Italy Approves its 335th DOC: Delle Venezie DOC

Photo via: http://www.veronafiere.it/en/press/photo-gallery/

Photo via: http://www.veronafiere.it/en/press/photo-gallery/

Earlier this month, during a “talk show” on center stage at Vinitaly, a new DOC was announced. The new denominación de origen (DOC), Italy’s 335th, will be known as the Delle Venezie DOC and is approved for Pinot Grigio (still as well as sparkling) and white blends (bianco). The delineated region includes the entirety of the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions, as well as the province of Trentino.

The super-star wine of the DOC will undoubtedly be its Pinot Grigio. A large majority of the varietal Pinot Grigio produced in Italy comes from this area, and much of it will now qualify for DOC status. While the new DOC is still awaiting approval from the EU, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture has stated that we may expect to see the Delle Venezie DOC used on wines beginning with the release of the 2017 vintage.

In line with EU standards, Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC will be required to be at least 85% Pinot Grigio. The remainder may be any white grape allowed to be grown in the region, which includes Chardonnay, Friulano (aka Tai), Garganega, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Bianco, and Verduzzo, among others.  Sparkling Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC must be tank-fermented, and must contain less than 32 g/L of residual sugar.

Blended white wines (bianco) of the DOC will be allowed to be made with any aromatic white grape that is permitted to be cultivated in the area, as long as at least 50% is comprised of one or more of the following:  Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Müller-Thurgau, Garganega, Verduzzo, or Friulano (aka Tai).

The protected geographical indication formerly known as the IGP delle Venezie will now be known as the IGP Trevenezie.

References/for more information:

Guest Blogger: What is Your Wine Lens?

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Today we have a guest post by an anonymous writer, who we know by the name Candi, CSW. In this essay, Candi discusses her particular way of looking at wine, and along the way encourages us all to find our own individual wine lens.   

What is Your Wine Lens?

By Candi, CSW

My wine lens?

Most certainly. I am not talking about viewing wine through rosé-colored glasses. Nor, heaven forbid, through “beer goggles”. My lens is the context through which I view wine, my life experiences, and their mutual influence upon each other. My unique terrior.

This is a topic I have been contemplating since I completed my most recent wine-related trip. And it might be a subject for you to consider, maybe with the company of a glass or two.

I believe we all have a unique wine lens. Beginning to view my lens more clearly has been a gift; a gift of learning, enlightenment and reflection.  All of these I appreciate more and more as I age. So I thought it might be helpful for other wine professionals to more clearly understand the distinctive value they bring to the table. Along with the vino.

Here are a few points to ponder, with fragments from my lens to illustrate. Okay, to magnify if you must.

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Family and Geography: I grew up in the Midwest, in a small town when domestic manufacturing was an established and thriving part of our local economy. My hometown was classic Middle America, complete with solid values, good public schools, church on Sunday. My parents were raised on solo family farms. My father was a small businessman; my Mom, like most women in our town, did not work outside the home.

My parents had grown up in the Depression. Given this setting, I was raised to be frugal; to live below my means. The wine lessons? I prefer finding value wines that taste above their price; the wines that “over deliver.” Further, there are many red value wines that taste substantially better than the wine used for communion that I first experienced at the age of thirteen. I wonder if there is a designated product line for nasty communion wine. No offense to traditional churches intended.

Non-wine education and work experience: My career was in health care; my first career-level position was in consulting. I found that the more years I spent in the industry, the less I was inclined to rely exclusively on the medical model within the current care delivery system. My horizon broadened to include what is popularly known as “complementary and alternative” medicine. There appears to be a significant amount of research that supports reasonable consumption of wine as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Wine can fit into a wellness program for some of us. It works for me.

