, licorice, vanilla, tobacco, cocoa, eucalyptus and mace. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and pleasing roundness, however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, good tannins. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. A well made wine. This Cabernet Sauvignon ages for 12 months in barrique followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Sole dei Padri 2002, Spadafora (Sicily, Italy)
Sole dei Padri 2002
Spadafora (Sicily, Italy)
Grapes: Syrah
Price: € 42.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This Syrah shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant which start with aromas of black cherry, plum and blueberry followed by aromas of black currant, blackberry, violet, vanilla, licorice, black pepper, cocoa, eucalyptus and menthol. The mouth has correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, pleasing roundness, intense flavors, good tannins. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and blueberry. A well made wine. Sole dei Padri ages for 12 months in barrique followed by 10 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Lago di Corbara 2003, Castello di Corbara (Umbria, Italy)
Lago di Corbara 2003
Castello di Corbara (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (25%), Merlot (25%)
Price: € 14.00 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of black currant, blueberry, violet, vanilla, , licorice, tobacco, cinnamon and menthol. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry and plum. A well made wine. This wine ages for 12 months in barrique and cask followed by 5-6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Lago di Corbara Cabernet Sauvignon 2003, Castello di Corbara (Umbria, Italy)
Lago di Corbara Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
Castello di Corbara (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: € 16.00 Score:
This Cabernet Sauvignon shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, black currant and plum followed by aromas of blueberry, vanilla, bell pepper, cyclamen, licorice, tobacco, cinnamon, eucalyptus and pink pepper. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. A well made wine. This wine ages for 12 months in barrique followed by 5-6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Soave Classico Monte Alto 2003, Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
Soave Classico Monte Alto 2003
Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Garganega
Price: € 11.50 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This Soave shows a brilliant straw yellow color and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and elegant aromas which start with hints of pear, plum and almond followed by aromas of chamomile, pineapple, hawthorn, peach, broom, apple and hints of vanilla and mineral. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and pleasing smoothness, however well balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of pear, plum and almond. A well made wine. Monte Alto ages for 6-8 months in barrique.
Food Match: Pasta with mushrooms, Mushrooms soup, Roasted and stewed meat, Roasted white meat



Bucciato 2003, Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
Bucciato 2003
Ca' Rugate (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Garganega
Price: € 8.00 - 50cl Score: Wine that excels in its category
This wine shows an intense golden yellow color and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of quince, plum and medlar followed by aromas of chamomile, honey, almond, hawthorn, hazelnut, pear and peach. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and pleasing smoothness, however well balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, quince and almond. A well made wine. Bucciato ferments with its skins and ages in steel tanks.
Food Match: Roasted fish, Stewed fish with mushrooms, Roasted white meat



Trentino Pinot Grigio 2004, Casata Monfort (Trentino, Italy)
Trentino Pinot Grigio 2004
Casata Monfort (Trentino, Italy)
Grapes: Pinot Gris
Price: € 7.20 Score:
The wine shows a brilliant greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of pear and apple followed by aromas of hawthorn, jasmine, broom, peach and plum. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of pear, apple and peach. This Pinot Gris ages in steel tanks for 5 months followed by 2 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Pasta and risotto with vegetables and crustaceans, Fried fish



Blanc de Sers 2004, Casata Monfort (Trentino, Italy)
Blanc de Sers 2004
Casata Monfort (Trentino, Italy)
Grapes: Nosiola (20%), Chardonnay (15%), Muscat Blanc (15%), Wanderbara (25%), Veltliner Rosato (20%), Vernaza (5%)
Price: € 7.05 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This wine shows a brilliant greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of grape, peach and elder followed by aromas of hawthorn, broom, banana, pear and apple. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of peach, pear and banana. Blanc de Sers ages for 12 months in steel tanks followed by 3 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Vegetable and mushroom soups, Pasta and risotto with crustaceans and fish



Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Bianco Zuc di Volpe 2004, Volpe Pasini (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Bianco Zuc di Volpe 2004
Volpe Pasini (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Pinot Blanc
Price: € 15.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
The wine shows a pale straw yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of peach, pear and lemon followed by aromas of apple, pineapple, gooseberry, white rose, acacia, broom, hazelnut and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and pleasing smoothness, however well balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of lemon, pear and peach. A well made wine. Part of this Pinot Blanc ages in steel tanks and the other part in barrique.
Food Match: Pasta and risotto with fish and crustaceans, Vegetables pudding, Sauteed crustaceans



Focus Merlot Zuc di Volpe 2003, Volpe Pasini (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Focus Merlot Zuc di Volpe 2003
Volpe Pasini (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Merlot
Price: € 20.00 Score:
The wine shows a deep ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of black currant, plum and black cherry followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, cocoa, cinnamon, mace, menthol and pink pepper. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however well balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing smoothness. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of black currant, plum and black cherry. A well made wine. Focus Merlot ages for 12 months in barrique followed by 8 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Chianti Classico Riserva Casa Sola 2001, Fattoria Casa Sola (Tuscany, Italy)
Chianti Classico Riserva Casa Sola 2001
Fattoria Casa Sola (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (90%), Cabernet Sauvignon (7%), Merlot (3%)
Price: € 18.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This reserve of Chianti Classico shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of black cherry and plum followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, licorice, carob and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and appreciable smoothness, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry and plum. This wine ages for 18 months in cask followed by at least 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Broiled meat, Stewed meat, Hard cheese



Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 1997, Fattoria Casa Sola (Tuscany, Italy)
Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 1997
Fattoria Casa Sola (Tuscany, Italy)
Grapes: Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia del Chianti
Price: € 10.00 - 500ml Score:
The wine shows an intense amber yellow color and nuances of amber yellow, transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of raisin, fig jam and almond followed by aromas of peach jam, apricot jam, caramel, date, honey, vanilla and hints of rosemary. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a sweet and smooth attack, however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of fig jam, almond and raisin. This Vin Santo ages for 5 years in small barrels.
Food Match: Hard and piquant cheese, Almond and dried fruit tarts



Barbera d'Alba Gepin 2003, Albino Rocca (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbera d'Alba Gepin 2003
Albino Rocca (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Barbera
Price: € 14.00 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry and blueberry followed by aromas of raspberry, plum, violet, vanilla, carob, menthol and hints of black pepper. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and pleasing crispness, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry and plum. This Barbera ages for 14 months in cask.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat with mushrooms, Hard cheese



Barbaresco 2002, Albino Rocca (Piedmont, Italy)
Barbaresco 2002
Albino Rocca (Piedmont, Italy)
Grapes: Nebbiolo
Price: € 22.00 Score:
This Barbaresco shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and blackberry followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, cinnamon, licorice, tobacco, carob, vanilla and black pepper. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, pleasing crispness, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry and plum. This Barbaresco ages for 18 months in cask.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Montefalco Rosso 2003, Madonna Alta (Umbria, Italy)
Montefalco Rosso 2003
Madonna Alta (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sangiovese (65%), Merlot (20%), Sagrantino (15%)
Price: € 12.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, carob and vanilla. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry and plum. This Montefalco Rosso ages for 12 months in barrique.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Broiled beat, Stewed meat with mushrooms



Montefalco Sagrantino 2002, Madonna Alta (Umbria, Italy)
Montefalco Sagrantino 2002
Madonna Alta (Umbria, Italy)
Grapes: Sagrantino
Price: € 20.00 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of black cherry, blackberry and plum followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, licorice, tobacco, cinnamon, cocoa, vanilla and mace. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum. A well made wine. This Sagrantino di Montefalco ages for 18 months in barrique and cask.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Colli Orientali del Friuli Tocai Friulano 2004, Teresa Raiz (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Tocai Friulano 2004
Teresa Raiz (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Tocai Friulano
Price: € 8.38 Score: Wine that excels in its category
This Tocai Friulano shows a brilliant greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of pear and plum followed by aromas of almond, pineapple, hawthorn, medlar, apple and elder. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of pear, plum and almond. This wine ages with at least 6 months in steel tanks and for at least one month in bottle.
Food Match: Fried fish, Pasta and risotto with fish, Roasted fish, Eggs



Colli Orientali del Friuli Rosso Decano 2001, Teresa Raiz (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Rosso Decano 2001
Teresa Raiz (Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Cabernet Franc (40%), Merlot (20%)
Price: € 17.42 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of ruby red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas that start with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of blueberry, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, bell pepper, eucalyptus, cocoa, black pepper and hints of coffee. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. A well made wine. Decano Rosso ages for 12 months in barrique followed by 6 months of aging in bottle.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese






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  Wine Producers Issue 34, October 2005   
Conte Loredan GaspariniConte Loredan Gasparini Cellar JournalCellar Journal  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Conte Loredan Gasparini

Capo di Stato and Venegazzù della Casa, two wines which told the world about the quality of Italian wines, a quality which is also supported by very good wines and refined distillates

 A legend originated from an idea. This is what could be told about the most famous wine of Conte Loredan Gasparini - Capo di Stato - when they thought about creating a wine to be served during official events in the city of Venice. Official and special occasions as in the case of a dinner who had among its guests the former president of French Republic Charles de Gaulle. It was in the occasion of the dinner held at Hotel Gritti of Venice that Charles de Gaulle had the opportunity to drink Capo di Stato and to appreciate its quality: the famous president of the French Republic became one of its most illustrious supporters. Capo di Stato then became a celebrity worldwide and was seen as an emblem of Italian wine quality, proving - among the many things - that great Bordelais wines could be created in Italy as well. Conte Loredan Gasparini winery, of course, is not Capo di Stato only: other famous wines are being produced by this winery, including Venegazzù della Casa and Falconera rosso, as to mention some names.


A view from top of Conte
Loredan Gasparini winery
A view from top of Conte Loredan Gasparini winery

 Conte Loredan Gasparini winery is located at Venegazzù di Volpago del Montello - in Veneto, in the heart of marca trevigiana north from Treviso - in an area renowned for the production of wines since the sixteenth century. In 1590 the historian Boniface wrote about the area and the wines of this land in his Historia Trevigiana: «The area of Trevigi has woods useful for gathering wood and for hunting… The land produces… very good wines and the best is the one from riviera di Montello», a territory mainly made of clay rich in iron and mineral components. The winery was established in the 1950's by count Piero Loredan, direct descendant of the Doge of Venice Leonardo Loredan, who chose the territory of Vignigazzu to build his house in a splendid palladian villa. Since 1973 the Conte Loredan Gasparini winery is property of Mr. Giancarlo Palla, who is in charge - among the other things - of the direction of the winery which today covers an area of 80 hectares (197 acres).

