Category Archives: Italy

We’re sitting in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, and it’s almost 90 degrees outside.  Normally, after a round of golf in this weather, we’d have a cold beer or two.  But sometimes it’s nice to have a wonderful crisp white wine on a hot day.  And even nicer if you can avoid getting too dizzy too quickly.

Monte Campo Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie is just such a wine.  At 12% alcohol, it doesn’t bite too hard, and at about $8.00 U.S. this is a great buy! The writeup on the bottle says:

Mainly derived from Pinot Grigio grapes this crisp, white wine has a delightful fresh lemony nose and a dry flavor with a hint of smokiness. It may be served as an aperitif and also makes a good accompaniment to salads, seafood, chicken, cream-pasta dishes or Asian dishes.

We bought our wine at Feldman’s in McAllen, Texas. It might be available in other U.S. stores – and it was sitting right beside some other Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie wines in roughly the same price range.

He said: My initial taste is apple-y, but the finish is acidic and more in the citrus vein. It’s crisp, bold and refreshing.

She said: A keeper!  Once we’re in the US for longer periods of time, it will be a regular in the refrigerator!

The Wanted Zin

Wanted Zin

When we were at the London Wine and Food Show in early 2016, we tried this wine and spoke to the person who imports it.  He told us that it’s an Italian wine, made in the American style, for a Scandinavian market.  Wow, how international! Check out their web site, which is aimed at Swedish wine lovers.

 

But at $14.10 at the LCBO,  it’s an amazing value.  If you like California Zinfandels, with their juicy, robust fruit, you will love this wine.

Brancaia TRE 2011 , Igt Toscana

DSC_0155She said: A bit earthy & herbal on the nose, but not overpowering.  Can’t taste a lot of fruit – maybe a hint of cherry, a little bit of cedar?

He said: When I first pulled the cork, it exploded with fruit out of the top of the bottle….

She said: That’s where the fruit went!

Brancaia TRE 2011 is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, and 20% Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon.  TRE –  Italian for three – has a lot of sybolism: there are three grapes used in the wine, grapes are sourced from three different estates in Italy.

He said: I taste lots of Sangiovese, then it slides away, with a moderate finish.  Very soft tannins.

She said: This wine really brought an issue to the forefront for most of us “normal” people:  how can you tell if the wine is really good, or a bit of a stinker? When I first tasted this wine, it wasn’t doing much for me.  But I pulled up a review and decided to “taste” it instead of just quaff it, and see whether I could find what the reviewers had smelled and tasted.  Once I did that, I realized that it was a subtle, and that there were lots of tastes there – I just had to look for them.  Made me realize it was a far better wine than I had thought.  And once we did a more proactive tasting, we liked the wine a lot, especially as it was only $23.95 when we bought it at the LCBO.

The details:

  • Casa Brancaia TRE 2011, Igt Toscana
  • 80% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 13.5% alcohol
  • Bottled March 2013, aged in French oak for 12 months.
  • 18 days on the ‘must’ (more to come on this)
  • Serve with pasta, roasted/sautéed white meats, fried or grilled fish

Adventures with wine and pizza

Don’t know about you, but in our house, Friday evening is often pizza night.  We’re both often brain dead and physically exhausted from a hard week.  Cooking a nice dinner might not happen, but we still want something that’s going to “play nice” with a decent bottle of wine.  Often we’ve ordered pizza in from a major chain, but it’s never paired really nicely with our wine choices.

pizza-386717_1280

So this week, the hunt is on to learn a bit more about matching pizza to wine, and find something that suits the both of us – naturally, we’re on opposite ends of the pizza spectrum.

First, I checked Wine Folly’s article on pairing pizza and wine – learned a lot about why a particular pairing will work.  For instance, I learned that pepperoni is made with a variety of spices, and is very fatty.  The flavour leeches through the cheese on every slice, so you need a strong wine with intense flavors to counterbalance “the pepperoni effect.”  Madeline Puckette, the certified Sommelier on Wine Folly suggests a Sangiovese as the classic choice with pepperoni pizza, but also suggests that Cabernet Franc could be a good alternative.

For myself, I’m hoarding a little ball of Buffalo Mozzarella (gosh that stuff is like gold!) in the refrigerator.  I found a recipe for Three Cheese Pizza with Carmelized Onions and Pimientos – featuring Fontina, Roquefort and Parmesan cheeses.  A suggested wine pairing is Sangiovese, but darn, this doesn’t let me use my Mozzarella.

So I turned things around and looked up Sangiovese – and it suggests this grape will go well with herbs and tomatoes.  So I thought it should go well with the pizzas we’ve chosen:

Then we realized that the cellar didn’t hold any Sangiovese, so we ended up with a Colle Secco 2Montepulciano d’Abruzzo:  Cantina Tollo Colle Secco Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2011.

He said:  Pleasant wine, not exceptional, but for $10, it’s a great buy.  A great, everyday wine.  Goes just fine with the pizza.

She said: Blackberry, cherry, a bit of wood, soft tannin, a medium long finish.  The bottle suggested opening at least an hour before serving – would definitely recommend that. Now that I’m down to the last 2” in the glass, it’s really opening up and showing a bit of cedar, cherry, blackberry.

He said:  “No kidding, now I really like it.  Good thing we have 2 more bottles in the cellar.”

The details:

  • Colle Secco Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, 2011
  • Produced and bottled by Cantina Tollo S.C.A.
  • 13% alcohol
  • LCBO # 195826, $9.25/bottle