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Hobbies and interests: We lived in a major Midwest City early in our marriage. Unlike where I grew up, there were quality museums, plays, restaurants—a diverse cultural landscape. We visited all the major museums and discovered a fondness for Impressionist art. I would stand really close to a painting, hands clasped behind my back to signal to the docent that I’d just look and not touch. And I would contemplate the beauty and the effort that went into the work. This was also my first exposure to key cuisines, primarily Italian. As my time to spend in the kitchen increased, Italian became my first specialty. I discovered that Italians often put as much love into their value-priced wines in each region as they do into the upper-tier wines. For example, we enjoy Barbera and Dolcetto as great value choices. And I buy Barolo for special occasions. As for art? Wine is both an expression of the artistry of the vintner and of terroir.

Entry into the professional world of wine: I began with wine as a hobby. Read the popular magazines, bought the occasional recommended wine listed as less than $10 that I could find. Mostly white wine and slightly sweet rosés. The memory of nasty red wine was quite powerful after more than 15 years. To appreciate a broader range of wine required a red wine epiphany.

The setting was a cold winter night, by the fireplace. Early marriage, Saturday night, just the two of us. My husband had purchased a Chilean Merlot from the local liquor store for the princely sum of $5. I was hesitant, but also curious and lazy. I sliced some cheese and served with crackers. I just could not approach a red without food. Simple dinner, value red. And I ate cheese, followed by red wine. Then red wine first, then cheese. Whoa – this is red wine? And I like it? So a bottle of Merlot began my red wine journey. And to this day, on lazy weekend evenings, it’s just wine and cheese. Often better wine and usually better cheese. But the memory lingers. And Chilé is, like Italy, one of our favorite wine-producing countries known for value. My hobby took off.

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Fast forward to a decade or two later.  I began to spend less time in consulting and started to more fully enjoy other interests. Wine then turned from a hobby into a passion. I took a rigorous wine “boot camp” course at a local university. Adult learning, non-credit. I was one of the oldest people in the class. And I did well, much to my surprise. I focused on getting the information I wanted out of the course. Despite lack of trade experience, obtaining my CSW became a quest. For the enjoyment of the achievement. A 300-page study guide was not intimidating because I wanted to learn the contents. The desire was there. After four months of daily study, I decided to go for it. Passing that day literally brought tears to my aging eyes.

Demographics: Here we get into the statistics; age, sex, income level, blah, blah blah. Suffice to say I am, ahem, one of the older wine professionals. Being Candi, I am of the female persuasion. Semi-retired with primary interests in wellness, reading, a bit of travel, volunteering, and wine. Serving as a volunteer somm is a very good fit.

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Personality: I am without doubt an introvert. Staying at home on weekends energizes; being with a large group of people depletes. Except when I am in a setting that involves wine; then, I turn into a geeky person who often comes across as “selling” a wine if I’ve taken it to a party. But I am selling, because I believe in the wine. I have had the joy of introducing white-only drinkers to Spanish (value!) Monastrell. And of helping some to understand that not all pink wine is sweet. And I love any type of tasting, such as trade events that offer opportunities to meet and talk with vintners.Putting it all together, I do some wine consulting here and there. When people I meet discover what I true wine geek I am, they tend to become curious. Most frequent question: what are some nice wines I can buy that don’t cost an arm and a leg? I have learned that, even given the Great Recession, people are still interested in wine. My niche has become recommending a few value-priced wines available locally. My reward?

People of all ages, backgrounds, other demographics come back to be with feedback. They are so happy; they have found a way to enjoy wine. And they begin to explore further. And their journey begins.

What is your wine lens? Enjoy the exploration.

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Guest Post: Is Wine from Cornwall Actually Cornish?

Today we have a guest post from Ted Lui, CSS. Ted tells us about his exploration of the wineries of Cornwall and invites us to ponder the question: Is wine from Cornwall actually Cornish? 

Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall, England

Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall, England

Is the wine produced in Cornwall actually Cornish (in style)?

Before answering this question, I’d like to say something about my interpretation of wine, from the point of view of 21-year-old man. I believe that there must be a big difference between the ideas of well-experienced wine experts and young “wine enthusiast” adults, particularly when it comes to defining the “meaning” of wine.

In this case, I am going to explore the world of wine with you via a journey to a “young” wine production region, and from a young person’s perspective.