 Since the years of the foundation, count Piero Loredan planted in his vineyards the grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Manzoni Bianco (Incrocio Manzoni 6.0.13, a cross between Riesling and Pinot Blanc) and Chardonnay. His main goal was to start a production of high quality wines based on the example of the enology of Bordeaux. It was also built a cellar for aging wines, today completely modernized and integrated with French oak barriques (Nevers, Tronçais and Allier) and Slovenian oak, which were added to the traditional casks of 25 hectoliters volume (660 gallons) for the aging of wines. Moreover, it was also built an underground cellar - which covers a surface of about 1,500 square meters (about 1790 square yards) - purposely built for the aging in bottle of classic method sparkling wines.


Mr. Giancarlo Palla, owner of Conte
Loredan Gasparini winery
Mr. Giancarlo Palla, owner of Conte Loredan Gasparini winery

 In the winery are also produced very good white wines, as well as a Prosecco produced with the grapes coming from the vineyards located in the DOC Montello e Colli Asolani area. Despite the very good quality of its whites, Conte Loredan Gasparini winery is famous for its red wines, including Capo di Stato e Venegazzù della Casa, the red wine which is cited in the entries of the important and authoritative Treccani Encyclopedia. Venegazzù della Casa is a wine unique in its genre and produced in limited quantities from the vineyards cultivated in the area having the same name. Venegazzù della Casa was created in the 1950's as the result of a scrupulous selection of grapes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec. A Bordelais wine which represents since many years the very good production of this winery.

 Also Capo di Stato is produced with a scrupulous selection of hand harvested grapes and in different periods. Part of the grapes come from the eldest vineyard of the winery “100 piante” (100 plants) and the remaining part from “Falconera” vineyard, located near Loredan villa where once was practiced hawk hunting. From the same vineyard also come the grapes for the very good Falconera Rosso produced with Cabernet and Merlot. Other particularity of the Capo di Stato is represented by its label. In 1967 the paduan artist Tono Zancanaro (1906-1985) - in order to express his admiration for this excellent Bordelais wine - drew the image of the young boy which still today dresses every bottle of Capo di Stato. The artist dedicated to the wine two works which resemble the masculine soul of wine and the feminine soul of grape, that - with their union - give origin to a new and same origin. From that moment on “des roses pour madame” “…et pour Monsieur la bombe” became the image for Capo di Stato's label.

 The union between grape and Conte Loredan Gasparini winery is not limited to the production of wines only. The pomace of grapes used for the production of wine is in fact distilled by Antica Distilleria Negroni - which is property of the winery - for the production of grappa. The pomace of the best Conte Loredan Gasparini's wines therefore continue to tell their stories in the small grappa glasses. With the pomace of Prosecco grape is produced the homonymous grappa, whereas with the pomace of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Blanc and Prosecco is produced the Grappa di Venegazzù “Riva Vecia”. The same fate is reserved to Capo di Stato's pomace and from which it is distilled the grappa having the same name, result of the research and of experimentation about distillation. All of the Conte Loredan Gasparini's grappas are being produced according to the traditional bainmarie discontinuous method.

 




Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Montello e Colli Asolani Prosecco Brut 2004, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Montello e Colli Asolani Prosecco Brut 2004
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Prosecco
Price: € 10.00 Score:
This wine shows a brilliant greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent, good effervescence, fine and persistent perlage. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas that start with hints of pear and pineapple followed by aromas of acacia, hawthorn, apple, banana and grapefruit. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, an effervescent and crisp attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors. The finish is persistent with flavors of pear and banana. This Prosecco ferments for 2 months in steel tanks.
Food Match: Aperitifs, Vegetables and crustaceans appetizers, Pasta and risotto with crustaceans



Manzoni Bianco 2004, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Manzoni Bianco 2004
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Manzoni Bianco
Price: € 12.00 Score:
This wine shows a brilliant greenish yellow color and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent. The nose reveals good personality with intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of pear, apple and anise followed by aromas of citrus fruits, pineapple, hawthorn, broom and plum. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of pineapple, pear and plum. This wine ages for 3 months in steel tanks.
Food Match: Pasta and risotto with fish, Broiled fish, Sauteed fish



Falconera Rosso 2002, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Falconera Rosso 2002
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Merlot (65%), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc (35%)
Price: € 15.00 Score:
This wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, black currant and plum followed by aromas of blueberry, vanilla, tobacco, licorice, cocoa, bell pepper, black pepper and mace. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black cherry and blueberry. Falconera Rosso ages for 12 months in cask.
Food Match: Broiled meat, Roasted meat, Stewed meat with mushrooms



Venegazz¨ della Casa 2000, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Venegazzù della Casa 2000
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (15%), Cabernet Franc (12%), Malbec (3%)
Price: € 18.00 Score:
The wine shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas which start with hints of black cherry, plum and black currant followed by aromas of blueberry, violet, vanilla, licorice, tobacco, bell pepper and eucalyptus. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and good roundness, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, good tannins. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, plum and black currant. A well made wine. Venegazzù della Casa ages for 14 months in barrique followed by 14 months in cask.
Food Match: Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Capo di Stato 2000, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Capo di Stato 2000
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (15%), Cabernet Franc (12%), Malbec (3%)
Price: € 30.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category
Capo di Stato shows an intense ruby red color and nuances of garnet red, little transparency. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant aromas which start with hints of black cherry, black currant and blueberry followed by aromas of blackberry, plum, violet, licorice, tobacco, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa and eucalyptus. The mouth has good correspondence to the nose, a slightly tannic attack and pleasing roundness, however well balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, good tannins, agreeable. The finish is persistent with flavors of black cherry, black currant and blackberry. Capo di Stato ages for 18 months in barrique followed by 18 months in cask.
Food Match: Game, Roasted meat, Braised and stewed meat, Hard cheese



Conte Loredan Gasparini - Via Martignago Alto, 23 - Frazione Venegazzù - 31040 Volpago del Montello, Treviso (Italy) - Tel. (+39) 0423 8700024 Fax. (+39) 0423 620898 - Winemaker: Mauro Rasera - Paolo Grigolli - Established: 1950 - Production: 350.000 bottles - E-Mail: info@venegazzu.com - WEB: www.venegazzu.com


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Conte Loredan GaspariniConte Loredan Gasparini Cellar JournalCellar Journal  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

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  Events Issue 34, October 2005   
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 In this section are published news and information about events concerning the world of wine and food. Whoever is interested in publishing this kind of information can send us a mail to our address.

