Discover Puglia | Primitivo Finds its Footing in the Heel of Italy
As you make your way toward the southern reaches of Italy, you’ll find the sun-drenched region of Puglia in the heel of Italy’s boot. Surrounded by crystal clear waters on three sides, summer months have long attracted droves of tourists in search of a laid-back atmosphere, fresh seafood and pristine beaches. In other words, a uniquely Puglian respite.
But agriculturally, it’s historically been most notable for its olive oil and bulk wine production, which has been used to blend and bolster wine from more established regions, primarily northern Italy.
Despite wine having been produced for hundreds of years in the region, its only been in the last 20 years that Puglia has attracted recognition for its unique terroir and dry, sunny maritime climate. Today, a new wave of winemaking talent has recognized the potential of this oft-overlooked region, and its most noble wine: Primitivo di Manduria.
Today, the Rothschild Foundation continues to build on that tradition with the semi-annual Prix Clerc Milon de la Danse, a ceremony which recognizes and celebrates the talents of the prestigious Bordeaux Opera Ballet and honors the memory of the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who had forged a deep connection to the Ballet during her lifetime.
Bordeaux 2017 | Impressions From A Challenged Vintage
While my affinity for the wines from picturesque Northern California has been well-documented, it was actually Bordeaux that first stirred the soul of the budding oenophile within me. I devoured the pages of books like Noble Rot and Billionaires Vinegar, which shed a glimmer of light on this prominent yet mysterious region that’s been cloaked in tradition for hundreds of years.
Despite being a geographic challenge for a young wine lover, it was one of the first wine regions I visited. When my spouse and I took the opportunity to tour Europe, Bordeaux was an absolute must – and our short stay there, consisting of just a few days, was one of the highlights of our trip.
We explored the unexpectedly cosmopolitan city center and booked a tour which afforded us visits to Château Lynch-Bages, Château Ferrière and a stellar lunch at Château Camensac, paired with beautiful, mature wines from their cellar. I quickly realized we should have budgeted more time, but the visit still managed to cement my appreciation for Bordeaux’s compelling, age-worthy wines.
And so after ten long years, I write this having just returned from attending en primeur in Bordeaux as the recipient of the Millésima Wine Reporting Award for 2018. I am deeply grateful to Millesima for the nomination, and to my incredible readers who rallied behind it in support of me. It was incredible to get back to this region that I love so much, and I want to share some impressions from the challenging 2017 vintage.
Tasting through Marguax at Chateau Siran | Photo Credit: Frederic Lot
Caballo Loco | The Still Valdivieso Wine You’ll Go Crazy For
To say that Valdivieso Winery is an iconic Chilean wine producer would be an understatement. It was all the way back in 1879 when Alberto Valdivieso founded Champagne Valdivieso, Chile’s first sparkling wine house; predating the laws in Champagne that would now prohibit such controversial nomenclature today.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting winemaker Brett Jackson, who had made wine all over the world (including France, California and South Africa) before arriving at Valdivieso, where he has been for an impressive 16 years now.
Winemaker Brett Jackson Eveluating A Wine | Photo Credit: Valdivieso Winery
Brett explained that it wasn’t until the 1980’s that Valdivieso began to focus their efforts on producing still wines in addition to the sparkling wines that had been a runaway success for the winery.
Bodegas Valdemar | A Legacy of Innovation in La Rioja
My incredibly loyal readers know just how fond I am of Spanish wines. They often seriously over-deliver for the price and have an endearing ability to combine the best aspects of old-world wines (balanced, food-friendly and terroir-driven) with those of new world wines (more fruit-forward).
As a Sommelier friend was recently explaining to me, if he is looking to introduce a new world wine drinker to the old-world wine scene, he always starts in Spain. And if he were introducing them to the wines of Bodegas Valdemar, he would have both modern and old-world options to choose from within the same portfolio!
Chateau Cantenac Brown | Making It’s Mark in Margaux
A Grand Tasting in The Big Apple
Recently I had the incredible honor of being invited to attend the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2012 vintage release tasting at Cipriani’s in New York. The weather outside was frightful – they were calling for 3 feet of snow on that 26th day of January, and it was quickly accumulating outside.
But inside members of the wine media, restauranteurs and wine buyers from all over were warm with excitement. Why? Over 100 of the most prestigious Chateau in Bordeaux were on site to showcase their newly released 2012 vintage wines, either represented by their Chateau owners themselves or their representatives. Amongst the representatives in attendance was Mr. Jose Sanfins, the accomplished and passionate Technical Director of Chateau Cantenac Brown.
Fattoria Casabianca | A Taste of Fattoria Casabianca’s Wine
A few weeks ago the friendly folks at Fattoria Casabianca reached out to me and asked if I might be interested in tasting their wines. It seemed like a serendipitous coincidence as I have really been enjoying Italian wines lately, like the Amarone I recently discovered in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section. They were kind enough to send over some samples of their wines for me to taste.
The Fattoria Casabianca resort is located in Murlo, Italy, approximately two hours south of Tuscany. They offer nightly accommodations (converted from a farmhouse), tennis, swimming, dining as well as wine tastings to showcase their wines produced under their Fattoria Casabianca label.
If the Trip Advisor reviews are any indication then whatever this ostensibly charming and quaint resort lacks in flash it more than makes up for in soul. Many described it as an excellent, laid-back getaway just far enough outside of all of the hustle and bustle. Now I hope that soul translates to Fattoria Casabianca’s wines!
When I began this blog my intention was to share as many exciting wine experiences as possible with a focus on value. Few things are more exciting to me than finding an extraordinary wine with a merely ordinary price. With that being said: When I encountered the complete opposite end of the value spectrum while shopping for wine in Korea, I felt compelled to share that experience as well.