I first discovered British wine in Cornwall—not the one in New York but in the UK. I knew nothing about British wine before visiting that prior to my visit to some of the vineyards- Camel Valley Vineyard, Polgoon Vineyard, and Knightor Winery.

Although Cornwall is not a traditional winemaking region compared to France and other countries that have produced wine for centuries, it does have a wine history of its own. There is evidence that the origins of British wine dates back to 955 when King Edwy permitted winemaking in Somerset (Harding and Robinson, 2015). Therefore, it would be inaccurate if one claims that British wine has nothing to do with history.

Map of the United Kingdom - Cornwall is in the far south/west of England. Click to enlarge.

Map of the United Kingdom – Cornwall is in the far south/west of England. Click to enlarge.

Camel Valley Vineyard in Cornwall has its own history, although it only goes back about 30 years. This is not a long period of time by Old World standards, however, it is a good enough place to begin in my quest to determine if the wine is truly Cornish in style or something just resembling Champagne.

For starters, Champagne grape varieties account for 45% of the grapes used in producing British wine (Johnson and Robison, 2013). I found that most of the sparkling wines produced by Camel Valley were made using Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, while others included some Seyval Blanc and Reichenstenier. The wines were fruity and floral on the nose in addition to the palate, and the flavour intensity was rather medium (-) generally.

Interestingly, despite some French terms revealed on the labels like blanc de blancs and demi-sec, they were British-style for sure in terms of their refreshing and fruity profiles. Champagne lovers may find them too light in terms of body and intensity when the wines are compared to traditional Champagne. In fact, the “young” profiles made the wines sui generis, particularly a new red sparkling using Pinot Noir.

The red sparkling Pinot Noir was definitely a non-Champagne style of wine, and made me realize that the success of British wine, such as that at the International Wine Competition (Abbot, 2010) had to do not with the fact that it could imitate Champagne, but rather that they were producing award-winning wines was probably due to their modification of some production methods, for example, the replacement of grape varieties by local grapes. There will be no place for further development if the aim is to copy Champagne from every perspective except the PDO.

The English wine industry shares the ambition of a world top-five spot sometime in the near future (Harpers Wine & Spirit, 2015). Camel Valley Vineyard absolutely presents a step forwards towards the next success of British or Cornish sparkling.

Ted Lui with the winemaker at Carmel Vineyard

Ted Lui with the winemaker at Carmel Vineyard

The limitations of British or Cornish wine are probably going to be attributed to the maritime climate. Gale-force winds and high summer precipitation in 2012 caused a drastic decline in the total crop by two-thirds (Harding and Robinson, 2015). The changing climate has been a crucial factor in determining the quality of wine for many years. The acidity of the wines produced in Cornwall is one of the examples that explain the difficulty of quality control in Cornwall. It is slightly high in general, resulting in a minute imbalance in which the body, the flavour intensity and the finish are good. Still, it has been a stimulating start of the modern British or Cornish winemaking industry.

Time to end up with an answer to the question. I believe the wine made in Cornwall is indeed Cornish, and unique enough to find its own niche without having to imitate Champagne. Cornish wine has proven itself by the use of unusual grapes, sparkling red versions, and unique flavour characteristics. There is always room for the improvement, and perhaps the wine will evolve to find its sweet spot in terms of the flavour intensity and the balance of acidity. With the winemaker of Camel Valley

Bibliography

  • Abbott, J., 2010. UK sparkling wine producer beats Champagne to win global award. [online] Available at: <http://www.hortweek.com/uk-sparkling-wine-producer-beats-champagne-win-global-award/fresh-produce/article/1028353> [Accessed 20 April 2017].
  • Harding, J, and Robinson, J., 2015. The Oxford Companion to Wine. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Harpers Wine & Spirit, 2015. Profile on Chapel Down: Shaking up the UK wine scene. [online] Available at: <www.Harpers.co.uk> [Accessed 18 April 2017].
  • Johnson, H. and Robinson, J., 2013. The World Atlas of Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley.