 




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  Corkscrew Issue 34, October 2005   
Matching Wine and RiceMatching Wine and Rice  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Matching Wine and Rice

One of the most common cereals in the world, important resource for all human beings, is an extremely versatile and interesting food in the matching with wine

 Rice - the white cereal from which depends the daily survival of millions of people in the world - is a very precious resource for humans. Virtually spread in every country of the world, rice has a large and important use in the nutrition of humans as well as in other productions not usually connected to nutrition. Rice is among the most ancient cereals known by humans: it is believed it was already used for nutritional purposes 6,000 years ago; other theories support the idea the first forms of cultivation can be dated back to 8,000 years ago in the island of Java and in Cambodia. Despite this very long time has passed, rice is still today an essential resource for humans. This little cereal, with its apparent simplicity and modesty, is indeed characterized by a richness and versatility typical of simple things, simple things however capable of being big and important. Simple and humble in its shape, big and important in ensuring the daily survival of millions of people worldwide, something which - of course - cannot be considered as a little thing.

 Rice proves its incredible versatility in the gastronomical cooking of every country in the world, from recipes made of “simple” boiled rice, to the most elaborated and complex recipes where the rice is united to sumptuous flavors. The importance and the influence of rice is such that every country of the world has virtually created with this precious ingredient an endless number of recipes and, despite rice is originated and typical in the countries of the far east, this preparations are considered - undoubtedly - typical in the respective countries. Steamed, boiled or stewed, the use of rice in cooking seems not to have limits, saved the ones represented by the fantasy of the cook, something which can be said for every ingredient, of course. Rice is the main ingredient in countless recipes, as well as a fundamental companion for many foods. It is enough to think - among the many things - about the typical custom of Arab and Asian countries, where rice plays the role which is usually played by bread in the western world.


Red wine risotto: creamy, colored and tasty!
Red wine risotto: creamy, colored and tasty!

 Rice has conquered the cooking of the cultures of the world and it is now present in every recipe making a whole meal, from appetizers to desserts. Moreover rice is largely used for the preparation of those recipes considered as whole meal - that is a preparation which is served as the only course of a meal - as in the case of the famous paella typical of the Spanish cooking tradition. Authentic companion of the good cooking, rice expresses its magnificence also in the preparation of risotto - the famous recipe of the Italian cooking in which rice joins the flavors of other and rich ingredients - as well as in timbales, puddings and the joyous and tasty rice salads, served cold during the summer meals of Italians. Protagonist of endless soups - classic is the one made with cabbage - is also largely used in the preparation of desserts, from croquettes to pies. The use of rice in cooking is not limited to the whole grain, rice is also used as flour or starch to thicken sauces and condiments.

 

A White Grain Coming From the East

 Rice is a herbaceous yearly plant belonging to the gramineae family and - despite its origin is from the countries of Eastern Asia - today it is spread and common everywhere in the world, representing one of the most important resources for human nutrition. The scientific name of rice is oryza sativa, a species to which belong many varieties, however for human nutrition are used two varieties only: Oryza Sativa Japonica and Oryza Sativa Indica. To them is also added a third variety - Oryza Sativa Javanica - scarcely common. There is also another variety - belonging to the family of gramineae - that, despite its name could make believe differently, does not belong to the Oryza Sativa variety. It is the so called wild rice, a gramineae cultivated since thousands years in Eastern Asia and used as a vegetable. Wild rice was also particularly consumed by the native Indian people in north America: for this reason it is also known as American rice. The consumption of wild rice is also becoming common is other countries where the grains are used just like the Japonica and Indica varieties. It should be noticed that in the Eastern world are being consumed - after having been cooked - the trunks of wild rice as well.


 

 The first cultivations of rice, of which we know about, are dated back to some thousands of years b.C. in Asia, and from there it spread all over the world. From Asia, Arabs introduced rice in Sicily, then arrived in Spain, introduced by Aragonese, and finally - in the fifteenth century - in Lombardy and Piedmont, regions in which are found the largest rice cultivations in Italy. The rice grain - after having been harvested - require specific procedures in order to make it edible and usable for nutritional purposes. Rice is generally cultivated in water and produces a small seedhead containing about 100-200 grains. The grain of rice, after harvesting, is called raw rice, it is covered by a non edible coriaceous skin, which will be removed during the first phases of processing. It will be after the skin is removed the grain will get its common aspect and will be called rice. The processing of rice which makes it white and brilliant, that is the aspect we are used to, requires many procedures. After having eliminated the skin and the external layers covering the grain, rice is processed with edible oils or vaseline in order to avoid grains damage. The grains are then covered with a thin layer of talc or glucose, an operation which gives the rice its usual brilliant aspect.

 According to the many phases of processing, are being obtained three types of rice: brown rice, white rice - or polished rice - and parboiled rice. Brown rice - with a darker color - is produced by simply removing the outer husk of the grain, a process which makes rice edible and it is not processed any further. Brown rice has a high nutritional value because it keeps a higher quantity of vitamins, proteins and fibers, however it requires longer cooking times. White rice is the produce of the whole processing and refinement, it is the rice commonly commercialized with a white color and brilliant aspect. Parboiled rice - with its characteristic amber color - is produced with the process of parboilization, a natural process already known by ancient Egyptians and Hittites. The technique consists in leaving raw rice in warm water for some days, then it is processed under pressure with a high temperature steam, then it is dried with hot air. At the end of this operation, the rice is processed with the same techniques used for the production of white rice.

 During the process of parboilization, vitamins and hydro soluble mineral salts, passes, because of the effect of osmosis, from the external part of rice to the internal one, therefore allowing rice to keep a higher quantity of nutritional substances, usually lost during the processing of white rice. Thanks to the effect of heat, it is obtained a gelatinization of starch which makes the grain more resistant, ensures a longer keeping and a better resistance to cooking. Despite its good nutritional qualities, parboiled rice gets a more elastic consistence after cooking and has a lesser capacity of absorbing condiments. Precooked rice undergoes a processing similar to parboiled rice, with the difference it is being used white rice instead of raw rice, therefore the finished product will be characterized by a lesser quantity of nutritional substances, however allowing shorter cooking times and offering a better resistance to cooking. At the end of the required processes, rice is being classified according to variety, shape and contents in starch. In Italy, the rice belonging to the Japonica variety, the most common type in this country, is classified as originario (short-grain) or common, semifino (semi-long), fino (long) and superfino (super-long).

 Originario rice (Cripto, Auro, Rubino, Balilla, Ticinese) has a small and round grain, an opaque aspect and a maximum length of 5.4 mm, requires a cooking time of about 12-13 minutes and it is generally used for the preparation of soups and desserts. Semifino rice (Italico, Vialone Nano, Maratelli, Neretto, Monticelli, Padano, Lido, R. Marchetti) has a round and semi long grain, a maximum length of 6.3 mm and requires a cooking time of about 13-15 minutes, generally used for the preparation of soups, timbales, side dishes and croquettes. Fino rice (Ribe, R.B., Ringo, Europa, P. Marchetti, Rizzotto, S. Andrea, Veneria, Europa) has a long and thin grain, a glassy aspect and a length of more than 6.4 mm, requires a cooking time of about 14-16 minutes, generally used for the preparation of salads and side dishes. Superfino rice (Arborio, Volano, Roma, Baldo, Carnaroli, Razza 77, Silla, Bonni, Redi) has a long and very thin grain, a glassy aspect and a length of more than 6.4 mm, requires a cooking time of 16-20 minutes, suited for the preparation of risotto, timbales and side dishes. Among the rices belonging to the Indica variety, are mentioned basmati, with a very long and very thin grain, crystalline aspect and characteristic aroma, and patna, with a long grain, compact and thin, which does not tend to stick after cooking. Both basmati and patna are very suited for steaming cooking and can be served as a side dish for meat and fish.

 

Cooking and Using Rice

 The use of rice in cooking is mainly determined by its resistance to cooking and its stickiness, that is the capacity of releasing starch during cooking. A rice with high resistance to cooking and a low stickiness will show - at the end of cooking - a more compact grain, whereas a rise with low resistance to cooking and high stickiness, will tend to flake and to lose consistency with cooking. Variety and classification of rice apart, a scrupulous observation of a the grain is useful in determining its consistence. If we carefully observe a rice grain, it will be notice a small white “stain” inside, called pearl: it is a non crystallized clot of starch that during cooking will tend to flake. By observing the size of the pearl it will be possible to understand the most appropriate use for rice, including its resistance to cooking. The greater the size of the pearl, the lower the consistency and resistance to cooking; the lesser the size of the pearl, the higher the consistency and the resistance to cooking. Therefore, rices with a big pearl - such as originario rice - are suited for the preparation of soups and desserts, whereas the ones having a small pearl - such as superfino rice - are suited for the preparation of rice, timbales and salads.

 Before proceeding with the cooking of rice, it is fundamental to make sure it is fresh: in case we put a hand in the rice and it gets covered by a very fine powder, it means the rice is old. Rice can be used for many preparations and recipes. Despite it is a common and suggested practice, it is preferable not to wash the rice before cooking because it would lose most of its nutritional properties. Rice can be cooked by using different techniques, of which the most common are boiling, stewing and steam cooking. Among the most famous stewing preparations is mentioned risotto, the famous Italian recipe in which rice is cooked by added small quantities of broth. In the preparation of this recipe an important factor is represented by the so called toasting, that is the phase in which rice is added in the pot with the onion stewed in butter or in oil. The effect of toasting is to close the pores of rice - therefore limiting the absorption of condiments - as well as determining the cooking time. Longer toasting times will make the pores to close too much, therefore limiting the absorption of condiments while increasing cooking time, a practice that would be avoided. A time of 3-4 minutes of toasting gives very good results and an appropriate creamy texture, although it should always be remembered risotto must be served all'onda (to the wave), that is having a good creamy texture and - very important - it must always be al dente.