Ted LuiAbout the author – Ted Lui, CSS: Ted Lui, CSS is a wine enthusiast and an undergraduate studying at the University of Exeter. Ted holds Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) certification from the Society of Wine Educators as well as the WSET Level 3 Award in Wines & Spirits. He is also an International Kikisake-shi and Certified Sake Sommelier approved by Sake Service Institute and Sake Sommelier Association respectively. You can find out more about Ted on Instagram @ted_gin, or contact him via email cheuktaklui@yahoo.com.hk

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Conference Preview: The Chemistry of Wine Tasting

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It’s pretty typical for a wine lover to approach a glass of wine, take a sniff, take a taste and then…watch out, because here it comes: all this talk about acidity, freshness, structure, body, aroma, flavor, and that’s just for starters. We’ve all done it, and will continue to do so!

But what does all that mean?  Really, how did we get to those categories just by sipping wine?

The truth is that tasting wine is a multifactorial issue with the human body. (That means “involving or dependent on a number of factors or causes” for the non-scientists among us.)

For starters, there is the visual which sets the stage for the anticipated gustatory pleasure, and upon tasting, all these sensations get a fast trip to the brain where the information gets jumbled around until we decide to vocalize our thoughts, which involves another part of the brain.   I am tired just thinking of it.

What scientists have learned is truly startling when it comes to breaking down the process by which we actually perceive—and describe—wine. It involves a precise series of physiologic changes in the mouth and nose.  These changes affect specific areas in the brain that in turn establish objects that form memories, and when this happens……voilà!  We have an experience and new-found knowledge that we are just dying to let out to whomever will listen.

We are all trained this way, and wouldn’t it be nice if we understood how we all got here?  Well hopefully, during this year’s conference session titled “The Chemistry of Wine Tasting,” which will include a brief lecture and some examples you can experience for yourself, you’ll be able to see just how this process comes about.

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Mike Cohen will offer his session on “The Chemistry of Wine Tasting”” as part of the Society of Wine Educators’ 41st Annual Conference, to be held August 10 to 12, 2017, in Portland Oregon. Mike’s session is scheduled for Saturday, August 12, at 10:00 am.

Mike Cohen, CO, FAAOS, CWE, is an orthopedic surgeon who has retired from a surgical practice into a consulting practice and has found a passion in wine.  He has been involved in wine almost as long as he has been involved in medicine, beginning in medical school where he found himself the “designated sommelier” of his study group. This led him to multiple Napa Valley visit, which led to certifications from the American Sommelier Association and The Society of Wine Educator (he’s a newly-crowned Certified Wine Educator [CWE]).  Currently , he teaches wine, beer, and spirits  from a business and a scientific point-of-view at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.

CWE Boot Camp 2017!

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Boot Camp. It’s the perfect way to describe the 9-hour day in store for those Certified Wine Educator (CWE) aspirants who have signed up for the Pre-Conference session that is (officially) known as the  “CWE Preview.”

According to its creator, Jane Nickles, the CWE Boot Camp/Preview does not cover a huge amount of what she calls “facts and figures, names and dates, grapes and places.” These types of things, she believes, are better off learned in long-term, “quiet-time” study sessions with books, notepads, websites, and flashcards.

Instead, the jam-packed day will entail getting up and moving about, mocking the faults, essay domination, and something she calls “Speed Dating for Wine.”

The day begins with a one-hour session called “Wrangling Resources.” This section, focused on study skills, is designed to prepare candidates to make the best use of their study time by using the proper study techniques and the proper study materials. Also included is a discussion of test-taking skills and strategies for multiple-choice exams.

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Next up is what Jane calls “Breaking Bad.” This is an up-close and personal experience with wine faults. Attendees will get to know each wine fault in the CWE exam’s line-up by learning how the faults arise, how they can (potentially) be cured or avoided, and most importantly—what they look, smell, and (for the brave) taste like in an affected wine.

Following this section (and right before lunch), the candidates will be able to “Mock the Faults” by participating in a practice exam mimicking the actual CWE Faults and Imbalances exam.

After lunch the seminar will focus on the dreaded essay exam. In a session called “Five Easy Steps to Essay Dominance,” candidates will learn to pick the best essay question to attack, and create a sample essay outline using a 5-step method of essay design.

The next portion of the day begins with “Speed Dating for Wine.” The class will divide into small groups and while seated at small round tables, will learn to quickly analyze and spot the identifying features of 24 different iconic wines (divided into 4 flights of 6 wines each).  A previous participant says that this session could be titled “So, tell me what makes you special, Ms. Merlot.”

The day will wrap up with two “Test Flights.” These test flights are practice exams mimicking the Varietal/Appellation Identification test portion of the CWE exam.

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The CWE Preview will be held on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 as part of the Pre-Conference activities at SWE’s 41st Annual Conference, to be held in Portland, Oregon. The CWE Preview may be purchased on the SWE website catalog and store.

This preview session includes a copy of the CWE Candidate Manual as well as a 90-page session notebook including lecture notes, tasting templates, essay exercises, and an 85-item sample CWE multiple-choice exam. Session leader Jane A. Nickles currently serves as SWE’s Director of Education and Certification and is the 2012 Banfi Award Winner for the highest annual score on the CWE Exam.

For more information, please contact Jane Nickles – jnickles@societyofwineeducators.org

 

New Standards for Vermouth di Torino!

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Turin has long been recognized as the birthplace of vermouth, and has remained a center of vermouth production since Benedetto Carpano first added an infusion of herbs and spices to the local wines of the region, back in 1786.

Vermouth di Torino is still a popular style of vermouth, and has had protected status since 1991. As of March 22, 2017, the protected status for Vermouth di Torino has been further defined by a new set of technical standards, presented by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Under these new standards, Vermouth di Torino IGT is defined as an aromatized (flavored) wine produced within the province of Piedmont, using a base of Italian wine, and fortified with the addition of spirits.

Other standards include the following:

  • The main flavoring must be artemisia (an herb also known as wormwood), with additional herbs and spices allowed
  • Alcohol by volume must be between 16% and 22%
  • The color may range from light yellow to amber yellow and red; the color of the final product should reflect the color of the base wines and the flavorings, although the use of caramel coloring is permitted
  • Allowed sweeteners include sugar, grape must, caramel, and honey
  • The type and origin of the base wines may be specified on the label if they represent at least 20% by volume of the finished product

The new standards also allow for a Vermouth di Torino Superiore IGT, with a minimum of 17% alcohol by volume. At least 50% of the base wine and the flavorings used for Vermouth di Torino Superiore (aside from the artemisia) must be grown in Piedmont.

It seems like tonight would be an excellent time to enjoy a Vermouth di Torino straight up or on the rocks—or perhaps a Negroni or a Boulevardier.

What is your favorite way to enjoy Vermouth di Torino?

References/for more information (in Italian):

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Guest Post/Book Review: A Glass Full of Miracles

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Today we have a guest post and book review brought to us by Harriet Lembeck, CWE, CSE. Read on as Harriet reviews the long-awaited autobiography from Mike Grgich!

Book Review: A Glass Full of Miracles by Miljenko “Mike” Grgich

Here is a memoir that mirrors the history of wine in California. But it starts well before that— in 1923, as a matter of fact. That was the year that Miljenko Grigich, the youngest of eleven children, was born in the town of Desne—an obscure village in Croatia’s coastal region of Dalmatia. Grgich’s early life in Croatia was one of poverty and even worse World War II, Nazi oppressors and the rise of Communism.

With resourcefulness, ingenuity, and other “miracles” he escapes from behind the Iron Curtain and arrives in the middle of winter in Halifax, Canada. Here he works for a short time as a lumberjack Twenty-two years later, another miracle occurs and the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay—made by Grigich—wins the Paris tasting that turns the world of wine upside down.

In this charming book you can follow Mike’s story as he works for, and learns from Lee Stewart (of Chateau Souverain), Brother Timothy (of Christian Brothers), André Tchelistcheff, Robert Mondavi, and Zelma Long. Later, we follow Mike on the path to his own winery with Lee Paschich, a wine hobbyist, who weathered Prohibition and who bought Chateau Montelena in 1968.  This leads to a meeting with Jim Barrett and his son, Bo, as the new partners of Chateau Montelena who were looking for a winemaker.