 

The Matching of Rice with Wine

 Rice - because of its vast use in cooking - allows the formulation of countless enogastronomical matchings: defining a general matching rule would be pretty reductive and inappropriate. If we consider the taste of cooked rice with no condiments - because of the high contents in starch - it will be perceived a basically sweet taste. According to this preliminary analysis, we could end up by saying a good wine suited for the matching with rice should have a good acidity and effervescence, therefore white and sparkling wines. Despite the fact this could be a good choice, it is good to remember rice - even in case it is served boiled or steamed - it is always accompanied by other foods, therefore it is very unlikely rice is consumed in its most simple cooking form. The matching with rice is therefore conditioned by the cooking technique and by the ingredients used for the preparation of the recipe. Particular attention should be paid in those preparations in which wine is an ingredient of the recipe, such as in case of Champagne risotto of red wine risotto. In these cases it is appropriate to choose the same wine, however it is good to carefully evaluate its structure.

 In case rice is served as a side dish to a recipe, the wine will be chosen according to the main dish. This does mean in case boiled or steamed rice is served as a side dish for braised or stewed meat, the wine will be chosen according to the meat and to the preparation technique. As for the sumptuous fantasy typical is risotto, the same considerations are still valid, that is the choice of the wine is largely determined by the organoleptic qualities of the ingredients added to the rice: this does mean a good risotto with meat or complex sauces, can be happily matched to a good red wine of appropriate structure. The same considerations are valid for the many croquettes made with rice: the filling will largely determine the matching. A particular consideration should be done for timbales and rice puddings whose cooking is done in oven. Besides considering the ingredients making the recipe, it should also be remembered that for recipes cooked in oven are generally used rich condiments which increase the structure of the dish, therefore the wine should be chosen appropriately.

 




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  Not Just Wine Issue 34, October 2005   
LentilsLentils AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Lentils

Lentils, the meat of poor men. One of the legumes which contributed to the rebirth and repopulation of Europe after the medieval famines and epidemics

 Rich in vitamins, fibers and mineral salts, lentils are among the most appreciated legumes since ancient times, when Esau renounced to his birthright for a dish of lentils. Lentils are the seeds of a herbaceous plant - lens esculenta - belonging to the leguminosae family. The origin of the name is connected to the lenticular shape of the seed. The plant has a climbing trunk, with branches, which can also reach the height of fifty centimeters (20 inches), with pods containing two or three seeds, having a lenticular shape and a variable color from yellow to green as well as brown.

 

Lentils in History

 The history of lentils began in truly ancient times. According to studies done on fossils, it is clear lentil is the most ancient legume cultivated by humans. According to historical witnesses, lentils were cultivated since 7,000 b.C. in the south-western area of Asia - in the region now corresponding to northern Syria - and from these areas spread all over the Mediterranean. It is believed the consumption of this legume was common in Turkey since 5,500 b.C., moreover lentils were found in Egyptian tombs dated back to 2,500 b.C.


Lentils, among the most common legumes in
the world, it is a tasty and nutrient food
Lentils, among the most common legumes in the world, it is a tasty and nutrient food

 Evidences of the use of lentils in history are also found in the Bible: by searching the term “lentils” are obtained four verses in which the legume is mentioned. In Genesis 25:34 is written «Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright». In the second book of Samuel 17:28 «…Brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley, and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentils, and parched pulse,…whereas in verse 23:11 «…And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils: and the people fled from the Philistines…In Ezekiel 4:9 is written «…Take thou also unto thee wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fitches, and put them in one vessel, and make thee bread thereof, according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon thy side, three hundred and ninety days shalt thou eat thereof…

 Lentils were also present in the tables of ancient Romans and in the ones of ancient Greeks; mainly used by poorer social classes, they were considered a nutrient and tasty food. During Roman times, Cato suggested instructions on how to cook lentils, whereas Galen - the famous physician - praised its therapeutic properties. As lentils are rich in nutrients and energetic, they were used in the Middle Age - in substitution of meat - during Friday or in days of fast. Lentils are in fact rich in fibers, starch and proteins, and in case they are consumed together with cereals, they become a complete and digestible food, rich in essential aminoacids. In the Middle Age, in the period in which the population of Europe was decimated because of famine and epidemics, the scarcity of nutrients in the diet of most of the people - in particular poor people - limited an appropriate repopulation. Legumes - including lentils - inexpensive food which could be easily found, largely contributed to provide proteins and vitamins, therefore improving the health of people - and therefore the resistance to diseases - of whole nations.

 

Use and Consumption of Lentils

 Lentils have always been consumed, also thanks to the easiness with which they could be found, the good preservability and - last but not the least - to their low cost, a characteristic for which they were known as the poor man's meat. Even today, in Italy, it is considered a good wish to consume lentils during the dinner of the last day of the year. This custom derives from the ancient Roman tradition of giving a “scarsella” - a small leather bag used to keep money - containing lentils and with the wish they could be turned into money. Lentils are today spread all over the world. In America - both the northern part and the southern part - are particularly being cultivated yellow and green lentils with a big seed (6-9 mm). In Europe, in the Mediterranean, in the Middle East and in India, are being cultivated lentils with small seeds (2-6 mm) with an orange, brown and reddish color.


 

 Whenever it is possible, it is preferable choosing dried lentils instead of canned lentils, because they are richer in nutrients and have no preservatives. Of course, canned lentils are more practical and more easy to cook, however it is good to remember the preparation of this legume for cooking is simple and effortless. It will be enough to soak lentils from 4 to 12 hours and by adding sodium bicarbonate - precisely one spoon per each liter of water - or to add a spoon of sodium bicarbonate to the water before cooking. Because of the effects of temperature, calcium bicarbonate gets decomposed, the calcium deposits on the bottom and on the surface of the legumes contained in the pot, therefore hardening the surface and slowing the cooking. Adding bicarbonate therefore means considerably increasing the concentration of bicarbonate ions, which will then avoid the precipitation of calcium ions, therefore avoiding the formation of a film on the surface of legumes.