Photo of Grgić Vina wines via http://www.grgich.com

Photo of Grgić Vina wines via http://www.grgich.com

The Barrets gave Grgich a five-year contract, and he set was soon creating award-winning Rieslings, Chardonnays, and well-aged Cabernets. He recognized the Zinfandel grape of California as a grape from his homeland in Croatia—this was later confirmed by UC Davis’ renowned grape geneticist, Dr. Carole Meredith. The wines produced in 1972 and 1973 were outstanding, including the winner of Paris Tasting, the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.

Along the way, Grgich Austin Hills, and their friendship led to a partnership: Grgich Hills Winery. Grgich even returned to Croatia for a while, and started a vineyard and winery growing the indigenous white Pošip and the red Plavac Mali, a relative of both Zinfandel and Crljenak Kaštelanski.

This book shows Grgich, now 93, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and love for both California and for his homeland Croatia, and with his anticipation of his 100th birthday.

Bibliographical information: Grgich, Miljenko (Mike). A Glass Full of Miracles. Violetta Press: 2016.   417 pages, hard cover, available on Amazon.com, violettapress.com, and at retail outlets.

HarrietHarriet Lembeck is a CWE (Certified Wine Educator) and a CSE (Certified Spirits Educator – a new designation). She is President of the Wine & Spirits Program, and revised and updated the textbook Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers and Spirits. She was the Director of the Wine Department for The New School University for 18 years. She can be reached at h.lembeck@ wineandspiritsprogram.com.

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Introducing Erbamat!

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It’s quite possible you have never heard of the Erbamat grape variety. Before last month, I’d never heard of it either. However…starting with the 2017 vintage, Erbamat (a white variety) will be allowed for use in the wines of the Franciacorta DOCG.

Franciacorta, as all serious wine students know, is a super-serious (read: Traditional Method) sparkling wine produced in Lombardy. The normale version requires a minimum of 18 months of lees aging; this goes up to 60 months minimum for the riserva. And the grapes are totally no-nonsense: up until now, the only grapes allowed for use in Franciacorta DOCG are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, plus Pinot Bianco (but only up to 50%).

This will change soon, as the Italian ministry of Agriculture and the Franciacorta DOCG consortium have announced a change to the Disciplinare di Produzione that will allow the use of the Erbamat grape variety. This change should become effective with the wines of the 2017 vintage, assuming the amendment’s publication in the Gazzetta Ufficiale (Official Journal).

When the new regulation goes into effect, the Erbamat grape variety will be allowed to comprise up to 10% of a Franciacorta DOCG wine produced with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and up to 50% of the blend if used alongside Pinot Bianco. The grape is appreciated for its late ripening characteristic and neutral flavors, but primarily for its ability to retain high levels of malic acid, even in warm temperatures and despite its tendency to ripen late.

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The Erbamat grape has been grown in the areas in and around Lombardy since at least the sixteenth century, however, it seems it has always been a minor grape variety and was in danger of becoming extinct about a generation ago. Before its recognition in the wines of Franciscorta, it was not allowed for use in any of the DOC or DOCG wines of Italy. However, it been used in some interesting blends bottled at the “vin” (table wine) level of categorization, such as the Erbamat/Trebbiano blend known as Perlì produced by the Comincioli Winery in Brescia.

Following a 1982 study in which the grape was described by Professor Attilio Scienza as”capable of producing wines of extraordinary acidity and freshness,” several producers in Franciacorta began some experimental plantings of Erbamat. The experiment, it seems, turned out well.

References/for more information:

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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One more for the Languedoc: the Pic-Saint-Loup AOC

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As of February 17 of this year, Pic-Saint-Loup is France’s newest official appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) wine region! If the name sounds familiar, the area (found within the Hérault and Gard departments in Southwest France) has been an approved subzone of the Languedoc AOC and somewhat known for its blended-variety red and rosé wines.

According to the website of the INAO, Pic-Saint-Loup (sometimes written as Pic-St-Loup or Pic St-Loup) is now a stand-alone AOC, approved for both red and rosé wines. The first Pic-Saint-Loup AOC designations will show up on wines from the 2017 vintage.

The red wines of the Pic-Saint-Loup must be at least 12% alcohol by volume and be comprised of a minimum of 50% Syrah. A measure of either Grenache Noir or Mourvèdre is required, and small amounts of Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, and Morrastel (known elsewhere as Graciano) are also permitted.

The requirements of the Pic-Saint-Loup rosé AOC are similar, but the required amount of Syrah is set at a minimum of 30%. A proportion of Grenache Noir or Mourvèdre is still required (as many of the wines of the Languedoc are traditionally blends); Carignan, Cinsault, Counoise, and Morrastel are allowed in the mix as well.

So, what is next for the Languedoc? No one can say for sure…place your bets! But for now, welcome to the world Pic-Saint-Loup AOC!

References/for further information:

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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Pizza Napoletana TSG (Traditional Status Guaranteed)

Photo by Valerio Capello via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Valerio Capello via Wikimedia Commons

You know you love pizza…and as a wine aficionado, you most likely have a special regard for the most authentic of all pizzas, the Pizza Napoletana (sometimes referred to the Pizza Margherita). I have been known to drive for several hours just to try an authentic-style, wood-fired, burnt-around-the-edges-but-soft-in-the-middle Neapolitan-style pizza.

As it turns out, the powers that be at the European Union also agree that there is something special about Pizza Napoletana, and as of 2010, approved an application from the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani to grant Pizza Napoletana the protected product status of “Traditional Status Guaranteed” (TSG).

Unlike the well-known PDO or PGI protections, TSG protection does not necessarily link a product to a specific geographical area, but rather acknowledges that the item is of a clearly defined “specific character” and that its raw materials and/or production method is traditional. In this case, “traditional” is defined as having been used for at least 30 years, and in a way that allows for transmission between generations.

TSG designation means that the registered product name may only be used by those producers who follow the published standards for the product—in this case, the specifications will confirm that the pizza is indeed prodotta secondo la tradizione Napoletana (produced in the Neapolitan tradition).

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The specifications for Pizza Napoletana fill a nine-page document; however, the main requirements include the following:

  • The pizza is round, with a raised rim, and a diameter not exceeding 35 cm (13.74 inches)
  • It is made according to a specific dough recipe (for both ingredients and procedures)
  • It is garnished with—and only with—Mozzarella di Bufala Campana AOC or Mozzarella STG.* fresh basil, crushed and peeled San Marino tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and salt—the layering of which is defined up to and including the “spiraling motion” used to spread the tomatoes and sprinkle the salt
  • It is baked in a wood-fired pizza oven
  • The overall pizza must be tender, elastic and easily foldable into four

This sentence, taken directly from the regulations, kind of says it all: “When the baking process is complete the pizza emits a characteristic aroma which is deliciously fragrant; the tomatoes, which have lost only their excess water, remain compact and solid; the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana AOC or the Mozzarella STG appear melted on the surface of the pizza and the basil, together with the garlic and the oregano, emits an intense aroma without appearing to be burnt.”

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I, for one, love the fact that the EU regulations remind us that “the Pizza Napoletana should preferably be consumed immediately, as soon as it comes out of the oven, in the same location as it was produced.”

Other TSG-certified products include Spain’s Jamón Serrano, Portugal’s Bacalhau, and the United Kingdom’s Bramley Apple Pie filling.

If you would like to learn more about traditional Pizza Napoletana as well as some of the fascinating wines, foods, and spirits of Naples and the surrounding area, join us for our upcoming “Taste-along SWEbinar” on the Wine and Food of Naples!

References/for more information:

*STG is a grand-fathered version of the “TSG” designation.

Post authored by Jane A. Nickles, CSE, CWE – your blog administrator

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