 For the cooking of lentils, it is good to scrupulously use the right quantity of water, in order to avoid loss of precious mineral salts and vitamins. For this reason it is better to use an appropriate quantity of water or - alternatively - to use a pressure cooker, which requires a lower quantity of water. Despite the use of bicarbonate could have some advantages, its adding in the water subtracts taste to lentils. For this reason, in order to fully appreciate the taste of these legumes, it is preferable avoiding soaking and just boil lentils for about one or two hours in water - a time also depending on the variety - and salt should be added at the end of cooking only.

 

Main Varieties of Lentils

 The best lentils are the ones cultivated in Italy, in particular the ones from Castelluccio di Norcia - in Umbria - which have been recognized as IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta, Protected Geographical Indication). Famous for their delicacy and for their size, the average diameter of these lentils is of about 2 millimeters. These renowned lentils are being cultivated in the plain under the mountain where it is located the town of Castelluccio di Norcia - at an altitude of 1,300 meters (4265 feet) - in a system of mountains part of a charming green and natural oasis. The farmers of Castelluccio have been the precursors of organic agriculture: every year in the same soil, they alternate cultivations of lentils and wheat, as well as pastures, therefore eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.

 The other varieties of lentils commonly known are:

 

  • Lentils of Colfiorito - cultivated in Umbria, in the plain of Colfiorito where the soil is fertile thanks to the presence of a lake which is slowly transforming into a marsh
  • Green lentil of Altamura - slightly bigger in size than the brown one, it is suited for the preparation of side dishes
  • Red lentil - also known as “Egyptian lentil”, it is very common in the Eastern world, commercialized decorticated, it requires a pretty short cooking time
  • Lentil of Villalba - of pretty big size
  • Lentil of Ustica - small, tender, tasty and with a dark brown color, the rare lentils of Ustica are cultivated in the volcanic soils of the island and are still today cultivated by hand
  • Lentils of Armuña - famous for their taste and for their softness, these lentils of Spanish origin are famous for their quality and for their unique taste

 Among the other famous varieties of lentils, are mentioned the ones from Antillo, Chiaramonte, Gangi, Marianopoli, Restauro, Eolian islands, Ventotene and Mormanno.

 

Properties of Lentils

 Lentils are considered legumes with high nutritional value and contain about 25% of proteins, 53% of carbohydrates and 2% of vegetal oils. They are also rich in phosphor, iron and vitamins of the B group. According to a nutritional point of view, 100 grams of lentils are equal to 215 grams of meat. Lentils - just like all the other legumes - are characterized by a high quantity of proteins, a good quantity of carbohydrates and a low quantity of fats. They are also rich in vitamins, mineral salts and fibers, in particular phosphor and potassium. Lentils are a food suited for the prevention of arteriosclerosis because the low quantity of fats contained in them are of unsaturated type.

 The richness in fibers make lentils very useful for the proper functioning of the bowel system and they are also useful in lowering cholesterol. Lentils are considered - thanks to the good quantity of proteins they contain - a highly nutritional food, especially when consumed together with cereals (such as rice, pasta and bread), are very digestible and have no cholesterol. They also contain isoflavones, substances which clean the organism, as well as iron, calcium and vitamin B.

 To end this report, we suggest two tasty recipes based on lentils. A typical preparation from Algeria is Ads Bi Dersa. Ingredients for 4 persons: 500 grams of lentils, 1 chopped onion, 2 leaves of laurel, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 dried and ground hot pepper, a little of cinnamon, 1 spoon of cumin, oil, salt, black pepper. Boil the lentils in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and keep apart. In a cup mix garlic, hot pepper, salt, black pepper, cinnamon and cumin. Cook the onion in oil until brown, add spices, laurel, lentils and 750 milliliters of water. Boil on a low fire for about 20 minutes while stirring. Serve hot.

 A typical recipe from Umbria is lentils soup in Perugino style. Ingredients for 4 persons: 400 grams of lentils, 1 clove of garlic, 50 grams of tomato sauce, some leaves of sage, salt, black pepper. Boil the lentils in water with sage leaves. In a pot slightly cook the garlic in oil, then add tomato sauce. When the sauce is hot, add lentils and their boiling water, add salt and allow boiling until cooked. Remove the clove of garlic and serve the soup hot in bowls, add some fresh Umbrian olive oil and - if liked - some freshly ground black pepper.

 



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  Not Just Wine Issue 34, October 2005   
LentilsLentils AquavitaeAquavitae Wine ParadeWine Parade  Contents 
Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Aquavitae

Review of Grappa, Distillates and Brandy

 

Distillates are rated according to DiWineTaste's evaluation method. Please see score legend in the "Wines of the Month" section.



Grappa di Barbera 2001, Casa Luparia (Piedmont, Italy)
Grappa di Barbera 2001
Casa Luparia (Piedmont, Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Barbera
Price: € 15.00 - 50cl Score: Wine that excels in its category
This grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of black cherry, blueberry, violet, plum, raspberry, licorice, hazelnut and beeswax, with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, good roundness and balanced sweet hints. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, black cherry and hazelnut. A well made grappa produced with discontinuous distillation at very low steam pressure. Alcohol 42%.



Acquavite d'Uva Moscato di Canelli 2001, Casa Luparia (Piedmont, Italy)
Acquavite d'Uva Moscato di Canelli 2001
Casa Luparia (Piedmont, Italy)
Raw matter: Canelli's Muscat Blanc grape
Price: € 19.50 - 50cl Score:
This distillate is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of grape, peach, pear, apple, sage, banana, chamomile and litchi with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, very good correspondence to the nose, pleasing smoothness and balanced sweet hint. The finish is very persistent with long flavors of grape, peach and litchi. A well made distillate produced with discontinuous bainmarie distillation. Alcohol 42%



Liquore di Grappa e Camomilla, Distilleria Santa Teresa Marolo (Piedmont, Italy)
Liquore di Grappa e Camomilla
Distilleria Santa Teresa Marolo (Piedmont, Italy)
Raw matter: Grappa of Nebbiolo and Chamomile Flowers
Price: € 22.00 - 70cl Score:
This liquor shows an intense straw yellow color and brilliant green nuances, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean and pleasing aromas of chamomile, pear, hazelnut, walnut and plum, with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, a pleasing sweet attack and perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good smoothness, good correspondence to the nose. The finish is persistent with intense flavors of chamomile and a sweet hint. This liquor is produced with chamomile flowers infused for 11 months in grappa of Nebbiolo grape distilled in bainmarie discontinuous alembic still. Alcohol 35%.



Grappa di Barbaresco 2002, Distilleria Santa Teresa Marolo (Piedmont, Italy)
Grappa di Barbaresco 2002
Distilleria Santa Teresa Marolo (Piedmont, Italy)
Raw matter: Pomace of Barbaresco's Nebbiolo
Price: € 25.00 - 70cl Score: Wine that excels in its category
This grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of plum, black cherry, violet, licorice, hazelnut and rose with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors and agreeable, with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, pleasing smoothness and balanced sweet hints. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, licorice and hazelnut. A well made grappa distilled in bainmarie discontinuous alembic still. Alcohol 44%.



Grappa di Venegazz¨ Riva Vecia, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grappa di Venegazzù Riva Vecia
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
(Distiller: Antica Distilleria Negroni)
Raw matter: Pomace of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Bianco and Prosecco
Price: € 27.00 - 70cl Score:
The grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas of plum, violet, hazelnut, dried fig, black cherry and licorice with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, pleasing and balanced sweet hint. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum and hazelnut. This grappa is distilled in bainmarie discontinuous alembic still. Alcohol 43%.



Grappa Capo di Stato, Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
Grappa Capo di Stato
Conte Loredan Gasparini (Veneto, Italy)
(Distiller: Antica Distilleria Negroni)
Raw matter: Pomace of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec
Price: € 30.00 - 50cl Score:
This grappa is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of plum, licorice, hazelnut, violet, black cherry and anise with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. in the mouth has intense flavors with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, dry taste and balanced sweet hint. The finish is persistent with flavors of plum, licorice and anise. This grappa is distilled in bainmarie discontinuous alembic still. Alcohol 50%.



Distillato d'Uva di Prosecco, CarpenŔ Malvolti (Veneto, Italy)
Distillato d'Uva di Prosecco
Carpenè Malvolti (Veneto, Italy)
Raw matter: Prosecco grape
Price: € 13.00 - 50cl Score:
This distillate is colorless, limpid and crystalline. The nose denotes intense, clean and pleasing aromas of grape, apple, pear, banana and honey, with imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors with perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, good smoothness and balanced sweet hint. The finish is persistent with flavors of grape, apple and pear. This distillate is produced with steam discontinuous alembic still. Alcohol 40%.



Brandy Riserva 7 Anni, CarpenŔ Malvolti (Veneto, Italy)
Brandy Riserva 7 Anni
Carpenè Malvolti (Veneto, Italy)
Raw matter: Selection of wines
Price: € 9.00 - 70cl Score:
This brandy shows an intense amber yellow color, limpid and crystalline. The nose reveals intense, clean, pleasing and refined aromas of vanilla, toasted, chocolate, tobacco, licorice, caramel, hazelnut, dried fig, honey and coffee with almost imperceptible alcohol pungency. In the mouth has intense flavors, pleasing roundness, perceptible alcohol pungency which tends to dissolve rapidly, good correspondence to the nose, balanced sweet hint. The finish is persistent with flavors of caramel, licorice and coffee. This Brandy ages for 7 years in small Slovenian and Limousine oak barrels.





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  Not Just Wine Issue 34, October 2005   
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Issue 33, September 2005 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 35, November 2005

Wine Parade


 

The best 15 wines according to DiWineTaste's readers. To express your best three wines send us an E-mail or fill in the form available at our WEB site.


Rank Wine, Producer
1 Palazzo della Torre 2000, Allegrini (Italy)
2 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riparosso 2001, Illuminati (Italy)
3 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2002, Domaine Billaud-Simon (France)
4 Riesling Cuvée Frédéric Emile 1999, Maison Trimbach (France)
5 Aglianico del Vulture La Firma 2002, Cantine del Notaio (Italy)
6 Harmonium 2001, Firriato (Italy)
7 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998, Santa Sofia (Italy)
8 Trento Talento Brut Riserva Methius 1998, Dorigati (Italy)
9 Edizione Cinque Autoctoni 2001, Farnese (Italy)
10 Colli Orientali del Friuli Rosazzo Bianco Terre Alte 2002, Livio Felluga (Italy)
11 Riesling Spätlese Nierstein Brudersberg 2003, Weingut Freiherr Heyl Herrnsheim (Germany)
12 Riesling Central Otago 2004, Felton Road (New Zealand)
13 Brunello di Montalcino 1999, Castello Banfi (Italy)
14 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2000, Zenato (Italy)
15 Jerez Fino Tio Pepe, Gonzalez Byass (Spain)

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